The divine leadership (Imamate) from the intellectual viewpoint

Topics
Вход русский
The divine leadership (Imamate) from the intellectual viewpoint
2916 0 поделиться 0

The question of the Imamate pertains to the divine domain. The appointment of a successor to the Prophet must be based on a divine revelation to the Prophet. But before entering into the traditional reports and formally religious aspects of this matter, let us suppose that we have no direct religious proof texts to consult, and ask ourselves what verdict the human intellect would deliver on this question, taking due account of the conditions of those times. It seems clear that an intellectual evaluation would proceed along the following lines: If a great reformer struggled earnestly for many long years, and arrived at a plan that would benefit human society, it is natural that, in order that his plan continue to be implemented after his death, so as to bear fruit in the long-term, he would seek some effective way of perpetuating the system he had established. Or, to put it differently: it is not conceivable that a person should take great pains to construct some great building, and then leave it completely unprotected, appointing no watchmen or supervisors to maintain and preserve it.

If a great reformer struggled earnestly for many long years, and arrived at a plan that would benefit human society, it is natural that, in order that his plan continue to be implemented after his death, so as to bear fruit in the long-term, he would seek some effective way of perpetuating the system he had established. Or, to put it differently: it is not conceivable that a person should take great pains to construct some great building, and then leave it completely unprotected, appointing no watchmen or supervisors to maintain and preserve it.

The Holy Prophet is one of the greatest persons in human history who, by bringing forth a new religious dispensation, effected a profound transformation in the world, laying the foundations of an entirely new, global civilization. Evidently, this exalted individual, through whom an eternally valid religion was established, and who provided leadership to his own society, must have made it clear how this religion was to be preserved, how it was to be protected against the dangers and misfortunes that might confront it. He must also have said something about how the everlasting Muslim umma should be led and administered; and he must have indicated the qualities of leadership that should prevail after his passing away. In this light, it is inconceivable that he would first establish a religion that was to last till the end of time, and then fail to provide clear guidance as to how the leadership of that religion, after his death, was to be determined and organized.

it is inconceivable that a Prophet who did not withhold his guidance as regards even the smallest question pertaining to human welfare should have neglected to provide guidance on so crucial a matter as the leadership of Islamic society, thus leaving the Muslims to their own devices, not knowing what their obligations were in regard to this fundamental issue.

Again, it is inconceivable that a Prophet who did not withhold his guidance as regards even the smallest question pertaining to human welfare should have neglected to provide guidance on so crucial a matter as the leadership of Islamic society, thus leaving the Muslims to their own devices, not knowing what their obligations were in regard to this fundamental issue. It is, therefore, impossible to accept the proposition that the Prophet departed from this world without having given any instructions regarding the leadership of his community after his death.

The condition of the Isamic community near the demise of the prophet (SA)

If we consider the history of this foundational epoch of Islam, and take into account the regional and global context at the death of the Prophet, the necessity of appointing someone to the position of lmam will be readily apparent. For, in the tumult following upon the Prophet's death, Islam faced a three-fold threat: on the one side, there was the Byzantine Roman Empire, on another was the Sassanid Persian Empire, and, from within, there was the danger posed by the group known as the 'Hypocrites'.

As regards the first threat, suffice to note that the Prophet was concerned about it right up to his last days, mobilizing a large contingent of Muslims under the command of Usama b. Zayd, to confront the Romans, despite the protests of those who were opposed to such a move. As for the second threat, the Sassanid emperor was dearly a malicious enemy who, having torn up the letter sent to him by the Prophet, himself wrote a letter to the governor of Yemen instructing him either to capture the Prophet or send to him his severed head. As for the third enemy, these persons had always been causing trouble for the Prophet, in Medina and elsewhere, their various plots being so many thorns in his side; their machinations and schemes are mentioned in various places in the Qur'an; indeed, an entire Sura -one in which their evil thoughts and actions are commented upon- is named after them.
Now it might be asked: in the face of this triple danger, with enemies ready to ambush the Muslims from all sides, would the Holy Prophet have left the religion of lslam and the Muslim community without a leader, leaving the Muslims without any clear guidance?

If we consider the history of this foundational epoch of Islam, and take into account the regional and global context at the death of the Prophet, the necessity of appointing someone to the position of lmam will be readily apparent. For, in the tumult following upon the Prophet's death, Islam faced a three-fold threat: on the one side, there was the Byzantine Roman Empire, on another was the Sassanid Persian Empire, and, from within, there was the danger posed by the group known as the 'Hypocrites'.

This should also be considered: there is no doubt that the Prophet' understood that the life of the Arabs was dominated by tribal loyalty, with members of a tribe seeing their own lives as bound up with that of their chief. Thus, leaving the task of appointing a leader to such tribesmen could only lead to factional disputes and intertribal rivalry, allowing the enemies of Islam to take advantage of the divisions opened up in the ranks of the Muslims. It is on this basis, precisely, that Ibn Sina writes:

'The appointment of a successor by means of explicit designation ( nass) by the Prophet is closer to the truth [ of the question of the caliphate], for by such designation, every kind of dispute and opposition is uprooted. ' [1]

1. Ibn Sina, al-Shifa' ( Qom, n.d.), article 10 of the ilahiyyat, chapter 5, P· 564.

COMMENTS
Leave a Reply

Daily Hadith
الإخْوانُ في اللّهِ تعالى تَدُومُ مَودّتُهُم، لِدَوامِ سَبَبِها.
Brothers [whose brotherhood is] for the sake of Allah, enjoy an enduring Amity, due to the firmness of its foundation