Is it true that Hz. Ali did not pay allegiance to Hz. Abu Bakr?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The claim that Hz. Ali did not want to pay allegiance to Hz. Abu Bakr mentioned in the book called İslam Tarihi is not true. For, the reason why Hz. Ali paid allegiance late was his being busy with the burial and funeral of the Prophet (pbuh).

The Death of the Prophet (12 H /632 AD)

When Hz. Ali heard that the Prophet (pbuh) died, his knees gave way; when Hz. Uthman heard it, he became tongue-tied due to his sorrow; when Hz. Umar heard it, he was terrified and could not accept it; those facts show that they loved the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) very much. They were his beloved ones. Those incidents are not seen in most of the people who lose their closest relatives. Those incidents seen in the Companions when he died indicate that they loved him very much.   

Hz. Abu Bakr’s state shows that he was more cold-blooded and had the feeling of responsibility. He came out of his daughter Hz. Aisha’s room into the mosque. He addressed the people there as follows: "O people! Whoever worshipped Muhammad, Muhammad is dead, but whoever worshipped Allah, know that Allah is Alive and shall never die."

Hz. Abu Bakr's words were important. The prophets, who were the most superior people and who were appointed by Allah, who is pre-eternal and post-eternal, as the messengers and were chosen by Him, were mortal. They were Allah’s slaves and messengers. The greatest prophet was like that too. Human beings should not be idolized and the great prophets should not be made idols. This took place in the Era of Jahiliyya where idols increased and the idol Lat emerged, in the Greek and Roman states and other civilizations. The only deity to be worshipped is Allah. He is always alive and eternal. Only a deity that is always alive and eternal can deserve to be worshipped. Then, he recited the following verses:   

"Muhammad is no more than a messenger: many Were the messenger that passed away before him. If he died or were slain, will ye then Turn back on your heels? If any did turn back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah; but Allah (on the other hand) will swiftly reward those who (serve Him) with gratitude."(1)

The Companions were so astonished and sorrowful that they did not seem to hear him. However, the verse awakened them. Yes, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was the master of human beings but he was a messenger like the previous ones. He came to this guesthouse and left like the previous prophets. Allah stated in the verse that he would pass away one day. When he died, the Muslims would follow his way (Sunnah). Therefore, if they returned, they would be losers. For, Allah is Samad; He does not need His creatures, their deeds and worship. However, Lordship necessitates worshipping. A patient needs doctor’s advice and prescription. Similarly, slaves need worshipping. When the verse was recited, his knees gave way and fell down.

Hz. Abbas, Hz. Ali and the other members of Ahl al-Bayt started to wash and enshroud his dead body. Along with crying and feeling sorry, it was necessary to choose a caliph to carry out the affairs of the ummah to succeed the Messenger of Allah (pbuh. The person who deserved it was Hz. Abu Bakr, who was the friend of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) in the cave and who was the most superior among the Companions. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) regarded him superior to everybody. He kept only Hz. Abu Bakr’s door open among the doors that opened to the mosque; he also appointed Hz. Abu Bakr the imam to lead the prayers when he was ill.

Allegiance to Hz. Abu Bakr

The views that emerged related to the caliphate when the Prophet (pbuh) died

A few views emerged upon the death of the Messenger of Allah related to the caliphate. (2)

First View: It is the view Ansar. As it is known, before the Migration, twelve leaders were appointed among Ansar. Two of those twelve leaders were Sa'd b. Ubada and Usayd b. Khudayr. If one of them had been chosen as the caliph, it would have caused the other to be his rival. The competition between Aws and Khazraj could have emerged. For, the members of the Aws tribe wanted Sa'd to be the caliph and the members Khazraj wanted Usayd. They gathered around their leaders separately. After the speech Ubada made in the presence of Ansar in Thaqifah Bani Saida, people almost paid allegiance to him.

