An Analysis of the event of Saqifa

April 8, 2012

Lecture Transcripts

Title: An Analysis of the event of Saqifa
Location: Muhammadi Trust
Lecturer: Sayed Hossein Al Qazwini
Date: Friday 6th April 2012

[Shakir 3:144] And Muhammad is no more than a messenger; the messengers have already passed away before him; if then he dies or is killed will you turn back upon your heels? And whoever turns back upon his heels, he will by no means do harm to Allah in the least and Allah will reward the grateful.

Al Saqifa is one of the most controversial events in Islamic history, perhaps many of the tragedies that occurred in Islam are attached to this event. If the day of Saqifa had not taken place perhaps many of the tragedies in Islamic history would not have taken place, but what is interesting about Saqifa is that it is the day that the Sahaba gathered to appoint a Calipha from amongst themselves. What is interesting is that they gathered at Saqifa on the day of the death of the prophet, appointing a Calipha neglecting the fact that for the past 24 years the prophet had appointed a Calipha, it was crystal clear who the Calipha would be after him.

At Ghadeer Ghum 1000 gathered and they heard Rasool Allah say, “whoever I am a ‘mowla’ to then take Ali as your ‘Mowla’”, they all gave their allegiance to ali. TIme and time again he stated the fact that he is his successor and that he is like “Haroon was to Musa but that this is no prophet after him”. TIme and time again in various places he made it clear that Ali is the Calipha after him.

How is is possible that the companions would gather and appoint someone else, How does this make sense? were they from another religion? no doubt they were Muslim and some of them were pious and religious. The vast majority were believers they were not hypocrites they war genuine believers. How is it that right at the death of the prophet they completely switched?

The verse I started with tells us think about the way the prophet died. Most people assume he died a natural death the Quran puts the possibility that he could have been killed. This is another subject which is to be discussed at another event.

The Quran tells us that right after the death of Rasool Allah there will be a switch. How is this possible form the great Sahaba that fought battles with Rasool Allah they were willing to sacrifice their lives for him how was it possible that he is not buried yet an they go to Saqifa and they choose someone else other than Ali.

Tonight we will look at Saqifa and analyse the events and see how it was possible that some of the companions would convert.

Who were the organisers of Saqifa people usually think that it was Abu Baker and Umar. This is not correct, in fact they did not even know that this meeting was going on. The organisers of Saqifa were the Ansar. Here I would like to introduce five different concepts

Muhajaroon – The migrants

1) Muhajareen – migrants who left their homes from mecca to medina.

2) Early Migrants – They came early to medina

Ansar – The Helpers

They lived in the city of medina and welcomed Rasool Allah from Mecca and stood and support him.

Sahaba were from both this kind and Ansar were split into two

1) Aws

2) Khazraj

Saqifa means tent, both the Aws and the Khazraj they gathered at Saqifa. They wanted to appoint Sa’ad Ibin Abada.

What was their motive didn’t they hear for 25 years that the Prophet wanted Ali. Ghadeer Khum etc. THey chose not to listen to the prophet

1) Ansar felt they had sacrificed a lot for Islam, Rasool Allah came to medina not owning anything and like the migrants without homes or cash and the Ansar supported them, they shared their wealth and their home. Some of the Muhajareen were single and so some of the Ansar would divorce one and would allow the Muhajareen to marry. This shows sacrifice. They supported Rasool Allah and felt they should be rewarded by having one of them become the Calipha.

2) By fighting alongside Rasool Allah fighting the people of Qureysh, they were afraid they would seek vengeance from the people of Medina. they were afraid if Calipha is not one of them then Quresyh would come to Power from Bani Umaya so they thought let us come into power before they do. The Quresyh did seek vengeance when Yazid became Calipha he sent army to Medina and killed thousands of them to the point that there were rivers of blood and many of the women of medina were assaulted by the army of Yazid. Why because they had supported Rasool Allah against them.

3) Third motive, Al Ansar had realised that there was conspiracy against Ali, they realised this by number 1 Rasool Allah had sent out Army against the Romand under leadership of Usama yet the Sahaba did not join the army. This drew the attention of the Ansar and sign of conspiracy, number 2 when prophet asked for pen and paper, Umar said the man is speaking nonsense and that the Quran is enough of us. We do not need the will of Rasool.

Some Hadiths narrate the event of pen and paper as tragedy of thursday. As this event occurred on thursday.

They realised form the above that Ali will not come into power. so they said what is the harm if one of us come into power.

Al Muhajareen and Ansar they were basically two political parties amongst the companions. Now the Ansar themselves who gathered at the Saqifa were split into further two parties.

Ansar political party and Aws and Khazraj two political parties within the Ansar.

