Eid al-Mubahalah

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Should anyone argue with you concerning him, after the knowledge that has come to you, then say: ‘Come! Let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, our souls and your souls, then let us pray earnestly and call down Allah’s curse upon the liars’.

(Holy Qur’an 3:61)

This verse refers to the famous event of ‘al- Mubahala’ which took place in the year 10 A.H between the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) and the Christians of Najran and which is mentioned in all well-known books of traditions, tafsir (exegesis) and history by Muslim scholars. Najran was a fertile land located in the northern mountainous region of Yemen about 20 Km from Sana’a. About 40,000 Christians inhabited the land divided into 73 small towns. They were idol worshipers historically just like the Arabs, but a priest named Phemion (Faymiyun), a builder by profession, preached Christianity in the area of Najran and soon all the population converted to Christianity and Najran became a important center for the Christians. They also constructed a church and named it ‘Ka’ba-e- Najran’. They prayed and offered various offerings there which resulted in an annual income of about two hundred thousand Dinars which was used for the priest who lived and studied there. After the conquest of Makkah, when Islam started spreading rapidly and the warring groups came under the flag of Islam, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) started sending emissaries to the Rahman b. Awf outside and asked them as to why they were invited by the Muslims and then treated in this manner. Usman suggested that they consult Imam Ali (peace be upon him). When the delegation came to Imam Ali (peace be upon him) he told them that they were wearing dresses of silk and ornaments of gold which depicted their pride and that they should take them off and dress simply. Only then would the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) allow them to visit him and entertain them. When they followed the instructions of Imam Ali (peace be upon him), they were allowed to visit the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him and his progeny) after the prayers of Asr and have discussions with him. In the al-Tafseer of Ali bin Ibrahim al-Qummi it is narrated from Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him): ‘The Christians of Najrancame(asadelegation) to the Messenger of Allah…. they rang the hand-bells and prayed; the Prophet’s companions objected: “O Messenger of Allah! This in your mosque”? He (peace be upon him and his progeny) said: “Leave them (to pray as they like)”. When they finished, they came to the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) and said: “To what do you call”? He (peace be upon him and his progeny) said: “To bear witness that there is no God but Allah and that I am the Messenger of Allah and that Isa (Jesus) (peace be upon him) is created a slave (of Allah), and he used to eat, drink and relieve himself”. They said: “Then who was his father”? The revelation was then revealed to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny) saying: “Say to them – what do you say about Adam, was he a created slave (of Allah), who would eat, drink, relieve himself and cohabit”? So the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) asked them and they replied: “Yes”. He (peace be upon him and his progeny) asked them: “Then who was his father”? They could not answer, so Allah revealed:

Verily, the similitude of Jesus with Allah is as the similitude of Adam; Allah created him out of dust, then said to him, ‘Be’, and he became

(Holy Qur’an, 3:59)

till the verse: And should anyone argue with you concerning him, after the knowledge that has come to you…. and call down Allah’s curse upon the liars.

(Holy Qur’an, 3:61)

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny) said: “So challenge me: if I am telling the truth the curse falls on you, and if I am a liar the curse falls on me”. They said: “You have been just”. They agreed on a date for ‘mubahala’ (mutual imprecation). [The term ‘Mubahala’ is derived from its Arabic root ‘bahlah’ meaning ‘curse’. Thus the act of al-Mubahala means that each of the two parties invokes the curse of Allah on the other if the latter is untruthful]. When they returned to the places they were staying in, their leaders al-Sayyid, al-Aqib and al-Asam said: “If he challenges us with his people, we accept the challenge for he is not a Prophet; but if he challenges us with his family in particular we don’t challenge him, for he is not going to put forward his family unless he is truthful”. In the morning, they came to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny),

