Caliphate is nothing but Succession of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) – Part I
Qualifications of the Position
If there exists a vacancy for a post in any college or university, then it is not just the position which is called out but its qualifications and criteria are also specified. If the vacancy is in theDepartment of History, then experts of the subject and those who have completed a formal education in it will be required. A scientist will take up a position in the Department of Science. He cannot occupy the position of a history professor. Hence, apart from the position, the credentials and qualifications are also specified well in advance. A scientist’s application for the post of a Professor of History will be rejected by the selection committee. Only eligible candidates, who fit the criteria, will be interviewed. If a scientist actually occupies the position of a Professor of History or vice versa, then we can all image the state of the university.
Responsibilities of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)
Prior to appointing anyone as a successor to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) it is critical to understand the various responsibilities of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Selecting an appropriate person for this position completely depends on how well are the responsibilities understood.
The Holy Quran has outlined the duties of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), a few of them being:
- Conveying the Revelation
The Holy Quran declares in the second verse of Surah Jum’a (62):
“He it is Who raised among the inhabitants of Mecca an Apostle from among themselves, who recites to them His communications and purifies them, and teaches them the Book and the Wisdom, although they were before certainly in clear error.”
Allah the High sent for the people of the ‘chief of towns’ a Messenger from among themselves who would:
- Recite for them the Divine Communications
- Purify their souls
- Teach them the knowledge of the Book and Wisdom
Although the people were in manifest error prior to this! Divine communications refers to the verses of the Holy Quran which Allah had revealed for the guidance of people. The responsibility here was to convey Allah’s Message to them by reciting those verses.
Infallibility – A Prerequisite
Infallibility was essential in order to convey the divine verses fittingly. If a Prophet or a Messenger is fallible and even if there is a slightest possibility of any error or forgetfulness then the message would lose its credibility. There would be lingering doubts – what is the guarantee that the message is complete or that there are no additions or deletions to it?
If there is no credibility then the purpose of sending the message will be nullified. Hence, in order to convey the verses appropriately, a Prophet and a Messenger has to be infallible.
- Teaching and narrating the revelation
Another important responsibility of the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.) which is mentioned in the verse of Surah Jum’a is “and teaches them the Book and the Wisdom”. It means that mere recitation of the verses is not sufficient. Rather, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) also had to explain and elucidate their interpretation. Imparting knowledge of the entire Quran implies that the giver of knowledge should himself be completely well-versed with all its concepts. Since the Holy Quran contains the knowledge of all moist and dry things and it explains everything clearly, the knowledge of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) should encompass all of it. Rather, the one who knows more than the book will only be able to explain everything from it eloquently. His recitation of the Holy Quran itself proves that the Almighty Allah had revealed much more upon the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). It is mentioned in verse 44 of Surah Nahl (16):
“…and We have revealed to you the Reminder that you may make clear to men what has been revealed to them”
It means that Allah the High revealed the
‘Reminder’ (Zikr) separately upon the Messenger (s.a.w.a.) in order to explain the revealed message.
The Holy Quran only contains the general principles. The details were clarified by the Noble Messenger (s.a.w.a.). The Noble Quran talks about prayers, fasting, pilgrimage, etc. but the specifics like the rules of prayers, pre-conditions, Azaan, Iqamah among others, were clarified by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Perhaps Allah the Almighty established this system so that the people don’t become independent of the messengers. Since the Holy Quran is an eternal message and it is to last forever, the need for Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) or someone like him will always exist in order to expound its concepts.
Infallibility in order to explain the Holy Quran
Just as infallibility is necessary to covey the verses of the Holy Quran, it is also important while teaching and expounding the verses. Before getting into details it is important to understand that the message of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in relation to the explanation of Quran is not like that of the exegetists (mufassirreen). The scholarly and minute interpretations of all the mufassirreen of the Noble Quran are limited to their knowledge and understanding of the Quran. None of them claim that their interpretation is the most accurate version of what Allah intended to convey and other interpretations must be rejected.
