Did prophet Mohammed (pbuhahf) name Imam Ali (pbuh) as his successor?
One of the most controversial topics in Islam regarding the death of Prophet Muhammad pbuhahf is the Schism that was born shortly after. To this day the adherents of Islam are split between whether the Prophet had appointed a successor after him, or if he let the Ummah (community) choose from amongst themselves a leader. With the Muslim world spilt it is hard to believe that such a religion that is described to be “Perfected and completed” has people confused about who the rightful successor is and the fear as to whether or not believing in one version over the other dooms one to eternal damnation.
When we look at religion as a whole, from the time of Prophet Adam pbuh to Muhammad pbuhahf we find that religion isn’t a book, religion was always a man. It was a man that would come and establish the divine covenant and laws, they were the ones that the people held onto lest they go astray and commit acts of atrocities against the lord and his people. It wasn’t the choice of even Gods close angels that Adam be made a Caliph over the entire Earth or not, rather it was entirely God’s command and decision, and those who were against that decision would have to face the consequences such as Iblis who was expelled from the heavenly planes due to his disobedience towards God in regards to his appointed Caliph, thus proving that disobedience to the Caliph of God is disobedience to the almighty himself.
Now let us assume that when it comes to someone who isn’t a Prophet, can the people still choose or is it still God’s choice? When we look in the Quran we find the Children of Israel needing a leader, someone to guide their nation and act as God’s representative on Earth.
Have you not considered the assembly of the Children of Israel after [the time of] Moses when they said to a prophet of theirs, “Send to us a king, and we will fight in the way of Allah”? He said, “Would you perhaps refrain from fighting if battle was prescribed for you?” They said, “And why should we not fight in the cause of Allah when we have been driven out from our homes and from our children?” But when battle was prescribed for them, they turned away, except for a few of them. And Allah is Knowing of the wrongdoers.
– Quran Al-Baqarah Verses 246
We see here that the Children of Israel had wanted a king and had gone to a prophet of theirs to ask for one which he would choose.
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 sovereignty to whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing [in favor] and Knowing.”
– Quran Al-Baqarah Verses 246-247
Just as the Angels did not have a say in the decision of who was to be Caliph over the Earth when God had chosen Adam, the Children of Israel in this story also do not have a say over the ruler who God has appointed regardless of if the people like it or not.
Before the demise of the Prophet pbuhahf, God had given him the task of delivering a an important revelation to his followers, a message so great and important that if it was not delivered it would be as if nothing of Islam was accomplished:
O Messenger, announce that which has been revealed to you from your Lord, and if you do not, then you have not conveyed His message. And Allah will protect you from the people. Indeed, Allah does not guide the disbelieving people.
– Quran Al-Ma’idah Verse 67
This verse was revealed on the day of Ghadir Khumm, an event which has been marked by both Sunnis and Shia as one of his most vital messages which completed Gods religion at that time.
This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islām as religion.
– Quran Al-Ma’idah Verse 3
But what did the Prophet pbuhahf announce to his people?
Ziyad bin Abi Ziyad narrated. I heard ` Ali bin Abi Talib (pbuh) adjure the people and say:
“I adjure you by Allah, did any Muslim man hear the Messenger of Allah (pbuhahf) say what he said on the day of Ghadeer Khumm? And twelve men who had been at Badr stood up and testified. – Musnad Ahmed Book 5, Hadith 104
What was it that the Imam Ali pbuh was pointing towards and reminding the Muslims about? Lets look at the narrations revolving around this event:
Yazid b. Hayyan reported, I went along with Husain b. Sabra and ‘Umar b. Muslim to Zaid b. Arqam and, as we sat by his side, Husain said to him:
Zaid. you have been able to acquire a great virtue that you saw Allah’s Messenger (pbuhahf) listened to his talk, fought by his side in (different) battles, offered prayer behind me. Zaid, you have in fact earned a great virtue. Zaid, narrate to us what you heard from Allah’s Messenger (pbuhahf). He said: I have grown old and have almost spent my age and I have forgotten some of the things which I remembered in connection with Allah’s Messenger (pbuhahf), so accept whatever I narrate to you, and which I do not narrate do not compel me to do that. He then said: One day Allah’s Messenger (pbuhahf) stood up to deliver sermon at a watering place known as Khumm situated between Mecca and Medina. He praised Allah, extolled Him and delivered the sermon and. exhorted (us) and said: Now to our purpose. O people, I am a human being. I am about to receive a messenger (the angel of death) from my Lord and I, in response to Allah’s call, (would bid good-bye to you), but I am leaving among you two weighty things: the one being the Book of Allah in which there is right guidance and light, so hold fast to the Book of Allah and adhere to it. He exhorted (us) (to hold fast) to the Book of Allah and then said: The second are the members of my household I remind you (of your duties) to the members of my family. He (Husain) said to Zaid: Who are the members of his household? Aren’t his wives the members of his family? Thereupon he said: His wives are the members of his family (but here) the members of his family are those for whom acceptance of Zakat is forbidden. And he said: Who are they? Thereupon he said: ‘Ali and the offspring of ‘Ali, ‘Aqil and the offspring of ‘Aqil and the offspring of Ja’far and the offspring of ‘Abbas. Husain said: These are those for whom the acceptance of Zakat is forbidden. Zaid said: Yes.
– Sahih Muslim Book 31, Hadith 5920
So Prophet Muhammad pbuhahf in his sermon had asked his community to hold on to the two weighty things, the Book of Allah and the people of his household, and it does not include the wives as Zaid in the narration had stated but rather it was Imam Ali pbuh and his offsprings.
Just to confirm that the members of the household is exclusive to Ali and his family we also find in Sahih Muslim the following:
‘A’isha reported that Allah’s Apostle (pbuhahf) went out one morning wearing a striped cloak of the black camel’s hair that there came Hassan b. ‘Ali. He wrapped him under it, then came Hussain and he wrapped him under it along with the other one (Hassan). Then came Fatimah and he took her under it, then came ‘Ali and he also took him under it and then said:
“Allah only desires to take away any uncleanliness from you, O people of the household, and purify you (thorough purifying)”
– Sahih Muslim Book 31, Hadith 5955
Thus was the verse in the Quran Chapter Al-Ahzab Verse 33 was revealed, it was for Imam Ali, his wife, and his two sons.
But what significance does holding on to Imam Ali pbuh mean?
It was narrated that Sa`eed bin Wahb. and Zaid bin Yuthai’ said:
‘Ali adjured the people at ar-Rahbah, saying: Whoever heard the messenger of Allah (pbuhahf) speak on the day of Ghadeer Khumm, let him stand up. And (of the people) around Sa’eed, six men stood up, and (of the people) around Zaid, six men stood up, and they testified that they had heard the Messenger of Allah (pbuhahf) say to ‘Ali (pbuh) on the day of Ghadeer Khumm. “Isn’t it Allah Who is closer to the believers?” They said: Yes. He said: `O Allah, if I am a person`s mawla (master) then ‘Ali is also his mawla; O Allah, take as friends those who take him as a friend, and take as enemies those who take him as an enemy.” A hadeeth like that of Abu Ishaq was narrated from `Amr Dhi Murr, i.e., from Sa`eed and Zaid, and he added to it: `and support those who support him, and forsake those who forsake him.` A similar report was narrated from Abut-Tufail from Zaid bin Arqam from the Prophet (pbuhahf).
– Musnad Ahmed Book 5, Hadith 377
This account serves as an important reminder that God is the one who chooses, this event on Ghadir Khumm is no different than when the Prophet from the Children of Israel had declared that God appoint Saul as king. And it was a duty upon the children of Israel to accept and obey the one which was appointed. And the same goes for the Muslim Ummah.
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah’s Messenger (pbuhahf) said, “Whoever obeys me, obeys Allah, and whoever disobeys me, disobeys Allah, and whoever obeys the ruler I appoint, obeys me, and whoever disobeys him, disobeys me.”
– Sahih al-Bukhari Vol. 9, Book 89, Hadith 251
And it is clear that Imam Ali pbuh is the successor of Prophet Muhammad pbuhahf as the Prophet had made his position clear. And if it wasn’t clear enough, the Prophet compared himself to Imam Ali with 2 previous prophets and successors.
