Lesson 1: An Introduction on the Advent of Shi’ism



In the Name of God

Based on the words of: Masoud Basiti

Collected By: Zahra Moradi

Translated By: Ali Mansouri


Over the course of "Who Are The Shia And What Do They Say?", we will examine the advent of Shi’ism, discuss the foundations of Shia belief, and present authentic Islam.


Lesson 1: An Introduction on the Advent of Shi’ism


The Meaning of Shia

The word ‘Shia’ comes from the root ش ی ع and means one who accompanies, follows, goes along with, or helps[1]. For example, in the Holy Quran, the term ‘Shia’ is used to refer to one of the followers of Prophet Moses[2], as well as the Prophet Abraham[3]. Over time this word got a very specific meaning and was only used to refer to the group that followed and obeyed Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS)[4] as the successor of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH[5]).[6]

The Shia believe that the final Messenger of God was Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), who, by Divine Decree, designated 12 people as guides and leaders after him. The 12 individuals were chosen by God and had been introduced to the people during the lifetime of the Prophet. The Prophet asked the people to take an oath to follow these 12 successors as guides and leaders[7]. The first successor was Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS), after him was Ali’s oldest son Hassan ibn Ali (AS), then Hussain ibn Ali (AS), followed by 9 more individuals from the progeny of Hussain (AS). The 12th successor, Mahdi, is the promised savior of all divine religions who will bring peace and tranquility to the entire world at the End of Time. He has already been born and will live among the people in a way that he is not recognized until the day that God orders his reappearance.

Only a small group of believers of Islam followed the Prophet’s will and the explicit command of God to accept the 12 successors as Imams and leaders. This group which accepted, helped, and followed Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) and the 11 Imams after him are known as the ‘Shia’, and the collection of their beliefs is known as ‘Shi’ism’.


The Founder of Shi’ism

Some people believe that Shi’ism was founded many years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)[8]. In fact, the history of the ‘Shia’ and ‘Shi’ism’ is as long as the history of Islam itself. The founder of Shi’ism was founder of Islam: the final Prophet, Muhammad (PBUH).

Historical documents that are accepted by all Muslims show that the first person that used the term ‘Shia’ was the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). On several occasions, the Prophet used this term to refer to the followers of Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS). For example, one can refer to the narration of Jaber ibn Abdullah Ansari, a helper and companion of the Prophet. Jaber narrated that, “We were in the presence of the Prophet (PBUH) when Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) entered. The Prophet stated, ‘I swear by He who controls my life, this man and his Shia [followers] will be successful on the Day of Judgement’. Then the following verse was revealed: ‘Indeed, they who have believed and done righteous deeds - those are the best of creatures’”[9].

Even though term Shia was occasionally used for followers of individuals other than Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) in early Islamic history, such as the Shia of Muawiya (who followed Muawiya ibn Abu Sufyan), this term gradually became exclusive to the followers of Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS).

What are some of the reasons Ali and his children stand out among all other figures in Islamic history?


The Advent of Shi’ism

Just like previous Prophets had, according to God’s command, named a deserving successor to themselves to guide the people, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also, on behalf of God, introduced the best individual that could take on the important responsibility of succeeding him to the people.

This introduction took place in different forms from the very first days that the Prophet began the mission of guiding the people. But to complete this proof upon everyone so that there could be no doubt, the Prophet gathered the people during the last year of his life in a place called Ghadir and introduced his successor in a formal and universal way.

The firm and formal naming of Ali ibn Abu Talib (AS) as God’s appointed successor by the Prophet was the most important cause of the advent of Shi’ism and the gravitation of the Shia to Ali ibn Abu Talib (AS). Despire this, even if Ali ibn Abu Talib (AS) had not been named as the successor to the Prophet by God and through the Prophet himself, and, hypothetically, the choice of the best and most worthy individual to succeed the Prophet had been left to the people, there still would be no person more suitable for succession than Ali (AS). For there has never been and will never be any person in any era of human history that possesses the positive points and unique characteristics that Ali ibn Abu Talib (AS) possessed. We will point out some of these characteristics below.


Unique Characteristics of Ali (AS)

No other person after the Prophet had the unique characteristics possessed by Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS). If, for the sake of argument, the people, rather than God, were to pick the best and most qualified person as the successor to the Prophet, no person would have been more suitable than Ali. Some of Ali’s (AS) unique characteristics include:


-    Ali’s pure lineage: Ali (AS), who was the cousin of the Prophet, came to this world from a pure and distinguished line. The ancestors of Mohammad (PBUH) and Ali (AS) were all monotheists and followers of Abraham[10]. In every era, Mohammad (PBUH) and Ali’s (AS) ancestors had held a prominent place in the people’s hearts due to their efforts seek justice, defend the oppressed, and improve people’s lives[11].


-    The Miracle of Birth:Ali was the only person in history that was given permission by God to be born in the Holy Kaaba in a miraculous fashion. The walls of the Kaaba opened up and Fatimah bint Asad, who was pregnant with Ali, was able to enter the holy structure. After she entered, the walls closed again. For three days and nights, no one was able to enter the Kaaba, even from the door. After this time, the wall broke open again, and Fatimah came out while her infant (Ali) was in her arms[12].


-    Brought up by the Prophet:From his early childhood, Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) was brought up in the Prophet’s home, under his supervision[13]. Thus, Ali was able to, more than any other person, benefit from the Prophet’s exemplary moral characteristics, such as honesty, trustworthiness, loving, and chivalry.


-    The first male Muslim: All historians agree that after the Prophet of Mercy was given the Divine Mission to guide the people, Ali (AS) was the first male to believe in him[14].


-    The Prophet’s steadfast supporter:Due to the unique circumstances of that era, the Prophet only invited people to Islam in secret for the first 3 years of his mission[15]. During all this time, Ali and Khadija (the Prophet’s beloved wife) were the Prophet’s only supporters in guiding the people.


