Chapter Six:  Burial of the Prophet (s) 

 

In this chapter we first set out our claims with regards to matters ignored at Saqifa.  We will thereafter each defence of Ibn al Hashimi followed by our replies to such defences of Ibn al-Hashimi.

 

Our first claim: That the Saqifa meeting was given preference to the Prophet (saaws)’s funeral

This is an attested fact. These prominent men were debating over the Prophet (saaws)’s successor whilst his body was being laid to rest. Is this not truly amazing?

Reply – Only close relatives should deal with burial rites

Ibn al Hashimi emotively argues:

Perhaps this is an attested fact in opposite world or in Alice and Wonderland. Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) and Umar (رضّى الله عنه) did not at all miss the Prophet’s funeral, not even one single moment of it. Although our Shia brothers imply that Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) missed out on the Prophet’s funeral, this is actually not true at all. After he saved the Ummah at Saqifah, Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) rushed back to help with the Prophet’s funeral. In fact, the only thing that Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) missed out on was washing the Prophet’s body, something which is anyways done by the near relatives according to Islamic custom. So we ask our Shia brothers: what exactly did Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) miss out on?

We read:

“The dead body should preferably be washed by a relative.”

(Everyday Fiqh, Vol.1, by Abdul Aziz Kamal, http://muslim-canada.org/fiqhch29.html)

Furthermore, only a small handful of people should be present, no more than is absolutely necessary. The reason for this is to maintain the Haya of the body. We read:

“At the washing, only people whose presence is needed may stay.”

(Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Vol.4, Sayyid Saabiq)

And we read further:

The majority of jurists are of the opinion that washing the body of a dead Muslim is a fard kifayah or a collective obligation. If some people attend to it, it is done on behalf of all, as commanded by Allah’s Messenger, peace be upon him, and practiced by the Muslim community.

(Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Vol.4, Sayyid Saabiq)

In other words:

1. The Prophet’s body should have been washed by his close relatives.
2. No other extra person should be present except those absolutely necessary from amongst his relatives.
3. The obligation to wash the Prophet’s body is a communal obligation; the Prophet’s relatives removed any obligation from the shoulders of the rest of the community, including Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) and Umar (رضّى الله عنه) .

Had Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) or Umar (رضّى الله عنه) insisted upon washing the body, then this would have been wrong, as is clear from one who knows Fiqh. As for the Prophet’s funeral, not only did Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) help out with the burial, he was actually the one who is credited with deciding where the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) was to be buried. We read:

Our first reply - You cannot apply general Fiqh rules to that of the funeral of the Prophet (s)!

Let us just consider what Ibn al Hashimi has argued based on books of Sunni Fiqh:

  • Only relatives need to partake in the funeral rites of the deceased
  • Not too many people should be present

This might be that Sunni scholars have ruled on over time, but lest not forget this is a general rule for the average Muslim, can it really be applied to the burial of Rasulullah (s)?   If it is, then we invite Ibn al Hashimi to evidence the abovementioned rulings from the Quran and Sunnah.  If they cannot be deduced from theses two sources then the Sunni rulings mean nothing to us, they have been deduced decades after the death of Rasulullah (s)!  Moreover we would invite Ibn al Hashimi to show us any authentic narration from his Shaikhain clients wherein they have explained their absence on the basis of the Sunni fiqh rulings.  If he cannot, then he has no basis to present this argument.

This was no ordinary funeral, we are talking about the funeral rites of Rasulullah (s), it might be “preferable” in the case of the ordinary believer, but not when we are discussing the burial rites of the Prophet (s).

 

Our second reply - Ibn al Hashimi’s double standards have been laid bare

On the one hand Ibn al Hashimi is arguing that those closest to the Prophet (s) as in Imam Ali (as) had a religious duty to tend to the body of Rasulullah (s), and yet he himself goes to considerable lengths to prove that Abu Bakr was the closest to Rasulullah (s) and that he (s) referred to as “his brother”!  What a clear double standard.  Moreover Ibn al Hashimi should be reminded that Abu Bakr was related to Rasulullah (s) in that he was his father in law, so had a responsibility to be present at the burial rites!

 

Our second claim – no reasonable person would deem the Saqifa shenanigans as acceptable

It is common for a person to become the subject of stern condemnation and ridicule if he fails to attend a friend or relatives funeral. It can lead to friendships ending and families becoming divided because we will all die one day and it is expected that those closely linked to the deceased will attend. Relatives frequently fly thousands of miles to reach a deceased loved one’s funeral. Compare this to men who were close associates of the Holy Prophet (saaws). Rather than remain close to him and participate in his funeral they departed from the very room where his body was laid to rest, entered the debate at Saqifa, never looking back, never asking for proceedings to be delayed until after the funeral, they preferred the lengthy discussion of who will lead the Ummah than the funeral of the Leader of mankind. We would ask our readers to spare some time to these points. Lest there remain any doubt over the events as described by us we will shall quote the words of the Hanafi scholar, Allamah Shibli Numani:

“It is apparently surprising that no sooner did the Prophet die than the struggle for Caliphate commenced and even the burial of the body of the Founder of Islam became a matter of secondary consideration in the quarrels that arose over the question of succession. Who can for a moment conceive the spectacle of the Prophet lying dead, while those who asserted their love and attachment towards him in his lifetime, without even waiting to look to his remains being suitably interred, were hurrying away to see that others did not secure the headship of the state for themselves!

It is still more surprising that this act is attributed to the persons (Abu Bakr and Omar) who are the brightest stars of the Islamic firmament and the unpleasantness of the act becomes still more poignant when it is remembered that those persons who were connected with the Prophet by ties of blood and kinsmanship (‘Ali and the Banu Hashim) were naturally affected by his death and the sad bereavement prostrated them with grief, which, coupled with their anxiety to perform the last offices to the dead, hardly left the room for ulterior considerations”.
Al Farooq, by Allamah Shibli Numani, translated by Maulana Zafar Ali Khan Vol 1 p 85-86

It is for this precise reason that in our first edition of this article we drew the following conclusion:

In the end what transpired at the Saqifa is astounding, even to the casual observer. Even Shibli Numani, a die-hard defender of the institution, has written of the event with much astonishment based upon his pre-suppositions of the character of those involved at the Saqifa.

Shibli was highlighting how the casual observer would view Saqifa, which is what we are stating. Naturally this comment sat uneasy with him so he sought to defend his client as best he could.

Reply – Numani was merely refuting Shia claims

Ibn al Hashimi argues:

The deception of the Shia knows no bounds! Here, we see one common tactic used by the lovers of Taqiyyah, namely quoting only half of the text dramatically out of context. Allamah Shibli Numani’s book “Al-Farooq” is about the life of Umar ibn al-Khattab (رضّى الله عنه) . In it, Allamah Numani refutes much of the propaganda levied against Umar (رضّى الله عنه) , particularly by Shia and Orientalists. Here, Allamah Numani is reproducing the Shia arguments and accusations against Umar (رضّى الله عنه) in order that he may then refute them. What Answering-Ansar has done is to quote the first part in which Allamah Numani is quoting the Shia arguments and then claiming that this is what Allamah Numani believed! In fact, what Answering-Ansar has quoted is not at all what Allamah Numani believed, but rather it is what he refuted.

The very next line which comes after what Answering-Ansar quoted, reads as follows:

We admit that works on Tradition and Biography seemingly impress one’s mind with the same notion, but such is not the case if facts are inquired into.

