The Life of Imam Al-hasan Al-mujtaba
Chapter Vi : At the Time of the Two Caliphs
When the Prophet (a.s) went to the Garden and his soul raised to the Most High Comrade, successive discords came over the Muslims. Violent waves of division and disagreement prevailed them, shook their entity, cracked and torn their unity. Allah, the Exalted had explained the apostasy and dissension that which would come over the Muslims after the death of His Prophet. He has said: “And Muhammad is no more than an apostle; the apostles have already passed away before him; if then he dies or is killed, will you turn back upon your heals?”[^1]
Accordingly, which misfortune is greater than this misfortune? And which disaster is severer than apostasy after faith? The people left the corpse of the Prophet; they did not bury it in its final resting-place. They rushed upon the government and authority. They decided to turn the Islamic caliphate away from the Household of Prophethood, the cradle of the Message, the place where the angels frequented, and the abode of revelation and inspiration. Imam Ali, the Commander of the faithful (a.s) has talked about people’s evil deeds, saying: “When Allah’s Apostle (a.s) died, a group of people turned back upon their heels. Ways deceived them; they depended on the intimate friends, bestowed upon those other than the relatives, abandoned the means toward which they had been commanded to show love, moved the structure from its firm and compact foundation, and built it in a place other than its place. They were the sources of all sins…”[^2]
The people seized the government and removed it from its men and actual owners, and placed it in other than its place. They surprised Ahlul Bayt, peace be on them, while the injury did not heal, and the Messenger was not buried yet. That was through their turning the authority away from them (the actual owners), and aggressing against them. They made them suffer from pain and pillow sleeplessness. They made them lead a life full of cares and troubles. Therefore, how great their misfortunes were! And how intense their affliction and tribulation were!
People hurried to pledge allegiance and seized the opportunity. Imam Ali (a.s) was busy preparing the corpse of the Prophet (a.s) for burying. The people did not give him time to bury the Prophet (a.s) lest the authority should escape [^1] Qur’an, 3, 144. [^2] Nahjj al-Balagha, (explained by Muhammed ‘Abda), 248.
them, and their wishes and hopes for seizing the reins of government and authority would be lost. Anyhow, it is necessary for us to talk briefly about the stages of that great tragedy, for there is a close relationship between it and the life of Imam al-Hasan (a.s), because turning the authority away from Ahlul Bayt had bad complications and dangerous results. The most important of them was that al-Tulaqa’,[^1] their sons, who were the opponents of Islam and enemies of Allah, craved after the Islamic caliphate, and warred against the Household of Prophethood. Al-Hasan, the grandson of the Prophet (a.s), was forced to make peace with Mu‘awiya and to hand the authority over to him. We will explain that to readers as follows:
The people left the Prophet (a.s) lying in the bed of death. They paid no attention to any of his affairs. The Ansar hurried to the Saqifa (shed) of the Banu Sa‘ida[^3]. They discussed the affairs of the succession and authority. The chief of al-Khazraj Sa‘d bin Ubada, who was critically ill, delivered an oration among the people. He could not make the people hear his speech; rather he spoke, and some of his relatives conveyed his speech to others. The central idea of his speech was that gain was according to damages and hardships that the Ansar suffered heavy casualities during the successive battles and the movement of jihad carried out by Allah’s Apostle (a.s). Therefore, they were worthier of authority than the others and more appropriate for it. This is the text of his oration: “O Community of the Ansar, you have precedence in religion and excellence in Islam that no one of the Arab tribe is like you. Most surely, Muhammad (a.s) remained among his
[^1] Al-Tulaqa’ are those who converted to Islam at the time of the conquest of Mecca. [^2] Al-Saqifa is a shelter. It was the place where the Ansar held their meetings and seminars. [^3] Sa’d bin Ubada was the master of the Khazrajite and leader of the Ansar. His people admitted his leadership over them. He, his father, his grandfather, and his son Qays were famous for generosity. It was said that no house from al-Aws and al-Khazrajj had four successive, generous people except that of Sa‘d. He was one of the heads. He was present with Allah’s Apostle (a.s.) at al-‘Aqaba and (the Battle of Badr. He did not pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr. He angrily went out of Medina. Khalid bin al-Waleed and a companion of his followed him by night. They stabbed him and threw him into a well. Khalid deceived some foolish people that it was the jinn who killed him. They composed two poetry lines on behalf on the jinn, saying:
We have killed the master of al-Khazrajj, Sa‘d bin Ubada, And we threw two arrows at him and did not fail to hit his heart. He died at Hawran, (part) of the land of Sham (Syria) in the year fifteen A. H. It was said (that he died) in the year fourteen A. H. His biography has been mentioned in the books al-Isaba, al-Isti‘ab, Usd al-Ghaba, and the like.
people for several years, summoning them to worship the Merciful (Allah) and to abandon the partners and the idols. Very few of his people believed in him. They were not able to protect Allah’s Apostle (a.s) nor were they able to strengthen his religion, nor were they able to repel from themselves the oppression that included them. When Allah wanted you excellence, he drove dignity to you and singled you out with favor through making you believe in Him and in His Apostle, protecting him and his companions, supporting him and his religion, and struggling against his enemies. So you were the strictest of the people in fighting against his enemy and the heaviest of them against the enemy, to the extent that the Arabs followed Allah’s command willingly and unwillingly. Those far handed over the leadership while they were in a state of subjection and utter abasement, to the extent that Allah through you leveled the earth for His Apostle and through your swords the Arabs followed him. Then Allah caused him to die while he was pleased with you; therefore, seize the government with the exception of all the people, for it belongs to you, and not to them.” The Ansar responded to him through showing satisfaction and obedience, saying: “You are successful in opinion and right in speech. We will not leave what you have suggested. We will entrust you with this power, for you are satisfactory to us and you satisfy the interests of the believers.”[^1]
The Ansar handed over the leadership to the master of al-Khazraj, and they were ready to obey him. They expressed their urgent wish for nominating him for the office of the caliphate. Here there are some affairs that make man wonders at the affairs of the Ansar and make him question them:
The Ansar took care of Islam, supported the creed, and protected the religion; therefore, why did they hurry in respect of the affair of the caliphate? Why did they forget the allegiance to Imam Ali (a.s) at Ghadir Khum? Why did they neglect the commandments of the Prophet (a.s) concerning his household and his family?
Why did they keep the affair (of the caliphate) a secret in a place isolated from the eyes of the people? Why did they resort to secrecy and caution in concealing the affair?
Why did they not take into considerations the viewpoints of the pure family of the Prophet in respect of the succession? Why did they seize authority?
Most likely, they came to know of the dangerous plot schemed by the remarkable Muhajireen against Imam Ali, the Commander of the faithful. [^1] Al-Tabari, Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 207.
They feared that the Muhajireen would win the caliphate and deprive them of it; so, they hurried to seize the opportunity through nominating Sa’d for the office of the caliphate.
Umar’s Explanatory Speech
Abu Bakr was not in Yathrib (Medina) when the Prophet (a.s) died. Rather, he was at al-Sanah.[^1] Umar bin al-Khattab feared that someone would win the caliphate before Abu Baker’s arrival; so, he made an explanatory speech indicting his psychological policy and his excellent experience in the affairs of the society. He stopped the movement of pledging allegiance to Sa’d. He distracted the people even from their reflection on affairs. He shook the sword with his own hand and shouted at the top of his voice: “One of the hypocrites claims that Allah’s Apostle (a.s) has died! And most surely that he has not died, but he has gone to his Lord just as Musa bin Imran had already done! By Allah, Allah’s Apostle shall come back and cut off the hands and legs of those men who have spread lies about his death!”
He struck with his sword and threatened all those who said that Allah’s Apostle died.[^2] Some Muslims regarded this deed as strange, while those simple-minded regarded it as good, for he had brought them beautiful hopes and dreams. The souls refused to believe the death of the great Prophet and continued to cling to his life even through some imaginations. So, Umar drove to them the best wishes and the most wonderful hopes. He told them that their beloved Savior was still alive, and that he would manifest his religion and make it prevail over all religions. He added to his speech the most violent terrorism and threat. He claimed that Allah’s Apostle (a.s) would cut off the hand and legs of those who spread rumors against him. Moreover, he went on threatening the people until Abu Bakr arrived in Medina. Umar welcomed Abu Baker, and they went to the house of Allah’s Apostle (a.s). Abu Bakr uncovered the face of the Prophet (a.s). Suddenly, he came to know that his pure soul had departed his pure body. He went out refuting Umar’s statement. He turned to the perplexed masses astonished by the event and said to them: “Whoever worships Muhammad, most surely Muhammad has died. And whoever worships Allah, most surely Allah is alive and does not die!” Then he recited this verse: And Muhammad is no more than an apostle; the apostles have already passed away before him; if then he dies or is killed, will you turn back upon your heels?
