An opinion on the ‘Schism’

I am trying to ascertain what exactly happened subsequent to the death of our beloved Prophet. From what I have researched I can summarise that there was a sudden and an acute power vacuum. The selection of a temporal leader turned into a battle of succession for the very soul of Islam. Clan/Tribal allegiances came to the fore as ground realities clashed with the naivety of the ‘Sahabah’. Sassanid Persia and Roman Byzantine were waiting in the offing and false prophets were raising their ugly heads.

It must be the case that the Prophet left no clear instructions as to who would lead the Muslims after his death. I believe he did this deliberately because an explicit appointment would have accorded sanctity to the individual/clan. This in turn would have set a precedence for the creation of a religious figurehead with the stature of a prophet. Our Prophet understood the pitfalls of leaving behind an institution that would have become a proxy for the Noble Quran.

What is surprising is that even those closest to the Prophet disagreed about who should lead the ‘Ummah’ after his death. It’s difficult to contemplate that if the Prophet did leave clear instructions, those closest to him would disagree so soon after his death. That’s my reason for insisting that power should’ve been devolved to the clans/tribes, not institutionalised in a Caliphate.

Religious institutions are inherently corrupt because they usurp power from the communities they claim to represent. The Caliphate by default would’ve acted as proxy for the Noble Quran and the Sunnah, creating resentment in sections of the ‘Ummah’. Those whose wealth and/or position had not dissipated in the struggle for Islam, would inevitably come to dominate the Caliphate.

Concentration of power mostly results in nepotism and sycophancy, suffocating the individuals’ aspiration to achieve through merit. Hence, the absence of an enlightened ‘Ummah’ through informed scholarship; instead a pervasive ‘Jahalat’ promoted by a leadership that only reflects the prejudices of the body politic.

The declaration of faith

I have often asked myself: What Shahadah did the Prophets and other ‘Muslims’ before Muhammad recite?

‘Allah testifies: La ilaha illa Huwa, and the angels, and those having knowledge – truthfully, equitably. La ilaha illa Huwa, the All-Mighty, the All-Wise’ (3:18).
‘And We did not send any Messenger before you [O Muhammad] but We revealed to him: La ilaha illa ana, so worship Me’ (21:25).
‘He has ordained for you the same religion which He ordained for Noah, and that which We have revealed to you [O Muhammad], and that which We ordained for Abraham, Moses and Jesus – saying you should establish religion and make no divisions in it’ (42:13).
‘The Messenger believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and the believers. Each one believes in Allah, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers. [They say:] We make no distinction between one another of His Messengers, and they say – We hear and we obey’ (2:285).
‘Muhammad is no more than a Messenger, and indeed Messengers have passed away before him’ (3:144).

The unity of the Godhead is at the core of that which was revealed to all of the Prophets. We believe that it is this God that revealed the Torah to Moses, the Psalms to David, the Gospel to Jesus and the Quran to Muhammad. Therefore, articles of faith as prescribed in these scriptures cannot contain contradictions. It would be inconsistent for each of the Prophets to have told their respective congregation to recite a different Shahadah.

‘When the hypocrites come to you [O Muhammad], they say: We bear witness that you are indeed the Messenger of Allah. Allah knows that you are indeed His Messenger, and Allah bears witness that the hypocrites are liars indeed’. ‘They have made their oaths a screen [for their hypocrisy]. Thus they hinder [men] from the Path of Allah. Verily, evil is what they used to do’ (63:1/2). ‘Have you [O Muhammad] not seen those [hypocrites] who take as friends a people upon whom is the Wrath of Allah? They are neither of you nor of them, and they swear to a lie while they know’. ‘Allah has prepared for them a severe torment. Evil indeed is that which they used to do’. ‘They have made their oaths a screen [for their evil action]. Thus they hinder [men] from the Path of Allah, so they shall have a humiliating torment’ (58:14/16).
The hypocrites do not bear witness that La ilaha illa Huwa, only that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. God acknowledges [does not bear witness] that Muhammad is His Messenger. Only then does He proceed to bear witness that the hypocrites are liars. An examination of the wording and sequencing of the statements in the verse allows for a better understanding.

Could our Prophet predict future events

From what I understand ‘Ghaib’ could either mean ‘Unseen’ or ‘Absent’; it mostly means ‘Unseen’. So did Prophet Muhammad have the ability to predict future events?

