Rebuttal to Chapter 5 Entitled “Assessing Sunni
justifications of Saqifa”


Rebuttal to Chapter 5 Entitled “Assessing Sunni justifications of Saqifa”

This chapter of Answering-Ansar’s article requires a very indepth and involved response. The problem lies in the fact that oftentimes people of both sides are using terminologies that they are actually unfamiliar with. We have immigrant “uncles” using terms like “democracy” when in fact they have no real idea as to what exactly that is; indeed, in order to get into such a discussion, both sides should really have received some formal education in political science and government. It should be noted that Answering-Ansar has stated that democracy is Haram, but even the Iranian government has claimed that it is democratic (see; so this seeming discrepancy is apparent on both the Sunni and Shia side.

Admittedly, many Muslims wrongfully claim that Islam advocates “democracy”. However, the term these people are actually groping for is “popular sovereignity”. Laypersons often confuse these terms, using the former when they really mean the latter. The word “democracy” means “the rule of the people”. For obvious reasons, this contradicts the Islamic principles, namely that the rule is by the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger. In a democracy, if 51% of the people deem pork to be Halal, then it is so. On the other hand, this is not true of the Islamic ideal, in which 99% or even 100% of the people could not change the fact that pork is Haram.

What these Sunni people mean to say is not that the Ahlus Sunnah advocates “democracy” but that the Ahlus Sunnah strongly supports “popular sovereignity”, “the consent of the governed”, and “self-determination”. These are three things that are central to the Sunni faith but rejected by the Shia faith. Popular sovereignity revolves around the idea that the state government has a social contract with the people it governs: it is the people who give the ruler the right to govern them (i.e. a contractual agreement). In other words, a ruler may not enforce himself on a population unwillingly, which would be tyranny and wrong. The leader must obtain “the consent of the governed”; Wikipedia says:

“Consent of the governed” is a political theory stating that a government’s legitimacy and moral right to use state power is, or ought to be, derived from the people or society over which that power is exercised. This theory of “consent” is historically contrasted to the “divine right of kings”

(“Consent of the Governed”, Wikipedia)

The Ahlus Sunnah strongly believes in the “consent of the governed”. On the other hand, Shi’ism esposes the backwards principle of “divine right of kings”. We read:

The Divine Right of Kings is a…political and religious doctrine of political absolutism. Such doctrines are largely, though not exclusively, associated with the medieval and ancien régime eras. It states that a monarch owes his rule to the will of God, not to the will of his subjects, parliament, the aristocracy or any other competing authority. This doctrine continued with the claim that any attempt to depose a monarch or to restrict his powers ran contrary to the will of God.

Its symbolism remains in the coronations of the British monarchs, in which they are anointed with Holy oils by the Archbishop of Canterbury, thereby ordaining them to monarchy. It is further evidenced by efforts to trace the genealogy of European monarchs to King David of the Old Testament, in the apparent belief that it legitimizes the rule of the present monarch. The king or queen of the United Kingdom is the last monarch still to undergo such a ceremony, which in other countries has been replaced by an inauguration or other declaration. It is the reason why the British Royal Family’s motto is Dieu Et Mon Droit (God and my [birth] Right - i.e. I rule with God’s blessing).

It may also include a belief in the right of the monarch to rule due to direct decendency from God, usually tracing genealogy back to a divine being, such as Jesus of Nazareth; hence being the person most likely to be able to correctly acertain the will of God.

The concept of Divine Right incorporates the broader concept of “royal God-given rights”, which simply says that “the right to rule is anointed by God (or gods)”…

(“Divine Right of Kings”, Wikipedia)

It one were to substitute the word “King” for “Imam”, then this would be exactly the Shia doctrine of Imamah (i.e. the Divine Right of Imams). We read:

The Imamate in the view of the Shi’ah is a form of divine governance, an office depending on (divine) appointment…something God bestows on exalted persons…the selection of the leader is a matter of divine prerogative, acceptance of that leader is equivalent to submission to God’s sovereignty…There is no longer any question of minority or majority, because the government is the government of God…A society believing in God has no reason to follow the majority…The Shi’ah are committed to the principle that the right to designate the Imam (leader) belongs exclusively to God, and that the people have no role to play in this respect. It is the Creator alone Who selects the Imam…people have no right to interfere in the matter of choosing the Imam…

(Imamate and Leadership: Lessons on Islamic Doctrine, by Sayyid Mujtaba Musavi Lari;

And we will find that the Shia leaders trace their lineage in order to prove their divine right. Indeed, the Shia faith grew in power amongst primarily Persian peoples, who mixed their fire-worshipping and Zoroastrian practises with Islam. The Persians used to believe in the Divine Right of their King (Chosroes), and that this spirit moved from one king to another through his descendents. When these fire-worshippers “converted” to Islam, they adapted this idea, claiming that the Imamah passed down from one Imam to another through his descendants. Shaikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid says:

“The idea that there are ’sayyids’ or ‘walis’ (saints) whom Allah has singled out from among mankind for some favor, or that they have a status which other people do not share, is an idea which is based on the Magian belief that Allah is ‘incarnated’ in people He chooses from among mankind. The Persians used to believe this of their kings (Chosroes), and that this spirit moved from one king to another, through his descendents. This Magian (Zoroastrian) idea spread to the Muslims via the Raafidi Shi’ah, whose origins are Magian – so this idea was introduced to the Muslims. This idea says that Allah selects some of mankind, to the exclusion of others, for this status, which is the status of Imamah and Wilayah. So they believe in this idea with regard to Ali ibn Abi Talib and his descendents, and they add other positions to that, such as sayyid…They said that as this sayyid or wali has this position and status, then they know better what is in our best interests, so we should entrust our affairs to them, because they are better than us, and so they are more entitled…There can be no doubt that this is obviously a misguided notion.”

