In the Name of Allah, the All-Beneficent, the All-Merciful.
May Allah bless Muhammad and his Family and damn their enemies.
The chain of the following narration is strong enough to return sanity to a madman by just reading it to him. All sides, no matter their affiliations, attest to its strength.
Al-’Alama al-Masjlisi narrated in Bihar al-Anwar, and al-Irabli in Kashf al-Ghumma, of al-Hussain bin Ahmed ibn Khalaway in Book of Aal, who said:
Abu Abdullah al-Hambali reported of Muhamed bin Ahmed bin Ghadha’a, who reported of Abu Ma’ath Abdan bin Muhamed, who said: ‘My Master, Abu Muhamed al-Hassan bin Ali al-’Askari narrated of his father, Ali bin Muhamed al-Hadi, of his father Muhamed bin Ali al-Jawad, of his father Ali bin Musa al-Ridha, of his father Musa bin Ja’far al-Khaddim, of his father Ja’far bin Muhamed al-Saddiq, of his father Muhamed bin Ali al-Baqir, of his father Ali bin al-Hussain Zein al-’Abideen, of his father al-Hussain bin Ali, the Master of Martyrs, of his father Ali bin Abi Talib (peace be upon them all), narrated of The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him and his purified family),’ who said: ‘When Allah created Adam and Hawa’, they were overconfident. Adam proclaimed to Hawa’ that Allah created nothing fairer than them. [they thought that they were the finest creations of Allah (the Almighty). Allah then immediately intercedes to correct their misconception]. So He said to Gabriel (peace be upon him): ‘Bring my worshipper to the Fidaous al-’Alaa.’ [meaning Adam (peace be upon him) and Hawa’ were in heaven, then Allah (the Almighty) commanded Gabriel to go to them and correct their misconception. He (Gabriel) brought them to ‘Fidaous al-’Alaa’, a place of great height in heaven that they have yet to witness.] When they entered, he saw sitting on one of the rugs of heaven, a maid with a crown of light upon her head and earrings made of light, the heavens illuminated by the light of her face. Adam said: ‘Gabriel, my beloved, who is this maid whose light illuminates the heavens?’ He said: ‘This is Fatima, the daughter of Muhamed’ [it is truly shocking that Fatima, a descendant of Adam, was created before him…By Allah, it is astounding]. Gabriel continues: ‘He is a prophet, one of your sons (Muhamed), sent at the end of times.’ He (Adam) asked: ‘What is this crown upon her head?’ He said: ‘Her husband Ali bin Abi Talib (peace be upon him)’. Then he asked: ‘And what are those earrings?’ He said: ‘Her sons, al-Hassan and al-Hussain.’ Adam then asked: ‘Gabriel, my beloved, were they created before me?’ Gabriel said: ‘They existed in the concealed knowledge of Allah, four thousand years before your creation.
Indeed, al-Zahrah is pure light in human form. Her human form is what descended from Adam – the one born in our world – but she exists in the Firdaous al-’Alaa, the highest peaks of heaven, before Adam was created by four thousand years (the length and nature of these years are known to Allah). Such is the position of al-Zahra (peace be upon her). The chain of the narration we mentioned is one of the most robust and immaculate chains attainable. This narration was reported of each of the purified Imams; an infallible Imam narrating of his father, of his father, with the chain reaching Allah’s Messenger (blessings and peace be upon him and his purified family).
Who is better (higher in rank), Ali or Fatima (peace be upon them)?
So we can better understand the position of al-Zahra, we must first accept that we cannot fully comprehend all aspects of it -that is an impossibility. A lower life form cannot comprehend that which exists in a higher plane of existence than itself, an existence that mystified even the prophets of Allah. However, what is possible for us is to review the narrations we have to attain a clearer picture of some aspects of her greatness. Generally, if asked who we believe is the finest creation of Allah, after the Messenger of Allah, immediately we would shout the name of Ali (peace be upon him). Better even than the angels, the prophets, the messengers – he is second only to the Messenger of Allah (Allah’s blessings and peace upon him and his purified family). You would say that, correct? Some believe that Ali is better than al-Zahra. I ask, do you believe that Ali is better than al-Zahra? If you say yes, you’re bewildered. If you say no, you’re still bewildered.
