Chapter Two: The Aspect of Bay’ah

Chapter One: Ties of Kinship and Marriage
February 13, 2019
Chapter Three: The relationship they shared as well as the virtues and merits of Sayyidina ‘Uthman Dhu al Nurayn radiya Llahu ‘anhu reported by Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu
February 13, 2019

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Chapter Two

The Aspect of Bay’ah

 

In this chapter, the aspect of Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu pledging allegiance to Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu will be discussed.

Just as Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu swore allegiance to Sayyidina Abu Bakr and Sayyidina ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, happily and willingly, in the very beginning, similarly he pledged allegiance to Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu without force and compulsion.

Incidents of this bay’ah have been reported by the muhaddithin and historians. They report that during his final days, Sayyidina ‘Umar al Faruq radiya Llahu ‘anhu selected six men from the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum, viz. Sayyidina ‘Uthman, Sayyidina ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, Sayyidina Talhah, Sayyidina Zubair, Sayyidina Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas, and Sayyidina ‘Abdul Rahman ibn ‘Awf radiya Llahu ‘anhum; and determined that whichever of these men are unanimously accepted will become the khalifah of the Muslims.

Sayyidina Talhah handed over his right to Sayyidina ‘Uthman; Sayyidina Zubair gave his right to Sayyidina ‘Ali, and Sayyidina Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas gave his choice to Sayyidina ‘Abdul Rahman ibn ‘Awf radiya Llahu ‘anhum. Sayyidina ‘Abdul Rahman ibn ‘Awf declared that he did not desire Caliphate for himself, so they should allow him to choose. The decision now rested between Sayyidina ‘Uthman and Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhuma.

Sayyidina ‘Abdul Rahman ibn ‘Awf radiya Llahu ‘anhu made necessary investigations and contemplated deeply and discussed privately with both these seniors. Finally, he delivered an inspiring sermon in front of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum and general Muslim masses in Masjid al Nabawi, whereafter he caught hold of the hand of Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and pledged allegiance to him. Immediately after him, Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu gave his bay’ah which was followed by the bay’ah of all those present. Without any dispute, this significant station was passed.

Scores of scholars have documented this incident. A few references will be presented to the readers.

  1. Ibn Sa’d writes:

عن سلمة بن أبي سلمة بن عبد الرحمن عن أبيه قال أول من بايع لعثمان عبد الرحمن بن عوف ثم علي بن أبي طالب

Salamah ibn Abi Salamah ibn ‘Abdul Rahman reports from his father who said:

The first to pledge allegiance to ‘Uthman was ‘Abdul Rahman ibn ‘Awf, followed by ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib.[1]

 

  1. ‘Abdul Razzaq records the incident with the following words:

 

يمسح على يده فبايعه ثم بايعه الناس ثم بايعه علي

He passed his hand over his and pledged allegiance to him. Thereafter the people pledged their allegiance to him and then ‘Ali pledged allegiance.[2]

 

  1. Ibn Sa’d and Muhammad ibn Yahya al Andalusi report:

 

حدثني عمر بن عميرة بن هنيء مولى عمر بن الخطاب عن أبيه عن جده قال أنا رأيت عليا بايع عثمان أول الناس ثم تتابع الناس فبايعوا

‘Umar ibn ‘Umairah ibn Hani’, the freed slave of ‘Umar ibn al Khattab, narrated to me―from his father―from his grandfather who said:

I saw ‘Ali pledging allegiance to ‘Uthman first. The people followed suit and pledged allegiance.[3]

 

  1. The narration of Sahih al Bukhari goes as follows:

 

فلما أخذ الميثاق قال ارفع يدك يا عثمان فبايعه فبايع له علي و ولج أهل الدار فبايعوه

After taking a solemn promise, he (‘Abdul Rahman ibn ‘Awf) said, “Raise your hand, O ‘Uthman!” He then pledged allegiance to him. ‘Ali then pledged allegiance to him. Then, the people of the house entered and pledged allegiance.[4]

 

  1. Al Bayhaqi reports in al Sunan al Kubra in the chapter of fighting the rebels:

 

فلما أخذ الميثاق قال ارفع يدك يا عثمان فبايعه فبايع له علي رضي الله عنه و ولج أهل الدار فبايعوه

