One way the skeptics portray wives and Sahabah superior to Ahle Bait (a.s.) is by underscoring the role of the wives, particularly Aisha, who they claim was the last one in the company of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) as his soul departed with his blessed head in her lap.
According to many reports by various Muslim scholars, it was Ali (a.s.) and not Aisha, to hold the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in his arms in his final moments.
In his sermon, Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) declares:
When the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) died his head was on my chest, and his (last) breath blew over my palms and I passed it over my face. I performed his (funeral) ablution, and the angels helped me. The house and the courtyard were full of them. One party of them was descending and the other was ascending.
My ears continually caught their humming voice, as they invoked Allah’s blessing on him, till we buried him in his grave. Thus, who can have greater rights with him than I during his life or after his death?
- Nahjul Balagha sermon 197
There are many other reports of Ali (a.s.) being the last one to see the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), two of which we have listed here:
Ummul Momineen – Umm Salma (r.a.) relates:
By the One by whom I swear, Ali (a.s.) was the nearest of all people to Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.a.) in his last moments. We visited him in the morning and he was repeating: ‘Has ‘Ali come? Has ‘Ali come?’ …Ali was the last to see him.
Al-Hakim in his al-Mustadrak v 3 p 183, confirmed that the said report was authentic. It was also confirmed by Zahabi in his Tallkhis al-Mustadrak; it is also recorded by Ibn Asakir in the Chapter: ‘He was the last who saw the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.)’ as part of the biography of Imam Ali (a.s.) v 3 p 14-17, based on diverse authorities.
Other sources for this include:
- Al-Musannaf v 6 p 348
- Majma al-Zawaid v 9 p 112
- Kanzul Ummal, 2nd edition, Book of Merits, Chapter on ‘The merits of Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.), trad 374, v 15 p 128
- Tazkirat al-Khawas al-Ummah Chapter on ‘Hadith of whispering and the Wasiyyah’, quoting Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s Kitab al-Fazail.
Aisha used to claim that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had passed away while his head was between her chest and neck. The truth as we have seen is that the Prophet’s head was resting on the lap of his legitimate successor, Ali (a.s.).
Among those who exposed Aisha’s lie was Ibn Abbas, as reported that Abu Ghatfan narrated:
I asked Ibn Abbas: Did you see the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) passing away while his head being placed in anyone’s lap?
He said: He passed away while leaning against Ali’s (a.s.) chest.
I said: Urwah told me that Aisha had said: The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) had died whilst resting between my chest and neck.
Upon hearing this Ibn Abbas said: Do you find this possible to believe? By Allah, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) passed away whilst leaning against Ali’s (a.s.) chest, and he was the one who performed his funeral bath, along with my brother al-Fazl, son of Abbas.
- Al-Tabaqat v 2 p 263
Ali (a.s.) challenges opponents
Among his (more than) 100 virtues with which Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) challenged his opponents, was his proximity to Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) down to his final breath.
Ali (a.s.) to Usman Ibn Affan and other Shura council members on his superior claim to caliphate:
I implore you for the sake of Allah, is there anyone among you witnessed the death of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.), except me?
They replied: No.
- Behar al-Anwar v 31 p 331-346 from Al-Ehtejaaj v 1 p 134-145
And this was only to be expected from Ali (a.s.) given that when he was born the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) held him in his arms, on which Ali (a.s.), opened his eyes to the world. So it is befitting for Ali (a.s.) to hold the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in his arms, when he (s.a.w.a.) closes his eyes to the world.
And it was only to be expected from the wives to show themselves as closest to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) by side-lining Ali (a.s.), Lady Fatima (s.a.) and Hasanain (a.s.), the infallible progeny of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) who were inseparable from him (s.a.w.a.) in life and death.