How far removed is this Shia principle from that of popular sovereignity, consent of the governed, and self-determination. We read:

The Sunni concept of leadership of the Muslim community after the death of the Prophet, the Caliphate, is essentially (of) a temporal leadership. The Caliph is a first among equals, elected ideally by consensus…To the Shi’is, however…it makes no difference to the Imam’s station whether he is acknowledged by the generality of the Muslims or not, whereas this quite clearly does not apply to a Sunni Caliph whose station is totally dependant on such acknowledgement.

(An Introduction to Shi’i Islam: The History and Doctrines of Twelver Shi’ism; by Moojan Momen, p.147)

It should be noted that this book is on’s recommended reading list. Based on this, we see that the Shia faith believes in the imposition of leadership on a population, even if that subject group does not desire this leader.

On the other hand, the Sunnis hold that the leader must have the consent of the governed. In the Sunni treatise, entitled “al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyyah” (The Rules of Governance), we read:

“(Caliphate) requires the approval of the Muslim Ummah.”

(al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyyah)

And we read:

A ruler can achieve power only with the help of his own people…They help him to achieve (a level of) superiority. They participate in the government. They share in all his other important affairs…(the leadership) is a community duty and is left to the discretion of all competent Muslims…

(Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah)

This is the element that is lacking in Shi’ism: the consent of the governed. On the other hand, the Sunnis require that the leader have a contractual agreement with the masses. This is known as the Baya’ah (oath of allegiance). We read:

The meaning of the oath of allegiance.

It should be known that the bay’ah (oath of allegiance) is a contract to render obedience. It is as though the person who renders the oath of allegiance made a contract with his amir…When people rendered the oath of allegiance to the amir and concluded the contract, they put their hands into his hand to confirm the contract. This was considered to be something like the action of buyer and seller (after concluding a sale). Therefore, the oath of allegiance was called bay’ah, the infinitive of ba’a “to sell (or buy).” The bay’ah was a handshake. Such is its meaning in customary linguistic terminology and the accepted usage of the religious law…The word is used for “oath of allegiance to the caliphs” and in ayman al-bay’ah “declarations (of loyalty) in connection with the oath of allegiance.” The caliphs used to exact an oath when the contract was made and collected the declarations (of loyalty) from all Muslims. This then was called ayman al-bay’ah “declarations (of loyalty) in connection with the oath of allegiance”…(Imam) Malik pronounced the legal decision that a declaration obtained by compulsion was invalid…

(Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah)

As for the selection of the Caliph, the Sunni procedure is much different than the Shia one; the Shia rely on the “Divine Right of Kings” theory, equating disobedience to their Imam as disobedience to God, an ideology not at all unfamiliar in history. The Shia idea is that one man claims to be elected by Allah Himself, so even if the great majority of Muslims do not wish him to be the leader, the Shia say that they all must submit to him. On the other hand, the Sunnis rely on Shura (mutual consultation) in order to select a leader. All four of the Rightly Guided Caliphs were chosen by a process of Shura.

In fact, there is an entire chapter in the Quran entitled “Ash-Shura” (The Mutual Consultation). We read:

“Those who believe and put their trust in their Lord…conduct their affairs by mutual consultation (Amruhum Shura Baynahum).”

(Quran, 42:38)

And Allah says:

“…consult with them upon the conduct of affairs.”

(Quran, 3:159)

It is for this reason that the Ahlus Sunnah has adopted the process of Shura in the selection of leadership, as opposed to the system of hereditary “divine right of the Imams”, a concept missing from the Quran.

Answering-Ansar says
Democratic election never took place at the Saqifa, the whole Ummah did not vote on the issue.

It is unrealistic to expect that every individual of the Ummah cast a vote. There was no system of polling nor were there ballot boxes back then, not in Arabia nor anywhere else in the world. Such an accusation made by Answering-Ansar is actually unsophisticated. Most Western countries today do not operate as “direct democracies” in which each person casts one vote to elect their leader. The unsophisticated reader may assume that this is the case in the United States, but such a person is speaking out of ignorance. In the United States, no direct democracy exists at the federal level; the United States, along with most Western countries, are representative democracies, in which a handful of the prominent people elect the leader. In the United States, for example, there exists a nationwide popular vote (in which all citizens can vote) and an electoral college. A fact unknown by many laypersons is that the popular vote has absolutely no legal ramifactions in the selection of the president. Instead, the President is selected by the electoral college, a group of 538 individuals. We read:

The election of the President of the United States and the Vice President of the United States is indirect. Presidential electors are selected on a state by state basis as determined by the laws of each state…These Presidential Electors in turn cast the official (electoral) votes for those two offices. Although the nationwide popular vote is calculated by official and media organizations, it has no legal role in presidential elections.

(“United States Electoral College”, Wikipedia)

It would not be feasible or practical for each and every single person to cast his vote. Instead, a group of prominent people who represent the people decide who should be the leader. And this is how the Islamic system works. The prominent members of society use Shura (mutual consultation) in order to nominate a leader.

Answering-Ansar says
More importantly to describe the concept of khilafth as democratic if kufr, the famous Gettysburg address had described democracy as “The Government of the people, appointed by the people for the people”. This is contrary to Islamic Sharia, which is based on the fact that sovereignty belongs to Allah (swt) not the people.

As we have stated earlier, many people–both Sunni and Shia–mistakenly use the term “democracy” when in fact they mean to say “popular sovereignity”, “consent of the governed”, and “self-determination”. One cannot be too critical of this particular Sunni author when one considers the similar mistake of Iran, which calls herself democratic. If Answering-Ansar insists on degrading our scholars for mistakenly using the term “democratic”, then we can easily show how the Iranian government has done the same.

