Many of the great Shi’ite and Sunni commentators upon the Holy Qur’an say in commenting upon (7:142) that it refers to Moses, peace be upon him, leaving for 40 days to go to the place of the covenant and the selection of Aaron to succeed him, which have been recorded in the famous Tradition of manzalah. The Tradition states when the Prophet was moving towards the battlefield of Tabuk (Tabuk was a place in the north of the Arabian peninsula which shared a border with the Eastern Roman Empire), he left ‘Ali in his place in Medina.
They informed the Holy Prophet that the Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire had sent a great army to attack the Hijaz and Medina and Mecca so that they could kill the bud of the Islamic Revolution before its special human program and ideals of longing for the truth could be exported to its area. ‘Ali said, “Do you leave me among the women and children, not allowing me to go to the battle of jihad and seek honor there?”
The Holy Prophet said, “Are you not satisfied to be to me as Aaron was to Moses except that there will be no Prophet after me?” These words can be found in the most famous books on the Traditions as recorded by the Sunnis, that is, namely, Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim with the difference that in the former, all of the Tradition has been recorded and in the latter, all of the Tradition appears once and then in another place only the sentence, “Are you not satisfied to be with me as Aaron was to Moses except that there will be no Prophet after me?” appears by itself.
This has been recorded in many of the books of the sunnis, including the Sunan ibn Majah, Sunan Thirmidi, Musnad Ahmad and many others. The Companions who have recorded it are more than 20 people, among whom are Jabir ibn Abdallah Ansari, Abu Sa’d Khadani, Abdallah ibn Mas’ud and Mu’awiyah.
Abu Bakr Baghdad in the History of Baghdad records from ‘Umar ibn Khattab, the following, “He saw a man who was speaking in an unworthy manner to ‘Ali. ‘Umar said, ‘I think you are a hypocrite because I have heard that the Prophet said, “‘Ali is in relation to me as Aaron was to Moses, other than that after me there will be no Prophet.”
It is notable that from the respected source of the Traditions, it can be seen that the Prophet of Islam did not only use this sentence on the occasion of the Battle of Tabuk but that he repeated it seven times on various occasions which shows its generality of meaning:
On the day when the covenant of brotherhood (al-mawakhat awwal Mecca) was made among the brothers in Mecca, the Prophet chose ‘Ali as his brother and repeated this same sentence. On the second day of al-Mawakhat, when the day of brotherhood between the Emigrants and the Helpers was repeated, this was repeated and the Prophet once again repeated the Tradition of Manzalah.
On that day when the Holy Prophet ordered that the doors which opened from the homes onto the mosque should be closed and he only allowed ‘Ali’s door to remain open, he repeated this same sentence. Thus it was stated on the occasion of the battle of Tabuk and three other times, the documentation of which is found in the books of Sunnis scholars. There is, then, no room for doubt neither from the point of view of documentation nor from the point of view of the generality of the meaning.
The Content of the Tradition of Manzalah
If we study the above Tradition, and we put aside any pre-judgments, we can make use of this Tradition to show that all of the positions which Aaron had among the Bani Israel in respect to Moses, ‘Ali had except as to the Prophet because no other conditions exist in the Tradition.
Thus, we can conclude that:
1. ‘Ali was the choice of the ummah after the Prophet (as Aaron had such a position).
2. ‘Ali was the minister and consultant or special assistant to the Prophet and a partner in his leadership because the Qur’an has proven this for Aaron.(1)
3. ‘Ali was the successor to the Prophet and as long as he was present, no one else could take this position, as Aaron had this in relation to Moses.
The Tradition of Yawm Ad-Dar
According to that which has appeared in Islamic history, the Prophet in 3 AH was assigned to make open his invitation which he had kept secret until then. As the Holy Qur’an says:
“And admonish your nearest kinsmen.” (2)
The Holy Prophet called his close family to the home of his uncle, Abu Talib. After they had eaten, he said, “O sons of Abdul Muttalib, I swear that I know no one among the Arabs who has brought anything better than what I have brought. I have brought the goodness of this world and the next and God has ordered me to invite you to these precepts and I will befriend one of you to be my brother and my successor.”
No one showed any interest in his proposal, other than ‘Ali, peace be upon him, who was the youngest among them. He arose and said, O Prophet of God, I am your helper upon this way.” The Prophet put his arm around his neck and said, “This brother is my inheritor and my successor among you. Listen to his words and obey his orders.”
But the lost tribe did not accept and turned to magic. The above famous Tradition is called Yawm ad-Dar (the day of the invitation in the home). It is clear proof that many of the Sunnis scholars like ibn Abi Jarir, ibn Abi Hatam ibn Mardawiyah, Abu Na’im, Biliaqi, Thalibi,Tabari, ibn Athir, Abu al-Fada and others have recorded it.(3)
Whenever we study this Tradition, without any prejudgments, the truth of ‘Ali’s caliphate and wilayat becomes clearer to us because it refers directly to caliphate and leadership.
1. see The Holy Quran 20:29- 32
2. The Holy Quran 26:214
3. for further information see al-Marajiat, p. 130 and Kitab al-Ehqaq al-Haqq, vol. 4, p. 62