Historical bloodshed between these two tribes they fought amongst each other. last battle was 6 years before migration of prophet to medina. When these two tribes fought, one of them came to mecca to seek support from Qureysh, instead of meeting Quresyh they met Rasool Allah and they were astonished and accepted Islam. The messengers came back to Medina and they got along. But deep down inside there was a lot of hatred between the two.

Sa’ad Bin Abada tried to unite all the Ansar both the Aws and Khazraj, he said that the Ansar are deserving. However the Aws deep down inside they did not want Sa’ad because of the hatred. Afterward they abandoned Sa’ad. Also one very important characteristic is that they were weak, not very determined they were weak, they were not offensive more defensive as long as their rights preserved that is all that mattered to them. They did not have a set plan or idea before the death of Rasool Allah.

Early in the meeting weakness was shown, one said if we choose Calipha from ourselves what about the Muhajareen. One said we will have two Calipha one from us the Ansar and one from you the Muhajareen. This shows a weak position as they were willing to comprise and concede before the argument and battle of words at Saqifa.

Now the Aws and Khazraji gathered at Saqifa to announce Sa’ad as the Calipha.

Where were the Muhajareen? where were the migrants? Abu Baker and Umar were most likely at the house of Rasool Allah or at the door step of the house of Rasool Allah. Now as they were there two men from the Aws rushed to them and told them of the meeting at Saqifa. Told them they were about to appoint Sa’ad. When Umar heard this he was extremely alarmed, and of cause they both had plans which were detailed of how to take Calipha. All of sudden they have competition with Ansar. Umar immediately tells Abu Baker and they were both alarmed. Immediately these two men along with Abu Umayda Al Jarah decided to rush to the Saqifa to stop what was going. Their idea was to stop the nomination of Sa’ad ibin Abada.

One might say this is sincere intentions but if they had sincere intentions then why didn’t they inform Ali when they left the House of Rasool and headed to Saqifa. Imam Ali did not know he was busy with burial of Rasool Allah. They left without informing Imam Ali.

Abu Baker and Umar had to think of a very quick plan in order to stop the nomination and election of Sa’ad Ibin Abada.

They came up with a plan. Umar is to arrive first and then Abu Baker second, you shall see how this was planned. Umar and Abu Abayda arrive. The Ansar are surprised how did they know about the meeting? only the Ansar were invited how is it that they arrived to Saqifa. They all froze as Umar was in the middle of them.

As soon as he arrived Umar said.

“Who told you Muhammad is dead, Muhammad is not dead”

The day of death of Rasool Allah was such a huge day people cried like they lost their own parents. When all tragedies occurred later on if they wanted to show that it was great they would say as if this tragedy is like the day the the prophet died. Everyone knew that Rssool Allah was dead yet Umar comes with all audacity and says Rasool Allah is not dead and he will not even die until everyone in the world becomes Muslim. You see Umar needed a plan otherwise Ansar were moments of away of giving alliance to Sa’ad. So he says that the prophet is not dead and that he will not die.

He shall come back whoever claims that he is dead, he will come back and cut the hands and feet of whoever claims this so how dear you say he is dead. You see the plan you see how witty he was how he stopped the plans of Ansar.

“And if I hear a single one of you say that the prophet is dead I will hit you with my sword”

So some of them began shaking in fear so they froze and could not say a word. So the nomination of Sa’ad stopped because Umar claiming that the prophet is not dead.

Umar kept on talking to stall in order for Abu Baker to come and think of a better idea, he can’t stall for too long he kept on talking until all of a sudden Abu Baker came into the scene. Abu Baker comes in and sees Umar speaking shouting and yelling threatening he told him Ya Umar enough come down. Umar continued then he said oh the one who is swearing stop and come down. Umar then stopped.

Abu Baker now stood up and said,

“Whoever worshipped Muhammad, Muhammad is dead and he who used to worship Allah, Allah is alive and he will not die..And Muhammad is no more than a messenger; the messengers have already passed away before him; if then he dies or is killed will you turn back upon your heels? And whoever turns back upon his heels, he will by no means do harm to Allah in the least and Allah will reward the grateful [3:144]”

Abu Baker announces the death of Muhammad. Immediately Umar falls to the ground shocked at this news. Anyone with common sense would realise that the above is a show because Umar just said he is not dead and that he would cut the hands and feet of anyone that said he would The all lot the sudden he would believe Abu Baker. why would he?

Umar was shock he begins to weep and cry as if the prophet had died that second. When he heard the verse he said this was the first time I heard this verse. Umar then realise his role is over and now role of Abu Baker. Their role complemented each other. Umar was rough aggressive and vicious, brave. Abu Baker was charming, calm, witty yet they were playing the same role, agenda and goal.

(The next day people told Umar why were you talking about Mohammed the whole world knew he was dead, you spoke with confidence that prophet was dead. Why did you do that?