Imam Ali Naqi (peace be upon him) said: One who is patient has single difficulty and one who

and there with him were the Commander of the Faithful (Ali), Fatemah, al-Hasan and al- Husayn [peace be upon them all], so the Christians said: “Who are those”? The people replied: “This is his cousin and successor and son-in-law, and this is his daughter Fatimah, and these are his grandsons, al-Hasan and al- Husayn”. When the Christian delegation saw a woman, two children and only one man with the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny), they were frightened and worried and said to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny): “We will pay you whatever pleases you so excuse us from the ‘mubahala’”. Then the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny) made a settlement with them for them to pay the Jizya and they left.’ This event has been related in both Shia and non- Shia books of hadith and Qur’anic exegesis (tafseer). It is related in the al-Tafseer of al-Sa’labi: When the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) called the Christians for the imprecation they said: ‘Let us return and think over it.’ When they were alone, they asked al-Aqib – and he was a man of good judgment among them: ‘O Abd al-Masih! What is your opinion?, He said: ‘By Allah! You are well-aware, O Christians, that Muhammad is a prophet sent by Allah, and that he has brought to you the decisive word about your Companion (Isa). By Allah! Whenever a nation has entered into imprecation with a prophet, their elders have perished and their youngsters have died. And if you do it, we shall surely perish; but, if you turn down, for the love of your religion and (want) to remain on what you have at present, then make peace with the man and go back to your towns. “So they came to the Messenger of Allah; and he had come out in the morning carrying al-Husayn in his lap, holding the hand of al-Hasan, with Fatemah walking behind him and Ali was behind her; and he was saying: ‘When I pray, you say “Amen”’. Then the Bishop of Najran said: ‘O Christians! Surely I see the faces that if they ask Allah to remove a mountain from its place, He would surely remove it. Therefore, do not do imprecation, otherwise you will perish, and there will not remain any Christian on the face of the earth, upto the Day of Resurrection’. “Then they said: ‘O Abul Qasim! We have decided that we should not enter into imprecation against you; and that we leave you on your religion and we remain on our religion.’

He said: ‘Well, if you refuse imprecation, then accept Islam – you will have (the rights) which (other) Muslims have, and on you shall be (the duties) which are on them.’ But they refused. So (the Prophet) said: ‘Then I shall fight you.’ They said: ‘We do not have strength to fight against the Arabs. But we shall make peace with you that you will not fight against us or frighten us; nor will you turn us away from our religion, on the condition that we shall pay to you every year two thousand robes – one thousand in Safar and one thousand in Rajab and thirty coats of mail, (of) common (quality), made of iron.’

So the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) made agreement with them on these conditions. And he (peace be upon him and his progeny) said,

‘By Him in Whose hand is my soul! Surely destruction had almost descended on the people of Najran. And if they had entered into imprecation theywouldhavebeentransformed into monkeys and pigs, and there would have erupted in the valley a conflagration of fire engulfing them all; and surely Allah would have annihilated Najran and its inhabitants – even the birds on tree tops; and the year would not have ended for all the Christians but they would have perished.’

Whom did the Prophet (peace be upon him

and his progeny) take with him It is mentioned in the Sahih Muslim on the authority of Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas that when the verse:“Let us call our sons and your sons….”

(Holy Qur’an, 3:61)

was revealed, Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him and his progeny) called Imam Ali, Fatemah, al- Hasan and al-Husayn (peace be upon them all) and said: “O Allah, these are my Ahl al-Bayt”. (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 2, Page 287 {Vol. 4 p. 1285 English version} [Book

31, no. 5915])

The purpose of Mubahala was to show to the Christians the matters in which they had been led away from the truth in their religion. In addition, the act of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) in bringing Fatemah, Imam Ali, al-Hasan and al-Husayn (peace be upon them all), demonstrated to history that in matters of belief in the Oneness of God (tawhid), Prophethood and the Qur’an, one should turn towards them for guidance. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny)’s action was an order of Allah “call our sons and your sons and our women and your women and ourselves and yourselves” (3:61). This was an evident declaration that in the matter of Prophethood and the Qur’an, Muslims have need of the authority of the Ahl al-Bayt to clarify the meaning of the Holy Qur’an for those who did not comprehend. On the day of Mubahala it became manifest that in the absence of the Prophet, in matters of religion, the people should turn towards none other than the Ahl al-Bayt.

