Hazrat Ali himself in his nahjul balagha never made any argument that he was made successor of the prophet. "Man kunto mawla.." is a sahih hadith in Bukhari we all accept it .
But hazrat ali himself never used it as an argument for his succession. If you ask an ARAB ABOUT THE word "mawla" then it does not mean a successor. It was very commonly used word for many people.The prophet pbuh never said "a person xyz " after me will be my successor.
Bukhari Also has this hadith:
وقال لزيد: أنت أخونا ومولانا
Prophet: said to zaid, “You are our brother and our Mawla.” [sahi bukhari, 3:863]
This is a proof that even by addressing Zaid as Mawla who also happened to be the adopted son of Muhammad no one at the time took the meaning of master or successor.
Classical Shia books like Kitab Al Irshad also use the word Mawla, to describe someones freed slave
Kitab Al Irshad, Page 70[ http://islamicmobility.com/pdf/KITAB_AL_IRSHAD1.pdf
Does that mean zaid is the succesor?
Also see the hadith collections for use of word "mawla"
I myself was surprised that word "Mawla" as a master was NEVER USED , All occurrence of "mawla" meant only friend, brother or slave!!
It is narrated in Ibn Saad’s “Al-Tabaqat Al-Kubra”:
A Rafidhi (a person who rejects the Caliphate of Abu Bakr and Umar) said to him (Al Hasan ibn Hasan), “Did not the Messenger of Allah say to Ali: ‘If i am Mawla of someone, Ali is his Mawla?’”
He (Al Hasan) replied, “By Allah, if he meant by that Amirate and rulership, he would have been more explicit to you in expressing that, just as he was explicit to you about the Salah, Zakat and Hajj to the House. He would have said to you, ‘Oh people! This is your leader after me.’ The Messenger of Allah gave the best good counsel to the people (i.e. clear in meaning).”
(Source: Al-Tabaqat Al-Kubra, Volume 5)
The crux of the issue :The meaning of mawla has many meanings. mawla comes from the root wala. It can have many meanings and it depends on how it is used. It could mean master or it could mean friend or someone associated with, or even a servant or a slave. It has many other meanings too and it all can be known from the context. the crux is that if Ali a.s himself had known this meaning as caliph then how dare Abu bakr \ umar etc declare another caliph , when the shere khuda is present? Haz Ali a.s gave bayt to them and hence patronized them, loved them to the extent Haz Ali gave his own daughter to Umar and also named their sons after the caliphs, in exact chronological order!
Haz Abu Bakr Also is not the divinely appointed caliph and caliphate is like amirate . The prophet pbuh has told us to chose an amir whenever we are in groups. Ali a.s was not chosen by divine appointment , had he been chosen we would find clear mentions of it in Quran as all fundamentals are mentioned in Quran. The Crux of the matter is that prophet pbuh is the final divinely appointed figure. No one can take his place.He is the seal of Prophethood and there is no extension offices of prophethood.
Some more details:
http://web.archive.org/web/200906120526 ... adir-khumm
Copying Important points:
It is impossible to discuss the Hadith of Ghadir Khumm without first understanding the specific context in which the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) said what he said. This is a general rule of thumb pertaining to the Islamic canon as a whole: it is important to know the background in which a Quranic verse was revealed or a certain Hadith was said.
For example, the Quranic verse “slay them wherever you find them” is often used by Orientalists to wrongfully make it appear as if Islam advocates the slaying of people wherever you find them all the time. Of course, if we look at when this verse was revealed, we find that it was specifically revealed during a battle between the Muslims and the Quraish Mushriks; this makes us realize that it is not a general ruling to slay people but rather it was a verse revealed in a specific situation.
Likewise, the Hadith of Ghadir Khumm can only be understood in the context in which it was said: A group of soldiers were severely criticizing Ali ibn Abi Talib (رضّى الله عنه) over a certain matter, and this news reached the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم), who then said what he said in the Hadith of Ghadir Khumm. Like the Orientalists, the Shia propagandists attempt to remove this background context in which the Hadith was said in order to paint a totally different (and misleading) picture.
The Prophet’s intention behind saying what he said at Ghadir Khumm was not at all to nominate Ali (رضّى الله عنه) as Caliph but rather it was only to defend Ali (رضّى الله عنه) against the slander being said against him. It is only by removing the background context that it is possible to render a Shia understanding of the text; it is for this reason that we should always remind our Shia brothers of the background context in which the Hadith of Ghadir Khumm was said.
The Hadith of Ghadir Khumm has absolutely nothing to do with Imamah or Caliphate, and if it did, then nothing prevented the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) from clearly stating that instead of using the word “Mawla” which is known by everyone to mean “beloved friend.” Furthermore, and this point cannot be stressed enough, Ghadir Khumm is located 250 km away from Mecca: if the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) had intended on nominating Ali (رضّى الله عنه) then he would have done that at the larger gathering atop Mount Arafat during his Farewell Sermon in front of all the Muslims from every city.
The entire Shia paradigm is based on the flimsy and easily refutable idea that Ghadir Khumm was a central location in which all the Muslims would gather together in before parting ways and going to their respective homes. Indeed, only those Muslims heading towards Medinah would pass through Ghadir Khumm, not the Muslims living in Mecca, Taif, Yemen, etc. A couple hundred years ago, the Shia masses could easily have been misled because many of them would not have had the availability of a map to check where Ghadir Khumm is and they would merely have accepted the commonly held myth that it was a meeting place for Muslims before they parted ways. But today, in the age of information and technology, accurate maps are at our finger-tips and no reasonable person should be fooled by the Shia myths.
We have shown that the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) did not (and could not have) nominated Ali (رضّى الله عنه) at Ghadir Khumm as the Shia claim. This is the very foundation block of Shi’ism, without which their faith has no basis whatsoever: if the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) did not nominate Ali (رضّى الله عنه) to be Caliph, then the Shia can no longer claim that Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) or the Sunnis usurped the divinely determined designation of Ali (رضّى الله عنه). And with that, the whole of Shi’ism collapses in on itself, all because of an unaccountable 250 km separating Ghadir Khumm from Mecca and separating Shi’ism from the truth.