Chapter Three – Is the act of Bayya the pre-requisite for being the lawful Sunni caliph?
In this chapter we shall seek to discuss a truly amazing revision of history by Ibn al Hashmi. History testifies that the founding forefathers of the Khailafath were appointed through methods such as at a gathering at Saqeefa (Abu Bakr), direct appointment by the predecessor (Umar) or through a six man Shura Committee. Ibn al Hashimi asks his Sunni readers to rid themselves of this fact. He in fact suggests that these three methods were not appointments, rather they were merely nominations. The matter was then referred on to the public and it was their act of bayya that in effect rubber stamped these ‘nominations’. Let us leave it to Ibn al Hashimi to explain this incredible take on Islamic history:
Ibn al Hashimi states:
the general public gave their Bayat (pledge of allegiance) to show their acceptance of each of these nominations. As is apparent, this system of nomination was egalatarian in spirit and consistent with fairness.
Reply One – The Imamate of Abu Bakr was not dependent upon the bayya of the Ummah
This is completely false. Ibn al Hashimi is seeking to suggest that the bayya administered to Abu Bakr at Saqifa, his appointing Umar directly, and the 6 man Shura that lead to the appointment of Uthman were merely ‘nominations’ – this is completely falsely. The debate that occurred in Saqifa was over who succeed the Prophet (s) as his successor, and when Umar put forward the name of Abu Bakar – that is a nomination, but immediately without any consultation administered bayya to Abu Bakr, it was not bayya to a nominated Khalifa, rather it was bayya to a man that he recognized as the Khalifa and wanted others to recognize likewise! We would challenge Ibn al-Hashimi to produce any source that would evidence the Shaykhayn informing the Sahaba that Abu Bakr had been ‘nominated’ as Khalifa and the public now had to vote on the validity of the nomination. If there was merely a nomination, then Umar should have asked for an adjournment of the meeting and held back giving bayya, by insisting that shura needed to take place. He could have then brought this nomination before the Sahaba at the Mosque of the Prophet (s) in Madina, set out why he backed this nomination and then after consultation with the Sahaba left it them to decided whether to recognize Abu Bakr as the Khalifa of the Prophet (s). We would be keen to know of the Islamic justification for the actual method used by Umar wherein he issued the name of a nominee and then automatically gave bayya to him, thus excluding every other Sahaba from having a say in the process! One bayya was secured inside Saqifa from Abu Ubayda and the Ansar, once success was attained it was declared at the Mosque of the Prophet (s), and the Sahaba were simply asked to follow suit with the decision at Saqeefa, by giving bayya to Abu Bakr. Shura would involve discussing matters as a means of determining who the Khalifa should be, not informing them of an appointment after it had been secured, so that the only thing the Sahaba were left with was to fall in line with that decision! Exactly the same was the case with Umar, he was appointed by the dying Khalifa as his successor, and the public were now tasked with giving bayya to that appointment. The public Bayya was merely a ratification of these appointments, it’s not like any other candidates could be put forward following these nominations. This is blatant dishonesty. Ibn al Hashimi is falsely asserting that these nominations only turned into actual appointments when general public bayya was given. This is a completely false claim.
Reply Two – The Sunni Ulema have ruled that general bayya is not a pre-requisite to Imamate
It is interesting that the Ulema of Ahl’ul Sunnah have themselves cites these historical appointments as proof that Imamate can be established without any public bayya, rather one person giving bayya shall suffice. Imam Abu Bakar Muhammad bin Abdullah popularly known as Ibn Arabi (d. 543 H) states:
“For a Imam’s bayah, it is not necessary that all people be a part of this rather two or just a single person is suffice”
Sharah Sunan Tirmidhi, Volume 3 page 229
Imam Qurtubi ( d. 671 H) in his commentary of Surah Baqarah verse 20 ‘I am going to appoint a Khalifa upon the earth’ states:
“If only a singe person amongst Ahlul alhil wa Alaqed (the influential ones and those having power) appoints someone as Imam, his Imamate will be legitimate and his act will be Hujjah on the rest of the people. And we oppose the opinion of some people who say that in order to establish Imamate, it is necessary for a group of Ahlul alhil wa Alaqed to be present because our argument is that Umar (ra) had appointed Abu Bakar as Imam while no Sahabi objected at him. This proves that like other Uqud, numbers are not needed for Imamate.”
