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The Disputes in the Saqeefah

Saqeefah was a big shed where the Ansar (the local citizens of Medina) would gather to discuss the public affairs and occasionally they would appoint chieftains of local families.

After the Prophet's death, the Ansar formed a meeting to discuss the subject of his successor.

Sa’d ibn Ubadah, who was one of the Prophet’s great companions and an important man in his tribe, was nominated by his tribe the Khazraj.

There was another tribe in Medina named Aws. A state of war was between these two tribes since a long time ago. There was still a great enmity between them at this time.

The Aws naturally did not show any favor for this candidate and they opposed they Khazraj.

While they were arguing with each other, suddenly three men of Muhajirun; Abu-Bakr, Umar and Abu ‘Ubaydah ibn al-Jarrah came into the Saqeefah.

At first Umar stood up to speak but Abu-Bakr prevented him and he himself said: “We, the Muhajirun, believed in Mohammad and worshipped God before all of you. We are Mohammad’s friends and relatives; therefore these privileges and attributes are quite enough for us to take the reins of government.”

Then a man from the Ansar, named Habbab, turned towards his family and said: “O people of Ansar, do not surrender to them. We, the Ansar, have also some other precedence over them. We are men of wealth, honor and a great tribe. We gave them shelter in our homes. Islam progressed by our sword. You should stick to your right severely. One emir is to be from us and one is to be from them.”

Umar stood up and said: “It is not possible to have two rulers in the same time. By Allah, the Arabs will not be contented to have a ruler from you, the Ansar, whereas the Prophet (s) is not from your family; therefore the caliph must be from his own family. Whoever opposes us, will do wrong and will commit a sin, which leads to perdition.”

Habbab stood up again and repeated the same words as before but he was scolded by Umar severely.

Then Abu ‘Ubaydah stood up and said; “You, the Ansar, helped and supported us in different ways and now we expect that you do not change your behavior.” But the Ansar did not accord to the Muhajirun.

The situation was going to an end in the interest of the Ansar, but suddenly Basheer, one of the Khazraj, stood up and said: “Although we reinforced Islam and supported you, Muhajirun, but our purpose was obeying Allah and His apostle. It does not make us put obstacles in the way of the caliphate. Muhammad (s) was from Koreish. Koreish has the right to get this position and Koreish suffices for it.”

When Basheer finished his speech, the dispute reached a high point among the Ansar. The Muhajirun took advantage of this tumult and seized the opportunity. Umar and Abu ‘Ubaydah ran towards Abu-Bakr and paid homage to him as caliph, and then Basheer al-Ansari and his family resigned themselves to Abu-Bakr. In this way Abu-Bakr became the caliph after the Prophet (s).

Surprising it is! The Muhajirun, because of their precedence in Islam and worshipping God and their kinship with the Prophet as they pretended, disqualified the Ansar but they did not talk about Imam Ali (s), who was the true successor for the same reasons. He was the first man, who believed in Muhammad, the first one, who offered prayer behind the Prophet and he, on the contrary to the other Prophet’s companions, had never worshipped idols. 23

It was surprising indeed when the Ansar were beaten in the debate of kinship with the Prophet and submitted to the Muhajirun whereas Abu-Bakr related to the Prophet through his seventh great grandfather and Umar related to the Prophet through his ninth great grandfather but they ignored Imam Ali (s), who was so closer to the Prophet that he was a full- blood cousin.


23. It was mentioned by Abul Qassim al-Hasakani, Ahmad in his Musnad, al-Khawarizmi in his Manaqib, Sulayman al-Balkhi al-Hanafi in his Yanabee'ul Mawadda chap.12, ibn Abul Hadeed in Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, p.p.375-377,388, an-Nassa'ei, Abu Na'eem al-Isfahani, ath-Tha'labi, ibnul Maghazili and many other Sunni scholars in their books.

Adopted from the book : "Imam Ali (a.s.); Sunshine of Civilized Islam" by : "Muhammad Huseyn Tahmasebi"

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