The Nomination of Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه)

Answering-Ansar says
If Khan is confusing democracy with the concept of shura (consultation) of the entire community

The election of Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) was through Shura (mutual consultation) between the Ansars and the three Muhajirs. Of course, many prominent Muhajirs (such as Ali) were not in attendance; however, this was due to the fault of the Ansars, and not the Shaikhayn or Abu Ubaidah (رضّى الله عنه) . We have already discussed this point earlier. And it was based on this fact that Umar (رضّى الله عنه) would later say about Saqifah:

“No doubt, the oath was pledged in the this way (i.e. rushed and suddenly), but the Almighty protected the Muslims from its evil consequences [which might have arisen].”

(Bukhari, Kitabu’l-Hudud)

This was the fault of the Ansars, not of the Shaikhayn; however, they rectified the mistake of the Ansars by holding the General Baya’ah a day later; it was then that 33,000 Sahabah swore their oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) . This is proof that Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) attained the “consent of the governed”. The great majority of the Muslims supported Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) and this gave him the contractual right to rule over them.

The Nomination of Umar ibn al-Khattab (رضّى الله عنه)

Answering-Ansar says
Hadhrath Umar was not voted by the Muslim Ummah; Hadhrath Abu Bakr nominated him.

It is incorrect to state that Shura (mutual consultation) was not done in the nomination of Umar (رضّى الله عنه) . Before Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) finalized his decision to appoint Umar (رضّى الله عنه) , he in fact mutually consulted the prominent Muslims, including Abdur Rahman ibn Awf (رضّى الله عنه) , Uthman bin Affan (رضّى الله عنه) , Ali ibn Abi Talib (رضّى الله عنه) , and Talhah ibn Ubayd-Allah (رضّى الله عنه) . During the nomination of Uthman bin Affan (رضّى الله عنه) , the Shura council consisted of six representatives; the same is the case with the nomination of Umar (رضّى الله عنه) , in which at least this many prominent figures mutually consulted each other. The only difference here was that Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) met the prominent figures seperately, as opposed to conjoining them in one room at the same time, as Umar (رضّى الله عنه) would do in the nomination of Uthman (رضّى الله عنه) . Based on this fact, it would be a lie to say that Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) did not use Shura. We read:

At the beginning of Jumada al-Ukhra (13 AH), Abu Bakr caught a fever and its intensity continued unabated for a fortnight. When he grew sure of his last hours drawing near, he sent for Abdur Rahman bin Awf and held consultation (Shura) with him regarding the Caliphate…following this, he called Uthman bin Affan and put the same question to him. He (Uthman) said in reply: “Umar’s internal self is better than his external one; he is superior to us all.” When Ali was consulted, he made almost the same answer. Then came Talhah…

(Tareekh al-Islam, Vol.1, pp.312-313)

In another narration, we read:

When ill-health overtook Abu Bakr and the time of his death approached, he summoned Abdur Rahman bin Awf and said: “Tell me about Umar ibn Khattab.” Abdur Rahman replied: “You are asking me about something of which you know better…By Allah, he is even better than the opinion you hold about him.” Then he (Abu Bakr) called Uthman bin Affan and asked him: “Tell me about Umar ibn Khattab.” Uthman replied: “You know him better than us.” Abu Bakr said: “Still, O Abu Abdullah!” Uthman answered: “Indeed, in my opinion, his inner self is better than his outer self and no one among us can parallel him.”

(Ibn Saad; Al-Tabaqat Al-Kubra, Vol.3, p.199)

Ibn Saad mentions that Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) then consulted all the prominent leaders of the Ansars and Muhajirs. We read:

And he (Abu Bakr), besides these two, consulted Abu al-Awar (Saeed ibn Zayd) and Usayd ibn Al-Hudayr–as well as other big leaders of the Ansars and the Muhajirs–so Usayd said: “Indeed, after you O Abu Bakr, I consider him (Umar) the best. He is happy on happy occasions and sad on sad occasions. His inside is better than his outside. No one is more suited to bear the burden of this Caliphate.”

(Ibn Saad; Al-Tabaqat Al-Kubra, Vol.3, p.199)

During the process of Shura, it was only Abdur Rahman bin Awf (رضّى الله عنه) and Talhah (رضّى الله عنه) who raised any objections to Umar (رضّى الله عنه) , but then Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) countered these points of contention, and then Abdur Rahman (رضّى الله عنه) and Talhah (رضّى الله عنه) both agreed with Abu Bakr’s rebuttal, so the matter was settled. As for Uthman (رضّى الله عنه) and Ali (رضّى الله عنه) , they both favored Umar (رضّى الله عنه) .

Therefore, we have established that the principle of Shura was very much involved in the nomination of Umar (رضّى الله عنه) ; the prominent representatives–including all the major figures of the Ansars and Muhajirs–selected Umar (رضّى الله عنه) after mutual consultation. Furthermore, Umar (رضّى الله عنه) secured the “consent of the governed”. We read:

…[Abu Bakr] said addressing this audience:

“I have not appointed any relative of mine as Caliph, and I have not installed Umar as Caliph on my own. I have rather done it only after holding consultations with men of sound judgment. Are you then agreed to his being your Caliph?”

Hearing this, they (the masses) said: “We all agree with your choice and opinion.”

Following this, he (Abu Bakr) said: “You should then carry out Umar’s orders and obey him.”

(Tareekh al-Islam, Vol.1, pp.313-314)

We read:

Abu Bakr looked out over the people from his enclosure…He said (to the people): “Will you be satisfied with him whom I have left as (my) successor over you…?” They responded: “We hear and obey.”

(The History of al-Tabari, Vol.11, pp.146-147)

Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) would even ask the people’s permission before finalizing his will. After writing in his will that Umar (رضّى الله عنه) was to be the Caliph, he asked Uthman (رضّى الله عنه) to read the will outloud to the people (i.e. the masses) and ask if they approved of it. We read:

(Uthman said): “Will you (all) pledge allegiance to the person in whose favor a will has been made in this letter?

The people said: “Yes.” …All accepted and agreed to pledge allegiance to Umar. Then Abu Bakr called Umar in solitude and gave him whatever advice he wanted to.

