The Two Momentous Things
In the holy city of Medina, Messenger of Allah ensured that he addresses the two most vital issues during his lifetime, for these should be the sanctuary, guide and leader for the Muslims after his departure from this life. These were the compilation of the Holy Qur'an as a bound copy, and the appointment of his successors to lead the nation after him, both of which he did on direct instructions from the Almighty.
The Holy Qur'an
The Prophet ensured arrangements be made to compile a 'bound' copy of the Holy Qur'an - known at the time of the holy Prophet, and also today, as the mus}h}af. The Messenger of Allah commissioned Ali son of Abu-Talib to gather and compile the entire Qur'an, which Imam Ali did during the lifetime of the holy Prophet and under his supervision 16. The Messenger of Allah validated and authenticated the end result - the mus}h}af - even verifying the order and position of the individual verses within a given chapter or surah, as instructed by the Almighty. According to traditions, when archangel Gabriel used to reveal a particular ayah or verse to the Prophet, the former would also indicate its position within the surah or chapter of the Qur'an and the surah it belonged to. 17
Reports state that during the lifetime of the Prophet, when the entire text of the Holy Qur'an was committed to writing and it had been compiled as mus}h}af, people used to come to the mosque of the Prophet, where the compiled Qur'an - the mus}h}af - was kept by the pulpit, to make their copies of the Holy Scripture. 18
It is sometimes stated, through a minor misunderstanding, that the Holy Qur'an was first compiled during the reign of the third ruler Othman ibn Affaan, some twenty years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. The root of this misunderstanding stems from the incorrect assumption of the meaning of the Arabic word jamc that means 'to collect', but instead it is taken to mean 'to compile'. What was in fact commissioned at that time was to collect the incomplete documents holding some verses or chapters of the Holy Qur'an and to complete them as copies of the entire Qur'an. Any compilation that took place during this time was to reproduce the authentic copy of the Holy Qur'an as per the version compiled by Imam Ali during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad and under his supervision.
The Ahl al-Bayt
The other fundamental and vital task that the Prophet had to secure during his lifetime was to address the question of his successorship. On instructions from the Almighty, the Messenger of Allah named and appointed the successors who must lead the Muslim community after him according to the teachings of the Holy Qur'an and the Messenger of Allah. The Prophet Muhammad used numerous occasions to instruct the people to follow and adhere to his twelve appointed successors, 'Caliphs' or 'Imams', the first of whom was Imam Ali son of Abu Talib, and the twelfth is the living Imam Mahdi, who is hidden from public view 19 until such a time when the Almighty instructs him to reappear in public "to lead the nations of this world from tyranny and oppression to tranquillity and bliss". [The Prophet Muhammad, his daughter Fatimah, his cousin and son-in-law Imam Ali and the eleven impeccable Imams descendents of Ali and Fatimah form Ahl al-Bayt as referred to in the holy Qur'an 33:33.]
In 630CE, seventy days before his death, and just after performing the farewell Hajj pilgrimage, on instructions from the Almighty, at the location of Ghadir Khum, the Prophet appointed Ali as his successor and ordered the Muslims who were present there to pay Ali homage of allegiance as The Commander of the Faithful, and their leader after the Prophet. The revelation from the Almighty on this day in this particular respect was:
>O Messenger! Convey that that has been revealed to thee from thy Lord, and if thee do not, then thee would have not conveyed His Message; and Allah will protect thee from the people. Surely Allah guides not the disbelieving people. 20 After the revelation of the above instruction, the Messenger of Allah declared:
"Whoever I am his master and leader, then Ali is his master and leader too. O Lord support whoever supports Ali, and oppose whoever opposes him." 21 "Ali is my caliph and successor upon ye after me." 22
Some chroniclers put the number of those present at Ghadir Khum who gave the homage of allegiance to Imam Ali as the Commander of the Faithful and the successor of the Prophet Muhammad at up to 120,000 men and women.
To confirm and conclude this momentous event, the Almighty then revealed: >Today I have perfected your religion for ye, completed My favour upon ye and have sanctioned Islam for ye as a religion. 23 In order to reveal the station of his successors present and future, the Prophet frequently used to refer the Muslims to the Ahl al-Bayt - at the time notably Ali - for they were the most knowledgeable about the teachings of the Qur'an and the Prophet himself. To clarify any possible doubt about his immediate successor, in the famous tradition of "City of Knowledge", the final Messenger of Allah states:
"I am the City of Knowledge and Ali is its Gate, so whosoever wishes to access this City, then let him do so through its Gate." 24 According to many Prophetic teachings and traditions the Holy Qur'an and the Ahl al-Bayt are considered as the two inseparable and complementary components of the divine message. Towards the end of his life, the Messenger of Allah often used to say:
"I leave with ye the two momentous things - the book of Allah and my kin the people of my Ahl al-Bayt. As long as ye adhere to them both ye will never go astray after me." 25
However, after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, the people did not honour their pledge of allegiance that they had given at the time of the Prophet to the successor he appointed on instructions from the Almighty. After several failed attempts on his life, and by various means, the culprits eventually succeeded in assassinating the Prophet Muhammad - this time through poisoning. The final Messenger of Allah to humanity died on the 28th day of the lunar month of Safar in the 11th year of the Hijrah, 630CE.
