Saturday, 10 June 2017

Appointment of Talut as King (Sura 2:247)


بسم الله الرحمـن الرحيم
الصلوة والسلام على من لا نبى بعده

Allah Most High’s appointment of TâlûtAS as King over the Children of Israel as mentioned in the Suhuf-e-Mutahhara has many lessons and benefits concerning the issue of government and administration in Islam:

وَقَالَ لَهُمْ نَبِيُّهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ قَدْ بَعَثَ لَكُمْ طَالُوتَ مَلِكًا ۚ قَالُوا أَنَّىٰ يَكُونُ لَهُ الْمُلْكُ عَلَيْنَا وَنَحْنُ أَحَقُّ بِالْمُلْكِ مِنْهُ وَلَمْ يُؤْتَ سَعَةً مِّنَ الْمَالِ ۚ قَالَ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ اصْطَفَاهُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَزَادَهُ بَسْطَةً فِي الْعِلْمِ وَالْجِسْمِ ۖ وَاللَّـهُ يُؤْتِي مُلْكَهُ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ


And their Prophet said to them, “Indeed, Allah has sent to you Saul as a king.” They said, “How can he have kingship over us while we are more worthy of kingship than him and he has not been given any measure of wealth?” He said, “Indeed, Allah has chosen him over you and has increased him abundantly in knowledge and stature. And Allah gives His kingdom to whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing [in favor] and Knowing.”
(Sura 2:247)

The Prophet mentioned here was the Prophet Samuel (peace be upon him). In his time, the Children of Israel were anxious to have a king ruling over them, so as to be better organised and in a superior position to fight the Philistines and other pagan nations. This is similar to the desire of the Muslim Ummah today for a Khilafa in order to be strengthened and solidified.

A noteworthy point is that prior to the appointment of TâlûtAS as King, the Children of Israel did not have a kingship. Stranger yet, despite the presence of a recognised Prophet (Samuel), the Children of Israel asked for a King to rule over them. Implicit in this is the fact that the Prophet (Samuel) was simply a Prophet, someone who speaks on behalf of Allah Most High, but had no administrative authority or kingship over the Children of Israel.

The Imamiya sects of Shi’ism assert that it is impossible for the Believers to be bereft of a divinely appointed Imam to whom allegiance is owed and who alone possesses the right to administer the affairs and rule over the Ummah. This blessed Ayah of the Holy Qur’an decisively repudiates their doubt in shedding light on the fact that before the appointment of TâlûtAS as king, the Children of Israel were bereft of a ruler despite the presence among them of a Prophet (Samuel). Incidentally, this Ayah also repudiates the doubt that a Prophet by definition must be a person who executes administrative authority in the land. TâlûtAS was not a prophet, yet he was divinely appointed by Allah as a king despite the presence of a Prophet among the Israelites. This proves that in the presence of a Prophet it is not impossible that there be a king or ruler who exercises administrative authority over the Believers.

The Israelite elders initially questioned the appointment of TâlûtAS on the basis that one from among them was more deserving of kingship because they were possessors of wealth, implying that TâlûtAS was not. In answer to this, Allah Most High states that not only does He appoint whomsoever He pleases as king and ruler, due to His infinite wisdom and knowledge of the unseen, but additionally refers to two specific qualities of TâlûtAS which makes him more deserving of being a king: 1. abundant knowledge and 2. great bodily strength. Thus from the Islamic point of view, these two qualities are ideal for a man to possess in order for him to be a ruler or in a position of administrative authority. Abundance of wealth is not a consideration from the Islamic perspective.

1 comment:

  1. *Note: Talut's quality of bodily strength (al-Jism) is important because in it necessary in order to discharge the immense responsibilities connected with administration. An eminent companion of the Prophet(SAW), known for his piety, knowledge and asceticism, namely, Sayyidina Abu Dharr al-Ghifari(RA) was otherwise qualified for a position of administrative authority except for the fact that he was physically weak:

    عَنْ أَبِي ذَرٍّ، قَالَ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَلاَ تَسْتَعْمِلُنِي قَالَ فَضَرَبَ بِيَدِهِ عَلَى مَنْكِبِي ثُمَّ قَالَ ‏ "‏ يَا أَبَا ذَرٍّ إِنَّكَ ضَعِيفٌ وَإِنَّهَا أَمَانَةٌ وَإِنَّهَا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ خِزْىٌ وَنَدَامَةٌ إِلاَّ مَنْ أَخَذَهَا بِحَقِّهَا وَأَدَّى الَّذِي عَلَيْهِ فِيهَا ‏"
    It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Dharr who said:
    I said to the Prophet (ﷺ): Messenger of Allah, will you not appoint me to a public office? He stroked my shoulder with his hand and said: Abu Dharr, thou art weak and authority is a trust. and on the Day of judgment it is a cause of humiliation and repentance except for one who fulfils its obligations and (properly) discharges the duties attendant thereon. (Sahih Muslim)

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