Did Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) appoint a Successor?

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The Ahle Tasannun go to any lengths in order to justify that their Islam is correct and they are the real followers of the Sunnah (practice) of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny). According to them, not following the Sunnah is tantamount to disbelief and blasphemy. But they do not realize that they are the frontrunners when it comes to deviating from the Sunnah as far as succession to the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) is concerned, which without doubt is the most important and contentious issue among Muslims. One of the arguments which they put forth in order to defend the caliphate of the Shaikhain is their claim that when the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny) departed from this world, he did not appoint anyone as his successor.  They consider appointment of Caliph to be the responsibility of the masses.

Was it really so? Is there any truth in their claim? Let us try and find out what was truly, the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) with regards to appointment of a successor in his absence.

The Sunnah of appointing a successor in during battles or expeditions

The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him and his progeny) was permitted to fight in the month of Safar of the 2nd year of Hijrah. Let us have a look at who did he appoint as successors in Madinah during his absence.

Sr. No. Hijrah Year Battle/Expedition Representative in Madinah
  2nd Waddaan & al-Abwaa [1] Sa’ad Ibn Ubaadah, chief of al-Khazraj tribe (for 15 nights)
  2nd Bawaat [2] Sa’ad Ibn Ma’az, chief of Aws tribe
  2nd Safwan [3] Zaid Ibn Haarithah
  2nd Dhul‘Ashirah [4] Abu Salamah al-Makhzumi
  2nd Badr [5] Ibn Umm Maktum, who was blind (for 19 days)
  2nd Qaynuqa’ [6] and Al-Sawaaeq [7] Abu Lubaabah al-Ansaari al-Awsi
  3rd Qarqarah al-Kudr [8], Faraan [9], Uhud [10] and Hamra’ al-Asad [11] Ibn Umm Maktum
  3rd Dhu Amar [12] Usmaan Ibn Affaan
  4th Against Banu Nadhir [13] Ibn Umm Maktum
  4th 3rd Battle of Badr Abdullah Ibn Rawaahah al-Ansaari al-Khazraji (for 16 days) [14]
  5th Dhaat al-Riqaa’ [15] Usmaan Ibn Affaan (for 15 nights)
  5th Doomah al-Jandal [16] and Khandaq Ibn Umm Maktum
  5th Banu al-Mustalaq [17] Zaid Ibn Haarithah (for 18 days)
  5th Banu Qurayzah Abu Rahim al-Ghifaari [18]
  6th Banu Lihyaan [19], Dhu Qarad [20] and Hudaibiyyah [21] Ibn Umm Maktum
  7th Khyber and Umrah al-Qadaa’ [22] Sibaa’ Ibn ‘Urfutah [23]
  8th Battle of Makkah and Hunayn [24] Abu Rahim al-Ghifaari
  8th Tabuk [25] Ali Ibn Abi Talib (peace be upon him)

In all there were 27 battles and if we count Khaybar and Waadi al-Quraa as two separate battles, they would totally make 28 and the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him and his progeny) appointed successors during his absence from Madinah. But there is something unique between the appointment of all successors and Ali Ibn Abi Talib (peace be upon them both) in Tabuk. Al-Masudi writes in Al-Tanbih wa al-Eshraaf and this was also repeated by the Imam of the Hanbalis in his Musnad, quoting Sa‘d Ibn Abi Waqqaas:

“When the Messenger of Allah set off for the Battle of Tabuk, he (peace be on him and his progeny) put Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) as his caliph in Madinah. Ali said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! I do not like you going anywhere unless I be with you’. The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him and his progeny) said to him: ‘Will you not be content to be in the same position with me as Aaron was to Moses except that there will be no Prophet after me?’”

Similar tradition has been mentioned by Bukhari and Muslim quoting Sa’ad Ibn Abi Waqqaas that: “Allah’s Messenger (peace be on him and his progeny) set out for Tabuk, appointing ‘Ali as his successor. Ali said: ‘Do you want to leave me with children and womenfolk?’ The Prophet (peace be on him and his progeny) replied: ‘Are you not pleased that you are unto me like Aaron was to Moses except that there will be no prophet after me?’[26]

Conclusion

So, if this was the practice of the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him and his progeny) during his short absence from the town and during his battles outside and inside the town, what do you think he would do for his people after his final departure from this transient world after which he would not return? Could he leave them neglected without appointing any one for his nation to refer to? Ahle Tasannun believe so and if one was to fall prey to their beliefs then it would mean refuting the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) resulting into blasphemy.

We seek refuge in Allah from such beliefs!