After taking a solemn promise, he (‘Abdul Rahman ibn ‘Awf) said, “Raise your hand, O ‘Uthman!” He then pledged allegiance to him. ‘Ali then pledged allegiance to him. Then, the people of the house entered and pledged allegiance.[5]

 

  1. Hafiz Ibn Kathir relates the incident under the events of the year 24 A.H.:

 

و جاء إليه الناس يبايعونه و بايعه علي بن أبي طالب أولا و يقال آخرا

People came to him to give him bay’ah. ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib pledged allegiance first. And it is said: at the end.[6]

 

Although there exists some difference in the narrations as to whether he pledged allegiance first or last, there is unanimity on the fact that Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu did in fact pledge allegiance in that very gathering just like everyone else.

 

  1. In Minhaj al Sunnah, Ibn Taymiyyah al Harrani has quoted the declaration of Imam Ahmed ibn Hambal concerning this matter, which we reproduce to increase the knowledge of the readers:

 

قال الإمام أحمد بن حنبل لم يتفق الناس على بيعة كما اتفقوا على بيعة عثمان ولاه المسلمون بعد تشاورهم ثلاثة أيام و هو مؤتلفون متفقون متحابون متوادون معتصمون بحبل الله جميعا … فلم يعدلوا بعثمان غيره كما أخبر بذلك عبد الرحمن بن عوف إلخ

Imam Ahmed ibn Hambal says, “People did not concur on a bay’ah the way they concurred on the bay’ah of ‘Uthman. The Muslims appointed him as leader after discussing the matter for three days. They were united, unanimous, mutually affectionate, mutually compassionate, and holding firmly to the Rope of Allah altogether. They never equated anyone to ‘Uthman as noted by ‘Abdul Rahman ibn ‘Awf (in his decision).[7]

 

  1. Hafiz Ibn Hajar as well as Ibn Athir al Jazari have documented Sayyidina ‘Ali’s bay’ah to Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhuma under the biography of Sayyidina ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[8] The references may be referred to. We have not quoted the texts for brevity.

 

Corroboration from Shia Books

Senior Shia scholars have acknowledged this bay’ah. This is an accepted fact among them, with no difference of opinion. However, they believe that the bay’ah was taken under coercion just as his bay’ah to Sayyidina Abu Bakr and Sayyidina ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma. This is their ancient worn out trick, to colour every action of Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, the fierce Lion of Allah, with the colour of compulsion and force. They fabricate such narrations for this purpose which depicts the helplessness and hopelessness of the Lion of Allah. I am not simply making this claim from my own side. Anyone who has studied the books of the Shia will be cognisant of this fact. Anyways, the fact remains that all the Shia senior scholars have acknowledged this bay’ah.

We will now present a few quotations from their books which clearly mention Sayyidina ‘Ali’s bay’ah to Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhuma.

 

  1. Abu Jafar al Tusi (d. 460 A.H.) speaks about the bay’ah in his widely accepted book in the Shia world, al Amali. Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu reports:

لم قتل جعلني سادس ستة فدخلت حيث أدخلني و كرهت أن أفرق جماعة المسلمين و أشق عصاهم فبايعتم عثمان فبايعته إلخ

When ‘Umar was killed, he appointed me as one of six. So I entered where he entered me and I disliked disuniting the Muslims and causing dissension among them. So when you pledged allegiance to ‘Uthman, I pledged allegiance too.[9]

 

  1. Ibn Abi al Hadid records the incident as follows in his commentary on Nahj al Balaghah, in his personal fraudulent manner:

 

قال عبد الرحمن بن عوف لعلي بايع إذن و إلا كنت متبعا غير سبيل المؤمنين و أنفذنا فيك ما أمرنا به فقال لقد علمتم أني أحق بها من غيره … ثم مد يده فبايع

‘Abdul Rahman ibn ‘Awf said to ‘Ali, “Pledge allegiance then. Otherwise, you will be following a path other than the path of the Muslims and we will execute upon you what we have been commanded to.”

‘Ali said, “You know fully well that I am most deserving of this post than everyone else.” He then stretched out his hand and pledged allegiance.[10]

 

The above author at another juncture in his book discusses this issue at length under the heading: from his statements at the time of consultation; under the text: no one before me hastened towards the true call and maintaining family ties.