-    Being introduced as the Prophet’s successor as soon as his mission was public:After 3 years, the Prophet was ordered to make his mission public. To start, he was ordered by God to hold a gathering and invite his relatives, who were all members of the Meccan elite. During that gathering, after he explained his mission, he addressed the audience and asked, “Who will help me in this mission so that they become my heir, vizier, and successor?” All historians agree that among those present, only Ali (AS) volunteered to help the Prophet and stand behind his Divine Mission. The Prophet made this request 3 times, and all 3 times, only Ali expressed readiness to help him. Thus, during the first open and formal invitation to Islam, the Prophet introduced Ali as his heir, vizier, and successor[16].


-    God’s testimony to Ali’s (AS) purity:The Prophet would always emphasize Ali ibn Abi Talib’s (AS) purity and piety[17]. God also certified the infallibility of Ali (AS) in the Verse of al-Tathir[18].


-    Courageous defense of the truth:Ali (AS) was always at the Prophet’s side, defending the defenseless people, during the wars that the enemies of the truth launched against the believers in the One God[19].


-    Facing death to protect the Prophet:Gabriel (the angel of revelation) informed the Prophet of a plot made by polytheists from different Meccan tribes to assassinate him. The Prophet also informed Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS). When the terrorists attacked the Prophet’s house during the night to cowardly kill him during his sleep, they saw that Ali (AS) was sleeping in his place. He put his own life in danger and slept in the Prophet’s bed so that that the Prophet and future of Islam would stay safe[20].


-    The truth and Ali:The Prophet stated that, “Ali is with the truth and the truth is with Ali”[21]. He said this about no other individual. The Prophet also prayed for him by saying, “Oh God, surround the truth around Ali, whichever way Ali turns”[22].


-    Ali’s generosity: Ali (AS) would do manual labor while fasting and give his wages to the needy. He would give his own Iftaar (food used to break one’s fast) away to the hungry and remain so hungry himself that he would tie a stone to his stomach. His generosity was to such an extent that God praised his sacrifice in the Holy Quran[23].


-    The Ark that saves: The Prophet described Ali and the 12 guides from Ali’s progeny as being the rescue ship of Muslim Nation, similar to Noah’s Ark. Whoever clings to them will be saved, and whoever infringes on them will drown[24].


-    The Straight Path:During their daily prayers, Muslims ask God to guide them to the “Straight Path”[25]. The Prophet explained to the people that the Divine Straight Path that they ask from God every day is Ali and his successors[26].


-    Ali’s knowledge:The Prophet reminded the people on several occasions that, “I am the City of Knowledge and Ali is its gate; whoever decides to find the City of Knowledge must enter from its gate”[27].


-    The Teacher of the Quran:The Prophet explicitly told the people that whoever wishes to understand the Holy Quran and gain guidance from it after him must refer to his successor, meaning Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS):

Ali is my successor upon my nation and [my successor] upon the interpretation of the book of God Almighty[28]. He is the commander of the Quran who will guide the people by means of the Quran[29]. If a portion of the Quran is not clear for someone and they did not learn it from me, they should refer to him for he, like I, possesses the entirety of knowledge of the Quran[30]. Ali is with the Quran and the Quran is with Ali, and these two will not separate from each other until they arrive to me in the Pool of Kawthar[31].


-    The Prophet’s Nafs:The Prophet left no room for doubt for his friends and enemies that Ali was the apple of his eye, his trusted confident, his heir, and successor. Most importantly, as confirmed by the Holy Quran[32], Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) reached the rank of the Prophet’s Nafs (self).


-    The main focus of the Prophet’s proclamation: As mentioned, the Prophet had spoken of Ali and his successors since the very first days of his mission. However, he reiterated their special status with God during the last year of his life, when he gathered all the people in a place called “Ghadir Khumm”. The Prophet officially introduced Ali and his 11 descendants as the flags of guidance, the straight path, and the successors after him in the presence of a hundred twenty thousand Muslims from various cities and tribes. The summary of what he said at Ghadir was that:

Whoever is looking for salvation and guidance must follow these 12 individuals who were chosen by God as successors to his last Prophet[33].

The virtues of Ali (AS) are far more than the cases cited. Justice[34], being with the people[35], caring for the orphans[36], generosity[37], and defending the oppressed[38] are among some of Ali ibn Abi Talib’s (AS) other distinguished characteristics which both his friends and enemies testified to. Ultimately, beyond all of Ali ibn Abi Talib’s (AS) traits and unique advantages, it should be noted that he was chosen by God himself[39].

What stronger motivation and reason can there be to accept Ali (AS) than to satisfy and follow the orders of God?


Deviations from Shi’ism

Even though God Almighty chose Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) as the successor to his Prophet, and even though the final Prophet did not leave his Nation without a caretaker and took an oath of allegiance and benevolence towards Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) from a numerous Muslims during his life[40], a group conspired to prevent the succession of Ali.

Immediately after the Prophet passed away, while his auspicious body was still unburied on the ground[41], a few people that were looking for power and a group that were jealous of Ali secretly gathered in a meeting outside the city to pick someone from among themselves to lead the Muslims. After several altercations and long quarrels[42], one person was victorious among them, and was presented as the successor to the Prophet.

Even though just two and a half months earlier[43], the Muslims had pledged allegiance to Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) in the presence of the Prophet as the Divinely designated caretaker of the Muslims and had pledged to God not to withdraw their allegiance, they ultimately turned back him because of a combination of material promises, threats, and intimidation[44].

The result of these events was separation between the Muslims, which ultimately led to the schism between the Sunni and Shia. Those that maintained their belief in the successorship and leadership of Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) by God’s will became known as the “Shia of Ali”.

Even though it appeared that the path of separation between Ahlul Sunnah (the Sunni school of thought) and Shi’ism began with the issue of governance and politics, it gradually continued into core beliefs, culture, and practices. This was because the Shia referred to Ali and the subsequent Divinely chosen Imams for issues of beliefs and jurisprudence. However, Ahlul Sunnah would follow anyone that had seen the Prophet (known as the Sahaba, or Companions). This is while not all the Sahaba had their justice, truthfulness, and knowledge confirmed by God and his Prophet. History testifies that sometimes the Sahaba had gaps in their knowledge about basic religious rulings[45].

The core principles of Shia belief and jurisprudence were from God and in harmony with the Aql and Vejdan (these words are defined in detail in the next lesson). However, because the Shia were under extreme pressure from the Caliphs, they were always in a minority, and their beliefs remained unknown to the world.