(Al-Farooq, by Allamah Shibli Numani, Vol.1, p.86)

In refuting the conclusion that we had drawn Ibn al Hashimi states at another point:

What utter deception by the lovers of Taqiyyah! Allamah Numani was not at all surprised by anything but rather he was saying “it may seem surprising, but…

Our Reply – Numani has not cited Shia opinion

Ibn al Hashimi has no right to accuse anyone of deception when he adheres to a Sect whose entire modus operandi for refuting the Shia is misquoting Shia narrations out of context and even altering meanings to get their way!  Now turning to the text, Numani is setting out a common perception based on this historical event:

It is apparently surprising that no sooner did the Prophet die than the struggle for Caliphate commenced and even the burial of the body of the Founder of Islam became a matter of secondary consideration in the quarrels.

Where is Numani referring to the Shia and Orientalists here?  He is setting out how the events of Saqifa would be viewed when read by an outsider, so what is the objection if we quoted just that?

Naturally as an ardent adherent of Umar he then sought to allay such concerns with some feeble defences that Ibn al Hashimi sought solace from, that we shall address below, we will address each one, suffice it to say at this point that Shibli was highlighting how the casual observer would view Saqifa, which is what we are stating.

Defence One – The Shaikhain did not raise the issue of Caliphate

Ibn al Hashimi argues:

1. Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) and Umar (رضّى الله عنه) did not raise the question of the Caliphate. In fact, it was the Ansars who rushed to Saqifah in order to elect Saad ibn Ubaadah (رضّى الله عنه) as Caliph. As for Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) , when he heard the news, the first thing he did was rush towards the Prophet’s house, not rush towards the Caliphate! We read:

Abu Bakr came from his house at As-Sunh on a horse. He dismounted and entered the (Prophet’s) Mosque, but did not speak to the people till he entered upon Aisha and went straight to Allah’s Apostle who was covered with Hibra cloth (i.e. a kind of Yemeni cloth). He then uncovered the Prophet’s face and bowed over him and kissed him and wept, saying, “Let my father and mother be sacrificed for you…”

(Sahih Bukhari: Volume 5, Book 59, Number 733)

 

Our reply – The Shaikhain were waiting to make their move and Saqifa was the opportunity to do just that

Whilst we accept that the Ansar had gathered, it was to counter a reality that they were facing, that plots were afoot to wrest power from the true successor of the Prophet (s), Ali ibn Abi Talib (as).  One voice of discontent was raised when Rasulullah (s) returned to Madina following the coronation of Ali (as) at Ghadir Khumm as recorded by the renowned imam of Ahl’ul Sunnah Halabi and others who recorded the event as follows:

On the day of Ghadir the Messenger of Allah summoned the people toward ‘Ali and said: “Ali is the mawla of whom I am mawla.” The news spread quickly all over urban and rural areas. When Harith Ibn Nu’man al-Fahri (or Nadhr Ibn Harith according to another tradition) came to know of it, he rode his camel and came to Madinah and went to the Messenger of Allah [s] and said to him: “You commanded us to testify that there is no deity but Allah and that you are the Messenger of Allah. We obeyed you. You ordered us to perform the prayers five times a day and we obeyed. You ordered us to observe fasts during the month of Ramadhan and we obeyed. Then you commanded us to offer pilgrimage to Makkah and we obeyed. But you are not satisfied with all this and you raised your cousin by your hand and imposed him upon us as our master by saying `Ali is the mawla of whom I am mawla.’ Is this imposition from Allah or from you?”
The Prophet [s] said: “By Allah who is the only deity! This is from Allah, the Mighty and the Glorious.”
On hearing this Harith turned back and proceeded towards his she-camel saying: “O Allah! If what Muhammad said is correct then fling on us a stone from the sky and subject us to severe pain and torture.” He had not reached his she-camel when Allah, who is above all defects, flung at him a stone which struck him on his head, penetrated his body and passed out through his lower body and left him dead. It was on this occasion that Allah, the exalted, caused to descend the following verses:
“A questioner questioned about the punishment to fall. For the disbelievers there is nothing to avert it, from Allah the Lord of the Ascent.” (70:1-3)

  1. al-Sirah al-Halabiyah, by Noor al-Din Ali bin Burhan ud-din al-Halabi, v3, part 2, page 336 & 337.
  2. Al-Kashaf wal Bayan fi Tafsir al Quran by Abu Ishaq Thalabi, commentary of verse 70:1-3. The Tafsir can be downloaded from Wahabi/Salafi website
    Download from almeshkat.net
  3. Nur al-Absar, Shaykh Shiblanji, p119
  4. Mufti Ghulam Rasool quoted the same incident from ‘Tadkiratul Khawwas’ page 39 in his book
    Imam Zain al Abdeen, pages 49-51
  5.   Tafseer Qurtubi, under the commentary of 70:2.
  6. Faiz al Qadeer Shrah Jami al-Sagheer by Imam Abdurauf al-Munawi, Volume 6 page 218 No. 9000

Harith was clearly representing a perceived viewpoint since this was an insignificant figure yet some individuals must have goaded him enough to remonstrate over the appointment of Ali (as).  Watching this the Ansar had become aware that plans were afoot to prevent the true successor of Rasulullah (s) from coming to power.  If this was just a one off outburst then the efforts of Umar and his supporters to put to writing his successor that would act as his written affirmation of his successor as a permanent reminder for the Ummah ad infinitum made it abundantly clear that a plan was in full flow to stymie the rightful succession of Ali (as).  Faced with this approach the Ansar had merely gathered to discuss a strategy to counter the machinations of certain Muhajrin of which Umar was no doubt at the helm.  It was amidst this tension, that Umar was notified of the meeting, now what better opportunity was there than one wherein the issue could be forced at a house in secret whilst the Ummah were mourning the loss of the Prophet (s)?  The chance had come and Umar seized it, as we have discussed previously a Tabari narration informs us that Umar who (as per the claim of Ibn al Hashimi) was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder) just hours earlier, was heading to Saqifa and running through the speech in his mind that he would make before the Ansar.  Saqifa merely provided the excuse via which the Sheikhain could implement their coup.  The fact that Ansar had gathered to appoint a successor was irrelevant, they didn’t have the power to take control over a city wherein the Muhajirin were the majority, they were simply positioning themselves to counter the emerging machinations of certain Muhajirin.

 

Defense Two – The Sheikhain were in effect forced to go to Saqifa

Ibn al Hashimi argues:

2. Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) and Umar (رضّى الله عنه) did not want to go to Saqifah at all; they did not want to be disturbed whilst they were with the Prophet’s body. In fact, they had to be cajoled into going by a man named Mughirah bin Shubah (رضّى الله عنه) who approached Umar (رضّى الله عنه) and notified him of an impending emergency. We read:

It is related by Umar that as they were seated in the Prophet’s house, a man cried out all of a sudden from outside: “O Son of Khattab (i.e. Umar), pray step out for a moment.” Umar told him to leave them alone and go away as they were busy in making arrangements for the burial of the Prophet. The man replied that an incident had occurred: the Ansar were gathering in force at Saqifah Bani Sa’idah, and–as the situation was grave–it was necessary that he (Umar) should go and look into the matter lest the Ansar should do something which would lead to a (civil) war. On this, Umar said to Abu Bakr: “Let us go.”