Tafseer Qurtubi, Volume 1 page 269
Latrer on he stated:
“When someone’s Imamate is established through agreement of Ahlul alhil wa Alaqed or even through a single one amongst Ahlul alhil wa Alaqed, then it will be obligatory on all the people to give their bayah to him”
Tafseer Qurtubi, Volume 1 page 272
Allamah Abul Ma’aali Al-Juwayni (d. 478 H) in his book ‘Al-Irshad fi Al-Kalam’ stated:
“The Imamate of a person that was established through bayah of a single person, it becomes necessary to recognize his Imamate”
Imam of Ahle Sunnah Qadhi Ayji (d. 756 H) in ‘Mawaqif fi Ilm al-Kalam’ [Egypt edition] Volume 8 pages 351-353 states:
“Third reason for the establishment of Imamate. Its summary is that the Imamate is established/enforced by the nass of the Prophet or Nass of the previous Imam and it can also be established by a bayah by Ahlul alhil wa Alaqed, unlike the Shia, our proof is the bayah of Abu Bakr. When this has been proved that Imamate is established via election and bayya, then you should also know that ijma is not a requirement for Imamate because there exists no logical or textual argument about it, apart from Ijma two or just a single person among Ahlul alhil wa Alaqed have the right to appoint someone as Imam because we are aware of the fact that Sahaba were quite strict in religion yet they deem the appointment of a Imam by a single person to be correct, as the appointment of Abu Bakar was made by a single person namely Umar and similarly, Abdurehman alone had appointed Uthman and they had not put the condition for the Ijma of the people of Madina, let alone of the whole Ummah, and this act of them were not disliked by anyone, and from that day till today, the very method is being.”
Imam Mawardi in ‘al Ahkam al Sultaniyya’ page 5, English translation by Professor Wafaa H. Wahba made this point very clear:
“Supreme leadership is established in two ways: selection by the electors, or appointment by a predecessor. There is considerable disagreement among scholars on the number of electors necessary for the valid investment of the sovereign. Some say that he would be invested by no fewer than the “generality” of the electors throughout the land in order for his election to be unanimously approved and his authority universally accepted. This view is refuted by the vote of allegiance to Abu Bakr, may God grant him favour, given by those who were present, without awaiting for the arrival of those who were absent.
Ahkam al Sultaniyah, page 5
These references prove that the suggestion by Ibn al-Hasihmi that the public endorsed the nomination of Abu Bakr is false. We appeal to justice. Ibn al-Hasihmi is seeking to dupe his Sunni readership into believing that there was open debate that lead to Abu Bakr coming to power. This could not be furthest from the truth, Abu Bakr was appointed by the Khalifa inside Saqifa, and the only thing that legitimised the process was Umar giving bayya. Umar put forward his nomination, and without providing any opportunity for discussion that gave his nominee bayya as the Khalifa. There was no Shura, the Sahaba that had no role in the process were merely asked to agree to what had occurred inside the Saqifa, there was no consultation over the Khalifa. Abu Bakr had already been appointed as Khalifa inside Saqifa, in absence of any shura of the Sahaba, Mawardi acknowledges this, and points to this method as a legitimate method to appoint a Khalifa, Ibn al-Hashimi would have us believe that those not party to the Saqifa proceedings i.e. all the Muhajirin minus three, were given the opportunity to vote on the nomination of Abu Bakr at Saqifa, Mawardi is making it clear that there was no such delay to provide others such an opportunity, Abu Bakr was made the Khalifa at Saqifa and that was the end of the matter.
