20 August, 2018 | 8 Dhu al-Hijjah, 1439 H

"What corrupts generosity is mentioning it."

- The Prophet Muhammad (s)

Learning
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Core Curriculum

Section 1 - God, Religion and Islam: An Introduction
  • Topic 1.1 - The Problem of Evil, Suffering and Pain

  • Topic 1.2 - God, Allah and Religion

  • Topic 1.3 - Introduction to Islam

  • Topic 1.4 - What is “Religion” and What’s the Point of it Anyways?

  • Topic 1.5 - A Brief Introduction to the Prophet Muhammad (s), the Prophet of Islam

Section 2 - Foundations of Islam - Theology
  • Topic 2.1 - Entering Islam: The Shahada

  • Topic 2.2 - The Usūl al-Dīn: The Fundamental Beliefs of Islam

  • Topic 2.3 - Tawhīd: The Unity and Oneness of God in Islam

  • Topic 2.4 - Adala: Divine Justice in Islam

  • Topic 2.5 - Nubuwwa: The Purpose of Prophethood in Islam

  • Topic 2.6 - Imāmah or divinely guided leadership in Islam after the Prophet Muhammad.

  • Topic 2.7 - Maʿād: The Day of Judgment in Islam

  • Topic 2.8 - The Sharīʿa: Purpose and Practice

  • Topic 2.9 - The Islamic Concept of the Nafs: Battling the Human Ego

  • Topic 2.10 - Satan, Jinns and Angels: Their Influence in the World

  • Topic 2.11 - The Problem of Evil, Suffering and Pain

Section 3 - Foundations of Islam - Obligatory Acts
  • Topic 3.1 - Accepting Islam: Putting Faith into Action

  • Topic 3.2 - Jihād in Islamic Law and Spirituality

  • Topic 3.3 - Salāt: Obligatory Ritual Prayers in Islam

  • Topic 3.4 - Ritual Purity in Islamic Law: Understanding Tahāra and Najāsa

  • Topic 3.5 - The Five Categories of Islamic Law

  • Topic 3.6 - Tawalla and Tabarra, its Basics and Purpose

  • Topic 3.7 - The Purpose of Zakat and Khums in Islamic Law

  • Topic 3.8 - The Hajj Pilgrimage

  • Topic 3.9 - The Furūʿ al-Dīn: The Fundamental Practices of Islam

  • Topic 3.10 - Fasting in Islam, its Purpose, Dos and Don’ts

  • Topic 3.11 - Other Obligatory and Forbidden Acts in Islam

  • Topic 3.12 - Niyya: Religious Intention as the Foundation of Islamic Practice

  • Topic 3.13 - Commanding the Good and Forbidding Evil in Islam

Section 4 - Prophethood in Islam
  • Topic 4.1 - A Brief Biography of the Prophet Muhammad (s): The Prophet’s Childhood (PART I of III)

  • Topic 4.2 - Bio: The Prophet Muhammad as a Prophet of God (PART II of III)

  • Topic 4.3 - A Brief Biography of the Prophet Muhammad (s): The Prophet’s Character (PART III of III)

  • Topic 4.4 - The Prophet Muhammad (s) as Messenger and Teacher

  • Topic 4.5 - The Prophet and his Relationships

  • Topic 4.6 - The Prophet’s Sunnah and Hadith

  • Topic 4.7 - Ghadīr and Arafah: The Two Last Sermons of the Prophet

  • Topic 4.8 - Jesus and Mary in Islam

Section 5 - The Qur'an and Hadith
  • Topic 5.1 - Islam and Other Religions

  • Topic 5.2 - What is the Qur’an? A Short Introduction to Islam’s Holy Book

  • Topic 5.3 - The Structure of the Holy Qur’an

  • Topic 5.4 - The Quran and Islamic law

  • Topic 5.5 - The Qur’an, Allah and Humankind

  • Topic 5.6 - Hadith and Sunnah, difference and variations

  • Topic 5.7 - The Reliability of Hadiths

  • Topic 5.8 - A Reflection on Verses of the Holy Qur’an

  • Topic 5.9 - Hadith al-Thaqalayn

  • Topic 5.10 - Imam Ali (as) and Nahj al-Balagha.

  • Topic 5.11 - Taqlid and Tawḍih Al Masail Genre of Literature

Section 6 - Measuring Good and Bad in Islam
  • Topic 6.1 - The Effects of Our Actions in this World

  • Topic 6.2 - The Gray Areas of Islamic Law and Morality

  • Topic 6.3 - Heaven and Hell in Islam

  • Topic 6.4 - Life and Death in Islam

  • Topic 6.5 - Guidance According to Islam

  • Topic 6.6 - Fate and the Consequences of our Choices in Islam

  • Topic 6.7 - The Effect of Culture and Environment in Shaping our Religious Choices

