One of the key accusations of the skeptics directed at the Shias is that in moments of crisis they invoke Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) instead of invoking Allah the Almighty.
Unfortunately, even some Shias of the Ahle Bait (a.s.) stand confused on the matter and are inclined towards this line of argument.
At the root of the matter therefore lies a simple question – Do we seek help with ‘Ya Ali Madad’ or ‘Ya Allah’?
This is an age-old argument formulated by the enemies of the Ahle Bait (a.s.) to attack the Shias with labels of polytheism and disbelief.
They have conveniently transformed the narrative from ‘Allah vs Idols’ to ‘Allah vs Ali (a.s.)’ or ‘Allah vs Muhammad (s.a.w.a.)’. They try to position Allah in opposition to all others, even His Own Prophets (a.s.) and Proofs (a.s.).
In their warped version of divine monotheism, the enemies have ignored rather, rejected, clear verses of the Holy Quran calling on Muslims to take help of divine Prophets and proofs (a.s.).
1. Waseelah in the Holy Quran
2. Ya Ali Madad has delivered the Prophets (a.s.)
3. All prophets invoked Ali (a.s.)
4. The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) invokes Ali (a.s.)
5. Angels invoke Ali (a.s.)
6. Imams (a.s.) invoke Ali (a.s.)
7. Imams (a.s.) invoke with ‘Ya Fatima’
8. Who understands divine monotheism better?
9. Is Ali (a.s.) dead or alive?
Back to Top1. Waseelah in the Holy Quran
Is there any way out for the cynics from clear cut Quranic instructions like these:
- ‘O you who believe! Be careful of (your duty to) Allah and seek means of nearness to Him…’ (Surah Maidah (5): Verse 35)
- ‘…and had they, when they were unjust to themselves, come to you and asked forgiveness of Allah and the Apostle had (also) asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah Oft-returning (to mercy), Merciful.’ (Surah Nisa (4): Verse 64)
- ‘They said: O our father! Seek forgiveness of our faults for us, surely we were sinners.’ (Surah Yusuf (12): Verse 97)
Back to Top2. Ya Ali Madad has delivered the Prophets (a.s.)
In line with divine instructions even the highest prophets – the Ulul Azm – have resorted to ‘Ya Ali Madad’ in moments of crisis.
In the Ziyaarat of Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) we find that Adam (a.s.) and Nuh (a.s.) were rescued by Ali (a.s.):
السَّلَامُ عَلَيْكَ يَا مَنْ أَنْجَى اللَّهُ سَفِينَةَ نُوحٍ بِاسْمِهِ وَ اسْمِ أَخِيهِ حَيْثُ الْتَطَمَ حَوْلَهَا الْمَاءُ وَ طَمَا السَّلَامُ عَلَيْكَ يَا مَنْ تَابَ اللَّهُ بِهِ وَ بِأَخِيهِ عَلَى آدَمَ إِذْ غَوَى
‘Peace be on you (O Ameerul Momineen), O the one with whose name and the name of his brother (s.a.w.a.), Allah rescued Nuh’s ark from the turbulence of the flood and peace be on you that Allah forgave Adam when he erred, through the mediation of him and his brother (s.a.w.a.)…’
- Ziyarat of Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) on the Day of Ghadeer from Iqbal al-Aamaal p. 608-611
Even the Ahle Tasannun have recorded that Adam (a.s.) was forgiven through the medium of the five infallible personas (a.s.) viz. Muhammad (s.a.w.a.), Ali (a.s.), Fatima (s.a.), Hasan (a.s.) and Husain (a.s.).
Interested readers can refer to the exegesis of the verse:
‘Then Adam received (some) words from his Lord, so He turned to him mercifully; surely He is Oft-returning (to mercy), the Merciful.’ (Surah Baqarah (2): Verse 37)
- Al-Durr al-Manthoor under the exegesis of this verse in vol. 1 pp.58,60
- Al-Manaaqeb of Ibn al-Maghaazeli p. 63
- Hilyah al-Awliya
- Sunan al-Baihaqi
- Tarikh al-Dimishq
- Faraaed al-Simtain Fi Fazaael al-Murtaza wa al-Batool wa al-Sibtain
Likewise Moosa (a.s.) and Haroon (a.s.) were rescued by Ali (a.s.) as evidenced in the Holy Quran under the verse:
وَنَجْعَلُ لَكُمَا سُلْطَانًا فَلَا يَصِلُونَ إِلَيْكُمَا بِآيَاتِنَا
‘…and We will give you both an authority, so that they shall not reach you; (go) with Our signs’ (Surah Qasas (28): Verse 35)
In the exegesis of the verse, Ibn Abbas says – the authority in the verse refers to Ali (a.s.).
And the authority (through the medium of Ali a.s.) was likewise extended as assistance to other divine Prophets (a.s.).
- Madinah al-Maajiz vol. 1 p. 144-145
- Tafseer al-Burhan vol. 4 p. 265 under Surah Qasas (28): Verse 35
- Mashareq Anwaar al-Yaqeen p. 128
Back to Top3. All prophets invoked Ali (a.s.)
As we have seen all divine Prophets have benefited from Ameerul Momineen Ali’s (a.s.) assistance with or without their realization.
And this has been pointed out by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) himself:
‘O Ali, through you, Allah has helped all the prophets secretly and He has helped me evidently.’
