The Verse of Mubahalah: Hazrat Ali (R.A) is included in the Sons, not in Ourselves or Soul, By Mufti Muhammad Shafi

فَمَنْ حَاجَّكَ فِيهِ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ فَقُلْ تَعَالَوْا نَدْعُ أَبْنَاءَنَا وَأَبْنَاءَكُمْ وَنِسَاءَنَا وَنِسَاءَكُمْ وَأَنفُسَنَا وَأَنفُسَكُمْ ثُمَّ نَبْتَهِلْ فَنَجْعَل لَّعْنَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَى الْكَاذِبِينَ (آل عمران: 61)۔

“So, if someone argues with you in this after what has come to you of the knowledge, say, “Come, let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves, then pray and invoke the curse of Allah upon the liars!”.

The Meaning of Mubahalah

As stated earlier, verse 61 has instructed the Holy Prophet ﷺ to invite his opponents (Christians) to Mubahalah which literally means ‘mutual prayer’ but in the terminology of Islamic Shari’ah, it refers to a particular form of resolving religious disputes. When the argumentations from both sides fail to resolve a religious issue, the parties jointly pray Allah to cast His curse on whichever of the two parties is false. Since curse means ‘moving someone far away from the divine mercy’ and moving far away from mercy is being close to divine wrath — therefore, the essence of the meaning is: Wrath be on the liar. As such, whoever is the liar shall face the evil consequences whereupon the truth will become evident before the disbelievers as well. Invocation in this manner is called ‘Mubahalah’.

Originally, the Mubahalah can be carried out by the disputants only; they can simply get together and pray. It is not necessary that all their family members are assembled. However, if all the family members participate in the Mubahalah, it becomes more effective. (That is why the Holy Prophet ﷺ was instructed to invite the family members of both sides).

The event of Mubahala and the refutation of heretics

The background of these verses is that the Holy Prophet ﷺ sent an ultimatum to the Christians of Najran which included three options in the order given below:

  • 1. Accept Islam, or
  • 2. Pay jizya (a levy on free non-Muslims under Muslim rule), or
  • 3. Get ready for a war.

After mutual consultation, the Christians sent a delegation to the Holy Prophet ﷺ consisting of Shurahbil ‘Abdullah bin Shurahbil and Jabbar ibn Qais to the Holy Prophet ﷺ. They came and began their talks on religious issues. When they, in their effort to prove the godhood of Jesus, took their debate to the extremes of dispute, that was the moment this verse of Mubahala was revealed.

Thereupon, the Holy Prophet ﷺ invited the Christians to join in the Mubahala confrontation (a form of resolving disputes by praying to Allah, the details of which shall shortly be discussed) and quite readily, he himself came out with Sayyidah Fatimah (R.A), sayyidna ‘Ali (R.A) and their sons, Hasan and Husain (R.A), along with him all set for the Mubahalah. Looking at this, Shurahbil said to his two comrades: ‘Look, you already know that he is a prophet of Allah and getting into a Mubahalah confrontation with a prophet means certain death and destruction for us. So find out some other way to get out of this fix.’ His comrades asked him as to what he thought it could be. Shurahbil said: ‘I think the best solution is to opt for a truce as advised by the prophet’. So, on this everybody agreed. Asa result, the Holy Prophet ﷺ made peace by fixing a levy on them which was accepted by them as well. (Tafsir ibn Kathir, V. 1).

‘Son’ includes grandson

In verse 61 the words ‘our sons’ does not mean ‘our’ sons as of the loins only. Instead, the sense is general. They may be sons or grandsons because this is how the word is used in common usage. Therefore, the grandsons of the Holy Prophet ﷺ, namely Sayyidna Hasan and Sayyidna Husain (R.A), as well as Sayyidna ‘Ali (R.A) the son-in-law of the Holy Prophet ﷺ are all included in the words: ‘our sons’.

Sayyidna ‘Ali (R.A) has another additional reason for being included in the ‘sons’ of the Holy Prophet ﷺ because he had grown up under the patronage of the Holy Prophet ﷺ who had treated him like his own son.

It is, therefore, evident that Sayyidna ‘Ali (R.A), is included in the words: ‘our sons’. Some Shites have claimed that since he was not the son of the Holy Prophet ﷺ he could not be referred to by the Holy Prophet ﷺ as ‘our son’. Through this notion the Shites conclude that Sayyidna ‘Ali (R.A) was included in the words ‘ourselves’, therefore, he was the immediate successor of the Holy Prophet ﷺ.

SOURCE: Maarif ul Quran, By Mufti Muhammad Shafi, Vol 2, Page 90 to 92.

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