Whereas, every narration of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) about the Quran is the clarification of Allah’s aim i.e. it is Allah’s message in the words of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.).Hence, along with the Quran, the words of the Messenger (s.a.w.a.) are also a binding proof.
Hence, it becomes evident that even while narrating any tradition a Prophet should intend to convey Allah’s aim behind it and as a result he should be infallible else there would always be a possibility that Allah’s objective and the Prophet’s words might be incompatible. Every word of the Prophet, therefore, is an interpretation of Allah’s wish.
- Mastership in the Legislative World
The Almighty Allah raised the Noble Messenger (s.a.w.a.) as a “Master of Authority”. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) enjoys complete authority and mastership over the entire creation and every particle, from the depth of the earth to the highest point in the heavens, is subservient to his command. Simultaneously, Allah has made the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) an authority in the Shariah as well. It implies that the obedience to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is obligatory upon everyone unconditionally. Let us analyze a few verses of the Holy Quran under this discussion:
- “And whatever the Messenger gives you, accept it, and from whatever he forbids you, keep back”
(Surah Hashr (59): 7)
Here the two parts “And whatever the Messenger gives you” and “from whatever he forbids you”, is a command and a prohibition respectively. Implying that it is necessary to do whatever the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) commands and to stay away from whatever he (s.a.w.a.) prohibits. This verse highlights the absoluteness and unconditionally of the obedience to the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) orders. No one has the right to question him.
- “And it behoves not a believing man and a believing woman that they should have any choice in their matter when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter; and whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he surely strays off a manifest straying.”
(Surah Ahzab (33): 36)
In this verse the words “that they should have any choice” rejects the possibility of any other option for a believer even in his personal affairs after Allah and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) have taken a decision. He has absolutely no right to give his own opinion against that of Allah and the Prophet (s.a.w.a.).
Additionally the words “when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter” emphasize that it can be any issue. The authority of Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is not limited in any way and encompasses the entire life of a believer. Their authority extends to all aspects of one’s life, be it personal, social, economical, worldly or religious.
“Allah and His Messenger”. The unconditional mention of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) after the mention of Allah indicates the fact that in commands and prohibitions Allah has granted an independent status and authority to the personality of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Along with His own commands and prohibitions Allah has declared those of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) to be equally binding and compulsory. The orders of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) thus have been given a distinct and independent status. Just as it is prohibited to disobey Allah, it is also prohibited to disobey him (s.a.w.a.).It is clear that such authority is compatible only with infallibility. Just as the commands and prohibitions of Allah are free from error, fault or omission, so it is also true for the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).
- “The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has a greater claim on the faithful than they have on themselves”
(Surah Ahzab (33): 6)
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has more authority on a believer’s life, wealth and all his affairs than he himself. It is imperative for a believer to give precedence to the likes and dislikes of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) over his own likes and dislikes. The “greater claim” mentioned in this verse is generic in nature and does not refer to any peculiar situation.
- “O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger.’’
(Surah Nisa (4): 59)
Even this verse makes a distinct mention of obedience to the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) along with obedience to Allah. The distinctness of the commands of the Prophet (s.a.w.a) from that of Allah is thus established. However it should be noted that this distinctness is granted by Allah. He has promulgated an independent obedience to the Prophet (s.a.w.a.). This is granted by Allah and does not contend with His authority. Hence if someone rejects this independent authority of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), he is in fact rejecting the rights and authority granted by Allah Himself.
The Holy Quran only addresses the believers
In all these verses the addressee is the believer. Allah has trusted only a believer for obedience to the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), for submitting his own will to that of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and for giving precedence to the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) over his own wealth and life. Absolute obedience to the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is the sign of a true believer. If anyone denies his commands or even entertains a difference of opinion with him then according to the Holy Quran, “he surely strays off a manifest straying.”
Continued in Part II…..