The Sunni Ulema have likewise accept the legitimacy of Imamate, based on a single person giving bayya, and have relied on Umar’s giving bayya to Abu Bakr as proof – that ends any suggestion that there was Shura by the Sahaba over the ‘nomination’ of Abu Bakr at Saqifa. Ibn al-Hashimi needs to read up on history before making such absurd comments.
Similarly with the appointment of Umar, the Sunni Ulema have likewise pointed to the Abu Bakr appointed Umar without reliance on any manner of consultation a sound method of appointment. Mawardi writes further on:
“Investment by the nomination of a predecessor is permissible and correct by general consensus on the basis of two precedents adopted by Muslims and never put in dispute. The first is the appointment by Abu Bakr of ‘Umar, may God grant them his favor, which was accepted by Muslims as sufficient to establish for leadership….”
Ahkam al Sultaniyah, page 9
Ibn al Hashimi’s false inference that the Sahaba had the free choice on whether or not to give bayya to Abu Bakr
As part of his web of lies, Ibn al-Hashimi seeks to convince his readers that all was perfect in the domain of the Sahaba following the death of the Madina, and the people clamored to give their bayya to the Khalifa following the Saqeefa discussions:
Ibn al Hashimi states:
the general public gave their Bayat (pledge of allegiance) to show their acceptance of each of these nominations. As is apparent, this system of nomination was egalatarian in spirit and consistent with fairness.
Reply – Critics of the regime were coerced into giving bayya
Fairness would be if those that were unhappy with such appointments had their opinions accepted, but this was not the case. The Nasibi is suggesting that the ‘general public gave their Bayat (pledge of allegiance) to show their acceptance of each of these nominations’ – let us demonstrate one example of how the general public ‘gave’ their baya and then our readers can decide whether such a method is consistent with fairness. We read in Musnaf of Imam Ibn Abi Shebah, Volume 7 page 432 Tradition 37045:
“Narrated Muhammad bin Bashir from Ubaidllah bin Umar from Zaid bin Aslam that his father Aslam said: ‘When the homage (baya) went to Abu Bakr after the Messenger of Allah, Ali and Zubair were entering into the house of Fatima to consult her and revise their issue, so when Umar came to know about that, he went to Fatima and said : ‘Oh daughter of Messenger of Allah, no one is dearest to us more than your father and no one dearest to us after your father than you, I swear by Allah, if these people gathered in your house then nothing will prevent me from giving order to burn the house and those who are inside.’
So when Umar left, they (Ali and Zubair) came , so she (Fatima) said to them: ‘Do you know that Umar came here and swear by Allah to burn the house if you gather here, I swear by God that he (Umar) will execute his oath, so please leave wisely and take a decision and don’t gather here again.’ So they left her and didn’t gather there till they give baya to Abu Bakr.”
All the narrators are authentic as they are the narrators of Sahih Bukhari & Sahih Muslim. Muhammad bin Bashir: Imam Al-Dahabi said: ‘Thabt’ (Al-Kaashif, v2 p159), Imam Ibn Hajar Asqalani said: ‘Thiqa’ (Taqrib al-Tahdib, v2 p58). Ubaidllah bin Umar: Al-Dahabi said: ‘Thabt’ (Al-Kaashif, v1 p685), Ibn Hajar Asqalani said: ‘Thiqa Thabt’ (Taqrib al-Tahdib, v1 p637). Zaid bin Aslam: Al-Dahabi said: ‘Hujja’ (Siar alam alnubala, v5 p316), Imam Ibn Hajar Asqalani said: ‘Thiqa’ (Taqrib al-Tahdib, v1 p326). Aslam al-Qurashi (the slave of Umar): Al-Dahabi said: ‘Faqih, Imam’ (Siar alam alnubala, v4 p98), Ibn Hajar Asqalani said: ‘Thiqa’ (Taqrib al-Tahdib, v1 p88).
