Did Sunni Scholars Agree with the Shia Interpretation?
On pages 679-690, Al-Amini provides a list of scholars and statements by them that affirm the Shia understanding that the meaning of Hadith Al-Ghadir is an appointment of Ali. The names include, Ibn Zulaaq, Al-Wahidi, Al-Ghazali, Sibt Ibn Al-Jawzi, Al-Kanji, Al-Farghani, Al-Samnani, Al-Taibi, Dawlat Abadi, Abu Shakoor Al-Kashshi, Ibn Bakitheer Al-Makki, Al-Ameer Al-San’aani, and Ahmad Al-Ujaili.
Now, the vast majority of these names will seem to be unfamiliar to readers, and they should be, since some of them are not even Sunni scholars to begin with.
The Scholars that are in Reality Shias
- Ibn Zulaaq (362 AH): Al-Hasan bin Ibrahim Ibn Zulaaq was in charge of complaints regarding injustices in fourth century Egypt. In other words, he was an official that was given a position by the Fatimi Dynasty, an Isma’ili Shia empire. Ibn Hajar also states that his writing indicate that he was Shia. (Lisan Al-Mizan 2/240)
- Sibt Ibn Al-Jawzi (654 AH): Yusuf bin Qizughli is the grandson of the famous hadith scholar Ibn Al-Jawzi. In his Tathkirat Al-Khawas, he affirms the Imamate of Ali. However, he was a Twelver Shia, as evident in his book, and therefore, Al-Amini has no business mentioning him as an authoritative figure. Al-Thahabi also affirms that he was an extreme Shia. Refer to his biography in Mizan Al-I’itidal.
- Mohammad bin Talha “Al-Shafi’ee” Al-Nusaibi (652 AH): It is no surprise that this author expresses the Shia view, for he is a Twelver Shia, which is very evident in his book Matalib Al-Sa’ool. He clearly expresses his belief in the twelfth Imam as a living Imam who is the appointed Imam of his time. Refer to his chapter on Al-Mahdi. Al-Thahabi states in his biography in Tareekh Al-Islam that Mohammad bin Talha used to draw a circle on the ground and claim that he had access to hidden knowledge and knowledge of the hour through that circle.
- Mohammad bin Yusuf Al-Kanji (658 AH): The author is an extreme Shia and is not to be considered from amongst Ahl Al-Sunnah. Ibn Katheer said in Al-Bidaya wal Nihaya in his section on Ain Jaloot, “The people killed, in the middle of the mosque, a Rafidhi shaikh that would suck up to the Tatars (Mongols) in order to swipe the money of the people, and he was: Al-Fakhr Mohammad bin Yusuf bin Mohammad Al-Kanji.” Ibn Katheer went on to call him a hypocrite among other things. Al-Kanji was also known for his book Al-Bayan fi Akhbar Sahib Al-Zaman in which he affirms his belief that the current Imam is the hidden Mohammad bin Al-Hasan Al-Askari, which makes him a Twelver Shia.
- Al-Farghani (699 AH): The author does affirm the appointment of Ali, however, he is not considered a Sunni scholar. Rather, he is denounced as a heretic that preached that Allah and the creation are one. Refer to his biography in Tareekh Al-Islam.
- Al-Ghazali (505 AH): The quote that has been attributed to Al-Ghazali in which he affirms the appointment of Ali can be found in Sir Al-Alameen. This book, is falsely attributed to Al-Ghazali, and the most obvious proof of this is that the author states that he heard from Abu Al-Alaa’ Al-Ma’ari who passed away before the birth of Al-Ghazali. Therefore, one cannot attribute this book nor the statements within to Al-Ghazali.
- Mohammed bin Isma’eel Al-San’aani (1182 AH): Al-Amini mentions him in the heading of the section even though the quote in the section is not his words, rather, he is quoting a Zaidi scholar Humaid bin Ahmad Al-Mahalli. It is no surprise that a Shia Zaidi agrees with Twelvers in the meaning of mawla, and this is not evidence against Ahl Al-Sunnah.
- Al-Wahidi (468 AH): The statement of Al-Wahidi does not indicate the Shia understanding. While commenting on a hadith by the Prophet (peace be upon him) in which he says that the people will be asked about Wilayat Ali, he says, “They will be ask if walooh haq al-muwalaat (took him as a mawla) in the way that the Messenger people be upon him wished them to.” This can be interpreted to mean either the Sunni or Shia positions. It should also be known that Al-Wahidi does not hold this view, since he did not include it in any of his commentaries on the Qur’an. However, he was merely interpreting the hadith.
- Al-Simnani (736 AH): Al-Amini suggests that the Sufi scholar Al-Simnani affirms the appointment of Ali by referring to him as the Sayyid of the Awliya. However, Al-Simnani, on the same page, refers to Abu Bakr as Sayyid Al-Siddeeqeen. In other words, there is no proof that Al-Simnani understood Hadith Al-Ghadir in the same way that Shias do.
- Al-Taibi (743 AH): Al-Amini’s preconceptions get the best of him, since Al-Taibi clearly states that this narrations means that Ali is like a father to the Muslims and that they need to respect him and treat him well. There is no indication that he agrees with the Shia understanding of the hadith. In fact, Al-Taibi clearly states in his commentary of hadith #6091 that mawla in this narration is alliance and love.
Correct Attributions and Conclusion
Al-Amini is however correct in some of his attributions though. The names of the scholars that are indeed affirm the Shia opinion are Al Dawlatabadi (849 AH), Abu Shakoor Al-Salimi, Ibn Bakitheer Al-Makki (1047 AH), and Ahmad Al-Ujaili (1228 AH). None of the above names are known of course and will not be a surprise that readers of this article have never come across these names before. Allah knows best who they really were and what caused them to arrive at their conclusions.
The simplest and most obvious reason to reject this hadith is that the first person to ever hold this opinion was Al- Dawlatabadi, who died in the ninth century. It is not possible for this interpretation to be the correct one, for it is not fathomable that it took over eight centuries for someone to “get it right”.
Surely, they were never of the level of major Sunni powerhouses like Al-Shafi’ee, Abu Thawr the Jurist, and the vast majority of Sunni scholars, who clearly opposed the Shia understanding of the hadith due to their understanding of the context of the narration.