The Muslim majority advance some arguments for taking Abu Bakr as the successor of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). The arguments revolve around four main points, which have been the subject of much debate over the years. In one such engaging debate, a companion of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) rebuts all the arguments favouring Abu Bakr and brings his own proofs to establish the right of Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) to caliphate immediately after the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).

Debate between Momin al-Taaq and Ibn Abi Huzrah

Ibn Abi Huzrah (Khuzrah) said O Shias! I confess near you that Abu Bakr is superior to Ali (a.s.) and all other companions on the basis of four characteristics that none from the people can challenge. And these characteristics are:

  1. Abu Bakr is the second person to be buried in the house of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.).
  2. He is also one of the two from the cave with the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.).
  3. He is the second of the two to lead the last congregation prayer before the Messenger of Allah’s (s.a.w.a.) demise.
  4. He is the second of the most truthful one (Al-Siddiq al-Akbar).

(He was positioning Abu Bakr as the only one to possess all these four characteristics after the Prophet s.a.w.a.)

Abu Jafar Muhammad Ibn Noman – famous as – Momin al-Taaq declared: O Ibn Abi Huzrah! I also confess to you that Ali (a.s.) is superior to Abu Bakr and all other companions from three traits described in the Quran and from the endorsement (nass) of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and from the evidence of the intellect.

1. Rejection of first claim – Abu Bakr buried in house of Prophet (s.a.w.a.)
2. Rejection of second claim – Abu Bakr in the cave
3. Rejection of third claim – Abu Bakr the so-called Siddeeq
4. Rejection of fourth claim – Abu Bakr’s leading prayers
5. Proof of Ali’s (a.s.) Superiority from Quran
6. Proof of Ali’s (a.s.) Mastership from the Sunnah

Back to Top1. Rejection of first claim – Abu Bakr buried in house of Prophet (s.a.w.a.)

Momin al-Taaq continued: If the Messenger (s.a.w.a.) had bequeathed his house for his children and wives as an inheritance, then at the time (of demise) he (s.a.w.a.) had 9 wives. The (portion of the) house in which Abu Bakr is buried account’s for Ayesha’s share which is 1/8th of the 9th share and this does not in any way exceed even one span!

And if (we go by your claim that) he (s.a.w.a.) bequeathed it as charity (for all Muslims) then it is far more critical and serious. Because for even the lowest of Muslims, entering the house of the Messenger (s.a.w.a.) in his life time and after his demise is disobedience except for Ali (a.s.) and his sons (a.s.) as Allah has made permissible for them whatever was permitted for the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.).

Then Momin Taaq said – You know very well that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) ordered shutting of all doors which used to open in the Mosque except for the door of Ali (a.s.). Abu Bakr requested for opening a window so that he could see the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) from it, but the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) refused to give permission. And his uncle Abbas was also angry (with the order to shut the doors). Then he (s.a.w.a.) delivered a sermon (to address this issue) and declared – Surely Allah, the Almighty instructed Moosa and Haroon – ‘Take for your people houses to abide in Egypt’ and He ordered both of them that none shall spend the night in the mosque in a state of ritual impurity and none can have relation in it with women except Moosa and Haroon (peace be upon both) and their progeny. And surely Ali (a.s.) enjoys the same status (with respect to me) as Haroon enjoyed with Moosa (peace be upon both of them) and Ali’s (a.s.) progeny enjoys same status as Haroon’s (a.s.) progeny and it is not permissible for anyone to maintain relations with his wife in the Mosque of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) nor sleep in it in a state of ritual impurity except Ali (a.s.) and his progeny.

And all those present said: It is just as you have said.

Momin al-Taaq asserted: O Ibn Abi Huzrah! Your 1/4th religion is gone. This is a virtue for my master (Ali Ibn Abi Talib a.s.) and none can match him in this virtue, there is disgrace and degradation for your master (in being buried in the house of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.)).

Back to Top2. Rejection of second claim – Abu Bakr in the cave

And as for your claim – ‘he being the second of the two, when they were both in the cave’ tell me has Allah sent down His tranquility (Sakinah) on the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and the believers on other occasions?

Ibn Abi Huzrah said – Yes.

Momin al-Taaq pointed out – Then certainly Allah has deprived your master of tranquility inside the cave (and has only graced the Prophet s.a.w.a. with it). As for the position of Ali (a.s.) in this night, it was on the bed of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) sacrificing his self for the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and this is superior to the position of your master in the cave.

The people affirmed – You have spoken the truth.

Momin al-Taaq declared – O Ibn Abi Huzrah! There goes half your religion!

Back to Top3. Rejection of third claim – Abu Bakr the so-called Siddeeq

And as for your assertion that Abu Bakr is the second truthful (Siddeeq) of the nation (first being the Prophet s.a.w.a.), then Allah has made obligatory on your master – Abu Baqr to seek forgiveness for Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) as He declares:

وَ الَّذِينَ جاؤُ مِنْ بَعْدِهِمْ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْ لَنا وَ لِإِخْوانِنَا الَّذِينَ سَبَقُونا بِالْإِيمانِ

‘And those who come after them say: Our Lord! forgive us and those of our brethren who had precedence of us in faith…’ (Surah Hashr (59): 10)

Whatever you claim about Abu Bakr (being Siddeeq) is from some people. As for what Quran says and testifies about one’s truthfulness then such a testimony is superior to what you have heard from the people.

