Today is 18 Dhul-hijjah, the day when the Prophet (SAW) stayed at Ghadīr Khum after his return from Hajjat-ul-wadā‘ to Medina, and surrounded by the Companions (RA), he declared while raising the hand of ‘Alī al-Murtadā (SAW):
مَنْ كُنتُ مَولاهُ فعَلِيٌّ مَولاهُ
One who has me as his master has ‘Alī as his master
This was the declaration of ‘Alī’s spiritual sovereignty and its unconditional acceptance is binding on the believers till the Day of Judgment. It clearly proves that anyone who denies ‘Alī’s spiritual leadership in fact denies the Prophet’s leadership. This most humble follower of the Prophet (SAW) felt that some people deny this reality partlyout of ignorance and partly out of prejudice, which is spreading unnecessary tension in the Muslim community. Under the circumstances I thought it necessary to write two pamphlets on the issue of sovereignty and leadership: one titled as The Ghadīr Declaration and the other titled The Awaited Imām. The former is designed to clarify the status of ‘Alī (AS) as the opener of the spiritual sovereignty and the latter is designed to describe the status of Imām Mahdī (AS), the seal of spiritual sovereignty. The main purpose is to remove the doubts that have gathered around the issue and to make the Muslims aware of the reality. The spiritual sovereignty of ‘Alī and Mahdī (عليهما السلام) are proved by the authentic hadīth-books of Ahl-us-Sunnah wal-Jamā‘ah, in the form of continuous traditions, that is, there is uninterrupted evidence to endorse the soundness of the claim. In the first pamphlet I have included 51 traditions which are authentically documented. The reason for this number is that this year I have completed 51 years of my life. Therefore, I have relied on the relationship of figure to make my humble contribution to the glory of ‘Alī al-Murtadā (AS) and to seek the divine blessing through an expression of my humility.
I propose to establish the point that three forms of legacy are derived from the person of the Prophet (SAW):
1- The spiritual legacy of internal (hidden) sovereignty.
2- The political legacy of external (manifest) sovereignty.
3- general legacy of religious sovereignty.
The first form of legacy was given to the members of the Prophet’s family.
The second form of legacy was given to the rightly-guided caliphs.
The third form of legacy was given to the Companions and the Successors (RA).
The internal sovereignty is the fountainhead of Prophet Muhammad’s vicegerency which not only safeguarded the spiritual achievements and hidden blessings of the religion of Islam, but also introduced the people to the blessings of Prophet Muhammad’s spiritualism. The fountains of spiritual sovereignty, saintliness and reformation originated from it.
The external sovereignty is the fountainhead of Prophet Muhammad’s vicegerency which led to the practical dominance of the religion of Islam as well as its enforcement as a symbol of worldly power. It paved the way for the creation of different Islamic states and introduced the Prophet Muhammad’s sharī‘ah as the world system.
The general legacy is the fountainhead of Prophet Muhammad’s vicegerency which promoted the teachings of Islam as well as the righteous deeds in the Muslim community. It not only helped in the preservation of knowledge and piety among the Muslims but also in the evolution and dissemination of Islamic morality. Thus the three legacies may be summed up as:
1- The legacy of spiritualism.
2- The legacy of dominion.
3- The legacy of guidance.
Shāh Walī Allāh (رحمة الله تعالى عليه) has commented on this division of legacy in the following words:
پس وارث آنحضرت هم بسه قسم منقسم اند، فوراثه الذين أخذوا الحكمة و العصمة و القطبية الباطنية، هم أهل بيته و خاصته، و وراثه الذين أخذوا الحفظ و التلقين و القطبية الظاهرة الإرشادية، هم أصحابه الكبار كالخلفاء الأربعة و سائر العشرة، و وراثه الذين أخذوا العنايات الجزئية و التقوى و العلم، هم أصحابه الذين لحقوا بإحسان كأنس و أبي هريرة و غيرهم من المتأخرين، فهذه ثلاثة مراتب متفرعة من كمال خاتم الرسل صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم
People who have received the Prophet’s legacy are of three kinds: ‘The first kind is of those who received wisdom, virtuousness and inner enlightenment from him. These are the members of his family and dignitaries. The second group is of those who received the legacy of external blessings from him in the form of virtuousness, religious instruction and manifest guidance. These are his Companions, eg the four (rightly-guided) caliphs and the ten (Companions) who received glad tidings (of paradise from the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). The third group is of those who received individual blessings from him in the form of knowledge and piety. These are the people who were steeped in the virtue of selflessness, like Anas and Abū Hurayrah (رضي الله تعالى عنهما), and the people who came later.’ The three forms of legacy owe their origin to the finality of messengership.
