Debate Between Hurrah and Hajjaj on superiority of Ali (a.s.) over prophets

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Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf, a tyrant and blood-sucking butcher, was the representative of Abdul Malik b. Marwaan (the fifth caliph of the Umayyid dynasty) and the governor of Iraq. His hands were stained with the blood of respected taabe’een and companions of Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) like Kumayl b. Ziyaad, Qanbar and Saeed b. Jubair. In addition to this, he slaughtered thousands of family members of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) after imprisoning them in roofless dungeons thereby exposing its inmates to the harsh weather of Iraq. His hypocrisy and fanatical animosity towards Ameerul Momineen Ali b. Abi Taalib (a.s.) is widely documented by scholars of both sects.

Once, a lady named Hurrah, the daughter of Haleemah al-Sa’diyyah and a very brave person and staunch supporter of Ameerul Momineen (a.s.), was brought to Hajjaj’s assembly. A historical dialogue transpired between the two as follows:

Hajjaj: Are you the daughter of Haleemah al-Sa’diyyah?

Hurrah: Intelligence from a non-believer (is unexpected).

Hajjaj: God brought you here in my authority. I have heard that you deem Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.) as superior and far more distinguished than Abu Bakr, Umar and Usman?

Hurrah: People have lied to you. (i.e. I have never compared these three to Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.)). In fact, I consider Ali b. Abi Taalib (a.s.) superior even to Prophets like Adam (a.s.), Nuh (a.s.), Lut (a.s.), Ibrahim (a.s.), Moosa (a.s.), Dawood (a.s.), Sulaiman (a.s.) and Isa (a.s.).

Hajjaj: Woe unto you! You deem Ali as incomparable and superior to all companions and eight great Prophets (which includes the most supreme messengers). If you do not back your claim with strong arguments, I will have your head severed.

Hurrah: It’s not me who claims superiority for Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.) over all these Prophets. Allah Himself has declared his superiority over these Prophets in the Holy Quran.

Regarding Prophet Adam (a.s.), the Holy Quran informs:

وَعَصَىٰ آدَمُ رَبَّهُ

…and Adam disobeyed his Lord…

(Surah Taha (20): Verse 121)

Regarding Ali (and his wife and children) Allah said:

وَكَانَ سَعْيُكُم مَّشْكُورًا

…and your striving shall be recompensed.

(Surah Insaan (76): Verse 22)

Hajjaj: That’s good, Hurrah! Now tell me how does Ali hold supremacy over Prophets like Nuh (a.s.) and Lut (a.s.)?

Hurrah: Allah has mentioned about the two Prophets (a.s.):

ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا لِّلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا امْرَأَتَ نُوحٍ وَامْرَأَتَ لُوطٍ ۖ كَانَتَا تَحْتَ عَبْدَيْنِ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا صَالِحَيْنِ فَخَانَتَاهُمَا فَلَمْ يُغْنِيَا عَنْهُمَا مِنَ اللَّهِ شَيْئًا وَقِيلَ ادْخُلَا النَّارَ مَعَ الدَّاخِلِينَ

Allah sets forth an example to those who disbelieve the wife of Nuh and the wife of Lut: they were both under two of Our righteous servants, but they acted treacherously towards them so they availed them naught against Allah, and it was said: Enter both the fire with those who enter.

(Surah Tahreem (66): Verse 10)

Whereas for the wife of Ali (a.s.), it is said that Fatima’s (s.a.) pleasure is Allah’s pleasure and her wrath is Allah’s wrath.

Hajjaj: Excellent, Hurrah! Now I want to know how is Ali superior over the ancestor of our last Prophet (s.a.w.a.) i.e. Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.)?

Hurrah: Allah has narrated the following conversation of Ibrahim (a.s.) in the Quran:

وَإِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ رَبِّ أَرِنِي كَيْفَ تُحْيِي الْمَوْتَىٰ ۖ قَالَ أَوَلَمْ تُؤْمِن ۖ قَالَ بَلَىٰ وَلَٰكِن لِّيَطْمَئِنَّ قَلْبِي ۖ

And when Ibrahim said: My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead, He said: What! And do you not believe? He said: Yes, but that my heart may be at ease.

(Surah Baqarah (2): Verse 260)

But Ali’s (a.s.) faith in his Lord was at a higher station as he himself claims:

Even if the curtains were to be lifted, it would have no effect on my belief in Him.[1] (i.e. a man’s worth is based on the level of his faith in Allah and Ali’s (a.s.) faith was perfect so he did not need any further convincing like Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.).

