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Imam Ali (as) having authority in life time of Prophet Muhammad (saww)

عدة من أصحابنا، عن أحمد بن محمد بن عيسى، عن ابن محبوب، عن هشام بن سالم، عن يزيد الكناسي، قال: سألت أبا جعفر عليه السلام أكان عيسى ابن مريم عليه السلام حين تكلم في المهد حجة لله على أهل زمانه؟ فقال: كان يومئذ نبيا حجة لله غير مرسل أما تسمع لقوله حين قال: " إني عبدالله آتاني الكتاب وجعلني نبيا و جعلني مباركا أينما كنت واوصاني بالصلاة والزكاة ما دمت حيا " قلت: فكان يومئذ حجة لله على زكريا في تلك الحال وهو في المهد؟ فقال: كان عيسى في تلك الحال آية للناس ورحمة من الله لمريم حين تكلم فعبر عنها وكان نبيا حجة على من سمع كلامه في تلك الحال، ثم صمت فلم يتكلم حتى مضيت له سنتان وكان زكريا الحجة لله عزوجل على الناس بعد صمت عيسى بسنتين ثم مات زكريا فورثه ابنه يحيى الكتاب والحكمة وهو صبي صغير، أما تسمع لقوله عزوجل: " يا يحيى خذ الكتاب بقوة وآتيناه الحكم صبيا " فلما بلغ عيسى عليه السلام سبع سنين تكلم بالنبوة والرسالة حين أوحى الله تعالى إليه، فكان عيسى الحجة على يحيى وعلى الناس أجمعين وليس تبقى الارض يا ابا خالد يوما واحدا بغير حجة لله على الناس منذ يوم خلق الله آدم عليه السلام وأسكنه الارض، فقلت: جعلت فداك أكان علي عليه السلام حجة من الله ورسوله على هذه الامة في حياة رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله؟ فقال: نعم يوم أقامه للناس ونصبه علما ودعاهم إلى ولايته وأمرهم بطاعته، قلت: وكانت طاعة علي عليه السلام واجبة على الناس في حياة رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وبعد وفاته؟ فقال: نعم ولكنه صمت فلم يتكلم مع رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وكانت الطاعة لرسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله على امته وعلى علي عليه السلام في حياة رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وكانت الطاعة من الله ومن رسوله على الناس كلهم لعلي عليه السلام بعد وفاة رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وكان علي عليه السلام حكيما عالما

A number of our people have narrated from Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Isa from ibn Mahbub from Hisham ibn Salim from Yazid al-Kunasiyy who has said the following. 

"I asked abu Ja‘far (as), ‘Was Jesus at the time he spoke to people from the cradle a Divine authority over the people of his time?" He said, "At that time he was a prophet, a Divine authority over the people but not a Mursal (Messenger). Have you not heard the words of Allah that say, ‘He said, "I am the servant of Allah. He has given me the Book and has appointed me to be a Prophet (19:30). He has blessed me no matter where I dwell, commanded me to worship Him and pay the religious tax for as long as I live." (19:31) 

I then said, "Was he the Divine authority over Zackaria at the time that he was in the cradle?" He said, "At that time Jesus was a sign from Allah and a blessing to Mary (Maryam) when he spoke on her behalf. He was a prophet and a Divine authority over all those who heard his words at that time. Thereafter he did not speak until he was two years old. At Such time Zackaria was the Divine authority of Allah, the Most Majestic, the Most Gracious, over the people after the silence of Jesus. Zackaria then died and his son Yahya (John) inherited the book and wisdom and he was a small child. You can hear it in the words of Allah, the Most Majestic, the Most Gracious, "We commanded John, Zachariah's son), ‘O John, follow the guidance of the Lord with due steadfastness. We gave knowledge and wisdom to John during his childhood." (19:12) When Jesus became seven years he then spoke as a prophet and a messenger until Allah, the Most Holy sent him inspiration. Thus, Jesus was the Divine authority over John and over all the people. The earth is never left without the presence of a Divine authority over the people, O abu Khalid, from the day Allah created Adam and settled him on earth." 

I then said, "May Allah take my soul in service for your cause, did Ali (as) possess Divine authority from Allah and His Messenger over this nation (Muslims) during the life time of the Messenger of Allah?" He said, "Yes, but he kept silent and did not speak along with the Messenger of Allah. At that time, during the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah, obedience was of the rights of the Messenger of Allah over the ’Umma (nation) and over Ali (as). Obedience to the authority of Allah and the Messenger of Allah over the people as a whole was obligatory to Ali (as) after the death of the Messenger of Allah. Ali (as) was a very wise and knowledgeable person." 

[Source: Al-Kafi, Kitab Al-Hujja, Chapter: 91, Hadees. 1]
Note: Narration is authentic (Saheeh) as per the chain of narrators. See Miral Al-Uqool – Allama Majlisi, Vol. 4, Pg. 242