According to Islamic and Judeo-Christian historical reference books, all Prophets from the first-Prophet Adam (PBUH) – to the last -Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) – had successors. For example, Prophet Adam’s (PBUH) successor was called “Hebtallah” in Arabic, or “Seth” in Hebrew. The Successor of Prophet Ibrahim/Abraham (PBUH) was “Isma’il/Ishmael”. Prophet Ya’qub’s/Jacob’s (PBUH) successor was “Yusef /Joseph” (PBUH). The successor of Prophet Musa/Moses (PBUH) was “Joshua, the son of Nun” (PBUH) against whom the wife of Moses (PBUH) revolted. Also, the successor of Prophet Isa/Jesus (PBUH) was “Simon Peter”, so called “Sham’oon” in Arabic. Here, we will try to touch on three stories related to the prophets and their successors mentioned above.
One of the great Muslim historians, Ya’qubi, has narrated the following about the successor of Adam (PBUH): “When Adam was about to die, he chose Seth as his successor.” (1)
Tabari (2) also adds: “Hebtallah is referred to as Seth in Hebrew; he was the successor of Adam. Seth wrote Adam’s final will. The will included that Seth was to be followed after Adam.” (3) Ibn Athir and Ibn Kathir both have written similar statements about this issue: “The interpretation of Seth is Hebtallah, who was chosen as Adam’s successor. When the death of Adam came close, he appointed Seth as his successor …” (4)
As mentioned earlier, Simon Peter or Simon ben Jonah was appointed as the successor of Jesus (PBUH). He is referred to as Simon (Sham’oon) in the Old Testament and Torah. The New Testament also refers to Simon in the first couple verses of the book of Matthew, chapter 10:1-2: “And he got together his twelve disciples and gave them the power of driving out unclean spirits, and of making well all sorts of disease and pain. Now the names of the twelve are these: The first, Simon, who is named Peter.” (5)
Moreover, in John 10:11 and 10:14, Jesus (PBUH) repeats, “I am the good shepherd”… but in John 21, Jesus says 3 times to Peter, and only to Peter, in front of the other Apostles, “feed my lambs… tend my sheep… feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17)… “my lambs”… “my sheep”… the lambs and sheep of Jesus! (6) This is suggesting that Jesus (PBUH) kept Peter as his successor and Peter was in charge of taking care of the people and guiding them.
Furthermore, elsewhere in Chapter 16:18-19 of the book of Mathew, Peter was assigned a leadership role by Jesus (PBUH) above all the other disciples: “And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock will my church be based, and the doors of hell will not overcome it. I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatever is fixed by you on earth will be fixed in heaven: and whatever you make free on earth will be made free in heaven.”
Next, we come to Yusha’ ibn Nun/Joshua, the son of Nun (7) who was the successor of Moses (PBUH). In the dictionary of Bible, Joshua is described as such: “He (Joshua) became Moses’ minister or servant, and accompanied him part of the way when he ascended Mount Sinai to receive the two tables.” (Ex. 32:17) (8) It can be inferred from the bible that he did not worship the calf at the time of Aaron …(9), (10) The more interesting fact is that the actual story of Joshua’s succession to Moses (PBUH) is narrated in the Old Testament, book of Numbers, chapter 27:15-23 as such:
“Then Moses said to the Lord, Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, put a man at the head of this people, To go out and come in before them and be their guide; so that the people of the Lord may not be like sheep without a keeper – And the Lord said to Moses, Take Joshua, the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and put your hand on him – And take him before Eleazar (11) the priest and all the meeting of the people, and give him his orders before their eyes – And put your honor on him, so that all the children of Israel may be under his authority. He will take his place before Eleazar the priest, so that he may get directions from the Lord for him, with the Urim (12): at his word they will go out, and at his word they will come in, he and all the children of Israel – So Moses did as the Lord said: he took Joshua and put him before Eleazar the priest and the meeting of the people – And he put his hands on him and gave him his orders, as the Lord had said by Moses.” (13)
The story of Joshua’s uprising and wars against the actions of the sons of Israel are narrated in the book of Joshua, chapter 23 of the Old Testament.
Certainly, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) had not brought a new religion with new teachings (14), and thus was not separate from the previous prophets. Hence, he would not have left his followers without a “successor” and “Master” in his place. It is crucial to recall that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) had not left the small society of Medina without placing a substitute in his place. No matter how short his leave would be, he would have definitely chosen a leader and a successor in his place. (15)
How then would the holy Prophet depart the Muslim community without assigning a Master after himself forever? As mentioned earlier, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was not the only prophet who chose a successor after himself. With a deeper insight into the Islamic texts, one can find amazing similarities between him and the other Prophets.
For Example, in the story mentioned earlier, Joshua was at “Mount Sinai” (16) with Prophet Moses (PBUH), and had not corrupted himself by worshipping the calf. It was then that Allah (SWT) ordered Prophet Moses (PBUH) to make Joshua his successor and the leader after him. As the Old Testament states, Joshua was to be the shepherd of lambs (people), and prevent them from going astray.
