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Ahl al-Bayt(A.S.), Successors of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.)

Allama Husayn Ansariyan
Many narrations, reported by both Shiite and Sunni scholars, refer to Ahl al-Bayt as the Holy Prophet’s successors. These narrations are so uninterruptedly reported that there is no doubt about them. Due to their moral, spiritual and scholarly features, Ahl al-Bayt alone deserve to be successors of the Holy Prophet. To be the Prophet’s successor and representative is their Divine right and no one else deserves it. The Holy Quran reads: My covenant does not include the unjust. (2:124)
Caliphate is the indisputable right of a person who has all the characteristics of the Holy Prophet except prophethood. It is only the Ahl al-Bayt who have such features. About Amir al-Muminin and the Imams after him, the Holy Prophet has said: He is the master of all vicegerents. Prosperity has been attached with him. Death in obedience to him is martyrdom. His name is attached to mine in the Torah. His wife, the Grand Veracious Lady, is my daughter. His Two sons, the masters of the youth of Paradise, are my sons. He and his two sons along with the Imams after them are Allah's representatives for the people after the Prophets. They are the gates of knowledge in my ummah. Whoever follows them will be saved from Hellfire; and whoever follows their examples will be guided. Whoever is given their love by Allah will enter heaven.120
Imam Husayn (a.s) has said: Allah chose Muhammad for his people, honored him with prophethood, and chose him for the mission. He then took his soul after he had advised Allah's servants and communicated to them what he had been sent for. We, his household, are his vicegerents and inheritors and the worthiest of holding his position. But our people denied us this position seizing it from us. We submitted to this bitter event. We dislike division and favor peace although we know for sure that our claim to this right is more deserving than those who have taken it from us.121
Authentic narrations indicate that Allah’sMessenger appointed Imam Ali (a.s.) and the eleven other Imams as his successors according to Allah's decree. Describing Ahl al-Bayt, Amir al-Muminin (a.s.) has said: They are purified Imams, infallible household of noble offspring and guided vicegerents.122
Ahl al-Bayt are the chosen ones and the manifestation of Allah’sAttributes, endowed with features of the prophets as well as morality and faith of the Holy Prophet in a way that the fair-minded Sunni scholars have referred to it by reporting that Holy Prophet has said: One who wishes to look at Adam’s knowledge, Noah’s understanding, John’s piety and Moses’ firm acts should look at Ali ibn Abu-Talib.123
A Similar narration reports the Holy Prophet as saying: One who wishes to look at Adam in his knowledge, Noah in his piety, Abraham in his tolerance, Moses in his formidableness and Jesus in his submission should look at `Ali ibn Abu-Talib.124
Therefore, the vicegerents and Imams after the Holy Prophet are twelve in number, all of whom have been appointed by Allah to have authority over people. However, the pseudo-scholars following the Umayyad school think that these position and features are found in families other than that of the Holy Prophet. Hence they ignored Allah’schoosing the Holy Prophet and the Ahl al-Bayt, and resorted to their own choice even though the Holy Quran says: And your Lord creates and chooses whom He pleases; To choose is not theirs, glory be to Allah, and exalted be He above what they associate with Him. (28:68)
And it behooves not a believing woman that they should have any choice in their matter when Allah and His Apostle have decided a matter… (33:36)
What has happened to you? How do you judge? (68:36)
To prove the right of Ahl al-Bayt (a.s.) and denounce those who have chosen others as leaders thus preparing the way for division among the Muslim nation, Imam al-Ridha (a.s.) resorts to the Holy Quran and says: That is the grace of Allah: He gives it to whom He pleases. And Allah is the Lord of mighty grace. (57:21)
In this relation, Amir al-Muminin says: Muhammad’s descendants are the best descendants, his kinsmen ar ethe best of kin and his tree of lineage is the best of trees.125
Addressing Abd al-Rahman ibn Awf, the Holy Prophet (S) said: You are my companions. Ali ibn Abu-Talib is from me and I am from him. He is the gate of my knowledge and my successor. Ali, Fatimah, Zasan and Husayn are the best on the earth in terms of honor and dignity.126

