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The Verse of Mubahaleh: An Overview

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The Verse of Mubahaleh: An Overview

Post  vidich132 on 2011-12-16, 8:59 pm

Tonight marks the anniversary of the Mubahaleh between the Holy Prophet (S) and the Christians of his time. The Eid is celebrating the victory of Islam on that day and the withdrawal of the Christians fearing the consequences of a prayer against them from AhlulBayt (A). This is the day when the religion was challenged and the Holy Prophet (S) chose Ali, Fatimah, Hassan and Hussain to face that challenge with him. In this article, we highlight some of the points taken from the verse of Mubahaleh and the debates regarding them.

The Story

The Christians of the city of Najran came to the Madinah to meet the Holy Prophet (S). They asked him about the father of the prophet Moosa, he said “Imran". They asked about the father of the prophet Yousuf, he said “Ya’qoob”. They asked about his father, he said “Abdullah ibn Abdullmutallib”. They asked about the father of the prophet Eisa (A) and Jibrael came down with the verse “The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: "Be". And he was.” (Al Imran, 59). The Christians were upset by this and said that they have seen nothing in their books regarding it. They asked the Prophet (S) about his opinion of prophet Eisa (Jesus) and he said: “a slave of Allah and and his messenger”. The Christians said no he is more than that and began arguing back and forth with the Holy Prophet (S). Then Allah (SWT) revealed the verses of Surat Al Imran including the verse “And whoso disputeth with thee concerning him, after the knowledge which hath come unto thee, say (unto him): Come! We will summon our sons and your sons, and our women and your women, and ourselves and yourselves, then we will pray humbly (to our Lord) and (solemnly) invoke the curse of Allah upon those who lie” (Al Imran, 61). They agreed to join the Prophet (S) in praying against each other (Mubahaleh). Their leader (Abu Harithah) told them if the Prophet (S) arrives tomorrow with his family and loved ones, to be careful and not go through with it. But if he comes with his companions and friends then pray against him.

The next day the Prophet (S) came out holding the hands of Hassan and Hussain and accompanied by Fatimah and Ali (A). When he arrived the Prophet (S) bowed down on his knees and prepared for prayer. The Christians asked who was with him and they found out it was his daughter, his cousin and two of his grandchildren. They asked their priest to go forward for prayer and he said: “he bowed down like the prophets do. I will not pray against him because I fear he might be saying the truth and then there will not be a Christian drinking water after this (meaning in existence). After hearing what the priest said, they feared him and requested a peace-agreement instead. The priest came back later and became Muslim” (A loose translation taken from Bihar Alanwar 21.3336)

The Verse and its Breakdown

“And whoso disputeth with thee concerning him, after the knowledge which hath come unto thee, say (unto him): Come! We will summon our sons and your sons, and our women and your women, and ourselves and yourselves, then we will pray humbly (to our Lord) and (solemnly) invoke the curse of Allah upon those who lie” (Al Imran, 61)

The word "Mubahaleh" means the event which occurs when two groups of people meet and pray against each other and ask Allah (SWT) to show who is correct. The Muslims agreed that the Prophet (S) only came out with Ali, Fatimah, Hassan and Hussain (A). Applying the verse to them would mean that the sons of the Prophet are: Hassan and Hussain, the women of the Prophet refers to Fatimah, leaving the self of the Prophet as Ali. (the sources for this are many but we list only a few: Tafseer Altabarai 3.298-99, Tafseer Altha’labi 3.85, Asbab Alnuzool 57, Ahkam Alquran 1.360, Aldur Almanthoor 2.231, Sahih Muslim 7.120, Musnad Ahmad 1.185, Alsunan Alkubra 7.63, Kanzu Alummal 2.379)
Lessons from the Verse

Several points can be understood from this verse including:

These five which Allah (SWT) chose to face the Christians are representative of the Islamic religion. That is to say, if we wanted to personify the Islamic religion at the time and if the religion was under attack these five would be the faces of the religion and the important personalities.
From the label of “our children” we understand, as well as every scholar who analyzed this verse, that Hassan and Hussain (A) are the children of the Prophet (S). That is to say that those who killed them are people who killed the children of the Prophet (S). Although this is obvious, many people seem to fail to make these connections when reading the history of Islam after the death of the Holy Prophet (S).
Combining the label of “our women” with the agreed upon historical fact that Fatimah (A) is the only lady to have accompanied the Prophet (S) we understand that she is the only female representative of the Prophet (S) and none of his wives hold that position. If the wives of the Prophet (S) held any true holy position and were representative of the religion or were included in the verse of purification (tatheer -Ahzab 33), then the Prophet (S) would have taken them with him.
The fact that the Prophet (S) selected these four individuals indicates a very special position for each of them. Some tried to say that it is solely because he wanted to take his family. If that was the case then he would have taken his uncle (Alabbas) or his wives of the time. However, the exclusion of others indicates that these five are the symbols of the religion and that they are to be followed and their high positions acknowledged and respected
Some tried to argue that the it is typical for those who do Mubahaleh to take their family members and that is why the Prophet (S) did it, this claim is false because:
1- Mubahaleh is not a typical thing to do. It is not as if people were doing this on a regular basis and therefore there would be tradition to be followed.
2- If the tradition is to bring out your family, why did the Prophet (S) not bring his wives, uncle and other family members as stated above.
Furthermore, when the Shia argue that the meaning of AhlulBayt in the verse of Tathear (Ahzab, 33), the others answer that obviously the household of the Prophet (S) would include his wives. Yet here when he is taken his family for the sake of Islam, he excluded his wives. If these fours are what the Prophet (S) consider as his family, why would it be shocking for them to be labeled as his household.

Explaining “Ourselves”

Everyone agrees that the Quran has referred to Ali (A) as the self of the Prophet (S) as mentioned above. The only dispute left is the significance of that. Some Sunnis claim that ourselves here just refers to the men and although it shows closeness between the Prophet (S) and Ali (A). It does not show that he is the successor nor that he is the same as the Prophet (S) because Ali is not a prophet. The first claim is weak because the verse could have easily said our men and your men and also because the Prophet did not bring any other men with him even though he had all the companions and other relatives to choose from.

The Shia take the position that this verse means that Ali is the same as the Prophet. That is not to say that Ali is a prophet himself, no one claims that. However, everything that is established for the Prophet (S) and is not explicitly exclusive to him by the Quran or the Hadeeth is also established for Ali (A). Prophethood is exclusive to the Prophet as the Quran has said and the Prophet himself has stated. No Shia has ever claimed that Ali is a Prophet. However, infallibility, having authority on the people, and many other attributes of the Prophet are seen to have been given to Ali (A) by this verse.

Furthermore, this meaning is not new or made up because it is the clear statement of many Hadeeths which have been narrated from all Muslims. Examples of this are:

the narration that the Prophet (S) told Ali (A): “I did not ask Allah anything for me that I did not ask the same for you, and I did not ask Allah for anything that he did not give me, however, I was told there is no prophet after me.” (Alsunnah 582, Almujam Alawsat 8.82, Alsunan Alkubra 5.151, Tareekh Dismashq 42.310 and others)
“Ali is from me and I am from him” (Sahih Albukhari 4.22 & 5.87, Ibn Majah 1.44, Sunan Altarmathi 5.590, Alsunan Alkubra 5.45, Musnad Ahmad 4.164 and many others)
“Are you not happy that you are to me as Haroon was to Moosa except that there is no prophet after me” (this Hadeeth has been labeled as mutawatar by some Sunni scholars because of the high number of sources for it we just mention Albukhari 3.6)

Given the evidences established in these Hadeeths and combining them with the verse, the meaning of Ali being the same as the Prophet (S) in all aspects that are not explicitly exclusive is clear. Therefore, Ali (A) is the best of the creation after the Prophet (S) and even better than all the rest of the Prophets.
Important Note

Many people think that by us saying Ali is the same as the Prophet, we mean that they are equal or that we are putting Ali on the same level or even better than the Prophet (S) as some might claim. However, our stance as Shia and follower of AhlulBayt has always been that the Prophet (S) is the best of the creation period. No one is comparable to the Prophet (S), let alone better. To that point Imam Ali (A) himself has said when someone asked him if he was better than the Prophet (S): “I am only one of the slaves of Mohammad (S)” (Alkafi, 1.89). However, once we learn the level of the Prophet (S) and we save this distinction, we can easily and proudly say that Imam Ali (A) is the best of the creation after the Prophet (S) and saying that he is the self of the Prophet (S) is simply quoting the Quran and the word of Allah (SWT).

The day of Mubahaleh is one of those days when Islam was questioned and put to the test. When the Prophet (S) had to choose people to represent Islam and symbolize the message of Allah (SWT) he selected no one other than Ali, Fatimah, Hassan and Hussain (A). This is a great tribute to the positions they were given by Allah (SWT). The description of Ali (A) as the self of the Prophet (S) is an incredible indicator of his position as the best of the creation after the Holy Prophet (S) and that no one other than him should be his successor.

Dala’il Alsidq, Sh. Almuthafar
Ayat Almobahlah, S. Ali Alhussaini Almeelani


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