24) NOMINAT1ON OF UMAR

The Sun.nis believe that what happened at Saqifa was an 'election'; that it was a manifestation of the democratic spirit of Islam.

In view of that belief it would be reasonable to expect the "democratic election" (whatever its meaning in the back-ground of Saqifa) to continue as thc basic of Islamic Caliphate. But this was not to be.

Abu Bakr was indebted to Umar in establishing his Caliphate and he knew that if the masses were given a genuine freedom of expressing their choice Umar had no chance. (He was knowr. as: Rude and of harsh nature) Therefore, he decided to nominate his own successor Umar.

Tabari (Vol. 3, p. 429) writes: "Abu Bakr called Uthman - when he (Abu Bakr) was dying and told him to write an appointmcnt order, and dictated to him: "In the name of Allah the Beneficient, the Merciful: This is the Onler of Abdullah bin Abi Qahafa (i.e. Abu Bakr) to the Muslims. Whereas." Then he became unconscious. Uthman added the words: "I appoint Umar bin Khattab as my successor among you."

Then Abu Bakr regained consciousness and told Uthman to read it to him. Uthman read it; Abu Bakr said, "Allaho Akbar" and was pleased and commented, "I think you were afraid that people would disagree amongst themselves if I died in that unconsciousness." Uthman said: "Yes." Abu Bakr said, "May Allah give you reward on behalf of Islam and Muslims." Thus the appointment-letter was completed and Abu Bakr ordered it to be read before the Muslims.

Allama Ibn Abil Hadid Mutazilite wrltes that when Abu Bakr regained consciousness and the scribe read what he had written and Abu Bakr heard the name of Umar, he asked him: "How did you write this?" The scribe said: "You could not pass him over." Abu Bakr said: "You are right." Shortly afterwards Abu Bakr died.

Umar got Caliphate by this appointment. Here one is reminded of a tragedy which occured three or five days before the death of The Holy Prophet.

In Saheeh Muslim there is a tradition narrated by Ibn Abbas: "Three days before The Prophet's death Umar ibn Khattab and other companions were present by his side. The Apostle said, "Now let me write something for you by way of a will so that you are not misled after me." Umar said, "The Apostle is talking in delirium the Book of Allah is sufficient for us." Umar's statement caused a furore among those present there. Some were saying that the Apostle's command should be obeyed so that he might write whatever he deslred to write for their betterment. Others sided with Umar. When the tension and uproar increased the Apostle said,

"Get away from me."

A few Quranic injunctions should be mentioned here:

"Muslims should "raise not your voices above the voice of the prophet.....

lest your deeds become vain and ye preceive not."

QURAN: 49 :2

The Holy Prophet's words were Revelation from God:

"Nor does he say (aught) of his own desire.

It is nothing but inspiration sent down to him.

QURAN: 53: 3-4

And Muslims were expected to follow his command without any IFs or BUTs:

"Whatever the prophet gave you take it;

and whatever he forbade, desist from it."

QURAN: 59: 7

And when such an Apostle, five days bcfore his death wanted to write a directive to save Muslims from going astray, he was accused of "talking in delirium."

When Abu Bakr who had no such divine protection from errors, started dictation of the appointment letter in such a serious condition that he became unconscious before dictating the name of his successor Umar did not say that he was talking in delirium!

Nobody can be sure of what it was which The Holy Prophet wanted to write. But the phrases used give us an inkling. On several occasions The Holy Prophet had declared:

"O People, Verily, I am leaving behind among you two precious things, the Book of Allah and my descendants who are my family members. You will never go astray so long as you take hold of them sincerely."

When he used the same wordings, five days before his death,

"I write for you a directive so that you do not go astray after me",

It was easy enough to understand that The Holy Prophet was going to write what he had been telling them all along about taking hold of Quran and his Family Members.

Perhaps Umar guessed as much as may be understood from his claim, "the Book of Allah is sufficient for us." He wanted to make it known to The Prophet that he would not follow the two precious things.' One only was enough for him.

The word "delirium" would have served his purpose even if The Prophet had written the directive. Umar and his partisans would have claimed that as it was written in 'delirium' it had no validity.

 

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