Verse of Mubahilah and Shi’i contentions related to it
أعوذ بالله من الشيطان الرجيم
61. And whoso disputeth with thee concerning him, after the knowledge which hath come unto thee, say (unto him): Come! We will summon our sons and your sons, and our women and your women, and ourselves and yourselves, then we will pray humbly (to our Lord) and (solemnly) invoke the curse of Allah upon those who lie. [Surah Aale ‘Imran, verse 61]
Argument from the verse
This is one of the evidences which shia give to prove the Imamah of Ali bin Abi Talib (ra) after the Messenger of Allah (saw). Their argument is that, since the word “your sons” refer to Hasan and Husain, while “your women” refer to Fatima, therefore “yourselves” must be referring to Ali bin Abu Talib, and that is because the Prophet (pbuh), during Mubahila, came up only with these personalities and no one else.
They further argue that, since Allah calls Ali the “nafs” of the Messenger of Allah, (pbuh), therefore he must be similar to Prophet (pbuh) in each and every speciality except that which has been told.
The argument is as weak as the house of spider, as you will see soon.
Firstly, the word used for “yourselves” is “anfusana” which is a plural form. This indicates that there were more than one who were worthy to be called as the “self of the Messenger of Allah (s)”. And the Prophet(s) coming up with only Ali in reference to “anfusana” (yourselves) doesn’t falsify its implication for others. Take for example the verse “And [as for] those who put away their wives by likening their backs to the backs of their mothers” (58:3). Here, the verse uses plural form even though the cause for its revelation was a single person. But still the implication is not limited to that person only and that is why Allah (swt) used the plural form. This refutes the contention of At-Tabtaba’i, the shi’a author of “Tafseer Al-Meezan”, who took this verse of Zihaar, present in Surah Al-Mujadilah (58:3), as a proof to claim that the word “anfusana”, although plural, is restricted to Ali bin Abi Talib (ra). He also took this evidence from “Allah has certainly heard the saying of those who said: Surely Allah is poor and we are rich” (3:181) and “And they ask you as to what they should spend” (2:219).
Interestingly all these verses are very strong evidences against what he was trying to prove, as in the case of verses of Zihar. As for the verse of Ale ‘Imran “Allah has certainly heard the saying of those…”, than this was revealed for the Jews, and its implication applied to a group of Jews who held such a view. This ugly statement was attributed to a group of Jews by Ibn Abbas, Hasan Al-Basari and Qatadah as reported by Tabari (7/443) and Ibn Abi Hatim. As for the argument of Shi’i At-Tabtaba’i then he probably concluded it from the report of Ibn Ishaq through Ibn Abbas which was recorded by Tabari (7/441-442) and Ibn Hisham in his “Seerah”, according to which the statement was said by Finhaas who was a Jewish scholar, and he said it during a Majlis of Jewish people. Ibn Ishaq narrates it from Muhammad bin Abi Muhammad the mawla of Zaid bin Thaabit, and he was not known. But this same Tafsir has come from Ikramah and As-Suddi. But as said before, just because the cause of of the revelation was one person or Prophet (S) was seen applying it to one person, doesn’t mean its implication restricted to that single person, this is quite obvious in light of several verses of Ahkam which were revealed because of a single person but it applies to others also. The above verse was revealed for Finhaas, but it applies to all those Jews who agreed with him and this include the Jews who were sitting in his Majlis. Shaykhul Islam has excellent speech on this matter of “limitation of the verse to its cause of revelation” in his Muqaddima Usul At-Tafseer which is in his “Majmoo’ Al-Fatawa” (13/338-340). The same answer goes for the verse 219 of Surah Al-Baqarah. In conclusion, the argument of At-Tabtaba’i has nothing in it to change the plural into singular.
In our case here, the verse used anfusana, which is plural, indicates that there were others who could be called “nafs” of Rasulullah (S). As for why Prophet (s) did not come with others, then we come to it later on.