- Madinah al-Maajiz vol. 1 pp. 144-145
- Mashareq Anwaar al-Yaqeen p. 128
Back to Top4. The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) invokes Ali (a.s.)
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) himself supplicated to Allah through the medium of Ali (a.s.) as highlighted by such incidents.
Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) narrates – Once I requested the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) to seek forgiveness for me.
He (s.a.w.a.) said – I will do it.
Then he (s.a.w.a.) rose and offered prayers. When he (s.a.w.a.) raised his hands in supplication, I heard him (s.a.w.a.) recite –
اللهم بحق علي عندك اغفر لعلي
‘O Allah by the right of Ali near you, forgive Ali.’
Then I said – O Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.a.), what is this?
He (s.a.w.a.) said – Had there been anyone nobler than you near Allah, I would have sought intercession through him near Allah.
- Sharh Nahj al-Balaaghaah of Ibn Abil Hadeed al-Motazali 20 p. 316
- Mafaatih al-Jenaan – Section of Al-Baaqiyaat al-Saalehaat – of Shaikh Abbas al-Qummi (r.a.)
Back to Top5. Angels invoke Ali (a.s.)
When the great Ulul Azm Prophets (a.s.) invoke Ali (a.s.) in difficulties and in supplications, it is hardly surprising if we find the angels imitating them. Rather they are even needier of Ali’s (a.s.) assistance.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) informs Ali (a.s.):
‘…O Ali, surely in the skies are angels, none know how many, except Allah. They await you, discuss your virtues, take pride over the inmates of the skies through your recognition, seek mediation with Allah through your recognition and await your affair.
- Behaar al-Anwaar vol 40 p. 64 from Tafseer Furaat al-Kufi p. 455 under Surah Qamar (54): Verse 36
Back to Top6. Imams (a.s.) invoke Ali (a.s.)
Even the infallible Imams (a.s.) invoke Ali (a.s.) and have recommended supplications for the Shias with similar invocations.
Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) in the supplication famous as Dua lil Faraj, invokes with ‘Ya Ali’:
يَا مُحَمَّدُ يَا عَلِيُّ يَا عَلِيُ يَا مُحَمَّدُ اكْفِيَانِي فَإِنَّكُمَا كَافِيَانِ وَ انْصُرَانِي فَإِنَّكُمَا نَاصِرَان
- Al-Misbah of al-Kafami p. 176
Back to Top7. Imams (a.s.) invoke with ‘Ya Fatima’
We also find Imams (a.s.) invoking Allah through the medium of Fatima Zahra (s.a.) as underscored by this incident:
It is related that whenever Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) was afflicted with fever, he (a.s.) would treat the fever by keeping cloth pieces immersed in cold water on his body and call out loudly O Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad! that his voice could be heard from the entrance of the house.
- Rauzah al-Kafi, p. 87
- Behaar al-Anwaar, vol. 62 p. 102
- Bait al-Ahzaan fi Masaaeb Sayyidah al-Niswaan (s.a.), p. 135
In explanation of this tradition, Allamah Majlisi (r.a.) says that Imam Baqir (a.s.) desired that by invoking the sacred name of Fatima (s.a.), he would ward off fever.
Back to Top8. Who understands divine monotheism better?
We have a simple question of our own in answer to the question – Ya Ali or Ya Allah?
Do the Ulul Azm Prophets (a.s.), angels and infallible Imams (a.s.) understand Tauheed better or the skeptics?
If the Prophets, angels and Imams understand divine monotheism better and that is indeed the case, then why did they invoke with Ya Ali?
Why didn’t they simply invoke Allah instead?
The answer is simple – the quickest way to get a response from Allah is by invoking a name or personality that is nearest to Him. Hence those with correct beliefs invoke with Ya Ali.
Back to Top9. Is Ali (a.s.) dead or alive?
When the cynics are unable to devise an effective response to the aforementioned arguments, they change tack. After implicitly accepting Ali (a.s.) as a medium, they claim that this was acceptable only so long as he was alive. Now that he is dead and lifeless, it is pointless and even apostasy to invoke him.
Our response to this argument remains the same – Did the Prophets, angels and Imams (a.s.) not invoke Ali (a.s.) either before or after his physical appearance on the earth?
Did they commit a pointless exercise tantamount to apostasy (Allah forbid)?
Moreover, Allah does not consider Ali (a.s.) to be dead and lifeless as the skeptics claim:
‘And reckon not those who are killed in Allah’s way as dead; nay, they are alive (and) are provided sustenance from their Lord.’ (Surah Aal Imran (3): Verse 169)
Based on the Holy Quran and Sunnah, the skeptics consider many lifeless articles to be blessed and miraculous like:
- The shirt of Yusuf (a.s.)
- The staff of Moosa (a.s.)
- The rock that sprung 12 fountains of water satiating the 12 tribes of Bani Israel
- The Black Stone in the Kabah
However, when it comes to Ali (a.s.) and the Prophet’s progeny (a.s.) in general, there are altogether different principles of monotheism and polytheism. More than monotheism, this is a case of envy and prejudice, since Ali (a.s.) and his infallible sons (a.s.) are blessed with the power to mediate in crises unlike the leaders of the doubting dolts, who themselves depended on Ali (a.s.) in crises.