He replied “I said that because this was my personal opinion, and I did not find this in the Quran. its not something that Rasool Allah had told me however I hoped and wished that Rasool Allah would have lived and been the last amongst us to die” This was a cover up as to what he had stated in Saqifa the day before.

Now the role of Umar was over and time for Abu Baker to take lead, later on Umar recorded as to saying that I was very anxious to what Abu Baker knew what he was doing. By the way at Saqifa you had Ansar and Muhajareen were only three men. Abu Baker, Umar and Abu Abubayda al jarah.

Abu Baker stands to speak after giving long speech he looks to answer and says

” If the Khazraj come to power then the Aws are no less competent and if the Aws comes to power the Khazraj are no less competent”

You see what Abu Baker is trying to do. he continues

” there was lots of killing amongst these two tribes”

He is reminding them of the bloodshed of their history. There is one point to mention here.

Sociologist mention that human beings on individual level they think logically, whatever you hear as individual you analyse logically but when human beings gather together they don’t think logically rather they start thinking emotionally. That is why as you see an eloquent speaker as long as he has eloquence he can change mindset of a group. As long as he touches them emotionally without proof. Like politicians all their speech is emotional, people in large groups think emotionally not logically in large group no time to think but only time to act without thinking. Thats why when Umar said prophet was dead no one objected because they started thinking emotionally. Some thought perhaps he is telling truth. This is important keep this mind.

Abu Baker is telling the Aws and Khazraj that for years you guys been fighting so that it means one of you cannot be Calipha because you will eventually upset each other. So the better idea is that not the Khazraj or the Aws so its best that someone from outside is better, someone from the Muhajaroon. So then he praises them

” no one can deny your position in faith and sacrifice for islam, Allah has made you helpers for this faith and his prophet and allah made Rasool allah migrate to you, this is a virtue for you”

You see how he is drawing them closer to him binding them emotionally and he continues

” ..and most of the wives of the prophet are form you and most of the companions are from you the people of medina and no one after the early migrants has a position like you…we are the Calipha and you are the advisors the ministers”

Few points to analyse here

1) Years of fighting and bloodshed he mentioned he knew of their jealously and competition between the two so he grabs fuel and pours it to the fire. He would play on this

2) Gives message that none of you can become Calipha because you cannot work together because Aws and Khazraj would be upset at each other

3) He gives them lavish praise and bigs their heads. Any person that praises you, you will like them so he begins to praise them

4) Then in a witty way he praises them but as the same time that the early migrants have priority, “after the early migrants no one comes before you” see the structure of his points.

They thought that this was praise however he was saying the early migrants are better than you, you see his eloquence and the affect and not just that, he says according to us no one after the original migrants he said “according to us” he put himself as an outsider as a neutral person so not someone going after the Calipha. This has a psychologic effect.

Furthermore, Abu Baker acknowledges that there is competition between the two between Muhajareen so he emphases on the early migrants. We are the leaders and you are the ministers so that he is tying to say that your rights will be protected we will allow you to participate in decision making. Abu Baker finishes his speech.

Here one of the Ansar gets up and says “do not be fooled and stay strong, people will stand and support you and stand behind and they will not stand and oppose you”… but then he ended very weekly (Habib Ibin..) then he said worse comes to worse “one Calipha from each party” he gave them room to the Muhajareen to take over. Umar could not stay quiet he said “impossible” two men in the Calipha is impossible . “by god the arab will not give you the Calipha whilst the prophet is from another group” Because Rasool is from the Muhajaroon. Umar is trying to say Calipha has to be from same family of Rasool , ironically now family ties play a role.

” but the arab will not mind to give Calipha to the same people that the prophet is from”

you see now its not about Allah no mention of quranic verses or of hadith but about what the people want.

Basheer ibin salah al Khazraji he says

” I will not argue with the muhajreen they were more quailfied so I will give my allegiance to them”

Abu Baker saw this has a weak point he set himself as a judge so he stands and says

“I am satisfied for you to choose from one of those two men, Umar or Abu Ubayd al Jarah”

He didn’t mention his own name, he put himself as a fair judge and noble, not showing his hidden motives and agenda. So Umar says

“by god we will never go over Abu Baker..”give your hand out so we can give you our allegiance”

So Abu Baker puts out his hand and Umar puts his hand in the hand of Abu Baker and gives him allegiance. What is interesting is that before Umar gave allegiance, Basheer was first and rushes to Abu Baker first, this shows the power of speech of Abu Baker, how witty and eloquent and charismatic deceitful but all shown at Saqifa. That one of this opposing people was first to give allegiance. Then one by one the Ansar give their allegiance to Abu Baker. There were only 3 Muhajareen. In the name of the Muhajareen they gave their allegiance whilst only 3. They rushed to give allegiance to Abu Baker. Sa’ad ibin Abada was stepped on, people started stepping on him they forget about him as if he did not exist. They neglected him.

