The Distinction Between a Prophet-King and a Slave-Messenger

Imam ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di devoted a section of his thematic tafsir to Some of the Benefits Derived from the Story of Dawood and Sulaiman. In this chapter, he mentioned the following point:

ومنها: أن سليمان كان ملكا نبيا مباح له أن يفعل ما يريد، ولكنه لكماله لا يريد إلا الخير والعدل، وهذا بخلاف النبي العبد، فإنه لا يكون له إرادة مستقلة، بل إرادته تابعة لمراد الله منه، فلا يفعل ولا يترك إلا تبعا للأمر، كحال نبينا محمد ﷺ . ـ

And from the benefits: That Sulaiman was a Prophet-King, it being permissible for him to do what he wanted. However, due to his excellent completeness, he did not want anything other than good and justice. And this is in contrast to the Slave-Prophet, for that one does not have an independent will – rather his will characteristically follows what Allah wants of him. So he neither does nor leaves off anything except that he is following a command, like the case of our prophet Muhammad (ﷺ).

[Taysir al-Lateef al-Manaan pg. 356]

And he mentioned something similar in his well-known tafsir:

 ومنها: أن سليمان عليه السلام، كان ملكا نبيا، يفعل ما أراد، ولكنه لا يريد إلا العدل، بخلاف النبي العبد، فإنه تكون إرادته تابعة لأمر اللّه، فلا يفعل ولا يترك إلا بالأمر، كحال نبينا محمد صلى اللّه عليه وسلم، وهذه الحال أكمل. ـ

And from the benefits: That Sulaiman (‘alaihi al-salaam) was was Prophet-King; he acts as he wants, however he did not want anything except for justice. This is in contrast to the Slave-Prophet, for verily his will is in accordance with the command of Allah. So he neither does nor leaves off anything except according to a command, like the condition of Muhammad (ﷺ), and this condition is more perfect.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 839]

Sheikh al-Islaam ibn Taymiyah also touched on this subject in his work The Criterion between the Allies of the Most Merciful and the Allies of the Shaytaan. Immeditaly following a discussion on the different levels of the awliyaa’, he writes:

ونظير هذا انقسام الأنبياء عليهم السلام إلى عبد رسول ونبي ملك، وقد خير الله محمداً صلى الله عليه وسلم بين أن يكون عبداً رسولاً وبين أن يكون نبياً ملكاً، فاختار أن يكون عبداً رسولاً، فالنبي الملك مثل داود وسليمان ونحوهما عليهما الصلاة والسلام، قال الله تعالى في قصة سليمان الذي {قَالَ رَبِّ اغْفِرْ لِي وَهَبْ لِي مُلْكًا لا يَنْبَغِي لِأَحَدٍ مِنْ بَعْدِي إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْوَهَّابُ * فَسَخَّرْنَا لَهُ الرِّيحَ تَجْرِي بِأَمْرِهِ رُخَاءً حَيْثُ أَصَابَ * وَالشَّيَاطِينَ كُلَّ بَنَّاءٍ وَغَوَّاصٍ * وَآخَرِينَ مُقَرَّنِينَ فِي الأَصْفَادِ * هَذَا عَطَاؤُنَا فَامْنُنْ أَوْ أَمْسِكْ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ} [ص:35 – 39] أي: اعط من شئت واحرم من شئت، لا حساب عليك، فالنبي الملك يفعل ما فرض الله عليه، ويترك ما حرم الله عليه، ويتصرف في الولاية والمال بما يحبه ويختاره من غير إثم عليه، ـ

And the parallel to that is the categorization of the prophets (‘alaihim al-salaam) into Slave-Messengers and Prophet-Kings. And Allah had given the Muhammad (ﷺ) a choice between being a Slave-Messenger or being a Prophet-King, so he chose to be a Slave-Messenger. The Prophet-King is like Dawood, Sulaiman and the likes of them (‘alaihima al-salaatu w’al-salaam). Allah said during the story of Sulaiman,

الَ رَ‌بِّ اغْفِرْ‌ لِي وَهَبْ لِي مُلْكًا لَّا يَنبَغِي لِأَحَدٍ مِّن بَعْدِي ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْوَهَّابُ * فَسَخَّرْ‌نَا لَهُ الرِّ‌يحَ تَجْرِ‌ي بِأَمْرِ‌هِ رُ‌خَاءً حَيْثُ أَصَابَ * وَالشَّيَاطِينَ كُلَّ بَنَّاءٍ وَغَوَّاصٍ * وَآخَرِ‌ينَ مُقَرَّ‌نِينَ فِي الْأَصْفَادِ * هَـٰذَا عَطَاؤُنَا فَامْنُنْ أَوْ أَمْسِكْ بِغَيْرِ‌ حِسَابٍ

He said, “My Lord, forgive me and grant me a kingdom such as will not belong to anyone after me. Indeed, You are the Bestower.” * So We subjected to him the wind blowing by his command, gently, wherever he directed, * And [also] the devils [of jinn] – every builder and diver * And others bound together in shackles. * [We said], “This is Our gift, so grant or withhold without account.” * And indeed, for him is nearness to Us and a good place of return. [38:35-39]

Meaning: Give to whom you wish and deprive whom you wish – you will not be taken to account, for the Prophet-King does what Allah made obligatory for him and abandons what Allah made unlawful for him, and proceeds with the rulership and finances as he likes and as he chooses without incurring any wrongdoing on himself.

