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Monday 23rd of May 2022
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Nubuwwah, Prophethood


 

As I have said before, society needs rules and laws to preserve peace and justice, that the law cannot be free from inequities unless it is given by Allah. But I have told you earlier that Allah cannot be seen, He cannot appear Himself before human beings to give them His law.

Therefore, Allah appoints somebody to represent Him on the earth. That Viceregent of Allah is called "Prophet." As a mirror has a bright side to receive light and another side to reflect that light, so a Prophet has the highest spiritual purity which enables him to receive the divine message and a human body which enables him to communicate that message to his fellow human beings. The purpose of Prophethood is two-fold: First to bring people nearer to Allah and the Second to bring peace and happiness in the world.

 

According to our belief, all the Prophets were infallible and sinless. Suppose that there is a man who, just like ourselves commits or can commit sins or wrongs, and then such a man claims that he has been sent by Allah as a Prophet to lead people on the right path. Naturally, the people cannot believe that what he says is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth; because his every word is liable to be wrong. So he cannot command unreserved respect and indubitable obedience from his people. Therefore, to carry out the mission of Allah, it was necessary that the Prophets be infallible and sinless.

 

The Prophets were given miracles as their credentials. Miracles, according -to our belief, are such performances which are not impossible, but which cannot be done without apparatus, medicine or practice. But the Prophet performs them without any practice and without any machinery. Curing the blind persons or lepers is not impossible. But Jesus Christ cured them without any medicine, and that was his miracle. Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny) had innumerable miracles, but his greatest living miracle is the Qur'an.

 

When Prophet Muhammad (S) went to heaven in his lifetime and narrated the happenings after his return, his enemies said, "How was it possible to go to heaven with body?" But we believed from the beginning that if an infallible Prophet says that he did go to heaven, it was not impossible. Now the recent advent of science has proved that we were right. Where scientists are trying to go by spaceships Muhammad (S) went without any aid from any machine and that was his miracle.

 

The Qur'an says that Allah sent Prophets in every part of the world. Their basic Faith was the same. According to common belief, one hundred twenty-four thousand prophets were sent by Allah from time to time. Adam was the First of them and Muhammad (S) was the Last.

 

Muhammad (S) brought Islam which is the last Divine Religion and which cancels all previous religions. Islam is intended for all the world without any distinction of colour or origin. Islamic teachings are embodied in Qur'an which is the Book of Allah. It was revealed to Muhammad (S) in the course of twenty-three years of his Prophethood.

 

 

 

Life Sketch of the Prophet (S)

 

A brief sketch of the life of the Prophet of Islam will not be out of place here. Muhammad (S) was born in the year 570 A.D., at Mecca. He was the only son of `Abdullah and Aminah. His grandfather,`Abd al-Muttalib son of Hashim was a Chief of Quraysh. `Abdullah, father of Muhammad (S), died about four months before his birth and he lost his mother when he was in his sixth year. The charge of the orphan was undertaken by his grandfather, who also passed away when Muhammad (p.b. u.h.a.h.p.) was eight years old. `Abd al-Muttalib at the time of his death, entrusted the boy to the care of his son, Abu Talib, who was poor but very respected person. Abu Talib and his wife, Fatimah hint Asad showered upon Muhammad (S) more love and care than they ever did for their own children.

 

From his early childhood till the age of forty, Muhammad (S) showed all the noble traits of highest human character that commanded respect from everyone who knew him. The Arabs conferred on him the title "as-Siddiq al-amin" (The Truthful and Trusted One). At the age of twenty-five he married a noble lady, Khadijah, who gave birth to his only surviving child, Fatimah, the Lady of Paradise.

 

At the age of forty he was called to the mission of Prophethood by Allah. The first to accept his call were those who were nearest to him in the daily life. Khadijah, his wife, was the first to accept Islam. His cousin, `Ali, son of Abu Talib, was his first male follower. Then come the names of Zayd ibn Harith, Abu Bakr, Arqam and so on.

 

The propagation of Islam, at first was a secret mission. But three years after the first revelation, came the command:

"And warn your nearest relations" (26:214)

Having got this command, the Prophet ordered Ali to prepare a feast. When all the members were assembled and the feast began, the Prophet said, "I have been sent to you by Allah and I have brought to you the good tiding for this world and for the life hereafter. Who among you will help me in this great task? Whoever accepts this responsibility will be my wazir (vizier), my brother and my successor." No body came forward, only `Ali stood up and said "O! Prophet of Allah! I will help thee and I am ready to sacrifice everything on thy command." Three times the Prophet asked them the same question and three times it was only `Ali who gave assurance to help him with all his power. At last the Prophet declared: "O! People of Quraysh! Listen to me! Here is `Ali who is my wazir, my brother and my successor. Listen to him and obey him." The people left the place cutting jokes with Abu Talib, father of `Ali, telling him he should obey his own child. The coming years proved that it was not a laughing thing.

