25) 'SHURA': COMMITTEE

After ruling for about ten years, Umar was fatally wounded by a Zoroastrian slave, a woman called Firoz.

Umar was very much indebted to Uthman (because of that appolntment letter) but did not like to openly nominate him as his successor; nor did he allow the Muslims to exercise their free will after him. He ingenuously now invented a third system.

He said: "Verily, the Apostle of Allah died and he was pleased with these six people from Quraish: Ali, Uthman, Talha, Zubair, Sa'ad bin Abi Waqqaas and AWur-Rahman bin Awf. And I have decided to make it (the selection of Caliph) a matter of consultation among them; so that they may select one from among themselves."

They were called when he was nearing his death. When he looked at them, he said: "So, every one of you wants to become Caliph after me?" No one answered. He repeated the question. Then Zubair said: "And what is there to disqualify us? You got it and managed it; and we are not inferior to you in Quraish; neither in precedence nor in relation (to The Holy Prophet)." Umar said: "Should not I tell you about yourselves?"

Zubair said: "Tell us, because even if we ask you not to tell you will not listen."

Then Umar started enumerating the bad points in characters of Zubair, Talha, Sa'ad bin Abi Waqqas and AWur-Rahman bin Awf.

Then he faced Ali and said: "By Allah, you deserved it had it not been that you are of humorous nature. However, By Allah, if you people made him your ruler, he will surely lead you upon clear truth and enlightened highway."

Then he looked towards Uthman and said: "Take it from me. It is as though I am seeing that the Quraish have put this necklace (Caliphate) in your neck because of thy love; then you have put Bani Umayya and Bani Abi Muit (Uthman's tribe and clan) on the shoulders of the people (as rulers) and have given them exclusively the booty (of the Muslims): thereupon a group from the wolves of Arab have come to you and have slaughtered you in your bcd.

"By God, if they (Quraish) did, you would surely do; and if you did, they (Muslims) would surely do." (If the Quraish gave Caliphate to Uthman he would surley give exclusive rights to Bani Umayya; and if he did so, the Muslims would surely kill him).

Then he caught the forehead of Uthman and said: "So if it happens, remember my words; because it is bound to happen."

Then Umar called Abu Talha Ansari and told him that after his (Umar's) burial, he was to collect fifty people from Ansar, arrned with sword, and gather the six above-mentioned candidate voters in a house for selecting one of themselves as Caliph. If five agree and one disagrees, he should be beheaded: if four agree and two disagree, those two should be beheaded: if there is a division of three and three the choice of the group of Abdur-Rahman Bin Awf should prevail and if the other three do not agree to it they should be beheaded. And if three days pass and they are unable to reach at any decision, all of them should be beheaded and the Muslims should be left free to select their Caliph."

The Shia Author Qutb Rawandi narrates that when Umar decreed that thc group of AbdulRahman bin Awf would prevail, Abdullah bin Abbas told Ali: "This thing again is lost to us. This man wants Uthman to be Caliph." Ali replied:

"I also know it; still I will sit with them in the Shura, because Umar by this arrangement has, at least publicly, accepted that I deserve Caliphatc, while before that he was narrating that 'the Nubuwwat (prophethood) and Imamat, would not be jointed in one family.' Therefore, I will participate in the Shura to show the people the contradiction of his action and his narration."

Why Ibn Abbas and Ali were sure that Umar wanted Uthman to be Caliph? It was because of the constitution of the Shura and its Terms of Reference. Abdul-Rahman was the husband of the sister of Uthman; and Sa'ad bin Abi Waqqaas, and Abdul-Rahman were of one family and were cousins.

Seeing the hold which family bond had in Arabia it was unthinkable that Sa'ad would oppose Abdul-Rahman or that Abdur Rahman would ignore Uthman. So three votes were safely in custody of Uthman, including the deciding vote of Abdur Rahman.

Coming to Talha, he was from the clan of Abu Bakr; and, since the day of Saqifa, Banu Hashim and Banu Tim felt nothing but enmity towards each other. Thus, it was almost sure that Talha would not favour Ali.

Zubair was son of Safiyya, aunt of Ali(as), and after Saqifa had taken out sword to fight those people who wanted to enter the house of Ali to take him to Abu Bakr. And it was reasonable to expect him to favour Ali. But, on the other hand, he could be tempted to stand for Caliphate himself.

Thus, utmost which Ali could hope was his own opinion and that of Zubair in his favour. Still four would have gone against him and he would have lost. Even imagining the impossible to happen, i.e., Talha favouring Ali, he could not be Caliph because in case of equal division, opinion of Abdul-Rahman would have been upheld.

After this study of thc Terms of Reference, what happened in Shura is of academic intercst only.

Talha withdrew in favour of Uthman; prompting Zubair to withdraw in favour of Ali, and Sa'ad in favour of Abdur Rahman bin Awf.

On third day, Abdul-Rahman bin Awf withdrew his name and told Ali tnat he would make him Caliph if Ali pledged to follow the Book of Allah, the tradition of the Holy Prophet ard the system of Abu Bakr and Umar.

Abdul-Rahman knew very well what the reply would be. Ali told:

"The Book of Allah and Tradifion of the Holy Prophet and my own opinion."

Then Abdul-Rahman put salne conditions to Uthman, who readily accepted. Thus Abdul-Rahman declared Uthman to be the Caliph.

Ali told Abdur Rahman.

"By Allah, you did not do it but with the same hope which (Umar) had from his friend. "

He meant that Abdul-Rahman nlacle Utllman Caliph hoping that Uthman would nominate him as his Caliph. Then Ali said:

"May Allah create enmity between you two."

After a few years Abdul-Rahman and Uthman hated each other; they did not talk with each other till Abdul-Rahman died.

 

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