وأما العبد الرسول فلا يعطي أحداً إلا بأمر ربه ولا يعطي من يشاء ويحرم، بل روي عنه أنه قال: (إني والله لا أعطي أحداً ولا أمنع أحداً، إنما أنا قاسم أضع حيث أمرت)، ولهذا يضيف الله الأموال الشرعية إلى الله والرسول كقوله: {قُلِ الأَنْفَالُ لِلَّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ} [الأنفال:1]، وقوله تعالى: {ومَا أَفَاءَ اللَّهُ عَلَى رَسُولِهِ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْقُرَى فَلِلَّهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ} [الحشر:7]، وقوله تعالى: {وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا غَنِمْتُمْ مِنْ شَيْءٍ فَأَنَّ لِلَّهِ خُمُسَهُ وَلِلرَّسُولِ} [الأنفال:41] . ـ

As for the Slave-Messenger, then he does not give anything except according to the command of his Lord nor does he give to whom he wills nor deprive whom he wills – rather it is narrated from him that he said, “Verily, by Allah, I do not give anything nor do I withhold anything; I am only a distributor and I place things where I am commanded,” [al-Bukhari]. So for this reason, Allah attributed the sharee’ah funds to Allah and the Messenger, such as His statement, “Say, ‘The bounties are for Allah and the Messenger,’” [8:1], and His statement, “And what Allah restored to His Messenger from the people of the towns – it is for Allah and for the Messenger…” [59:7], and His statement, “And know that anything you obtain of war booty – then indeed, for Allah is one fifth of it and for the Messenger…” [8:41]

 ولهذا كان أظهر أقوال العلماء أن هذه الأموال تصرف فيما يحبه الله ورسوله بحسب اجتهاد ولي الأمر كما هو مذهب مالك وغيره من السلف ويذكر هذا رواية عن أحمد وقد قيل في الخمس أنه يقسم على خمسة كقول الشافعي وأحمد في المعروف عنه وقيل : على ثلاثة كقول أبي حنيفة رحمه الله .ـ

And so due to this, the most clear of the statements of the scholars is that these funds were managed according to what Allah and His messenger love, according to the ijtihaad (independent judgement) of the ruler, as is the madhhab of Maalik and others from the salaf and this narration is mentioned from Ahmad. And concerning the khams (fifth of the spoils of the war given to the discretion of the ruler), it is said that it is divided into fifths, such as the statement of al-Shaafi’ and Ahmad in what is well-known from him. And it is said ‘into thirds’, such as the statement of Abu Haneefah (rahimahullaah).

و ” المقصود هنا ” أن العبد الرسول هو أفضل من النبي الملك كما أن إبراهيم وموسى وعيسى ومحمدا عليهم الصلاة والسلام أفضل من يوسف وداود وسليمان عليهم السلام كما أن المقربين السابقين أفضل من الأبرار أصحاب اليمين الذين ليسوا مقربين سابقين فمن أدى ما أوجب الله عليه وفعل من المباحات ما يحبه فهو من هؤلاء ومن كان إنما يفعل ما يحبه الله ويرضاه ويقصد أن يستعين بما أبيح له على ما أمره الله فهو من أولئك . ـ

And the point here is that the Slave-Messenger is better than the Prophet-King, just as Ibrahim, Moosaa, ‘Eesaa and Muhammad (‘alaihim al-salaatu w’al-salaam) are better than Yusuf, Dawood and Sulaiman (‘alaihim al-salaam), and just as al-muqarrabeen al-saabiqeen are better than al-abrar – the companions of the right – those who are not the muqarrabeen saabiqeen. So whoever performs what Allah has made obligatory for him and does the permissible acts which he likes, then he is one of these (the first group). And whoever only does what Allah loves and is pleased with and he intends to seek the aid of what Allah has made permissible for him for doing what Allah has commanded him, then he is one of the those (the second group).

[Majmoo’ al-Fataawa 11/181-182]

See also: The Difference between a Prophet and a Messenger: Imam al-Shinqitee

See also: “Work, O family of Dawood, in gratitude”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: The Levels of the Believers: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: The rewards of obedience, and the different categories of people in respects to that: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: “Those of determination among the messengers”: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “The Distinction Between a Prophet-King and a Slave-Messenger

  1. Pingback: The Levels of the Believers: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: The Difference between a Prophet and a Messenger: Imam al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: “Those of determination among the messengers”: Tafsir al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

  4. Pingback: Moosaa, Muhammad & Adam – the Messengers to whom Allah spoke: Tafsir al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

  5. Pingback: Those Messengers whom Allah Raised in Degree: Tafsir al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s