(Al-Farooq, by Allamah Shibli Numani, Vol 1, p.87)

Based on what the Shia have quoted on their very own website, we see that the matter was not at all as our Shia brothers portray. Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) and Umar (رضّى الله عنه) were devastated by the Prophet’s death and they wanted very much to stay with the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم). In fact, “Umar told him to leave them alone and go away as they were busy in making arrangements for the burial of the Prophet.” Umar (رضّى الله عنه) was only convinced when the man said that the Ansar were about to do something that would lead to a civil war. Likewise, when Umar (رضّى الله عنه) first informed Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) that they must head out towards Saqifah, Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) refused to come out and disregarded Umar (رضّى الله عنه) ; it was only when Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) was convinced of the dire situation that he was able to pull himself away from the Prophet’s side. We read:

Umar learned of this (i.e. the gathering of the Ansar at Saqifah) and went to the Prophet’s house and sent (a message) to Abu Bakr, who was in the building…[Umar] sent a message to Abu Bakr to come to him. Abu Bakr sent back (a message) that he was occupied (i.e. with caring for the Prophet’s body), but Umar sent him another message, saying: “Something (terrible) has happened that you must attend to personally.” So he (Abu Bakr) came out to him…

(The History of al-Tabari, Vol.10, p.3)

The Shaikhayn very much wanted to stay with the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) throughout his funeral, and they were only persuaded to come out because of the warnings of a third man who implored upon them to save the Ummah from civil war.

Our Reply – The Sheikhain didn’t need much persuasion to go

We would like to know how Mughira knew that the Ansar had gathered to elect a leader from amongst themselves and were planning a war on the Muhajirin?  He was not inside so did he come to this conclusion?    History testifies that Umar was very risk averse when it came to battles, he never so much as broke a toe nail in Jihad let alone suffer injuries on the battlefield, so how was he prepared to go into the lion’s den and challenge the Ansar who were allegedly preparing for war?  The Sheikhain knew that there was no threat of war, if that was the case Umar would have summoned men to head off the threat there and then.  They were aware that no such threat existed, which is why the restricted attendance to three individuals.  The fact is it didn’t take much to convince the Sheikhain , it dawned on them that the opportunity to seize the moment had arrived, hence their abandoning the burial rites of Rasulullah (s).

 

Defence Three  - The Sheikhain went to avert a national crisis, as Rasulullah (s) would have expected them to do

Ibn al Hashimi argues:

4. Before resorting to highly emotional arguments, we must realize that Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) and Umar (رضّى الله عنه) were more than justified in setting out for Saqifah due to the outstanding circumstances. Answering-Ansar has made many claims about how missing a funeral is not proper, but they have not at all taken into consideration the state of national emergency, in which the ordinary rules cannot apply. Had the two not left the Prophet’s house for Saqifah, it would have been nothing short of irresponsibility on their part.

Sometimes our Shia brothers fail to realize (or rather, insist on not understanding) how volatile the situation was: the Ansars were ready to elect their own man and declare war on any tribe which rejected their leader, and some of the Ansars were even ready to wage war on the Muhajirs. The Ansars had adopted a very belligerent attitude, and Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) and Umar (رضّى الله عنه) therefore went as peace-makers and conflict resolvers, to prevent the Ansars from placing themselves at loggerheads with the rest of Arabia.

If the Ansars declared their own Caliphate, then nothing would prevent other tribes from similarly declaring their own leaders, which would result in a civil war between all the rivaling claimants to the Caliphate. When Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) and Umar (رضّى الله عنه) set out for Saqifah, they did so with no intention of seeking the Caliphate for themselves but rather only to prevent the Ansars from doing so by force of arms. The Shaikhayn went as peace-keepers in order to soften the militant attitude adopted by some of the Ansars. The Ansars were pushing the Ummah towards a civil war that could rip apart the nascent Ummah to shreds and lay waste to all the hard work of the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم), who had spent his sweat and blood to unify the ranks of the Muslims.

Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) and Umar (رضّى الله عنه) took along with them Abu Ubaidah (رضّى الله عنه) , another Muhajir. These three Sahabah were from amongst the Ashara Mubash Shararah (i.e. the Ten Companions promised Paradise by the Prophet), and it was hoped that the influence of these three great personalities could avert a civil war and disaster. In times of national crisis, the leaders of a country must become strong and steadfast in order to deal with pressing matters of state, and they cannot allow personal woes and feelings to hamper or hinder their effectiveness; if the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) were alive, he would not have wanted Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) and Umar (رضّى الله عنه) to dilly-dally but rather he would indeed have wanted them to act swiftly to save the Muslim Ummah, which would be the best way to honor the memory of the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم).

 

Our Reply – Rasulullah (s) would not have left the Ummah leaderless and exposed it to Fitnah

Ibn al Hashimi credits the Sheikhain to have foresight of a pending danger that was at a far superior level than Rasulullah (s).  If their intention was head off trouble as the Ansar were seeking to fill a vacuum due to the alleged failure of Rasulullah (s) to appoint a successor, that could destroy the Ummah why didn’t he simply appoint a successor?  To suggest he (s) ignored this matters totally illogical, we have expanded the absurdity of the Prophet (s) leaving no successor in an earlier chapter.  Now, as for the risible suggestion that Rasulullah (s) would have wanted them to go to Saqifa, Rasulullah (s) would have wanted them to fulfill the covenant both had made with Ali (as) at Ghadir Khumm, as Ghazzali stated:

“Rasulullah declared ‘Of whomsoever I am Maula Ali is his Maula’. Umar [r] accepted this congratulating Ali [r] saying “Congratulations you have become the Maula of men and women”, but after this his desire for power overtook him and when the Prophet said “Bring me a pen and paper so that I can remove any doubts over who will succeed me, Umar [r] replied “Leave him for he is talking nonsense”.
Sirr’ul Alameen, by Abdul Hamid Ghazzali page 9

Clearly when Rasulullah (s) appointed Imam Ali (as) and Umar had affirmed this via his bayya, then Rasulullah (s) would not approve of the same Umar accompanying Abu Bakr and Abu Ubaydah to Saqifa to discuss the replacement of his (s) choice of successor for that of Abu Bakr.  If this really was a necessary approach and they were sincere in their intentions they should have gone there with a view of warning the Ansar not to turn their backs on Imam Ali (as).

 

Defence Four – The Sheikhain never desired the Khilafat whilst Maula Ali (as) did

Ibn al Hashimi states:

3. We have discussed Allamah Numani’s first, second, and fourth point; now let us discuss the third point: it would be incorrect to criticize other parties for rushing for the Caliphate when we know that Banu Hashim, including Ali (رضّى الله عنه) , were a group that aggressively sought the Caliphate themselves. In fact, neither Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) nor Umar (رضّى الله عنه) sought the Caliphate, something which was a dramatic difference between the first two Caliphs and the second two Caliphs: both Uthman (رضّى الله عنه) and Ali (رضّى الله عنه) actively sought out the Caliphate. The reason for this is no doubt the rivalry between Banu Umayyah and Banu Hashim, in which each clan sought power over the other. At every turn, Ali (رضّى الله عنه) sought out the Caliphate; admittedly, he cannot be blamed for this because most of this pressure came from his fellow tribesmen who wished to see their clan excel others.

Meanwhile, Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) and Umar (رضّى الله عنه) never sought out the Caliphate and they went to extreme lengths to ensure that their clan and family did not benefit from their rise to power. The Shaikhayn were painstakingly scrupulous about the public funds and state expenditure, never using it for the benefits of their own living or family. Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) and Umar (رضّى الله عنه) refused to allow their relatives to succeed them.

