Whereas the public aspect of Muh. ammad’s first call to his fellow Quraysh contains many important elements, such as the connection to several Qurʾa-n verses and the identity of who was called, it is only within the story of the private setting that al-T.abarı-and Ibn Kathı-r reveal their own views regarding the significance of this incident for later generations of Muslims. The story of the private meeting between Muh.ammad and his extended family includes his miraculous division of food and drink in order to satisfy a large number of people, but this meeting ends with his request to his family members to support him and to succeed him in his effort.1 Of all those present, only ʿAlı-responds and, in most of the reports related, he is accepted by Muh.ammad. Thus what begins as a miracle story ends as an apparent justification for the immediate succession of ʿAlı-. While this event is not as important for this issue as that at Ghadı-r Khumm, it appears to support the argument by the Shı-ʿa that Muh.ammad specified ʿAlı-as his heir-apparent before his death.2 Both al-T.abarı-

and Ibn Kathı-r recognize the political ramifications of this story and deal with its potential meaning in ways that overshadow both the miracle and the story itself. Al-T.abarı-includes a report in his sı-ra that serves to further politicize this

event, but, as is usual for him, he does so without comment. In his Tafsı-r, however, this report is not to be found, and, indeed, he only transmits one report of Muh.ammad’s private meeting among the nearly 100 that he relates for all of the Qurʾa-n verses that he cites in relation to this incident. Therefore, for al-T.abarı-, the political aspect of this story is suitable for his Ta’rı-kh, but has no place in the exegesis of the Qurʾa-n. Ibn Kathı-r, however, overtly intrudes himself upon the story in both genres. He not only calls into question the texts of the reports he relates, but also criticizes their chains of authorities, even casting doubt upon a report from Ah.mad b. H. anbal. But Ibn Kathı-r takes his refutation of the story further by citing a verse from the Qurʾa-n, 5:67, to support his interpretation of the story’s meaning.3 An examination of his exegesis of this verse reveals, however, that at no point does he connect its meaning to the event he describes in his sı-ra; instead, he relates it to two entirely different historical contexts. Thus, Ibn Kathı-r is not above manipulating his source material to prove that his interpretation of this event is the only correct one.

Al-T.abarı-relates two reports in his sı-ra for the private aspect of Muh.ammad’s call – the first originates with ʿAlı-and relates the story in its entirety, while the second has ʿAlı-retelling the story to a group of people many years later. It is this second report that serves as a focus for the political aspect of the tale, as ʿAlı-is asked to tell the story in order to explain how he came to rule instead of his paternal uncle. While the uncle in question is never specified, the obvious choice is al-ʿAbba-s, since he is the only one of the Muh.ammad’s paternal uncles to both convert to Islam and live beyond the death of the Prophet. So, while the first report simply tells the story without comment, the second interprets the event as justification for ʿAlı-’s rule over that of al-ʿAbba-s – an obvious allusion to the competing claims of the ʿAlids and the ʿAbba-sids. Al-T.abarı-places the two reports in the middle of his treatment ofMuh.ammad’s

first announcement of his mission, fixed between pairs of reports that relate the public aspect of the Prophet’s call. The first report originates with ʿAlı-and its isna-d includes Ibn ʿAbba-s and Ibn Ish. a-q. It reads: