Tijani on the Battalion of Usamah
The story in brief is as follows:
The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam organized an army to be sent to Asia Minor two days before his death. He appointed Usamah ibn Zaid ibn Haritha, (who was eighteen years old), as its commander in chief, then the holy Prophet attached some important men, both Muhajireen and Ansar, to this expedition, such as Abu Bakr, Umar, Abu Obaydah and other well-known Companions. Some people among them criticized the Prophet for appointing Usamah as the commander in chief of that army, and asked how could he have appointed so young a man as their commander. In fact the same people had previously criticized the Prophet for appointing Usamah’s father as an army commander before him. They went on criticizing until the Prophet became so angry that he left his bed, feverish and with his head bandaged, with two men supporting him and his feet barely touching the ground (may my parents be sacrificed for him) because of the severe exhaustion he was experiencing. . He ascended the pulpit, praised Allah highly then said,
O People ! I have been informed that some of you object to my appointing Usamah as commander of the detachment. You now object to my appointing Usamah as commander in chief as you objected to me appointing his father commander in chief before him. By Allah, his father was certainly competent for his appointment as commander in chief and his son is also competent for the appointment.
Then he exhorted them to start without further delay and kept saying,
“Send the detachment of Usamah; deploy the detachment of Usamah, send forward the detachment of Usamah.” He kept repeating the exhortations but the Companions were still sluggish, and camped by al Jurf and nearly did not do it.
Tijani references this summary of the incident to four sources: Tabaqat ibn Sa’d, Tarikh ibn al Athir, al Sirah al Halabiyyah and Tarikh al Tabari. Here I find myself compelled to reproduce the narration concerning the army of Usamah ibn Zaid radiya Llahu ‘anhu from the very books cited as reference in order to see whether Tijani summarised and transmitted correctly or if he blatantly lied.
Ibn Sa’d, in his book al Tabaqat al Kubra, says:
Then with regards to the battalion of Usamah ibn Zaid ibn Harithah to the people of Ubna, the land of al Sarat in the direction of Balqa, They said: On Monday, four nights before the end of Safar during eleventh year after Hijrah, the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam commanded the people to prepare for an assault on the Romans. The next day he called Usamah ibn Zaid and said, “Travel to the land where your father was killed and attack them with your infantry. I have placed you in charge of this army. Attack the people of Ubna in the morning and set a fire upon them and hasten the journey so that you precede the reports. If Allah grants you victory, then remain a short while amongst them. Take guides with you and send spies and your vanguard ahead of you.”
On Wednesday, the (final) illness of the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam began and he became feverish and suffered from headaches. When he woke the Thursday morning he tied the flag for Usamah with his own hand and said, “Sally forth in the name of Allah and in his path. Fight those who disbelieve in Allah.” Usamah then left with his flag tied and handed it to Buraydah ibn Hasib al Aslami and camped at Jurf. There were none amongst the prominent first Muhajirin and Ansar except that he was deputed for that battle. Amongst them were Abu Bakr, ‘Umar ibn al Khattab, Abu ‘Ubaidah ibn al Jarrah, Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas, Sa’id ibn Zaid, Qatadah ibn Nu’man, and Salamah ibn Aslam ibn Huraysh.
Then a group said, “This youngster is being placed above the first Muhajirin?” The Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam became intensely angry and came out having placed a bandage on his head and a cloth over him. He then ascended the pulpit, praised, and glorified Allah, then said, “O people what is this that has reached me from some of you concerning my appointment of Usamah? Indeed, if you criticised my appointment of Usamah then you criticised my appointment of his father before him. By Allah, indeed he was suitable for leadership and indeed his son too is suitable for leadership. Verily, he was of the most beloved of people to me and indeed they (father and son) are inspired towards all good. I exhort you to be good towards him (Usamah) for indeed he is from the best amongst you.” He then descended and entered his home.
