Leadership succession in Islam (4)

Leadership succession in Islam (4)
Written by AbdulHakeem Akanni Friday, 08 October 2010 | Print |

This, as against the experience in the emergence of Abu Bakr, suggests that the incumbent can propose whom his successor should be but his proposal is subject to ratification by the people or their representatives. It is like the case .of the Electoral College. Umar died a martyr in the hands of a Persian slave, Abu Lu’lu Firoze, who stabbed him for ignoring his complaint about the burden his master had imposed on him. But before his death, he constituted a panel of six leading companions of the Prophet to select his successor from among themselves within three days and then seek approval for their selection from the generality of the Muslims through bai ‘ah (Oath or Pledge of Loyalty). After due consultation within and outside the six-man panel, the lot fell on Uthman basically for being the eldest in age and oldest living companion. Again, Uthman’s mode of selection is a product of situational condition of Muslims as Umar did not plan for the method before hand but had to respond and save the situation at hand. As requested by Umar, all Muslims pledged oath of allegiance to Uthman. This is another form of leadership succession not known to Muslims hitherto. The gruesome murder of Uthman did not permit him to see to who would succeed him. So, he died without an arrangement. The Madinan city of Prophet Muhammad was said to be without a government for three days. In order to avert and avoid anarchy, a group of Muslims especially the insurgent that killed Uthman approached Ali to assume the leadership of the empire. Though he initially refused, he was persuaded to accept it. Like his predecessors, he obtained bai ‘at (oath of allegiance) from the generality of Muslims. Although, all seemed to be well initially, the gruesome murder of Uthman by an insurgence from among Muslims provided opportunities for pretenders and those desirous of power to bring the prophecy of the Prophet Muhammad into fruition. The Prophet had said that, “Khilafat would continue for thirty years after Nubuwat (Prophethood), then, it will change to kingship.” Concluding Remarks From the foregoings, one can see that there are all forms of manner that a successor to a leader can emerge in Islam. Such a person could be nominated as with the case of Abu Bakr, he could be proposed and ratified as with Umar, he could be selected as with Uthman and he could be pressurised as with Ali for the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: “Be a leader if you are called upon to do so.” Each of these ways by which a leader or his successor emerges has been established in Islam and presumably enjoys the blessings of the Prophet Muhammad who said: “Khilafat would continue for thirty years after Nubuwat (Prophethood), then, it will change to kingship.” Thus, in Islam, nomenclatures of the fom of government that is being run, democracy, theocracy, military, republic etc does not matter. What is important is for the governance to be based on God’s law and for it to enjoy people’s loyalty (through consultation). If at a given time, in a given surrounding, the requisite qualities of Islam on governance and leadership are found, then the government is legitimate. It has been observed above that power, according to the Glorious Qur’an, is transient, i.e. it must shift from one (set of people or) person to another. But while Islam recognises this transient nature of power, it does not stipulate a process or procedure for doing this. This, it must be noted, is not an omission on the part of the religion which claims to be a way of life by stipulating for every aspect of human life. Rather, it is a deliberate way of contextualising the religion among the various human races and tribes so that the peculiarities of each tribe or in the modern day language, countries will be taken care of. Hence the Qur’an says: “Among His signs are the creation of the Heavens and Earth and the diversity of your tongues and colours; for in this, behold, there are messages for all who are possessed of (innate) knowledge.” (Qur’an 30:22) Again, the Qur’an says: “O mankind! We created you from male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God are the most deeply conscious of Him. Behold God is All-Knowing, AlI-Aware.” (Qur’ an 49:13) It is in recognition of this principle that Allah allowed the demise of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) without a surviving son who would step into his shoes as the leader of the Muslim empire. Should that have happened, only God knows the controversy that would have been generated with regards to monarchical rule as the legitimate means of succession in Islam. The experience with the Shi’aites who believe only Muslims on the lineage of Ali and Fatimah, cousin and daughter of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) respectively to the exclusion of any other relation of the Prophet as the