In conclusion, the Shia cannot at all portray that the Shaikhayn wished to have the Caliphate for themselves. Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) offered the Caliphate to Umar (رضّى الله عنه) and Abu Ubaidah (رضّى الله عنه) , and this is proof that he himself did not care for it. As for Umar (رضّى الله عنه) , he refused the Caliphate when it was offered to him! On the other hand, Ali (رضّى الله عنه) sought out the Caliphate for himself. So how then can the Shia lay any blame on the Shaikhayn who by their actions did not seek out the Caliphate for themselves but were rather given the Caliphate by others? If the Shia would like to blame someone for being power hungry, then this would only work against them by implicating the good character of Ali (رضّى الله عنه) . (Having said this, we cannot criticize Ali, the Lion of Allah, because he was no doubt simply being pressured by his clan and relatives.)

 

Our Reply - The Sheikhain aggressively sought out Khilafat

We have previously highlighted the fact that Ghazzali acknowledged that Umar’s intervention during the pen and paper episode was linked to his “desire for power” so Saqifa was the pinnacle of that desire.  The entire rationale behind going to Saqifa was gain power by becoming the head of state.  As for the suggestion that Imam Ali (as) was desirous of Khilafat, why shlould he not be, when it was his legal right?  When Rasulullah (s) appointed him, and as per Ghazzali’s admission this appointment was sidelined due to the desire of power on the part of Umar, what is wrong if Imam Ali (as) desired what was his legal right?  As for the suggestion that Abu Bakr offered his two cohorts as Khalifas at the Saqifa we will respond by saying that was irrelevant, the three didn’t care who took power as they would achieve one thing, the ousting of Ali (as) from power.

 

Our Fourth Claim – Sunni scholarly opinion deems the appointment of a  leaders to have been a greater duty that attending the funeral of the Prophet (s)

The contemporary Saqifi’ites par excellence are Hizb ut-tahrir, a political group dedicated since the 1950s to reviving the now dead institution of the khlilafath of man in the presence of Allah’s Khalifa in the form of the Twelfth Imam of the Shi’i. With this sole objective in mind this group have sought to underplay the political dissensions to the authority of the Khalifa of man as well as to rewrite history, this is what they state in their key document ‘The Khilafah’:

“The Ijma’a of the Sahaba to establish a Khaleefah manifested itself emphatically when they delayed the burial of the Prophet (saw) (sic) after his death whilst engaged in appointing a successor to him, despite the fact that the burial of the dead person is fard, and that is haram upon those who are supposed to prepare for his burial to engage themselves in anything else until they complete the burial. The Sahabah were obliged to engage themselves in preparing the burial of the Prophet (saw) (sic), instead some of them engaged themselves in appointing a Khaleefah rather than carrying out the burial, and some others kept silent on this engagement and participated in delaying the burial for two nights despite their ability to deny the delay and their ability to bury the Prophet (saw) (sic). So this was an Ijma’a to engage themselves in appointing a Khaleefah rather than to bury the dead. This could not be legitimate unless the appointment of a Khaleefah is more obligatory than the burial of the dead.”
The Khilafah, Hizb ut-Tahrir, Al-Khilafah Publications, London, pp.3-4

 

Reply One – The need to appoint a leader is of paramount importance, all other are secondary

Ibn al Hashimi supports this statement as follows:

First of all, the group known as Hizb ut-Tahrir cannot at all be used as an authoratative source since they are a group which has been criticized by the Sunni mainstream for certain views of theirs. Having said that, they are correct on the point that appointing a Caliph takes priority over everything else. The reason for this is fairly obvious, namely that a country without a leader will fall into anarchy and chaos. Not a single moment can go by in which a country does not have a leader. The United States, for example, makes sure that if the President were to die, the Vice President immediately replaces him, and if the Vice President then dies, then someone else replaces him, etc. There is a careful pecking order selected so that anarchy and chaos does not ensue, because the masses are known to enter a state of panic without a leader to guide them. In fact, the person who first informs the American people that the President has died is in fact the Vice President himself who declares himself the new President. In this way, any public pandemonium is diverted.

Our response – Rasulullah (s) recognised the importance and appointed a Khalifa to succeed him

So Ibn al Hashimi is advocating the importance of having a leader to prevent anarchy, and yet doesn’t credit Rasulullah (s) with the intelligence of doing just that! Truly amazing! The point made is that the meeting at the Saqifa was haram, undoubtedly haram since the priority incumbent by the ordinances of Islam are to bury the dead as fast as possible. This is the Seal of all Prophets!

Ibn al Hashimi argues :

The priority in Islam is to select the leader, as the Muslim Ummah must never be leaderless. Please see the discussion above for this. The meeting at Saqifah was troublesome not because the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) was needing to be burried, but rather it was wrong because not all of the prominent Sahabah were invited. Yet, as we have discussed thoroughly, this was the fault of the Ansars and the Muhajirs were absolved of all blame in this matter.

In regards to the “Seal of the Prophets”, this is pretentious and sanctimonious coming from the Shia, who have themselves created a mockery over the idea of the word “khatm” (i.e. seal of finality). Is it not the Shia who–like the Qadianis–play word games with this word “khatm”? Is it not the Shia who extend the Prophethood by believing their Imams continue Prophethood and that these Imams are in fact superior to Prophets? By creating a position higher than Prophethood, the Shia obviate the need for the final seal of Prophethood.

 

Again we return to the same issue, if the appointment of a leader renders all other matters subsidiary why didn’t the Prophet (s) appoint a leader?  As for their inference that we deny the doctrine that Muhammad (s) is the Seal of all Prophets, one wonders what right they have to play that game when  they have traditions presenting Umar as a “would be Prophet”?  As for his absurd dribble we have addressed this in our article on Imamate we would invite our readers to canter through it. The second point made is that the Saqifa was a shameful meeting as it was occurring while the Seal of Prophets was being buried.

Ibn al Hashimi states :

The meeting at Saqifah did not at all take place when the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) was being buried but rather it was taking place when the Prophet’s body was being washed by the near relatives, a matter which others were not privy to anyways. In any case, it was the Ansars who caused the meeting at Saqifah, not the Shaikhayn.

 

Well we have already evidenced the fact that the Sheikhain were not present at the funeral of Rasulullah (s).  It is telling that the discussions were so lengthy that they started whilst Rasulullah (s) was being washed and still were not concluded when the Prophet (s) was buried!

We wish to reiterate that the Holy Prophet would not leave the Muslims in such a dilemma – one that the authors would have us believe took the Muslims to the level of committing a sin – he left a successor.

 

Defence Two – The system of Arab succession dated back to pre Islamic times

Ibn al Hashimi responds:

The Shia barrage the Sunnis with the question: How could the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) not have left a successor or even a means to nominate a successor? And then they point to the fact that there are very few instructions in the Quran and Sunni Hadith in regards to how to nominate a successor. But this line of reasoning is completely invalid, because the Arabs already had a system of electing successors! The Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) had no need to instruct the Arabs in the way of nominating their leaders, because they already had a working system in this regard. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Fred McGraw Donner of the University of Chicago writes in his book “The Early Islamic Conquests” that the standard Arabian practice even before the advent of Islam was for the prominent men of a group or tribe was to gather after a leader’s death and elect a leader from amongst themselves.

We read:

Tribal custom…the Caliphate originated from the ancient practise of the Arab tribes to select their chiefs.

(A Short History of Islam, by Mazhar ul-Haq, p.361)

The historian, Thomas Arnold, wrote in his book “Caliphate”:

“When a chief of a tribe died, his office passed to that member of the tribe who enjoyed the greatest influence, the leading members of the tribe selecting to fill the vacant place with someone among themselves who was respected on account of age or influence, or for his services to the common weal; there was no complicated or formal method of election, nor within such small social groups would any elaborate procedure be necessary, and when teh choice of a successor had been made, those present swore allegiance to him one after another, clasping him by the hand.”