Secondly, the use of “anfusana” doesn’t necessitate equality or even similarity. Allah (SWT) states “why did not the believing men and believing women, when they heard it, think well of their own selves (anfusahum)” [24:12], “therefore turn to your Creator [penitently], so kill your people [anfusakum i.e. yourselves]” [2:54] that doesn’t mean those who worshipped were like those who did not. “and do not kill your people [yourselves i.e. anfusakum]” [4:29]. “and do not find fault with your own people [anfusakum]” [49:11]. Refer to “Minhaj As-Sunnah” (7/87-89).
Similarly, the statement of Prophet (S) to Ali (ra) “you are from me, and I am from you” [Sahih Bukhari], and his (SAW) statement regarding Julaibib (ra) “he is from me, and I am from him” [Sahih Muslim], and his statements regarding Ash’aris “they are from me, and I am from them” [Sahih Muslim]. All these statements do not indicate that Ali, Julaibib or Ash’ari brothers were equal to Prophet (S) in quality, except for the Prophethood.
Allah (SWT) mention a statement of Ibrahim (AS) in his Book:
“My Lord! surely they have led many men astray; then whoever follows me, he
is surely of me”. [Surah Ibrahim, verse 36]
No person with intelligence would conclude from the above verse that those who followed Ibrahim (pbuh) were similar to him in all aspects except Prophethood. Likewise, no one can claim that the followers of Taloot, who did not drink from the river, were like him in characteristics because of his (Taloot’s) statement “whoever then drinks from it, he is not of me, and whoever does not taste of it, he is surely of me” [Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 249].
Likewise Shia Muhaddith Al-Kulaini relates (2/170, Kitab Al-Eeman wa Al-Kufr) a narration, which is Hasan as per the verdict of Al-Majlisi, through Imam Ja’af As-Sadiq in which he said regarding relation of Muslims with each other, “he is from you, and you are from him”.
Now the question arises as to why did not the Messenger of Allah came up with other people like Abu Bakr and Umar, and his other daughters.
Shaikh Al-Islam states:
“the reason that (only) these were invited because the command for each group was to call for their sons, women and their self from among their closest relatives. So everyone of them should call for their sons, women and the closest men to their lineage. And these were the closest to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) in their lineage, even though there were those who were more superior to them near him (pbuh). So the command was not to call for the superior people from them because requirement for each of them was to call for their special relatives. That is because the fear a person have for them and mercy which he have for his near relatives, and that is why they were specialized in the incident of Al-Kisa and supplication (during that incident). The Mubahila is based on justice, hence they (the Christians) were also required to come with their closest relatives to their Nasab, and they have feared for them which they do not have for other (non-relatives). And that was the reason they quit from the Mubahila as they knew that he (pbuh) was on truth so if had done mubahila its curse would fall on them and their family. In fact many a times a person have fear for his child which he does not have for himself.” [Al-Minhaj (5/23-24)]
As for why the Prophet (pbuh) did not come with his other daughters then this is because of the fact that they were not alive during the incident.
And reason that he didn’t come with his wives was because the fact that a person, normally, have much more love for his children as compared to his wives. So if the Prophet would have come with his wives then this would have given the other party a chance for taking the mubahila lightly. For people of that time, putting the life of their wives was much easy as compared to their children and those who were related to them through Nasab. Wallahu a’alam
 The incident is proven, as in Sahih Muslim (2404)
 See, Muhadhraat fi Al-E’etiqadat (1/25-26) by the Rafidhi Ali Al-Meelani, “Tafdheel Ameer Al-Mu’mineen” (pg.20-23) by Al-Mufeed, “Minhaj Al-Kiramah” [1/70 with Sharh by Al-Meelani] by Al-Hili under “ninth evidence” from Quran for the Imamah of Ali.
 Refer to Tafsir Ibn Katheer (2/155)
 For example, Ayah of Az-Zihar, which has already been mentioned, Ayah of Li’aan, Al-Kalalah etc were revealed for single person but applied to any other muslim having similar condition described in the verses.