 

  1. He presents it using his favoured technique:

 

فقاموا إلى علي فقالوا قم فبايع عثمان قال فإن لم أفعل قالوا نجاهدك قال فمشى إلى عثمان حتى بايعه

They approached ‘Ali and said, “Stand up and pledge allegiance to ‘Uthman.”

“And if I do not?” he remonstrated.

“We will wage war against you,” they warned.

Hearing this, he proceeded to ‘Uthman and pledged allegiance.[11]

 

Another Angle

According to the Shia, Sayyidina ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu determined the regulation and procedure of choosing the khalifah and Imam of the Muslims. This is recorded in Nahj al Balaghah. Even when taking this into consideration, the appointment of Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu as khalifah is totally correct. Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu states:

 

إنما الشورى للمهاجرين و الأنصار فإن اجتمعوا على رجل و سموه إماما كان ذلك لله رضى

Consultation is the right of the Muhajirin and Ansar. Hence, if they unanimously agree on a man and appoint him the Imam, this is a sign of Allah’s pleasure.[12]

 

It becomes manifest from the above that:

  • Sayyidina ‘Ali did in fact give bay’ah at the hands of Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhuma together with the Muhajirin, Ansar, and the rest of the Muslims.
  • This bay’ah was correct. It was in accordance to the procedure and regulation of appointing a khalifah. The selection was in the hands of the senior Muhajirin and Ansar. They selected Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu Therefore, there remains no doubt on the correctness and acceptability of the ‘Uthmani Caliphate.
  • The statement of Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu makes it crystal clear that the selection of the khulafa’ took place through mutual consultation, and not divine appointment.

 

This Statement is Not Ilzami

The readers should remember that this statement of Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu wherein he outlines the procedure and regulation of appointing a khalifah was addressed to Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. This is an emphatic address. There is no word suggesting it being ilzami (to silence the opponent) like: according to you, in your opinion, etc. Instead, the very opposite exists. The word innama (only) is a strong suggestion proving its definiteness.

To join it with a text from another alien book and consequently establish that it was only pronounced hypothetically is nothing more than dissimulation, and interpreting a statement to something other than what the person who made the statement intends. It is unnecessary alteration to Sayyidina ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu statement and contrary to the demands of confidence and trust.

 

Removing a Misconception

Some historians who gather all sorts of narrations, authentic and fabrications, have attributed some nasty statements to Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu which he allegedly uttered at the juncture of the bay’ah which create negative thoughts and mistrust about these noble personalities (Sayyidina ‘Ali, Sayyidina ‘Uthman, and Sayyidina ‘Abdul Rahman ibn ‘Awf radiya Llahu ‘anhum). In fact, they paint a picture of conflict between them. They mention that Sayyidina ‘Ali addressed Sayyidina ‘Abdul Rahman ibn ‘Awf radiya Llahu ‘anhuma with harshness and labelled him a deceit and imposter, etc. To briefly clarify this we present the following:

  1. Hafiz Ibn Kathir has suitably criticised all the inauthentic narrations while discussing the events of the year 24 A.H. He says that these type of narrations have been narrated by men who are unknown, i.e. their biographies are not found in the books of rijal and it is unknown what type of people they were. He writes at the end of this discussion:

 

الأخبار المخالفة لما ثبت في الصحاح فهي مردودة على قائليها و ناقليها

Reports which contradict established narrations in the authentic books are rejected and thrown back at their narrators and reporters. (They carry no weight.)[13]

 

  1. After the demise of Sayyidina ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, the senior Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum especially the six men committee had many discussions and held a number of meetings at different times to discuss the issue of Caliphate which has been transmitted by senior authorities. These narrations totally debunk and refute reports of conflict. Therefore, such narrations which are filled with dispute and quarrels (and are labelled munkar) will be declared unreliable. The narrations that are well-known and founded will be declared ma’ruf (reliable). We will present one such narration which ‘Allamah al Safarini quoted in ‘Aqidat al Safarini while reviewing this aspect and the renowned historian Ibn Khaldun included in the discussion of the bay’ah.