(Ibn Saad; Al-Tabaqat Al-Kubra, Vol.3, p.200)

Similarly, we read:

Then the Caliph (Abu Bakr) summoned all the people of Medinah to assemble in the court of the Mosque. He addressed them from the window of his house which opened into the court. (Abu Bakr said): “O people! I have appointed Umar ibn al-Khattab as my successor. He is not my relative, but he is the best among you. Are you satisfied with him? Will you obey him?” The people answered with one accord, “yes, we will obey him.” The Caliph was pleased and prayed for God’s favour on Umar and the Muslims.

(A Short History of Islam, by Mazhar ul-Haq, p.223)

So we can see that the matter is not at all as our Shia brothers portray. Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) did not at all install Umar (رضّى الله عنه) as a tyrant over the people. Rather, Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) gave his suggestion as Umar (رضّى الله عنه) , and he first passed it through the people, asking them if they accepted him as their Caliph. From this behavior, we can clearly see how truly important it is for the Ahlus Sunnah that the “consent of the governed” is attained; even the most powerful man from amongst the Muslims had to obtain the permission of the masses in order to appoint his successor. Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) –the Caliph of an emerging super-power–had the modesty and decency to have his own will “proof-read” by the people. The principles of popular sovereignity and self-determination were therefore upheld.

Furthermore, Shaikh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari states:

According to the majority of scholars, the status of a heir to the throne (wali al-ahd) is only one of recommendation that requires approval from the nations prominent and influential figures after the demise of the Khalifa [i.e. consent of the governed]…the majority of the Umma’s scholars are of the view that if a Khalifah or ruler appoints his successor without the approval of those in power, then this is permissible, but it will only serve as an suggestion. After his demise, the nation’s influential and powerful people have a right to accept his leadership or reject it.

(Shaikh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari,

Qadhi Abu Ya’la al-Farra al-Hanbali states in his Ahkam al-Sultaniyyah (The Rules of Governance):

“It is permissible for a Caliph to appoint a successor without the approval of those in power…without the backing and presence of the prominent figures of the community. The logical reason behind this is that appointing someone a successor to the throne is not appointing his Caliph, or else, there will be two Caliphs; thus there is no need for the influential people to be present. Yes, after the demise of the Caliph, their presence and approval is necessary…Caliphate is not established merely with the appointment of the (previous) Caliph, rather (after his demise) it requires the approval of the Muslim Ummah.”

(al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyyah, p.9)

One other point worth mentioning here is the fact that Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) made it a point not to elect his own relative or son to the Caliphate. The Four Rightly Guided Caliphs disliked hereditary rule, as this is not the way of the Ahlus Sunnah; to create such a dynastic rule based on bloodline (on the Shia model) would be unjust and unethical. Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) said to the people:

“Nor have I appointed (as Caliph) a relative.”

(The History of al-Tabari, Vol.11, p.147)

In another account, he said:

“I have not appointed any relative of mine as Caliph.”

(Tareekh al-Islam, Vol.1, p.314)

Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) said on his deathbed:

“After holding consultations with the Muslims, I have selected the best among the Muslims to take care of them and look after their peace and welfare…(O Allah) make Umar a good Caliph…”

(Tareekh al-Islam, Vol.1, p.315)

The Nomination of Uthman bin Affan (رضّى الله عنه)

Answering-Ansar says
Hadhrath Uthman was voted by a committee of six men not the Muslim public at large.

Completely false. In fact, Abdur Rahman (رضّى الله عنه) –the leader of the Electoral Council of six men–engaged in Shura (mutual consultation) with all the prominent Muhajirs, Ansars, and military leaders before he passed a judgment on who should be Caliph. Before we proceed, some background context may be necessary…

The masses, being good Muslims, always looked upto the Ashara Mubash Shararah (i.e. The Ten Promised Paradise by the Prophet). It was widely known that these were the prominent figures who should be considered for the Caliphate. In fact, the first four in the list became the first four Caliphs, namely Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) , Umar (رضّى الله عنه) , Uthman (رضّى الله عنه) , and Ali (رضّى الله عنه) . The Ashara Mubash Shararah were the spiritual leaders of the community and no election was necessary to ascertain that the public held their confidence in them. Not only was no such election necessary, but no such sophisticated technology to facilitate polling or ballot boxes was available.

In any case, the dominance of the Ashara Mubash Shararah was firmly established; to give an example our Shia brothers might appreciate, we know that in Iran that the people’s loyalties lie with the Maraje’ (top scholars). There is no need to conduct a poll to ascertain this. What is interesting to note is that our Shia brothers decry the nomination of Uthman bin Affan (رضّى الله عنه) even though Ayatollah Khamenei, the current Supreme Leader of Iran, was elected in a remarkably similar manner. When Ayatollah Khomeini died, it was the body known as the Majles-e-Khobregan (the Assembly of Experts of the Leadership)–not the masses of Iranians–who voted for his successor. The Majles-e-Khobregan consists of 86 of the most prominent Shia Mujtahids, or Maraje’ (top scholars). These 86 individuals conducted Shura (mutual consultation) and eventually decided on two men: Grand Ayatollah Golpaygani and Grand Ayatollah Khamenei. After further deliberation, the latter was chosen by the Majles-e-Khobregan.