That was the Saturday, ten days having passed of Rabi’ al Awwal. Those Muslims who were to leave with Usamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu came out, bid their farewells to the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and proceeded to camp at al Jurf. The illness of the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam intensified and he started saying, “Dispatch the army of Usamah!” On the Sunday the pain of the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam intensified. Usamah therefore came from his camp and entered upon the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam who was overcome with pain. That was the day they inserted medicine into his mouth. Usamah lowered his head and kissed him but the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam could not speak. He raised his hands towards the heaven and placed them on Usamah. Usamah said, “I realised that he was supplicating for me.”
Usamah returned to his camp. He then returned the Tuesday. The Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam awoke in a stable condition and said to him, “March forward upon the blessing of Allah.” Usamah then bid him farewell, went out to his camp and instructed his army to get ready to leave. While he was about to mount his conveyance the messenger of his mother, Umm Ayman, arrived and said, “Indeed the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is dying.” Usamah, ‘Umar, and Abu ‘Ubaidah proceeded towards Madinah and went to the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam who was in his final moments. The Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam passed away as the sun fell, twelve nights of the month of Rabi’ al Awwal having passed. The Muslims who were camping at al Jurf entered Madinah with Buraydah ibn Hasib holding the flag of Usamah until he reached the door of the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam where he entrenched it.
Ibn al Athir says in his book al Kamil fi al Tarikh under the discussion relating to the events of the eleventh year:
In the month of Muharram of this year the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sent a group to Sham (the Levant) under the leadership of Usamah ibn Zaid, the freed slave of the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He commanded Usamah to camp in the vicinity of al Balqa’ and Darum in the land of Palestine. The hypocrites spoke (disparagingly) about his leadership and said, “He appointed a youngster to be the commander of the senior Muhajirin and Ansar?”
The Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam then said, “If you are criticising his appointment (as the leader) then indeed you criticised the appointment of his father before. Indeed he is as suitable for command as was his father before him.” He included (in the army) with Usamah some of the first amongst the Muhajirin including Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. As people were busy with that the illness of the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam began.
‘Ali al Halabi in his al Sirah al Halabiyyah says with regards to the detachment of Usamah:
On Monday, four days remaining of the month of Safar, the eleventh year after Hijrah, the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam commanded the Sahabah to prepare for an assault on the Romans. The next day he called Usamah and said to him, “Travel to the place of your father (the place where his father, Zaid ibn Harithah, had been martyred) and attack them with your infantry. Indeed I have placed you in charge of this army. Attack the people of Ubna in the morning and set fire upon them. Make haste in your journey so that you reach before the reports. If Allah grants you victory over them then minimise your stay amongst them. Take with you guides and send your spies and scouts forth before you.” That Wednesday the pain of the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam began. He became feverish and suffered from headaches. When he awoke on Thursday, the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam tied the flag for Usamah with his hand and said, “March forward in the name of Allah, in the path of Allah, and fight the one who disbelieves in Allah!” Usamah then set out with his flag tied and handed it over to Buraydah and camped at al Jurf. There were none amongst the prominent Muhajirin and Ansar except that he hastened towards it, amongst them Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, Abu ‘Ubaidah, and Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas. Some people said, “This youngster is being placed in charge of the first Muhajirin and Ansar.” This is because Usamah was eighteen, nineteen, or sixteen years old at the time.
…When their statement and criticism concerning his age reached the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, he became extremely angry. He came out of his room with a bandage on his head and a cloth over him. He ascended the pulpit, praised Allah and said, “What is this statement which has reached me from some of you concerning my appointment of Usamah as the leader? Indeed, if you criticise my appointment of Usamah, then you criticise my appointment of his father. By Allah, he was eligible for command and after him his son is eligible for command. He is of the most beloved of people to me and all good could be expected of them. Therefore, show goodwill towards him as he is amongst the best of you.” It was stated before that Usamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was called al Hibb ibn al Hibb (the beloved, son of the beloved) and that when he was young the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to wipe his nose with his own clothes.
He then descended and entered his home. That was the Saturday, ten days having passed of the month of Rabi’ al Awwal, the eleventh year after the migration. The Muslims who were leaving with Usamah came, bid farewell to the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and went to the camp at al Jurf. The Messenger’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam illness intensified and he started saying, “Send out the army of Usamah!”