Allah’s Messenger (pbuhahf) set out for Tabuk. appointing `Ali as his deputy (in Medina). `Ali said, “Do you want to leave me with the children and women?” The Prophet (pbuhahf) said, “Will you not be pleased that you will be to me like Aaron to Moses? But there will be no prophet after me.”
– Sahih al-Bukhari Vol. 5, Book 59, Hadith 700
Aaron and Moses pbut where two brothers whom were prophets. Moses was accepted but when he left the children of Israel they had oppressed Aaron. Aaron was also meant to be the successor until death came to him and God had Joshua succeed after Moses pbut.
But some perhaps may argue saying that the Arabic word ‘Mawla’ means ‘Friend.’ The fact of the matter is, it means ‘Master,’ and anyone who can read and see the context of the situation can easily see that Imam Ali pbuh is the Master of all the believers.
Now imagine being a companion of the Prophet and living in the situation, you’re in the scorching desert of the Middle East, no air-condition, exhausted, you are on your way back home from a religious pilgramage, now suddenly news reaches you that you must return back to the Prophet because he has something very important to announce and if he doesn’t than it’s as if he had not accomplished anything for God in regards to Islam. Now imagine that the most important message of Islam which lead to the completion of the religion was “Ali is my friend.” How would you feel? Was it worth it that the Prophet make his companions to wait in the middle of the desert and recall all of the other Muslims who were on their way back home, building up such a great and powerful suspense revolving around the situation only to hear, “This man is my friend?” Can anyone with a rational mind truly believe that? It doesn’t make sense for a message that completed the religion was a message that wasn’t unnecessary, and that’s if what was meant here was ‘Friend’ rather than ‘Master.’
And now perhaps the most critical point that we would like to confirm is the writing of the Will of the Messenger of Allah pbuhahf. In his will he had dictated the Imam Ali pbuh will be his successor, and this had already been hinted at and established by the companions of the Prophet who had informed Aisha but she denied them.
In the presence of `Aisha some people mentioned that the Prophet (pbuhahf) had appointed `Ali by will as his successor. `Aisha said, “When did he appoint him by will? Verily when he died he was resting against my chest (or said: in my lap) and he asked for a wash-basin and then collapsed while in that state, and I could not even perceive that he had died, so when did he appoint him by will?”
– Sahih al-Bukhari Vol. 4, Book 51, Hadith 4
So here the wife of the Prophet denies that a will was written, however, if what she is saying is the truth, then we have to say that our own Prophet does not practice what he preaches. When he commanded the prayer, he prayed, when he commanded the fasting in the month of Ramadan, he fasted, but for some reason when he commanded the writing of a will before death he didn’t do it?
Narrated `Abdullah bin `Umar:
Allah’s Messenger (pbuhahf) said, “It is not permissible for any Muslim who has something to will to stay for two nights without having his last will and testament written and kept ready with him.”
– Sahih al-Bukhari Vol. 4, Book 51, Hadith 1
And in the Quran it states:
Prescribed for you when death approaches [any] one of you if he leaves wealth [is that he should make] a bequest for the parents and near relatives according to what is acceptable – a duty upon the righteous.
– Quran Al-Baqarah Verse 180
If we go back the the Arabic translation we find the word “Wasiyah” which is the Arabic term for “Will” instead of “Bequest”, and the word “Khairan” which means “Good” instead of “Wealth.” So if you have anything good to leave behind, even if its a word of advice, than it’s upon a Muslim to write it before his death.
Since the Quran is good, some have argued that his will was the Quran, but is that true?
Ibn ‘Abbas narrates:
When Allah’s Apostle was on his death-bed and in the house there were some people among whom was ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab, the Prophet said, “Come, let me write for you a statement after which you will not go astray.” ‘Umar said, “The Prophet is delirious and you have the Qur’an; so the Book of Allah is enough for us.” The people present in the house differed and quarreled. Some said “Go near so that the Prophet may write for you a statement after which you will not go astray,” while the others said as Umar said. When they caused a hue and cry before the Prophet, Allah’s Apostle said, “Go away!” Narrated ‘Ubaidullah: Ibn ‘Abbas used to say, “It was very unfortunate that Allah’s Apostle was prevented from writing that statement for them because of their disagreement and noise.”
