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Non-Muslim view of Ali

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Title: Non-Muslim view of Ali  
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Subject: Sunni view of Ali, Al-Ghadir, Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, Family tree of Ali, Alids
Collection: Ali
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Non-Muslim view of Ali

This is a sub-article to Non-Muslim Islamic scholars and Ali.

Some non-Muslim scholars reject all hadith as fabrications, which colors their views. Others, like Wilferd Madelung, accept the hadith literature. A few of them, like Lammens, hold a negative view of Ali. Madelung criticizes this school of thought and, like many other non-Muslim Islamic scholars, praised Ali.


  • Reservations 1
    • Hadith 1.1
  • Views 2
    • Positive 2.1
      • Edward Gibbon 2.1.1
      • Sir William Muir 2.1.2
      • Khalil Gibran 2.1.3
      • Dr. Henry Stubbe 2.1.4
      • Robert Durey Osborn 2.1.5
      • Washington Irving 2.1.6
      • Simon Ockley 2.1.7
      • Philip Khuri Hitti 2.1.8
      • Thomas Carlyle 2.1.9
      • Gerald de Gaury 2.1.10
      • Charles Mills 2.1.11
    • Negative 2.2
      • Lammens 2.2.1
  • See also 3
  • References 4



Some other Islamic scholars do not accept narrations collected in later periods, and only study the early collections of narrations. This leads them to regard certain reported events as inauthentic or irrelevant.

Among events that these scholars reject on the grounds that they are not included in what they call "early sources" (meaning, essentially, the Sirat Rasul Allah of Muhammad ibn Ishaq) include:

  • In 9 A.H. (630 CE), Muhammad prepared to lead an expedition against Syria. This was the well-known expedition of Tabuk. He left Ali behind in charge of Madinah, saying

"Will you not be pleased that you will be to me like Aaron to Moses? But there will be no prophet after me.".[1]

  • That this was the only battle Muhammad engaged in without Ali at his side.

Wilferd Madelung has rejected the stance of indiscriminately dismissing everything not included in "early sources". He wrote in the preface to his book The Succession to Muhammad:

"work with the narrative sources, both those that have been available to historians for a long time and others that have been published recently, made it plain that their wholesale rejection as late fiction is unjustified and that with [not without] a judicious use of them a much more reliable and accurate portrait of the period can be drawn than has so far been realized.[2]"



Edward Gibbon

Sir William Muir

Khalil Gibran

Dr. Henry Stubbe

Robert Durey Osborn

Washington Irving

Simon Ockley

Philip Khuri Hitti

Thomas Carlyle

Gerald de Gaury

Gerald opines that Ali was to be forever the paragon of Muslim nobility and chivalry.[14]

Charles Mills



Lammens describes Ali as "dull-witted and incapable" in Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici [16]

Maxime Rodinson, a contemporary of Lammens, and a biographer of Muhammad, characterized Lammens as "filled with a holy contempt for Islam, for its 'delusive glory', and 'lascivious' prophet." [17]

Some modern authors feel Lammens has yet to be refuted.[18] Wilferd Madelung in his work "The Succession to Muhammad" provided a detailed critical analysis to Lammens' criticisms.

See also


  1. ^ See Hadith of position for references
  2. ^ Madelong, (1997) p.xi
  3. ^ The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, London, 1911, (originally published 1776-88) volume 5, pp. 381-2]
  4. ^ The Life of Mahomet, London, 1877, p. 250]
  5. ^ Morteza Motahhari, Islam and Religious Pluralism
  6. ^ George Jordac, the Voice of Human Justice
  7. ^ Henry Stubbe, An Account of the Rise and Progress of Mahometanism, 1705, p. 83
  8. ^ Islam Under the Arabs, 1876, p. 120
  9. ^ Lives of the Successors of Mahomet, London, 1850, p. 165
  10. ^ Lives of the Successors of Mahomet, London, 1850, pp. 187-8
  11. ^ History of the Saracens, London, 1894, p. 331
  12. ^ History of the Arabs, p. 183
  13. ^ May 8,
  14. ^ Rulers of Mecca p. 49
  15. ^ An history of Mohammedanism p. 89
  16. ^ Henri Lammens, Fatima and the Daughters of Muhammad, Rome and Paris: Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici, 1912. Translation by Ibn Warraq.
  17. ^ "A Critical Survey of Modern Studies of Muhammad" by Maxime Rodinson, p26, Revue Historique 229, 1963. Also see "Das Leben Muhammeds" by Frants Buhl, p367.
  18. ^ The Quest of the Historical Muhammad by F.E. Peters. International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 23 (1991), p291-315. Cambridge University Press.
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