It may be noted that this division is based on convenience and distinction as each form of legacy shares the qualities of other legacies:
In dominion, Abū Bakr as-Siddīq (RA) was a directly appointed deputy of the Prophet (SAW).
In spiritualism and saintliness ‘Alī al-Murtadā (RA) was his directly appointed deputy.
In guidance all of his Companions and Caliphs (RA) were his directly appointed deputies.
It means that three forms of permanent study were born out of the finality of prophethood for the eternal propagation of Prophet Muhammad’s blessings:
1- Political legacy
2- Spiritual legacy
3- Intellectual and practical legacy
4- The political legacy of the Prophet (SAW) was known as khilāfah rāshidah (the rightly-guided caliphate).
5- The spiritual legacy of the Prophet (SAW) was known as wilāyah (spiritual sovereignty) and imāmah (spiritual leadership).
6- The intellectual and practical legacy of the Prophet (SAW) came to be known as guidance and belief.
Therefore, the first man of political legacy was Abū Bakr as-Siddīq (RA), the first man of spiritual legacy was ‘Alī al-Murtadā (AS), and the first men of intellectual and practical legacy were the Companions (RA). So all these legatees were independently appointed within their own orbits of influence and had no clash or contradiction with one another.
The other important point is that these legacies also stand apart in many other matters:
1- The manifest caliphate is the political office of the religion of Islam.
The hidden caliphate is exclusively a spiritual office.
2- The manifest caliphate is an elective and consultative issue.
The hidden caliphate is an inherent and selective act.
3- The manifest caliph is elected by the people.
The hidden caliph is elected by God.
4- The manifest caliph is elected.
The hidden caliph is selected.
5- This is the reason that the first caliph Abū Bakr as-Siddīq (RA) was elected on the basis of ‘Umar Fārūq’s proposal and the support of the majority of public opinion. But the election of the first Imām of spiritual sovereignty - ‘Alī al-Murtadā (AS) - required neither anybody’s proposal nor support.
6- Caliphate was a democratic act, therefore, the Prophet (SAW) did not declare it. Spiritual leadership was an act of designation; therefore, the Prophet (SAW) declared it in the valley of Ghadīr Khum.
7- The Prophet (SAW) left the election of the caliph to the will of the people, but himself announced his spiritual heir with the divine consent.
8- Caliphate is established for improving the administration of the earth.
Spiritual leadership is established to beautify it with the heavenly charm and grace.
9- Caliphate makes men just.
Spiritual leadership makes them perfect.
10- Caliphate is confined to the floor.
Spiritual leadership extends to the Throne.
11- Caliphate is ineffective without crowning.
Spiritual leadership is effective even without crowning.
12- This is probably the reason that caliphate is entrusted to the Ummah, and
Spiritual leadership is entrusted to the progeny.
“Thus we can deny neither the khilāfah (caliphate; political leadership) nor the wilāyah (spiritual leadership). The direct caliphate of Abū Bakr as-Siddīq (RA) was established with the consensus of the people and is categorically proved by the evidence of history. The direct spiritual leadership of ‘Alī al-Murtadā (AS) was announced by the Prophet (SAW) himself and is categorically proved by the evidence of unbroken chain of traditions. The proof of the caliphate is the consensus of the Companions (RA), the proof of spiritual sovereignty (wilāyah) is the declaration of the Prophet (SAW). One who denies the caliphate in fact denies history and consensus, and one who denies the spiritual leadership (wilāyah) denies the Prophet’s declaration. Therefore, both the caliphate and the spiritual leadership are inescapable realities. What is urgently needed is a clear understanding of the reality of the two institutions in order to present them to the people as unity, and not as division.”
