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Further explanation

Further explanation

Further explanation

The Byzantine Empire represented one side of the dangerous triangle. This great power, which was at the north of the Arabian Peninsula concerned the Prophet () till the last moment of his life.

The first military encounter of the Muslims with the Christian army of Byzantine was in 8 AH in Palestine. This encounter ended in a sorrowful defeat of the Muslim army and the killing of three commanders: Ja‘far ibn Abī ālib aṭ-Ṭayyār, Zayd ibn Ḥārithah and ‘Abd Allāh ibn Rawāḥah.

The withdrawal of the army of Islam in the fight against the army of kufr gave courage to the army of Caesar to think that one day the Islamic capital would be under his control. For this reason, in 9 AH the Prophet () moved with a huge and equipped army toward the coasts of Shām[1] so as to personally conduct every military activity. In this journey which was full of difficulties and vicissitudes, the army of Islam was able to regain its former glory and revive its political status.

This victory did not convince the Prophet () and a few days after his ailment, he decided to send an army under the command of Usāmah ibn Zayd to the coasts of Shām.

The second side of the challenging triangle was the King of Persia. Out of rage, Khosroe of Persia tore the letter sent to him by the Prophet () and insultingly dismissed his envoy. Khosroe wrote to his governor in Yemen a letter in which he ordered him to capture the Prophet () and threatened to kill him if he refused.

Although Khosroe Pervez, the King of Persia, died in the lifetime of the Prophet (), the issue of independence of the territory of Yemen, which was one of the Persian colonies for long time, was not away from the perspective of the Persian Sassanid kings. Arrogance and conceit would never allow the Sassanid statesmen to tolerate the existence of such a power.

The third side of the challenging triangle was the threat of the group of hypocrites [munāfiqūn], who formed a fifth column in the midst of Muslim comunity, and were always busy creating discord and intended to kill the Prophet () en route from Tabūk to Medina. The hypocrites whispered to themselves that the Islamic movement would come to an end and everybody would be relieved.[2]

The destructive power of the hypocrites was so dangerous that the Qur’an has referred to it in many sūrahs such as in Āl ‘Imrān (3), An-Nisā’ (4), Al-Mā’idah (5), Al-Anfāl (8), At-Tawbah (9), Al-‘Ankabūt (29), Al-Azāb (33), Muammad (47), Al-Fat(48), Al-adīd (57), Al-Mujādilah (58), Al-Ḥashr (59), and Al-Munāfiqūn (63).[3]

With the existence of such enemies who were lying in ambush for Islam, is it appropriate to assume that the Prophet of Islam () had not designated a successor for the political and religious leadership of the nascent Islamic community?

Social reckonings indicate that the Prophet () must have designated a chief and leader in order to prevent any kind of discord after his death and ensure Islamic unity by creating a firm and strong line of defense. Preventing any bad and unpleasant incident and avoiding the possibility that, after the demise of the Holy Prophet (), every group would say, “The emir must be from us,” would not be without designating a leader.

These social considerations are clear indications to the validity and soundness of the idea that the position of leadership after the Prophet () is a matter of appointment.

The evidence of the sayings of the Messenger of Allah ()

On the basis of this social context and other aspects, the Prophet () kept reminding of the idea of succession from the early days of his mission till the last moments of his life. And he () designated his successor at the commencement of his mission—on the occasion of publicizing his prophethood to his relatives—as well as at the last days of his life—during the return journey from the Farewell Pilgrimage [ajj al-widā‘] at Ghadīr Khumm—and in different phases of his life. We have introduced three well-based instances of these sayings in reply to the question: “Why is ‘Alī ibn Abī ālib (‘a) the waṣī [executor of will] and successor of the Prophet ()?” along with references from the books of Muslim scholars and muaddithūn which confirm this idea.

By taking into account the aforementioned social considerations of the early period of Islam and the sayings of the Messenger of Allah () regarding the designation of the Commander of the Faithful (‘Alī) (‘a) as his successor, we realize the necessity of the idea that the position of caliphate is conditional upon appointment. ?




[1] Shām or Shāmāt: until five centuries ago, included Syria of today, Lebanon and parts of Jordan and Palestine. [Trans.]

[2] Sūrah at-Tūr 52:30: “Do they say, ‘[He is] a poet, for whom we await a fatal accident’?”

[3] Excerpted from Prof. Ja‘far Subānī’s Furūgh-e Abadiyyat.

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