Many years later Umar spoke about the incident and he had this to say. This is a quote form Umar mention in Kins al Aamal

” The allegiance of Abu Baker was a mistake, Allah protected us from its evil, he who gives allegiance or takes allegiance without consultation of muslims he will not have allegiance the person who receives this allegiance should be killed both receiving and giving the allegiance”

This is the person who did the same in Saqifa and now he says this many years later. Thus we saw how such an event took a place at the day of Saqifa and how the Sahaba switched. This helps us understand the verse we started with. We see how the switched all of the sudden. They forgot the 24 years of Rasool Allah it was all forgotten.

The event of Saqifa because the cause for many tragedies in islamic history. Hijacking of Calipha , the attack of fatima house and eventually the day of Ashura. If it wasn’t for Saqifa the event of Ashura would not have taken place.

Proof before he was about to die when shot with arrow by haramala, Imam put hand under his chest he held the blood and put the blood on his beard ” this is how i want to meet my lord, drenched in my blood this is how i want to meet my lord and I will say two men killed me, this person and that person” Who were those two men think? It all goes back to Saqifa thus it was the cause for all our tragedies.

After the attack of house of Fatima, these two men come to apologise to Fatima they came to speak to Fatima they went to Imam Ali to seek permission. Imam Ali promised them that he would gives them persimmon. He asked Fatima and said they wish to come an speak to you.

She replied “the house is yours and i am your wife you can bring whoever you want, however do not ask me to be satisfied with them. By God I will not be satisfied with them”

They said salam to Fatima but Fatima did not answer the salam. Saying Salam is wajib yet Fatima did not say Salam.They came to face Fatima but fatima would turn and face the other way.

Finally Abu Baker begins to speak

” oh beloved one of Rasool Allah, by god the day that the prophet had died I wish I had died instead of him. only god knows how much I love you, I love you more than my daughter Aisha, do you think I would oppress you voluntary, only reason I did not give you fadak is because i heard Rasool said we do not give inheritance”

Fatima then cut them off then she spoke to Ali she would not speak to them directly , here faitma was taking a position taking a stand against oppressors. She said oh my cousin ask them and if they answer me I will think about forgiving them and if they do not answer I will not think about forgiving them.

“Did they not hear prophet say that Allah is satisfied with whosoever Fatima is satisfied with and dissatisfied with whoever Fatima is dissatisfied with”

She said “by god you have hurt me and dissatisfied me by god I will curse you in every salah”.

Here Abu Baker began to cry and began beating his head with his hands. He began to hit himself. Hadith says Umar started laughing at him and he said “this is women you take a women seriously? what value does a women have” Umar says “how did they make you calipha you cry at the words of a women” They then left.

Fatima remained dissatisfied and angry with them. Buharaki mentioned this hadith and he mentioned that Fatima died and she was angry and Abu Baker and Umar and at the same time Allah is angry at the anger of Fatima, what angers fatima angers Allah.

On the last day of her life, she called Imam Ali and says take the children out of the house there is a will i want to give you and this is very sensitive I do not want my children to hear this will I want to speak to you all alone. Make sure the children are outside. He came and held Fatima he held her form her head and and put it on his chest and they both cried until they both fainted and then fatima began saying her will.

” My cousin this is the last day of my life and i see myself getting closer to my father and I have my last will to tell you”

Ali replied

“tell me whatever you want oh daughter of Rasool”

“Oh cousin I don’t think I ever disobeyed you or deceived you oh Ali”

he replied

“I seek refuge in allah how can i ever put you down and tell you that you disobeyed me my lady fatima? you fear allah how can i ever tell you such things?, My lady fatima you have reminded me of the death of Rasool Allah your loss is a major tragedy upon my heart”

she beings with her will

“My cousin if I die, wash me take my cloth over my body because I am purified and bury me at night oh Ali when all eyes are asleep”

Ali leaves the house and fatima is left alone with Fidha she comes to Faitma “my lady fatima you look much health today”

Fatima replied

“no oh Fidha these are the last hours of my life”

Fidha says I heard Fatima remembering Allah and saying Tasbih then all of the sudden the sound stopped I called to her oh my lady talk to me there was no answer and all of the sudden I saw that she had passed and died.

She falls on her and says oh my lady talk to me but there was no answer. Fidha begins to cry and Hasan and Hussain come inside the house. Fidha greets Hasan and Hussain. As soon as hasan comes in he asks where is our mother fatima. Fidha replied come and eat the food it is ready,

Al hasan replied, “when did you never see us eat with our our mother where is our mother” I could not control my tears . Hasan and Hussain realised and they then went into the room. He went to the his mother he went onto her chest and said speak to me my mother.

Hussain then came in and saw Hasan crying Hussain came to fatima and asked speak to me..

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About mohamedridha

Network Systems Engineer with focus on Wireless LAN Infrastructure and Security. Interests in Middle East

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