Reflection No. 288 on Q 2:247 – Superiority granted by Allah (swt)

وَاللَّهُ يُؤْتِي مُلْكَهُ مَنْ يَشَاءُ
Wallāhu yu’tī mulkahu man yashā’
Allah grants His Kingdom to whoever He pleases
(Sūratul Baqarah, No. 2, Āyat 247)

Human beings often make false judgements of superiority. Their criteria for excellence over others is based on weak premises that can collapse quickly. Many merits that are shallow facades, such as wealth, beauty, influence, etc. form the basis of superiority over others.  The real criteria for the excellence of any person over another can only come from the Creator. He grants honor and authority to whoever He wishes.

The verse above refers to the people from the Banū Israel who protested at the appointment of Tālūt (Saul) as their commander. Not only was he put in charge of the army, but he was also granted a position of leadership in the kingdom. The people felt he was not the right choice as he was poor and came from a tribe that was not well known. Their Prophet explained that Tālūt had superiority because Allah had chosen him, and had given him knowledge and physical strength. It is God who grants kingdom and authority to whomever He wishes. It was not up to people to decide. The same truth is also referred to in Q 3:26 – Say: Allah, Master of the Kingdom! You give the kingdom to whoever You wish  and take away the kingdom from whomever You wish, and You make mighty whoever You wish and You abase whoever You wish, all good is in Your hand, Indeed You have power over all things.

When the members of the family of the Holy Prophet (s) were taken to the court of Yazīd after the tragedy of Karbala, Yazīd tried hard to humiliate them. He sang in praise of his own family and gloated over his so called victory over Imam Husayn (a). Bibi Zaynab (a) and Imam Sajjād (a) spoke up and berated him for his actions. Their firm and eloquent words shattered his delusion and awakened the people gathered in his court. Imam Sajjād (a) reminded the audience of who he was, the son of a family chosen for leadership and authority. He said: I am the son of that Holy Prophet upon whom the Lord Almighty sent revelations, I am the son of Muhammad Mustafa and Al-Murtadhā . . . I am the son of the one who was the successor of the Messengers, the commander of the faithful, and the ornament of the worshippers. . . I am the son of one who the helper of Allah’s religion and His executor (of His wishes), the garden of wisdom and the carrier of Divine Knowledge.

Although the enemies tried to claim superiority over the Ahlul Bayt, the real truth was that their excellence could not be suppressed. This was because their position was given to them by God and would be preserved by God Himself.

Remember that all claims of leadership and excellence, in Islamic history or in present times, has to be linked to the Divine. Human beings may reject it due to baseless notions of false superiority. But the truth will always prevail. Honor and kingdom is granted by God to whoever He wishes. Recite this verse to remind yourself to expect it from Allah (swt) only.

Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh;
Ali Nazari Munfarid, 4