Ameerul Momineen’s (a.s.) association and relation with the Noble Quran runs deep right from the start when the divine call came to Holy Prophet – ‘Read in the name of your Lord Who created.’ (Surah Alaq (98):1)
Special attention of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)
There are many reports of the Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w..a.) special attention on Ali (a.s.) in matters related to the Quran in particular and knowledge in general. There are reports that mention Ali (a.s.) used to ask questions to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) which he (s.a.w.a.) answered and when Ali (a.s.) fell silent then the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) began revealing secrets of knowledge.
Entrusting special knowledge
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) entrusted Ali (a.s.) with knowledge that he (s.a.w.a.) that he did not entrust anyone else as the narration goes:
Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) entrusted us with 70 covenants that he did not entrust anyone else.
- Shawahid al-Tanzeel v 1 p 432
- Ithbat al-Hodat v 3 p 461
The narrations are well-documented of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) entrusting Ali (a.s.) with thousand doors of knowledge and each door opened another thousand doors of knowledge.
- Basaer al-Darajat v 1 p 314-315
- Behar al-Anwar v 40 p 216
Most knowledgeable of Quran and Sunnah
Ali (a.s.) was most knowledgeable of the Quran and Sunnah of Prophet (s.a.w.a.) as these narrations indicate:
Abdullah Ibn Umar:
Ali (a.s.) is the most knowledgeable with regards the revelation on Muhammad (s.a.w.a.).
- Shawahid al-Tanzeel v 1 p 39
Ali (a.s.) is the most knowledgeable with regards the Sunnah.
- Kashf al-Ghummah v 1 p 117
One with the Quran
Ali (a.s.) is with the Quran and the Quran is with Ali (a.s.) as many narrations verify:
Umme Salma (r.a.) narrates from Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)
Ali (a.s.) is with the Quran and the Quran is with Ali (a.s.) and the two will not separate until they meet me at the Pond.
- Mustadrak al-Hakim under Kitab Marefah al-Sahabah – Zikr Islam Ameeril Momineen Ali (a.s.) trad 4,628 and Hakim records Chain as Sahih
- Al-Mojam al-Sagheer trad 721
- Al-Jamal p 418
- Al-Amali of Shaikh Tusi (r.a.) p 460, 479
Sulaim Ibn Qays al-Hilali (r.a.) narrates from Amirul Momineen (a.s.):
Allah has purified us and protected us and made us as witnesses on His Creation, and as His Proof on His Earth and made us to be with the Quran and the Quran to be with us. We do not separate from it and it does not separate from us.
- Basair al-Darajat v 1 p 198
- Al-Tarf p 265
- Behar al-Anwar v 40 p 139
Similarly, Ali (a.s.) in his address to the Khwarij:
…certainly the Quran is with me. I have never forsaken it since I adopted its company.
- Nahjul Balagha Sermon 122
Compiling the Quran
None in the Muslim community can lay claim to compiling the Quran exactly as Allah has revealed, except Ali (a.s.).
Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) informs:
There is none from the people who said that he has collected all of the Quran as Allah has revealed except that he is a liar, and no one collected it or preserved it as Allah had sent it down, except for Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) and the Imams (a.s.) after him (a.s.)’.
- Basair -al-Darajat v 1 p 193
- Behar al-Anwar v 92 p 88
Speaking Quran and Silent Quran
Regarding the Quranic verse ‘This is Our book that speaks against you with justice; surely We wrote what you did’ (surah Jathiyah (45).29)
Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) informed – Surely the Book (Quran) does not speak, rather it is Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) and his Ahle Bait (a.s.), they are the speaking Quran.
- Tafseer al-Burhan v 5 p 39
When the rebels in his army at Siffeen forced Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) to accept arbitration by the (silent) Quran as proposed by Muawiyah, Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) ordered:
This Quran (of Muawiyah) is the silent Book of Allah and I am the one to interpret it. Then seize the (Speaking) Book of Allah that interprets and don’t accept the offer to judge by the Book of Allah that is silent because none except me can interpret it.
- Al-Umdah p. 330
Noted down dictation of every Quranic verse
Every verse of Quran was dictated by Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) to Ali (a.s.), which he (a.s.) noted dutifully, as Imam (a.s.) declared to Talha while staking his superior claim to caliphate:
O Talha! Every verse Allah revealed upon Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) is with me by the dictation of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and written by my hand…
- Kitab al-Sulaim v 2 p 636 onwards (trad 11)
- Al-Ehtejaj v 1 p 145 onwards
- Tafseer al-Safi v 1 p 42
- Behar al-Anwar v 21 p 65
Knowledge of revelation and interpretation of every verse
In the same report on Ali (a.s.) staking his superior claim to caliphate he (a.s.) declares:
O Talha…the interpretation of every verse Allah revealed on Muhammad and every permissible and prohibition, or legal punishment, or judgment that the community needs up to the Day of Judgement is with me, written by dictation of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and written by my hand, even the compensation of a scratch.