Based on this fact, how can our Shia brothers have any footing to stand upon when they complain about the nomination of Uthman (رضّى الله عنه) ? How remarkably similar is the Iranian Assembly of Experts of the Leadership and the Electoral Council convened by Umar ibn al-Khattab (رضّى الله عنه) ! Much like the Grand Ayatollahs hold sway in Iran, it was the Ashara Mubash Shararah who held sway amongst the eyes of the Muslims at the time of Umar’s death. And so, it was based on this fact that Umar (رضّى الله عنه) nominated these men to be a part of the Electoral Council. Of the Ashara Mubash Shararah, the following had passed away already: Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) and Abu Ubaidah (رضّى الله عنه) . And Umar (رضّى الله عنه) was obviously dying. This left seven members of the Ashara Mubash Shararah. One of the seven, namely Saeed ibn Zayd (رضّى الله عنه) , known as Abu al-Awar, disliked taking administrative posts altogether; he was offered the office of governor once but he refused to accept it. He was even appointed governor of Damascus without his consent, but he rejected this appointment and sent a letter to Abu Ubaidah (رضّى الله عنه) demanding “send someone else to replace me as soon as you receive this letter.”

Umar (رضّى الله عنه) said:

“You should approach (for Caliphate) that group of men whom the Messenger of Allah said are ‘among the people of Paradise.’ Saeed ibn Zayd is one of them, (but) I am not bringing him into this matter, but rather the following six: Ali and Uthman (sons of Abd Manaf), Abdur Rahman and Saad (maternal uncles of the Messenger of Allah), al-Zubayr bin al-Awwam (the true friend and cousin of the Messenger of Allah), and Talhah al-Khayr ibn Ubayd-Allah. Let them select one of themselves.”

(The History of al-Tabari, Vol.14, pp.144-145)

We read:

Umar appointed six persons, the remnant of the ten (men to whom Paradise had been guaranteed), to be members of (an electoral) council (shura), and he put it up to them to make the choice for the Muslims.

(Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah)

Umar (رضّى الله عنه) said to these six men:

“I have deliberated on the matter of Caliphate and have reached the conclusion that there is no difference among the people in this affair as long as it is one of you. If there is any difference, it is within you. Therefore, this matter is entrusted to the six of you: Abdur Rahman, Uthman, Ali, Zubayr, Talhah and Saad.”

(Ibn Saad; Al-Tabaqat Al-Kubra, Vol.3, p.344)

In another narration, Umar (رضّى الله عنه) said to the six men:

“I have looked into the matter and consider you to be the chiefs and leaders of the people. This matter will remain amongst you alone…deliberate (amongst yourselves)! Choose one of you.”

(The History of al-Tabari, Vol.14, p.145)

So we see that Answering-Ansar is not at all being fair here by saying that the Caliph was elected by only these six men. The masses generally clung to one of these six men, who were already the chiefs and leaders of the people; some of the Muslims clung to Abdur Rahman (رضّى الله عنه) , others to Uthman (رضّى الله عنه) , others to Ali (رضّى الله عنه) , others to Zubayr (رضّى الله عنه) , others to Talhah (رضّى الله عنه) , and yet others to Saad (رضّى الله عنه) . Much like some of the Iranians cling to one Grand Ayatollah, and others cling to another Grand Ayatollah, and yet others to another one. But at the end of the day, the masses of Iranians cling to one of the eighty-six Mujtahids. Therefore, to be fair, the Assembly of Experts of the Leadership need only consist of these eighty-six Mujtahids who deliberate behind closed doors to decide the Supreme Leader. Likewise, it was sufficient for the six Sahabah to be on the Electoral Council.

Because the number of the members on the council was even (six, including Talhah), Umar (رضّى الله عنه) sent his son, Abdullah ibn Umar (رضّى الله عنه) , to act as the tie-breaker; however, Umar (رضّى الله عنه) categorically forbade Abdullah ibn Umar (رضّى الله عنه) to be one of the candidates for Caliph. Umar (رضّى الله عنه) said:

“Abdullah ibn Umar will be there as adviser, but he shall have nothing to do with the matter (i.e. of being Caliph)…If three approve of one of them, and three approve of another, get Abdullah ibn Umar to make a decision.”

(The History of al-Tabari, Vol.14, pp.146-147)

We read:

Umar had co-opted Abdullah bin Umar with the Board of Electors, but forbade him to be himself a candidate for the Caliphate.

(A Short History of Islam, by Mazhar ul-Haq, p.299)

Talhah (رضّى الله عنه) was outside of Medinah and was therefore unable to take part in the Electoral Council, leaving five men and Abdullah ibn Umar (رضّى الله عنه) . These six men began the process of Shura (mutual consultation). After almost two entire days of intense deliberation, the men were unable to settle the matter. We read:

So the Electors met after Umar’s death. Each one of them pressed his claim to the Caliphate. For two days, they hotly contested against each other’s claim [sic] until a near stale-mate was reached…confronted with this stale-mate, Abdur Rahman bin Awf resolved it…

(A Short History of Islam, by Mazhar ul-Haq, p.299)

Abdur Rahman (رضّى الله عنه) then said:

“Which one of you will withdraw (the race for the Caliphate), and undertake to appoint the best of you?”

(The History of al-Tabari, Vol.14, p.149)

This was a very fair suggestion by Abdur Rahman (رضّى الله عنه) and it was accepted by the group that the one who withdrew from the race voluntarily would be the one who would nominate the Caliph from amongst them. None of them except Abdur Rahman (رضّى الله عنه) himself agreed to withdraw, and it was on this basis that he was nominated the leader of the Electoral Council. Abdur Rahman (رضّى الله عنه) himself not only continued the procedure of Shura with the other five men on the Electoral Council, but he also consulted all the prominent Muhajirs and Ansars as well as all the military commanders. We read:

When they had said the morning prayers, (Abdur Rahman) convened the members (of the Electoral Council) and sent for all the Muhajirs and the Ansars of long standing (in Islam) and of excellence and the military commanders who were (in Medinah). They were all assembled and there was confusion among the people in the mosque.

(The History of al-Tabari, Vol.14, p.151)

Tabari then describes how the people debated amongst themselves who should be the Caliph, some saying that Ali (رضّى الله عنه) should be Caliph and others saying that Uthman (رضّى الله عنه) should be Caliph. A very lively Shura took place with all the prominent people present, not just the Electoral Council. Finally, after much mutual consultation and heated debate, Saad (رضّى الله عنه) said:

“Get it over with, Abdur Rahman, before our people fall into civil war!”

