Debate on so-called virtues of Abu Bakr and Umar

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Mamoon Abbasi while celebrating the marriage of his daughter to Imam Muhammad b. Ali al-Jawad (a.s.) organized a function wherein many people were present including Yahya b. Aktham, Mamoon and Imam Jawad (a.s.) himself. Yahya b. Aktham, an Ahle Tasannun scholar and a leading jurist of his time, grabbed the opportunity to confront Imam (a.s.) on the subject of Imamat and asked him a series of questions on the topic. Yahya, was a reputed homosexual of his era, a common trait found in hardcore enemies of Ameerul Momineen (a.s.). (Seyar Aalaam al-Nobala v 12 p 10, Tarikh al-Baghdad v 14 p 196, Tarikh Madinah Dimishq v 64 p 81)

Yahya: It has been reported through sources that the archangel Jibrail once said to Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) – ‘O Prophet of God, the Lord sends His greetings to you and says – I am pleased with Abu Bakr, ask him if he is also pleased with me?’ What are your views regarding this tradition?[1]

Imam Jawad (a.s.): I do not deny the merits of Abu Bakr[2] but the narrator of this tradition must definitely have been aware of another tradition of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) that he (s.a.w.a.) narrated on the eve of his farewell pilgrimage – The number of people who attribute false traditions to me has increased and there will be more such people after my departure. Whosoever narrates false traditions in my name will deserve severe punishment in Hell. Therefore, any tradition recorded in my name must be verified in accordance to the Book of Allah and my Sunnah; if it is in accordance to them accept it, else reject it.

The tradition (about Allah inquiring about whether Abu Bakr is pleased with Him) lacks conformity with the Quran because Allah Himself says:

وَ لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْاِنۡسَانَ وَ نَعْلَمُ مَا تُوَسْوِسُ بِہٖ نَفْسُہٗ ۚۖ وَ نَحْنُ اَقْرَبُ اِلَیۡہِ مِنْ حَبْلِ الْوَرِیۡدِ

And certainly We created man, and We know what his mind suggests to him, and We are nearer to him than his life-vein. (Surah Qaaf (50): 16)

(According to the verse Allah is closer to man than his own life vein, so how is it possible that He is not aware of Abu Bakr’s feeling and had to send Jibrail to ascertain if Abu Bakr was pleased with Allah! In the backdrop of such fabricated traditions, it is absurd that the Sunnis accuse the Shias of exaggerating the status of the Ahle Bait!)

Yahya: It has been narrated that the positions of Abu Bakr and Umar on earth are just like Jibrail’s position in the skies.

Imam Jawad (a.s.): This tradition is also questionable because both Jibrail and Mikaail are Allah’s most honourable angels who never ever committed any sin nor were they unmindful of their obedience to the Lord for a moment. But Abu Bakr and Umar were pagans who had spent the majority of their lives in idol worshipping and polytheism. So obviously it does not befit the Lord to compare them with the likes of Jibrail and Mikaail.

Yahya: It has been reported that Abu Bakr and Umar are leaders of old men in Paradise. What is your view on this tradition?

Imam (a.s.): This tradition is also not reliable because the dwellers of heaven will be young and not old. This tradition was fabricated by the Umayyids in contrast to the authentic tradition of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) wherein he (s.a.w.a.) has declared Imam Hasan (a.s.) and Imam Husain (a.s.) as leaders of the youths of Paradise.

Hasan and Husain are the chiefs of youths of Paradise.[3]

Yahya: It has been reported that Umar b. Khattaab is the lamp of Paradise.

Imam Jawad (a.s.): I do not deny the merits of Umar[4] but Abu Bakr, who is superior to the former, himself announced from the pulpit – I have a Satan over me who distracts me all the time, so if you see me deviated from the right path, then correct me.

Yahya: It has been narrated that the Prophet of God had once said – Had I not been a prophet, Umar would have certainly have been a prophet.[5]

Imam Jawad (a.s.): The Quran is more accurate and reliable compared to this tradition on the matter of prophethood:

وَ اِذْ اَخَذْنَا مِنَ النَّبِیّٖنَ مِیۡثَاقَہُمْ وَ مِنۡکَ وَ مِنۡ نُّوۡحٍ وَّ اِبْرٰہِیۡمَ وَ مُوۡسٰی وَ عِیۡسَی ابْنِ مَرْیَمَ ۪ وَ اَخَذْنَا مِنْہُمۡ مِّیۡثَاقًا غَلِیۡظًا

And when We made a covenant with the prophets and with you, and with Nuh and Ibrahim and Musa and Isa, son of Marium, and We made with them a strong covenant. (Surah Ahzaab (33): 7)

The verse clearly proves that Allah had made a covenant and took allegiance from all prophets, therefore in this case how is it possible that the Lord changes the allegiance that He Himself has taken? None of the messengers were ever guilty of apostasy (based on the divine covenant), so how is it possible that Allah grants prophethood to someone who spent a major part of his life worshipping idols?

Moreover, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) informed – I was a prophet even at the time Adam’s creation was suspended between water and clay.

Yahya: The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) informed – The chain of prophethood did not terminate in me as I suspected that it continued in Khattaab’s progeny (i.e. Umar).

Imam Jawad (a.s.): This report is also doubtful as the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) cannot doubt his own prophethood and its finality because Allah says:

اَللہُ یَصْطَفِیۡ مِنَ الْمَلٰٓئِکَۃِ رُسُلًا وَّ مِنَ النَّاسِ

Allah chooses messengers from among the angels and from among the men…(Surah Hajj (22): 75)

Since prophethood is a divinely bestowed position, there is no question of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) being uncertain or suspicious about it in any manner.

