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Monday 29th of November 2021
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Muhammad Mustafa and his Succession

Muhammad Mustafa and his Succession

As a statesman, Muhammad ranks among the greatest in the whole world. He was endowed with amazing perspicacity, vision and political genius. During the last ten years of his life, he was called upon to make the most momentous decisions in the history of Islam. Those decisions affected not only the Muslims or the Arabs but all mankind. He was also aware that his actions and decisions would affect the actions and decisions of every generation of the Muslims to the end of time itself.
Muhammad, the Messenger of God, therefore, did not make any decision, no matter how trivial, on an ad hoc basis; nor did he make decisions by a "trial and error" method. His decisions were all inspired. They were precedents for the Muslim community for all time. It was with this knowledge and understanding that he said or did anything and everything.

Muhammad had succeeded, after a long and sanguinary struggle against the idolaters and polytheists of Arabia, in establishing the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth so that his umma (people) may live in it in peace and security, admired and envied by the rest of mankind.

The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth was the lifework of Muhammad. He knew that he was a mortal, and would die some day, but his work, as embodied in the "Kingdom" would live. He knew that after his death, someone else would have to carry on the work begun by him. He also knew that orderly succession is the anchor of stability. He knew all this and much else besides. No Muslim would ever presume to imagine that Muhammad, the Messenger of God, did not know all this better than anyone else.

The succession of Muhammad was also a subject of much speculation among many Muslims. One question that had been uppermost in the minds of many of them, especially since the conquest of Makkah, was, who would succeed him as the new head of the State of Medina, after his death.

This question admits of only one answer, viz., the best Muslim! The successor of Muhammad ought to be, not a second rate person, but the finest product of Islam; someone that Islam itself might uphold with pride as its "masterpiece."

Such a "masterpiece" was Ali ibn Abi Talib. Muhammad had "discovered" him early in life; he had groomed him and designated him as his successor, thus assuring peaceful and orderly transfer of sovereignty. He was most anxious to avert a struggle for power among his companions after his own death.

But, unfortunately, this arrangement did not work out, and the succession, after the death of the Prophet, was not peaceful and orderly. There was a grim struggle for power among his companions in which some new candidates for power succeeded in capturing the government of Medina. Their success signaled an abrupt end of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, and signaled, at the same time, the birth of the Muslim State - a State run by people who were Muslims. The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth or the Islamic State did not survive the death of its Founder.

This demise of the Islamic State, while still in its infancy, may arouse the curiosity of the student of history. He may wonder why it was so short-lived, and how it was possible for these new candidates to subvert the arrangement made by the Prophet himself for a peaceful and orderly transfer of power, and to foist an arrangement of their own upon the Muslim umma.

 


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