At this point the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam exempted Abu Bakr and instructed him to lead the people in salah. Therefore, there is no contradiction between the view that Abu Bakr was part of the army and that he stayed behind, as he was initially part of the army and then stayed behind when the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam instructed him to lead the people in salah. With this understanding of events the accusation of the Shia against Abu Bakr for lagging behind the army of Usamah is debunked, for you now know that his staying behind was on account of the instruction of the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam for him to lead the people in salah. The view of this Rafidi as well as his claim that the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam cursed the one who lagged behind the army of Usamah is rejected as there is no basis for the curse in the hadith whatsoever.
The Sunday, the pain intensified upon the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Usamah came from his camp and entered the room of the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam while the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was overcome with pain. He lowered his head and kissed him but the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam could not speak. He then started raising his hands toward the heaven and then placed it on Usamah. Usamah said, “I realised that he was supplicating for me.” He returned to the camp and then visited the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam again on Monday. He said to Usamah, “March forward with the blessings of Allah.” Usamah then bid him farewell, went out to his camp, and commanded the people to prepare for departure. Just as he intended to mount his horse, the messenger of his mother, Umm Ayman, came to him and said, “Indeed the Prophet is dying.”
Another narration states, “Then Usamah moved until he reached al Jurf where his wife, Fatimah bint Qais, sent word to him saying, “Do not hasten, for indeed the Messenger of Allah has grown seriously ill.” He approached Madinah along with ‘Umar and Abu ‘Ubaidah. They reached the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam as he was dying. The Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam then passed on as the sun dropped.
Al Tabari mentions in his book Tarikh al Umam wa l-Muluk two narrations concerning the Battalion of Usamah ibn Zaid in the chapter concerning the events which occurred during the eleventh year after Hijrah.
The first narration reads:
From ‘Ubaid ibn Hunayn — the freed slave of the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam — from Abu Muwayhibah — also the freed slave of the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam — who says, “The Messenger returned to Madinah after he performed the complete Hajj and the journey came to an end. He then chose a group from amongst the people and placed in charge of them Usamah ibn Zaid. He commanded him to attack Abil al Zayt on the highlands of Syria, the land in Jordan. The hypocrites then spoke about Usamah’s appointment but the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam rebuffed them, saying, “He is eligible for command and if you say (something unkind) about him then indeed you said (something unkind) about his father before, and he was suitable for it as well.’”
In the second narration, ‘Ikrimah narrates from Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu, who said:
The Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam arranged the military detachment of Usamah. The hypocrites criticised the appointment of Usamah as the leader. When the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam learnt of this, he came out to the people; his head bandaged on account of a headache, and said, “Indeed, I saw in a dream last night two gold bracelets on my forearm. I disliked it and so I removed it. It then flew away. I interpret it to refer to these two liars, the one from Yamamah and the one from Yemen. I have heard that some people are criticising the command of Usamah. By my life, if they criticised his command, indeed they criticised his father’s command before him. Indeed his father was eligible for command and indeed he too is suitable for it. Dispatch the military battalion of Usamah!” He also said, “May Allah curse those who take the graves of their Prophets as places of worship.” Usamah then went out and set up camp at al Jurf and gathered the people in the camp. Tulayhah (another false prophet) appeared and the people lingered. The Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam became seriously ill and the army of Usamah was not dispatched. People waited for one another until Allah took his Messenger.
This is all that these four historians have mentioned in their books about the Battalion of Usamah ibn Zaid radiya Llahu ‘anhu; they have not mentioned anything else.
