by Silas



The Bible, John 13:34, 35

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." [1]


The Quran - 8:63, Al Anfal (The Spoils)

He it is Who has supported you with His Help and with the believers. And He has united their (i.e. believers') hearts. If you had spent all that is in the earth, you could not have united their hearts, but Allah has united them. Certainly He is All-Mighty, All-Wise. [2]










††††††††††† After Muhammad somewhat unexpectedly died from being poisoned (1), there was confusion within the Islamic community as to who would lead them.†† Previously Iíve stated that Abu Bakr became Caliph immediately after Muhammad died.However, this transition it did not flow smoothly, or without conflict.Not everyone thought that Abu Bakr should be Caliph.


(Note 1: see, [3], for details regarding Muhammadís death).


††††††††††† There are many various accounts of how it came to pass, but in the end Abu Bakr became Caliph.This did not please everyone.There were some people from various groups who did not approve of this.But Abu Bakr had enough support from the other leaders within the Islamic community that his selection held firm.


††††††††††† Initially, Aliís refused to swear fealty to Abu Bakr, because he himself wanted the Caliphís position.Here are Aliís words recorded by Tabari, volume 16, page 51 [4]:


††††††††††† The Prophet died and I saw no one more fit for the command than I, but the people gave allegiance to Abu Bakr, so I followed suit.Then Abu Bakr passed away, and I saw no one more fit for the command than I.But the people gave allegiance to Umar, so I followed suit.Then Umar passed away and I saw no one more fit for the command than I.Bu they made me just one of six votes, and the people gave allegiance to Uthman, Again I followed suit.



††††††††††† There was another person, not quite a leader in the Islamic community, but prominent none-the-less, who opposed Abu Bakr for another reason.


††††††††††† We need to examine this event, and the attitude and words of one notable Muslim who disagreed with Abu Bakrís ascension to the Islamic throne.This is a but a small anecdote, but itís historical implications shadow the entire Islamic civilization to this very day.Remember, we are still talking about people who were among the best of Muslims of all time.These people were Islamís greatest fruit.Letís taste the fruit and seeÖÖ.





ABU BAKR – The first Caliph (supreme ruler) of the Islamic empire, and the first of the so-called four “rightly guided” Caliphs.He became Caliph following Muhammadís death.He was Muhammadís closest male friend.He ruled for two years then died.


ALI – Muhammadís son in law, married to Muhammadís daughter Fatima.Ali was a brave and strong Muslim warrior who accomplished some important exploits in battle.Ali had two sons:Hassan and Hussain.Ali was destined to become the forth and final of the “rightly guided Caliphs”.


ABU SUFYAN – Abu Sufyan was one of Muhammadís biggest enemies.He was a leader of the Meccans, coming from a prominent Meccan tribe.He was the leader of the Meccan troops when they defeated the Muslims at Uhud.Muhammad was severely wounded and scared in that battle.He rejoiced in killing so many Muslims and mocked Muhammad about his victory.At one point in time Muhammad had sent out men to assassinate Abu Sufyan but they failed.After Muhammad became powerful and moved against Mecca, Abu Sufyan went out to meet with Muhammad. There Abu Sufyan was forced to convert to Islam, or be murdered on the spot (he was initially given a promise of protection, but, the Muslim changed his mind and threatened Abu Sufyan with his life during his meeting with Muhammad).Abu Sufyan then had a sudden realization that Muhammad was indeed a prophet!Later, after Muhammad secured Mecca, he gave Abu Sufyan some valuable gifts that angered some of the other Muslims.Sufyan was also appointed by Muhammad as agent over the Christian city of Najran.Abu Sufyan had been used to having political power, and he liked it.He understood power, and he was determined that he, or his sons, would obtain it within the Islamic community.

††††††††††† Abu Sufyan should not be considered as part of the Royal family or one of the best Muslims.However, he became prominent, even during Muhammadís lifetime.Muhammad gave him financial rewards for accepting Islam and appointed him as a governor over a city.


AL-ZUBAYR – An esteemed Muslim and one of Muhammadís close friends and dedicated disciple.In addition to this incident, he plays a critical role with Ali in another critical time.






††††††††††† Muhammad had just died.The leaders of the Islamic community are not meeting here and there, with their close friends and tribesmen, and with other acquaintances.They are wanting to determine who will take over as supreme ruler (Caliph) of their Islamic community.Initially, there was no unanimous agreement.