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the Prophet did not only die without a male survivor. whom he (the Prophet) had appointed as the leader and commander of the Muslim army and against which the people had secretly complained.” (Haykal. Usamah is as fit for the generalship as his father. Ago-Iwoye. he did not do so to allow for the local content in governance i. Olabisi Onabanjo University. he persuaded his followers especially those in the army to respect and accept the leadership of the 20. 1982. he is elected by the electoral college of about three hundred. Usamah’s appointment which was not only direct and confirmed by the Prophet (even during his sickness) was also the last appointment made by him. This quality of Islam is shared by the popular democracy which has many variations. Islam has thus limited itself to laying down the basic rules and regulations that are the immutable fundamentals of religion which cannot turn obsolete as time passes.497). when given the option of taking this world. recently in Ibadan.” (Haykal. Thus. confirming thereby the universality of the Islamic message. This jurisprudence that continually renews the teachings of Islam has served to keep them at the same pace as progress and development while managing to avoid contradiction with the fundamentals and constants.11/25/12 Leadership succession in Islam (4) only legitimate leaders of the Muslim Ummah is enough to suggest what Allah wanted to avert by the liberal approach to leadership succession in Islam. AbdulHakeem Akanni of the Department of Religious Studies. carry out the expedition under Usamah. such a person would have literally and reasonably too claimed to be the divinely appointed successor of the Prophet. By God. The Prophet needed to confirm and insist on the appointment of Usamah in an address to his followers on the pulpil thus: “O men.” Be that as it may. 497) He was said to have stopped for a while before resuming his address saying: Has he (Muhammad) not made the better choice who. Subsidiary regulations such as those relating to leadership succession are left for the jurisprudence of Muslim scholars to rule on as progress dictated. Your complaint against his generalship is of the same kind as your complaint against the generalship of his father before him.ng/index. Instead.com. Ibadan chapter. ALLAH KNOWS BEST Dr.year-old Usamah ibn Zayd ibn Harithah. he also did not appoint a successor despite having the opportunity to do so. unpopular and politically unambitious person whose leadership potentials were least appreciated for a purpose. with the condition that their stipulations do not oppose the invariable constants enshrined in the Glorious Qur’an and the Sunnah. delivered this paper at the 2010 Ramadam Lecture of the Obafemi Awolowo University Muslim Graduates Association (UNIFEMGA). It could have been regarded as Islam’s leadership succession process. we conclude by saying that leadership succession in Islam is situational and conditional. its immutability and relevance to all times and all places. Should the Prophet have appointed Abu Bakr. Share 2 tribune. Ali or any other elderly and popular companion as the leader and commander of that last military expedition commissioned by him. But again.” The selection of Caliph Abu Bakr as the immediate successor of the Prophet by the entire Muslims though guided by the deputising roles he played to the Prophet..e. In America. But again. as conceived of in Western Europe and North America.. tribe etc. for instance. Rather. it is not because the appointment was meant for a purpose . chooses the last alternative. It was not difficult for the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) to raise Abu Bakr’s hand(s) up amidst the companions or put his name down on paper on his sick bed as the right candidate to succeed him.to lead an expedition against Palestine alone. nation. Democracy. to choose their leader(s) through a process they deem most fit. is not necessarily applicable to the rest of the world. Rather it signifies another process by which a successor to a leader can emerge. The zoning formula as it is presently practised in Nigeria could therefore be a genuine factor in leadership succession in Nigeria but we are quick to add that this same factor necessitates dropping it when it is no longer relevant. the other world or properly acquiescing in whatever is with God. But the Prophet acted as directed by inspiration (and God) by appointing a young. the President is not elected by the entire populace. does not equally amount to the blessed mode of leadership succession in Islam. Hence the verse quoted above ends with “Allah is all Knowing. 1982. for example.php/eyes-of-islam/11855-leadership-succession-in-islam-4?tmpl=component&prin… 2/2 . One wonders what the position of the Shi’aites would have been if the Prophet had a direct son who survived him. that also would have confirmed the legitimacy of leadership succession based on appointment.that of leaving the succession method open to accommodate and suit local and historical conditions of every nation and tribes created by God. Were he to have done so. “Allah is indeed “All-Knowing. for a people.

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