In these lessons, we will attempt to bring forward a summary of the fundamentals of Shia belief so that the world can become more familiar with the truth of Islam and Shi’ism.


Main Points of this Lesson:

-    The literal meaning of ‘Shia’ is helper, one who accompanies, or follower. Over time this phrase got a more specific connotation and was only used to refer to the followers of Ali ibn Abi Talib.

-    The founder of Shi’ism in Islam was the Prophet himself.

-    Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) was, beyond all his unique traits and advantages which put him above all the people of his time, chosen by God as the successor to the Prophet.

-    Even though the Muslims pledged allegiance to Ali in the presence of the Prophet, some people recanted their pledges due to worldly promises, and others recanted them due to threats and intimidation.

-    The path of separation between Ahlul Sunnah and Shi’ism began with the issue of governance and politics, but later widened into core beliefs, culture, and practices.

-    Because the Shia were under intense pressure from the Caliphs, they were always in the minority, and their tenants and beliefs were unknown to the people of the world.


Main Source: Mohammad Foundation


[1]Qamoos al-Quran, Volume 4, Page 95 [Farsi]; Majma ul-Bahrain, Volume 4, Page 356


"... فَاسْتَغاثَهُ الَّذي مِنْ شيعَتِهِ عَلَى الَّذي مِنْ عَدُوِّهِ..."

meaning, “And the one from his Shia [Moses’ followers] called for help [from Moses] against the one from his enemy”. The Holy Quran, Surah Al-Qasas (28:15).


" إِنَّ مِنْ شِيعَتِهِ لَإِبْراهِيم"

meaning, “Verily among his Shia was Abraham”. The Holy Quran, Surah As-Saffat (37:83).

[4]An Islamic honorific used out of respect for previous Prophets, Imams, and the Prophet’s daughter. It is an abbreviation for the Arabic phrase Alayhis Salam, meaning “Peace be upon him/her”.

[5] Abbreviation of “Peace be upon him/her”

[6]For example, various researchers and historians describe the Shia as such:

-    Abu al-Hasan al-Ash’ari (theologian and founder of the Ash’ari School in the 3rd and 4th century AH) said,

وانّما قیل لهم الشیعة؛ لانّهم شایعوا علیا و یقدمونه علی سائر اصحاب رسول اللَّه صلى ‌الله ‌عليه ‌و آله ‌و سلم

meaning, “For the Shia, the term Shia is used because they follow Ali (AS) and consider him to be above the rest of the Companions of the Prophet (PBUH)”. Maqalat al-Islamiyin, Page 65

-    Shahrestani (historian and Shafi’i Ash’ari theologian in the 6th century AH) said,

الشیعة هم الّذین شایعوا علیا علی الخصوص وقالوا بامامته وخلافته نصا ووصیة

meaning, “The word Shia is used for those who only follow Ali (AS) and accept his Caliphate due to Nass and will”. Al Milal wa al-Nihal, Volume 1, Page 108.

-    Ibn Khaldun (historian and Sunni, Maliki Sociologist from the 8th century AH) wrote,

الشیعة لغة هم الصحب و الاتباع و یطلق فی عرف الفقهاء و المتکلمین من الخلف و السلف علی اتباع علی و بنیه

meaning, “The word ‘Shia’ means one who accompanies and follows, but in the custom of the jurisprudents and theologians it is used for the followers of Ali and his sons”. Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun, Page 138.

-    Sheikh Mufid (jurisprudent and Shia scholar in the 4th and 5th century AH) said

الشیعة من شایع علیا وقدمة علی اصحاب رسول اللَّه صلى ‌الله ‌عليه‌ و آله ‌و سلم اعتقد انّه الامام بوصیة من

رسول اللَّهصلى ‌الله‌ عليه ‌و آله ‌و سلم وبارادة من اللَّه تعالی ایضا

meaning, “Those who follow Imam Ali (AS) and consider him as preferred over the other Companions are called Shia. They believe that Imam Ali (AS) was brought forward as the Imam after the Prophet (PBUH) by God Almighty’s will, and the will of Prophet (PBUH)”. Huwiyat al-Tashayu, Page 12, As Narrated from Sheikh Mufid.

[7]During the last year of his life, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) invited Muslims from all over the Arabian Peninsula to gather in a place known as “Ghadir” to deliver an important message from God. During that day, by God’s command, the Prophet introduced Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) and 11 individuals from his offspring as his successors. The event of Ghadir has been referred to in both Shia sources and Sunni books. For example, refer to Musdarak Hakim Neyshabouri, Volume 3, Pages 109-110, Sunan ibn Majah, Volume 1, Page 43, Hadith 116, Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 21, Page 383, Hadith 10, As Narrated from I'lam al-Wara.

[8]For example, some Sunni historians consider Shi’ism to have started from the events of Saqifa. Such as Ibn Khaldun, in his work Tarikh ibn Khaldun, Volume 3, Page 364 (Saqifa is the name of the place where a group of people secretly gathered on the day the Prophet passed away. These people conspired to nominate someone among themselves as the Caliph, instead of Ali ibn Abi Talib. This was despite Ali having been chosen by God and the Prophet as the Prophet’s successor and despite the people’s previous oath of allegiance to Ali). Others consider the creation of Shi’ism to be a product of Uthman’s death, such as Ibn Hazm Andalusi, in Al-Fasl, Volume 2, Page 78.

[9]The verse cited is Surah Al-Bayyinah (98:7). The text of the narration is as follows:

"و أخرج ابن عساكر عن جابر بن عبد الله قال كنا عند النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم فاقبل علي فقال النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم و الذي نفسي بيده ان هذا و شيعته لهم الفائزون يوم القيامة و نزلت إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَ عَمِلُوا الصَّالِحاتِ أُولئِكَ هُمْ خَيْرُ الْبَرِيَّةِ (سوره بیّنه، آیه 7) فكان أصحاب النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم إذا أقبل علي قالوا جاء خير البرية"

Ad-Durr al-Manthur Fi Tafsir bil-Ma’thur, Volume 6, Page 379.

The contents of this narration are also abundant in Shia books. For example, Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 65, Page 133, and Tafsir Furat al-Kufi, Page 585, in reference to Ayahs 6-8 of Surah Bayyinah.

