Accusation of Him not Being the Khalifah of Rasulullah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam

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Accusation of Him not Being the Khalifah of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam

 

One of the objections raised by the critics of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum against Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhuis that a Bedouin came to Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhuand asked: “Are you the khalifah of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam ?” Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhureplied: “No.” He then asked: “Then what are you?” Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu replied:

 

أنا الخالفة بعده

I am the one that comes after him.

 

According to the objection, the word “خالفة” refers to the person ‘upon whom one does not suffice and he has neither goodness nor blessings, and in fact one whom the majority oppose’, in other words, “خالفة” refers to someone that has no good and ability in him.

The critic who has raised this objection seems has understood this to mean that Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu denied being the khalifah of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and instead regarded himself to be the khalifah. Therefore, it is not correct to refer to such a person as the khalifah of the Rasul.

 

Answer

1. What is the status of this narration of the Bedouin, quoted by the critic, according to the hadith scholars:

It is unclear. It is not a narration of Bukhari or Muslim, which we can accept without question or reservation. The books of hadith diction, in which this narration is mentioned, mention regarding its meaning and purport:

 

فانما قال ذالك تواضعا وهضما من نفسه حين قال أنت خليفة رسول الله

He said this out of humility and modesty, when he was asked “You are the khalifah of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam

 

In other words, even if this narration were to be accepted then the scholars of hadith have explained it to be an expression of humility on the part of Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu and not denial of being the khalifah of the Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam .[1]

The explanation above mentioned by the author al Jazri rahimahu Llah himself, immediately following this narration.

 

2. Aside from this narration, the scholars have reported another narration wherein Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu acknowledges being the khalifah of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam :

 

عن أبي مليكة قال قال رجل لابي بكر يا خليفة الله قال لست بخليفته ولكني خليفة رسول الله ، أنا راض بذالك

Ibn Abi Mulaykah said that a person said to Abu Bakr: “O khalifah of Allah!” to which Sayyidina Abu Bakr responded: “I am not the khalifah of Allah, but I am the khalifah of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam , and I am pleased with this.”[2]

 

We learn from this narration that Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu was pleased with being the khalifah of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam . Therefore, he did not deny being the khalifah of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam . Assuming he did deny being the khalifah of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam at some point, then it was out of humility and subdue his own ego, as the scholars of hadith diction have explained.

 

3. Moreover Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah has the following narration:

 

عن حذيفة قال كنا جلوسا عند النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فقال لا أدري ما قدر بقائي فيكم فاقتدوا بالذين من بعدي وأشار الى أبي بكر وعمر واهتدوا بهدي عمار وما حدثكم ابن مسعود من شيئ فصدقوه

 

Sayyidina Hudhayfah radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrates: “Once we were sitting in the company of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam , and Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: ‘I do not know for how long I will live amongst you. So, follow these two after me.’ He said this while gesturing towards Sayyidina Abu Bakr and Sayyidina ‘Umar). He also said: “Hold firm to the path of ‘Ammar and attest to whatever Ibn Mas’ud tells you.”

 

This narration makes it abundantly clear that after Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam , Sayyidina Abu Bakr and Sayyidina ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma are worthy of being followed, and there is guidance and virtue in following them.

Moreover, it has also been clarified that Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu is worthy of being the khalifah of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam . He is most worthy of this position and Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam subtly indicated towards him being the khalifah.

 

Counter reply

To answer this allegation candidly, assuming that Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu did negate being the khalifah at any time, then Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu declined the caliphate and desisted from taking the pledge of caliphate. He refused it, whereas he was worthy for the position of caliphate at that time.

It is stated in Nahj al Balaghah that after the martyrdom of Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, people went to Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu with the intention of pledging allegiance, and he said:

 

دعوني فالتمسوا غيري …وأنا لكم وزيرا خير لكم مني أميرا

Leave me alone with regards to the matter of the caliphate and look for someone other than I. It is better for me to remain a minister for you, rather than become a leader (khalifah) over you.[3]

 

Therefore, just as we cannot negate the position of caliphate from Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu based on his refusal to become the khalifah, in exactly the same way, we cannot deny the position of caliphate from Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu based on his modest statements. The actual purport and context under which he negates being the khalifah is what we have previously explained.

 

NEXT⇒ Accusation of the Pledge at the Hands of Abu Bakr Being Sudden


[1]  Ibn Athir al Jazri: Al Nihayah, vol. 1 p. 315, Majma’ al Bihar

[2]Majma’ al Zawa’id vol. 5 p. 184

[3]Nahj al Balaghah p. 181

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