SHAFAQNA | by Mohammad Saeid Taheri Moosavi*: Before his death and in different positions, the Messenger of God (PBUH) emphasized on his successorship and introduced Imam Ali (A.S) as his successor. Of course, the most important announcement of his succession, took place during the last Hajj pilgrimage, on the 18th of Dhul-Hijjah in the year 10 AH in a place known as “Ghadir Khumm”. The Prophet (PBUH) received the direct command of God to announce this succession, which is the verse 67 of Surah Al-Ma’idah:
“O Messenger! Convey everything revealed to you from your Lord. If you do not, then you have not delivered God’s message. Allah (SWT) will certainly protect you from the people. Indeed, Allah (SWT) does not guide the people who disbelieve.”
After receiving the divine order, the Prophet (PBUH) ordered all pilgrims to stop at Ghadir Khumm, which was the place of separation of Hajj caravans to other lands, to convey the final message of Islam to him, and that was the appointment of Amiral-Mu’minin Ali (A.S) as his successor. On the day of Ghadir, he delivered a speech after the noon prayer and then, by inviting Ali (A.S), he placed him next to himself and took his hand and raised it as high as possible and addressed the pilgrims:
“Allah (SWT) is my Master and the Master of all the pious men and women.
O people, Am I not closer to you than your own selves?”
They replied: “Yes, you do.”
The Prophet (PBUH) said: “Of whomsoever I am a master, Ali is his master, and of whomsoever I am a guardian, Ali is his guardian.”
The Messenger of God (PBUH) repeated this sentence three times and said:
“My Lord! Befriend anyone who befriends him and make enmity towards anyone who makes enmity towards him, and help anyone who helps him and leave alone anyone who leaves him alone.”
Then he addressed the people and said: “Those present should convey this message to the absentees.”
Before the separation of the caravans, Gabriel descended again and revealed the verse of completion (The Āyat Ikmāl Ad-Dīn) to the Prophet (PBUH) according to which the Prophet (PBUH) conveyed the last message of Risalah (prophethood) and God was pleased with this and considered Islam as the most perfect religion for man:
“This day those who disbelieve have despaired of [defeating] your religion; so fear them not, but fear God. This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion. But whoever is forced by severe hunger with no inclination to sin – then indeed, Allah (SWT) is Forgiving and Merciful.”
Then he asked all the attendees to pledge allegiance to Imam Ali (A.S) and accept him as his legal and religious successor. There is no record of non-allegiance of even one person in history, but on the contrary, it is narrated that all those who gathered in Saqifah Bani Sa’idah after the death of the Prophet (PBUH) and decided about the successor of the Prophet (PBUH) were among the audience and were among the first who pledged allegiance to Imam Ali (A.S).
According to the Hadith of Jabir, the Prophet (PBUH) mentioned the names of each of the infallible successors after him, from Imam Ali (A.S) to the Imam Mahdi (A.J), and instilled in the Muslims the will of God to replace the Risalah (prophethood) with the Imamate. Thus, the principle was based on the religious and political system of Wilayah (guardianship), which did not end due to various issues inside and outside the Islamic society, and instead the caliphate system was formed.
According to the Shia Muslims, Imamate is considered a pillar of the Principles of Faith (Usūl Ad-Dīn) and its denial is not allowed. Emphasizing the religious and political leadership of Infallible Imams (A.S), the system of wilayah (guardianship) has described the twelve infallibles as the rightful successors of the Prophet (PBUH), each of whom has performed these dual duties in his own time.
Of course, the domination of the caliphate, especially after the period of the Rashidun Caliphs, and the emergence of tyrannical and cruel regimes of the Umayyads and then the Abbasids, who persecuted the Imams and their supporters, caused silence, secret struggle, religious struggle and finally martyrdom of all the Infallible Imams (A.S) and took the opportunity to form an Islamic government from them.
The will of the government of Bani Abbas in the martyrdom of the twelfth Imam, Imam Mahdi (A.J), caused his absence from public view, and marked the Minor Occultation (from 260 to 329 AH) and then the Major Occultation (from 329 to an unknown time).
The impossibility of establishing a system of Wilayah (guardianship) on this basis has gradually caused the decline of the Islamic world, because the Shia Muslims rightly believe that if the Imamate of the Infallible Imams (A.S) and the Wilayah (guardianship) system were realized, justice would certainly be implemented and in such a system, the all-round growth of the Islamic world would certainly come true, which God has promised to be done at the time of the “return” of Imam Mahdi (A.S). According to the correct narration which has been narrated in different ways, the Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS) is the rightful leader of my ummah and my successor among the people, and the ‘Qaem’ who makes the earth full of justice, as it is full of oppression at the time of his appearance, will be one of his children. I swear by God who inspired me to be righteous and his messenger, those who are loyal to his Imamate are very few during his long absence, more rare than the Red Sulphur (Al-Kibrit Al-Ahmar).”
Meanwhile, Jabir bin Abdullah Ansari stood up and asked, “O Prophet of God! “Does Qaem, who is one of your children, have a long absence?” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah (SWT) be upon him) said: “Yes, I swear by my Lord, yes!” And then he recited this noble verse:
“That’s for Allah (SWT) to purge the believers and destroy the unbelievers.” (verse 141 of Surah Aal-e-Imran)
Then he added:
“O’ Jaber! This is a wonderful deed from the works of God and the secret of God’s secrets that God has hidden from God’s servants, therefore, do not doubt in the work of God that it is disbelief.”
*Dr. Mohammad Saeid Taheri Moosavi is a specialist in Public Law and Political Sciences. This article is written for Shafaqna French and translated by Fatemeh Aghaei for Shafaqna English.