Imam Ali (PBUH) was with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) in the “Cave of Haraa” and had never worshiped idols. In the same manner that Prophet Moses (PBUH) was commanded to appoint his successor in front of the people, Allah (SWT) ordered Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) to announce Imam Ali (PBUH) as his successor in the presence of the Muslim community. In the final pilgrimage (Hajjah al-Wida’), when the Muslims had completed their Hajj, the holy Prophet was commanded to introduce his successor and leader after him. Allah (SWT) had most certainly ordered Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) not to leave the Islamic society without a leader after him.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) completed his order in Ghadir Khumm, and chose Imam Ali (PBUH) as his successor. Hence, what the Prophet had said about the similarities of Islamic community and the sons of Israel (“Whatever that happened to the sons of Israel will happen to my community…”) (17) came to be true.
(Reference: “Ma’alim Al-Madrasatain” by Allamah Sayyed Murtada ‘Askari, with minor changes)
What did actually happen in Ghadir? How does each Islamic sect view the event of Ghadir? Does the event of Ghadir belong to only one specific sect of Islam, and meaningless for others? In such a great occasion, let’s review the important events that took place in the Ghadir, so that we too can comprehend the philosophy of Ghadir.
For this purpose, we invite you to study the strong and authentic Islamic texts of different sects about the importance of this event in the following article (Please Click Here).
We congratulate all on behalf of the Roshd Website, on the Eid of Ghadir al-Khumm, the festival of the completion of Religion and the announcement of Amir Al-Mu’minin, Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (PBUH) as the true Successor of the Prophet (PBUH&HP) to all of the Muslims around the world, and especially to you dear friend.
1. History of Ya’qubi, vol. 1, p.11
2. The author of Tarikh al-Rosol wa al-Moluk
3. History of Tabari, Published in Europe, vol.1, p. 153-165 and 166
4. History of ibn Athir, vol 1, p. 19, 20, 40 and 48, History of ibn Kathir, vol. 1, p.98
5. You may visit the following link to refer to the main text:
6. You may visit the following link to refer to the main text:
7. Joshua (Yoosha’) is derived from al-Yasa’ in Arabic, which is mentioned in the holy Quran, 6:86 and 38:48.
9. Exodus 24: http://www.o-bible.com/cgibin/ob.cgi?version=bbe&book=exo&chapter=24
12 The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here …”
13 Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God.
14 He said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we come back to you. Aaron and Hur are with you, and anyone involved in a dispute can go to them.”
So far it can be deduced that Moses (PBUH) went up to the mountain with Joshua. Thus Joshua left the people.
Exodus 32: http://www.o-bible.com/cgibin/ob.cgi?version=bbe&book=exo&chapter=32
15 Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands…
17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, “There is the sound of war in the camp.”
18 Moses replied: “It is not the sound of victory, it is not the sound of defeat; it is the sound of singing that I hear.”
19 When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing …
As a result it can be inferred that on the way back from the mountain, it is not just Moses; it is him and his aid, Joshua. Further, Joshua was surprised by the strange sounds, this means that he was not aware of the story happened to the people with the calf. This means that Joshua never worshipped the calf.
10. Aaron (PBUH) is the brother of Moses (PBUH) who was with him from the beginning of his prophecy. Aaron (PBUH) was Moses’ (PBUH) assistant. When Moses (PBUH) went to Mount Sinai to pray to Allah (SWT), he left Aaron (PBUH) with the Sons of Israel. However, the people became arrogant and did not listen to Aaron (PBUH). They put Aaron (PBUH) aside and started to worship a golden calf. Aaron (PBUH), however, continued on worshipping God and tried to prevent them form worshipping the calf. The people didn’t listen to him and further threatened to kill him.
His name appears in 20 different verses of the holy Quran. Quran refers to different stages of Aaron’s (PBUH) life in different chapters including the mentioned story. Aaron (PBUH) is referred in the Holy Quran as a great man and supporter of Moses (PBUH). For example, Allah (SWT) sends greetings to him in 37:120. Though Aaron (PBUH) was the successor of Moses (PBUH), he passed away when Moses (PBUH) was alive. Instead Moses (PBUH) selected Joshua (PBUH) as his successor according to divine order.
11. Eleazar Or Eliezer the priest was either the second son of Moses or the leader of the Son of Benjamin tribe (Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary, http://www.ccel.org/e/easton/ebd/ebd.html).
12. Urim and Thummim mean lights and perfection. In terminology, Urim was referred to something that higher ranked priests would hang from their necks during prayers. In Torah these two words are referred to as crown of highness and greatness (Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary, http://www.ccel.org/e/easton/ebd/ebd.html).
13. You may visit the following link to refer to the main text:
14. Allah Himself orders Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) in the Holy Quran 46:9 to tell the people that: “Say: ‘I am no bringer of new-fangled doctrine among the messengers’…”
15. The historians have narrated that the Great Prophet (PBUH&HP) left Medina 27 times, and all the times he assigned a successor for himself while he was out of town. For detailed information in this respect, you might refer to second volume of the book “Ma’aalim al-Madrasatain”, the section describing “Successors of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH&HP) in Medina at the times of war”.
16. Mount Sinai was the mountain which Prophet Moses (PBUH) used to go there for worship. The name of this mountain is mentioned in several chapters of the holy Quran, for instance 28:29.
17. This Hadith from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) has been addressed in both Shi’a and Sunnite books with minor terminology differences. Man La Yahdorohu al-Faqih, vol. 1, p. 203 from Shi’a references and Sunan Tirmadhi the book of Iman, Hadith 2565, from Sunni reference books are two examples.