Hajjaj: Very good, Hurrah! Can you explain how Ali (a.s.) is superior to Prophet Moosa (a.s.) who is known to have conversed with Allah?

Hurrah: Regarding Moosa (a.s.) it is said in the Quran:

فَخَرَجَ مِنْهَا خَائِفًا يَتَرَقَّبُ ۖ

So he went forth therefrom, fearing, awaiting…

(Surah Qasas (28): Verse 21)

But Ali (a.s.) willingly slept on the bed of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in the night of Hijrah (immigration), without any fear or doubt; thus, Allah praised him in His Book:

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَشْرِي نَفْسَهُ ابْتِغَاءَ مَرْضَاتِ اللَّهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ رَءُوفٌ بِالْعِبَادِ

And among men is he who sells himself to seek the pleasure of Allah; and Allah is Affectionate to the servants.[2]

(Surah Baqarah (2): Verse 207)

Hajjaj: That’s good, Hurrah! What is the reason for Ali’s (a.s.) superiority over Prophet Dawood (a.s.)?

Hurrah: Regarding Prophet Dawood (a.s.) Allah said:

يَا دَاوُودُ إِنَّا جَعَلْنَاكَ خَلِيفَةً فِي الْأَرْضِ فَاحْكُم بَيْنَ النَّاسِ بِالْحَقِّ

O Dawood! Surely We have made you a ruler in the land; so judge between men with justice…

(Surah Saad (38): Verse 26)

Hajjaj: What was Prophet Dawood’s (a.s.) judgment?

Hurrah: It was regarding the dispute between two persons of which one was a shepherd and the other a farmer. The former’s cattle trespassed on the farmer’s cultivated land and destroyed the fruits of the crops and they approached Prophet Dawood (a.s.) and the farmer registered his complaint.

Prophet Dawood (a.s.) replied: The shepherd must sell all his cattle to compensate for the farmer’s loss.

Sulaiman (a.s.) said to his father Prophet Dawood (a.s.): It would be more appropriate if the shepherd compensates the farmer’s loss (of the crop’s produce) with the milk and fur of the shepherd’s cattle (i.e. produce of the cattle). That would compensate the farmer for the produce of the crops and the shepherd’s cattle will remain with him.

Therefore Allah said:

فَفَهَّمْنَاهَا سُلَيْمَانَ ۚ وَكُلًّا آتَيْنَا حُكْمًا وَعِلْمًا ۚ وَسَخَّرْنَا مَعَ دَاوُودَ الْجِبَالَ يُسَبِّحْنَ وَالطَّيْرَ ۚ وَكُنَّا فَاعِلِينَ

So We made Sulaiman to understand it; and to each one We gave wisdom and knowledge; and We made the mountains, and the birds to celebrate Our praise with Dawood; and We were the doers.

(Surah Anbiya (21): Verse 79)

But Ameerul Momineen(a.s.) declares his superiority thus:

سَلُونِي قَبْلَ أَنْ تَفْقِدُونِي‏

Ask me before you lose me.[3]

When Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) reached in the presence of his master Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) after the conquest of Khaibar, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) addressed his companions in the following manner,

Ali is the best among you, the most knowledgeable and the most perfect in passing judgment.[4]

Hajjaj: Excellent, Hurrah! Explain us how Ali surpasses Sulaiman (a.s.) in excellence.

Hurrah: Allah depicts the dialogue of Sulaiman (a.s.) in His Book in the following manner:-

قَالَ رَبِّ اغْفِرْ لِي وَهَبْ لِي مُلْكًا لَّا يَنبَغِي لِأَحَدٍ مِّن بَعْدِي ۖ

He said: My Lord! Do You forgive me and grant me a kingdom which is not fit for (being inherited by) anyone after me.

(Surah Saad (38): 35)

But my master Ali (a.s.) describes the world in this manner:

فَقَدْ طَلَّقْتُكِ ثَلَاثاً لَا رَجْعَةَ لِي إِلَيْك‏

O world, I have divorced you thrice and I have no need for you.

And the Lord revealed the verse:

تِلْكَ الدَّارُ الْآخِرَةُ نَجْعَلُهَا لِلَّذِينَ لَا يُرِيدُونَ عُلُوًّا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فَسَادًا ۚ وَالْعَاقِبَةُ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ

(As for) that future abode, We assign it to those who have no desire to exalt themselves in the earth nor to make mischief and the good end is for those who guard (against evil).

Surah Qasas (28): Verse 83

Hajjaj: Excellent Hurrah! Lastly, what is your view regarding Ali’s excellence over Prophet Isa (a.s.)?

