Sermon 066 – When after the death of the Prophet news reached Amír al-mu’minín about the happening in Saqífah of Baní Sá`idah,(1)

When after the death of the Prophet news reached Amír al-mu’minín about the happening in Saqífah of Baní Sá`idah,(1) he enquired what the ansár said. People said that they were  asking for one chief from among them and one from the others, Amír al-mu’minín said:

Why did you not argue against them (ansár) that the Prophet had left his will that whoever is good among ansár should be treated well and whoever is bad he should be forgiven.

People said: “What is there against them in it?”

Amír al-mu’minín said:

 “If the Government was for them there should have been no will in their favour.”

Then he said:

 “What did the Quraysh plead?”

People said: “They argued that they belong to the lineal tree of the Prophet.

Then Amír al-mu’minín said:

 “They argued with the tree but spoiled the fruits.”

(1).          From what happened in the Saqífah of Baní Sá`idah it appears that the greatest argument of muhájirún against ansár and the basis of the former’s success was this very point that since they were the kith and kin of the Prophet no one else could deserve the Caliphate. On this very ground the big crowd of ansár became ready to lay down their weapons before three muhájirún, and the latter succeeded in winning the Caliphate by presenting their distinction of descent. Thus in connection with the events of Saqífah at-Tabarí writes that when the ansár assembled in Saqífah of Baní Sá`idah to swear allegiance on the hand of Sa`d ibn `Ubádah, somehow Abú Bakr, `Umar and Abú `Ubaydah ibn al-Jarráh also got the hint and reached there. `Umar had thought out something for this occasion and he rose to speak but Abú Bakr stopped him, and he himself stood up. After praise of Alláh and the immigration of the muhájirún and their precedence in Islam he said:

They are those who worshipped Alláh first of all and accepted belief in Alláh and his Prophet’s friends and his Kith and Kin. These alone therefore must deserve the Caliphate. Whoever clashes with them commits excess.

When Abu Bakr finished his speech al-hubáb ibn al-Mundhir stood up and, turning to the ansár, he said: “O’ group of ansár ! Do not give your reins in the hands of others. The populace is under your care. You are men of honour, wealth and tribe and gathering. If the muhájirún have precedence over you in some matters you too have precedence over them in other matters. You gave them refuge in your houses. You are the fighting arm of Islam. With your help Islam stood on its own feet. In your cities prayer of Alláh was established with freedom. Save yourselves from division and dispersion and stick to your right unitedly. If the muhájirún do not concede to your right tell them there should be one chief from us and one from them.”

No sooner al-hubáb sat down after saying this then `Umar rose and spoke thus:

This can’t be that there be two rulers at one time. By Alláh, the Arabs will never agree to have you as the head of the state since the Prophet was not from amongst you. Certainly, the Arabs will not care the least objection in that the Caliphate is allowed to one in whose house Prophethood rests so that the ruler should also be from the same house. For those who dissent clear arguments can be put forth. Whoever comes in conflict with us in the matter of the authority and rulership of Muhammad (p.b.u.h.a.h.p.) he is leaning towards wrong, is a sinner and is falling into destruction.

After `Umar, al-hubáb again stood up and said to the ansár, “Look, stick to your point and do not pay heed to the views of this man or his supporters. They want to trample your right, if they do not consent turn him and them out of your cities and appropriate the Caliphate. Who else than you can deserve it more?”

When al-hubáb finished `Umar scolded him. There was use of bad words from that side also, and the position began to worsen. On seeing this Abú `Ubaydah ibn al-Jarráh spoke with the intention of cooling down ansár and to win them over to his side and said:

 “O’ ansár ! You are the people who supported us and helped us in every manner. Do not now change your ways and do not give up your behaviour.” But the ansár  refused to change their mind. They were prepared to swear allegiance to Sa`d and people just wanted to approach him when a man of Sa`d’s tribe Bashír ibn `Amr al-Khazrají stood up and said:

“No doubt we came forward for jihád, and gave support to the religion, but our aim in doing thus was to please Alláh and to obey His Prophet. It does not behove us to claim superiority and create trouble in the matter of the caliphate. Muhammad (p.b.u.h.a.h.p.) was from Quraysh and they have a greater right for it, and are more appropriate for it.” As soon as Bashír uttered these words division occurred among the ansár, and this was his aim, because he could not see a man of his own tribe rising so high. The muhájirún took the best advantage of this division among the ansár, and `Umar and Abú `Ubaydah decided to swear allegiance to Abú Bakr. They had just got forward for the act when Bashír first of all put his hand on that of Abú Bakr and after that `Umar and Abú `Ubaydah swore the allegiance. Then the people of Bashír’s tribe came and swore allegiance, and trampled Sa`d ibn `Ubádah under their feet.

During this time Amír al-mu’minín was occupied in the funeral bath and burial of the Prophet. When afterwards he heard about the assemblage at the Saqífah and he came to know that the muhájirún had won the score over ansár by pleading themselves to be from the tribe of the Prophet he uttered the fine sentence that then argued on the lineal tree being one but spoiled its fruits, who are the members of his family. That is, if muhájirún’s claim was acceded for being from the lineal tree of the Prophet, how can those who are the fruits of this tree be ignored? It is strange that Abú Bakr who connects with the Prophet in the seventh generation above and `Umar who connects with him in the ninth generation above may be held of the tribe and family of the Prophet and he who was his first cousin, he is refused the status of a brother.

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