It should be understood that just as the manifest caliphate started with the early caliphs and its blessings percolated down to the righteous and just rulers, similarly the hidden caliphate started with ‘Alī al-Murtadā (AS) and its blessings gradually trickled to the members of the Prophet’s family and the saints of the Ummah. By means of the declaration - مَنْ كُنْتُ مَولاهُ فَعَلِيٌّ مَولاهُ (one who has me as his master has ‘Alī as his master) - and - عليّ وليكم من بعدي (‘Alī is your spiritual leader after me) - the Prophet (SAW) pronounced ‘Alī (AS) as the opener of the spiritual kingdom.
Shāh Walī Allāh (رحمة الله تعالى عليه) says:
و فاتحِ اَوّل اَزين اُمت مرحومه حضرت على مرتضى است كرم الله تعالى وجهه
In this Ummah the first person to open the door of spiritual dominion is ‘Alī al-Murtadā (كرم الله تعالى وجهه).
و سِر حضرت اَمير كرم الله وجهه در اولاد كرام ايشان رضي الله عنهم سرايت كرد
The secret of spiritual dominion of the leader permeated his progeny.
چنانكه كسى اَز اولياء امت نيست الا بخاندانِ مرتضى رضي الله عنه مرتبط است بوجهى اَز وجوه
Therefore, not a single saint is found in the Ummah who is not directly or indirectly indebted to the spiritual leadership of ‘Alī ((AS) to attain spiritual leadership).
و اَز اُمت آنحضرت صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم اَوّل كسيكه فاتح باب جذب شده است، و دران جا قدم نهاده است حضرت امير المؤمنين على كرم الله وجهه، و لهذا سلاسل طرق بدان جانب راجع ميشوند
The first person in the Prophet’s Ummah who opened the ecstasy gate of spiritual sovereignty and who stepped (firstly) on to this elevated spot is ‘Alī (كرم الله وجهه). That is why different chains of spirituality turn to him.
- Shāh Walī Allāh (رحمة الله تعالى عليه) writes:
“Now in Ummah anyone who is blessed with spiritual leadership by Allāh’s Messenger (SAW) is indebted either to ‘Alī al-Murtadā (AS) or to the Chief Helper Jīlānī (رحمة الله تعالى عليه). No one can reach the status of wilāyah without this (indebted-ness).”
It may be noted that the relationship with Chief Helper is a ray of the lamp that is ‘Alī al-Murtadā (AS) and therefore indebtedness to him is in fact indebtedness to ‘Alī (AS).
Shāh Ismā‘īl Dihlawī has clarified this point:
Alī al-Murtadā (AS) has also an edge over Abū Bakr as-Siddīq (RA) and ‘Umar Fārūq (RA) and this edge lies because of the greater number of his followers and all the highest spiritual and saintly activity, from his days to the end of the world, has to be mediated through him, and he has a say in the kingdom of the kings and the leadership of the leaders and this is not hidden from those who are familiar with the world of sovereignty… Most spiritual chains are directly derived from ‘Alī al-Murtadā (AS). So, on the Day of Judgement, ‘Alī’s army including followers of high status and great reputation, will outnumber and outshine others to be a source of wonder for all the spectators.”
This spiritual treasure house, whose fountainhead is ‘Alī al-Murtadā (AS), is shared by Fātimah, Hasan and Husayn (AS) as its direct legatees and then it was filtered down to the twelve Imāms (spiritual leaders), the last leader being Imām Mahdī (AS). Just as ‘Alī al-Murtadā (AS) is the opener of spiritual sovereignty, Imām Mahdī (AS) is the seal of spiritual sovereignty.