When comparing it with what Tijani mentions in his book, which he claims to have quoted and summarised from these four sources, we come to the following conclusions:
1. Tijani claims that the senior Sahabah, amongst them Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, criticised the appointment of Usamah as the leader. He says:
The holy Prophet attached some important men, both Muhajireen and Ansar, to this expedition, such as Abu Bakr, Umar, Abu Obaydah and other well-known Companions. Some people among them criticized the Prophet for appointing Usamah as the commander in chief of that army, and asked how could he have appointed so young a man as their commander. In fact the same people had previously criticized the Prophet for appointing Usamah’s father as an army commander before him. They went on criticizing until…
It is implied that Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, Abu ‘Ubaidah, and the senior well-known Sahabah were the ones who criticised the appointment of Usamah and of his father before him, and that they were excessive in their criticism. However, when we consult the four sources cited by Tijani we do not find a trace of proof for this fabrication. Ibn Sa’d in his Tabaqat and al Halabi in his Sirah say:
There was none amongst the prominent first Muhajirin and Ansar except that he was deputed for that battle. Amongst them were Abu Bakr, ‘Umar ibn al Khattab, Abu ‘Ubaidah ibn al Jarrah, Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas, Sa’id ibn Zaid, Qatadah ibn Nu’man, and Salamah ibn Aslam ibn Huraysh. Then a group spoke…
The members of this “group” are unnamed and unidentified. Therefore, if the author of the cited source intended these Sahabah he would have identified them as such.
The remaining sources also contain no identification of this sort. From this we come to know that these noble and senior Sahabah, Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, Abu ‘Ubaidah, and others, were in no way involved in criticising Usamah and his father.
2. Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu was not part of the army of Usamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu because it has been authentically narrated that the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam appointed him to lead the salah. We have previously mentioned the ahadith pertaining to that. One of those is the hadith which clarifies that Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu led the Muslims in salah the day of the Messenger’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam passing when he removed the curtain of the room and saw the Sahabah in rows behind Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu. How could he then have been in the army of Usamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu?
3. To stir up the emotions of the reader, Tijani opts for exaggeration to the extent that he clashes headlong with the documented record of history. He says:
He left his bed, feverish and with his head bandaged, with two men supporting him and his feet barely touching the ground (may my parents be sacrificed for him) because of the severe exhaustion he was experiencing.
Subhan Allah! What sort of honesty and integrity is it that allows for words to be ripped from their proper context? What the historians narrate is that the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam “came out after he had just wrapped his head with a bandage and then ascended the pulpit.” As for him being “carried out between two men with his feet sketching a line in the ground,” this was not narrated by a single one of them. The reader will soon see in my rebuttals that Tijani based his book upon flagrant falsifications and astonishing contradictions.
4. Tijani now blames the Sahabah with this statement:
Then he exhorted them to start without further delay and kept saying,
“Send the detachment of Usamah; deploy the detachment of Usamah, send forward the detachment of Usamah.”
He kept repeating the exhortations but the Companions were still sluggish, and camped by al Jurf and nearly did not do it.
What do the authors of the cited sources actually mention on this matter? They mention that the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Dispatch the army of Usamah!” That was the Saturday. Then Usamah came to visit the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam on Sunday to bid farewell, and the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “March forward with the blessings of Allah!” When Usamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu intended to leave and instructed the army to prepare for departure the news came to him that the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was dying. This is as much as they mention; nothing more. Tijani, however, found it easy and convenient to fabricate against the Sahabah and then falsely claim that they tarried and were sluggish in executing the instruction of the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
5. Who were the critics of Usamah’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu appointment? The evidence presented above makes it abundantly clear that the prominent Muhajirin and Ansar did not criticise the appointment of Usamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and that those who spoke disparagingly about it were unidentified persons. Al Tabari and Ibn al Athir, both cited by Tijani, mentioned that the critics Usamah’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu appointment were the hypocrites. Had they been from the Sahabah, at least one historian would have mentioned it. At the beginning of this book, I have established that the hypocrites were never counted amongst the Sahabah. From this we know that the Sahabah were completely innocent of criticising the appointment of Usamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and with that all the webs spun by Tijani around this matter are conclusively blown away.
6. The tragedy is not that Tijani cites sources which contradict him rather the real tragedy is in the clear double standards and mental acrobatics he gets into when searching for the weaknesses of the Sahabah. Tijani’s claim that the Sahabah—at the head of them Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu by implication—criticised the appointment of Usamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu is completely without precedent. This is because his entire motivation in this matter is to search for any incident which he can use to criticise the Sahabah. After his failure to find any point of criticism of the Sahabah despite studying it from various angles he resorts to blatant forgery and distortion. This is exactly what Tijani did in relation to this incident. But what did his Shia predecessors do? They too studied the various angles of this incident hoping to find something with which to criticise the Sahabah. But they were more productive than Tijani. The author of al Sirah al Halabiyyah says:
With this understanding of events the accusation of the Shia against Abu Bakr for lagging behind the army of Usamah is debunked, for you now know that his staying behind was on account of the instruction of the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam for him to lead the people in salah. The view of this Rafidi as well as his claim that the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam cursed the one who lagged behind the army of Usamah is rejected as there is no basis for the curse in the hadith whatsoever.