Ali (peace be upon him) was described in the Wise Qur’an as the Messenger of Allah himself, which means that his position parallels the position of the Messenger of Allah. Without a doubt, the Messenger of Allah is the greatest of Allah’s creation, which would mean that al-Zahra is below Ali in rank. When Ali was asked if he was better than Adam, Noah, Ibrahim, Musa, and ‘Isa (Jesus), he said I am better (greater in rank and position), but when asked are you better than the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him and his purified family), he said,
I am one of the slaves of Muhamed
Ali, whose position is far beyond the scope of our understanding, said those words. The ‘Sunni’s’ – not just us – report narrations that showcase the height of Ali’s position. As an example, this narration reported by al-Qanduzi al-Hanafi in Yannabi’ al-Mawadda of Ahmed bin Hanbal in al-Musnad, and Ibn al-Maghazli al-Shafi’i in al-Manaqib, and al-Khawarizmi in al-Manaqid, and al-Tabarani in al-Mu’jam, as well as other ‘Sunni’ scholars, in which the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him and his purified family) said to Ali:
O Ali, by the One who I entrust my life with, were it not for sects of my nation that would view you as Christians viewed ‘Isa ibn Mariam (Jesus), I would have revealed things about you that would make Muslims want to bless themselves with the dust underneath your feet when you pass by them.
We are confounded when Ali (peace be upon him) – whose position cannot be comprehended by mere humans – treats al-Zahra in a manner that does not suggest that he is better than her or that he is her master. What should we think If we found a clear narration in which Ali (peace be upon him) has said al-Zahra is better than him, just like he described his position compared to the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him and his purified family)? I will mention two examples to help you understand why Ali’s (peace be upon him) treatment of al-Zahra confounded is a way that makes us unable to determine whether Ali or Fatima (peace be upon them) are better. All our scholars, classical or otherwise, cannot confidently answer that question. We simply do not know. Some narrations place Ali right after the Messenger of Allah, while some show Ali treating al-Zahara as if he were her servant. Yes, as a servant. Note the following narration to understand how:
Al-’Alama al-Majlisi reported in Bihar al-Anwar of ‘Ayun al-Mu’jazat, by Shiekh al-Hassan bin abd al-Waham, that It was narrated of Haritha bin Qadama who said:
Salman (al-farisi) reported that ‘Amar bin Yasser told him: ‘Do you wish to know something surprising? [‘Amar witness something that surprised him and he was relaying it to Salman], I said: ‘Yes, ‘Amar’, he said: ‘I saw Ali bin Abi Talib (peace be upon them) going to greet Fatima; when she saw him, she said come closer so that I can reveal to you knowledge of all that existed, all that exists, and all that does not, until the Hereafter.’ [Allah is Great, Ali being taught by al-Zahara?! That is truly astounding. She tells him to come close, to stay so that she could speak to him and teach him]. ‘Amar said: ‘Then I saw the Commander of the Faithful (peace be upon him) retreat backwards (returning backwards while facing her). [He did not turn his back at her, just as servants and subordinates conducted themselves when serving their masters or kings. Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, Allah’s Authority upon all his creation, did not turn his back at al-Zahra, honouring her, glorifying her]. Then I returned with him until he met with the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him and his purified family), who said to him: ‘Come in, Aba al-Hassan.’ When he sat down, he said (the Prophet): ‘Do you want to speak or shall I?’. He said: ‘It is always better when you speak, Messenger of Allah’. He said: ‘You have seen Fatima, and she taught you of this and that (the things she taught him), and you returned to me.’ Ali (peace be upon him) said: ‘Is Fatima’s light from ours (part of it)?’. [He asked the Messenger of Allah]. He answered: ‘Do you not know?’. Ali then prostrated in praise of Allah. ‘Amar then said: ‘The Commander of the Faithful (peace be upon him) went back to Fatima, and I followed suit. When he met Fatima, she said to him: ‘You have returned from meeting my father (blessings and peace be upon him and his purified family), and you told him of the things I have taught you.’ He said: ‘Yes, I have, Fatima.’ She said: ‘Know, Aba al-Hassan, that Allah created me as a light that praised him, he then bestowed my light upon one of the trees of heaven, illuminating it. When my father entered heaven, Allah prompted him to grab a fruit from that tree and to move it around in his mouth. That was when my light was transferred to him, and from him to Khadija bint Khowailid (peace be upon her), until she gave birth to me. I am from that light (come from it). I have the knowledge of all that that is, that was, and that was not. O Aba al-Hassan, Allah (the Almighty) guides the believer with His light.