Umm Salama (wife of the Prophet) also reported that the Prophet said,

کانت لیلتی وکان النبی صلى ‌الله‌ عليه ‌و آله ‌و سلم عندی فاتته فاطمة فتبعها علی - رض - فقال النبی صلى ‌الله‌ عليه ‌و آله ‌و سلم یا علی! انت واصحابک فی الجنة، انت وشیعتک فی الجنة

Meaning: “Oh Ali, you and your Shia will be in Heaven”. Jami’ al-Bayan, Volume 30, Page 264.

The contents of this narration also exist in Shia books. For example, Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 65, Pages 135-136.

[10]According to Shia belief, all of the ancestors of the Prophet and Imam Ali (AS) were monotheists. Refer to Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 15, Page 117.

[11]Two examples of Abdul Muttalib, the grandfather of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Ali (AS), serving the people were:

-    Abdul Muttalib revived the well of Zamzam which had become filled by the chief of a tribe during tribal warfare. He allowed the people to draw water from it for free. al-Bidaya wa al-Nihaya(by Ibn Kathir), Volume 2, Page 244; Tarikh Yaqubi, Volume 1, Page 206; Sira an-Nabawiya (by Ibn Hisham), Volume 1, Page 45.

-    When one of Abdul Muttalib’s relatives killed a Jewish man out of anger, Abdul Muttalib became furious, broke all relations with him, and strived to get blood money for him and bring it to the family of the victim. Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh (by Ibn Athir), Volume 2, Page 15.

[12]The story of the breaking open of the walls of Kaaba and the birth of Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) inside the House of God has been confirmed and considered credible by both Shia and Sunni historians and narrators. For example, refer to the following cases:

-    Hakim Neyshabouri, who is considered reliable and narratable by all the major scholars of Ahlul Sunnah, wrote, “There are mutawatir narrations that Fatimah bint Asad gave birth to Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) in the House of the Kaaba”. Mustadrak al-Sahihain, Hyderabad, India, 1324 SH (1925 AD), Volume 3, Page 483 [Farsi]. A mutawatir narration is one that is reported numerously from many different sources to the point that its authenticity is beyond reasonable doubt.

-    Mahmud al-Alusi (author of Tafsir al-Alusi) wrote, “The birth of the Commander of the Faithful [Imam Ali] in the Kaaba is famous throughout the world and is narrated in both Sunni and Shia books. This honor has never been proven to have been given to anyone other than him”. Sarh al-Kharida al-Ghaybiyya fi Sharh al-Qasidah al- Ayniyya, Page 15.

-    Sheikh Saduq, a Shia scholar, wrote, “Fatimah bint Asad, the mother of the Commander of the Faithful [Imam Ali] who has in her 9th month of pregnancy, came forward [in front of the Kaaba], while she was under the pain of childbirth, and said, ‘My Lord, I am a believer in you and what has come from you from all the Prophets and Divine Books, have acknowledged the words of my ancestor Abraham (AS), and accept that he built this old house [the Kaaba], so for the sake of the one that built this house, and for the sake of the child in my belly, give me ease . . .’. The Kaaba cracked open from behind, and Fatimah bint Asad entered it and was hidden from onlookers. The wall then closed, and people tried to open the lock of the House of God but it did not open. They knew this affair is from God. Then after four days, that Lady came out of the house, while the Commander of the Faithful was in her hands”. Ilal al-Sharayi’, Volume 1, Page 135-136.

[13]Al-Mustadarak alaa al-Sahihain, Volume 3, Page 666, Hadith 6463; Sira an-Nabawiya (by Ibn Hisham), Volume 1, Page 262; Tarikh Tabari, Volume 2, Page 313; Ilal al-Sharayi’, Page 169; Manaqib aale Abi Talib (by Ibn Shahr Ashub), Volume 2, Hadith 179, I'lam al-Wara , Volume 1, Page 105.

[14]The first woman who accepted Islam was the Prophet’s wife, the noble Lady Khadija (AS). For example, refer to Usd al-Ghabah fi Ma`rifat al-Sahabah (by Ibn Athir Jazri), Volume 5, Page 434 and Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 38, Page 211.

[15]Manaqib aale Abi Talib (by Ibn Shahr Ashub), Volume 1, Page 43.

[16]Refer to the following sources, considered credible by Ahlul Sunna: Tarikh Tabari, Volume 2, Page 62-63; Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh (by Ibn Athir), Volume 2, Page 40-41; Musnad Ahmad, Volume 1, Page 111. Also refer to the following sources, considered credible the Shia: Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 18, Page 215-216; Ilal al-Sharayi’, Volume 1, Page 170.

[17]For example, on the Day of Ghadir, the Prophet showed Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) to everyone present, and said,

مَعاشِرَالنّاسِ، ... هُوَالتَّقِی النَّقِی الْهادِی الْمَهْدِی

meaning, “Oh people, … he is the pure, pious, guider of guidance”. Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 37, Page 210.


إِنَّما يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَ يُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرا

meaning, “Verily God had willed to remove from you Ahlul Bayt [people of the Prophet’s House] and purify you with [extensive] purification”. The Holy Quran, Surah al-Ahzab (33:33).

Dozens of Sunni scholars relate the revelation of this verse to the Prophet, his daughter Fatimah Zahra (AS), Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS), Hassan (AS), and Hussain (AS), and testify to their purity and sinlessness based on this verse. For example, Tirmidhi narrates in his Sahih from Umar ibn Abu Salama that, “When the Verse of Purification (33:33) was revealed to the Prophet in the home of Umm Salamah, the Prophet invited Ali, Fatimah, Hassan, and Hussain, pulled his cloak over them, and said, “Oh my Lord! These are my Ahlul Bayt. So make impurity and evil far from them and make them pure”. Sahih (by Tirmidhi), Volume 5, Page 327. For examples of Shia sources refer to Tafsir Borhan, Volume 4, Page 442, In reference to Verse 33 of Surah Ahzab.