(Caliphate, by Thomas Arnold, p.361)

We read further:

It also explains, as (Thomas) Arnold says, why the Prophet did not nominate anyone as his successor. He realized that the Arabs had no liking for the hereditary principle in their choice of their chiefs, but left the members of the tribe entirely free to select their own leader. The truth of this view is demonstrated by the procedure of election followed in both cases (i.e. before and after Islam). The tribal Shaykh (i.e. head of state) was elected in two stages: firstly, a restricted group of leading heads of the families in the tribe chose a prospective chief. Then the ordinary members of the tribe confirmed this choice by expressing their consent in the Arab fashion of taking the Bayt, or the oath of allegiance at his hands by holding them in his hands. Exactly the same procedure was followed in the election of all four Orthodox Caliphs…In fact, it is these two features (Shura and Ijma) that made the Orthodox Caliphate a democratic and republican institution. But its democratic nature was merely a continuation of the democratic spirit of Arabian tribalism. Tribalism is essentially a direct democratic, collective way of life.

(A Short History of Islam, by Mazhar ul-Haq, p.362)

Had the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) imposed his own leader upon the people, then this would have been denying the rights of the people. Having said that, the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) gave his indication that he favored Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) for this position, but he did so in the indirect manner of nominating him as the Imam of the prayers. In this manner, the people knew the choice of the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) but they did not feel as if the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) was imposing his will on the people as a tyrant would.

 

Our Reply – Appointing a tribal elder via consultation cannot be replicated when we are talking about the Head of an Islamic State

What utter absurdity! Imamate isn’t just some pithy, tribal matter it carries immense responsibility and is not restricted to a particular tribe, geographical locality or time, it covers the whole Ummah. It isn’t based on popularity votes, the person at the helm can only be that person most capable of leading, which is a decision that only Allah (swt) and his Rasul (s) can make. If this tribal method was the correct one the Prophet (s) would have advocated as such! As for the inference about Abu Bakr, we can show the declaration on Ali (ads) including his coronation was a far greater “inference”!

 

Our Fifth Claim – The Sheikhain had no legal mandate to appoint the head of State when Rasulullah (s) had already appointed Ali (as)

The fourth point made is that what gave the companions the right to appoint a Khalifa when that was not their prerogative, and still more since the man who was Allah’s Khalifa was duped and was not kept informed while he shouldered the burden of burying the Holy Prophet?

Defence – The Prophet (s) did not appoint Ali (as) as Head of State

Ibn al Hashimi states:

Shia fairy-tales and nothing more. The Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) did not at all nominate Ali (رضّى الله عنه) as his successor.

 

Our Reply – The Prophet (s) appointing Ali (as) as Khalifa is a proven fact

On the contrary he (s) did at Ghadir Khumm, so it was not a fairytale, Harith certainly didn’t deem it a fairytale, nor did Ghazzali! Ibn Hajar Asqalani authenticated the following tradition as sahih in Volume 16 page142:

وَقَالَ إِسْحَاقُ: أخبرنا أَبُو عَامِرٍ الْعَقَدِيُّ،عَنْ كَثِيرِ بْنِ زَيْدٍ، عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ [عُمَرَ] بْنِ عَلِيٍّ عَنْأَبِيهِ، عَنْ عَلِيٍّ رَضِيَ الله عَنْه قَالَ: إِنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُعَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ حَضَرَ الشَّجَرَةَ بِخُمٍّ، ثُمَّ خَرَجَ آخِذًا بِيَدِعَلِيٍّ رَضِيَ الله عَنْه قَالَ:” أَلَسْتُمْ تَشْهَدُونَ أنالله تبارك وتعالى رَبُّكُمْ؟ ” قَالُوا: بَلَى. قَالَ صَلَّى اللَّهُعَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: ” أَلَسْتُمْ تَشْهَدُونَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُأَوْلَى بِكُمْ مِنْ أَنْفُسِكُمْ وأن الله تعالى وَرَسُولَهُ أَوْلِيَاؤُكُمْ؟”.فَقَالُوا: بَلَى. قَالَ: ” فَمَنْ كَانَ اللَّهُوَرَسُولُهُ مَوْلَاهُ فَإِنَّ هَذَا مَوْلَاهُ، وَقَدْ تَرَكْتُ فِيكُمْ مَا إِنْأَخَذْتُمْ بِهِ لَنْ تَضِلُّوا كتاب الله تعالى، سَبَبُهُ بيدي، وَسَبَبُهُبِأَيْدِيكُمْ، وَأَهْلُ بَيْتِي “. / هَذَا إِسْنَادٌ صَحِيحٌ

Ali (ra) said: ‘The Prophet (s) arrived the tree at Khum, and thereafter displayed Ali’s hand and said: ‘Do you acknowledge that Allah (swt) is your Lord? They replied: ‘Yes’. Then he (s) said: ‘Do you acknowledge that Allah and his Apostle possess a greater claim over you (Awla) than you have over yourselves and that Allah (swt) and his Apostle are your guardians (Awlyakom)?’ They replied: ‘Yes’.  He (s) then said: ‘To whomsoever holds Allah and his Apostle as his guardian (Mawla) then holds (Ali) as his guardian, and I am leaving among you which if you grasp will cause you to never go astray, the Book of Allah and my family (Ahlulbayt)”.

If this was a fairy tale, what Disney story was Rasulullah (s) seeking to replicate when he placed his turban over that of Ali (as) at Ghadir Khumm?  Dr Muhammad Tahir ul Qadri al Hanafi records the narration as follows:

It is narrated by ‘Ali (as) himself. He said: on the day of Ghadir Khum, the Messenger of Allah (saww) had a turban tied round my head (as a symbol of honour) and let the loose end hang down at the back. Then he said: The angels whom Allah (swt) had sent to help me at Badr and Hunayn were wearing turbans of the same kind. He then added: surely the turban differentiates between belief and disbelief.” ‘

[Tayalisi related it in al-Musnad (p.23#154); and Bayhaqi in as-Sunan-ul-kubra (10:14).

Hindi says in Kanz-ul-'ummal (15:306,482#41141,41909) that, besides Tayalisi, this tradition has also been narrated by Bayhaqi, Tabarani, Ibn Abi Shaybah and Ibn Muni'. Hindi has added the following words:

"Surely the turban differentiates between Muslims and polytheists."

'Abd-ul-A'la bin 'Adi has also narrated that the Prophet (saww) called 'Ali bin Abi Talib (as) on the day of Ghadir Khum, tied a turban round his head (as a sign of honour) and let the loose end hang down at the back.

This tradition is recorded in the following books:
i. Ibn Athir, Asad-ul-ghabah fi ma'rifat-is-sahabah (3:170)
ii. Muhib Tabari, ar-Riyad-un-nadrah fi manaqib-il-'ashrah (3:194).
iii. Zurqani, Sharh-ul-mawahib-il-laduniyyah (6:272).
The Ghadir Declaration, page 80

This coronation followed the declaration of the Wilayah of Maula Ali (as) at Ghadhir Khumm with the words ‘Of whomsoever I am Maula, Ali is his Maula’.

Ibn al Hashimi when you partake in Salafi camaraderie at their homes how many times can you recall them placing their turban over your head as a symbol of friendship? Is it ever done on special occasions like when you celebrate joyous events like Eid, the killing of Shias or the destruction of Jannatul Baqi? Is this a standard practice that one does to a specific friend in a large gathering, or is it tied around the head of one that you deem your successor? If transferring turbans does not symbolise the transfer of power what on earth does it mean?