– Sahih al-Bukhari Vol. 1, Book 3, Hadith 114
And in the Book of Sulaym, which is one of the oldest book of collection of narrations which is most accepted by the Shia adherents:
Sulaym ibn Qays Al-Hilali narrates:
I heard Salman saying: I heard Ali PBUH saying, after that man (Umar) said what he said and made The Messenger of Allah PBUHAHP angry and pushed the paper : Do we not ask the Messenger of Allah (pbuh & his Family) about that which he wanted to write in the paper, which if he wrote no one would go astray and no two would disagree!?..”
– Books of Sulaym
We can see here that the Quran was not the Will of Prophet Muhammad, for if it was his will than he would not had gathered people around his deathbed to inform them to write down something other than the Book of Allah so that nobody would go astray after his passing. If Umar was correct in saying that “the Book of Allah is enough for us.” Then how do we explain the dozens upon dozens of sects that appeared afterwards? How do we explain the different interpretations of the verses and chapters in the Quran which Muslims today are cursing each other over? If the Book of Allah was truly enough than all of these sects and schools of thoughts would not exist in the first place…. So clearly it is not enough and if it is the case that Prophet Muhammad was prevented from writing his last will and testament then we are doomed to pick and guess what the truth is. But all thanks is due to God that the will has been protected and has reached us to this day.
The Prophet Muhammad PBUHAHP, on the night of his death, said to Ali bin Abi Talib:
“O Father of al-Hassan, bring me a pen and paper,” and he dictated his will until he came to a place where he said, “O Ali, there will be twelve Imams after me and after them, there will be twelve Mahdis. You, O Ali, are the first of the twelve Imams. God has named you in His heavens Ali al-Mortada, the Prince of the Believers, the Grand Truthful, the Bright Differentiator between truth and falsehood, the trusted, and the Mahdi (the rightly-guided). These names may not be truly attributed to other than you. O Ali, you are my successor over my family, their living and deceased, and over my women. Whomever you affirm shall find me tomorrow, and whomever you reject I am innocent of her. I will not see her and she will not see me on the Day of Resurrection. And you are the vicegerent (Khalifa) upon my nation after me. If God receives you, hand it over to my son al-Hassan, the very beneficial. Then if God receives him, let him hand it over to my son al-Hussein, the martyr, the pure, the assassinated. Then if God receives him, let him hand it over to his son, the master of the worshippers, Ali. Then if God receives him, let him hand it over to his son, Muhammed al-Baqir. Then if God receives him, let him hand it over to his son, Jafar al-Sadiq. Then if Allah receives him, let him hand it over to his son, Musa al-Khathum. Then if God receives him, let him hand it over to his son, Ali al-Retha. Then if God receives him, let him hand it over to his son Muhammad, the trustworthy, the pious. Then if God receives him, let him hand it over to his son Ali, the advisor. Then if God receives him, let him hand it over to his son al-Hassan, the virtuous. Then if God receives him, let him hand it over to his son, Muhammad, the Preserver of the Holy progeny of Muhammad pbut. These are the twelve Imams. After him there will be twelve Mahdis. So if God receives him, let him hand it over to his son, the first of the close ones. He has three names, one like mine and my father’s: Abdullah, Ahmed, and the third name is al-Mahdi and he is the first of the believers.”
– Ghaybat al-Toosi page 150. Bihar al-Anwar volume 53 page 147
This is the Will of the Prophet Muhamamd pbuhahf, it protects from misguidance because after his death we would know who to turn towards. And the first we have to turn towards is Imam Ali pbuh, the will proves the successorship of Imam Ali pbuh, and it proves the successorship of Ahmed and Abdullah in the will, the leader of the Black Banners of the East Imam Ahmed al-Hassan pbuh and his son the Qaim of the family of Muhamamd, Abdullah Hashem Aba al-Sadiq pbuh.
For those who doubt the Will, then we challenge you, bring another Will of the Prophet Muhammad pbuhahf. If you say there is no Will, than you are admitting that the Prophet left his nation to the wolves and complete misguidance. And if you believe he must of left a will, then this is the only one you will find.