(The History of al-Tabari, Vol.14, p.152)

So we see that Shura was done so much that the people eventually got tired of it and begged Abdur Rahman (رضّى الله عنه) to get over with it and make the decision. Abdur Rahman (رضّى الله عنه) responded:

“I have looked into the matter and consulted. Do not, members of the electoral council, lay yourselves open to criticism (i.e. by reneging on their promise to abide by Abdur Rahman’s ruling).”

(The History of al-Tabari, Vol.14, p.152)

And it was only then that Abdur Rahman (رضّى الله عنه) nominated Uthman (رضّى الله عنه) , based on the fact that most of the people he consulted with were of the opinion that it should be Ali (رضّى الله عنه) or Uthman (رضّى الله عنه) . We read:

During this time, it became clear that only two of the Electors had any chance of being accepted (by the masses) as Caliph. They were Uthman and Ali, representing two Quraishite factions, Umayyad and Hashmid respectively. Both had nearly equal claim to the Headship of Islam…Abdur Rahman spent the third day and night in busy consultations (Shura) with the other Electors, and the leading citizens of Medinah and of the provinces who were visiting the Capitol after the pilgrimage. His enquiries revealed to him that the majority of opinion favored Uthman’s claim.

(A Short History of Islam, by Mazhar ul-Haq, p.299)

Abdur Rahman (رضّى الله عنه) chose Uthman (رضّى الله عنه) over Ali (رضّى الله عنه) because he felt Uthman (رضّى الله عنه) would better follow the example of the Shaikhayn. In any case, we see that Answering-Ansar cannot at all claim that the decision was made by six men, when in fact Abdur Rahman (رضّى الله عنه) mutually consulted all the prominent Muhajirs, the Ansars, representatives from the provinces, the leading military officials, etc.

The masses then gave the Baya’ah to Uthman (رضّى الله عنه) . We read:

Talhah arrived on the day on which the oath of allegiance was given to Uthman. He was asked to give his own oath to Uthman, but he asked: “Do all Quraish approve of him?” And he was told they did.

He came to Uthman and the latter (Uthman) said: “You still have your options open; if you refuse to give me the oath of allegiance, I shall reject the Caliphate (for myself).”

Talhah said: “Will you really reject it?”

Uthman replied that he would.

Talhah asked: “Have all the people given you the oath of allegiance?”

Uthman replied that they had.

Talhah said: “Then I approve; I shall not go against the general consensus.” He gave Uthman the oath of allegiance.

(The History of al-Tabari, Vol.14, pp.153-154)

Based on this, we see that Uthman (رضّى الله عنه) had definitely been given the consent of the governed. Furthermore, there was Ijma (consensus) on his Caliphate after Shura (mutual consultation). Uthman (رضّى الله عنه) was so careful about obtaining the consent of the governed that he was willing to step down if one person, Talhah, were not to render his oath of allegiance. We should compare this model to that of the Shia form of governance, in which the Infallible Imam forces his leadership upon the masses.

The Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) has told us in Hadith that the leader must be one who does not aggressively seek out the leadership. We see that Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) was willing to give up the leadership at Saqifah, when he asked the Ansars to pick between Umar (رضّى الله عنه) and Abu Ubaidah (رضّى الله عنه) . Umar (رضّى الله عنه) as well refused the Caliphate and nominated Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) at Saqifah. And Uthman (رضّى الله عنه) was willing to give up the Caliphate to Talhah (رضّى الله عنه) . Likewise, Ali (رضّى الله عنه) at first refused to become Caliph after the death of Uthman (رضّى الله عنه) . Therefore, we see that a salient feature of all Four Rightly Guided Caliphs is that they were not greedy or hungry for the Caliphate. (Indeed, the fact that Uthman and Ali both pushed for their own Caliphate at some point or the other is only due to the pressure they felt from both of their clans, the Banu Umayyah and Banu Hashim respectively.)

In the same manner that Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) refused to nominate a relative to the Caliphate, Umar (رضّى الله عنه) likewise refused to reduce the nomination of Caliphate to a hereditary system. We read:

Someone said (to Umar): “I can point to someone (to be Caliph): Abdullah ibn Umar.” But Umar replied: “…I have not found (the Caliphate) so praiseworthy that I should covet it for my own family…it is enough for the family of Umar that (only) one of them should be called to account and held responsible for what happened to Muhammad’s community. I have striven and have kept my own family out.”

(The History of al-Tabari, Vol.14, p.144)

Answering-Ansar says
Mu’awiya took the reigns by force not through election. Similarly the Banu Ummayya rule that followed had no democratic system of Caliphate rather we had what the late Wahabie scholar Maudoodi describes as ‘Mulukiyat’ (Kingdom) where there was hereditary succession. This same approach was applied by the Abbasides, the Seljuq’s and the Ottoman’s, so where is this democratic system that Khan advocates?

One of the major reasons that the scholars give for calling the first four Caliphs to be the “Four Rightly Guided Caliphs” to the exclusion of others is that they were nominated by Shura without coercion and that they did not reduce the leadership to a hereditary system. The Ahlus Sunnah looks to the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs as the model to implement and nobody else. Therefore, it is not fitting that we discuss other leaders, but rather we should confine our discussion to the group which represents our views.

In regards to Muawiyyah (رضّى الله عنه) , it is incorrect to claim that he seized the leadership by force over an unwilling population. In fact, Muawiyyah (رضّى الله عنه) commanded the unbridled support of the entire Banu Umayyah (رضّى الله عنه) , the whole of Syria, and many other Arabian tribes such as Banu Kalb. By the time of Muawiyyah’s Caliphate, the Muslim nation had already broken down into various competing localities. In the locality in which Muawiyyah (رضّى الله عنه) resided, he most definitely had overwhelming support and consent of the governed. However, due to the unfortunate situation, the Ummah was divided and in a state of civil war. In such a confusing situation, it is unfair to be un-necessarily critical of Muawiyyah (رضّى الله عنه) .