The words of Shaykh Ahmad Sarhandī (رحمة الله تعالى عليه) appropriately highlight the point:
و راهى است كه بقرب ولايت تعلق دارد: اقطاب و اوتاد و بدلاء و نجباء و عامه اولياء الله، به همين راه واصل اندراه سلوك عبارت ازين راه است بلكه جذبه متعارفه، نيز داخل همين است و توسط و حيلولت درين راه كانن است و پيشواى، و اصلان اين راه و سرگروه اينها و منبع فيض اين بزرگواران: حضرت على مرتضى است كرم الله تعالى وجهه الكريم، و اين منصب عظيم الشان بايشان تعلق دارد درينمقام گونيا هر دو قدم مبارك آنسرور عليه و على آله الصلوة و السلام بر فرق مبارك اوست كرم الله تعالى وجهه حضرت فاطمه و حضرات حسنين رضي الله عنهم درينمقام با ايشان شريكند، انكارم كه حضرت امير قبل از نشاءه عنصرى نيز ملاذ اين مقام بوده اند، چنانچه بعد از نشاءه عنصرى و هر كرا فيض و هدايت ازين راه ميرسيد بتوسط ايشان ميرسيد چه ايشان نزد نقطه منتهائى اين راه و مركز اين مقام بايشان تعلق دارد، و چون دوره حضرت امير تمام شد اين منصب عظيم القدر بحضرات حسنين ترتيبا مفوض و مسلم گشت، و بعد از ايشان بهريكى از ائمه اثنا عشر على الترتيب و التفصيل قرار گفت و در اعصاراين بزرگواران و همچنين يعد از ارتحال ايشان هر كرا فيض و هدايت ميرسيد بتوسط اين بزرگواران بوده و بحيلولة ايشانان هر چند اقطاب و نجباى وقت بوده باشند، و ملاذ و ملجاء همه ايشان روده اند چه اطراف را غير از لحوق بمركز چاره نيست.
And there is another way close to the spiritual sovereignty and this is the way of the saints and the general friends of Allāh, and this way is marked by its characteristic passion and it carries the guarantee of mediation and the leader and chieftain of the saints of this way is ‘Alī al-Murtadā (كرم الله تعالى وجهه الكريم). And this grand office is reserved for him. On this way, the feet of the Holy Prophet (SAW) are on ‘Alī’s head and Fātimah and Hasan and Husayn (عليهم السلام) are included with him. I believe that he enjoyed this position even before his physical birth, as he did after it, and whosoever has received the divine blessing and guidance, has received it through him, because he is closest to the last point on this way and the centre of this spot belongs to him. And when his period ended, the grand office passed on to Hasan and Husayn (رضي الله تعالى عنهما) and then on to each one of the twelve Imāms, individually and elaborately. And whosoever received guidance in their life and after their death, received it through these saints. And the refuge and place of shelter of the saints of high ranks are these saints, (because they are the centre of all spiritual activity) and the sides tend to converge on the centre.
Shaykh Ahmad Sarhandī (رحمة الله تعالى عليه) believes that Imām Mahdī (AS) will be with ‘Alī al-Murtadā (AS) in the caravan of sovereignty or spiritual leadership.
The gist of the discussion is that the Prophet’s declaration at Ghadīr Khum proved forever that ‘Alī’s spiritual sovereignty is in fact the Prophet Muhammad’s spiritual sovereignty. Though the door of prophethood was closed after the Holy Prophet (SAW), Allāh opened new avenues for the continuation of the Prophet’s blessings till the Day of Judgement. Some of these avenues were manifest, while others hidden. The hidden avenue led to spiritual sovereignty and ‘Alī al-Murtadā (AS) was the first person to hold this office. Then this chain of sovereignty passed down to his progeny and finally to the twelve Imāms. During this period, many leaders appeared on the spiritual horizon but they all, direcly or indirectly, expressed their allegiance to ‘Alī al-Murtadā (AS). No one was disaffiliated from him and this chain will continue up to the Day of Judgement until the appearance of the last Imām (spiritual leader), and he will be Imām Muhammad Mahdī (AS), the twelfth Imām and the last caliph. In his person, the manifest and the hidden paths which ran parallel to each other will be rejoined, as he will be the spiritual as well as the political legatee, and he will be the last person to hold these offices. Any one who denies Imām Mahdī (AS) will deny both the manifest and hidden forms of religion.
This will be the climax of the Prophet Muhammad’s manifestation. Therefore, he will be named Muhammad and he will also resemble the Holy Prophet (SAW) in moral excellence, so that the world should know that he is the trustee of the manifest and hidden legacies of Muhammad’s blessings. That is why the Prophet (SAW) said, “Anyone who denies Mahdī will be a disbeliever.” At that time, he will be the focus of all saints on earth, and, being the leader of Prophet Muhammad’s Ummah, ‘Īsā (AS) will offer his prayer behind him and proclaim his leadership to the whole world.
So we should realize that ‘Alī al-Murtadā (AS) and Mahdī (AS) - the father and the son - are both Allāh’s friends and the Prophet’s legatees. It is therefore binding on every believer to acknowledge their exceptional status.
May Allāh bless the servants of the Prophet’s family with their guidance.
One of the servants of Prophet’s Family