Imam ÝAlÐ (Ýa), His Companions, and the Concept of the Khayr al-BarÐyah
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Imam ÝAlÐ (Ýa), His Companions, and the Concept of the Khayr al-BarÐyah

Question: Who is the 7th verse of Surah Bayyinah referring to?
Concise answer:
Detailed answer: In numerous traditions from both the Shia and the Sunni chains of narration, it is famously known that the verse of: «اُولیِکَ هُمْ خَیْرُ الْبَرِیَّهِ» (They are the best creations of God) is in reference to Imam ÝAlÐ (‘a) and his companions. ÍÁkim ÍaskÁnÐ NayshÁbÙrÐ, one of the famous scholars of the Ahl al-Sunnah in the fifth century, has narrated this tradition in his well known book ShawÁhid al-TanzÐl along with various chains of narration related to it. These include more than 20 traditions on this issue. As an example, we will narrate several of these traditions below:

1- Ibn ÝAbbÁs has said: When the verse: “Indeed those who have faith and do righteous deeds—it is they who are the best of creatures.” was revealed, the Prophet (Ò) said to ÝAlÐ: The meaning of this verse is you and your followers who will enter the MaÎshar[1] on the Day of Judgement while you are pleased with God and he is also pleased with you, and your enemies will enter MaÎshar angry and they will be taken to the hellfire by force.[2] In some of the traditions, the term MuqmaÎÐn has been used which means someone’s head which is held up by chains and strictures.

2- In another tradition from AbÙ Barazah, it has been narrated that: When the Prophet (Ò) recited this verse, he said: These are you and your followers oh ÝAlÐ. And our meeting place will be next to the Spring of Kawthar.[3]

3- In another tradition from JÁbir ibn ÝAbdullah AnÒÁrÐ, it has been mentioned that: We went to see the Prophet (Ò) and we were sitting next to the House of God (the Kaaba), when ÝAlÐ came towards us. When the Prophet (Ò) saw him, he said: My brother is coming towards you.[4] The Prophet (Ò) then turned towards the Kaaba and said: I swear by the Lord of this Kaaba that this man and his followers are the ones who will have salvation on the Day of Judgement.[5] He then turned towards us and added: I swear by God that he had faith in God before all of you, he rose up by the command of God to a higher degree than all of you, his loyalty to the divine covenant was fiercer than all of you, his judging through the rules set by God was more just than all of you, his division (in terms of the public treasury) was more precise than all of you, his justice in regards to the people higher than all of you, and his position in front of God is greater than all of you.[6]

JÁbir then states: It was at this point that God revealed the verse of: “Indeed those who have faith and do righteous deeds—it is they who are the best of creatures.” From this time onwards, whenever ÝAlÐ would come, the companions (of the Prophet (Ò)) would said: The best creation of God after the Prophet (Ò) has come![7] The revelation of this verse next to the Kaaba is not contradictory with the Medinan source of the chapter. This is because it’s possible that these verses were revealed in one of the journeys of the Prophet (Ò) from Medina to Mecca. It is particularly worth mentioning that the narrator of this tradition, JÁbir ibn ÝAbdullah AnÒÁrÐ, joined the Prophet (Ò) in Medina and so the Medinan nature of such verses is not improbable at all.

Some of these traditions have been narrated by Ibn Íijr in his book Al-ÑawÁÝiq and some have been narrated by MuÎammad ShablanjÐ in his book NÙr al-AbÒÁr.[8] JalÁl al-DÐn SuyÙÔÐ has also mentioned a major portion of this last tradition in his book Durr al-ManthÙr from Ibn ÝAsÁkir who in turn narrated it from JÁbir ibn ÝAbdullah AnÒÁrÐ.[9]

4- In Durr al-ManthÙr, it has been narrated from Ibn ÝAbbÁs that: When the verse: “Indeed those who have faith and do righteous deeds—it is they who are the best of creatures.” was revealed, the Prophet (Ò) said to Imam ÝAlÐ (Ýa): This verse is referring to you and your followers on the Day of Judgement; you will be pleased with God and he will be pleased with you.[10]

5- In another tradition in Durr al-ManthÙr, it has been narrated from Ibn MardawÐyah who narrated from Imam ÝAlÐ (Ýa) that: The Prophet (Ò) said to me: Have you heard the words of God when he said: “Indeed those who have faith and do righteous deeds—it is they who are the best of creatures.”? These are you and your followers and our promised meeting place (referring to the Prophet (Ò) and Imam ÝAlÐ (Ýa)) will be next to the Spring of Kawthar. When I come to account for the doings of my community, you will be called forward, while your forehead will be shining white and you will be recognized and known.[11]