From “The History of Tabari”, volume 9,


††††††††††† He Messenger of God died at noon on Monday, the second of Rabi I.The oath of allegiance was given to Abu Bakr on Monday, the very day on which the Prophet died.(page 184).


††††††††††† Umar stood up saying, “Who among you would be agreeable to leave Abu Bakr whom the Prophet gave precedence?”and he gave him the oath of allegiance.The people followed [Umar].The Ansar said, or some of them said, “We will not give the oath of allegiance to anyone [except] Ali.”(page 186).


††††††††††† Umar stretched Abu Bakrís hand saying, “My power is for you with your power,” and the people gave their oath of allegiance.They demanded confirmation of the oath, but Ali and al-Zubayr stayed away.Al-Zubayr drew his sword [from the scabbard], saying, “I will not put it back until the oath of allegiance is rendered to Ali.”[When] this news reached Abu Bakr and Umar, the latter said, “Hit him with a stone and seize the sword.” (1)It is stated that Umar rushed [to the scene], brought them forcibly [while telling them that they must give their oath of allegiance willingly, or unwillingly.So they rendered their oath of allegiance.(pages 188, 189).


Note 1 says, Zubayr was in Fatimahís house.(Fatimah was Aliís wife, daughter of Muhammad).



††††††††††† After Abu Bakr had finished his speech, a man from the Ansar stood up saying, Ö “Let us have a ruler from us and another from you, O men of Quraysh.”[Umar] said, “Voices rose and clamorous speech waxed hotter.I feared [total] disagreement so I said to Abu Bakr, “Stretch out your hand [so that] I may give you the oath of allegiance.”He did so and I gave [him] the oath of allegiance; the Mahajirun followed and then the Ansar.[In doing so] we jumped on Saíd b. Ubadah so someone said that we had killed him.I said, “[May] God kill him!”By God, nothing was mightier than the rendering of the oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr.We feared that if [we] left [without rendering the oath of allegiance] no agreement would be hammered out later.It was either to follow the Ansar in what we did not like, or else to oppose them, which would have led to disorder [fasad].”(page 194)






††††††††††† Now, Tabari turns his attention towards Abu Sufyanís attitude towards Abu Bakr and his appointment as Caliph.



††††††††††† Abu Sufyan said to Ali, “What is the matter, that this authority had been vested in a least-known clan of Quraysh?By God, If you wish, I will fill [the whole space] with men and horses.”Ali replied, “O Abu Sufyan, for a long time you have been at war with Islam and the Muslims, but you have been unable to do any harm.We find Abu Bakr worthy of this authority.” (page 198).


††††††††††† When Abu Bakr succeeded [the Prophet], Abu Sufyan said, “What has Abu Fasil to do with us?Indeed, the authority belongs to the Banu Abd Manaf.”††† [When his son Yazid became the governor] it was said to him, “Your son has been entrusted with the authority,” and he replied, “He made close his ties of kinship by behaving with kindness.”(1)†† (page 199)


Note 1 says, “Abu Sufyan is said to have made the same remark when Umar appointed Muawiyah as the governor of Syria after the death of Yazid.”



††††††††††† When people gathered to give their oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr, Abu Sufyan came while at the same time saying, “By God, I see a cloud of smoke,” which nothing but blood will clear.O family of Abd Manaf, where is Abu Bakr that he should be the master of your affairs!Where are Ali and al-Abbas, the two weak and lowly ones?He [then] said to Ali, “O Abu Hasan, stretch out your hand so that I may give you the oath of allegiance,” but Ali declined, so he began to cite appositely the proverbial verses of al-Mutalammis:


††††††††††† “No one remains in a state of ignominy that is intended

††††††††††††††††††††††† For him, except the two despicable things:a domestic ass

††††††††††††††††††††††† And a wooden peg {of a tent}

††††††††††† The former is turned back to his state of ignominy by a

††††††††††††††††††††††† Piece of worn-out rope, while the latterís head is broken

††††††††††† ††††††††††† and no one mourns.”



††††††††††† Ali rebuked him, saying, “By God, you do not intend anything but [to stir up] dissension.For long you have desired evil for Islam.We do not need your advice.”(Page 199).