Do you see the contradiction? Sometimes the claim is that Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu was one of those who criticised Usamah’s appointment, implying that he was part of the army; and sometimes they claim that he lagged behind. What is the crime of this innocent Sahabi when it is these people who fabricate and distort history in order to criticise him. In doing so they fail to realise that they contradict themselves. Their blatant fabrications turn into a proof against them rather than for them. Is this the sound reasoning Tijani promised us in the beginning?
As usual, when I read about those events which touch on the integrity of the Companions, I try to deny or ignore them, but it is impossible to do so when all the historians and scholars, Shia and Sunnis, agree on their authenticity.
I have promised my God to be fair, and I shall never be biased in favour of my creed, and will never use anything but the truth as my criterion. But the truth here is so bitter, and the holy Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Say the truth even if it is about yourself, and say the truth even if it is bitter…” The truth in this case is that the Companions who criticized the appointment of Usamah disobeyed all the clear texts that could not be doubted or misinterpreted, and there is no excuse for that, although some people make flimsy excuses in order to preserve the integrity of the Companions and “the virtuous ancestors”. But the free and sensible person would not accept such feeble excuses, unless he is one of those who cannot comprehend any saying, or is perhaps one of those who are blinded by their own prejudice to the extent that they cannot differentiate between the obligatory task that must be obeyed and the prohibition that must be avoided. I thought deeply to find an acceptable excuse for those people, but without success.
I leave it to the vigilant leader to judge the truth of his pledge to be fair, not to be biased towards his school of thought, and to set store by nothing but the truth. I leave the vigilant reader to judge the falseness and deceit of his statements for themselves.
His claim that the Sahabah opposed the command of the Creator, the explicit texts which do not accept doubt and interpretation, without any justification indicates only ignorance and lack of aptitude. When and how did the Sahabah oppose the command of their Creator? And where are those “explicit texts” which “do not accept doubt and do not accept interpretation”? The truth of the matter is that the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam appointed Usamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu as commander of the army and some people criticised his appointment. Therefore the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam spoke about it and those who criticised retracted their criticism and obeyed his command. It should be remembered that the people during this time used to consult the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in many matters but once he asserted his decision they would follow. In this particular matter all of the people followed the instruction of their Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, included amongst them those who criticised the appointment of Usamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
He states, “Some people make flimsy excuses in order to preserve the integrity of the Companions and “the virtuous ancestors”. But the free and sensible person would not accept such feeble excuses …” this, by Allah, is one of his most amazing comments. The one who reads it would think that the Sahabah were highway robbers, hooligans, or fools. What need do these noble Sahabah have for anyone to defend their honour after Allah defended them, expressed his pleasure at them, testified to their excellence and strength of iman, and chose them for the companionship of His Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. The lands which they treaded on and the countries which they conquered testify to their exaltedness. Then along comes this buffoon with this casuistry which not even a fool would accept.
Then Tijani says:
I read the points of view of the Sunnis which provide us with an excuse based on the fact that these people were the elders of Quraysh, and were among the early followers of Islam, whereas Usamah was a young man who had not fought in the decisive battles that gave Islam its glory, such as Badr, Uhud and Hunayn; and that he was a young man with no experience of life when the Messenger of Allah appointed him military commander. Furthermore, they thought that human nature, by its inclination, makes it difficult for elderly people to be led by young men, therefore they [i.e. the Companions] criticized the appointment and wanted the Messenger of Allah to appoint a prominent and respectable Companion.