This is the fair approach via which bayya was secured during the reign of Abu Bakr, wherein those opposed to the appointment are threatened with murder. Subhanallah! As you can see from this example, it is not so much that ‘the general public gave their Bayat’ rather ‘the general public was forced to give their Bayat’.
Ibn al Hashimi’s failure to highlight the other non egalitarian methods that entitles a man to be Khaleefs
We find it amazing as to why Ibn al Hashimi only presented the four methods for determining the Khalifa of the Prophet (s), methods that he defined as ‘egalitarian in spirit’. We wonder why he failed to cite all the methods of appointing the Khalifa of the Prophet (s) in Sunni Islam so that their readers would be in a better position to conclude whether the Sunni doctrine of Imamate is indeed ‘egalitarian in spirit and consistent with fairness’.
In addition to the above four methods that we have commented allow us to cite the other options available on the Sunni Imamah menu. Qadhi Abu Ya’ala in ‘Ahkam al Sulatniya’ pages 7-11 states that Imamate can be secured via force / coercion, enter into some agreement is unnecessary:
“Imamate can be established through force and triumph and there is no need of selection by anyone amongst Alaqed (those having power)”
Then we also read:
“If anyone that attains power via sword and becomes the Khalifa and begin to call himself Ameer al-Momineen (master of the believers), then anyone who believes on Allah [swt] and the last Day is not permitted to spend even a night without recognising him as the Imam, whether he be pious or a transgressor, he is Ameer al-Momineen”
Moroever he states:
“If someone rebels against a Imam, both of them have some followers with them then the Friday prayers shall offered with the group that triumph and its proof is that Ibn Umar used to offer prayers with the people of Madina [Yazeedies] during the episode of Harra, and he used to say: ‘We are with the one who has triumph’”
Al Akhkam, pages 7-8
The Imam of the two Holy Sites Allamah Abul Ma’aali Al-Juwayni (d. 478 H) in his book ‘Al-Irshad fi Al-Kalam’ wrote discussing the ‘powers of the Imam’ said on page 424:
“You should know that Ijma is not a requirement for Imamate. Imamate without ijmaa is established and its proof is that the moment the Imamate of Abu Bakr was established, he began to execute the matters of Muslims, he did not await for the opinion of the Sahabah who lived far across but till today, no one criticized this act of Abu Bakar. There is no requirement of ijmaa in Imamate and also it is clueless to identify some individuals and to define the limitations of Ijmaa is useless as well. Establishing the Imamate is proven through a byaah by a single person amongst the Ahlul alhil wa alaqed (the influential ones and those having power)”
We appeal to justice, do you believe that attaining Imamate through force and tyranny is ‘egalitarian in spirit and consistent with fairness’? If it is not, why have your Sunni Ulema never ruled against such forms of Imamah? The admission that the Imamate through force and dictatorship proves that in Sunni Islam there is no requirement for the station of Imamate to be ‘egalitarian in spirit and consistent with fairness’ – and for the author to suggest that it is by only partially presenting the Sunni doctrine of Imamate, and even then incorrectly is the height of dishonesty. Qadhi Abu Yaala was pointing out that even after the event of Harra, Ibn Umar still deemed the Caliphate of Yazeed rightful. Harra occurred when the Sahaba broke their allegiance to Yazeed, following the tragedy of Karbala. Yazeed responded by giving his troops free reign to ransack Madina for three days, during which time male Sahaba were slaughtered and their women were raped, and despite this Ibn Umar still deemed this Caliphate rightful, and Ibn al-Hashimi would no doubt describe raping political opponents in complete accordance with the egalitarian spirit and fairness associated with the Sunni doctrine of Imamate.
Let us now bring all of these methods together:
- Allah [swt] and his Prophet (s) have no position in relation to his (s) succession; rather it is down to the self determination of the people. They can appoint whoever they like.