The people yielded to Abu Bakr’s statement and repeated the verse. Umar
[^1] Al-Sanah is a place one mile from Medina. It was said that it was among its outskirts, and was three or four miles far from it. [^2] Ibn Abi al-Hadeed, Sharh Nahjj al-Balagha.
hurried to believe Abu Bakr’s statement and showed no objection toward it. He accompanied him. He walked with him, supported him, and protected his side.
It is necessary for us to pause before this strange initiative, for it urges man to ask about several affairs that are as follows:
Was it right to say that Umar did not know about the death of Allah’s Apostle (a.s)? It is worth mentioning that the Qur’an has announced that all people will die. Allah, the Most High, says: Every soul must taste of death; then to Us you shall be brought back.[^1] He has also said to His Prophet: Surely you shall die and they (too) shall surely die.[^2] He has also said: If then he dies or is killed, will you turn back upon your heels? Besides, the Prophet (a.s) announced his death several times and told the people that he had been summoned and it was the moment for him to answer. Moreover, Umar himself had said to Usama before the death of the Prophet (a.s): “Allah’s Apostle has died while you are a commander over me!”
What is the secret behind his treating those who spread rumors about the death of the Prophet (a.s)? Why did he announce that Allah’s Apostle would punish those who spread lies? Was their statement apostasy from religion and because of that their hands and legs had to be cut off?
Whoever carefully considers this event clearly understands Umar’s deed, which is that he intended to distract the people from pledging allegiance to anyone before Abu Bakr’s arrival. Indeed Umar was not too stupid not to know that the Prophet (a.s) would die. His strong enthusiasm, his threats, and excitement calmed down when Abu Bakr came. All these things clearly indicate that this event was part of a plan drawn before the death of the Prophet (a.s) to turn the caliphate from his household and to seize it for themselves. Lamans, an orientalist, thought that Abu Bakr, Umar, and Abu Ubayda had planed to turn the caliphate away from Ahlul Bayt before the death of the Prophet (a.s). He says: “Indeed the Qurashi party was not a ready made situation, nor did it result from a surprise or improvisation; rather it resulted from made, secret plots whose origins were woven and whose parties were firmly gathered. The heroes of this plot were Abu Bakr, Umar bin al-Khattab, and Abu Ubayda bin al-Jarrah; and among the members of this party were A’isha and Hafsa.”
This viewpoint is very trustworthy, for if someone reflects on the people’s
[^1] Qur’an, 29, 57. [^2] Qur’an, 39, 30.
steps and carefully considers their deeds concludes that there was an previously prepared plot, and that the people had woven its threads since a long time. There are several proofs that the plot was previous prepared; the people lagged behind the regiment of Usama, some of the wives of the Prophet (a.s) sent (letters) to their fathers to linger in going (with Usama). They nominated their fathers for the office of the Imamate. And besides Umar’s answer to the Prophet (a.s) when he intended to write a document.
The Ansar are surprised
The Ansar decided to appoint the chief of al-Khazraj, Sa’d bin Ubada, as a caliph. However his cousins Basheer bin Sa‘d bin Tha‘laba al-Khazraji and Usayd bin Khudayr, the head of al-Aws, competed with him for leadership. They envied him for this high office. So they harbored malice and enmity against him. They decided to turn the power away from him. Uwaym bin Sa‘ida al-Awsi and Ma‘an bin Adi, the ally of the Ansar, joined them. They belonged to Abu Bakr’s party and followers during the time of Allah’s Apostle (a.s). Besides, they harbored malice and hatred against Sa‘d bin Ubada. As a result, they hurried to Abu Bakr and Umar. They told them about the meeting of the Ansar in al-Saqifa and about their decision for appointing Sa‘d bin Ubada.[^1] Abu Bakr was astonished, so he and Umar quickly left. Abu Ubayda bin al-Jarrah[^2] and Salim, Hudhayfa’s retainer, followed them. Other people from their party, the party of the Muhajireen, followed them too. They surprised the Ansar in al-Saqifa. Sa‘d turned pale, and the Ansar became helpless. Silence and astonishment dominated them. Umar tried to speak, but Abu Bakr turned to him and whispered in his ear, saying: “Slowly, O Umar, that I may speak!”