- Kitab al-Sulaim v 2 p 636 onwards (trad 11)
- Al-Ehtejaj v 1 p 145 onwards
Knowledge of abrogating and abrogated verses
Among the Quranic sciences is the study of abrogating verses (nasikh) and abrogated verses (mansukh). This is a complicated discussion and Muslim scholars are forever debating on this topic. None has the knowledge of such verses except Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and his infallible successors (a.s.).
Asbagh Ibn Nabata relates:
When Ali (a.s.) came to Kufa, he (a.s.) led them for forty mornings reciting Surah Aala (87). The hypocrites said: By Allah, it is not good for Ali (a.s.) to recite the Quran (like this), it would have been better if he (a.s.) had recited for us a Chapter other than this Chapter’. This objection reached Ali (a.s.). He (a.s.) said: Woe be unto them! I am well aware of the Quran’s abrogating verses, and abrogated verses, and its decisive verses, and its allegorical verses, and its separated verses, and its linked verses, and its letters from its meanings.
- Basair al-Darajat v 1 p 135-136
Knowledge of apparent and hidden meaning of Quran
The Quran has an apparent and a hidden and none knows all of it except Ali (a.s.) and his infallible successors (a.s.).
Ahle Tasannun scholars like Ghazzali (in Ihya al-Uloom) and Abu Noaim (in Hilya al-Awliya) narrate from Abdullah Ibn Masood, the companion of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.):
The Quran has been revealed on seven alphabets and each alphabet has an apparent and a hidden and none except Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) knows all the hidden and the apparent knowledge.
- Tafseer al-Qummi v 1 p 20
- Manaqib Aal Abi Talib (a.s.) v 2 p 43
Knowledge of Quranic jurisprudence (fiqh)
All Islamic laws of jurisprudence (regarding permissible, prohibited, recommended, abominable) are derived from the Holy Quran, but no Muslim scholar can derive it accurately without help from the infallible successors of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).
In the Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) lifetime, only Ali (a.s.) was trained in every aspect of Quranic fiqh as he (a.s.) informs:
I did not put my head to sleep (whether alone) or in the company of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) until I got to know from Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) what Jibraeel came down with in that day from the permissible, prohibited, sunnah (recommended), command or forbidding from an act, about which and regarding whom it was sent down…(and when Ali (a.s.) was separated from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), he (a.s.) remembered to take an update on all intervening matters on meeting him (s.a.w.a.)).
- Basair al-Darajat v 1 p 197
- Behar al-Anwar v 23 p 196
Mushaf of Ali (a.s.)
In addition to his efforts in compiling and memorizing the commands and prohibitions and other sciences of the Quran, Ali (a.s.) contributed in another important way to the advancement of Islamic sciences by compiling another book i.e. Mushaf with supplementary knowledge that he (a.s.) acquired in the company of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).
Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) informs about this book (Mushaf) or parchment (Jamia) of Ali (a.s.):
We have the Al-Jamea dictated by Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and recorded by Ali (a.s.) in which is the permissible and the prohibited, even the compensation for a scratch.
- Basair al-Darajat v 1 p 145 (Chapter of Al-Mushaf al-Jamea with 24 traditions)
- Behar al-Anwar v 26 p 25
Ocean of knowledge that never got his due
Ali (a.s.) was an ocean of knowledge that drew ceaselessly from the Holy Quran and the Sunnah making him indispensable to the Muslim community. The Muslims were always in need of Ali (a.s.) but he (a.s.) was never in need of the Muslims. Even so the Muslims abandoned him (a.s.) for others who did not even possess a minute drop from the ocean of this knowledge. The Muslim nation is paying the consequences of this till date and will continue to do so till the reappearance of Ali’s (a.s.) last son who will revive the compiled and preserved sciences on his reappearance.
Finally, an interesting report to highlight critical role of Ali (a.s.) in Muslim society thanks to his incomparable knowledge of Quran and Sunnah.
Abdullah Ibn Masood narrates:
There are three scholars on the earth.
1. The scholar of Syria
2. The scholar of Hejaz
3. The scholar of Iraq.
As for the scholar of Syria, it is Abul Darda.
As for the scholar of Hejaz, it is Ali (a.s.)
As for the scholar of Iraq, it is your brother (referring to himself).
The scholars of Syria and Iraq are in need of (knowledge from) the scholar of Hejaz (Ali a.s.) while the scholar of Hejaz does not need the two of them.
- Al-Riyaz al-Nazarah trad 1,583
- Tarikh Madina Dimishq v 47 p 122
- Hidayah al-Huyara p 184 (with variation) of Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, student of Ibn Taymiyyah
- Al-Khesal v 1 p 173 under Chapter of Three Traits trad. 229
- Behar al-Anwar v 40 p 118