- The Khalifa is appointed via ijmaa, it does not mean that every Muslim has a say in the process, nor does there need to be some ‘All World Muslim Conference’ wherein the issue is discussed and a candidate appointed. If a Islamic group gather together appoint a Khalifa, and administer bayya, that person becomes the Khalifa. All Muslims will be duty bound to accept him and obey him.
- If a small secret committee of individuals, (who have not been appointed through some large gathering, rather have been chosen by one individual) gather and agree upon a candidate he becomes the Khalifa for the entire Muslim Ummah.
- If the present Khalifa appoints an heir apparent to succeed him upon death, he automatically becomes the Khalifa of the Muslims, the Ummah will be duty bound to obey him.
- Even if one attains power in the absence of the above methods, rather he attains power by whatever method, and secures control through force, and forces people into submission, he is the rightful Khalifa.
- The Khalifa does not have to be infallible, he does not even have to be of good character, an alcoholic, fornicator in the seat of power must be recognized as the Khalifa of the Prophet (s) and must be obeyed likewise.
Now we appeal to justice, these are the methods adopted by Ibn al-Hashimi’s pious predecessors, that history has recorded, and the Sunni Ulema have deemed as legitimate methods for become the Imam over Muslims. Despite the fact that none of the methods concur with one another, the Ahl’ul Sunnah have ruled on all to be the correct mechanism for having the Khalifa of the Prophet in power, whose obedience is on par with obedience to Allah [swt] and his Prophet (s). Can the above methods be described as ‘egalitarian in spirit and consistent with fairness’ as Ibn al Hashimi would have us believe is the Sunni stance on Imamate? The terms ‘egalitarian in spirit and consistent with fairness’ would suggest that all Muslims have an equal right to stand as Khalifas, and that the entire Muslim Ummah are valued stakeholders with a voice in deciding who the Khalifa of the Prophet (s) should be. The above methods certainly wouldn’t suggest that to be the case, and when it came to the first three Khalifas appointed, all that the Muslims were required to do was give their bayya to the appointment.
The Sunni Ulema have acknowledged that appointing the Khalifa on the basis of nass (textual proof) is permissible
Ibn al-Hashimi attacks the Shia doctrine of divine appointment by nass, because it excludes all other Muslims from either becoming Khalifas, or having a say in the appointment process, hence it is non egalitarian and unfair in spirit. One wonders why would adhere to such a position, when the Sunni Ulema have themselves cited nass as a valid method for appointing a Khalifa. When the Sunni Ulema have ruled on the validity of appointment through nass that revolves the right of all others to have a say in the choice of the Khalifa, then Ibn al-Hashimi is left with no legitimate basis for attacking the Shia for adhering to exactly the same doctrine! We shall now cite the opinions of those Sunni Ulema that have cited the soundness of appointing the Khalifa via this ‘no egalitarian / unfair process’. Let us start with Sharh Mawaqif, page 732 (Luknow):
“The third way among those that establishes the Imamate, because a person will not become Imam just because he has that capability and possesses the combination of those conditions that are required to become a Imam, rather there are some other things as well which are required. One method is through Nass of a prophet or of the previous Imam. This method is correct according to Ijma. The other method is through the bayya Ahlul alhil wa alaqed, this is the belief of the Ahl’ul Sunah, Mutazzilites and the Saliyah group from the Zaydites, but majority of the Shias are against this, they say that there is no other method save nass.”
We read in Sawaiqh al Muhriqa, page 27:
“Imamate is established either by the existing Imam appointing a competent person via nass, or the influential ones and those having power (Ahlul alhil wa alaqed) appointing a competent candidate, or via methods that have been commented upon at relevant places”
Sawaiqh al Muhriqa, page 27
Imam Fakhrudeen Radhi in Ma’alim Al-Usool Al-Deen, page 158 stated:
“The ijmaa of the entire Ummah is that Imamate can be established through nass, but can this also be established through election by common men, yes or no! The Ahl’ul Sunnah and Muttazilites believe that it can whilst the Ithna Ashariya Sect believe that it can’t be without nass.”
