6. Sa`d Ibn Abu Waqqas

He, too, is one of the most distinguished companions of the Prophet and among the foremost to embrace Islam. He was one of the earliest to migrate with the Prophet to Medina. He was among those who participated in the Battle of Badr. He was one of the six men recommended by Umar ibn al-Khattab to be caliphs, and one of the ten men who, as "Ahl al-Sunnah wal Jama`a" claim, received the glad tidings of going to Paradise.

He is also the hero of the Battle of al-Qadisiyya which took place during the caliphate of Umar ibn al-Khattab. It is said that some sahaba cast doubts about and questioned his descent, thus hurting his feelings, yet they narrate saying that the Prophet confirmed his descent, tracing it to Banu Zuhra.

In his book Al-Imama wal-Siyasa, Ibn Qutaybah transmits saying that following the demise of the Prophet, Banu Zuhra gathered to meet with Sa`d ibn Abu Waqqas and Abd al-Rahman ibn Awf at the sacred mosque (Masjid al-Nabi). When Abu Bakr and Abu Ubaydah came to them, Umar said to them, "Why do I see you thus forming circles? Stand up and swear the oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr, for I and the Ansar have already done so." Sa`d and Abd al-Rahman ibn Awf, as well as all those who were then present with them from Banu Zuhra, stood and swore.[^172]

It is narrated that Umar ibn al-Khattab deposed him from his post as governor, but he recommended the caliph who would succeed him to reinstall him, since he had not deposed him due to any treachery. Uthman ibn Affan, therefore, carried out Umar's recommendation and appointed him as governor of Kufa.

It is noteworthy that Sa`d ibn Abu Waqqas did not leave a huge wealth behind him compared to his friends. His legacy, as narrators tell us, amounted to three hundred thousand dinars. Also, he neither participated nor encouraged the assassination of Uthman as did Talhah and al-Zubayr. Ibn Qutaybah, in his history book (quoted above), narrates saying that Amr ibn al-As wrote Sa`d ibn Abu Waqqas asking him about who had killed Uthman. In his answer, Sa`d wrote saying, You asked me about who killed Uthman. I am telling you that he was killed by a sword unsheathed by Ayesha, polished by Talhah, and poisoned by Abu Tali's son. Al-Zubayr remained silent and made a hand signal, whereas we did nothing. Had we willed, we would have defended him, but Uthman made many changes, and he himself changed, doing good and bad things. If what we did was good, then that was good indeed, but if what we did was wrong, we seek Allah's forgiveness. I also am telling you that al-Zubayr is subdued by the overwhelming number of his kinsfolk, and by his sin. Had Talhah wished to rend his stomach, due to his love for authority, he would have rent it.[^173] But what is strange in as far as Sa`d ibn Abu Waqqas is concerned is that he did not swear the oath of allegiance to the Commander of the Faithful Ali, nor did he support him while he knew the Imam fully well and realized his merits. He himself narrated several of Ali's merits which both Imam al-Nasa'i and Imam Muslim record in their respective Sahih books. Here are a couple of examples:

Sa`d has said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah stating three of Ali's merits; had I had one of them, it would have been better for me than red camels. I heard him saying, `He (Ali) to me is like Aaron to Moses except there will be no prophet after me.' And I heard him saying, `I shall give the standard tomorrow to a man who loves Allah and His Messenger and who is loved by Allah and His Messenger.' And I heard him saying, `O people! Who is your master?' They thrice said that Allah and His Messenger were their master, whereupon he took Ali's hand, made him stand up, then said, `Whoever has accepted Allah and His Messenger as his master, this Ali is his master; O Allah! Befriend whoever befriends him, and be the enemy of whoever antagonizes him.'"[^174]

In Muslim's Sahih, Sa`d ibn Abu Waqqas is quoted as having said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah saying to Ali, `Are you not pleased to be to me what Aaron used to be to Moses, except there will be no prophet after me?' During the Battle of Khaybar, I heard him saying, `I shall give the standard tomorrow to a man who loves Allah and His Messenger and who is loved by Allah and His Messenger,' so we were very anxious and hopeful about it. He said, `Bring Ali here.' And when the verse saying `... say: Come: let us call our sons and your sons, and our women and your women, and our near people and your near people, then let us be earnest in prayer and pray for the curse of Allah on the liars (Holy Qur'an, 3:61),' the Messenger of Allah brought Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Husayn and said, `O Allah! These are my Ahl al-Bayt'."[^175]

