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I just came across a wiki page where I studied about the Successor to Muhammed the Prophet. The article told that the succession is told differently in different divisions. The Sunnis claim that successor of Muhammed is Abu Bakr and Shi'as claim Ali is a relative to Muhammed who was the actual successor. It's confusing as which division hold the truth rightly. Please if anyone knows the exact truth enlighten me and I am eager to know.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by goldPseudo Dec 9 at 0:19

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

As is evident in the question itself, this is a matter in which there is a clear difference of opinion. Without further criteria, we as a site are not geared to objectively decide which opinion "holds the truth rightly". –  goldPseudo Dec 9 at 0:19

4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

This is the very topic that caused the muslims to divide and could not be settled in the first place. So it is no longer answerable as of now. Most of Islamic history seems to have been primarily transmitted orally until after the rise of the Abbasid Caliphatewiki (750 AD onwards). and Ali was assassinated in 619 AD.

Both Shias and sunnis will give you ample proof favoring their respective claims. But there is no mention of a chosen successor in Quran, neither in the last sermon of Muhammad. However, at Ghadir Khumm, Muhammad made a speech in which he said:

Of whomsoever I am the mawla, Ali is his mawla.

This word, 'mawla', can be interpreted roughly as the master. But master in what regard? Let us be clear. In Sahih Muslim, we find that Prophet said to Ali:

You are in the same position with relation to me as Aaron was in relation to Moses but with that there is no prophet after me.

It indicates the spiritual superiority of Ali over all other ummah. But why Ali was not selected as the successor to Muhammad as the political leader?

Ibn abbas asked the same question to Umar. Umar and Ibn Abbas had the following converstionref:

Umar: By God, Ali is more fit to rule than I and Abu Bakr.
Ibn Abbas: why do you say this when you and your friend have subverted him?
Umar: That is not due to enmity, we were afraid that due to his youth, the Arabs and the Quraysh may refrain from submitting to his rule.
Ibn Abbs: The Prophet of God never doubted him for his youth; why did you doubt him?
Umar: This is not true. By God, we do not make a decision without him or perform an action but with his permission.

So, these few points are clear:

  1. Muhammad did not nominate a political successor or caliph but Ali was conferred the spiritual superiority over others
  2. But Muslim Ummah required to have a political leader and Abu Bakr was chosen because of his seniority
  3. Ali was eventually selected for the throne of Political leadership. But before that, the previous caliphs consulted him in their own administrations
  4. A group of Ummah expected the Spiritual leader to be the first political leader, which when did not happen, led to division.

ps: Shias believe in Imamate and Sunnis in Caliphate. Sunnis consider Ali as the fourth Caliph and Shias consider Ali as the first Imam. (cf imam vs caliph). So both divisions hold the truth.

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Shia believes that Prophet(sa) clearly appointed Ali(as) as his successor. This is the fundamental belief of Shia.

  • At his first Invitation to Islam, prophet(sa) when invited people to Islam for the first time publicly told his family members of Ghuraysh and after telling them about Islam told whoever accepts this will be my succesor after me which only Ali(as) raised his hand.

  • And Ghadir Khom which prophet clearly stopped everyone just to tell that again. In this place, the following verse of the Qur'an was revealed:

    "O Apostle! Deliver what has been sent down to you from your Lord; and if you don't do it, you have not delivered His message (at all); and Allah will protect you from the people ..." (Qur'an 5:67)

    The last sentence in the above verse indicates that the Prophet [s] was mindful of the reaction of his people in delivering that message but Allah informs him not to worry, for He will protect His Messenger from people. Immediately after the Prophet [s] finished his speech, the following verse of the Qur'an was revealed:

    "Today I have perfected your religion and completed my favour upon you, and I was satisfied that Islam be your religion." (Qur'an 5:3)

    • The above verse clearly indicates that Islam without clearing up matter of leadership after Prophet(sa) was not complete, and completion of religion was due to announcement of the Prophet's immediate successor.

    summarized from: (http://www.al-islam.org/ghadir/incident.htm)

It was appointed by Allah that Imam Ali(as) should be the leader after the prophet(sa) and that doesn't mean Allah didn't think about his age or he meant only the spiritual one not the political one!