††††††††††† When the oath of allegiance was rendered to Abu Bakr, Abu Sufyan said to Ali and al-Abbas, “You are two despicable ones,”and began reciting the [following] proverbial verses:


††††††††††† “A domestic ass knows the disgrace,

††††††††††††††††††††††† but a free man and a well-built camel, soft in the

††††††††††††††††††††††† joints, detest it.

††††††††††† No one bears an unjust state that is intended for him,

††††††††††††††††††††††† except the two despicable things:a domestic ass and a

††††††††††††††††††††††† wooden peg.

††††††††††† The former is turned back to his state of ignominy by a

††††††††††††††††††††††† piece of worn-out rope, while the latterís head is broken

††††††††††††††††††††††† and no one mourns.”






††††††††††† Muhammad had died.There was strong disagreement about who should become the next ruler.Some of the Ansar had already begun to move towards picking their own leader when Umar and Abu Bakr moved to stop them.Umar took the initiative and suggested Abu Bakr as Caliph.Disagreements got intense and bloodshed was not far away when Umar took bold action and publicly gave his oath of allegiance.Other Muslims soon followed suit.Ali and Zubayr were forced to give some token oath of allegiance.Abu Sufyan told Ali that he could muster enough Muslim troops to defeat Abu Bakrís succession, but Ali refused.Zubayr was willing to kill for Ali.Ali deeply wanted the Caliphate, but was unwilling to shed blood at this point.Abu Sufyan deeply disliked that a person from such a lowly clan of Mecca would now have the rule over him and his clan.Sufyan foresaw future bloodshed would be required to rid this perceived wrong.





††††††††††† Again review Sura 8:63.Surely we do not have united hearts here.Perhaps that verse was limited in scope, or, perhaps it was abrogated, but one thing we know for certain:at the time of Muhammadís death, the Muslim community was not unified, rather, they were nearly at each other throats!



††††††††††† Letís take a look at some of the emotions at work here.




††††††††††† In his heart, Sufyan rejected Abu Bakr as Caliph only because he came from a lowly clan.Sufyan looked down upon Abu Bakr; Abu Bakr was inferior to him, but Sufyan would have to take orders from this lowly nobody.


††††††††††† In his heart, Sufyan knew that one day, the selection of Abu Bakr to Caliph would be the cause of bloodshed.Sufyan had his eye on power, he was a shrewd politician.He knew how to work his way towards the top, and how to position his sons in political positions to insure his familyís strength and success.





††††††††††† Ali was compelled to give a token pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr.In his heart he rejected Abu Bakr Ė Muhammadís most trusted and closest male friend, as Caliph, but at this time he went along with it.


††††††††††† Additionally, the Islamic community was fractured.It took some quick thinking and action on Umarís part to prevent tribal warfare from breaking out among the Muslims - those whose hearts Allah had “knit together”.Perhaps Islamís Allah needs to take some sewing lessons.






††††††††††† From the very beginning weíre seeing the unfolding of a dark Shakespearian tragedy.Hatred, jealousy, and bitterness, are rooted in the hearts of the leaders of the Islamic community.Some foresee civil war down the road.This lusting after wealth and power was going to have bad consequences for the Islamic community.


††††††††††† Note, in and of itself this malicious dissention within the leadership of the Muslim community was quite sinister.However, this foreshadowed some truly horrible events to take place in the not to distant future.I am showing how the seeds of evil ran deep within the hearts and minds of these, the best Muslims, from the beginning.


††††††††††† Shouldnít there have been some kind of brotherly love between all of these leading Muslims?Why was Zubayr willing to kill any other Muslim just to have Ali made Caliph?Why was Ali so pig-headed when it came to recognizing someone who was so beloved by Muhammad?Couldnít Ali have better dealt with his emotions?Worldwide, in many cases groups of men who choose political leaders are more cordial and civil.Why should Islam compare so miserably to secular or non-Islamic systems if it were truly a spiritual religion?






1)      The Bible, New International Version, pub. by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan

2)      The Nobel Quran,translated by Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali and Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, published by Maktaba Dar-us-Salam, PO Box 21441, Riyadh 11475, Saudi Arabia, 1994

3)      ...

4)      al-Tabari, "The History of al-Tabari", (Ta'rikh al-rusul wa'l-muluk), State University of New York Press1993


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