Section Three: 2. ‘Ali’s Appointment as Deputy

Section Three: 1. Consultation regarding Administrative Matters
February 7, 2019
Section Three: 3. Incidents of Compassion
February 7, 2019

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‘Ali’s Appointment as Deputy

We have mentioned some incidents regarding consultations. We will now mention a second aspect regarding their relationship. When Sayyidina ‘Umar al Faruq radiya Llahu ‘anhu needed to leave Madinah Munawwarah on few occasions, he appointed Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu as his deputy on many of these occasions. The books of history have recorded such incidents and we will report some of them in the following pages. Hopefully, the readers will ponder over them and realise the level of their unity and reliance on one another. These incidents also prove beyond doubt that there existed no hatred, animosity, and bitterness between them. Otherwise, the former would not have appointed the latter his deputy, nor would the latter consent to such a request. When there is rancour, people do not wish to even see the other’s face. Appointing that person to a position of honour and as a successor is unfathomable. Have a look at some of these historic anecdotes.


1. Gathering at the Surar Pond

This incident of the year 14 A.H. is documented by Ibn Jarir al Tabari and Ibn Kathir:


و ركب عمر رضي الله عنه في أول يوم من محرم هذه السنة (14) في الجيوش من المدينة فنزل على ماء يقال له صرار فعسكر به عازما على غزو العراق بنفسه و استخلف على المدينة علي بن أبي طالب و استصحب معه عثمان بن عفان و سادات الصحابة ثم عقد مجلسا لاستشار الصحابة فيما عزم عليه و نودي إن الصلوة جامعة و قد أرسل إلى علي فقدم من المدينة ثم استشارهم فكلهم وافقوه على الذهاب إلى العراق إلا عبد الرحمن بن عوف إلخ

‘Umar journeyed on the first day of Muharram of this year (14 A.H.) with the armies from Madinah and halted at a pond called Surar. He mobilised the army with a determination to fight the Iraqis himself. He appointed ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib his deputy over Madinah and took ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan and the noble Sahabah along with him. He then set up a meeting to consult the Sahabah regarding his determination. It was called out that salah has gathered. A message had already been sent to ‘Ali so he came from Madinah. He then consulted them and they all agreed with him on going to Iraq besides ‘Abdul Rahman ibn ‘Awf.[1]

‘Abdul Rahman ibn ‘Awf opposed this decision and said, “If perchance you are harmed, there is fear of weakness and feebleness seizing the Muslims of the entire globe. Send someone else in your place and return to Madinah.”

This opinion was passed. Subsequently, ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu returned to Madinah and sent Sa’d ibn Malik (Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas) on his behalf.[2]


2. The Conquest of Bayt al Maqdis

The second instance was at the conquest of Bayt al Maqdis in 15 A.H. Ibn Kathir’s text follows:


ثم حاصر (أبو عبيدة) بيت المقدس و ضيق عليهم حتى أجابوا إلى الصلح بشرط أن يقدم إليهم أمير المؤمنين عمر بن الخطاب فكتب إليه أبو عبيدة بذلك فاستشار عمر الناس في ذلك فأشار عثمان بن عفان بأن لا يركب إليه ليكون أحقر لهم و أرغم لأنوفهم و أشار علي بن أبي طالب بالمسير إليهم ليكون أخف وطاءة على المسلمين في حصارهم بينهم فهوى ما قال علي و لم يهو ما قال عثمان و سار بالجيوش نحوهم و استخلف على المدينة علي بن أبي طالب و سار العباس بن عبد المطلب على مقدمته

Abu ‘Ubaidah then besieged Bayt al Maqdis and made things difficult for them until finally they agreed to settle for a compromise on condition that Amir al Mu’minin ‘Umar ibn al Khattab comes to them. Abu ‘Ubaidah wrote to him concerning this. ‘Umar consulted with the people about this. ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan indicated that he should not travel there so that it be more disgraceful and humiliating for them (the Christians). On the other hand, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib proposed that he should journey to them so that it eases matters upon the Muslims in their siege. ‘Umar opted for ‘Ali’s proposal, and not ‘Uthman’s, and travelled with the armies in their direction. He appointed ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib his successor over Madinah and ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib travelled in the advance guard of his army.[3]


Ibn Jarir al Tabari has recorded this incident in his famous book Tarikh al Umam wa al Muluk, in the events of the year 15 A.H., in the chapter regarding the conquest of al Maqdis.

عن عدي بن سهل قال لما استمد أهل الشام عمر على أهل فلسطين اسختلف عليا و خرج ممدا لهم إلخ

‘Adi ibn Sahl reports:

When the people of Sham requested assistance from ‘Umar against the people of Palestine, he appointed ‘Ali his deputy and left to help them.[4]


3. Journey towards Aylah

Al Tabari recorded this incident of the year 17 A.H. regarding his journey to Aylah:


خرج عمر و خلف عليا على المدينة و خرج معه بالصحابة و أغذوا السير و اتخذ أيلة طريقا حتى دنا منها تنحى عن الطريق إلخ

‘Umar left and appointed ‘Ali his replacement over Madinah. Many Sahabah left with him. They travelled swiftly on the road towards Aylah and as they drew close, they moved off that road.


4. Najran

It is reported from Ibn Sirin in Kanz al ‘Ummal that Sayyidina ‘Umar appointed Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhuma governor over Najran:


عن ابن سيرين قال كتب عمر بن الخطاب إلى أهل نجران إني قد استوصيت بعلي بمن أسلم منكم خيرا و أمرته أن يعطيه نصف ما عمل من الأرض و لست أريد إخراجكم منها ما أصلحتم و رضيت عملكم

Ibn Sirin reports:

‘Umar ibn al Khattab wrote to the people of Najran, “I have despatched ‘Ali to you with special instructions to treat those who embrace Islam with kindness and compassion. I commanded him to give the farmer half of the produce of the land he worked on. I do not intend banishing you from here as long as you do things properly and I am pleased with your actions.”[5]


The above narrations are pronouncing:

  • Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu joined Sayyidina ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma in matters of the state and in important meetings.
  • The former spoke words of goodwill for the latter and presented opinions of compassion and sincerity.
  • The latter appointed Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu as his deputy on many occasions and sent him as his governor to some localities.
  • All of the above are evidence for the good conduct, mutual sincerity, and love between these two seniors.


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[1] Tarikh al Tabari, vol. 4 pg. 83, old Egypt print; al Bidayah, vol. 7 pg. 35, Egypt print.

[2] Tarikh al Tabari, vol. 4 pg. 83, old Egypt print; al Bidayah, vol. 7 pg. 35, under the year 14 A.H., Egypt print.

[3] Al Bidayah, vol. 7 pg. 55, the year 15 A.H.

[4] Tarikh al Tabari.

[5] Kanz al ‘Ummal, vol. 2 pg. 313, old print, book on jihad, section on booty, discussion on kharaj.