Concerning the Hadeeth ''Al-Wasiyah''
One of my friends gave me a gift that had a Wasiyah (important instructions or precepts to follow), from the Prophet (sallAllaahu `alayhi wa sallam) to Imam 'Ali, may Allaah be pleased with him. In it, the Prophet (sallAllaahu `alayhi wa sallam) said, "O 'Ali, do not sleep before accomplishing five things: (1) reciting the entire Qur'aan (2) giving four thousand Dirhams to charity, (3) visiting the Ka'bah, (4) saving a place for yourself in Paradise, and (5) appeasing your enemies." 'Ali, may Allaah be pleased with him, said, "And how is that possible, O Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu `alayhi wa sallam)?" He (sallAllaahu `alayhi wa sallam), said, "Do you not know that by reciting Qul Huw Allaahu Ahad (Surat Al-Ikhlas) three times, you have read the entire Qur'aan; that by reciting Al-Fatihah, you have donated four thousand Dirhams to charity; that by saying ten times, 'None has the right to be worshipped except Allaah alone - He has no partners, the entire dominion is His, all praise is for Him, He gives life and causes to die, and He is upon all things capable,' you have visited the Ka'bah; that by saying ten times, 'There is neither power nor might except with Allaah, the Most High, the Most Powerful,' you have reserved your place in Paradise; and by saying ten times, 'I ask forgiveness from Allaah, the Most Powerful: Who none has the right to be worshipped except Him, the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists, and I repent to Him,' you have appeased your enemy." Here is my question: I do know that Surat Al-Ikhlas is equivalent to one-third of the Qur'aan, but is this narration authentic?
This Hadeeth, which claims to contain the Prophet's advice to 'Ali bin Abu Talib, may Allaah be pleased with him, is a lie and is fabricated: it cannot correctly be ascribed to the Prophet (sallAllaahu `alayhi wa sallam). Therefore one is not permitted to relate this saying, for the person who relates it without making clear that it is fabricated, is one of the liars against the Prophet (sallAllaahu `alayhi wa sallam) and should take his seat in the Fire. At any rate, this Hadeeth is both a lie upon the Prophet (sallAllaahu `alayhi wa sallam) and upon 'Ali, may Allaah be pleased with him.
There is an additional point I must clarify, regarding you saying "Imam 'Ali." Without a doubt, 'Ali, may Allaah be pleased with him, is an Imam just like the other rightly guided Caliphs are Imams - Abu Bakr, may Allaah be pleased with him, is an Imam, 'Umar, may Allaah be pleased with him, is an Imam, 'Uthman bin 'Affan, may Allaah be pleased with him, is an Imam, and 'Ali, may Allaah be pleased with him, is an Imam. The Prophet (sallAllaahu `alayhi wa sallam), said about these four,
ÝÚáíßã ÈãÇ ÚÑÝÊã ãä ÓäÊí æÓäÉ ÇáÎáÝÇÁ ÇáãåÏííä ÇáÑÇÔÏíä ãä ÈÚÏí
"Cling to my Sunnah and to the Sunnah of the rightly guided Caliphs after me." (Abu Dawud no. 4607, At-Tirmithi no. 2676 and Mustadrak no. 1/331)
This description is for all four of them.
Therefore the title of Imam is not specific to 'Ali, may Allaah be pleased with him, but rather it is a word that describes someone who is followed, which is why the person who leads the prayer is called Imam and a person who has authority among Muslims is called Imam. I mention these points because when some people say Imam, they mean someone who is free from faults and mistakes, an assumption that is in itself a mistake, since no one from creation is free from faults except by Allaah's protection. The Awliya' (those who are close to Allaah Almighty), then, are like others, in that they make mistakes and then repent to Allaah Almighty from those mistakes: Everyone from the children of Adam makes mistakes, and the best of those who make mistakes are those who repent.
Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih al-`Uthaymeen
Fatawa Islamiyah, Vol. 7, Pages 181-183, DARUSSALAM