Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Mutual Consultation in the Affair of Leadership

باسمك اللهم
وصلاتك وسلامك على نبيك وعبدك محمد
وعلى آله وازواجه وذريته
The Imamiyah Shi’ah claim that the succession to the Prophet (sall Allahu alaihi wasallam) and the leadership of the Muslim community cannot be determined through consultation among the community, for it is meant to be divinely appointed by Allah Himself. They cite the Ayah:

وَرَبُّكَ يَخْلُقُ مَا يَشَآءُ وَيَخْتَارُ ۗ مَا كَانَ لَهُمُ ٱلْخِيَرَةُ

And your Lord creates what He wills and chooses; not for them was the choice.

Without justification, the Shi’ah have specified the statement “not for them was the choice” as applying to the matter of succession and leadership. Such a meaning is not only absent from the text, it is even invalidated by Shi’ah exegesis:

واختلف في الآية وتقديرها على قولين: أحدهما: أن معناه وربك يخلق ما يشاء من الخلق ويختار تدبير عباده على ما هو الأصلح لهم ويختار للرسالة ما هو الأصلح لعباده ثم قال ما كان لهم الخيرة أي ليس لهم الاختيار على الله بل لله الخيرة عليهم وعلى هذا تكون ما نفيا ويكون الوقف على قوله ويختار وفيه ردّ على المشركين الذين قالوا لولا نزّل هذا القرآن على رجل من القريتين عظيم فاختاروا الوليد بن المغيرة من مكة وعروة بن مسعود الثقفي من الطائف

(Majma al-Bayan of Tabarsi)

This is also confirmed in Asbab an-Nuzul of al-Wahidi: "The specialists of Qur’anic exegesis said: “This verse was revealed as an answer to al-Walid ibn al-Mughirah when he said, as reported by Allah, exalted is He, in the Qur’an (And they say: If only this Qur’an had been revealed to some great man of the two towns?) [43:31]. Allah, exalted is He, informed that the messengers are not sent of their own accord”.

In summary, the Ayah has nothing to do with the issue of succession, as confirmed in both Sunni and Shi'ah books of exegesis. It was revealed in answer to the objection of al-Walid b. al-Mughirah and others as quoted in 43:31. They (idol-worshipers) have no choice with regard to whom Allah reveals. So this Ayah is in reference to Nubuwwah, Prophesy and Revelation, and not in reference to succession, leadership.

So how do we understand that the matter of succession and leadership may be determined through consultation? Allah Most High says:

وَٱلَّذِينَ ٱسْتَجَابُوا۟ لِرَبِّهِمْ وَأَقَامُوا۟ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَأَمْرُهُمْ شُورَىٰ بَيْنَهُمْ وَمِمَّا 
رَزَقْنَـٰهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ

And those who have responded to their Lord and established prayer and whose affair is [determined by] consultation among themselves, and from what We have provided them, they spend.

The word أمر (affair) certainly includes the affair of leadership, as elsewhere the administrative leaders of the Believers are named أولى الأمر منكم
This was practically confirmed by the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم when he advised the Aws and Khazraj to elect twelve representatives among themselves to manage their affairs:

أخْرِجُوا إلَيَّ مِنكُمُ اثْنَيْ عَشَرَ نَقِيبًا يَكُونُونَ عَلى قَوْمِهِمْ)، فأَخرَجُوا تسعةً مِن الخَزْرَجِ، وثلاثةً مِن الأَوْسِ

Appoint twelve representatives (naqīb) from among you for me, who will see to their people’s affairs.” They appointed twelve representatives, nine from the Khazraj and three from the Aws. (Musnad Ahmad)

Note the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم did not personally designate these representatives, nor were they divinely appointed by Allah.


  1. they can choose to do a lot of things f.e to walk to the office or to drive to the office. Now exactly in what matter Quran [28:68] says "to choose is not theirs"?.

    1. As I explained in the article, quoting Majma al-Bayan of al-Tabarsi and Asbab an-Nuzul of al-Wahidi, "not for them was the choice" refers to the selection of the individual to whom Allah revealed the Quran

    2. That is also why مَا كَانَ لَهُمُ ٱلْخِيَرَةُ is in past tense, as Allah already chose Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم when the Ayah was revealed as the individual to whom He would reveal the Quran. The Shi'ah claim that 28:68 is concerning the matter of succession doesn't fit the grammatical structure of the sentence which is in the past tense, whereas the event of Saqifah hadn't occurred yet when the Ayah (28:68) was revealed

  2. Surely this can't be referring to you f.e choosing a wife?

    [68:36] What is the matter with you? How do you judge?
    [68:37] Or have you a Book wherein you read, [
    68:38] That you have therein what you choose?
    [68:39] Or have you received from Us an agreement confirmed by an oath extending to the Day of Resurrection that you shall surely have what you are deciding?
    [68:40] Ask them which of them will vouch for that,
    [68:41] Or have they associates if they are truthful.


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