[19]Ali (AS) was among those that stayed next to the Prophet (PBUH) when everyone else fled the battlefield, to keep his oath with the Prophet (PBUH) up to death. He participated in every single one of the Prophet’s battles except the Battle of Tabuk, in which the Prophet (PBUH) asked him to stay in Medina to watch after his family. Tabaqat Ibn Sa’d. Translated by Mahmoud Mahdavi Damghani [Farsi], Volume 3, Page 16.

[20]The following verse of the Quran was revealed in praise of this action of Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS),

ومِنَ النّاسِ مَنْ یشْری نَفْسَه ابْتِغاءَ مَرضاتِ اللَّه واللَّه رءُوفٌ بِالْعِباد

meaning, “And among the people is he who would sell himself, seeking the satisfaction of God, and God is kind to these servants”. The Holy Quran, Surah Baqarah [2:207].

In Sunni sources about this verse, it says, “This verse was revealed about Ali, when the Prophet of God (PBUH) took refuge to a cave with Abu Bakr from the polytheists, and Ali slept in the Prophet’s bed”. al-Mustadrak alaa al-Sahihain (by Hakim Neyshabouri), Volume 3, Page 4. Similarly, Ibn Abi’l-Hadid says, “All commentators narrate that this verse (2:207) was revealed about Ali (AS), during that night that he slept in the Prophet’s bed”.Sharh Nahj al-Balagha (by Ibn Abi’l-Hadid), Volume 13, Page 262.

The Shia scholars also all consider this verse to have been revealed about the Commander of the Faithful, during the night that Ali (AS) slept in the Prophet’s bed to save his life. For example, refer to Al-Amali (by Tusi), Page 446 and Manaqib aale Abi Talib (by Ibn Shahr Ashub), Volume 2, Page 64-65.


عَلِيٌّ مَعَ الْحَقِّ وَ الْحَقُّ مَعَ عَلِي

“Ali is with the truth and the truth is with Ali”. Tarikh Dimashq, Volume 42, Page 449. Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 38, Page 28.


اَللَّهُمَّ أَدِرِ الْحَقَّ مَعَهُ حَيْثُ دَارَ

“Oh God, surround the truth around Ali, whichever way Ali turns”. al-Mustadrak alaa al-Sahihain (by Hakim Neyshabouri), Volume 3, Page 134; Tafsir al-Kabir (by Fakhr Razi), Volume 1, Page 205; Shawahid al-Tanzil, Volume 1, Page 246.

[23]For example, the following verses were revealed regarding the status of Imam Ali (AS) and regarding his sacrifice:

وَ يُطْعِمُونَ الطَّعَامَ عَلىَ‏ حُبِّهِ مِسْكِينًا وَ يَتِيمًا وَ أَسِيرًا * إِنَّما نُطْعِمُكُمْ لِوَجْهِ اللَّهِ لَا نُرِيدُ مِنكُمْ جَزَاءً وَ لَا شُكُوراً

meaning, “And out of their love for God they give food to the needy, the orphan, and the captive * [Saying] verily we feed you for the sake of God and do not want a reward or thanks from you”. The Holy Quran, Surah al-Insan (76:8,9).

الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُم بِالَّيْلِ وَ النَّهَارِ سِرًّا وَ عَلَانِيَةً فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ وَ لَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَ لَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُون

meaning, “Those who spend their wealth in the night or day, in secret or in the open, verily their reward in with their Lord. And neither will there be fear for them, nor will they grieve”. The Holy Quran, Surah al-Baqarah (2:274).


إِنَّمَا مَثَلُ أَهْلِ بَيْتِي فِيكُمْ كَمَثَلِ سَفِينَةِ نُوحٍ مَنْ رَكِبَهَا نَجَا وَ مَنْ تَخَلَّفَ عَنْهَا غَرِق‏

meaning, “Verily my Ahlul Bayt are like the Ark of Noah. Whoever takes refuge in them will be saved and whoever infringes on them will drown”. Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 23, Page 105.

مَثَلُ أَهْلِ بَيْتِي مَثَلُ سَفِينَةِ نُوحٍ مَنْ رَكِبَهَا نَجَا وَ مَنْ تَخَلَّفَ عَنْهَا زُخَّ فِي النَّار

meaning, “The similitude of my Ahlul Bayt are like the Ark of Noah, whoever takes refuge in them will be saved, and whoever infringes on them will burn in the fire”. Al-Nihaya Ibn Athir, In reference to «زخّ».

This hadith has been narrated by eight companions, seven Tabi‘un (the generation of Muslims that came after the Prophet but at same time as some Companions), and a hundred fifty Sunni Scholars.

[25]One of the phrases, from Surah Al-Fatihah, which is recited in the daily prayers, is

اِهْدِنَا الصِّراطَ الْمُسْتَقِيم‏

meaning, “[Oh God,] Guide us to the Straight Path”. The Holy Quran, Surah Al-Fatihah (1:6).

[26]On the Day of Ghadir, The Prophet told the people,

مَعاشِرَالنّاسِ، أَنَا صِراطُ الله الْمُسْتَقیمُ الَّذی أَمَرَکُمْ بِاتِّباعِهِ، ثُمَّ عَلِی مِنْ بَعْدی. ثُمَّ وُلْدی مِنْ صُلْبِهِ أَئِمَّةُ یَهْدونَ إِلَی الْحَقِّ وَ بِهِ یَعْدِلونَ

meaning, “Oh people, I am the straight path of God that he ordered you to stick to, then Ali is after me, and then my children from my line are. They are the Imams of guidance, they will guide towards the truth and establish justice therewith” (Green portion is from the Holy Quran, Surah Al-A’raf, 7:181). Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 37, Page 212.


أَنَا مَدِينَةُ الْعِلْمِ وَ عَلِيٌّ بَابُهَا فَمَنْ أَرَادَ الْعِلْمَ فَلْيَأْتِها مِن بَابِها (‏‏فَلْيَأْتِ الْبَاب)

meaning, “I am the City of Knowledge and Ali is its gate; whoever decides to find the City of Knowledge, must enter from its gate”. al-Mustadrak alaa al-Sahihain (by Hakim Neyshabouri), Volume 3, Page 136; Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 40, Page 203.