It is an excuse which is not based on any rational or logical premise, and any Muslim who reads the Qur’an and understands its rules must reject such an excuse, because Allah- the Almighty – says:
وَمَا آتَاكُمُ الرَّسُوْلُ فَخُذُوْهُ وَمَا نَهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانْتَهُوْا
So take what the Messenger assigns to you, and deny yourselves that which he withholds from you.
وَمَا كَانَ لِمُؤْمِنٍ وَلَا مُؤْمِنَةٍ إِذَا قَضَى اللّٰهُ وَرَسُوْلُه أَمْرًا أَنْ يَكُوْنَ لَهُمُ الْخِيَرَةُ مِنْ أَمْرِهِمْ وَمَنْ يَعْصِ اللّٰهَ وَرَسُوْلَه فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلَالًا مُبِيْنًا
It is not fitting for a believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger to have any option about their decision: if any one disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path.
I challenge Tijani to produce one Sunni source that exonerates the Sahabah with excuses of the kind he mentioned. As explained earlier, not a single historian ever said that the critics of Usamah’s appointment were those Sahabah who were the elders of the Quraysh. Tijani claims to have read the excuses made by the Ahlus Sunnah. Since the reader has the advantage over the one who has not read, the onus rests on him to identify the source in which he read those excuses.
Tijani then says:
If we are to carefully analyse this incident we find the second Khalifah (‘Umar) among the most distinguished role-players and most famous advocates [for the dismissal of Usamah] since it was he, after the death of Messenger, who went to Abu Bakr and requested him to dismiss Usamah from his position of leadership and replace him with someone else. However, Abu Bakr said to him, “May your mother mourn you ‘Umar! Are you instructing me to remove him when the Messenger instated him?” How does the ‘inspired’ ‘Umar fare in this matter, whose reality Abu Bakr perceived? Or is there some secret in the matter, concealed from the historians; or is it they who conceal it to preserve ‘Umar’s honour — as is their habit — just as they substituted the expression “yahjur” with the expression “ghalabahu al waja’”.
The narration which Tijani cites is a weak narration. In its chain of transmitters is Saif ibn ‘Umar al Dabbi whom ‘Uqayli lists as an unreliable transmitter. Al Dhahabi says in Mizan al I’tidal:
He composed works on the Conquests and Apostasy, etc. Like al Waqidi, he narrated from Hisham ibn ‘Urwah, ‘Ubaidullah ibn ‘Umar, Jabir al Ju’fi, and many other unknown narrators. He was an informed historian. Jubarah ibn al Mughallis, Abu Ma’mar al Qati’i, and al Nadr ibn Hammad al ‘Ataki, and others narrated from him.
‘Abbas reports from Yahya that he is unreliable.
Mutayyan narrated from Yahya (that he said), “A copper coin is better than him.”
Abu Dawood said, “Worthless as a transmitter.”
Abu Hatim said, “Matruk (suspected of hadith forgery).”
Ibn Hibban said, “He was accused of zandaqah (heresy)
Ibn ‘Adi said, “Most of his ahadith lack corroboration.”
The hadith is weak at best and inadmissible as proof, firstly, because of Saif ibn ‘Umar and secondly because Tijani omitted an important part of the hadith: The part stating that ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu made this request from Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu at the instruction of Usamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. The hadith states:
Usamah stood amongst the people and then said to ‘Umar, “Return to the khalifah of the Messenger of Allah and ask him to permit me to return with the people for indeed with us are some of the most prominent people and I do not feel safe for the khalifah of the Messenger of Allah…
Tijani, however, concealed all of this in order to prove his “fairness”. And for further confirmation of his “fairness” and his “not attacking” the Sahabah—with ‘Umar at the forefront—is that he only cites such narrations which he in his ignorance believes to serve his goals, and overlooks others. Indeed, in al Tabari there is another narration which precedes this narration about ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, stating that it was not ‘Umar who requested that, but rather, the general public because of widespread apostasy in the Arabian Peninsula. Tijani, however, conveniently avoids mentioning it as there is no demerit against Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma in it.