About an existing Imam directly appointing next Imam, esteemed Sunni scholar Al-Nawawi records in his book Al-Minhaj, Volume 12, page 205:
“The Muslims are unanimous that if the sign of death appears on the Caliph or even before that, it is allowed for him to appoint a successor…”
From these quotes it is clear that the Shia doctrine of Imamate on the basis of nass is a method which is acceptable to the Sunni ulema, the differences that exist are with regards to the other methods of appointment. Ibn Hashimi will now have to accept that the Shia doctrine of Imamate via nass, whilst no egalitarian in spirit, and may not conform to the doctrine of Shura, but is sound under the Shari’ah, and why shouldn’t it be, after all some groups of the supporters of Abu Bakr have themselves sort to evidence his right to be Khalifa through nass. Famed Salafi scholar Saleh bin Abdulaziz al-Sheikh records in ‘Sharah Al-Aqeeda Tahawiyah’ Volume 1 page 636:
“The first opinion is that the khilafa of Abu bakr al-Sidiq (ra) is proven by unequivocal Nass…This opinion is adopted by a large group of Ahlulhadith and same is the opinion of Imam Abi Abdullah Ahmad bin Hanbal and his companions the Hanblis, and large group of Shafiyees, and it is adopted by Ibn Hazam too and a group of Zahria.”
And then the Salafi scholar gives his own verdict about the correct method via which Abu Bakar was appointed:
“Among these, the correct opinion is the first one, which is has been proven by unequivocal nass.”
Sharah Al-Aqeeda Tahawiyah, Volume 1 page 636
Similarly, these are the words of Ibn al-Hashimi’s own beloved Imam Ibn Taymiyah in ‘Minhaj as Sunnah’ Volume 1 pages 486-487:
“There are many groups from amongst the Ahl’ul Sunnah that believe that the Imamate of Abu Bakr can be evidenced through nass. On this issue there exists a difference of opinion with Imam Ahmad and the other scholars and in relation to this, the Qadhi Abu Ya’ala have narrated two traditions from Imam Ahmad, the first one is that his Imamate was established through election of people and this view was adopted by a group from the Ahl’ul Hadeeth, the Muttazlia and the Asharias, and same is the opinion of Qadhi Abu Yala. The other is that it is through hidden Nass and indication, and is belief is adopted by Hasan al Basri, a group of Ahl’ul Hadeeth, Abu Bakar binte Abdul Wahid and the Bahisia sect of Khwaarij. Shaykh Abu Abdullah bin Hamid said that the proof that Abu Bakr was eligible to be the Khalifa while the Ahl’ul bayt and other Sahaba were not, comes from both Quran and Sunnah. He stated that our Ulema had disagreement whether Khilfat was proven from Nass or from Istidlaal (inference). A group among us believe that this is proven by Nass and the Prophet mention it as Nass and specifically appointed Abu Bakar, some scholars say that it was through Istidlaal”
Minhaj as Sunnah, Volume 1 pages 486-487
After this the Nasibi cited various narrations to prove the khilafat of Abu Bakr. If Nawasib such as ibn-al Hashimi attack the Shia belief that the khilafat of Ali (as) is through nass, we cannot be accused of possessing non egalitarian principles, when his beloved Sunni Ulema, most notably Ibn Taymiyah believed that it is valid to believe that Imamate can be proven through nass.
- Was Shura the actual method via which the past caliphs were appointed?
- Is the act of Bayya the pre-requisite for being the lawful Sunni caliph?
- The pure monotheistic lineage of Prophets and Imams (as)
- Does hereditary leadership contravene Islamic principles of equality?
- Imamate and Taqwa
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