هَذا عَلیّ ... خَلِيفَتِي فِي أُمَّتِي عَلَى مَنْ آمَنَ بِي و عَلیَ تَفسیرِ کتابِ الله عز وجل

meaning, “Ali is my successor upon my nation and [my successor] upon the interpretation of the book of God Almighty”. Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 37, Page 209.


الْقُرْآنُ إِمَامٌ هُدًى وَ لَهُ قَائِدٌ يَهْدِي إِلَيْهِ‏

meaning, “He is the commander of the Quran who will guide the people by means of the Quran”. Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 22. Page 487.


فَمَنْ عَمِيَ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ عَمَلِهِ شَيْ‏ءٌ لَمْ يَكُنْ عَلِمَهُ مِنِّي وَ لَا سَمِعَهُ فَعَلَيْهِ بِعَلِيِّ بْنِ أَبِي طَالِبٍ فَإِنَّهُ قَدْ عَلِمَ كَمَا قَدْ عَلِمْتُهُ

meaning “If a portion of the Quran is not clear for someone and they did not learn it from me, they should refer to him, for he, like I, possesses the entirety of knowledge of the Quran”. Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 2, Page 260.


عَلِيٌّ مَعَ الْقُرْآنِ وَ الْقُرْآنُ مَعَ عَلِيٍّ لَنْ يَفْتَرِقَا حَتَّى يَرِدَا عَلَيَّ الْحَوْض‏

meaning, “Ali is with the Quran and the Quran is with Ali, and these two will not separate from each other until they arrive to me in the Pool of Kawthar”. al-Mustadrak alaa al-Sahihain (by Hakim Neyshabouri), Volume 3, Page 34; Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 38, Page 35.

[32]In the event of Mubahila, God refers to Imam Ali (AS) as the Prophet’s self (nafs). The event of Mubahila was an important and well-known event during the early history of Islam during which the Prophet and his Household (the Ahlul Bayt) were facing a group of Christians from Najran (in modern day Yemen) in order to invoke a mubahila (divine curse) on whichever group was not telling the truth. The Holy Quran told the Prophet about this event,

فَمَنْ حَآجَّكَ فِیهِ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ فَقُلْ تَعَالَوْاْ نَدْعُ أَبْنَاءنَا وَأَبْنَاءكُمْ وَنِسَاءنَا وَنِسَاءكُمْ وَأَنفُسَنَا وأَنفُسَكُمْ ثُمَّ نَبْتَهِلْ فَنَجْعَل لَّعْنَةُ اللّهِ عَلَى الْكَاذِبِینَ

meaning, “Then whoever argues with you about it (Jesus) after this knowledge has come to you (about Jesus) - say, ‘Come, let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves, then supplicate earnestly [together] and invoke the curse of Allah upon the liars [among us]’”. The Holy Quran, Surah Āl ʻImrān (3:61).

Shia and scholars all agree that the meaning of the word ‘ourselves’ (anfosena) in this verse is Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS). For example, Ahmad ibn Hanbal narrates,

و لمّا نزلت هذه الایة«نَدعُ ابْناءَنا وابْناءَکمْ» دعا رسول اللَّه صلى ‌الله‌ عليه ‌و آله‌ و سلم علیا و فاطمة و حسنا و حسینا رضوان اللَّه علیهم اجمعین، فقال: اللّهمّ هؤلاء اهلی

meaning “When this verse was revealed, the Prophet (PBUH) asked for Ali, Fatimah, Hassan, and Hussain, and then said, ‘Oh Lord, these are members of household (Ahlulbayt)’”. Musnad Ahmad. Volume 1, Page 185.

Similarly refer to Sahih Muslim, Volume 7, Page 120.

From Shia sources, one example was when Imam Kazhim (AS), the seventh successor to the Prophet, stated,

فكان تأویل أبنائنا الحسن و الحسین، و نسائنا فاطمة، و أنفسنا علی بن أبی طالب (علیهم السلام(

meaning, “In the verse, the meaning of our sons is Hassan (AS) and Hussain (AS), the meaning of our women is Fatimah (AS), and the meaning of ourselves is Ali ibn Abi Talib”. Tafsir Borhan, Volume 1, Page 630-631, in reference to Verse 61 of Surah Āl ʻImrān.

[33]Refer to the text of the Sermon of Ghadir. For example, on that day, the Prophet stated,

مَعَاشِرَ النَّاسِ‏ مَنْ یُطِعِ اللَّهَ وَ رَسُولَهُ‏ وَ عَلِیّاً وَ الْأَئِمَّةَ الَّذِینَ ذَكَرْتُهُمْ‏ فَقَدْ فازَ فَوْزاً عَظِیماً

meaning “Oh people, whoever obeys God, the Prophet, Ali, and the Imams that I have referred to will attain a great triumph” (Green portion is from the Holy Quran, Surah Ahzab, 33:71). Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 37, Page 217.

[34]One example of the justice of Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) can be seen in the narration from Ibn Abi’l-Hadid the Mu’tazila, which said,

آكد الأسباب في تقاعد العرب عن أمير المؤمنين ع أمر المال فإنه لم يكن يفضل شريفا على مشروف و لا عربيا على عجمي و لا يصانع الرؤساء و أمراء القبائل كما يصنع الملوك و لا يستميل أحدا إلى نفسه و كان معاوية بخلاف ذلك فترك الناس عليا و التحقوا بمعاوية

meaning, “The most important factor that scattered the people around Ali was his justice in his division of the wealth, for he did not give the nobles an upper hand over everyone else, did not give the Arabs an advantage over the non-Arabs, and did not, like the kings, negotiate with the heads of the tribes. He did not attract anyone towards himself using the public treasury. In contrast Muawiya used the public treasury to attract the people towards himself, and thus the people would go after Muawiya”. Sharh Nahj al-Balagha (by Ibn Abi’l-Hadid), Volume 2, Page 197.