Hurrah: The Lord addressed Hazrat Isa (a.s.) in His Book thus:

وَإِذْ قَالَ اللَّهُ يَا عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ أَأَنتَ قُلْتَ لِلنَّاسِ اتَّخِذُونِي وَأُمِّيَ إِلَٰهَيْنِ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ ۖ قَالَ سُبْحَانَكَ مَا يَكُونُ لِي أَنْ أَقُولَ مَا لَيْسَ لِي بِحَقٍّ ۚ إِن كُنتُ قُلْتُهُ فَقَدْ عَلِمْتَهُ ۚ تَعْلَمُ مَا فِي نَفْسِي وَلَا أَعْلَمُ مَا فِي نَفْسِكَ ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ عَلَّامُ الْغُيُوبِ

And when Allah will say: O Eesa son of Maryam! Did you say to men, take me and my mother for two gods besides Allah he will say: Glory be to You, it did not befit me that I should say what I had no right to (say); if I had said it, You would indeed have known it; You know what is in my mind, and I do not know what is in Your mind, surely You are the great Knower of the unseen things.

(Surah Maaidah (5): Verse 116)

And in this manner Allah delayed the punishment of those who deemed Prophet Eesa (a.s.) as their Lord but as for the Nusairi who raised Ali (a.s.) to the level of godhood, Ali (a.s.) did not postpone their punishment, rather he chastised such people.

Hajjaj: I am very impressed with your eloquent explanations. Had you been inaccurate regarding your claims about Ali, I would have definitely severed your head.

Thereafter, Hajjaj not only released Hurrah with honour, he also rewarded her handsomely.[5]

[1] Manaaqib-e-Aal-e-Abi Taalib vol 1 pg 317, Al-Taraaif pg 512, Siraat al-Mustaqeem vol 1 pg 230, Behaar al-Anwaar vol 4 pg 45, Hilyah al-Abraar vol 2 pg 62, Sharh-e-NahjulBalaaghaah by IbneAbilHadeedvol 10 pg 142, Ghaayah al-Maraam vol 5 pg 195, Tafzeel al-Nash’atain pg 46 & 62, Ilm al-Kitaab by Khwajah Ameer Muhammadi Hanafi pg 266, Mataalib al-So’ool pg 16, Tabaqaat al-Kubra by Abdul Wahhaab Shaafe’ee vol 4 pg 54, An Moozaj Jaleel fee Bayaane Aswalatee wa Ajwabatee min Gharaaib al-Tanzeel vol 1 pg 18, Al-Sawaaeq al-Muhreqah pg 77 narrated from Sharh-e-Ehqaaqul Haqq vol 7 pg 605, Yanaabi al-Mawaddah vol 1 pg 203, vol 2 pg 413, Jawaahir al-Mataalib vol 2 pg 50

[2] The renowned interpreter of the Sunnis – Sa’labi in the interpretation of this verse through his chain of narrators says: When the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) decided to migrate, he appointed Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) to repay his debts and to return the trusts entrusted to him. On the eve of migration before departing with the polytheists having surrounded his house to attack him, he (s.a.w.a.) ordered Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) to sleep in his bed and cover himself with the green blanket associated with him. At that moment, Allah revealed to Jibraeel and Mikaaeel – I make you two as brothers and grant one of you a longer life than the other. Now which one of you is ready to sacrifice his life and give preference to other’s life over his own? Neither of them volunteered. He revealed to them – Now Ali (a.s.) will sleep on the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) bed and is ready to sacrifice his life for him. Go to the earth and be his protectors. When Jibraeel was sitting near the head of Ali (a.s.) and Mikaaeel was sitting near his feet, Jibraeel said – Congratulations to you O son of Abu Taalib. Allah prides over you near His Angels. At this juncture the verse – And among men is he who sells himself to seek the pleasure of Allah; and Allah is Affectionate to the servants (Surah Baqarah (2): Verse 207. It is due to this that this night is famous as the Night of Selling. (Tafseer-e-Sa’alabi vol 6 pg 479)

In fact, the traditions regarding the Night of Sleeping (Lailah al-Mubeet) have been narrated by numerous Sunni scholars some of which are Kashful Bayaan by Sa’alabi vol 1 pg 409, Tafseer-e-Fakhr-e-Raazi vol 3 pg 222, Tafseer-e-Nishapuri vol 2 pg 8, Tafseer-e-A’qam Zaidi vol 1 pg 41, Jaame’o Lataaif al-Tafseer vol 5 pg 111, Jawaahir al-Mataalib vol 1 pg 241, Al-Salaato Khairun min al-Naum vol 5 pg 13, Shawaahed al-Tanzeel vol 1 pg 123, Asad al-Ghaabah fi Marifat al-Saḥaabah vol 4 pg 25, Yanaabi al-Mawaddah vol 1 pg 274, Majma al-Zawaaid vol 7 pg 27, Kunooz al-Haqaaiq pg 31, Zakhaair al-Uqba pg 86 etc.