Second View: It is the view of the majority of the Companions. They took the power and qualification necessary to conduct the affairs of the ummah into consideration. Quraysh was the most honorable, powerful and influential tribe among Arabs. That the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) belonged to Quraysh was a special virtue for Quraysh. Therefore, it was necessary to choose the most virtuous one among them. Islam eliminated tribalism and racism (3) and introduced the unity of Islam and brotherhood of belief but they took into consideration the possibility that the other tribes of Quraysh would not obey a caliph that did not belong to Quraysh and that there would be conflicts among the ummah. They also guessed that Aws and Khazraj tribes would not obey a caliph that would be chosen outside Quraysh. If a caliph were chosen from Quraysh, both Aws and Khazraj and the other Arab tribes would obey him. There would not be conflict and disagreement about caliphate.

Third View: It is the view of Hashimis. They took kinship to the Messenger of Allah into consideration. Sons of Hashim were the most honorable tribe among Quraysh. Besides, the Prophet (pbuh) belonged to them. Since Sons of Hashim were the closest relatives of the Prophet, the caliph needed to be one of them. They wanted to pay allegiance to Hz. Ali. Hz. Abbas was the closest relative of the Messenger of Allah but he accepted Islam late and he was the last Muslim who migrated to Madinah. When there were the first muhajirs and the ten people who were given the glad tidings of Paradise, it would be out of question to pay allegiance to him. Then, it was best to pay allegiance to Hz. Ali. The disciples of the Prophet from Ashara al-Mubashshara,  Zubayr b. Awwam who was Hz. Abu Bakr's son-in-law due to his daughter Asma, Miqdad b. Aswad, Salman al-Farisi, Abu Dharr, Ammar b. Yasir and Ubayy b. Ka'b, who were among the notables of the Companions held this view.  

If people were to pay allegiance to the Umayyad, it would be Abu Sufyan, Muawiya’s father. For, he was a great person in terms of his tribe and nobility. However, he became a Muslim late and his service was not sufficient. For, what the Muslims suffered in Uhud in the third year of the Migration because of him (4) was still remembered; on the other hand, that Abu Sufyan became a Muslim when Makkah was conquered decreased his importance though he was a strong Muslim after that. Therefore, the only person who could be the caliph from Sons of Umayyad was Hz. Uthman.

When Hz. Abu Bakr, Ali and some other Companions were busy with washing and enshrouding the Prophet (pbuh), Mughira b. Shu’ba, who was a Muhajir, went to Hz. Umar and said, "Ansar gathered in Thaqifa. If they decide something, there will be a war between us and them." Thereupon, Hz. Umar, Hz. Abu Bakr and Abu Ubayda went to Thaqifa. Ansar almost paid allegiance to Sa'd b. Ubada (5). When Hz. Abu Bakr made a nice speech mentioning the superiority of Muhajirs, who had accepted Islam earlier, and stating that Arabs would not obey anyone accept Quraysh, Ansar said, "Let there be one caliph from us and one from you." However, Hz. Umar said, two swords would fit in one sheath. When Abu Ubayda made a speech that supported him, the members of Ansar and Muhajirs who were there paid allegiance to Hz. Abu Bakr.

Hz. Ali was in the house of his wife, Hz. Fatima. Zubayr b. Awwam, Miqdad, Salman, Abu Dharr, Ammar and Ubayy b. Ka'b were there too. They felt offended because they had not been consulted but there was no time to consult them. Meanwhile, Hz. Abbas said to Hz. Ali, "Allow us to pay allegiance to you; then, people will pay allegiance to you too. However, he did not accept it fearing that there would be mischief. Abu Sufyan did not pay allegiance to Hz. Abu Bakr considering that his tribe was small and supported Hashimis. When he wanted to pay allegiance to Hz. Ali, Hz. Ali addressed him as follows: "O Abu Sufyan! Do you want to cause conflict among the ummah of Islam?" Thus, he rejected Abu Sufyan’s offer. On the other hand, Hz. Umar, Abu Ubayda and Hz. Abu Bakr objected to Hz Ali’s retiring into his house by saying, "Why did Hz. Ali not come to Thaqifa and intervene?" When Hz. Ali heard statements like "Hz. Ali wanted to be the caliph; he did not accept the caliphate of Hz. Abu Bakr", he got angry. (6) In fact, he preferred to keep away because he could not overcome the shock of the death of the Prophet.