How could ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu have been one of the most chief critics of Usamah’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu appointment when it was he who informed the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam about them? May I remind the reader that Tijani did not praise the position taken by Abu Bakr in the matter of dispatching the army of Usamah but rather completely ignored it. However, when he comes across an incident which he thinks contains something which disparages this noble Sahabi, then he blows it up and builds castles in the air.
The tongue-in-cheek manner in which Tijani here tries to cast aspersions on ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu actually provides an excellent opportunity to assess the objectivity that he is constantly at pains to convince the readers of. The full report, as it appears in al Tabari’s Tarikh, runs like this:
Al Tabari narrates—with his chain of transmission—from al Hassan al Basri, who said that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam mobilized an army comprising fighters from Madinah and the neighbouring tribes and appointed Usamah ibn Zaid as their leader. ‘Umar ibn al Khattab was also enlisted. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam passed away before the army had departed.
(Considering the imminent danger to Madinah) Usamah kept the army back and sent ‘Umar back saying, “Return to the Khalifah and seek his permission for me to return with the army since most of the people of counsel are with me. I fear the safety of the Khalifah and the Muslims (not wanting to put them at risk by departing with the bulk of the fighting force).”
(On his way) Some of the Ansar tasked him with an additional request saying, “If he insists that the army deploys, tell him that we request he replaces Usamah with someone senior.”
‘Umar complied with Usamah’s orders and duly conveyed his concerns to Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr responded emphatically, “I will not withhold the execution of orders given by the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, even if it results in me being gnawed at by dogs and wolves!” ‘Umar then conveyed the request of the Ansar; that Abu Bakr replace him with someone senior. Upon hearing this Abu Bakr lunged up from his seat and grabbed ‘Umar’s beard reprimanding him, “May your mother be barren of you, O son of Khattab! He was appointed by the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and you want me to replace him!”
‘Umar returned to the camp and they asked him what transpired. He said, “Proceed, may your mothers be barren of all of you! I had to face the wrath of the Khalifah on your account!”
Abu Bakr then approached their camp, summoned the army and began escorting them on their departure. He escorted them on foot, whilst Usamah was mounted and ‘Abdur Rahman ibn ‘Awf held the reigns of Abu Bakr’s mount. Usamah addressed Abu Bakr saying, “O Khalifah, I insist that you mount the animal or I will descend from mine.” Abu Bakr responded, “By Allah, neither will you dismount nor will I mount. Why should I not get my feet dusty in the path of Allah even if it be for a short while? The fighter will receive seven hundred rewards for every step he takes; and seven hundred sins will be wiped away and he will be elevated by seven hundred stages.”
After saying this Abu Bakr turned to Usamah once again saying, “If you permit, allow ‘Umar to remain behind and assist me.” Usamah consented to this request. Then Abu Bakr addressed the entire army, “O people; Halt! I advise you with ten things and remember them well:
Do not commit treachery; or act unfaithfully.
Do not deceive.
Do not mutilate [the corpses of your enemy];
Do not kill a young child, nor an old man, nor a woman;
You shall not fell palm trees or burn them,
You shall not cut down [any] fruit-bearing tree;
You shall not slaughter a sheep or a cow or a camel except for food.
You will pass people who occupy themselves in monasteries; leave them alone, and leave them with what they busy themselves with.
You will come to a people who will bring you vessels in which are varieties of food; if you eat anything from [those dishes], mention the name of God over them.
You will meet a people who have shaven the middle of their head and have left around it [a ring of hair] like turbans; tap them lightly with the sword.
Go ahead, in Allah’s name; may Allah make you perish through wounds and plague!”
It has already been placed on record that this report suffers a serious lack of authenticity due to the presence of Saif ibn ‘Umar in its chain. This weakness is further exacerbated by the interruption between Hassan al Basri and the putative witnesses to the event—an interruption of which the hadith experts have long rejected as being wholly unsubstantial due to Hassan’s complete lack of discretion in who he received hadith from.
But as much as Tijani’s claim of complete objectivity is damaged by passing of decidedly unauthentic reports as authentic history, the manner in which he carefully hides from the readers’ sight elements in the text of the report that would damage his purpose leaves his claims of objectivity utterly ruined.