[3] Al-Riyaaz al-Nazarah by Muhib al-Tabari, vol. 2, pg 198; Al-Tabaqaat al-Kubra by Ibn Sa’d, vol 2, part 2, pg 101; Al-Isaabah by Ibn Hajare Asqalani, vol 4, pg 568; Tahzib al-Tahzib by Ibn Hajare Asqalani, vol 7, pg 337-338; Fath al-Baari by Ibn Hajare Asqalani, vol 8, pg 485; Al-Istiaab by Ibn Abd al-Barr,vol 3, pg1,107; Tarikh al-Khulafa by Jalaaluddin Suyuti, pg 124; Al-Itqaan by Jalaaluddin Suyuti, vol. 2, pg 319

[4] Traditions under this topic have been narrated by many groups of Sunni scholars. Among them are Shawaahid al-Tanzeel vol. 2 pg 467, Seyr A’lam al-Nobala, vol. 14, pg. 209, Faiz al-Qadeer, vol. 5 pg 668; Tuhfah al-Ahwaazi vol. 10 pg 205, Fath al-Baarivol 10 pg 487, Sharh-e-NahjulBalaaghaahvol 1 pg 18, vol 7 pg 219, Kashf al-Khafaa vol. 1 pg 162, Tafseer-e-Qurtubbi, vol. 15 pg 162, Al- Usool al-Aseelah pg 112, Al-Akhaam vol. 4 pg 237, Taareekh-e-Dimishq vol. 15 pg 300, Al-Jawharato fi Nasbe Imam Ali (a.s.) wa Aalehi pg 71, Taareekh of Ibne Khaldoon vol. 1 pg 197, Jawaahir al-Mataalib vol. 1 pg 76, Al-Ghadeer vol. 3 pg 95 narrated from Al Istiaab vol. 3 pg 235, Mataalib al-So’l pg 23, Tameez al-Tayyib min al-Khabees pg 25 ……and it is narrated from Saeed b. Abi Khuzaib one of the companions of Imam Sadiq (a.s.) – Ibne Abi Laila and I entered Medina and went to the Prophet’s Mosque when Imam Sadiq (a.s.) entered. We approached him (a.s.) and Imam (a.s.) asked about me and my family. Then he asked about my fellow traveler Ibne Abi Laila. I said to Imam (a.s.) – He is Ibne Abi Laila, the judge of the Muslims. Imam (a.s.) asked him – Have you taken the property of one person and given it to another or have you made divorce between a husband and a wife and in this were you fearful of anyone? He replied – Yes. Imam (a.s.) asked – Through what do you judge? He replied – Through the traditions which have reached me from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), Abu Bakr and Umar. Imam (a.s.) asked him – Has this tradition of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) not reached you that – In judgment Ali is the best amongst you. He replied – Yes. Imam (a.s.) asked him – Then why don’t you judge as per the judgments of Ali (a.s.), even after this tradition has reached you? The narrator says that signs of grief appeared on the face of Ibne Abi Laila and he said to me – Find yourself another friend, by Allah I will never talk to you. Kaafi vol. 7 pg 408, Tahzeeb al-Ahkaam vol. 6, pg 221, Wasaail al-Shia vol. 18 pg 8, Al Ehtijaaj, vol. 2 pg 102, Behaar al-Anwaar vol. 47 pg 334

[5] Al-Fazaail, pg. 136, Behaar al-Anwaar vol. 46 pg 134, Al-Imam Ali (a.s.) by Al-Rahmaani pg 326, Al-Munaazeraat fi Al-Imaamiyyah pg 125, Mustadrak Ilm Rijaal al-Hadis by Ali Shaahroodi Al-Namaazi (r.a.) vol. 8 pg 565, Qaamoos al-Rijaal by Al-Tustari, vol. 12 pg 227, Al-Lum’ah al-Bayzaa pg 218, Bahr al-Manaaqib by Ibne Husnawayh from Sharh-o-Ehqaaq al-Haqq vol. 5 pg 47

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