Here in the West we experience different types of elections that take place every few years, whether it be a congressional position, senate, governorship or the presidential election. These elections are presented to the people as a free, democratic opportunity for every registered citizen to partake in. Before the voting process, each candidate nominated by the people is granted the right and opportunity to campaign for themselves, prove their positions and convince the people why they are worthy of their vote. In this system, we find that most of the time the transition from one power to another is accepted, respected, and relatively smooth. The voice of the people counts, and the number of votes is the final verdict in determining the new leader and the winner of the election. We observe that in the presidential elections, the transition of power from one president to another is peaceful, regardless of their differences in ideologies, background, experience, or party. A handful of people may still protest after the elections or during the inauguration, but the majority of people accept the reality of the new leader even if it is not their candidate of choice. We find that the American system takes pride in this reality and each former president is able to shake their hands and host the president elect, although they may have been fighting like cats and dogs during the campaign. Some even collaborate together in future projects and opportunities. This is not the case in all political systems across the world, however we find it existing here in the West.
When we reflect on the divine system and government that the Almighty God has implemented and presented through the Prophets, we find that this democratic transition from one authority to another is often times not so peaceful and not so smooth. Ever since Prophet Adam (as), the concept of prophethood was introduced to humanity, and the idea of a messenger delivering a divine message has been understood. From Adam to Muhammad approximately 124000 prophets were divinely selected and sent to mankind to small and large groups of people, to cities and nations, and finally to all of mankind till the end of time through the family of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family). The message, aim, sender of all these guides for mankind is one, and the source and origin is from the same foundation. Each prophet supported the previous prophet, and each messenger introduced and foretold of the prophet succeeding him. We never heard of Prophet Abraham questioning the prophethood of Prophet Noah, nor Moses denying Prophet Abraham, nor Jesus belying the prophethood of Moses, nor Prophet Muhammad belittling the position of Prophet Jesus. This is the beautiful system of divine selection where those selected are ‘infallible’ and free from the perils of greed for power or vices such as jealousy and etc. The prophetic chain is indeed one divine chain where each part is attached to the other until it reaches the final point.
The prophetic chain is further succeeded by the divine nomination of qualified successors and awliyaa (leaders) who serve as guardians of the divine message and spiritual guides to its purified teachings. The concept of elections never existed when a Prophet appointed his successor. Narrations say that most, if not all, of the prophets or messengers appointed a successor before departing this world. It was never a consensus of human votes that guaranteed the successor their position. It was always only the divine selection that carried with it the assurance of infallibility and qualification of a candidate.
In light of the observation we discussed earlier with the Western system, there is a strange observation to make and a disparity that begs the intellect to reflect upon. Why is it that when it comes to the human system, where elections are made by the people, we observe a peaceful transition occurs from one leader to another. Yet, when it comes to the divine system, there is difficulty in accepting the new leader and successor whom the Almighty Creator has officially selected?
Why is it that Satan could not accept the divine selection of Adam over the other creatures?
Why is it that Cain (Qabeel) could not accept the divine selection of Abel (Habeel)?
Why is it that the people during Prophet Musa’s time did not respect the authority of Prophet Aaron when he went for his mission at Mount Sinai?
The question we should ponder about is: Why is it that the companions of Prophet Muhammad (sa) and a majority of Muslims till this day, could not and have not accepted the divine selection of Ali ibn Abi Taleb (as) as his successor, caliph, leader over the Muslim nation? Why is it that there was no ‘peaceful transition of power or authority’ from one to another, from the leadership of Prophet Muhammad to the leadership of Imam Ali (as)? Why is it that respect is granted to the human system of election, whereas the divine system is challenged, countered, disrespected, and fought against? Instead of a peaceful transition of authority, we find the establishment of the Saqifah of Bani Saidah where a group from the companions of Prophet Muhammad (sa) gather together to conspire against him after his departure from this world. We find that the same hands that shook the hands of Imam Ali (as) were the same hands that shook the hands of another unqualified person while defying the divinely appointed guide whom Allah (swt) had presented. We find a group who had the audacity to attack the house of Lady Fatima, the daughter of the Holy Prophet (sa) and execute their aggression on her and on her husband Imam Ali in order to force him submit to their confiscated leadership. We find that the transition of leadership after the Prophet’s demise was far from peaceful and respectful. The story repeats itself from one Imam to the other till the 12th Living Imam Al-Mahdi who is currently in occultation. Each Imam announced the divine selection of the next Imam among their children, but there were always conflicts and protest from the people. There was doubt and disbelief from even some members of the family. It was only until the Imamate of the 8th Imam Ali ibn Musa Ar-Redha (as) that a majority accepted his Imamate and those after him, even though the state of Taqiyya (dissimulation) existed and the believers were forced to exercise caution under the influence of fear of the tyrant ruling authority.
It is a shame that we ignore the choice of the Almighty God and we defy His command, while we choose our own and treat it as the most qualified and best of selections although our selections are fallible and limited due to our short vision and lack of insight and knowledge. It is something that humanity is paying the price for today and everyday till the end of time. As Lady Fatima (as) pointed out in her speech, the she-camel of Prophet Saleh is not better in Allah’s eyes than her, nor is the children of the she-camel of Saleh closer to Allah than Hasan and Husain (as). The divine verdict to the rejection of Allah’s appointed ones is clear, as presented in the Holy Quran in the story of Prophet Saleh.
“The Thamud (people) rejected (their prophet) through their inordinate wrong-doing, Behold, the most wicked man among them was deputed (for impiety).
And the messenger of Allah said: It is the she-camel of Allah, so let her drink! But they denied him, and they hamstrung her, so Allah doomed them for their sin and obliterated their traces and made them equal (in destruction, high and low)!
Then they rejected him (as a false prophet), and they hamstrung her. So their Lord, on account of their crime, obliterated their traces and made them equal (in destruction, high and low)!
And for Him is no fear of its consequences.” [91:11-15].
This is the divine punishment for those who denied water and killed the selected camel of Prophet Saleh. Awaiting till the Day of Judgment is the eternal castigation of those who confiscated the rights of the Prophet’s progeny and fought against them, and all those who believe in them, agree with them, and follow their footsteps till the end of time!