‘Say [O Muhammad]: I don’t tell you with me are the treasures of Allah, nor I know Al Ghaib; nor I tell you I am an angel. I but follow what is revealed to me’ (6:50). ‘Say [O Muhammad]: I possess no power over benefit or harm to myself except Allah wills. If I had the knowledge of Al Ghaib, I should have secured for myself an abundance of wealth, and no evil should have touched me’ (7:188)
Our beloved Prophet is admitting that he doesn’t have the ability to predict future events. The only knowledge in his possession is that which has been revealed to him. The knowledge of the ‘Ghaib’ is the prerogative property of the Almighty.
‘And with Him are the keys of Al Ghaib, none knows them but He. And He knows whatever there is in the land and in the sea; not a leaf falls but He knows it. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or dry, but is written in a Clear Record’ (6:59).

When God does reveal the ‘Ghaib’ to the Prophets, it is but the Verses of the Quran – knowledge of past events that the Prophets could not have known.
‘[He Alone is] the All-Knower of Al Ghaib, and He reveals to none His Ghaib’. ‘Except to a Messenger whom He has chosen, and then He makes a band of watching guards to march before him and behind him’. ‘Till He sees that they have conveyed the Messages of their Lord. He encompasses what is with them, and He keeps count of all things’ (72:26/28).

On those occasions where God relates to Muhammad the stories of earlier Prophets, He reminds him that it is knowledge that neither he nor his people knew.
‘This is the news of Al Ghaib which We reveal to you [O Muhammad]; neither you nor your people knew it before this’ (11:49). ‘This is the news of Al Ghaib which We reveal to you [O Muhammad]. You were not with them when they arranged their plan together, and they were plotting’ (12:102).

Again, only God has absolute knowledge of the ‘Ghaib’; the only reason we know with certainty some future events is because they were revealed to the Prophets to warn and prepare us.
‘Those who disbelieve say: The Hour will not come to us. Say: Yes, by my Lord, the All-Knower of Al Ghaib, it will come to you; not even the weight of an atom of less than that or greater escapes His Knowledge, in the heavens or in the earth but it is in a Clear Book’ (34:3).

Was only our Prophet ‘Special’

I often hear Muslims say that our beloved Prophet is ‘Special’ – enjoys a rank higher than all the other Prophets. ‘And We have sent you [O Muhammad] not but as a mercy for Al Alamin’ (21:107). Does Prophet Muhammad really enjoy a ‘Special’ status; a rank above the other Prophets?

‘Say [O Muslims]: We believe in Allah and that which has been sent down to us and that which has been sent down to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, and that which has been given to Moses and Jesus, and that which has been given to the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him we have submitted’ (2:136). ‘The Messenger believes in what has been sent down from his Lord, and [so do] the believers. Each one believes in Allah, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers. [They Say:] We make no distinction between one another of His Messengers’ (2:285).
The Almighty says in the Quran that those who are ‘Muslim’ do not make any distinction between the Prophets.

‘Those Messengers! We preferred some of them to others; to some of them Allah spoke [directly]; others He raised to degrees [of honour]; and to Jesus, the son of Maryam, We gave evidences and supported him with the Holy Spirit’ (2:253). ‘And indeed, We have preferred some of the Prophets above others; and to David We gave the Psalms’ (17:55). ‘And We raised him [Enoch] to a high station’ (19:57). ‘Who can be better in religion than one who submits his whole self to Allah, does good, and follows the way of Abraham – a man of pure faith? And Allah did take Abraham as a Khalil’ (4:125).
God states in the Quran that He is discerning of the Prophets; He endows them with distinct abilities. This is God’s prerogative; in all such exemplifications there is no mention of Prophet Muhammad.

I don’t know if you’ve heard about the ‘Miracle’ that was performed on our beloved Prophet. Gabriel is said to have made an incision in the chest in order to cleanse the Prophet’s heart. Its validity is supposedly based on (94:1) ‘Have We not opened your breast for you [O Muhammad]’. Nashrah literally translates to ‘cut to slice’; implicit that the chest was cut open.
You had alluded to (20:14) in our discussion about As-Salah; (20:25) ‘[Moses] said: O my Lord! Ashrah for me my breast’. I just stumbled onto it whilst glancing through the other verses on the page. This ‘Miracle’ is said to have made Muhammad ‘Masoom’ [Pure and Sinless]; a rank above all the other Prophets. That just can’t be the case if Moses too has experienced the same ‘Miracle’. And further (48:2), ‘That Allah may forgive you [O Muhammad] your sins of the past and the future, and complete His favour on you and guide you on a Straight Path’.
I believe the Almighty inspired courage – broadened the chest, in order that the Prophets may fulfil the arduous task of Prophethood.