Amir al-Momineen Ali (A.S.) and the Roman Archbishop

Translator: Sayyed Zainul Abideen Razavi, Tehran, Iran
Salman e Farsi was from Fars i.e. Persia or Iran; but the Grand Ayatullah Khamenaie, the venerable Supreme Leader of Islamic Revolution in Iran has said: “Fars is from Salman” because the Persians gave up Zoroastrianism and fire worship and became Muslims through Salman Farsi, who had learnt Islam directly from the Holy Prophet (SAWA). Thus Iran although far away from Arabia, is the follower of true Islam.
Salman, although from Iran, had attained tenth degree of faith, so he had the privilege of inclusion with Ahle Bayt, the holy family of Allah’s Messenger (SAWA). Arabs could not attain this privilege nor could they reach the tenth degree of faith.

Ignorance, injustice,“truthophobia” and dreadful might shall dominate over Right, Truth, Justice and Wisdom as long as rulers are tyrannical and barbarous and reliant on power instead of God, the Most Supreme.
Salman was in quest of truth, so he had escaped from the prison of his Zoroastrian parents, and took asylum with Christian priests and then went to Syria. He learnt from a Christian priest about the prophecy of Jesus (AS) regarding Allah’s messenger who would appear in Arabia. Salman was keen to discover the truth but he could not pay his fare to reach Madinah, so he sold himself to a Jew businessman to take him to Madinah, where he was extremely happy to meet God’s Final and Last Messenger (SAWA) with all the signs as described by the Christian priest. Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) personally paid the ransom and released him from the slavery of the Jew merchant. Salman was taught everything about Islam, the religion finalized by God, directly from Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and he became a lover of Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and his progeny. Then Salman played a key role in making his countrymen Iranians to follow true Islam. Thus Iran or Persia is the cradle of true Islam although far away from Arabia.
It is said that Salman became the lover (Shia) of Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and his progeny and attained the tenth degree of faith but Abuzar could reach only up to the ninth degree of faith because he lacked the talent and capacity for it and would have fought andquarreled with Salman, who could not therefore pull him up to the tenth degree of faith.
Salman’s date of birth is uncertain, so his exact age is not known. Salman died in Madaen near Baghdad (Iraq) in 35 AH and his funeral rites were performed by Imam Ali (AS), who came miraculously by Tayyel Arz from Madinah and returned to Madinah the same night.
Note: Tayyel Arz is mentioned in the Holy Quran during Ascension (Meraj) of Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and also Asef Barqia the vizier of Prophet Solomon when he brought the throne of Queen Bilqees in a winks time.
A tomb was built on Salman’s grave, much later between 203 to 232 AH and pilgrims recite Ziarat for him. Salman was really a prominent personality, who cannot be forgotten by Iranians, as they have learnt true Islam because of Salman-e-Muhammadi, the greatest lover of Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and his Holy Ahle Bayt (AS).
Salman’s Book
One of the literary works of Salman Farsi is his famous book “Archbishop Jasleeq and Amir al-Momineen Ali (A.S). Jasleeq is a Greek word, meaning Archbishop. This book contains the discussion of Amir al-Momineen Ali (A.S) with the Roman Archbishop which was recorded by Salman Farsi.
Allamah Davood Ilhami has summarized a part of this book as follows:
Salman writes: The great danger Islam faced after the passing away of the Holy Prophet (SAWA) was that Islam’s light would have been extinguished forever if Ali (A.S) was not present at that time. The Roman emperor got the news of passing away of the Holy Prophet (SAWA) and he thought that the Holy Prophet of Islam (SAWA), contrary to the previous prophets had not appointed his successor and left it to the people.
Had the Prophet (SAWA) nominated a successor, Muslims would not have faced problems, so the emperor of Rome doubted the truthfulness of Islam and formed a committee of Christian priests and sent a group of one hundred intellectuals under the supervision of the archbishop Jasleeq to Madinah to discuss the truthfulness of Muslim’s religious beliefs.
Some historians have narrated that this group had a short stop at Baytul Moqaddas on their way to Madinah. They talked to the Jewish intellectuals about the purpose of their journey. So about the same number of Jews accompanied them to Madinah.
This intellectual group entered Madinah on Friday and soon they asked for the Holy Prophet’s successor. When this group of 200 people entered Madinah it caused much noise, so a great number of Muslims also entered the Holy Prophet’s mosque, they met Abu Bakr and some other Muslims there.
Salman says: I too was there. It was a great gathering with awe-inspiring silence. The archbishop broke the silence and addressed the Muslims, “Let us see your Prophet’s successor, I and my companions are here to investigate your religion. If we found it right, then we will accept your religion otherwise we will go back”. Omar bin Khattab who was sitting next to Abu Bakr, pointed at him, saying: “This man is our leader and master after the Holy Prophet (SAWA)”.
The archbishop Jasleeq turned to Abu Bakr and asked: “Are you the prophet’s successor?”
Abu Bakr said: “No, I’m not”.
The archbishop asked: What are you then?
Before Abu Bakr could answer, Omar said: “This man is the caliph after the Holy Prophet”.
The archbishop asked: “Are you that learned and self-sufficient caliph who on basis of his knowledge is able to satisfy all people in needs”.
Abu Bakr: “No, I’m not that caliph”.
The archbishop asked: “If so, what is this position you have been chosen for and consider yourself as the successor of Muhammad (SAWA)? In our books we have read that this position is specifically appropriate for God’s chosen prophets and it does not suit anyone else who is not divine. The Almighty God nominated Adam as His caliph on earth; and told David that I have nominated you as my caliph on earth. Has Muhammad (SAWA) given you this position?
Abu Bakr replied: “No, but his disciples and friends agreed with my caliphate”.
The archbishop remarked: “So you are the people’s caliph and not the caliph of the Prophet, as you have clearly stated that you were not nominated by the Prophet. Of course, it is against the Prophet’s Sunnah or way and no prophet ever passed away without announcing his successor; it seems that you have turned away from the traditions of all prophets and annulled Muhammad’s prophethood.

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