[35]An example of Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) being with the people can be seen in his instructions to one of his government officials, when he said,

فَاخْفِضْ لَهُمْ جَنَاحَكَ وَ أَلِنْ لَهُمْ جَانِبَكَ وَ ابْسُطْ لَهُمْ وَجْهَكَ وَ آسِ بَيْنَهُمْ فِي اللَّحْظَةِ وَ النَّظْرَةِ حَتَّى لَا يَطْمَعَ الْعُظَمَاءُ فِي حَيْفِكَ لَهُمْ وَ لَا يَيْأَسَ الضُّعَفَاءُ مِنْ عَدْلِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ

meaning, “Be humble with the people, be gentle and kind, have a smiling face, when looking at them maintain equality so that the great do not covet your tyranny and the weak do not lose hope in your justice”. Nahj al-Balagha (Subhi Saleh numbering), Letter 27, Page 383. And Sharh Nahj al-Balagha (by ibn Abi’l-Hadid), Volume 15, Page 163.

[36]Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) showed the orphans kindness and courtesy to the extent that when people saw it, they wished that they were in the orphan’s position.

رَأَيْتُ عَلِيّاً ع يَدْعُو الْيَتَامَى فَيُطْعِمُهُمُ الْعَسَلَ حَتَّى قَالَ بَعْضُ أَصْحَابِهِ لَوَدِدْتُ أَنِّي كُنْتُ يَتِيما

Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 41, Page 29.

In his will, he strongly emphasized taking care of the orphans, saying,

اللَّهَ اللَّهَ فِي الْأَيْتَامِ فَلَا تُغِبُّوا أَفْوَاهَهُمْ وَ لَا يَضِيعُوا بِحَضْرَتِكُم

meaning, “By God, by God, take care of the orphans. Do not let them remain hungry and get wasted in your presence”. Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 72, Page 14.

[37]Ali ibn Abi Talib’s (AS) generosity was to the point that his enemies testified to it. For example, Muawiya, the enemy of Ali (AS), responded angrily to a man that was trying to flatter him by calling Ali (AS) a stingy man,

وَيْحَك‏ ... لَوْ مَلَكَ بَيْتاً مِنْ تِبْرٍ وَ بَيْتاً مِنْ تِبْنٍ لَأَنْفَدَ تِبْرُهُ قَبْلَ تِبْنِهِ وَ هُوَ الَّذِي كَانَ يَكْنُسُ بُيُوتَ الْأَمْوَالِ وَ يُصَلِّي فِيهَا وَ هُوَ الَّذِي قَالَ يَا صَفْرَاءُ وَ يَا بَيْضَاءُ غُرِّي غَيْرِي‏

meaning, “Woe on you … if Ali (AS) had a vault filled with gold and another vault filled with straw, first he would give away the gold and then the straw. He is the person that gave away all the public treasury and stood in prayer in the public treasury that seemed as if he had swept it, saying, ‘Oh yellow and white (gold and silver), deceive someone other than Ali’”. Sharh Nahj al-Balagha (by ibn Abi’l-Hadid), Volume 1, Page 22.

[38]For example, when Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) was told that a group had stolen the jewelry of a Jewish girl by force and the people did not defend her, he stated with intense grief,

ولَقَدْ بَلَغَنِي أَنَّ الرَّجُلَ مِنْهُمْ كَانَ يَدْخُلُ عَلَى الْمَرْأَةِ الْمُسْلِمَةِ وَ الْأُخْرَى الْمُعَاهَدَةِ فَيَنْتَزِعُ حِجْلَهَا وَ قُلُبَهَا وَ قَلَائِدَهَا وَ رِعَاثَهَا، مَا تَمْتَنِعُ مِنْهُ إِلَّا بِالاسْتِرْجَاعِ وَ الِاسْتِرْحَامِ، ثُمَّ انْصَرَفُوا وَافِرِينَ، مَا نَالَ رَجُلًا مِنْهُمْ كَلْمٌ، وَ لَا أُرِيقَ لَهُمْ دَمٌ. فَلَوْ أَنَّ امْرَأً مُسْلِماً مَاتَ مِنْ بَعْدِ هَذَا أَسَفاً، مَا كَانَ بِهِ مَلُوماً بَلْ كَانَ بِهِ عِنْدِي جَدِيرا

meaning, “I heard that one of the transgressors entered a Muslim woman and another, stole the bracelet, anklet, necklace, and earrings of a women from the Jews, while that woman had no choice but to ask him for mercy. They returned victoriously, with spoils, without being injured, or a drop of their blood spilling. If a Muslim man dies of sorrow after this scandal, they not be blamed. Rather death is more suitable”. Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 34, Page 64.

And in his will, he stated,

كُونَا لِلظَّالِمِ خَصْماً وَ لِلْمَظْلُومِ نَاصِراً

meaning, “Be an enemy for oppression and a helper for the oppressed”. Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 42, Page 245.

[39]God told the Prophet that if he did not introduce the 12 successors after him to the people, he will not have completed his mission.

يا أَيُّهَا الرَّسُولُ بَلِّغْ ما أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِنْ رَبِّكَ وَ إِنْ لَمْ تَفْعَلْ فَما بَلَّغْتَ رِسالَتَهُ وَ اللَّهُ يَعْصِمُكَ مِنَ النَّاس

meaning, “Oh Messenger, announce that which has been revealed to you from your Lord, and if you do not, then you have not conveyed His message. And Allah will protect you from the people”. The Holy Quran, Surah Al-Ma’idah (5:67).

After the Prophet emphasized that Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) and the 11 Imams after him are chosen by God, a person in the audience replied, (out of hatred) “If you are telling the truth that these words are from God, then, oh God, throw down stones on us from the sky or send down a painful torment from above”. As soon as he said this, a stone fell from the sky, hit him on the head, and killed him immediately. With this miracle, there was no a shred of doubt left from anyone that Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) and his children are chosen by God himself. This incident has been narrated both in Shia and Sunni Sources. For an example of a Shia source, refer to: Tafsir Borhan, Volume 5, Page 484, in reference to the beginning of Surah Ma’arij in the Quran,

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِیم * سَأَلَ سَائِلٌ بِعَذَابٍ وَاقِعٍ * لِلْکَافِرینَ لَیْسَ لَهُ دَافعٌ * مِنَ اللَّهِ ذِی الْمَعَارِجِ ...

For an example of Sunni sources, refer to: Tafsir Gharib al-Quran, Hafiz Abu ‘Ubayd al-Heravi; Tafsir Shifa’ al-Sudur, Abu Bakr al-Naqqash; Tafsir Al-Kashf wa al-bayan; Abu Ishaq al-Tha’labi al-Neysabouri; Da’a al-Huda ila ada’ al-Haq al-Mawala; Al-Hakim Abu al-Qasim al-Haskani.