Ali (peace be upon him) treated al-Zahra like a student would treat his teacher or a servant his master, never turning his back at her – to that extent. Learning from her the knowledge of all that is, that was, and that was not. We also have another narration that is even more astonishing. In this narration, Ali (peace be upon him) makes a shocking statement. His statement is enough to confound complete minds, such as the minds of the prophets. He refers to al-Zahra as his mistress. He says ‘my mistress’ when conversing with her. Notice the following narration:
Al-Shiekh al-Tusi reported in Misbah al-Anwar of Abi Abdullah Ja’far bin Muhamed al-Sadiq (peace be upon him), of his fathers (peace be upon them), who said:
When her time came [moments before her martyrdom, after all the pain and struggles she faced], she wept. [why did she weep? For what befell her? Her tragedy? Never.] The Commander of the Faithful (peace be upon him) said: ‘My mistress, why do you weep?’ [This is what we want to point out – Ali, the individual the Messenger of Allah described as being so holy that Muslims would bless themselves with the dust underneath his foot if he were to pass by them. Yet, he referred to her as his mistress, meaning that I am subordinate to you, you are my mistress, I am your servant. So how can anyone say, with certainty, that Ali is better than Fatima (peace be upon them)?] She said: ‘I weep for what you will face after me’ [It was not her suffering that made her weep. She was weeping for what calamities Ali (peace be upon him) will face after her.] He said: ‘Do not weep. By Allah, it is insignificant to me, for it is for the sake of Allah.
The narration goes on, and in it, the Lady requests that the Two Sheikhs are not permitted to know of her passing and come to pray for her. The Two Sheikhs are Abu Bakr and Umar (may Allah’s damnation be upon them). This is the position of al-Zahra (peace be upon her). In reality, we are barely scratching the surface; no more than a drop in the sea of greatness that is al-Zahra (peace be upon her). We cannot truly comprehend her position in the eyes of Allah, and as I said, the scholars still discuss who is better, Ali or Fatima (peace be upon them), to this very day.
It is a happy occasion indeed that the death of Abu Bakr is only days apart from the birth of al-Zahra (peace be upon her). The First Tyrant, who oppressed Ahl al-Bayte (peace be upon them), perished on the 22nd of Jamadi al-Akhira. May Allah revile him. But since we celebrated the birth of the Lady (peace be upon her), and spoke of her position and greatness, we should also speak about the position or value of Abu Bakr, lest the opposers think we are unfair. His passing is, after all, a sad occasion for them.
With that said, let us speak a little about Abu Bakr’s position in the eyes of Allah and his Messenger. Of course, we cannot bring narrations from our sources and use them to show his true value in the eyes of Allah (the Almighty), so let us instead turn to the reliable sources of the opposers to learn more about his value. Note, brothers, there is a scholar among the opposers who is greatly depended on by them. This man is called al-Raghib al-Asbahani (his surname is a reference to the city of Isfahan, Iran), the author of Al-Mufradat. He wrote a book of interpretation and description of the Holy Qur’an’s words. This book is a reliable source for the opposers. He is also viewed as a reliable scholar by people such as al-Fakhir al-Razi, who said of him:
He is one the Imams of Sunnah and Jama’a’’, and al-Albani (who perished years past) also referred to his as an ‘’Imam.
This man wrote another book, a reliable book titled Muhadharat al-Udaba’.
