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The Prophet’s Legacy

The Prophet's Mosque in MedinaIt was only logical for the Prophet to appoint a vanguard who would lead the believers socially and politically after the Prophet. When this leader was abandoned, things spiraled downwards. By forsaking their Divinely-chosen leader, the Muslims had essentially created an authority vacuum in the Muslim world.The Prophet's Mosque in  MedinaIn the 11th year of Hijra, as the Holy Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him and his progeny) lay dying, he asked for a pen and paper. Having announced the leadership of Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (peace be upon him) at Ghadir al-Khum only a few months earlier, the Prophet wished to formalize this declaration on paper. But due to the stubbornness and disobedience of some of his companions, the Last Messenger of God passed away without having written a formal will.

Our Sunni brothers and sisters are quick to dismiss the question of succession to the Prophet as an historic issue with little modern relevance. However, such quick dismissals lack proper understanding regarding the chaos and instability that followed the demise of the Holy Prophet.

It was only logical for the Prophet to appoint a vanguard who would lead the believers socially and politically after the Prophet. When this leader was abandoned, things spiraled downwards. By forsaking their Divinely-chosen leader, the Muslims had essentially created an authority vacuum in the Muslim world. In the time of the Prophet, he was considered the final arbitrator and authority on all personal, religious, social, and political matters. Religious legitimacy for any action was derived from the Prophet’s approval, not from political or personal motives. Within the next two centuries, the leadership of the Muslim world became an entirely political office, albeit one that claimed religious legitimacy for its various military and genocidal extravaganzas as far east as India and as far west as Spain. Every single atrocity committed by Muslims – whether it was aimed at the Prophet’s own household,  the Hindus of western India or the Bedouins of North Africa  – was deemed permissible through some sort of religious interpretation.

The practice of twisting Islamic teachings into supporting personal and political agendas was seen best on September 11, 2001, when a group of men claiming to be followers of Islam flew airplanes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and almost the White House.

While both Shias and Sunnis were quite vocal in condemning the acts of 9/11 as un-Islamic, the question remain for our Sunni brothers and sisters: if you say that Osama bin Laden’s interpretation of Islam is incorrect, then who exactly has the right to interpret the teachings of Islam? If you do not believe in a Divinely-appointed religious authority, what makes your interpretation of Islam any more valid than that of bin Laden? By abandoning the Prophet’s appointed successors, you have opened a Pandora’s box of contradictory and inhumane interpretations of Islam, with no definitive authority on deciding what exactly is “true Islam”.

By asking for a pen and paper on his deathbed, the Holy Prophet had wanted to ensure that the Muslim world would not have to face such situations. By centralizing the source of religious authority within the Pure Ahlul Bayt – individuals whose spiritual purification, infallibility, and authority over the believers have been confirmed in the Qur’an and Hadith on numerous occasions – he wanted to eliminate the possibility of Islam being exploited for personal and political gains. As such, while the Muslim world throughout history found imposed upon itself cruel and oppressive tyrants, whose cruelty and tyranny was justified by religious “scholars”, the followers of Ahlul Bayt gave their allegiance only to the Divinely-ordained representatives of God on Earth. While the Muslim world today finds itself constantly apologizing for the atrocities committed by its present and past notables, the followers of the Ahlul Bayt can truly hold our heads up high for having followed leaders that received their inspiration from God Almighty Himself. As the Dalai Lama himself said, “If we had Ali’s Nahjul Balagha and Hussain’s Karbala, the whole world today would be Buddhist!”

As we commemorate the demise of our Holy Prophet, let us recall the phrase that we are recommended to utter on the Day of Ghadir: “Praise be to Allah, for He included us among the followers of Amirul Momineen and his Infallible Offspring.” Let us mourn the death of God’s greatest servant, but let us also thank Him for including us among those who never lack guidance, those who still have a Rightly-Guided Guide, those who never have to apologize for the past, and those who have found salvation through the most important principle laid down by the Prophet for mankind till the Day of Judgment: “I am leaving behind two precious things: the Book of Allah and my Progeny, for indeed, the two will never separate until they come back to me by the Pond of Kawthar.”

About Arsalan Rizvi

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  • masooma

    salawat! 🙂
    Thanks for the great article to mark this sad anniversary.

  • #Z…A#

    Nice ,I like it

  • Mustafa

    I appreciate many valid points made in the article.

    However I would like to address the idea of Islam related to Arab Imperialism. There is definitely a valid point that spreading Islam through military adventures is not rite and necesary. While this is a valid argument at the same time , we must also give credit to Muslim armies that unlike Rome, Greece, Persians and the modern, British, American and Israeli armies, did not rape women , murder innocent people and destroy property. Many non Muslim accounts show that the Muslims had a lot of respect and honor towards civilians. Which is why so many accepted Islam and almost nobody was forced.

    Stories of Hindus and other native people’s being persecuted or treated unjustly by Muslims are historically and factually incorrecy and we can prove this by seeing that Hindus still make up 80% of India despite 1000 year Muslim rule and that Nations even gave up thier most dearest possession which is mother tongue in place of Arabic! Many accounts show good manners shown by Muslims with occasional stories of injustice as well ,but a little injustice is inevitable.

  • Mustafa

    Usually Oreintalists and Islamophobes concoct stories of ”Islamic oppression”. Not saying that no injustice occured but its not as bad as people say.

    2. Also even though the Ummayyads and the Abbasides had practiced unimaginable levels of Dhulm on thier subjects, it is still impressive to see what Muslims acheived in Cordoba and Baghdad , being the centers of scientific learning and civilisation , without which the Western World would nt have reached where it is today and may have still been in Dakr Ages were it not for Muslims!

    3. Terrorists are in every religion, Muslim, Hindu , Jew, Christian and represent only 0.0000001% of every community. Thier existence is niether the fault of Shia or Sunni bt is a natural occurence in every community, though some forces in Islamic history unfortuantely contributed to thier strenght and rise in power.

    4. At the same time I disagee that 9/11 was done by Muslims. 9/11 by all measures was proven to be a CIA/Mossad inside job and a launching pad for so called ”War on Terror”.

    5. We rightly blame the Muslims for a lot of shortcomings but terrorism and extremism is not one of them and so we should not blame Islam or Muslims for these few acts fo terror.

    6. Laslty what we need is not to scold Sunnis or Shias on thier shortcomings or whatever. What we need is fruitful dialogue and speech and bridge gaps between each other and create a atmosphere of tolerance so that extremists, sectarian groups and enemies of Islam cannot use division to destroy us. Also we must spread the love and values of the Prophet SAWW his Ahlul Bayt and his Companions and every sect should share thier outlook on Islam with each other.