 

و كانت مبايعته بعد موت عمر بثلاث ليال و كان عبد الرحمن بن عوف قبل أن يتخلى عنها أحد قد خلا بعثمان فقال له فإن لم نبايعك فمن تشير علي قال علي و قال لعلي إن لم نبايعك فمن تشير علي قال عثمان ثم دعا الزبير فقال إن لم نبايعك فمن تشير علي قال علي أو عثمان إلخ

He (‘Uthman) was given bay’ah three nights after ‘Umar’s demise. ‘Abdul Rahman ibn ‘Awf, prior to appointing anyone, sat in seclusion with ‘Uthman and asked, “If we do not give bay’ah to you, then who do you suggest?”

“Ali,” he suggested.

He asked ‘Ali, “If we do not give bay’ah to you, then who do you suggest?”

“‘Uthman,” he answered.

He then called Zubair and asked, “If we do not give bay’ah to you, then who do you suggest?”

He proposed, “Either ‘Ali or ‘Uthman.”[14]

 

Conclusion

  • It is proven from the books of both sects that the matter of Caliphate between Sayyidina ‘Ali and Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhuma was decided in a pleasant manner. There was no conflict, no quarrel, no fitnah, and no discord.
  • To discuss matters and present various opinions is not condemnable according to those of understanding. It is not a crime to express your view according to the intellectual. To the contrary, it is praiseworthy. This is exactly what transpired and in the confines of these boundaries was the decision to give bay’ah to Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu
  • Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu found not the slightest of reservation in his heart regarding the matter of Caliphate nor did he turn away. Just as these luminaries were united prior to this incident, their relationship remained healthy after it. During the entire duration of Sayyidina ‘Uthman’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu Caliphate (which is 12 days less 12 years), Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu always remained his assistant and supporter. All of this indicates that Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu gave bay’ah to Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu with complete acceptance, not under compulsion or duress.
  • All of the above proves beyond doubt that there existed absolutely no family feuds or ancestral quarrels between Sayyidina ‘Ali and Sayyidah ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhuma. Moreover, these matters were not reached in view of tribal fanaticism.

 

NEXT⇒  Chapter 3


[1] Tabaqat Ibn Sa’d, vol. 3 pg. 42, the bay’ah of ‘Uthman, Leiden print.

[2] Musannaf ‘Abdul Razzaq, vol. 5 pg. 478, first Beirut print.

[3] Tabaqat Ibn Sa’d, vol. 3 pg. 43, the bay’ah of ‘Uthman; Tabaqat Ibn Sa’d, vol. 3 pg. 245, Leiden print, Kitab al Tamhid wa al Bayan, pg. 11, chapter 3, Beirut print, Lebanon.

[4] Sahih al Bukhari, vol. 1 pg. 525, chapter on the incident of bay’ah and unanimity on ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan.

[5] Al Sunan al Kubra, vol. 8 pg. 150, 151, Hyderabad Dakkan print, chapter on the one who leaves the matter (of Caliphate) to a council of those worthy of the post.

[6] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 7 pg. 147.

[7] Minhaj al Sunnah, vol. 3 pg. 233, 234, the eighth difference regarding the matter of consultation.

[8] Al Isabah fi Tamyiz al Sahabah, Usd al Ghabah fi Ma’rifat al Sahabah.

[9] Al Amali, vol. 2 pg. 121, section 18, al Nu’man publishers, Najaf Ashraf, Iraq, 1384 A.H./1964 edition.

[10] Sharh Nahj al Balaghah, vol. 2 pg. 97, under his statement: When they determined to pledge allegiance to ‘Uthman, Beirut print; Nasikh al Tawarikh, vol. 2 pg. 449, book 2, discussion on the bay’ah to ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, old Iran print.

[11] Sharh Nahj al Balaghah, vol. 2 pg. 617, discussion on the manner of consultation and his bay’ah to ‘Uthman, Beirut print.

[12] Nahj al Balaghah, vol. 2 pg. 7, Egypt print.

[13] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 7 pg. 147.

[14] Tarikh Ibn Khaldun, vol. 2 pg. 996, discussion on the martyrdom of ‘Umar, the consultation, and the bay’ah of ‘Uthman, Beirut print; Lawa’ih al Anwar al Bahiyyah, commonly known as ‘Aqidat al Safarini, vol. 2 pg. 317, same discussion, Egypt print, 1323/1324 A.H. edition.

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