In volume 1, page 326, he narrates the following:
Qais bin ‘Asim came to the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him and his purified family) and said: [This man was one of the chiefs of the Arabs in the days of Jahilia, and due to the environment he was accustomed to, he would, as was customary among the Arabs at the time, bury his newborn daughters alive. He intended to embrace the faith, so he came to the Messenger of Allah to declare the Shahadat (the declarations) of Islam. He wanted to know what he could do to atone for what he has done to his newborn daughters. Does he need to offer indemnity? Another form of compensation? Note here that the Messenger of Allah was sitting when Qais bin ‘Asim arrived, and Abu Bakr was present. ‘I have buried alive 12 daughters, so what must I do?’ The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him and his purified family) said: ‘Free one of your slaves for every daughter you have buried alive’. [This was when Abu Bakr got involved]. Then Abu Bakr said: ‘You are the wealthiest of the Arabs; what possessed you to do it?’ [He was questioning Qais bin ‘Asim why he had to bury his daughters alive when he had so much wealth, influence and power. He could have afforded to support his daughters. So this man replied to Abu Bakr, but what did he say?] He said: ‘For fear of someone like you marrying my daughters’ [Of course, this was no doubt an insult. He says that he did not wish for his daughters to marry an insignificant, nobody like Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr asked why he had to bury his daughters, and he answered that he did not wish to see someone like him being with his daughters. Abu Bakr – who the opposers hold in such high regard – was insulted in the presence of the Messenger of Allah. It is expected that the Messenger will defend Abu Bakr and condemn the man for the insult. He is, after all, the man who is the ‘Siddiq’, the successor, the great man, and his companion in the cave. In other words, the Messenger should chastise the man for overstepping his limits by insulting his companion. At the very least, to stay silent, not smile (the Prophet), as he did. As if he condones his words.] The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him and his purified family) smiled. [‘smiled’, meaning he was satisfied with what Qais bin ‘Asim said; on top of it, he added the following] and said: ‘This is the master of Wabar’ ‘’. [Refering to him as the master of the people of Wabar]
This narration, reported by the opposers in their sources, makes it clear that Abu Bakr holds no significance in the eyes of Allah (the Almighty) because if he did hold a high position in His eyes, the Messenger of Allah would have surly condemned the man who insulted him, not smile and compliment him by saying that he is the ‘Master’ of the Wabar. An honourable title to be given by the Messenger of Allah.
What is even more absolute is Abu Bakr’s confession of what he believes his position truly is. We spoke of al-Zahra’s position. To learn where she stands, we look at her statements. She described herself as ‘’a light created by Allah (the Almighty) before Adam’’. Now let us see what Abu Bakr thinks of himself, and where he stands, in the following narration:
Al-Jawzi reported in al-Tabsira, volume 2, page 222, and al-Mannawi in Faidh al-Qadir, volume 4, page 418, of Abu Bakr, who said:
I wish I were a hair on the chest of a believer.
He is confessing here that he is not a believer. If he was a believer, his body – including the hair on his body – is that of a believer, so why would he wish he was a single hair on the chest of a believer? It becomes abundantly clear that Abu Bakr knows he is not a believer because a believer would not say such a thing. Why wish you were a mere hair on the chest of a believer?! You are a believer and the finest creation after the prophets, as the opposers claim.
It does not stop here with Abu Bakr; it gets even worse. I will conclude with the following narration:
Ibn Sa’d reported in al-Tabaqat, volume 3, page 198, and al-Balathiri in Ansab al-Ashraaf, volume 10, page 84, of Qutada, who said:
It reached me that when Abu Bakr was dying, he said ‘I wish I were what animals grazed on
He means to say that he would have been better off had he been the plants that livestock eat. That is what he thinks of himself and where he belongs. When did he make that declaration? When his death came. When we are about to die, the veils that separate us from the unseen are lifted, revealing where our final destination lies in the Hereafter, paradise or hell?
This is but a passing mention of the true position and value of Abu Bakr. We have already shown where al-Zahra (peace be upon her) stands; her true position in creation. It is now up to rational minds to disseminate the narrations and contrast between the two.
The Office of Sheikh al-Habib