Ahl al-Bayt(A.S.) and Contentment
Ahl al-Bayt, due to their knowledge of Allah and their ability, are the manifestation of Allah’s most excellent Names, for their whole lives are nothing but pure belief in Allah as the One and Only God. Their will and wrath are those of Allah. In this connection, Imam Husayn (a.s.) has said: Allah’s will is our will. 127
Ahl al-Bayt are pleased with whatever Allah is pleased with. Men, in their evolutionary course, reach a stage where they have ‘love’ and ‘wrath’. This love and wrath is compatible with Allah’s love and wrath. Nevertheless, there is a superior stage where their love and wrath is not considered concordant with Allah’s love and wrath for a person who says I am pleased with what Allah is pleased with. He withstands and at this stage of plurality, is when the spiritual follower sees both himself and Allah. However, for one who stands at the station of unity, only one will and one wrath exists. At this stage, a spiritualist follower is in the station of annihilation in Allah. For this reason, Ahl al-Bayt say: Allah’s will is our will.
In this relation that Imam Husayn (a.s.) say: I live in the style of my grandfather - the Holy Prophet and my father - Ali.128
Some people are believers in the surface, but are unbelievers from the viewpoint of the Holy Quran. They turn their back on Allah when their interests are not in line with their belief: And when they are called to Allah and His Apostle that he may judge between them, a party of them turn aside. (24:48)
They desire for Allah not for His sake, but for theirs: And when affliction touches a man, he calls on us, whether lying on his side or sitting or standing; but when We remove his affliction from him, he passes on as though he had never called on Us on account of an affliction that touched him. (10:12)
These people and their likes are self-centered; all their affairs, including their worship, are aimed at gaining something worldly. They are just merchants. However, for godly people, whatever they do is aimed to seek Allah’s pleasure. Those who pray sitting or lying on their sides even when they cannot perform prayer standing: Those who remember Allah - standing and sitting and lying on their sides and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth. (3:191)
Although Ahl al-Bayt, in their capacity as human beings, have polarization, love, enmity, passion, wrath and inclination, all of them are under the cover of godly amity and detachment. The Holy Quran has determined the criterion of godly amity and detachment. Based on this criterion, Ahl al-Bayt’s deeds are Allah-oriented so much so that they have made Satan submissive. The Holy Prophet says: My Satan was unbeliever; but Allah helped me against him until he embraced Islam through me.129

Ahl Al-Bayt(A.S.) and Submission
Ahl al-Bayt’s submissions to Allah’s will is not a state that they are compelled to reach. Rather, it is a truth that they have attained at its climax with their personal efforts. Their station of submission is said to be the last of several stations a spiritualist follower has to go through. It is said that few spiritualist followers have ever reached this station, for it especially belongs to the Holy Prophet, the Holy Imams and the saints. Imam Husayn (a.s.) is reported as saying: We, the Ahl al-Bayt, beseech Allah and He grants us. So, if He wills to do that which we abhor, provided that it will bring about His pleasure, we submit.130
Ala ibn Kamil says: I was sitting in the presence of Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) when a woman from the house of the Imam started wailing. The Imam rose up and then sat down saying, “Surely we belong to Allah and unto Him do we return.” He kept on repeating so until he said, We favor safety as regards life, property and our children but when there is Divine decree, we do not love what Allah does not love for us.131
In this connection, Imam al-Baqir (a.s.) says: We call on Allah for what we love to be given to us but if something happens that we do not love, we will not oppose it. 132
Qutaybah al-A’sha says: I went to Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) to visit his child but found the Imam sad at the threshold. I said, “May I be sacrificed for you! How is your child?” The Imam said, “By Allah, he does not feel well.” Then he went inside the house. He was delayed for an hour and then came out with no sign of sorrow in his face. I thought his child was better. So, I asked,“How is the child?” The Imam answered, “He passed away.” I said, “May I be sacrificed for you! How is it that when he was alive, you were sad but now that he has passed away you are no longer sad?” The Imam said, We, Ahl al-Bayt, wail before calamity comes; but when Divine decree comes, we are pleased with it and submit to His Decree.133
Ibrahim Ibn Sad reported that: Imam Zayn al-Abidin (a.s.) heard wailing of mourners from his house while a group of people were gathered around him. He went inside and then returned. He was asked if the wailing was for death of anyone. He answered affirmatively. The attendants condoled him and they were surprised at his patience. The Imam said: We, Ahl al-Bayt, obey Allah for what we love and praise Him for what is unpleasant.134
120. Al-Amali by Shaykh al-Saduq: 21, H. 5
121. Tarikh al-Tabari: 357/5
122. Bihar al-Anwar: 174/25, H. 39
123. Rawdhat al-Wa’idhin: 128/1
124. Kashf al-Yaqin: 53
125. Nahj al-Balaghah, 209, Sermon: 94
126. Yanabi al-Mawaddah: 332/2, H. 973
127. Kashf al-Ghummah: 29/2
128. Bihar al-Anwar: 328/44
129. Tarikh Baghdad: 331/3
130. Maqtal al-Husayn by al-Khawarzmi; 147/1
131. Al-Kafi: 226/3, H. 13.
132. Kashf al-Ghummah: 150/2
133. Al-Kafi: 225/3, H. 11
134. al-Manaqib: 165/4

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