And Ali (a.s.) had proclaimed from the pulpit of Basrah – I am al-Siddeeq al-Akbar I accepted faith before Abu Bakr and testified (in Islam) before him.

The people affirmed – You have spoken the truth.

Momin al-Taaq declared – O Ibn Abi Huzrah! There goes three fourths of your religion!

Back to Top4. Rejection of fourth claim – Abu Bakr’s leading prayers

Then Momin al-Taaq declared – As for your assertion that he led the prayers which is a virtue for your master, then in reality this is closer to being a blameworthy act than a virtue. For if this was by the command of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) then why did he (s.a.w.a.) dismiss Abu Bakr from the prayers. Don’t you know that when Abu Bakr advanced to lead the Muslims in prayers the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) proceeded (for the Mosque) and himself led the Muslims in prayers and dismissed Abu Bakr.

Then this situation must be the result of only two possibilities. First was in the case of deceit (on the part of Abu Bakr) and when the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) perceived this, then despite his illness, he left immediately for the Mosque and dismissed Abu Bakr from it, so after the death (martyrdom) of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), it should not become as a proof (of his caliphate) for the nation and people should not have any excuse (for taking him as a caliph).

Or (in the second scenario) the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) himself ordered him and it is like conveying of Surah Baraat (Tauba), which he (s.a.w.a.) charged Abu Bakr with initially. Then Jibrail descended and instructed that it should be conveyed by you or someone from you and others cannot do it.

The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) sent forth Ali (a.s.) to seek out Abu Bakr and take the Surah from him and dismiss him from conveying the Surah.

This is the same story with leading the prayers in both the conditions there is condemnation for your master because the concealed intent (of dismissing him) has been manifested. This is clear evidence that after the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) he does not deserve caliphate and neither has he been appointed for securing any affair of religion.

People affirmed: You have spoken the truth.

Momin Taaq declared – O Ibn Abi Huzrah! There goes your entire religion and you have been humiliated regarding everything you have praised (about your master).

Back to Top5. Proof of Ali’s (a.s.) Superiority from Quran

People turned to Momin al-Taaq – Now advance your proof regarding the claim of Ali’s (a.s.) obedience.

Momin al-Taaq declared – As for the Quran it describes Ali (a.s.) in Allah’s saying –

يا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَ كُونُوا مَعَ الصَّادِقِينَ

‘O you who believe! Be careful of (your duty to) Allah and be with the truthful ones.’ (Surah Tauba (9): 119)

And we find Ali (a.s.) with this characteristic in the Quran:

الصَّابِرِينَ فِي الْبَأْساءِ وَ الضَّرَّاءِ وَ حِينَ الْبَأْسِ أُولئِكَ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَ أُولئِكَ هُمُ الْمُتَّقُونَ

‘…and the patient in distress and affliction and in time of conflicts and these are they who are true (to themselves) and these are they who guard (against evil).’ (Surah Baqarah (2: 177)

Meaning (patient in distress in) battle and difficulty

And the nation is unanimous that it is about Ali (a.s.) and he is the foremost in this affair to the exception of others because he never escaped from the battlefield like others escaped.

The people affirmed – You have spoken the truth.

Back to Top6. Proof of Ali’s (a.s.) Mastership from the Sunnah

Momin al-Taaq continued – As for the report (on Ali’s a.s. mastership) from the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) then he (s.a.w.a.) declared –

‘I leave behind you two weighty things. Till the time you hold fast unto them you  will never deviate after me i.e. the Book of Allah and my progeny, my Ahle Bait (a.s.). This is so because they will never separate from me until they meet me at the Pond.’

And the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) declaration –

‘The likeness of my Ahle Bait (a.s.) in your midst is the likeness of Nuh’s ark, one who boards it is saved and one who steps back from it is drowned and one who precedes it is deviated and who attaches to it reaches it. Then attaching to the Ahle Bait (a.s.) of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is guidance according to the testimony of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and attaching to others is deviation.’

The people affirmed – You have spoken the truth.

Momin al-Taaq continued – As for the argument from the intellect (about Ali’s a.s. superiority) surely all people prefer submitting to the command of a scholar and we find consensus that Ali (a.s.) was the most learned of the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) companions. All the people sought their queries from him and were in need of him and he was needless from them. And this is evident and proven from the Quran when Allah says –

أَ فَمَنْ يَهْدِي إِلَى الْحَقِّ أَحَقُّ أَنْ يُتَّبَعَ أَمَّنْ لا يَهِدِّي إِلَّا أَنْ يُهْدى‏ فَما لَكُمْ كَيْفَ تَحْكُمُونَ

‘…is He then Who guides to the truth more worthy to be followed, or he who himself does not go aright unless he is guided? What then is the matter with you; how do you judge?’ (Surah Yunus (10): 35)

It is reported that there was no day more successful than this one and many scholars entered the Shiite fold thanks to this debate.