- Al-Masoudi, the famous historian, narrated that all the previous Prophets had successors. Seth succeeded Adam, Ishmael succeeded Abraham, Joseph succeeded Jacob, Aaron and then Joshua succeeded Moses. Simon succeeded Jesus. Who succeeded the Prophet Muhammad in the matter of leading and guiding the Ummah after the demise of the Prophet (P)?
- It is an indisputable fact that Abu-Bakr appointed Omar to succeed him (Sahih Muslim p.1455) and so did Omar for Othman, although indirectly. Similarly, Mo’awiya appointed his vicious son; Yazid out of his concern for the Ummah of the Prophet (P)! Then is it possible that the Prophet of Islam (P) had no concern about the future of his Ummah?!
- Whenever the Prophet (P) left Madina he used to appoint someone to be in charge of the affairs of Muslims. For instance, He appointed Imam Ali (a.s) when he left Madina for the Battle of Tabouk ((Bukhari 4:1602). He was also appointing leaders for different tribes and towns such as Ta’ef, Yemen, etc. Is it possible that he did not appoint any leader for the Ummah to succeed him after his demise?!
Surely, he did appoint a successor and that was none other than Imam Ali (a.s).
The Shia’ provide three different proofs for this belief:
- The Holy Quran: There are a number of Ayat in the Holy Quran which prove the doctrine of Imamat as a divine selection:
a. “Verily, your guardian is (none else but) God and His Messenger (Muhammad) and those who believe, those who establish Prayers and pay the charity while they be (even) bowing down (in Prayers).” 5: 55
The commentators of the Quran unanimously agreed that the Ayah was revealed to the Prophet regarding Imam Ali, that whilst he was in Prayers, he offered his ring to a beggar.
b. “O Messenger! Proclaim what has been sent to you from your Lord, and if you did not, then (it will be as if)you would not have fulfilled His message.” 5:67
The Ayah under consideration is one of the most powerful Ayat proving the Imamat of Imam Ali as the successor of the Prophet, and hence, I would like to draw your attention to the following main notes:
- Chapter five of the Quran is the last chapter revealed to the Prophet of Islam. Therefore, its rules are not subject to any change or alteration.
- The Ayah seems to be regarding the most important issue in Islam, that if not delivered to the people, the whole message of Islam is not delivered.
- ‘Al-Ghadir’, written by the Late Amini, is a masterpiece in 11 volumes which deals thoroughly with the above Ayah. The author has collected the quotation of more than 100 companions of the Prophet testifying that the Ayah had been revealed on the occasion of Ghadir during which the Prophet appointed Imam Ali as his Successor.
2. The Hadith: Hadith, or the words of the Prophet, is the second proof of Shiites that Imamat is a divine appointment and not an election. There are so many Hadiths from which the leadership of Imam Ali as appointed by the Prophet can be proven. The following are a few of many:
a. Hadith of Welayat: Abu-Es-Haq in his Commentary of the Quran quoted from Abu-Dhar that:
“One day a poor person came to the Mosque asking for help. Nobody helped him except Ali Ibn Abu Talib. Although he was praying, he did not hesitate to help the poor person. He pointed at his ring offering it to the poor man. The man accepted the ring and pulled it off of Ali’s finger. Upon that, the Prophet raised up his hands and said: ‘O my Lord! Increase my tolerance, ease my task for me… and give me a Minister from my family, Ali, my brother.’ ” As soon as the Prophet finished his supplication, the angel Gabriel descended to the Prophet with Ayah 55 of Chapter 5 of the Quran as mentioned above.
b. Hadith of Ghadir: The Hadith is related to the second Ayah mentioned above. The Aya was revealed on the 18th of Thil-Hajjah in a place called Ghadir of Khom.
The Prophet performed his pilgrimage to Hajj which happened to be his final Hajj performance in the year 9 AH. On the way back from Mecca, whilst being followed by hundreds of Muslim pilgrims, Gabriel came to him with Ayah 67 of Chapter 5.
Upon the revelation, the Prophet ordered the caravans to stop around a pool named Ghadir of Khom. It was announced that the Prophet had a very important message to deliver. The crowd surrounded the Prophet and prepared to listen to his sermon.
The Messenger of God delivered a sermon pointing out many important issues.
When the sermon was nearly over he asked people if the Prophet’s guardianship on them is more than that of themselves? “Of course”, cried the crowd. Then the Prophet raised up the hand of Ali Ibn Abu Talib saying: “Whoever I am his/her master, this Ali is his/her master. O God! Love those who love him, and have enmity on those who have enmity on him. Help those who will help him and leave alone those who will leave him alone..”
After the sermon was over, the Prophet asked people to come and greet Imam Ali as ‘The Commander of the Believers’. Abu Bakr and Omar were among the first who came to Ali and greeted him saying: ‘Congratulations Ali! You’ve become our Master and the Master of the Believers’.