Abu Bakr started his speech with this statement, saying: “We, the Muhajireen, were the first of the people to believe in Islam. We were the noblest of them in lineage, the most honored in house, the best in eminent men, and the nearest of them to Allah’s Apostle (a.s) in kinship. You are our brethren in Islam and our partners in religion. You supported and helped (the Prophet), so may Allah reward you with good. However, we are rulers, and you are helpers. The Arabs follow none except this tribe from Quraysh. Therefore, do not envy your brethren for that through which Allah has made them better. I have accepted for you one of these two men, namely Umar bin al-Khattab and Abu Ubayda bin al-Jarrah.”[^3]
[^1] Al-‘Aqd al-Fareed, vol. 3, p. 62. [^2] Al-Tabari, Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 208. [^3] Al-‘Aqd al-Fareed, vol. 3, p. 62.
Indeed the most reliable proofs Abu Bakr gave for the right of the Muhajireen in the caliphate and power are as follows:
- They were the first of the Muslims to believe in Islam.
- They were the nearest of the people to Allah’s Apostle (a.s) in kinship.
In his conclusion, Abu Bakr did not make clear who was the first to believe in Allah, to respond to the summons of His Prophet, to stand beside him to repel the aggression, and to protect him from the tyrants of Quraysh. He did not say that such a person was Imam Ali, the Commander of the faithful (a.s), the cousin of the Prophet (a.s), his son-in- law, the father of his two grandsons, and the gate of the city of his knowledge. Abu Bakr forgot Imam Ali and nominated Abu Ubayda and Umar bin al-Khattab for the office of the caliphate. Did he have an authority over the Muslims, that he might accept for them and choose one who would undertake the leadership over them and manage their affairs? Imam Ali (a.s) has commented on his argument, saying: “They have advanced the tree as an argument, and lost the fruit!” How eloquent this statement is! How wonderful this argument is! The Muhajireen clung to their kinship to the Prophet (a.s) and advanced it as a proof of their right to power. However, they neglected his family and progeny, who were his deposit and the equals to Allah’s Book. Imam Ali (a.s) addressed Abu Bakr in respect of that and advanced as a proof in the same way that Abu Bakr did in respect of the Ansar. He has said to him:
If you have advanced against their opponents the kinship as an argument, then those other than you are more appropriate for the Prophet and nearer to him.
If you have had power over their affairs, then how is that and the advisers are absent?
In another place, the Imam (a.s) addressed the people and said to them: “By Allah, I am his brother-namely the brother of Allah’s Apostle (a.s)-his bosom friend, his cousin, and inheritor of his knowledge. Therefore, who is worthier of it (the caliphate) than I?[^1] The people turned away from Abu al-Hasan (Ali) and forgot his excellent qualities, his achievements, and the commandments of the Prophet (a.s) concerning him. That is because they craved after the caliphate and rushed upon power.
**The Pledge of Allegiance to Abu Bakr ** When Abu Bakr ended his previous speech during which he nominated Umar and Abu Ubayda for the office of the caliphate, Umar hurried to him and said:
[^1] Al-Nisa’i, Khasa’is, p. 18. Al-Hakim, Mustadrak, vol. 3, p. 126.
“Will this be while you are alive?” None (has the right) to hinder you from your position where Allah’s Apostle (a.s) had installed you!” We do not know when Allah’s Apostle (a.s) had installed him in his position where he had been. But we know that he (a.s) sent him out of Medina along with the rest of his companions as armed fighters and appointed Usama over them while he was still young. In such a way the people pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr. Umar and Basheer competed with each other to pledge allegiance to him. All the members of their party competed with each other to pledge allegiance to him. Among those who did that were Usayd bin Hudayr, ‘Uwaym bin Sa‘ida, Ma‘an bin ‘Adi, Abu Ubayda bin al-Jarrah, Salim (Abu Hudhayfa’s retainer), and Khalid bin al-Waleed. These men were strict in forcing the people to pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr. The greatest of them in enthusiasm was Umar, whose whip played an important role in forcing those who refused to pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr. He treated them with severity and violence. He heard the Ansar saying in respect of Sa‘d: “You have killed Sa‘d!”