It is therefore little wonder that Imam Ali (as) deemed leadership to be his legal right, even during the lifetime of Rasulullah (s).

Narrated Ibn Abbas:
Ali would say during the lifetie of Holy Prophet (s): 'Allah (swt) says "If he (Muhammad) dies or is killed, will you turn on your heels?". By Allah, we will never turn on our heels after Allah (swt) has guided us. If he dies or is killed, I will fight for what he fought for until I die. By Allah, I am his brother, successor (wali), cousin and heir (warith). And who is more entitled to him than me?
Majma al-Zawaid, Volume 9 page 134

 

Our Sixth Claim - Ijma'a was prioritized over the Quran and Sunnah

The excuse for the Saqifa antics by our opponents are that that the opinion of the companion overrides the Qur’an and the Sunnah since Ijma’a (of a handful of Muhajirs) is given as the excuse. But Ijma’a came after the Qur’an and Muhammad (saws). And Ijma’a is a belief of the followers of the institution, and we the Shi’i who follow the family can here point out that the Qur’an and Sunnah override Ijma’a when the opinion of the companions overrides the Qur’an.

Reply One - The Sahaba would never deem their opinions to override the Quran and Sunnah

Ibn al Hashimi argues:

When did the Sunnis ever claim the “excuse” that the opinion of the Companions overrides the Quran and the Sunnah? Never have we claimed such a thing! Not even if the entire world got together could they override the Quran and Sunnah. The Companions did not at all go against the Quran and Sunnah, so this is a moot point.

 

Our First Reply - The very fact that the Sahaba opposed Nass when they selected their own leader proves they overrode the Quran and Sunnah

We can evidence the doctrine of divine appointment from the Quran and have traditions that show the Sunnah of past Prophets was to appoint Wasi's who would succeed them, as was the case with Rasulullah (s) appointing Ali (as).  When the Quran and Sunnah support our position that there is a doctrine of divine appointment and Ali (as) was appointed by Rasulullah (s) and model formulated that *counters it at Saqifa is a Bidah, since it contradicts the Quran and the Sunnah.

Our Second Reply - The opinion entitling the Sahaba to rebel against the Khalifa (as) was one that overrode the Quran and Sunnah

As for the suggestion that there is no such notion with overriding the Quran ad Sunnah in Sunni Islam, then perhaps Ibn al Hashimi could enlighten us on how the Sahaba that rebelled against the Khalifa Ali in opposition to their Quranic duty to obey "those in authority" and Sahih traditions wherein Rasulullah (s) deemed those that fought Ali (as) to be fighting him (s) are still (ra) despite their flagrant violation of both sources?

Our Third Reply - The rulings of Umar overrode the Quran and Sunnah

The fact is the rulings of the Sahaba are giving credence over the Quran and Sunnah when it comes to Umar's decision making, clear from this text Dr. Khursheed Ahmad from Delhi University who wrote a book on Umar, in which he collected the "Official Letters" of Umar to his governors. In this book he writes:

"...The Ijtehaad of Hadhrat Umar was free and courageous. If he deemed something to be correct or beneficial to the Khilafaah, he acted upon it without any hesitation even if by doing so he had to go against the Sunnah of Rasool (saww) or Sunnah of Abu Bakr Siddique. If the situation was unfavourable, he would even neglect the Qur'anic rules and reguilations. The Qur'an for example stipulates that conquered lands be given to the Mujahideen (soldiers) who fought but Hadhrat Umar made it a Waqf (Trust) for all Muslims. Hadhrat Umar also took "Double Zakaat" from the Christians of Mesopotamia, whereas the Qur'an stipulates that "Zakaat" is only obligatory upon Muslims..."
"Hadhrat Umar kay Sarkari Khatoot" (The official letters by Hadhrat Umar), page 25, published by Idarah Islamiat, Lahore Pakistan)

 

Defence Two - Shurah took place following Saqifa

Ibn al Hashimi states :

Answering-Ansar is conflating Ijma with Shurah. What was done at Saqifah was Shurah, and what was done the day after at the Prophet’s mosque was Ijma (i.e. when 33,000 Sahabah took the oath of allegiance at the hand of Abu Bakr).

Our reply - Umar attested to the appointment of Abu Bakr being devoid of Shura

Well Ibn al Hashimi is advancing something that his client Umar did not concur with, for he acknowledged that there was no shura since the oath of allegiance was sudden and if repeated would attract the death penalty!  If that form of Shura was indeed correct why would it merit the death penalty if repeated? It is clear that this concept was developed by the followers of the companions after analyzing history. At no point did the companions say that the khilafat of 'Abu Bakr came about via ijma. On the contrary as we have stated earlier Umar had stated that it was a mistake, no consultation took place, meaning the ijma of the companions was not sought.

 

Our seventh claim - The Shi'a were those that sided with Ali (as) following the death of Rasulullah (s)

The Shi'i follow Allah, the Holy Prophet and the Khalifas of Allah.

The Shi’i were with Imam Ali when he buried the Holy Prophet. Some who were not involved in the burial as they were more distant and thus their absence would not be missed were defending the cause of the Khalifa of Allah by plotting how to take on the subversion of the Muhajir’s, when the three Muhajirs interrupted their meeting and made Abu Bakr the Khalifa, in so doing not attending the funeral!

Defence One - The Shia are deviants

Ibn al Hashimi alleges:

The Shia follow Shaytan, their own desires, and misguidance.

Our First reply - Those that take the faith from the enemies of Ali (as) have no right to call others deviant

Rasulullah (s) provided a guarantee that adhering to the Quran and Ahl'ul bayt (as) ensures that one will never go astray, since Ibn al Hashimi adheres to a Sect that has rejected the Ahl'ul bayt, supported those that cursed, and took Hadith from Nawasib and Khwaarij, we suggest that he takes a look at himself in the mirror before attacking the Shia.

 

Defence Two - Only ten people were present at the burial rites

Ibn al Hashimi alleges:

With Ali (رضّى الله عنه) were only a handful of people, no more than ten in number. So according to Answering-Ansar, the rest were at Saqifah? Does Answering-Ansar understand the implications of what they are cogitating? They are hereby saying that it was the Shia who were the cause of the gathering at Saqifah! And so all blame for the event lies on their shoulders! This entire article was one big diatribe against Saqifah, and yet here Answering-Ansar is saying that the Shia were the cause of it! Subhan-Allah! Well then, the debate is over and we can all safely say that all the blame lies on the shoulders of the Shia.

Our reply - Umar's direct threats towards those present in the house of Fatima (as) proves that the threat he was not just from ten men


The onus is on Ibn al Hashimi to prove that there were only ten people involved!  What we are saying is the true adherents of Rasulullah (s) were gathered around the house of Rasulullah (s) in mourning, supporting the true successor of Ali (as) at Saqifa.  They certainly were not a handful, there was a number significant enough to attract the ire of Umar following the death of Rasulullah (s).  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-Dhahabi said: ‘Thabt’ (Al-Kaashif, v2 p159), Imam Ibn Hajar Asqalani said: ‘Thiqa’ (Taqrib al-Tahdib, v2 p58). Ubaidllah bin Umar: Al-Dhahabi said: ‘Thabt’ (Al-Kaashif, v1 p685), Ibn Hajar Asqalani said: ‘Thiqa Thabt’ (Taqrib al-Tahdib, v1 p637). Zaid bin Aslam: Al-Dhahabi 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-Dhahabi said: 'Faqih, Imam' (Siar alam alnubala, v4 p98), Ibn Hajar Asqalani said: ‘Thiqa’ (Taqrib al-Tahdib, v1 p88).