 

The hurling of open denunciation at the ancestral idols of Quraysh by the Prophet set all Arabia ablaze. The resentment, at first, let them to approach his uncle and guardian, Abu Talib, to persuade him to silence his nephew. Abu Talib conveyed their message to Muhammad. Muhammad replied: "Uncle dear, even if they place the Sun in my right hand and the Moon in my left hand in order to turn me away from the work which I have been entrusted by Allah to do, I will not listen to them." Saying this he burst into tears. Abu Talib said: "Go in peace, my son! and do what thou wilt for, by God! I will not abandon thee." This decision of Abu Talib infuriated the Quraysh. As a last attempt they approached Muhammad himself. They told him: "If your ambition is to acquire wealth, we will amass wealth for you as much as you may ever desire; and if you are aspiring for power and honour, we are prepared to accept you as our King and overlord; and if you have any fancy for beauty, you shall have the hand of the fairest maiden in the land." Muhammad's reply was short and clear: "Neither I want wealth nor do I want power or beauty. I have been commissioned by Allah as a warner to the mankind, I am communicating His message to you. If you accept it, you shall have facility in this life and the life hereafter and should you reject it, verily, Allah will decide between you and me."

 

So began the bitterest persecution of Muslims in the first years of its birth at the hands of the Meccans. Islam was making slow but steady progress. At the same time, the persecution and the torture of the poor Muslims was growing in its intensity day by day. The Prophet ordered some eighty Muslims of both sexes to seek refuge in the Christian country of Abyssinia. Ja'far, the third son of Abu Talib was the leader of this caravan. Negus, the Ethopian King of that time received them with honour, and as the history says, after a short period, he himself became converted to Islam. Africa can be proud of the fact when Islam was being persecuted in the land of its origin, Africa gave shelter to the poor Muslims, and whenever any list of the Muslim Kings will be prepared, the name of Negus, the African king, will be on the top.

 

After seven years of these atrocities, Quraysh decided to boycott Banu Hashim, the Family of Muhammad, becausethey had persistently refused to disown him. Three years of the cruelest hardships passed and Banu Hashim suffered such tortures that were beyond human endurance. At last, the Quraysh themselves were ashamed of their inhuman behaviour, but still they did not lift the ban. Then a miracle occurred and the ban was lifted after more than three years.

 

Shortly afterwards, as a direct result of these sufferings both Abu Talib and Khadijah died. Just at the time when Muhammad stood sorely in need of the protection of his loving uncle and the comfort of his wife, the hand of death snatched them both away from him. Now Quraysh had a free hand in dealing with Muhammad and his followers. And they lost no time in deciding that Muhammad should be killed on a certain night. Muhammad under the divine guidance, asked `Ali to sleep in his bed to keep Meecans unaware of his absence, and he left Mecca to Medina, 280 miles from Mecca. Abu Bakr accompanied him on his own accord. This epoch-making event in the history of Islam marks the beginning of the Muslim Era, called "Hijrah. "

 

The Meccans did not let Muhammad remain in peace even at Medina. They waged war after war against him. After six years of continued anxieties, Muhammad concluded a peace treaty with Meccans on apparently humiliating terms, in order to keep peace in the land. But the Quraysh violated even that treaty within two years. Now seeing that there was no alternative left, Muhammad marched and made a bloodless entry into Mecca, from which, eight years before, he had fled a hunted fugitive. The Meccans, remembering fully well their own dark past and shameful record, were apprehensive of him. But they were surprised to hear the Prophet speaking: "There is no reproof against you. May Allah forgive you, for He is Merciful and Loving; Go, you are free."

 

Three months before his death, the Prophet went for his last pilgrimage to Mecca. In the return journey he ordered the caravan to halt at a place named Khumm. It was a place where several routes met. It was mid-day and the Sun of Arabia was pouring its full heat upon the parched earth. A temporary platform was prepared for the Prophet and he delivered a long Khutbah, (lecture) at the end of which he asked the Muslims: "Have I not more authority upon you than you have got upon yourselves?"

All of them responded by saying: "Surely O Messenger of Allah!" Then, the Prophet took the arms of `Ali, and showing him to the audience, declared:

"Whomsoever I am master, `Ali is his master too."

Saying it, he took the arms of 'Ali and showed to the audience. Then he ordered them to go and greet 'Ali as their Amir (i.e. Leader and Guide). Less than three months after this declaration the Prophet died at Medina.

