The third path is the only remaining possibility which is consistent with the nature of the facts and logical in light of the circumstances surrounding the da`wah and the faithful, and the attitude of the Prophet, namely that the Prophet adopted a positive stance towards the future of Islam after his death and at the orders of Allah, May He be Praised and Exalted, chose someone whose deep involvement in the formation of the da`wah made him an obvious nominee, and specifically prepared him religiously and in the art of leadership so that he could exemplify the intellectual authority and political leadership of the experience, and maintain the leadership of the Ummah and
its ideological structure after the Prophet's death, with the support of the conscious, popular foundation of the Muhajirun and the Ansar, and strengthen it towards the level at which it could handle the problems of leadership. This, we find, is the only way in which the Prophet could ensure the future security of the da`wah and protect the experience from deviation in the course of its development. And thus it was.
There are not any signs in the texts which have been transmitted on the authority of the Prophet to prove that he privately prepared any of the other Muslims religiously, culturally or ideologically so as to qualify them to assume either intellectual or political authority. Nor is there any proof therein that he entrusted any of the other Muslims with the future of the da'wah and with the intellectual and political leadership of the Ummah after his death. But these facts only serve to explicate the Prophet's attitude towards the third possibility facing him, and to prove that the nature of the affair was in fact as we have surmised.
The person designated to receive this training in the religion and leadership and chosen as the one to whom the future of the da`wah and its intellectual and political leadership would be surrendered was none other than Ali ibn Abi Talib, peace be upon him, whose deep involvement in the formation of the da'wah made him an obvious nominee. He was the first Muslim and the first to fight in the path of Islam (mujahid) during its bitter battle against all its enemies, and was deeply involved in the life of the Prophet, and was his foster-son whose eyes opened on the Prophet's lap and who grew up under his protection, and who had more opportunity to collaborate with him and take part in his plans than any other man alive.
In fact the evidence from the lives of the Prophet and the Imam which indicate that the Prophet prepared the Imam specially in religious matters is indeed substantial. For the Prophet chose to explain the concept of da'wah and its truths to him, and gave.
him intellectual answers and sought to cultivate the Imam's awareness when he asked numerous questions while also spending long hours with him during both the night and the day, opening his eyes to the concepts of Islam and to the problems to be faced during its progress, and to the management of the task until the last day of his noble life.
Al-Hakim reports in Al-Mustadrak on the authority of Ibn Ishaq: 'I asked Al-Qasim ibn al-Abbas, "How did Ali become the heir of the Messenger of Allah?" He replied, "Because he was the first among us to embrace Islam and the most faithful in his adherence thereto".'
And in the Hulyat al-Awliya it is reported from Ibn Abbas that he said: 'We used to say that the Prophet entrusted Ali with 70 pledges which he did not entrust to anyone else.'
Also An-Nisa`i reported on the authority of Ibn Abbas that Ali used to say: 'I had a privileged relationship with the Messenger of Allah which was not granted to any other mortal, as I used to visit the Prophet of Allah every night. If he was praying I would wait until he said the tasbih and then enter, and if he wasn't praying he would permit me and I would enter.'
It is also related from the Imam that he said: 'I had two meetings with the Prophet - the night meeting and the day meeting.'
While An-Nisa`i also relates that the Imam used to say: `Whenever I asked the Messenger of Allah a question he replied and when I was silent he would speak to me.' Al-Hakim also relates this in Al-Mustadrak and says that it is sound according to the two shaikhs (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
An-Nisal relates from Umm Salama that she used to say: 'By the One by Whom Umm Salama swears, the closest person to the Messenger of Allah at his death was Ali. On the morning that the Messenger of Allah died the Messenger of Allah sent for Ali, and I thought that he had been sent on an errand because
the Prophet said, "Has Ali come?" three times. He came before sunrise, and when he came we recognized that the Prophet wished to talk with him. So we left the house (we were at that time with the Messenger of Allah in 'Aisha's house), and as I was the last to leave the house, I sat just outside the door and was closest to it. And Ali leant over him and was the last person to converse with him as the Prophet whispered and talked with him.'
Amir al-Mu`minin (Leader of the Faithful) Imam Ali in his famous rigorous speech, in which he described his unique relationship with the Messenger and the Prophet's care regarding his training and education, said:
'You know of my connection with the Messenger of Allah, my close kinship to him and my intimate position. He put me on his lap when I was a child, hugged me to his breast, embraced me in his bed, so that his body touched mine and so I smelled his scent, and would also chew things and then give them to me to eat. But he did not find me lying in my speech or pompous in my act. I used to follow him as the small camel follows its mother and every day he showed me part of his moral acts and ordered me to do likewise. Every year he used to take me to Hira and only I could see him, for at that period of time of Islam there was only the Messenger of Allah, Khadijah and myself as the third, as nobody else lived in the house. So I saw the light of revelation and the message and smelled the fragrance of prophecy.'
These testimonies and plenty of other evidence gives us a picture of the training which the Prophet gave to Imam Ali in order to raise him to the level at which he could lead the da`wah successfully. Similarly, there are a great many indications from the lifetime of Imam Ali after the death of the Prophet which reveal the Prophet's private ideological training of Imam Ali and reflect the effects and results of this private instruction. The Imam was the man to whom the ruling leadership resorted for consultation and authority when they wished to solve some
difficult problem which they could not solve themselves. But we cannot find a single instance in the history of the Islamic experience during the time of the four khulafah in which the Imam turned to someone else for an opinion as to the way in which a problem should be dealt with according to Islam, whereas there were tens of instances in which the ruling Islamic leadership felt it necessary to consult the Imam, in spite of their reservations in this matter.
If the evidence for the claim that the Prophet prepared the Imam privately to assume the leadership of the da`wah after his death are numerous, those which prove that the Prophet revealed this plan and officially entrusted the intellectual and political leadership of the da'wah to Imam Ali are hardly less numerous: a fact which we can discern from the Hadith al-Dar; Hadith ath-Thagalayn, Hadith Hadith al-Ghadir and from many other prophetical texts.
So Shi`ism was established within the Islamic da'wah and was exemplified in the prophetical presentation thereof, which was implemented by the Prophet at the orders of Allah so that the future safety of the da'wah could be ensured.
This Shi`ism did not appear as a superficial phenomenon in the theatre of events, but was rather a necessary result of the needs and original circumstances of the da'wah, which made it necessary for Islam to produce Shi`ism. In other words, it was incumbent upon the first leader of the experience to instruct a second leader under whose leadership, and under that of his successors, the experience could continue its revolutionary development, and attain the total success of its radical reformatory aims by eliminating all the remains of the fundamental ideas of jahiliyyah and establishing an Ummah which had reached the level necessary to handle the tasks and problems faced by the da'wah.