  • Topic 6.8 - Major Sins in Islam

  • Topic 6.9 - Why Allah Allows People to Sin

  • Topic 6.10 - Repentance and Forgiveness of Sins in Islam

  • Topic 6.11 - The Three Kinds of Rights in Islam

  • Topic 6.12 - Sinning Against Others and their Delayed Punishment

  • Topic 6.13 - Kufr in Islam

  • Topic 6.14 - Trivializing the Harām

  • Topic 6.15 - Benefits of Islamic Law in this World

  • Topic 6.16 - Good and Bad Deeds: The Spiritual Consequences of our Choices

Section 7 - The Legacy of the Prophet Muhammad (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as)
  • Topic 7.1 - Islam and Knowledge: the Importance of Islamic Education

  • Topic 7.2 - The Ahl al-Kisa

  • Topic 7.3 - Imamah in the Qur’an

  • Topic 7.4 - Fatima al-Zahrah (as)

  • Topic 7.5 - A Brief Look at the Lives of the Imams (Imam al-Hasan until Imam Muhammad al-Baqir)

  • Topic 7.6 - A Brief Look at the Lives of the Imams (Imam Jafar al-Sadiq until Imam Hasan al-Askari)

  • Topic 7.7 - A Brief Look at the Life and Importance of Imam al-Mahdi (aj)

  • Topic 7.8 - Salawat and Atonement in Islam

  • Topic 7.9 - The Companions (Sahaba) of the Prophet According to the Qur’an

  • Topic 7.10 - Clerical Hierarchies in Muslim Communities

  • Topic 7.11 - Mosques in Islam

  • Topic 7.12 - The Philosophy of Karbala and Majalis

  • Topic 7.13 - A Brief Biography of Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (as)

  • Topic 7.14 - The Battle of Karbala: A Brief History

Section 8 - Islamic Relationships, Sects and Conflicts
  • Topic 8.1 - Misconceptions about Shi’ism

  • Topic 8.2 - Major Sects of Islam

  • Topic 8.3 - Islam and Religious Conflicts

  • Topic 8.4 - Islam and Rights

  • Topic 8.5 - Sunnism and Shi’ism, beginnings and historical developments.

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Special Topics

Section 9 - Independent Topics
  • Topic 9.1 - Muslim Converts – Welcome to Islam!

  • Topic 9.2 - Basic Dos and Don’ts of Being a Muslim

  • Topic 9.3 - Halal Food and Zabiha

  • Topic 9.4 - Family, Parents and Marriage in Islam

  • Topic 9.5 - Marriage in Islam

  • Topic 9.6 - Islam and Sex

  • Topic 9.7 - Modesty in Islam

  • Topic 9.8 - Women’s Menstruation in Islam

  • Topic 9.9 - Music, Alcohol, Drugs and Pork in Islam

  • Topic 9.10 - Islam and Science

  • Topic 9.11 - A Reading List of Islamic Knowledge

  • Topic 9.13 - Ritual Prayers and Supplications in Islam

  • Topic 9.14 - Death & Burial Rituals in Islam

  • Topic 9.15 - The Battle of Armageddon: An Islamic View

  • Topic 9.16 - The Muslim Calendar

  • Topic 9.17 - Muslims and non-Muslims in the Shariah

  • Topic 9.18 - A Timeline of Major Events in Islamic History

  • Topic 9.19 - Introducing the Qur’an: Why it is the way it is

  • Topic 9.20 - The School of Imam Jafar al-Sadiq

  • Topic 9.21 - Major Fields in Islamic Studies

  • Topic 9.22 - The Caliphate in Sunni and Shia Islam

  • Topic 9.24 - Islam, Racism and Anti-Semitism

Section 10 - Islam, Religion, and Modern Controversies
  • Topic 10.1 - Modern Fallacies about God: where Theists and Atheists Agree

  • Topic 10.2 - Tawhīd: The Muslim God according to the Prophet Muhammad and the Ahl al-Bayt (as)

  • Topic 10.3 - God’s Existence: The Argument From Being (Wujūd)

  • Topic 10.4 - God’s Existence: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

  • Topic 10.5 - God’s Existence: The Argument From Design

  • Topic 10.6 - The Problem of Evil, Suffering and Pain

  • Topic 10.7 - Why did God Create Us? The Purpose of our Creation

  • Topic 10.8 - Why Humans Need Religion according to Islam

  • Topic 10.9 - Jahl and Spiritual Ignorance in Islam

  • Topic 10.11 - Do Non-Muslims Go to Hell?

The Caliphate in Sunni and Shia Islam

Abstract

The concept of a Caliph and Caliphate in Sunni Islam and how it differs from the Shia view on the matter.

INTRODUCTION

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!

 

In this lesson, we will overview the concept of the Caliphate in the perspective of our Sunni brothers and sisters. Since we have talked a lot

 

about the Islamic view of the Imamate, we will only briefly compare this view of the caliphate to that of the school of Ahl al-Bayt (as).

 

BODY OF TEXT

 

The word Caliph comes from the Arabic word Khalifah. Khalifah in Arabic means vicegerent or successor, as in successor of the Prophet Muhammad (s). In the Qur’an, the term is used differently. It refers to humankind as God’s vicegerents on the earth.

 

In Sunni Islam, a Caliph is only secondarily a religious leader, he is more primarily a political leader. This is why in Sunni law a Caliph does not need to be a scholar of Islam.