The Prophet Muhammad brought about a nation and a civilisation that in a relatively very short space of time won the prime position amongst all other nations. The Muslims attained such achievement so long as they adhered to the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. Today although the Muslims are numerous, they do not occupy the eminent station amongst the nations anymore, for they did not adhere to "the two momentous things" that the Prophet Muhammad left behind for them. The Muslim nation may still be a candidate to lead mankind to bliss and prosperity if they ensure to adhere to the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad and his successors.
16. Bihar al-Anwar, by al-Majlesi, vol. 89, p 48, Beirut ed. See also "The Qur'an: When was it compiled?" by the author.
19. Imam Mahdi lives amongst the public but without being recognised by them. However, as and when required, he would make himself recognisable to those who are sincerely pious and devout.
20. The Holy Qur'an, The Table Spread (5): 67.
21. Mustadrak al-Sahihayn, vol. 3, pp 118, 126, 613. Dar al-Kotob al- Elmiyah, Beirut; Musnad Ahmad, vol. 1, pp 84, 88, 118, 152, vol. 4, pp 378, 370, pub. Cordoba Foundation, Cairo; Musnad Abi-Yacla, vol. 1, p249, pub. Dar al-Ma'moon lil-Turath, Damascus; Fada'el al-Sahabah, by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, vol. 2, pp 572, 585, 586, 613, 682, 705 pub. al-Risalah Foundation, Beirut; Fada'el al-Sahabah, by al-Nasa'ie, vol.1, p15, Dar al-Kotob al-Elmiyyah, Beirut; Tafsir of Ibn Kuthayr, vol. 2, p15, pub. Dar al-Fikr, Beirut, al-Sunan al-Kubra, by al-Nasa'ie, vol. 5, pp 45, 130-136, 154, Dar al- Kotob al-Elmiyyah, Beirut, al-Kafi, by al-Kulayni, vol. 1, p 286. etc.
22. Bihar al-Anwar, by al-Majlesi, vol. 5, p69. Tohaf al-cOquol, p458.
23. The Holy Qur'an, The Table Spread (5): 3.
24. al-Mustadrak cala al-Sahihayn, by al-Hakim al-Naysabouri, vol. 3, pp 137-138, pub. Dar al-Kutub al-cElmiyyah, Beirut; Majmac al-Zawa'id, by Nur-ed-Din Ali ibn Abu Bakr al-Haythami, vol. 9, p114, pub. Dar al-Bayan lil-Turath, Cairo; Tarikh Baghdad, by Abu Bakr Ahmad al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, vol. 2, p377, pub. Dar al-Kotob al-Elmiyyah, Beirut, and also vol.4, p348, and vol.7, p172, and vol.11, p49-50
25. Sahih al-Tirmidhi, vol. 5, p328, hadith 3874 & 3876, pub. Dar al-Fikr, Beirut, and vol. 13, p199-200, pub. Maktabat al-Sawi, Egypt, and vol. 2, p308, pub. Boulaq, Egypt; Musnad Ahmad, vol. 3, pp 17, 26, 59, and vol. 4, pp 366, 371, and vol. 5, p181, pub. al-Maymaniyyah, Egypt; Sahih Muslim, Book of Merits, Merits of Ali ibn Abi Talib, vol. 2, p362, pub. cIsa al-Halabi, and vol. 7, p 122, pub. Sabih, and vol. 15, p 170 with al- Nuwawi commentary, Egypt; Dorar al-Semtayn, by al-Zarandi al-Hanafi, p231, pub. Qadha' al-Najaf; Yanabic al-Mawaddah, by al-Qunduzi al-Hanafi, pp 29-31, 36, 28, 41, 183, 191, 296, 370, pub. Istanbul; Tafsir of Ibn Kuthayr, vol. 4, p113, pub. Dar Ihiya' al-Kutub al-Arabiyah, Egypt; Jamic al-Osul, by Ibn Athir, vol. 1, p 187, hadith 65-66, pub. Egypt; Mucjam al-Kabir by al-Tabarani, p 137. .
Adopted from the book : "The Prophet Muhammad; a Mercy to the World" by : "Ayatullah Muhammad Sadiq al-Shirazi"
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