Why is the succession of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) so important?


Dr. Thomas McElwain answers:

Dr.Thomas McElwain, an American pastor and university professor who chose the name “Ali Haider” after becoming a Muslim, tells us of Amir al-Mu’minin (peace be upon him) being mentioned in the Holy book of Christians and Jews. The two scholarly books “Islam in the Bible” and “Shi’i Beliefs in the Bible” are the result of his years of effort in the comparative study of Islam, Christianity and Judaism.


Why is the succession of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) so important? Was succession so important for other prophets as well?

Yes, the succession of prophets has been mentioned in previous holy books. In the fifth chapter of the book “Genesis” of the Torah, the successors of Adam to Noah (peace be upon them) are mentioned. In chapter 27 of the book “Numbers” of the Torah, verses 16 and 17, Moses (peace be upon him) prays for his successor. The succession of “Elisha” after “Elijah” is mentioned in the second book of The Kings, chapter 2, verse 15. These are just three examples that come to my mind right now and show that God has appointed successors for all prophets. The Bible does not recognize the unauthorized following of prophets and accepts obedience to prophets only through the channel of God’s appointed successors.


What points can be taken from the sermon of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) on the day of Ghadir?

In my opinion, the appointment of Imam Ali (peace be upon him) as the successor of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is the most important point of this sermon. First, Shia and Sunni narrative sources have both narrated this event. Secondly, this event has been prophesied several times in the Bible, and the word “Gadir” itself, which is a cognate of “Ghadir” in Hebrew, is mentioned in the Bible. All these cases are completely compatible with what we know about the life and legacy of Imam Ali (peace be upon him). You can find the details of this matter in my book titled “Shi’i Beliefs in the Bible”.


Neglecting and turning away from the divine successors of the prophets existed in the past and is also mentioned in the Holy Bible. Why do people keep making such mistakes?

In order to investigate the roots of this neglect, the belief conditions of people should be considered. If we assume that pure free will exists, turning away from the divine will is rooted in the ignorance of man about his real interests. If we believe in predestination, turning one’s back on the successor is rooted in the inherent evil of man, which is what Christians believe. And if we believe in the middle state of predestination and the free will as mentioned in the narrations of the imams, we are faced with two possibilities. In a situation where the principles of the imams are properly implemented, the people accept the guardianship, because they see that their interests will be secured in this way. But if the principles of the imams are left aside, people will not be able to understand the “velayat” and as a result, will remain alone and helpless. Only those who have been favored by God will understand the “velayat” and guardianship. Such people are the elites of the society and they have the duty to act in a hostile world based on divine leadership. The global demand for the “velayat” and guardianship will emerge with the advent of Mahdi (peace be upon him).


How did the Islamic Ummah forget the Ghadir incident only after 70 days?

This is a sad story. Personally, because I have been a Baptist Christian for many years and I believe in the Bible, I think that if Muslims had taken the previous holy books more seriously, they would not have gone astray so easily. The Torah has mentioned Imam Ali (peace be upon him) in three parts and, as I said, the word “Gadir” has been repeated several times. The Muslims of the time of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) should have known these facts and taken Ghadir sermon more seriously.


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