A group defined by Umar as "these people" was clearly of a significant number to cause Umar so much concern that he was prepared to have these dissenting voices burnt to death!  If these individuals were opposing the Saqifa decision and were supporters of Ali (as) these were the same persons that had stood with Ali (as) during the washing process.

 

Ibn al Hashimi's curious claim that Abu Bakr did partake in the funeral of Rasulullah (s)

Ibn al Hashimi emotively argues:

The Prophet’s Funeral

Had Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) or Umar (رضّى الله عنه) insisted upon washing the body, then this would have been wrong, as is clear from one who knows Fiqh. As for the Prophet’s funeral, not only did Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) help out with the burial, he was actually the one who is credited with deciding where the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) was to be buried. We read:

The task of washing the body being over, the Companions were divided over the place of burial. Abu Bakr then said: “I have heard from the Messenger of Allah that every Prophet is buried at the spot where he has breathed his last.” The Prophet’s bedding was accordingly removed from the place and a grave was dug for him at the spot

And so we wonder: what part of the Prophet’s funeral did Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) or Umar (رضّى الله عنه) miss out on? We see clearly from Tareekh al-Islam and other credible history books that it was only “the task of washing the body” that Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) missed out on, something which he would not have taken part in anyways due to the fact that it is a task given to near relatives only.... (Tareekh al-Islam, Vol.1, p.246)

Although our Shia brothers imply that Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) missed out on the Prophet’s funeral, this is actually not true at all. After he saved the Ummah at Saqifah, Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) rushed back to help with the Prophet’s funeral. In fact, the only thing that Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) missed out on was washing the Prophet’s body, something which is anyways done by the near relatives according to Islamic custom. So we ask our Shia brothers: what exactly did Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) miss out on?

Not only did Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) help out with the burial, he was actually the one who is credited with deciding where the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) was to be buried. We read:

The task of washing the body being over, the Companions were divided over the place of burial. Abu Bakr then said: “I have heard from the Messenger of Allah that every Prophet is buried at the spot where he has breathed his last.” The Prophet’s bedding was accordingly removed from the place and a grave was dug for him at the spot.

(Tareekh al-Islam, Vol.1, p.246)

 

Our Reply - The fact that Abu Bakr was ignorant of the day the Prophet (s) and died and the garments in which he (s) was buried proves he was not a participant in the funeral of the Prophet (s)

If Abu Bakr was present then why was he seeking to determine what shroud the Prophet (s) was buried in?  We can prove this by the most esteemed Sunni work from the tongue of the most esteemed Sunni lady reporter:

Narrated Hisham's father:

Aisha said, "I went to Abu Bakr (during his fatal illness) and he asked me, 'In how many garments was the Prophet shrouded?' She replied, 'In three Sahuliya pieces of white cloth of cotton, and there was neither a shirt nor a turban among them.' Abu Bakr further asked her, 'On which day did the Prophet die?' She replied, 'He died on Monday.' He asked, 'What is today?' She replied, 'Today is Monday.' He added, 'I hope I shall die sometime between this morning and tonight.' Then he looked at a garment that he was wearing during his illness and it had some stains of saffron. Then he said, 'Wash this garment of mine and add two more garments and shroud me in them.' I said, 'This is worn out.' He said, 'A living person has more right to wear new clothes than a dead one; the shroud is only for the body's pus.' He did not die till it was the night of Tuesday and was buried before the morning."
Sahih Bukhari Volume 2, Book 23, Number 469

Abu Bakr inquired about the number of garments in which the Prophet was buried in.  What did he not know this himself?  This proves that he did not partake in the burial rites of Rasulullah (s). One should point out that during that time there was no concept of coffins, you would be buried in a simple shroud and thereafter lowered in to a grave.  If Abu Bakr was indeed present at the burial he would have known for certain the type of shroud in which Rasulullah (s) was buried.  Hads he participated in the funeral itself this reality would have been there before his very eyes.

He would not need to ask if he had partaken in the shrouding process.   Of course Ibn al Hashimi seeks to explain his absence from the washing rites…

Ibn al Hashimi emotively argues:

In fact, the only thing that Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) missed out on was washing the Prophet’s body, something which is anyways done by the near relatives according to Islamic custom. So we ask our Shia brothers: what exactly did Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) miss out on?

Ibn al Hashimi might insist that this duty falls on one’s relatives, but this was no ordinary person, and if Sunni arguments are to be accepted the friendship between Rasulullah (s) and Abu Bakr was no ordinary one.  A family may indeed have a duty to perform washing rites but when any normal individual dies, his close friends will also seek to partake in the washing rites, as this form part of the love and bond that they had for that individual.  Do not forget there is considerable merit in washing a deceased person, would you not expect the alleged best friend of Rasulullah (s) to likewise be at hand in this ritual?  Friendship aside Abu Bakr had a more sensitive bond, that of being the father in law of Rasulullah (s), is it not unusual that rather than console his daughter, he enters upon the body of Rasulullah (s) kisses him, goes out and makes a speech and thereafter disappears, not deeming it important to partake in the rituals that would follow.  Did Abu Bakr forget the friendship / in law relationship that he had with the Prophet (s)?  He was nowhere to be seen, this was undoubtedly a notable absence, one so notable that Sunni sources acknowledge Abu Bakr’s omission from the entire process.

We read in various Sunni works:

  حدثنا ابن نمير عن هشام بن عروة عن أبيه أن أبا بكر وعمر لم يشهدا دفن النبي (ص) ، كانا في الانصار فدفن قبل أن يرجعا.

Ibn Numair narrated form Hisham bin Urwah who narrated from his father (Urwa) that Abu Bakr and Umar were not present at the time of burial of the Prophet (s), they were with Ansar and He was buried before they had returned.
Al-Musnaf Ibn Abi Shaybah Volume 8 page 58
Kanz ul Umal, Volume 5 page 45 Hadith 14139
 

Abdullah bin Numair:  Ibn Hajar said: ‘Thiqah’ (Taqrib al-Tahdib, v1 p542), Dahabi said: ‘Hujja’ (Al-Kashif, v1 p604). Hisham bin Urwah: Ibn Hajar said: ‘Thiqah’ (Taqrib al-tahdib, v2 p267), Dahabi said: ‘Abu Hatim said Thiqah’ (Al-Kashif, v2 p337). Urwah bin al-Zubair: Ibn Hajar said: ‘Thiqah’ (Taqrib al-Tahdib, v1 p671), Dahabi said: ‘Thabt’ (Al-Kashif, v2, p18).

This is a very interesting admission since it has reached us through the descendants of Abu Bakr, since Urwa was the son of his daughter Asma, and Hisham was his son.  Who would know best about whether Abu Bakr was present in the funeral than his own descendants?  If there was the slightest inclination that this was doubtful, Urwa would have most certainly sort to dismiss it, but we can see clearly that he made a firm statement that his grandfather was not present in the funeral.  If Nawasib try to dismiss this tradition on the basis that Urwa is from the Tabyaeen and the narration is Mursal, we would argue that his Mursal is accepted, on account of his investigatory prowess as vouched for in Muhadarat fi Uloom al-Hadith, by Dr. Maher al-Fahal, page 23:

ومن المراسيل الجيدة : مراسيل عروة بن الزبير ؛ لشدَّةتحرِّيه

"The good Mursal are the Mursals of Urwa bin al-Zubair because he would investigate"

Ibn Abdul Barr records in al-Istiab:

ذكر إبن إسحاق قال حدثتني فاطمة بنت محمد عن عمرة عن عائشة قالت ما علمنا بدفن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم حتى سمعنا صوت المساحي من جوف الليل ليلة الأربعاء وصلى عليه علي والعباس رضى الله عنهما وبنو هاشم

Ayesha said: ‘We didn’t know about Allah's Messenger’s burial except when we heard the voice of shovels at Wednesday night, Ali, Abbas may Allah be pleased with them and Bani Hashim prayed over him.’