How could Sa`d ibn Abu Waqqas know all these facts yet refuse to swear the oath of allegiance to Ali ? How could Sa`d hear the Messenger of Allah saying, "Whoever has accepted Allah and His Messenger to be his master, this Ali is his master; O Allah! Befriend whoever befriends him, and be the enemy of whoever antagonizes him," which he himself narrates, then refuse to accept his mastership or to support him? How could Sa`d have been ignorant of the hadith of the Messenger of Allah in which he said, "One who dies without having sworn the oath of allegiance dies the death of jahiliyya," a tradition which was narrated by Abdullah ibn Umar, so Sa`d would die the death of jahiliyya on account of his reluctance to swear the oath of allegiance to the Commander of the Faithful, the master of all wasis, the leader of the peerless men of virtue?

Historians indicate that Sa`d came to Imam Ali to apologize and said, "O Commander of the Faithful! There is no doubt in my mind that you are the most worthy among people of the caliphate, and that you are the custodian of the creed as well as of worldly affairs, but some people will dispute with you in this regard; so, if you desire my oath of allegiance, give me a sword whose tongue tells me to take this and leave that." Ali said to him, "Have you seen anyone who has contradicted the Qur'an in word or in deed [because of swearing the oath of allegiance to me]? The Muhajirun and the Ansar have sworn the oath of allegiance to me on the condition that I deal with them according to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet; so, if you yourself wish, you may swear; otherwise, you may stay at home, for I am not going to force you to do it."[^176]

Is not such a stand by Sa`d ibn Abu Waqqas odd?! While he testifies that no doubts entertain him about Ali, that he is the most worthy person of being the caliph, that he is the custodian over religious as well secular affairs, yet despite all of that he demands a sword with a tongue as a condition for swearing the oath of allegiance so that he would thus be able to distinguish truth from falsehood?! Is this not a contradiction rejected by rational people? Is this not demanding the impossible, a demand put forth by a haughty person who had already come to know the truth from the bearer of the message embedded in traditions five of which he himself used to narrate?!

Was not Sa`d present when Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman received the oath of allegiance, an occasion from which anyone who lagged behind was killed for fear of dissension?

Yet Sa`d did swear the oath of allegiance to Uthman, unconditionally giving his support to him. He also heard Abd al-Rahman ibn Awf threatening Ali with a sword which he raised over his head, saying, "So do not harm your own self, for it will then be the sword and nothing else." He was also present when Ali refused to swear the oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr, invoking a threat against him by Umar ibn al-Khattab who then said to him, "Swear...; otherwise, by Allah Who is the One and Only God, we shall strike your neck with the sword."[^177]

Did anything embolden those who did not swear the oath of allegiance to Ali, and who dared to behave arrogantly towards the successor of the Prophet such as Umar, Usamah ibn Zayd, and Muhammad ibn Maslamah, other than the reluctance of Sa`d ibn Abu Waqqas to swear it?

You can easily notice how the five men who were appointed by Umar ibn al-Khattab to compete with Ali in becoming caliphs played the exact role outlined for them by Umar ibn al-Khattab, namely prohibiting Ali from becoming caliph. Abd al-Rahman, for example, chose his son-in-law Uthman and threatened to kill Ali if he refused to swear the oath of allegiance to him. This is all due to the fact that Umar gave Abd al-Rahman the upper hand over the rest. After the death of Abd al-Rahman ibn Awf and the assassination of Uthman ibn Affan, the only remaining contenders for Ali's caliphate were three: Talhah, al-Zubayr, and Sa`d. When these men saw that al-Muhajirun and the Ansar rushed to Imam Ali and swore the oath of allegiance to him and did not pay attention to anyone among them, they then entertained evil thoughts against him and sought to kill him. Talhah and al-Zubayr fought him, whereas Sa`d betrayed him.