When it comes to the successorship of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) there are two groups in Islam. One group claims that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) abandoned the nation without a successor and guide (Allah forbid). The other group viz. the Shia Imamiyyah advance proofs to support their contention that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) appointed a successor in no uncertain terms for the Muslims in his lifetime. The following debate is one such proof advanced by the Shias that establishes a rational argument for the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) appointment of a successor and guide for the Muslims.

Debate on the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) appointment of a successor

Abul Hasan al-Refaa, a Shia, said to Ibn Raameen, a jurist and a stanch opponent of the Shias –

When the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) came out from Medina (for the Battle of Tabuk), he did not appoint anyone.

Ibn Raameen replied – No. He appointed Ali (a.s.).

Al-Refaa retorted – How come? Why didn’t he just say to the people of Medina that you choose/elect (your ruler) because you will not gather upon a deviation?

Ibn Raameen said – Because he (s.a.w.a.) feared that (if they do this), they will be entangled in discord and mischief.

Al-Refaa: Had mischief and corruption occurred, he (s.a.w.a.) would have rectified it on his return (to Medina).

Ibn Raameen: This is better (that he appoints a successor instead of waiting for mischief and corruption to occur then rectify it).

Al-Refaa: Did he (s.a.w.a.) appoint anyone after his death?

Ibn Raameen: No

Al-Refaa: His (s.a.w.a.) departure from this world is greater than his journeys. How he (s.a.w.a.) felt safe about his nation after his death, what he (s.a.w.a.) feared for them during his journey and while he (s.a.w.a.) was still alive?

Ibn Raameen had no answer.

  • Behaar al-Anwaar vol. 23 p. 75 after tradition 24

This and other rational proofs are sufficient to establish the fact that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) appointed a successor for the guidance of Muslims. To conclude anything else means the Muslims consider the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) as a person without basic wisdom and intellect (Allah forbid).

Or it means that they consider their so-called caliphs wiser than the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) because their caliphs appointed successors for themselves.

Or they consider the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) not worthy of being a Muslim (Allah forbid) because he himself (s.a.w.a.) has narrated many traditions emphasizing that a Muslim is out of the realm of Islam if he passes away without making a will.

These rational proofs are in addition to the scores of verses and traditions establishing the caliphate of the infallible Imams (a.s.) from the Ahle Bait (a.s.) after the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.)