Caliphate is nothing but Succession of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) – Part II

Continued from Part I…..

Who will represent the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.)?

The responsibilities of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) are:

  • Promulgating the divine laws.
  • Teaching of knowledge and wisdom
  • Legal authority


The demise of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) formally ended the job of promulgating the divine laws. During his lifetime itself the religion was completed and there is no need to promulgate any new divine laws. Since religion was complete during the life of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), there is no situation of reciting verses or a new religious ruling but the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) himself performed these responsibilities. Apart from this, the explanation of the rulings and the teachings of the book and wisdom will remain till the Day of Judgement and the one who has the knowledge of the book and wisdom will only be eligible for this responsibility.

Now the question is – who should be the successor of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)?

The answer is clear. Only that person can be the successor of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) who has the complete knowledge of the Quran like the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and teaches the book and wisdom like him (s.a.w.a.). Whose knowledge is divinely gifted like the prophet (s.a.w.a.) and has not sought knowledge in this world rather the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has taught him on the order of God.

The Propagation of Surah-e-Baraat

The initial verses of Surah-e-Baraat in which Allah had addressed the polytheists and expressed His and the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) dislike for them needed to be recited in their midst in Mecca. The dislike for the polytheists needed to be expressed in their own centre and stronghold.

Sunni scholars have narrated this incident from Abdullah b. Umar as follows:

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) sent Abu Bakr and Umar to Mecca but the letter with the verses written on it was handed to Abu Bakr. Both took the letter and left for Mecca. They had not gone far when they saw a person approaching them on a camel. On asking, the person replied – I am Ali and O Abu Bakr, give me the letter. Abu Bakr asked if there was any development. Ali (a.s.) replied – I am not aware about it. Ali (a.s.) took the letter from them and went to Mecca. Umar and Abu Bakr returned to Medina and asked the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), “Was anything special revealed concerning us. Did any incident take place”? The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) replied in the negative but said that

“I have been told that none can deliver these verses from your side except either you or someone from you”

(Mustadrak al-Saheehain of Haakim Nishapuri vol. 3 p. 51)

Other Sunni scholars have narrated this incident quoting Ali (a.s.) in which it is clear that someone has informed the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) to replace Abu Bakr. ‘When Abu Bakr and Umar asked the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) that whether there was anything revealed about us regarding this, he (s.a.w.a.) said, ‘No, but Jibrail informed me – No one can deliver this message except you or someone from you’

(Musnad-o-Ahmad vol. 1 p. 101, Sunan Tirmizi vol. 4 p. 339, Allama Amini (r.a.) has mentioned this incident in Al-Ghadeer vol. 6 p. 338-350 from 70 Sunni scholars)

It is evident from this incident that among the responsibilities of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was recitation and propagation of Quranic verses and none can be his successor in this except Ali (a.s.). Moreover withdrawing this responsibility from other companions is also a clear sign in the matter of caliphate for those who understand.

Teaching and Explanation of Revelation

In the 43rd verse of Surah-e-Raad (13), Allah says,

“Those who disbelieved say that you are not a prophet. Say, indeed Allah is enough as witness between you and me and the one who has the knowledge of the book.”

This fact has also been pointed at in Surah-e-Hud, verse 17 that this witness is from the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) family.

The verse reads:

“One who has a clear proof from the side of his Lord and the one who has a witness from himself.”

It has already been mentioned that the witness is from his own family and from himself.

The message which Archangel Jibrail (a.s.) delivered with regards to the propagation of the verse of Surah-e-Baraat was that either you yourself perform this duty or someone from you. History is witness that “someone from you” implies Ali (a.s.) and also “witness from himself” refers to Ali (a.s.) because the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said, “Surely Ali is from me and I am from Ali”. Therefore the witness referred to Surah-e-Ra’d who has the knowledge of the entire book is none other than Ali (a.s.). Following are two more traditions regarding the same:

  1. Abu Saeed al-Khudri narrates that I asked the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) that who does the verse “And the one who has the knowledge of the Book” refer to. He (s.a.w.a.) replied, “He is my brother Ali b. Abi Talib”

(Shawaahid al-Tanzeel of Haakim al-Haskaani, vol. 1 p. 40 Tr. 422, Yanaabi al-Mawaddah vol. 1 p. 307 chap 30 Tr. 7)

  1. A renowned Sunni scholar, interpreter and historian Jalaaluddeen Suyuti records the following tradition in his famous exegesis Al-Durr Al-Manthoor vol. 3 p. 324 under the interpretation of Surah-e-Hud, verse 17:

Ibne Abi Haatim, Ibne Mardviyyah and Abu Nuaim have narrated from Ali (a.s.) in Al-Maarifah. He (a.s.) says, “There are verses revealed regarding every man from the Quraish” One person asked, “Which verse is revealed regarding you?” He (a.s.) replied, “Have you not read Surah-e-Hud? – ‘Is he then who has with him clear proof from his Lord, and a witness from Him recites it’. According to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) witness refers to me.

Hence it become absolutely clear that that one who has the knowledge of the entire book i.e. the knowledge of the entire Quran, the knowledge of the entire universe and the knowledge of the first and the last, is none other than Ali (a.s.). And apart from this, we have the tradition of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) which is famous and authentic:

  1. “I am the city of knowledge and Ali is it’s gate”

(Behaar al-Anwaar, vol. 40 p. 201 Tr. 4)

  1. 2. In another tradition, Ali (a.s.) says,

“O people, ask me about whatever you want before you are deprived of me. This is the saliva of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) that he has fed me.”

(Tauheed-e-Sadooq p. 298)

3. Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says in a tradition,

“The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) taught Ali (a.s.) a letter through which a thousand letters were opened and from them another thousand letters.”

(Behaar al-Anwaar vol. 26 p. 30 Tr. 39)

Now it is extremely clear that only Ali (a.s.) can replace the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in the teaching and explanation of revelation. In the entire Muslim nation, there is none who has more knowledge of the Book than Ali (a.s.), rather he (a.s.) is more knowledgeable than anyone else in any type of knowledge.If caliphate is the succession of the HolyProphet (s.a.w.a.), and successorship demands the successor to possess certain characteristics, then only Ali (a.s.) possesses those characteristics.

Succession in the world of actions (tashree’i)

When the succession of Ali (a.s.) is established in the propagation, teaching and explanation of the revelation, then even in the world of actions, he (a.s.) is the successor. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) announced this on 18th Zilhajj before a huge gathering of companions in the planes of Ghadeer thus –

“Of whomsoever I am the master this Ali is his master.”

That is, he bears the same right of rule and sovereignty just as me and has more authority on yourselves than you yourselves do. My obedience is obligatory upon everyone and opposing me is forbidden. And all these things are applicable for Ali (a.s.) after me.

To summarise, if caliphate is the succession of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), then Ali (a.s.) possesses all the characteristics of a successor and only he (a.s.) is the successor of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.). And if caliphate is someone else’s succession, then we have nothing to do with it.

‘And nothing devolves on us but a clear deliverance (of the message).’

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