Many others amongst the scholars of the Ahl al-Sunnah have also narrated traditions with similar content in their own books. Such scholars include: KhaÔÐb KhawÁrizmÐ in his ManÁqib, AbÙ NaÝÐm IÒfahÁnÐ in his KifÁyahÞ al-KhiÒÁm, ÝAllÁmah ÓabarÐ in his famous commentary, Ibn ÑabbÁgh MÁlikÐ in his FuÒÙl al-muhimmah, ÝAllÁmah ShawkÁnÐ in his FatÎ al-GhadÐr, Shaykh SulaymÁn QandÙzÐ in his YanÁbÐÝ al-MuwadahÞ, and ÀlÙsÐ in his RÙÎ al-MaÝÁnÐ...

The aforementioned tradition is one of the well known and famous traditions which the great majority of Islamic scholars have accepted. This is a great honor for Imam ÝAlÐ (Ýa) and his followers and it speaks volumes about his rank in Islam. In addition, these traditions clearly show that the term ShÐÝah (translated here as followers) was actively used during the time of the Prophet (Ò) and it was spread by the Prophet (Ò) himself. This is a reference to the special followers of the Imam (Ýa) and it clearly proves that the term is not something which came in to existence during the later centuries.[12]

[1] An arena or gathering place on the Day of Judgement.

[2] ShawÁhid al-tanzÐl, vol. 2, p. 357, hadith 1126: «هُوَ أَنْتَ وَ شِیعَتُکَ تَأْتِی أَنْتَ وَ شِیعَتُکَ یَوْمَ الْقِیامَةِ راضِیْنَ مَرْضِیِّینَ، وَ یَأْتِی عَدُوُّکَ غَضْباناً مُقْمَحِین»

[3] Ibid, p. 359, hadith 1130.

[4] «قَدْ أَتاکُمْ أَخِى»

[5] «وَ رَبِّ هذِهِ الْبُنْیَةِ! اِنَّ هذاوَ شِیْعَتِهُ هُمُ الْفائِزُونَ یَوْمَ الْقِیامَةِ»

[6] «أَما وَ اللّهِ اِنَّهُ أَوَّلُکُمْ اِیْماناً بِاللّهِ، وَ أَقْوَمُکُمْ بِأَمْرِ اللّهِ، وَ أَوْفاکُمْ بِعَهْدِ اللّهِ وَ أَقْضاکُمْ بِحُکْمِ اللّهِ وَ أَقْسَمُکُمْ بِالسَّوِیَّةِ، وَ أَعْدَلُکُمْ فِى الرَّعِیَّةِ، وَ أَعْظَمُکُمْ عِنْدَ اللّهِ مَزِیَّةً.قالَ جابِر: فَأَنْزَلَ اللّهُ: «إِنَّ الَّذینَ آمَنُوا وَ عَمِلُوا الصّالِحاتِ أُولئِکَ هُمْ خَیْرُ الْبَرِیَّةِ» فَکانَ عَلِىٌّ اِذا أَقْبَلَ قالَ أَصْحابُ مُحَمَّد(صلى الله علیه وآله ) قَدْ أَتاکُمْ خَیْرَ الْبَرِیَّةِ بَعْدَ رَسُولِ اللّهِ»

[7] ShawÁhid al-tanzÐl, vol. 2, p. 362, hadith 1139.

[8] Al-ÑawÁÞiq al-muÎriqah, p. 96; NÙr al-abÒÁr, p. 70 and 101.

[9] Durr al-manthÙr, vol. 6, p. 379.

[10] Ibid: «هُوَ أَنْتَ وَ شِیْعَتُکَ یَوْمَ الْقِیامَةِ راضِیْنَ مَرْضِیِّیْنَ»

[11] BiÎÁr al-anwÁr, vol. 35, p. 344, hadith 17; Durr al-ManthÙr, vol. 6, p. 379 (with some differences).

[12] Taken from the text: TafsÐr nemÙneh, Ayatullah MakÁrim ShÐrÁzÐ, DÁr al-Kutub al-IslÁmÐyah, 27th Edition, vol. 27, p. 233.
Published on: « 1393/02/22 »


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