Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Prophet عليه السلام Was Elected to Temporal Authority

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
والصلاة والسلام على سيدى رسول الله
وعلى آله وصحبه ومن والاه

The Angel Gabriel عليه السلام came to our beloved Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم while he was in a state of seclusion at the Cave of Hira, and came to him with the Word of Allah, the divine Revelation. He was informed that he is a Prophet of God and was subsequently instructed to announce his Prophesy to the people. For some thirteen years, in his native Mecca, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم prophesied, but he did not possess any administrative authority. Nor did he tell the people that administrative authority over Mecca or anyone else was his divine right.
When some of the people of Yathrib came into contact with him, and were persuaded that he was a true Prophet, they confessed faith in him. As their numbers grew, they consulted among themselves and made up their minds to invite the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم to join them in Yathrib (Medina). They desired that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم not only dwell among them so they could benefit from the company of a Prophet, but that the Prophet serve as an arbitrator and judge among them, to settle their internal disputes. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم graciously accepted their invitation, and consecrated it through the Second Pledge of Aqabah. Sayyidina Ka’b bin Malik رضى الله عنه who was present on that occasion narrates: We gathered in the ravine to wait for the Messenger of God. He came to us accompanied by his paternal uncle al-Abbas b. Abd al-Muttalib, who at that time still adhered to the religion of his people, but wished to be present when his nephew was negotiating and to see that there was a firm agreement. When he had sat down, al-Abbas b. Abd al-Muttalib was the first to speak, and said, "People of the Khazraj (the Arabs used to call the Ansar, the Khazraj and the Aws together, by the name of the Khazraj), you know what Muhammad's position is among us. We have protected him against those of our people who have the same religious views as ourselves. He is held in honor by his own people and is safe in his country. He is determined to leave them and to join you, so if you think that you can fulfill the promises which you made in inviting him to come to you and can defend him against his enemies, then assume the responsibilities which you have taken upon yourselves. But if you think that you will abandon him and hand him over after he has come to you, then leave him alone now, for he is honored by his people and is safe in his country." We said to him, "We have heard what you have said. Speak, Messenger of God, and choose what you want for yourself and your Lord." The Messenger of God spoke, recited the Qur'an, summoned us to God, and made us desirous of Islam. Then he said, "I will enter a contract of allegiance with you, provided that you protect me as you would your wives and children." (Tarikh at-Tabari):

Now my thesis is that the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم was not divinely appointed as leader, administrator, arbitrator or judge over Medina. He was invited by their people, the Aws and Khazraj, to fulfill that role, and he accepted, under divine guidance. The Believers of the Aws and Khazraj had consulted among themselves and subsequently extended this invitation to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم. When he accepted, and sealed that acceptance on both sides through the Second Pledge of Aqabah, then emigrated to Medina and practically assumed the position of authority, it is my assertion that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم took on an additional role to his role and office of Prophesy. The function of judge or administrator is not a necessary part of Prophesy, it is something that is in addition to it. That is of course demonstrated in the example of the vast majority of the Prophets of Israel, who did not possess administrative authority or dominion. And in his capacity of judge or administrator of Medina, with that jurisdiction later expanded to include all Arabia, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم concluded treaties, appointed judges and governors to various towns and provinces, dispatched armies and appointed their commanders, received delegations and entered into negotiations with them, and so on and so forth. These were responsibilities associated not with his divine office of Prophesy, but with his position of temporal authority that he received not through divine right, but having been invited to take it by the people of Medina. So when Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم passed away, he vacated that position of temporal authority, and not his office of Prophesy. That is because Islam fundamentally teaches that Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم is the ‘Seal of Prophets’, after him the formal institution of Prophesy has concluded, and there cannot be any prophet after him. Therefore, the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم could not be succeeded in his capacity of Prophet, for the successor of that role would necessarily be a prophet himself, which is impossible. The community of Believers he founded understood this fact. But they also understood that the Prophet had a secondary role of administrator and possessed temporal authority which could be succeeded to. Since the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم himself was not divinely appointed to that role, it was obvious that any successor to that role would not be divinely appointed either. Rather, just as the Prophet was invited to take on the responsibility of administration and temporal authority after consultation among the Believers of Yathrib, likewise, their elders and the senior companions of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم ought to consult among themselves and elect a suitable successor to that role of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم. This they did, and consequently sayyidina Abi Bakr رضى الله عنه, the Prophet’s right-hand man and most senior companion, was elected his first Successor or Khalifah (caliph). He assumed only those responsibilities and functions that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم wielded which were not connected to his office of Prophesy.
This argument was inspired to me, and I am fairly positive it has never truly been put forward by any Sunni Muslim to refute the falsehood of Shi’ism prior to this.


  1. If the Shi'ah acknowledge that Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم is the Last Prophet, then they must concede that his Khalifah does not succeed him in his Prophetic office, otherwise his Khalifah would necessarily be a Prophet. They thereby inadvertently admit that the Prophet possessed an additional role to his Prophesy, and it is that role to which his Khalifah succeeds to.

  2. Another proof that the Prophet's صلى الله عليه وسلم role of judge in Medina was separate from his office of Prophesy is the fact that the Jews were required to accept his role of judge, which they did. They remained upon Judaism, but understood Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم to be a judge, so they approached him for judgment. There are many narrations which detail this with examples. The Jews even invited the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم to their madrassah in al-Quff, and asked him to judge a matter of adultery that happened in their community. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم judged their matter in accordance with the Torah, which they accepted and implemented.

    It is obvious the Jews did not recognize Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم as a Prophet and Messenger of God, but they did recognize him as judge, which is proof that it is a separate office to his Prophesy.

  3. Karen Armstrong writes: "Muhammad's position in Mecca remained dangerously insecure. During the hajj of 620, he again visited the pilgrims who were camping in the valley of Mina, going from tent to tent in the hope of attracting support and protection. This time, instead of wholesale rejection, he met a group of six Arabs from Yathrib, who had camped in the gully of 'Aqabah. As usual, Muhammad sat with them, explained his mission and recited the Qur'an, but this time, he noticed that the pilgrims were attentive and excited. When he had finished, they turned to one another and said that this must be the prophet expected by their Jewish and hanifi neighbors. If Muhammad really was the messenger of Allah, he might be just the person to solve the seemingly insuperable problems of Yathrib."

    "At certain key moments, 'Abdullah ibn Ubayy, a chief of Khazraj, had stood aloof from the fighting and thus acquired a reputation for impartiality. Some saw him as a possible king or supreme chief, who could enforce law and order. But the Arabs were averse to monarchy, and this type of experiment had never worked well in the peninsula. The Aws were naturally reluctant to hand leadership to a member of Khazraj, while the other chiefs of Khazraj were equally unwilling to relinquish their power to Ibn Ubayy. The six pilgrims immediately realized that, as the spokesman of Allah, Muhammad would be a far more effective arbitrator (hakam) than Ibn Ubayy."

    "But they admitted that they had little influence in the oasis, and needed to consult their chiefs and wise men. If he was to be an effective hakam, it was essential that he have wide support." (Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time)


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