So he rushed to say: “Kill him! May Allah kill him! He is the leader of a discord!”[^1]
The pledge of allegiance was given to Abu Bakr in such a way encompassed by terror and threat. Then his party carried him to the Mosque of the Prophet (a.s) in procession just as a bride[^2], while the Prophet (a.s) was laid out in the bed of death. Imam Ali, the Commander of the faithful (a.s) was busy preparing him for burial. When he was told about that, he quoted as an example: “And some peoples say what they wish; and they have become tyrannical when Zayd created calamities!”[^3]
Indeed Abu Bakr was given the pledge of allegiance in such hastiness and a surprise. Umar came to know that it was illegal. He bitterly criticized it when he said his famous statement: “Indeed the pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr was an error! Allah has protected the Muslims from its evil! Therefore, whoever summons to the like of it, then kill him!”[^4]
This statement has the severest kind of criticism and slander. It has the following:
[^1] Al-‘Aqd al-Fareed, vol. 3, p. 62. [^2] Ibn Abi al-Haddeed, Sharh Nahjj al-Balagha, vol. 2, p. 8. [^3] Ibid., vol. 2, p. 5. [^4] Al-Bukhari, Saheeh, vol. 10, p. 44. Ahmed, Musnad, vol. 1, p. 55. Tamam al-Mutun, p. 137.
Most surely Umar has described the pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr as an error (falta). Whether its meaning is evil or sin or slip or surprise, it is the greatest of all things in the fields of criticism and dispraise.
He has asked Allah to save the Muslims from its evil and to protect them from its bad complications.
He has decided to kill whoever summons (Muslims) to pledge such an allegiance.
Umar criticized the election of Abu Bakr and paying homage to him because it did not depend on sound foundations and was not based on firm logic. It faces the following criticisms:
- Most surely the people did not consult the pure family of the Prophet in respect of the caliphate. They seized the power. They forgot the commandments of the Prophet (a.s) regarding it. They neglected what the Apostle (a.s) had commanded them in respect of following his progeny and clinging to them. Imam Sharaf al-Deen, may Allah rest him in peace, has said: “Suppose that there is no text (tradition) about the succession of any of the household of Muhammad (a.s). Suppose that they are not prominent in ancestry, lineage, ethics, jihad, knowledge, deed, faith or loyalty. And suppose that they have no precedence in the fields of all virtues, rather they are like the rest of the companions (of the Prophet). But there was a legal or rational or traditional impediment to cancel the pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr. They had to give them time to prepare Allah’s Apostle (a.s) for burial even through entrusting security temporarily to the military leadership that the affair of the caliphate might stabilize.
“Was this amount of patience not kind to those distressed? (While) they were the deposit of the Prophet with people and his remaining (progeny) among them. Allah, the Exalted, has said: Certainly an Apostle has come to you from among yourselves; grievous to him is your falling into distress, excessively solicitous respecting you; to the believers (he is) compassionate, merciful.[^1] It was grievous for the Prophet that his community would fall into a distress. He was careful of their happiness, compassionate and merciful to them. Therefore, is it not of the right of this Apostle that his family had not to fall into distress that they might not be surprised by something like that through which they were surprised, while the injury did not heal and the Apostle was not buried yet?”[^2]
[^1] Qur’an, 9, 128. [^2] Al-Nas wa al-Ijtihad, p. 7.
The Prophet (a.s) was laid out in the bed of death, his grave did not make him absent from the eyes of the people, while they impatiently and greedily competed with each other for government and authority. They neglected the Prophet’s Household. They decided to turn away from them, to wrong them, and to plunder their wealth. From that day the Prophet’s family faced different kinds of distress and misfortune. Their blood was shed, and their womenfolk were taken as prisoners of war. The kinship of the Prophet (a.s) was not respected, while they were the most appropriate (of all things) for care and kindness.