  • About what happened to prophet's daughter, Fatima(as) and her death only months after the death of prophet(sa) , well it's another question but can also guide you in determining the real successor!

I also like to mention that we don't see ourselves separated from Sunni brothers and that we always should be united. As we all live by the LA ILAHA ILLALLAH and the love toward his last prophet!

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In the name of Allah the merciful the compassionate

Let's start with the following question?

Wasn't the mission of prophet that important to choose a successor for the supervision of the muslims?

Before answering this question, let's go further and ask:

Who has the authority to assign successor? God? prophet?

I believe that starting with the second question better helps us to present a solution. Many verses may be found in Quran which say, Almighty allah is the only one who assigns a successor. here are some examples:

"O’ David, we assigned you as Caliph (successor) on the earth ...”(38:26)

"... We have assigned you (Abraham) as Imam (leader) for people ...”(2:124)

As mentioned earlier, only allah may assign successor for himself. Moses the prophet didn't ask people to form a shura for choosing a successor when he left for miqat.

Moses said: "O’ Allah) assign me a vizier from my family, (that is) my brother Aaron (Haroon) ...,”(Allah) said: "We granted your requests, O’ Moses.”(20:29-36).

Almighty Allah also said:

"Surely We gave the book to Moses and assigned his brother Aaron as his vizier.”(25:35).

Allah also said:

"... And Moses said unto his brother Aaron: Take my place among the people.”(7:142).

وَقَالَ مُوسَىٰ لِأَخِيهِ هَارُونَ اخْلُفْنِي فِي قَوْمِي

It is narrated that:

The Messenger of Allah said to ‘Ali: "Your position to me is like the position of Aaron (Haroon) to Moses, except that there shall be no Prophet after me"

أنتَ مني بمنزلة هارون من موسى إلا إنَّهُ لا نبيَّ بعدي

It is apparent that, the prophet of islam (PBUH) has been ordered by God to assign Ali (a.s) as his successor. How can the prophet of islam leave the society of muslims without a leader while the prophet moses assigns his successor only for 30 (40) nights.

Now that it is proved the society could not be left without a leader by the holy prophet of islam (PBUH), we should investigate wether he (the prophet) has mentioned any where this issue (assigning the successor) or not.

From the shia viewpoint, Imam Ali (a.s) is assigned by prophet (by Allah) as the successor (caliphe) of the muslims. To prove, the shia scholars have used many authenticated hadiths such as the ghadir hadith. to find valuable informations about this hadith, there are plenty of books written about it (just google the word ghadir), such as:

Ghadir Tradition, The expressive evidence for guardianship

Ghadir Khumm, Where Religion Was Brought to Perfection

Orientalists and the Event of Ghadir Khumm

It is said that, in a place called Qom the inspiration angel (Gabriel) addressed the holy prophet as such:

يَا أَيُّهَا الرَّسُولُ بَلِّغْ مَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِنْ رَبِّكَ ۖ وَإِنْ لَمْ تَفْعَلْ فَمَا بَلَّغْتَ رِسَالَتَهُ ۚ وَاللَّهُ يَعْصِمُكَ مِنَ النَّاسِ

O Messenger! proclaim the (message) which hath been sent to thee from thy Lord. If thou didst not, thou wouldst not have fulfilled and proclaimed His mission. And Allah will defend thee from men (who mean mischief). (5:67)

This is not the place to prove the authentication of ghadir hadith but you may find The evidences certifying this claim easily. Some sunni references have reported this Mutawater hadith.

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quran.com/5/64-70 –  Umar Farooq Khawaja Jun 30 at 14:23

I think that if Ali were the real successor of Muhammed(saww) then Allah(swt) would've definitely mentioned in it the Qur'an clearly without much complexity, because the successor is a very serious topic. Allah(swt) would definitely give a completely simplified answer.

If the Prophet Muhamned(saww) had Ali in mind as his successor he would definitely have given a clear and proper explanation.

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