Imam Ibn Hajar Asqalani and Allamah Badruddin al-Aini records:

لأنه لم يحضر ذلك لاشتغاله بأمر البيعة

‘He (Abu Bakar) didn’t attend (the funeral) because he was busy with Baya’

Rather than feel ashamed at this fact, the Ahl'ul Sunnah scholars feel proud at the actions of their leaders, Mull Ali Qari in Sharra Fiqa Akbar, page 175 (publishers Muhammad Saeed and son, Qur'an Muhall, Karachi ) as follows in his discussion on Imamate:

مأ اخرجہ مسلم من حدیث ابن عمر بلفظ من مات بغیر امام مات میتۃ جاھلیۃ ولان صحابۃ جعلوا اھم المہمات نصب الامام حتی قدموہ علیٰ دفنہ علیہ الصلواۃ والسلام

"Hadith from Ibn Umar that whoever dies without recognizing the Imam of his time actually dies the death of Jaahiliyah, that is why the Sahaba viewed the appointment of the Imam as so important that they preferred it to attending the Prophet's funeral".

Similarly, we read in Sawaiq al-Muhriqa, page 25:

اعْلَمأَيْضا أَن الصَّحَابَة رضوَان الله تَعَالَى عَلَيْهِم أَجْمَعِينَ أَجمعُوا على أَن نصب الإِمَام بعد انْقِرَاض زمن النُّبُوَّة وَاجِب بل جَعَلُوهُ أهم الْوَاجِبَات حَيْثُ اشتغلوا بِهِ عَن دفن رَسُول الله صلى الله عَلَيْهِ وَسلم

It should be known that Sahaba (may Allah be pleased with them) did an Ijma that after completion of Nabuwah, it was Wajib to appoint an Imam in fact they considered it important and Wajib amongst all other acts to the extent that they were so much busy in the act that they had even abandoned the burial of Prophet.

Some final points to ponder over:

  1. If a father dies then any decent respectable son will abandon all his normal duties top tend to his father's dead body. The respect afforded by Abu Bakr and Umar, did not even reach that of a deceased father, they left his body to indulge in political games.
  2. If a man dies, a loyal friend will immediately abandon his normal duties and tend to his funeral rites. Abu Bakr and Umar didn't even afford respect to Rasulullah (s) that would have been afforded to a deceased close friend.
  3. In Islamic culture / lands, if a traveler dies in a local area, local residents will immediately abandon what they were doing to ensure that the deceased traveler is washed, shrouded and buried. Abu Bakr and Umar did not even give Rasulullah (s) the respect that would be afforded a deceased traveler.
  4. If a pious man's son in law dies, a respectable father in law shall immediately abandon everything so as to participate in the burial rites of his dead son in law. Rasulullah (s) was also the son in law of the Shaykhayn, when he (s) died, their daughters had become widows. Abu Bakr and Umar did not even give any consideration for their bereaved daughter's, and went missing from the funeral.
  5. If the Imam of a Mosque dies, his congregagtion will automatically set aside their normal chores and prioritise tending to the funeral rites, Abu Bakr and Umar did not even afford the Prophet (s) respect on par woth that of a Mosque Imam, by abandoning participation in the burial rites of the Prophet (s).
  6. If someone dies in a local neighbourhood, his neighbours due to the fact that they live nearby will ensure they are visible and present in the burial rites, at all points up until he is laid to rest. Abu Bakr and Umar afforded the Prophet (s) less respect than would be given to a deceased neighbour.
  7. If a teacher dies, his loyal students will leave all their daily chores to tend to the dead body, from washing through to the funeral. Abu Bakr and Umar did not even afford Rasulullah (s) the respect that students would afford their deceased teacher.
  8. Would any Muslim be happy at the thought that upon his death, his best friends will choose not to attend, and his body will remain unburied for three days? How can a matter that no rational person would deem unpalatable be okay when it comes to the Prophet (s)?
  9. The books of the Ahl'ul Sunnah attest to the fact that when Abu died, his funeral took place first and the baya to Umar occurred afterwards. Similarly when Umar died, he was buried firs and the baya to Uthman took place afterwards. Why was the same approach applied that had been done in relation to the Prophet (s). Were Abu Bakr and Umar laid in state for three days, and not buried until the Khaleefa was appointed?
  10. Hafsa and Ayesha had become widowed at the death of the Prophet. Would any reasonable women find it acceptable that her father failed tp participate in her deceased husband's funeral? The Shaykhayn were so cold hearted that they did not even have any care for the feelings of their widowed daughters. Daughters are in a state of shock and distress and the father's are squabbling over leadership.
  11. The Shari'ah is clear that the deceased needs to be buried as a matter of urgency, as such Abu Bakr and Umar also violated this Islamic edicts, since the delay in burial was on account of them.

The Shi'i find the attempts of the followers of the institution to defend the institution to the detriment of the Holy Prophet, the Seal of Prophets, as he is laid into the grave of the Last Prophet, frankly deplorable.

But then the Saqifa was a deplorable incident. Little wonder that Ghazali himself, passed his fatwa of censorship, deeming discussion of the events surrounding the death of the Holy Prophet and the event of the Saqifa one of the 4 that were banned and made haram (forbidden) to discuss because they had the potential to create hatred of the companions (bughs as Sahaba) [Al Mihal al Nahal, by Allamah Muhuummud b. Add'al Karim Shahrastani, page 18 - English translation "Sects and Divisions" by A.K.Kazi and J.G.Flynn (publishers Kegan Paul International, First Edition 1984)]

Despite this, it was the outcome of the meeting at the Saqifa that decided the path of one group of Muslims, and set them apart from the original Muslims. The followers of the institution are thus most aptly called the Saqifi’ites.
Al Sawaiq al Muhriqa by Ahmad ibn Hajar al Makki, page 223

Allamah Shahrastani, as we noted in our article “pen and paper”  dispute between Muslims cited this as the first dispute Muslims, between those who took the side of the Holy Prophet (saaws) and those who took the side of Umar. Here at the Saqifa the dispute had transformed into a political animal, one that ruled Madina. The dispute had become formalized into an institution. The followers of the companions are the inheritors of the legacy of this institution. They are called most aptly the Saqifi’ites, because they follow what began there and what came from it. The institution of the khilafat of man was born illegitimately in a house of evil, and on top of this purely political creation would be draped the ordinances of a modified Islamic code enetred on the institution of the companions, an institution joined at the hip to the institution of man’s khilafat, since the companions created the khilafat. The first Saqifi’ites were 3: Abu Bakr, Umar and Abu Ubayda. It was this incident that would shape the future history of Islam, as El Awa comments:

“The Saqifa meeting and the agreement of the Muslims which resulted in entrusting Abu Bakr with the leadership of the Islamic State was an event of profound magnitude. It was important not only in the political history of the Islamic State but also in terms of its ramifications in the overall history of Islam”.
On the political system of the Islamic State, by Muhammad S. El Awa page 34 (American Trust Publications, Indiana)

This was a conspiracy, often rightly called by the followers of Ali (a) as the greatest conspiracy in history, and did not arise in genius but in a manipulated historical accident, and has been shaking the world ever since owing to the significance of usurping the authority of the Khalifa of Allah.

 

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