 

The announcement at Khumm: The detailed account is given in, besides hundred of books, Kanz al-'Ummal, the famous book of traditions, (vo1.6, pp.390, 397 & 399) and Khasa'is (by an-Nasa'i, p.48). From these accounts the following words of the Prophet should be copied here:

 

"Remember! I am leaving behind among you two most precious things - One of them is greater than the other - i) The Book of Allah, which is the rope of Allah from the heaven up to the earth, and the other ii) My Descendants who are my family-members. So look how you deal with them, and verily, both will not be separated from each other until they come to me (in Qiyamah) at the Kawthar. . . Verily, Allah is my Master and I am Master of every believer." Then he took the hands of `Ali in his hands and said: "He whose Master am I, `Ali is His Master. . ." This tradition, jointly and severally, are narrated, in every book of tradition which is worth its name.

 

There is no argument about the fact, though some Muslims try to interpret it in some other way, but the fact is undisputed. The famous Scholar of Ahl-i hadith (generally known as al- Wahabiyyah) Nawwab Siddiq Hasan of Bhopal, says: "Hakim Abu Saeed says that the traditions of "two most precious things" and "Whose Master am I, `Ali is his Master" is `mutawatir' i.e. narrated by so many people that no doubt can be entertained about its authenticity, because a great number of the companions have narrated it, so much so that Muhammad ibn Jarir has written these two traditions by 75 (seventy-five) different chains.[4]

I have left many events in the life of the Prophet because most of them are common knowledge. Here I have mentioned only those events which, though commonly narrated in Arabic histories, traditions and commentaries of Qur'an, are not known, for one reason or another, to non-Arabic-speaking public.

 

 


Notes:

[4] Minhdj al-wusul, page 13

Imamah, Imamate


 

Now I want to explain our stand about the `Fourth Root of Religion' that is "Imamate." Imamate means `Leadership.' Here it means "Succession to the Prophet."

 

We believe that it is necessary for a Prophet to be infallible and sinless, so it is necessary for his successors to be infallible and sinless. The same reason and proofs that are put forward for infallibility of prophets can be put for infallibility of his successors. Otherwise, nobody will believe that the interpretations of the Book of AIlah and the directions about religion which come from Imam, are true interpretations and right directions. Here it should be made clear that an Imam is not entitled to change the commands of Qur'an or concepts of religion. Imim is the defender of Faith. His work is to preserve it, not to change it. Islam and Qur'an as brought by Muhammad (S), are the last Divine Religion and last Divine Book.

 

Nothing is to be added to it, nothing is to be taken away from it, nothing is to be amended in it. And it is the duty of Imam to see that the commands of Qur'an are respected and the path opened by the Prophet is followed.

 

I was telling you that an Imam, like Prophet, should be infallible. But nobody can know anything about another person. A man may. have an excellent character, but nobody can be sure that he cannot commit any mistake at any time. Only the Creator of the man knows whether a man is infallible. And as we receive message of Allah through the Prophet, it is with the words of the Prophet that we can know the real nature of a man. According to the Qur'an and accepted traditions of the Prophet, there were three men, after the Prophet who were sinless. First of them was `Ali, who was declared by the Prophet as his successor in Khumm.

 

Other two were Hasan and Husayn, sons of `Ali and Fatimah and grandsons of the Holy Prophet. There is an ayah (verse) in Qur'an that says:

 

. . Verily, Allah intends but to keep off from you (every kind of) uncleanliness, O People of the House! and purify you a thorough purification " (33:33)

 

Both the Sunnis and the Shi'ahs agree that `Ali, his wife Fatimah, Hasan and Husayn are definitely included in the title "People of the House (of the Prophet)." The Sunnis, however, add the names of the wives of the Prophet in it, but the Shi'ahs do not agree with it. Anyhow, according to Qur'an and the traditions of the Prophet and the commentaries of Qur'an it is clear that `Ali and his two sons were infallible and sinless.

 

The verse of "Purity": When I said, "Shi'ahs do not include anyone else in the verse of Qur'an," I made an under-statement. In fact, many Sunni Scholars also have said the same thing. They also do not include anyone else. I would like to quote Mawlana Wahid al-Zaman, the famous Sunni Scholar, whose translation and commentary of Qur'an as well as his book Anwar al-lughah (being the dictionary of Qur'an and Traditions) are among the recognized reference books.

 

He writes in his commentary of Qur'an about this ayah "Some think that it is especially for those family members who had blood relation with the Prophet, i.e. `Ali, Fatimah, Hasan and Husayn. The present translator, (i.e. himself), says that correct (sahih) and well-connected up to Prophet (Marfu) traditions support the same view, because when the Prophet himself has declared that my family members are these only, then to accept it and believe in it becomes obligatory.