The Muslim Ummah at the time was split between Muawiyyah (رضّى الله عنه) and Hasan (رضّى الله عنه) , both of whom were ready to fight each other for it. This was in marked contrast to the previous Caliphates in which the Ummah jointly agreed on one leader. It was the first time that the Muslims could not peacably agree on one leader. Why was this? There are in fact many reasons for this, but we shall limit our discussion to two of them: Firstly, the Muslim nation-state had spread far and wide by this time, and it is much more difficult for larger groups to reach a consensus as opposed to smaller groups. During the nomination of Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) and Umar (رضّى الله عنه) , the Muslim state was limited to the Arabian Peninsula, and the Arabian tribes agreed upon the leadership of the Quraish of Mecca. By Uthman’s time, the Muslim state had absorbed many Non-Muslim lands such as Persia and Syria (under the valiant command of Umar); with the rapid expansion of the state, the unity of the Ummah was becoming a problem. It is no wonder that by the time of Ali’s death, the Kufans and Syrians cannot agree on a Caliph.

The second explanation for this disunity is the emerging rivalry between Banu Umayyah and Banu Hashim. Neither Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) nor Umar (رضّى الله عنه) belonged to either clan and so their Caliphates were saved from much of the in-fighting between the two clans. However, after Umar’s death, the top two candidates for the Caliphate came from these two rival clans: Uthman (رضّى الله عنه) from Banu Umayyah and Ali (رضّى الله عنه) from Banu Hashim. Banu Umayyah had always been the leaders before the advent of Islam, and now with the advent of the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم), Banu Hashim was seeking to remove Banu Umayyah from power and come in their place. This shift in power created a civil struggle, one that would manifest itself in the civil war between Banu Umayyah and Banu Hashim.

And so it was that the Western half of the Muslim empire accepted Banu Umayyah and the Eastern half accepted Banu Hashim. The Syrian Muslims nominated Muawiyyah (رضّى الله عنه) , whereas the Kufans nominated Hasan (رضّى الله عنه) . It was not that Shura was not done, but rather that the two sides did not do Shura conjointly, a problem arising from (1) the vastness of the Muslim empire and (2) the budding rivalry between Banu Umayyah and Banu Hashim.

It is incorrect to claim that Muawiyyah (رضّى الله عنه) seized power by force. The two sides came to a peace agreement: Hasan (رضّى الله عنه) agreed to the Caliphate of Muawiyyah (رضّى الله عنه) in exchange for five million dirhams (for the coffers of the Bayt ul-Mal of Kufa) as well as the revenue of the Ahwaz Province. So it was not by force that Muawiyyah (رضّى الله عنه) came to power, but rather by a peace agreement signed by Hasan (رضّى الله عنه) himself, in which five million dirhams and the revenue from a province were given to the Kufans.

As for the system of hereditary rule, this too was not started by Muawiyyah (رضّى الله عنه) . Yes, Muawiyyah (رضّى الله عنه) nominated Yezid to be the Caliph, but we must look into the matter before passing a rash judgment. Initially, Muawiyyah (رضّى الله عنه) had no such intention of nominating his son; it was Mughira bin Shoba (رضّى الله عنه) who urged Muawiyyah (رضّى الله عنه) to nominate Yezid. In fact, Muawiyyah (رضّى الله عنه) was at first against this idea, but Mughira (رضّى الله عنه) insisted upon it. Mughira (رضّى الله عنه) was not the father of Yezid, and therefore, how can we say that Yezid’s appointment was done to create a dynasty based on hereditary rule? We read:

It cannot be denied that (only) at the insistence of Mughira bin Shoba, Amir Muawiyyah nominated Yezid as his successor; otherwise, he would never have thought of making his son Caliph after him. It was Mughira bin Shoba who was the first to introduce that idea…that proposal was absolutely against the tradition of the Rightly Guided Caliphate…

(Tareekh al-Islam, Vol.2, p.91)

We read:

Al-Mughira advised the Caliph to nominate his son as his successor. At first he hesitated, but (only) later he acted on his (Al-Mughira’s) advice.

(A Short History of Islam, by Mazhar ul-Haq, p.408)

We read further:

Mughira bin Shobah, a budding Meccan statesman of the tribe of Banu Thaqeef, embraced Islam in 5 A.H…he is credited with furthering the initiative of getting Yezid nominated by his father as a Caliph-designate. When the suggestion was first made, Muawiyyah could not persuade himself to take such a delication decision. Mughirah, the old, seasoned statesman over 60 years of age, was shrewd enough to arrange for a deputation of the people of Kufa (the stronghold of his opponents), of all places, headed by his own son, Musa, to convince Muawiyyah.

(Last Messenger with a Lasting Message, Ziauddin Kirmani, p.427)

In fact, it was Yezid who is blamed for institutionalizing the system of hereditary rule. We read:

Even upto Yezid’s reign, the Muslims had not accepted the principle of Caliphate by (hereditary) succession in government and politics. They knew that the act of Yezid succeeding Amir Muawiyyah as Caliph was a mistake and it needed to be rectified…however, after Yezid’s death, the idea of (hereditary) succession was strengthened…and finally this evil practise took such a deep root that until now the Muslims have not been able to get rid of it.

(Tareekh al-Islam, Vol.2, p.94)

The President of the United States today is George Bush II; do we say that George Bush I created a dynastic and hereditary system since he pushed his son into politics and the presidential race? In fact, we see that Muawiyyah (رضّى الله عنه) did not nominate Yezid with any intention of a hereditary dynasty, but rather he did it only because of the circumstances of the time. The Muslim Ummah was in a state of great disunity; Syria and Kufa were very close to an all out civil war, along with Banu Umayyah and Banu Hashim. Muawiyyah (رضّى الله عنه) feared that if he did not appoint a successor, then the Muslims would fall into civil war, and one is hard pressed to disagree.