Yahya: Narrations suggest that the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had said – If Allah’s wrath descended on us, none except Umar would be spared.[6]

Imam Jawad (a.s.): This narration is also inaccurate because the Lord has promised His Prophet:

وَمَا کَانَ اللہُ لِیُعَذِّبَہُمْ وَاَنۡتَ فِیۡہِمْ ؕ وَمَا کَانَ اللہُ مُعَذِّبَہُمْ وَہُمْ یَسْتَغْفِرُوۡنَ

But Allah was not going to chastise them while you were among them, nor is Allah going to chastise them while yet they ask for forgiveness. (Surah Anfaal (8): 33)

So Allah’s Wrath will never descend on the people till the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is with them or so long as they continue to seek forgiveness from Him.[7]

[1]     This is a false and fabricated tradition (Muhammad b. Baabshaz al-Basari).  Imam Zahabi, a reputed Sunni scholar, in his book Mizaan al-Etedaal has documented this tradition with the comment – This is a false and fabricated tradition. (Mizaan al-Etedaal vol 3 pg 488)

[2]      Imam’s (a.s.) statement – ‘I do not deny Abu Bakr’s excellence’ is a pointer towards Imam’s (a.s.) taqayya. There is a tradition from Zakariyyah b. Adam – I was in the presence of Imam Reza (a.s.) who brought Imam Jawad (a.s.) who was just 4 years old.  Then Imam Jawad (a.s.) struck the floor with his hand, raised his head towards the sky and went into a state of deep reflection.  Imam Reza (a.s.) asked: May my life be sacrificed for you.  What are you thinking in this manner?  Imam Jawad (a.s.) – Regarding the afflictions related to my mother Fatima Zahra s.a.).  By Allah, I will bring those two (the first and second caliph) out of their graves and throw them into the Fire.  Then I will destroy their ashes or consign them to the oceans.  Then Imam Reza (a.s.) drew him towards himself and kissed him between the eyes and declared – My son, you are worthy of Imamat.

(Dalaail al-Imamah pg 600, Navaadir al- Mojizaat pg 183, Behaar al-Anwaar vol 50 pg 59, Medinah al-Ma’aajiz vol 7 pg 324, Anwaar al-Bahiyyah pg 258, Khaatimah al-Mustadrak vol 1 pg 224, Bait al-Ahzaan pg 124)

In the backdrop of such traditions regarding the caliphs and their evident oppression of the Ahle Bait (a.s.) we conclude that statements like – I am not a denier of the excellence of Abu Bakr/Umar is due to taqayya especially when they were made in the court of the king or in the midst of government spies.

[3]      Fazaail al-Sahaabah pg 20, Musnad-e-Ahmad vol 3 pg 3 and vol 5 pg 91, Sunan-e-Abi Maajah vol 1 pg 44, Sunan-e-Tirmizi vol 5 pg 321, Mustadrak vol 3 pg 167 and 381, Sharh-e-Muslim vol 16 pg 41, Majmaa al-Zawaaid pg 9 vol 165,182,201, Tohfah al-Ahwazi vol 10 pg 186, Sunan-e-Kabari vol 5 pg 50, Musnad-e-Abi Yaa’laa vol 2 pg 395, Sahih-e-Ibne Habbaan vol 15 pg 411, Mojam al-Awsat vol 5 pg 243, Mojam al-Kabeer vol 99 pg 292, Sharh-e-Nahjul Balaaghah of Ibne Abil Hadeed vol 16 pg 14, Jaame al-Sagheer vol 1 pg 20, Kanz al-Ummaal vol 7 pg 26, Faiz al-Qadeer vol 3 pg 550, Durr al-Mansoor vol 4 pg 262, Al Kaamil vol 2 pg 220, Elal-e-Daar-e-Qutni vol 3 pg 166, Usd al-Ghaabah vol 1 pg 311, Tahzeeb al-Kamaal vol 26 pg 391, Mizaan al-Etedaal vol 2 pg 250, Lisaan al- Mizaan vol 2 pg 157, Al Isaabah vol 1 pg 624, Al Bidaayah wa al-Nihaayah vol 2 pg 61, Manaaqib-e-Khaarazmi vol 2 pg 290, Jawaah al-Mataalib vol 2 pg 199, Yanaab al-Mawaddah vol 2 pg 34, Zakhaair al- Uqba pg 129 etc.

[4]       Why Imam (a.s.) said something like this is already explained earlier, refer footnote no. 2.

[5]      Allaamah Amini (r.a.) in the unparalleled book of Al-Ghadeer has mentioned some of the fabricated traditions amounting to 145 in number on the excellence of Abu Bakr and Umar and their companions, all of which have been attributed to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). While many Sunni scholars have recorded such traditions in their books, highly reputed names like Ibne Adi, Tabaraani, Ibne Hayyaan, Nisaai, Haakim, Daar-e-Qutni, Mohib Tabari, Khateeb-e-Baghdaadi, Ibne Jauzi, Ibne Asaakir, Zahabi, Ibne Abil Hadeed have summarily rejected such traditions

[6]      All of such traditions concerning the excellence of Abu Bakr and Umar are fabricated so much that great Sunni scholars have accepted that the narrators of the traditions were liars.  For more details refer Al-Ghadeer vol 5 pg 297.

[7]      Al Ehtijaaj vol 2 pg 245, Behaar al-Anwaar vol 50 pg 80, Dorar al-Akhbaar of Hijaazi pg 372, Musooah-e-Imam-e-Jawad (a.s.) of Sayyad Qazwini vol 2 pg 403, Munaaziraat fi al-Aqaaid wa al-Ahkaam of Shaikh Abdullah Hasan vol 1 pg 124

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