Al-Zamakhshari, the author of Tafsir al-Kashshaf, says of this verse (3:61): “..this verse contains a proof – unsurpassed in strength – of the excellence of the people of the mantle (Ashab al-Kisa) peace be upon them. And there is in it a clear proof of the truth of the Prophethood of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny), because nobody – either a supporter or an antagonist – has ever narrated that they (the Christians) answered that call (for imprecation)”.

 

Why was Imam Ali (peace be upon him)

included?

The Almighty commanded His Messenger to say to the delegation of Najran: Come! Let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women; and ourselves and yourselves….. In compliance with this command, the Prophet brought with him, al-Hasan and al-Husayn (peace be upon them both), because they were the sons of his daughter Fatemah (peace be upon her), and for this they are his sons. He brought Fatemah (peace be upon her) with him because she represents the women from the members of his House. But why did he bring with him Imam Ali (peace be upon him) who was neither from the sons nor from the women? Imam Ali (peace be upon him) has no place in the

verse unless he is included in the word “ourselves.” Bringing Imam Ali (peace be upon him) with him indicates that the Messenger of God (peace be upon him and his progeny) considered Imam Ali (peace be upon him) an extension of his personality. By considering him so, he elevated him above all the Muslims. The Messenger (peace be upon him and his progeny) said on many occasions: “Ali is from me and I am from him.” Hubshi ibn Janadah reported that he heard the Messenger of God, saying: “Ali is from me and I am from him, and no one

Imam Ali Naqi (peace be upon him) said: One who would be pleased with himself would

displease many.

represents me but Ali.” (Sunan Ibn Majah) following the precepts of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) could no longer be disputed. This event established who

 

The significance of the event of al-Mubahala

  1. It proved to be a silencing lesson for all the Christians of Arabia who no longer dared any competition with the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny).
  2. The invitation of ‘Mubahala’ was directed by God, and it was in compliance with His Command that the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) took his Ahl al-Bayt (peace be on them) along with him to the field of This serves to generalize how affairs pertaining to Apostleship and the religion of God are determined by the Will of God; allowing no margin of interference from the common people (Ummah). The matter of Imam Ali’s succession followed by eleven Imams to the office of religious leadership should be viewed in this perspective.
  3. The indispensability of Ali, Fatimah, al-Hasan

and al-Husayn (peace be upon them all) in

following the precepts of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) could no longer be disputed. This event established who the members of the Prophet’s household (Ahl al-Bayt) were, and their spiritual purity.

  1. That notwithstanding their childhood, Imam al- Hasan and Imam al-Husayn (peace be upon them both) did, nevertheless, serve as the active partners of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) in the field of This yields the conclusion that age is no criteria for the greatness of the infallibles (Ma’sumeen). They are born adorned with virtues and knowledge.
  2. That the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny)’s act of having preferred a few obviously elevates their status above all others.

As Islam emerged triumphantly over Christianity on the occasion of Mubahala, this historic event is celebrated as a festival (Eid) of thanksgiving for the triumph of the truth of the message of Islam

Fourth Verse

Sheikh Ali Ibn Ibrahim Qummi, a third century great scholar quotes Imam Ja’far Sadiq (peace be upon him) as saying:

The following verses were revealed about Imam Ali, the commander of the faithful (peace be upon him) on Ghadeer Day):

And Verily this (holy Quran) has been sent down from the Lord of the worlds; The Faithful Spirit has descended it; upon your heart that you may be of the warners.

(Surah al-Sho’ara, Verses 192-194)

(Tafseer al-Qummi, vol. 2, p. 124; Sheikh Muhammad Mohsin Faiz Kashani (d. 1091 AH), has also narrated this narration on the authority of Tafseer al-Qummi in his al-Safi fi Tafseerul Quran, vol. 4, 50)