Debate on whether Abu Bakr was worthy of leading the nation

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A renowned scholar of the Ahle Tasannun (those who claim to follow the Sunnah) from Iraq Abu Huzail al-Allaaf narrates: During one of my journeys from ‘Raqqa’, I heard about an insane person who was a resident of ‘Ma’bade Zaki’. He was very well-mannered and soft-spoken. I went to meet him in Ma’bad. He was an old and tall person seated on a mat. He was combing his hair and beard. I saluted him and we had some discussion, which is as follows:

Old man: Where do you hail from?

Abu Huzail: Iraq

Old man: So you are experienced and possess good manners. Which city of Iraq do you hail from?

Abu Huzail: Basra

Old man: What is your name?

Abu Huzail: I am Abu Huzail-e-Allaaf

Old man: The famous debater?

Abu Huzail: Yes

On learning this, he rose from his place and made me sit next to him on the mat and after some discussion asked: What are your views on Imamat?

Abu Huzail: Which Imamat are you referring to?

Old man: I mean, after the demise of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), who did you consider as his successor and vicegerent?

Abu Huzail: The same person who the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) preferred over everyone else.

Old man: And who is that person?

Abu Huzail: Abu Bakr

Old man: Why did you give him preference?

Abu Huzail: Since the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) instructed – Make the best and foremost as your leader. Moreover, everyone was agreeable to Abu Bakr’s leadership and succession.

Old man: O Abu Huzail, you committed an error here. Since you narrate the tradition of Prophet (s.a.w.a.) – Make the best and foremost as your leader, my question to you is this that Abu Bakr himself confessed from the pulpit –

I am your leader but not the best among you.

(Al Bidaayaah wa al-Nihaayaah by Ibn Kathir– student of Ibn Taymiyyah vol. 5, p. 269; Al Me’yaar wa al-Mawaazinah by Abu Jafar Iskaafi p. 39; Ta’weel Mukhtalef al-Ahaadeeth by Ibn Qutaybah, p. 109; Sharh Nahj al-Balaaghaah by Ibn Abil Hadeed, vol. 1, p. 169, vol. 2, p. 56, vol. 17, p. 156; Takhreej al-Ahadeeth wa al-Aasaar by Al Muzeeali, vol. 2, p. 205; Kanz al-Ummal vol. 5, p. 632; Tamheed al-Awaa’el by Al-Baamelaani p. 487; Tafseer al-Raazi vol. 23, p. 117; Tafseer Qurtubbi, vol. 3, p. 262; Tarikh Madinah Dimishq, vol. 30, p. 304; Al Usmaaniya by Al Jaahiz p. 227)

If people have wrongly selected Abu Bakr as their leader, then they have not obeyed the instruction of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in selecting the best in the nation and if Abu Bakr is speaking a lie, then it is inappropriate for a liar to occupy the pulpit of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).

As far as your belief that everyone was agreeable to Abu Bakr’s leadership, then even this is incorrect, since many from the Ansaar were of the opinion that – there should be one leader from us and one from you (Muhaajireen). And Abu Bakr preferred this suggestion of the Ansaar with a slight modification – leaders should be from Muhaajireen and the advisors (Wazeer) should be from the Ansaar. On this suggestion the Ansaar or some of the Ansaar demanded – We will not give allegiance to anyone but Ali.

(Al-Kaamil by Ibn Athir, vol. 2 p. 325,Sharh Nahj al-Balaaghah, vol. 2 p. 22)

On the other hand, Zubair b. Awaam, from the Muhaajireen used to declare – I am not going to give allegiance to anyone except Ali, for which Zubair was manhandled and had his sword broken.

Abu Sufyan approached Ali (a.s.) and pledged support saying – If you say, I will fill the city of Medina with an army and horses.

Salman (r.a.) declared – What did we not do (select Ali), and don’t know why we did what we did (select Abu Bakr).

Likewise, Abu Zarr and Miqdad also objected. This was the condition of the Muhaajireen.

This bears witness to the fact that the caliphate of Abu Bakr was not acceptable to all Muslims.

O Abu Huzail! I will ask you a few questions and expect answers from you:

1. Did Abu Bakr not announce this from the pulpit, “O people, there is a Satan with me, which has led me away from the right path and has conquered me. Whenever you see me angry, get away from me?”

In reality, he was saying– why did you appoint an unstable person like me as a leader.

2. What would you say about those people who believe that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a) did not nominate anyone as his successor after him (God forbid), but Abu Bakr did nominate Umar as his successor. However, Umar did not nominate anyone as his successor. Are these things not contradictory?

3. Umar delegated the decision of succession on 6 people and said that all these people are the people of heaven, and along with that he also said:

If 2 of these oppose 4 amongst them, then kill the 2 opposing members. And if 3 people oppose the other 3 members, then kill the group in which Abdul Rahman b. Awf is not present.

Does religiousness allow such a condition to be imposed wherein people of heaven are put to the sword?

4. O Abu Huzail, how do you consider the meeting of Umar with Abdullah b. Abbas?

When Umar was injured from the stabbing, Ibn Abbas visited him and saw that he was in acute pain. So he sought the reason for this.

Umar: My pain is not on account of the wound, but I am more worried about whom I should nominate as my successor.

Then they entered into a lengthy discussion on the subject:

Ibn Abbas: Hand the vicegerency to Talha b. Ubaidullah.

Umar: He is short-tempered. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) recognized him by these characteristics. Therefore, I cannot give vicegerency to such a short-tempered person.

Ibn Abbas: So, what is your opinion about Zubair b. Awaam?

Umar: He is a miser. I have myself seen that he was acting miserly even for the earnings of his wife that she had earned from sewing the wool. Therefore, such a person can never be handed over the affairs of the entire Muslim nation.

Ibn Abbas: Then Sa’d b. Abi Waqqaas?

Umar: He is a person of the battlefield, not fit for the leadership of the nation.

Ibn Abbas: And Abdul Rahman b. Awf?

Umar: He cannot even take care of his family.

Ibn Abbas: Your son Abdullah?

Umar: One who cannot even divorce his own wife, by Allah, affairs of the entire Muslim nation cannot be handed over to him.

Ibn Abbas: Usman?

Umar: (repeated thrice) If I hand over leadership to Usman, then he will impose Bani Mueet over the entire Muslim nation. In such a situation, it will be correct for the Muslim nation to kill him.

Ibn Abbas says that I became silent after that. Since Umar was at odds with Ali b. Abi Talib(a.s.), I did not mention his name to him, but Umar himself brought up Ali (a.s.) and asked me to mention his name.

Ibn Abbas: How about Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.)?

Umar: By Allah, all my troubles and afflictions are because of the fact that I snatched the right from its rightful owner.

After that, he added:  وَاللہِلَئِنْ وَلَّیْتُہٗ لَیَحْمِلَنَّہُمْ عَلَی الْمَحَجدَّۃِ الْعُظْمٰی، وَ اِنْ یُطِیْعُوْہُ یُرْخِلُہُمْ الْجَنَّۃِ

By Allah, if I hand over the vicegerency to him, then surely he will lead the people to the right path and if people follow him, then he will make them enter Paradise.

Despite this admission, Umar left the decision of selection of the vicegerency to his consultative committee. Woe be on him from the side of his Lord!

Abu Huzail says that after saying this, the old man’s condition changed and starting acting like an insane person (on account of Taqaiyya).

(Al-Ehtejaaj vol. 2 p. 150, Behaar Al-Anwaar, vol. 49 p. 279)

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