The Form of Islamic Government

  March 26, 2022   Read time 2 min
The Form of Islamic Government
There can be no doubt that rationally speaking governance can be transferred from one person to another just like property that is inherited.

If one considers first the verse: “The prophet has higher claims on the believers than their own selves,” and then the tradition: “The scholars are the heirs of the prophets,” he will realize that both refer to the same thing: extrinsic matters that are rationally capable of being transferred from one person to another. If the phrase: “The scholars are the heirs of the prophets” referred to the Imāms (‘a)—as does the tradition to the effect that the Imāms are the heirs of the Prophet (s) in all things— we would not hesitate to say that the Imāms are indeed the heirs of Prophet in all things, and no one could say that the legacy intended here refers only to knowledge and legal questions. So if we had before us only the sentence: “The scholars are the heirs of the prophets” and could disregard the beginning and end of the tradition, it would appear that all functions of the Most Noble Messenger (‘a) that were capable of being transmitted—including rule over people—and that devolved on the Imāms after him, pertain also to the fuqahā, with the exception of those functions that must be excluded for other reasons and which we too exclude wherever there is reason to do so.

The major problem still remaining is that the sentence: “The scholars are heirs of the prophets” occurs in a context suggesting that the traditions of the prophets constitute their legacy. The authentic tradition narrated by Qaddāh reads: “The prophets bequeathed not a single dinār or dirham; instead they bequeathed knowledge.” That related by Abū’l– Bukhtūri reads: “Although the prophets did not bequeath a single dinār or dirham; they bequeathed their sayings and traditions.” These statements provide a context suggesting that the legacy of the prophets is their traditions, and that nothing else has survived of them that might be inherited, particularly since the particle “innamā” occurs in the text of the tradition, indicating exclusivity.
But even this objection is faulty. For if the meaning were indeed that the Most Noble Messenger (s) had left nothing of himself that might be inherited except his traditions, this would contradict the very bases of our Shi’ah school. The Prophet (s) did indeed leave things that could be inherited, and there is no doubt that among them was his exercise of rule over the community, which was transmitted by him to the Commander of the Faithful (‘a), and then to each of the other Imāms (‘a) in succession. The particle “innamā” does not always indicate exclusivity, and indeed there are doubts that it ever does; in addition, “innamā” does not occur in the text narrated by Qaddāh, but only in that related by Abu’lBukhturi whose chain of transmission is weak, as I have already said.