[1] Waddaan is a village near al-Juhfah, at a distance of 6 miles from Abwaa’, which is approximately 23 miles from Madinah. The Messenger’s mother, Aamenah, is buried there. Mu’jam al-Buldaan

[2] Bawaat is a mountain of Juhaynah on the way to Syria. The distance between Bawaat and Madinah is eight posts, and the distance between one post and the other is 12 miles. Mu’jam al-Buldaan.

It seems that the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him and his progeny), in the above two Battles, cared for the tribal feelings of Ansar, by appointing his successors from them.

[3] While chasing Kurz Ibn Jabir al-Fihri, who had raided the suburbs of Madinah, he (peace be on him and his progeny) reached Safwan catching neither Kurz nor al-Sarh. This Battle took place in the month of Rabi al-Awwal, after Bawaat. Safwaan is a valley near Badr. Kurz Ibn Jabir Ibn Hasal al-Fihri was killed on the day of conquering Makkah, when with the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him and his progeny). Look up Jamharah Ansaab al-Arab, by Ibn Hazm, concerning the lineage of Banu Muhaarib Ibn Fihri, and his biography in al-Isaabah

[4] Dhu al-Ashirah is a place near Yanbu’, some nine “posts” from Madinah, as in al-Tanbih. Abu Salamah is ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abd al-Asad. His mother was Barrah, the Messenger’s aunt, the daughter of ‘Abd al-Muttalib. He migrated to Habashah, then to Madinah. He attended the Barah war. He was fatally wonded in the ‘Uhud war and died in the month of Jumaadaa al-Aakherah, after three years of Hijrah. Look up his biography in ‘Usud al-Ghaabah

[5] The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him and his progeny) left Madinah on the 3rd of Ramadan. The fight took place on Friday, the 19th of the same month.

[6] The biographers state that: When the Jews entered Madinah, they stayed in its southern part, but found it to be unhealthy. So, they moved to its higher places. Banu al-Nadhir dwelt in Bathan, while Banu Qurayzah dwelt in Mahzur, both are valleys going down from Harrah. Banu Nadir spread in the orchards and the fortresses. They stayed there until they were invaded by the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him and his progeny) and were driven out of those places.

Look up the entries: Bathan and Mahzur, in Mu‘jam al-Buldaan. Abu Lubaabah is Bashir, or Rafa‘ah, Ibn ‘Abd al-Mundhir. He was more famous by his agnomen. He was one of the leaders in al-‘Aqabah Allegiance. Look up the biographies of Bashir, Rafa‘ah and Abu Lubaabah in ’Usud al-Ghaabah.

[7] The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him and his progeny) had to chase Abu Sufyan, who had come, with 200 horsemen, to fulfill his oath to the effect that he would not use perfumes nor touch women before taking his revenge for his people who had been killed in the Battle of Badr. They reached al-‘Urayd, a valley near Madinah. where they heard about the Messenger of Allah’s (peace be on him and his progeny) intention to meet them. In order to rid themselves of heavy loads, they started throwing away the bags of the al-Saweeq [wheat or barky flour]. Hence that battle was called al-Saweeq Battle. [Mu‘jam al-Buldaan]

[8] Qarqarah al-Kudr is the region of Banu Salim, next to the “Iraqi” district towards Makkah, at a distance of eight days from Madinah. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny) left on the 15th of Muharram, for Sulaim and Ghatafan – the two tribes of Qays ‘Ilaan – who were taken by surprise. He returned with the spoils without facing any resistance. [Mu‘jam al-Buldaan]

[9] Faraan, Banu Salim’s region, in al-Far‘site of al-Hijaz. [Mu‘jam al-Buldaan and Lisaan al-‘Arab, in the root of Faraan]

[10] The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him and his progeny) fought the enemy at the foot of the Uhud mountain, a mile from Madinah. He was absent only for a single day and yet he appointed a caliph.

[11] Hamra’ al-Asad Battle was ten miles away from Madinah. He (peace be on him and his progeny) set out for Abu Sufyan who was intending to attack the town but could neither get him nor his companions. He (peace be on him and his progeny) stayed there for three days and returned to Madinah.

[12] This was a battle in Najd, when the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him and his progeny) set out for Ghatafan [tribes]. They fled away, and he faced no difficulty. He was away from the town for ten days.

[13] The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him and his progeny) besieged them for 15 days and then they were deported out of it. The buildings of Banu Nadhir, the Jews, were in Be’r Ghars in Quba and its localities. Quba is a village two miles from Madinah. The name comes from the name of a well there. Mu‘jam al-Buldaan.