 

And one more sign of correctness of this view is that the pronouns used before and after this verse are those for females, while in this verse are those for males. It appears that this verse has been placed between the verses connected with the wives of the Prophet. Perhaps the companions (who compiled the Qur'an) did so according to their own `ijtihad' (independent judgment)."[5]

 

Again he says in his dictionary of Qur'an and Traditions[6]: "The correct view is that in this ayah of `Purity' only these five persons are included (i.e. The Prophet, `Ali, Fatimah, Hasan and Husayn), though in the usage of Arabs, the word Ahlu'l-Bayt' is used for wives also. Some people prove by this ayah that these five persons were sinless and masum (infallible). But, if not `ma'sum' then, of course, they were `mahfuz' (Protected from committing any sin or error) surely."

 

I have quoted two references (though I do not agree fully with him in some of his assertions) just to show that not only the `Ithna `Asharis but the learned men of Sunnis also confirm that, according to the rules of Arabic Grammer and according to the correct unbroken traditions of the Prophet only `Ali, Fatimah, Hasan and Husayn are included in it, besides the Prophet himself. Also it is clear that our claim that these persons were sinless, is shared by the Sunnis scholars also. It is apparent that the least they can say is that they were not infallible (theoratically) but were protected from sins and errors (practically).

 

But infallibility is not enough. According to our belief, as the Prophets were chosen by Allah to carry on His mission, so their successors also should be appointed by Allah.

 

It may be mentioned here that there are some more conditions for Imamah, but I have mentioned here two of them only i.e. Infallibility and appointment by Allah through the Prophet, because these two conditions are the most important of all.

 

Now I think I should throw some light on the question of our Imams' appointment by Allah. As I have mentioned earlier Prophet made a promise to `Ali (which was in fact a command of Allah) in the early days of Islam that he would be his successor, and that promise was fulfilled in Khumm when the Prophet declared that all the believers were to accept `Ali as their Master just as they accepted the Prophet as their Master. `Ali was the man who was chosen by the Prophet to sleep in his bed and offer himself for sacrifice when the Prophet left Mecca. He was entrusted to return the articles of the Meccans that were deposited with Muhammad (S). `Ali was the man whom the Prophet declared twice as his brother in this world and the life hereafter. It was `Ali, his wife and his children who were selected by the Prophet to represent Islam against the tribe of Najran. It was about `Ali that the Prophet said: "I am the city of knowledge and `Ali is its gate." It was the famous saying of the Prophet that: "`Ali is from me and I am from `Ali." It was to `Ali that the Prophet said: "Thou hast the same position with me as Aaron had with Moses."

 

Thus it is clear that so far as `Ali is concerned the question of infallibility and appointment from Allah are settled once and forever. Even the Sunnis do not challenge the authenticity of these traditions and events, although they might differ in interpretations.

 

After the death of the Prophet the Muslims split in two groups; Sunnis and Shi`ahs. The Shi'ahs, as mentioned above believe that `Ali was the first Imam appointed by Allah, declared by the Prophet. The Sunnis believe that Abu Bakr, a father-in-law of the Prophet, was his first successor. They call them "Caliphs." Abu Bakr was elected by some people at the time when most of the Muslims were attending the funeral of the Prophet. But there was the ancient tribal custom of Arabs that when a man was accepted as Chief even by some of the members of the tribe, others accepted him as such without grumbling. When it was known that Abu Bakr had been elected as Caliph, the majority of the Muslims followed him, according to the old rule.

 

The second Caliph, `Umar ibn al-Khattab was not elected but nominated by the first Caliph. `Umar, at the time of his death appointed a committee of six persons and said that they should select one amongst themselves, and, the third Caliph, Osman, thus came to power. Their sixth Caliph, Mu'awiyah, came to power by military strength. So the Sunnis following these precedents, believe that a Caliph can be regarded as a legal successor of the Prophet if he is either elected or nominated, or selected by a committee or if he gains power by military strength.

 

But we, the Shi'ahs, do not think that these are the right methods to determine the succession of Prophet. We say that these methods may be useful to settle the claims for a King's throne, but not correct for setting a man on the Prophet's pulpit. According to our belief, only Allah, who appointed the Prophet, has the right to appoint his successors.

 

There are many traditions of the Prophet in which he has proclaimed the number and even the names of his successors whom we call `Imams.' There are the accepted traditions of the Prophet that `Imams after me will be twelve.' Isma'ilis, and perhaps Zaydis, do not believe in it; but the Ithna `Asharis, get support in their belief from the Sunnis, who have these traditions in their books of traditions called 'Sihah.' They also record the tradition that: "The day of Judgment will not come unless these Twelve Imams come in this world."

 

Also there is a tradition recorded in Sunni books (e.g. Kifayat al-athar and Rawdat alahbab of al-Muhaddith Jamal ad-Din) which gives, the names of these Twelve Imams as foretold by the Holy Prophet. It is narrated by Jabir ibn Abdallah al-Ansari, companion of the Holy Prophet; and is as follows:

When the ayah of the Qur'an was revealed

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