- Among the criticisms the pledge of allegiance faces is that it did not include the influential people (Ahl al-Hal wa al-Aqd), whom they regarded as a basic condition in forming the consensus and the legality of the election. However, the people cancelled the consulting with the high class in Islam. They paid no attention to their opinions, nor did they take their agreement on the new caliph. Moreover, the place where the election took place was much hidden. ‘Abd al-Wahhab al-Najjar says: “Whoever is acquainted with the way through which the pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr took place concludes that it was manifestly incomplete, for the reasonable thing in such states is that the Muslims took a place where they met and about which the people had to be told.”[^1]
Most surely the election of Abu Bakr was very incomplete, for the remarkable personalities who took part in building the entity of Islam withdrew from choosing and electing him. On top of these personalities were Imam Ali, the Commander of the faithful (a.s), his Hashimite relatives, and the leading companions (of the Prophet) such as Salman al-Farisi, Abu Dharr, Ammar bin Yasir, And Ubay bin Ka‘ab. Among the Hashimites who did not elect Abu Bakr were al-Zubayr, Utba bin Abi Lahab, al-Abbas, and the like. All the Ansar or some of them refrained from pledging allegiance to Abu Bakr saying: “We will pledge allegiance to none except Ali!”[^2] A great number of the leading personalities from among the Muhajireen and the Ansar withdrew from electing Abu Bakr; therefore, how was the pledge of allegiance legal?
- The Muslims were forced to pay homage to Abu Bakr, for Umar’s whip played an important role in achieving that, to the extent that the people became astonished. The people did not stipulate that the Caliph should follow Allah’s Book and the Sunna of His Prophet just as they stipulated in respect of the Caliphs after him. Perhaps, for these reasons Umar decided that the
[^1] Al-Khulafa’ al-Rashidun, p. 16. [^2] Ibn al-Athir, Tarikh.
pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr and its ways were illegal; likewise, he decided that he would kill those who would return to the like of it.
Imam Ali refrains from paying Homage to Abu Bakr
Imam Ali (a.s) refrained from pledging allegiance to Abu Bakr. He announced his strong displeasure with him due to the fact that he plundered his wealth and deprived him of his right. That was when he said: “He (Abu Bakr) certainly knew that my position in relation to it (the caliphate) was the same as the position of the axis in relation to the hand mill. The flood water flows down from him and the bird can not fly up to him.” Abu Bakr came to know these words of the Imam. For this reason the Imam (a.s) thought that none other than him could go up on the pulpit of the caliphate. He clearly announced that when his uncle al-Abbas came to him and asked him to pledge allegiance to him. He said to him: “My nephew, stretch out your hand to pay homage to you, that the people may say: ‘The uncle of Allah’s Apostle (a.s) has paid homage to the cousin of Allah’s Apostle (a.s). Therefore, no two persons will differ over you.’”
“Who other than I will seek this affair?” asked the Imam.
The Prophet (a.s) had invested him with this high office of the Imamate on the day of Ghadir Khum. He announced his authority before a group of people. Besides, he continually ordered his community to follow him and to hand the leadership over it to him. In this respect Dr. Taha Husayn has said: “Al-Abbas reflected on the affair; so he thought that his nephew was worthier of inheriting the authority than he was. That is because he (Imam Ali) was brought up by the Prophet. He had precedence in Islam. He showed extreme courage at all the battles. The Prophet called him: ‘My brother!’ So, one day, Umm Ayman joked with him and said to him: ‘You call him your brother while you have married him to your daughter!’ The Prophet said to him: ‘You are to me as Aaron was to Moses except that there is no prophet after me.’ On another day he said to the Muslims: ‘Whoever I am his guardian, Ali is to be his guardian.’ Because of that al-Abbas went after the death of the Prophet to his nephew and said to him: ‘Stretch out your hand to pay homage to you.’”[^1]
Imam Ali (a.s) refrained from pledging allegiance to Abu Bakr. He did not make peace with the people, nor did he grant them consent. He showed his displeasure toward them. He advanced arguments and debated with them. He showed his strong grumble and his intense displeasure with the people because they plundered his inheritance, and denied his authority and his rights. [^1] Ali wa Banuh, p. 19.