[14] He stayed there for eight days because Abu Sufyan had warned that he would fight them the next year in Badr. Abu Sufyan left Makkah to ‘Asafaan and returned to Makkah once again. He was the leader of Banu al-Haarith in Bay‘ah al-‘Aqabah. He participated in battles of the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him and his progeny), and was martyred with two other leaders in Mu’tah. His biography is in al-Isti‘aab and ‘Usud al-Ghaabah.

[15] Dhaat al-Riqaa’ is a mountain near al-Nakhil, next to al-Sa‘d and al-Shaqrah, which is colourful, with red, black and white spots. The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him and his progeny) went after ’Ukaydir Ibn ‘Abd al-Malik, the Christian, who used to attack the travellers and traders of Madinah. He fled and his people were dispersed, so, he found nobody there. He (peace be on him and his progeny) stayed for few days, then returned to Madinah. It was his first raids against the Romans. Look up al-Mas‘udi’s al-Tanbih wa al-Eshraf on this Battle.

[16] Doomah al-Jandal was a fortress built in al-Jandal in a space of land. It is at seven stages from Damascus, and at fifteen nights from Madinah. Look up Mu‘jam al-Buldaan and al-Mas’udi’s al-Tanbih wa al-Eshraf concerning the events of the fifth year of the Hijrah

[17] A battle near the waters of al-Muraysi’ (Maa’ al-Muraysi’), a place on the way to al-Far’, which is seven “posts” away from Madinah.

[18] Abu Rahm is Kulthum Ibn al-Husayn. He accepted Islam after the Messenger of Allah’s (peace be on him and his progeny) migration to Madinah. In the battle of ‘Uhud, he received an arrow in his neck but was cured when the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him and his progeny) applied saliva on his wound. His biography is in ‘Usud al-Ghaabah.

[19] Banu Lihyaan of Hadhil near ‘Asafaan whose lineage can be looked up in Ibn Hazm’s Jamharatu Ansaab al-Arab, Egypt Ed., 1382 A.H. pp. 196-198. ‘Asafaan is situated between Makkah and Madinah. Its exact location is contentious. [Mu‘jam al-Buldaan]

[20] Dhu Qarad is on the way to Khaybar. ‘Uyaynah Ibn Hisn al-Fazari had raided Lufaahah, while he was in al-Ghaabah, on a single “post”, or a little more, from Madinah. He set out on Wednesday, the 3rd or 4th of Rabi’ al-Awwal. He saved a part of it and returned to Madinah. Look up: al-Tanbih wal Eshraaf.

[21] The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him and his progeny) set off for Umrah on Monday, the 1st of Zhul Qa’dah. But the polytheists prevented him from entering Makkah. So he (peace be on him and his progeny) stayed in al-Hudaybiyyiah, some nine miles from Makkah. Later, there was a peace treaty between the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him and his progeny) and Quraysh in which the elementary stipulation was that he should come the next year for the minor pilgrimage (Umrah).

[22] The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him and his progeny) set off on the 6th of Zhul Qa’dah.

[23] Sibaa’ Ibn ‘Urfutah al-Ghifaari. His biography is in ‘Usud al-Ghaabah. After conquering its fortresses by force and peacefully, he (peace be on him and his progeny) set forth to Waadi al-Quraa. He (peace be on him and his progeny) besieged them for days and conquered it by force. Then he (peace be on him and his progeny) made peace with the people of Tayma’, eight stages from Syria. Waadi al-Quraa is between it and Madinah.

[24] After the Battle of Makkah, the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him and his progeny) set off to Hawaazin to invade Hunayn, a valley near the valley of al-Majaz, at a distance of three nights from Makkah.

[25] Tabuk is 90 Farsakh away from Madinah and this was the last battle of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny)

[26] Sahih Bukhari, Book of Battles, Chapter on ‘Battle of Tabuk’; Sahih Muslim, Book of “Merits of the Companions”, Chapter on “The Merits of ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib”, Hadith 32. Look up the Musnad-o-Abi Dawud at-Tayaalisi, vol. 1, p. 29; Hilyah al-Awliya’ by Abu Na‘im vol. 7, pp. 195 & 196; Musnad-o-Ahmad, vol. 1, pp. 173, 182, 184, 330 and vol. 4, p. 153; Tarikh-o-Baghdad by al-Khatib, vol. 11, p. 432; Al-Nassa’i’s Khasaa’is, pp. 8 & 16 and Ibn Sa‘d’s al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, vol. 3,Q 1,p. 15

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