 

But despite his primary role as a political and worldly leader, he still has some religious functions, such as determining special days like Eid al-Fitr, the festival that marks the end of the month of Ramadan. Although he does not have to be a scholar, he is still expected to have some acceptable level of knowledge when it comes to Islam.

 

In Sunni Islam, successorship to the Prophet Muhammad (s) is not necessarily determined by the Prophet himself. It can be determined in three other ways as well:

 

  1. Through selection by a small but select group of the Prophet’s companions.
  2. Personal designation by the previous Caliph
  3. Self-declaration or self-appointment
  4. Let look at each of these in a little more detail.

 

1. Selection by a small but select group of the Prophet’s companions

 

This happened three times in Islamic history.

 

The first time this happened was during the first Caliph’s ascension to the Caliphate. After the death of the Prophet Muhammad (s), a small handful of companions gathered in a place called Saqifa and selected Abu Bakr as the first Caliph of Muslims.

 

The second time this happened was with Uthman, the third Caliph. The second Caliph Umar had selected a small number of companions to choose the third caliph in the event of Umar’s death.

 

The third time this happened was during the time of Imam Ali (as). This incident was somewhat different as it wasn’t just a small group of companions who wanted him as Caliph, it was a large group of companions and a large crowd of Muslims who gathered to his house begging him to accept the political version of the Caliphate.

 

2. Personal designation by a previous caliph

 

This means that a Caliph personally selects who will succeed him after his death. In the history of the Caliphate, this has been the most prominent way Caliphs have assumed power.

 

The first person to practice this was Abu Bakr who selected Umar as his successor and second Caliph.

 

3. Self-declaration or self-appointment

 

This means that that someone can declare himself as Caliph without being selected by anyone. In Sunni law, the only condition for this kind of self-appointment to be legitimate is that enough people accept the self-appointment. What counts as “enough” is usually not clear and there is no agreement as to what is.

 

The first person to have become Caliph through this method was Muawiyah b. Abi Sufyan.

 

Muawiyah asserted his claim to the Caliphate through extreme violence.

 

Through the threat of violence, he managed to get Imam al-Hasan (as) to resign from the Caliphate. Then with violence and bribery, he got others to pledge allegiance to him after he declared himself Caliph.

 

In Sunni Islam, there is disagreement as to the legitimacy of Muawiyah’s Caliphate and his standing as a Muslim. Some Sunnis reject Muawiyah's Caliphate and view him as a violent politician who was merely pretending to be a Muslim.

 

Now that we've reviewed the Caliphate from the Sunni Islamic perspective, let's briefly review the Caliphate from the Shia perspective.

 

In Shia Islam, the Prophet’s successor can only be chosen by God himself. Unlike Sunni Islam, the office of the Caliphate is primarily a religious one. The Caliph must be the most knowledgeable person on earth at that time, he must be infallible, and he must be divinely inspired. The primary role of the Caliph is the religious guidance of humankind. Political office is only secondary. In Shiʿa Islam, a person can still be the Prophet’s caliph or successor yet not hold political office.

 

According to this view, only an Imam can succeed the Prophet Muhammad (s). For more information on Imamate, please view our previous lectures.

 

In Shiʿa Islam, God sends revelation or inspiration to the Prophet Muhammad (s) or a living Imam informing him who the next Imam and Caliph will be.

 

From this, we conclude that the Prophet Muhammad (s) designated Imam Ali (as) as his successor during the event of Ghadir, right before he passed away.

 

The word for this type of designation is called “nass” in Arabic. Like Imam Ali (as), all the other Imams were also appointed as Imams and Caliphs in this manner.

 

Until Next Time, thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh

 

Caliph

Successor of the Prophet (s) 

Caliphate

Successorship, as in the office of successorship of the Prophet Muhammad (s)

Khalifah

Caliph 

Nass

 Designation of a Caliph or Imam by God through the intermediary of the Prophet Muhammad (s) or a living Imam. 

Q1

What is a Caliph?

Caliph means successor, as in the successor of the Prophet (s) 

Q2

What is the difference between the caliphate in Sunni Islam and Shia Islam?

The caliphate in the former is largely a political leadership. A caliph is Sunni Islam is selected by humans. In Shia Islam, the primary function of a caliph is religious and he can be selected by the Prophet Muhammad (s) and God only.

Q3

What is nass?

Nass literally means designation, as in the designation of an Imam and Caliph by God. 

Q4

According to Sunni Islam, can someone appoint himself as a Caliph?

Yes, as long as there are people around who are willing to give him their oath of allegiance. As long as he declares himself a Muslim, he can do this. 

Q5

Who were the first Caliphs in Sunni and Shia Islam?

In Sunni Islam, the first Caliph was Abu Bakr, whereas in Shia Islam it was Imam Ali (as). 

caliphate
khalīfah
caliph
caliphate in sunni islam
caliphate in shia islam
abu bakr
imam ali (as)
nass
prophet Muhammad
muawiyah
ghadir

Ahl al-Bayt and Caliphate by Murtada Mutahhari