Consider that by severely truncating a (20) line report into a mere (3) lines, he has actually done the following:
- Concealed from his reader the fact that ‘Umar’s return to Madinah was at the behest of his commander, Usamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu;
- Hid from them that the request to appoint someone else in Usamah’s stead came from some of the Ansar who feared that matters had changed substantially when the demise of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was followed by widespread apostasy in the Arabian Peninsula;
- Studiously shielded his reader from learning about the resolute response of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu to both requests.
Then he says:
I am surprised that those Companions angered the Prophet on that Thursday and accused him of talking “nonsense”, and said, “It is sufficient for us that we have the Book of Allah”, while the Book of Allah says to them in its clear verses:
قُلْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللّٰهَ فَاتَّبِعُوْنِيْ يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللّٰهُ
Say, [O Muhammad], “If you should love Allah , then follow me.
As if they were more knowledgeable about the Book of Allah and its rules than he to whom it had been revealed. There they were, two days after that great misfortune, and two days before he [the holy Prophet] went up to meet his High Companion, angering him even more by criticizing him for appointing Usamah, and not obeying his orders. Whereas he was ill and bed-ridden in the first misfortune, in the second one he had to come out, with his head bandaged and covered by a blanket and supported by two men with his feet barely on the ground, and address them from the top of the pulpit. He started his speech with the profession of the unity of Allah and praised Him in order to make them feel that he was not talking nonsense, then he informed them about what he knew regarding their criticism of his orders.
Furthermore, he reminded them of an incident which had occurred four years previously, in which he was criticized by them. After all that, did they really think that he was talking nonsense or that his illness had overcome him so that he was unaware of what he was saying?
I am amazed once again that Tijani comes up with an argument that serves as a proof against him rather than for him. Seeing that the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam came out to refute those who criticised the appointment of Usamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and also reminded them of the criticism of Zaid ibn Harithah radiya Llahu ‘anhu four years earlier, why did he not remind them also about that other important matter: the alleged appointment of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu?
If the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was allegedly pressurised by the Sahabah in the incident of the Thursday Calamity, then here, in front of all the people, why did he not command the letter to be written or announce the succession of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu? Here, he could guarantee that no one could prevent him.
If Tijani asserts that the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not mention it because he knew that they would reject his statement, then what was the point of the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam coming out, delivering a complete sermon, refuting their criticism of Usamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his father if he knew that his instruction would not be obeyed.
If this matter was of such great importance, then the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would have mentioned it to the people with great emphasis. This is the greatest proof that the matter was not one which he was commanded to convey. Rather, he was clearly given a choice in it.
 This was omitted from the original Arabic during translation.
 This was omitted from the original Arabic during translation.
 Then I was guided, p. 71-72
 Ibn Sa’d: al Tabaqat al Kubra, p. 189-191
 Ibn al Athir: al Kamil fi al Tarikh p. 182
 ‘Ali ibn Burhan al Din al Halabi vol. 207p. 207
 Tarikh al Tabari, p. 224-225. Also refer to al Ihtijaj of al Tabarsi vol. 1 p. 71, al Sirat al Nabawiyyah of Ibn Hisham vol 4 p. 299, Nur al Yaqin of Muhammad al Khidr p. 16, al Bidayah wa al Nihayah vol. 5 p. 195, al Muntazam of Ibn al Jawzi vol. 4 p. 16, al Mawahib vol. 1 p. 647, Subul al Huda wa al Rashad vol. 6 p. 248
 This was omitted from the original Arabic during translation.
 Then I was guided, p. 71
 Then I was guided, p. 72
 Surah al A’raf: 7
 Surah al Ahzab: 36
 Then I was guided, p. 72-73
 Then I was guided, p. 90
 Al ‘Uqayli: al Du’afa’ al Kabir vol. 2 pg. 175 no. 694
 Al Dhahabi, Mizan al I’tidal, 2:255, biography number 3637
 Al Tabari vol. 2 p. 246
 Fath al Bari vol. 7 p. 759
 Tarikh al Tabari vol. 3 pgs. 225-227
 Surah Al ‘Imran: 31
 Then I was guided, p. 73-74Back to top