It was based on this prevailing condition of extreme precariousness that Mughira (رضّى الله عنه) and others urged Muawiyyah (رضّى الله عنه) to simply nominate his son as Caliph to prevent any possible civil strife. We read:

Muawiyyah, on the other hand, believed that circumstances had greatly changed since the days of the Orthodox Caliphate (i.e. the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs)…there was (now) the danger of a renewed civil war, which might break out after Muawiyyah’s death, as it had after Uthman’s. This would divide Islam into warring camps…Muawiyyah rejected this wise suggestion (not to nominate his son) on the plea of the danger of dispute and bloodshed if he did not settle the question of succession in his lifetime.

(A Short History of Islam, by Mazhar ul-Haq, p.408)

Having said that, it is true that we need to return to the way of the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs, and this is the model used by the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah.

Answering-Ansar says
Khan’s assertion that Hadhrath Abu Bakr was appointed Khalifa goes against the Sunni belief that the Prophet (saaws) did not appoint a successor and so again is groundless.

The Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) nominated Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) as his successor as Imam of the prayers. This was the Prophet’s indirect way of casting his “vote” for Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) without forcing it down people’s throats. Had the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) directly nominated Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) , the people would have construed this is a divine command and then felt that a leader was to be forcibly imposed upon them instead of chosen by their own free will. Therefore, in the egalatarian spirit of Islam, the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) allowed the Muslims to choose their own leader. But he definitely showed where his preference was.

Answering-Ansar says
Khan’s contention that if Caliphate was based on relationship then Uthman was more entitled, due to his being the Prophet (saaws)’s son in law twice over is a very weak argument. Imam Ali (as)’s relationship was not just based on an ‘in law’ relationship, he was the Prophet (saaws)’s cousin, the Prophet (saaws) declared him his brother and said that “Ali is from me and I am from him”, something he never said to Hadhrath Uthman. In addition Hadhrath Uthman was not a member of the Ahlul’bayt (the household of the Prophet) while Imam Ali (as) was. Hadhrath Ali (as) was the closest relative of the Prophet (saaws).

We have already dealt with this extensively in our Response to Chapter 4.

Answering-Ansar says
As for the comments of Khan: “While Shias say that Islamic system is based on family succession and heirship. In this regard they present the claim of Hadrat Ali and his associates” what can we say? Should we rely on the arguments advanced by Mr Khan a modern day writer that clearly have no grounding or those advance by Ali (as) and his associates who are the affected parties and have first hand experience on the matter?

Ali (رضّى الله عنه) would never advocate a hereditary system of familial successorship. This is what the Shia claim that Ali (رضّى الله عنه) did or said, but it is quite simply not true. There is no proof that Ali (رضّى الله عنه) intended that the leadership should be passed down through his progeny. Such a thing would be immoral and Ali (رضّى الله عنه) was above that.

Answering-Ansar says
Failure to follow the Muhajireen is tantamount to going astray and apostasy

We can find no argument either from the Qur’an or the Sunnah that failure to follow the Muhajireen leads to a person going astray.

No argument from the Quran or the Sunnah? How about multiple Hadith? The Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) said:

“Our political authority shall remain with the Quraish. In this matter, whoever opposes them as long as they follow Islam, Allah shall cast him face down in Hell.”

(Bukhari: Kitabu’l-Ahkam)

The Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) had told the Ansar:

“In this matter (i.e. of leadership), bring forward the Quraish and do not try to supersede them.”

(Talkhisu’l-Hubayr, vol.2, p. 26)

The Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) said:

“After me, the political authority (imamah) shall be transferred to the Quraish.”

(Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hambal, vol. 3, p. 183)

And it was this very fact that was the basis of Abu Bakr’s argument. Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) had told Saad (رضّى الله عنه) of the Ansar:

“O Saad! You know very well that the Prophet had said in your presence that the Quraish shall be given the Caliphate because the noble among the Arabs follow their nobles and their ignobles follow their ignobles.”

(Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hambal, vol. 1, p.5)

Answering-Ansar says
The reality is even the Muhajireen could go astray if they failed to follow two sources which the Prophet (saaws) made clear at Arafat, if the companions followed them (whether they be Ansar or Muhajireen) they would never go astray, the two sources were the Qur’an and the Ahlul’bayt.

Answering-Ansar almost had it right until they said that the two sources are the Quran and Ahlel Bayt. The two sources are Quran and the Sunnah. And definitely, we agree that the Muhajirs were to be followed only so long as they followed these two. To this effect, the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) had said in the Hadith we reproduced above that the Muhajirs were to be followed “as long as they follow Islam.” And the Muhajirs definitely followed Islam, so that is the end of the matter.

Answering-Ansar says
Twenty-five years after the death of the Prophet (saaws) his grandson Hasan (as) repeated his father’s arguments. In a letter to Mu’awiya he pointed out that the Quraysh had secured authority by advancing their relationship to the Prophet (saaws), but when the Ahlul’bayt advanced the same argument they were ostracized 1.

1. Maqatil, by Abu-l0Faraj page 55-57, Cairo edition 1949

Abu al-Faraj was a Shia, and his book, Maqatil at-Talibiyin wa-akhbaruhum (“The Slaying of the Talibis”), is full of typical Shia forgeries and fabrications. It is interesting how Answering-Ansar is attempting to pass this work off as a Sunni text, or somehow trying to imply that it is accepted by both sides as authoratative. This work is a Shia propaganda book that contains biographies of Shia martyrs. It has absolutely no credibility in the eyes of the mainstream Muslims. This letter written in the name of Hasan (رضّى الله عنه) is fabricated.

Written By: Ibn al-Hashimi, | Email : ahlelbayt[a] | English Version