وصلاتك وسلامك على نبيك وعبدك محمد
وعلى آله وازواجه وذريته
According to the Imamiyah Shi’ah, the Ithna Asharis, the Twelve Imams, beginning with Amir al-Mu’minin Ali bin Abi Talib كرم الله وجهه الكريم were divinely-appointed to the Imamate, and they alone had the exclusive right to the Caliphate. For this reason, they regard the first three Rightly-Guided Caliphs, sayyidina Abi Bakr, Umar and Uthman رضى الله عنهم as “usurpers” (God forbid) and do not recognize the validity of their respective caliphates. In essence, the Twelver Shi’ah do not recognize the legitimacy of any government or state in the world which is not led by a divinely-appointed Imam or a deputy of his. But this obnoxious theory is easily refuted by the fact that the first of the Twelver Shi’ah Imams, Amir al-Mu’minin Ali bin Abi Talib رضى الله عنه not only pledged allegiance at the hands of our first three Caliphs, he also served them in the capacity of minister and adviser. He never contested the validity of their Caliphates, let alone raise the sword against them to acquire his supposed divine right.
The text Nahj al-Balaghah is highly regarded by the Imamiyah Shi’ah. It is a collection of sermons attributed to Amir al-Mu’minin Ali al-Murtada رضى الله عنه. In it is mentioned that upon the martyrdom of sayyidina Uthman bin Affan رضى الله عنه, the Muslims sought to make sayyidina Ali رضى الله عنه their Amir and give him the bay’ah (pledge of allegiance), but he said to them:
دَعُوني وَالْـتَمِسُوا غَيْرِي
وَإِنْ تَرَكْتُمُونِي فَأَنَا كَأَحَدِكُمْ; وَلَعَلِّي أَسْمَعُكُمْ وَأَطْوَعُكُمْ لِمنْ وَلَّيْتُمُوهُ أَمْرَكُمْ، وَأَنَا لَكُمْ وَزِيراً، خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ مِنِّي أَمِيراً
"Leave me and seek some one else." "If you leave me then I am the same as you are. It is possible I would listen to and obey whomever you make in charge of your affairs. I am better for you as a counselor than as chief." (Sermon 91)
This is manifest proof that sayyidina Ali رضى الله عنه did not regard himself as a divinely-appointed leader, for whom leadership was a divine right, otherwise he would not have told the people to find another person to be their Amir, nor would he have offered to give his obedience to whoever else the people elected instead of him, nor would he offered to have co-operated with another Amir, serving him as minister.