[40]On the Day of Ghadir, after designated Ali as his successor, the Prophet stated,

مَعَاشِرَ النَّاسِ فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَ بَايِعُوا عَلِيّاً أَمِيرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ صَلَوَاتُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ وَ الْحَسَنَ وَ الْحُسَيْنَ وَ الْأَئِمَّةَ ع كَلِمَةً طَيِّبَةً بَاقِيَةً يُهْلِكُ اللَّهُ مَنْ غَدَرَ وَ يَرْحَمُ مَنْ وَفَى فَمَنْ نَكَثَ فَإِنَّما يَنْكُثُ عَلی نَفْسِهِ وَ مَنْ أَوْفی بِما عاهَدَ عَلَیْهُ الله فَسَیُؤْتیهِ أَجْراً عَظیماً

meaning, “Oh people, go after piety of God, and pledge allegiance to Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, and pledge allegiance with Hassan, Hussain, and the Imams from them in this world and the afterlife, as Imams that are purse and from his progeny. God will destroy those that break their allegiance and bless those that are loyal to it. So, whoever breaches (his oath), then he breaches against himself; and whoever fulfils what he has covenanted with Allah, then He will soon bring him a magnificent reward (Green portion is from the Holy Quran, Surah al-Fath, 48:10). Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 37, Page 216.

[41]In the religion of Islam, the body of a person that has passed away must promptly buried under the Earth. When the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) passed away, the group of people that sought to take over his position did not even have time to bury the Prophet’s body.

[42]The historical sources specifically show that the conspirators in Saqifa clashed with each other over succession to the Prophet. This reached the point that Habab ibn Mandhar, one of the Ansar, pulled out his sword against the Muhajir. Sa'd ibn Ubadah, who also wanted to become the successor to the Prophet, had grabbed Omar ibn Khattab’s beard and was violently pulling it even though he was almost crushed under the feet of the Muhajir. Refer to Tarikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk (by Tabari), Volume 3, Page 220-223; Al-Sira Al-Halabiya (by Halabi), Volume 3, Page 359; as-Sira an-Nabawiya (by Ibn Hisham), Volume 4, Page 308-310; Ibn Hibban, Volume 2, Pages 152-156.

Note from the translator: Muhajir, meaning emigrants, were the first Muslims who emigrated with the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) from Mecca to Medina during the event known as the Hijra. Ansar, meaning helpers, were the inhabitants of Medina that took Muhajir into their homes after they emigrated.

[43]The incident of Ghadir and the pledge of allegiance with Ali occurred on the 18th of Dhu'l-Hijjah of the year 10 AH. The Prophet left this world, 70 days later, on the 28th of Safar of the year 11 AH.

[44]For example, Sheikh Mufid narrates from Abu Mikhnaf,

كان جماعة من الأعراب قد دخلوا المدينة ليمتاروا منها فشغل الناس عنهم بموت رسول الله ص فشهدوا البيعة و حضروا الأمر فأنفذ إليهم عمر و استدعاهم و قال لهم خذوا بالحظ و المعونة على بيعة خليفة رسول الله ص و اخرجوا إلى الناس و احشروهم ليبايعوا فمن امتنع فاضربوا رأسه و جبينه قال فو الله لقد رأيت الأعراب قد تحزموا و اتشحوا بالأزر الصنعانية و أخذوا بأيديهم الخشب و خرجوا حتى خبطوا الناس خبطا و جاءوا بهم مكرهين إلى البيعة

meaning, “There were a group of Bedouin Arabs that entered Medina in order to gather food. However, the people of Medina did not pay attention to them because of the death of the Prophet (PBUH). They proceeded to give an Oath of Allegiance to the new Caliph and pledged to obey him. Then Omar asked for them and told them, ‘In return for your Oath of Allegiance take whatever food you need, without any replacement, and then head towards the people, gather them, and force them to give allegiance. Whoever refused, hit him on the head and forehead’. The narrator swears to God that they saw that that Bedouin Tribe immediately buckled their belts, put on their turbans, and attacked the people with canes. They hit the people hard and forced them to give allegiance”. al-Jamal (by Sheikh Mufid), Page 119.

Ibn Abi’l-Hadid Mu’tazili also writes,

و هم محتجزون بالازر الصنعانیة لا یمرون باحد الاخبطوه، و قدموه فمدوا یده فمسحوها على ید ابى بکر یبایعه، شاء ذلک او ابى

meaning, “And they (the tribe of Banu Aslam), who were dressed in the manner of Sana’a, did not meet any person unless they badly beat them, [and after this would bring them to Abu Bakr and] pull out their hands, and rub them on Abu Bakr’s hand so they will have given allegiance, whether the person desired to do so or not”. Sharh Nahj al-Balagha (by Ibn Abi’l-Hadid), Volume 1, Page 219.

[45]For example, both Shia and Sunni sources explain that the second Caliph (Omar ibn Khattab) did not know the correct legal verdict for a religious issue in several cases, and when Ali (AS) explained the ruling, he always stated,

لَوْ لَا عَلِيٌ‏ لَهَلَكَ‏ عُمَر

meaning, “If it were not for Ali, Omar would have perished”.

In one of these cases, Omar ordered that a woman that gave birth to a baby after six months of pregnancy be killed. The woman’s husband accused her of having relations with another person before their marriage, meaning that the child was not his. When Ali (AS) learned that Omar had given such a verdict, he quickly interfered and proved, using the Quran, that a child can be born prematurely at six months. Thus the innocent mother was saved from being killed by Omar’s incorrect verdict. Refer to Al-Isti’ab (by Ibn Abd al-Barr), Volume 3, Page 1103; Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 30, Page 110-111.

Beyond these cases, the Companions also were sometimes confused about the correct understanding and interpretation of the verses of the Quran. For example, when Abu Bakr (the first Caliph that sat upon the seat of the succession of the Prophet) was asked about the meaning of Verse 31 of Surah ‘Abasa, he did not know and referred back to Ali (AS); Bihar al-Anwar , Volume 40, Page 247.

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