Thus, after the incidents that we mentioned above took place on the day when the Prophet (pbuh) died on Rabiulawwal 12 (Monday) in the 11th year of the Migration, Hz. Abu Bakr became the caliph of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). The next day (on Tuesday), he went to the mosque and the general allegiance took place there. (7)

Hz. Ali's delay in allegiance

Hz. Ali and Hz. Abu Bakr avoided causing mischief and conflicts in the Islamic ummah but Hz. Ali had not paid allegiance to Hz. Abu Bakr yet. The majority of the Companions had paid allegiance to Hz. Abu Bakr and they would not return. However, the people around Hz. Ali insisted on his caliphate. What is more, Hz. Abu Bakr's son-in-law, Zubayr b. Awwam insistently said, "I will not sheathe my sword unless allegiance is paid to Ali." However, Hz. Umar said, "Take his sword and hit a stone with it." (8)

Hz. Abu Bakr showed patience for a while but when it continued for a long time, he feared that the two parties would fall out and that some gullible, ignorant people would intervene and conflicts would occur; therefore, he decided to consult Hz. Umar regarding the issue. While he was talking to him, Abu Ubayda arrived; Hz. Abu Bakr appointed Abu Ubayda to talk to Hz. Ali and settle the issue.

Ubayda b. Jarrah informed Hz. Ali about what Hz. Umar and Hz. Abu Bakr told him. Hz. Ali said that he had preferred to retire into his house due to the shock caused by the death of the Prophet and that he had been busy with the Book of Allah (9). Then, he spoke as follows: "If I had not promised, I would take my mouth out with my ring finger and little finger and I would plunge into the vast place of the word with the bottom of my feet and top of my head. However, I will not open my mouth until I rejoin my Lord. I will try my case in the presence of my Lord. I will go to the congregation tomorrow morning and pay allegiance to your friend. I will show patience to this state, which saddens me and which pleases you, so that the decree of qadar will take place. Allah owns everything."

Abu Ubayda informed Hz. Abu Bakr about what he said. The next day, Hz. Ali entered the mosque, walked through the congregation and paid allegiance to Hz. Abu Bakr. Hz. Abu Bakr apologized to Hz. Ali, who sat next to him because he did not take part in the consultation. Then, Hz. Ali asked permission to leave and left. When Hz. Umar saw him off, Hz. Ali said to him, (10)

"The reason why I have not come so far is not because I do not accept your friend (Abu Bakr). I have not come today because I fear. I know what my eyes see, where my foot steps on, where I draw my bow and where my arrow reaches. However, I held the reigns of my horse when a misfortune came after another."

What he meant by "a misfortune coming after another" was the death of the Messenger of Allah and claims and demands of caliphate for him. When Hz. Ali paid allegiance to Hz. Abu Bakr (11), "ijma (consensus) ummah" occurred in the caliphate of Hz. Abu Bakr.

 Remarkable issues related to Hz. Ali's delay in allegiance

 It is necessary to highlight some points regarding the issue:

1) With the settlement of the disagreement, a dangerous conflict that might have occurred between the majority of the Companions and Hashimis was prevented. 

2) Hz. Abu Bakr became the caliph with the consensus of the ummah. As the Messenger of Allah stated, the ummah would not agree unanimously on something wrong. 

3) Hz. Abu Bakr did not act furiously and did not walk up to Hz. Ali. Hz. Ali said he would pay allegiance one day later and asked some time to persuade his supporters.  

4) Perhaps it was a good thing that Hz. Ali did not go to Thaqifa; thus, the addition of Hashimis to the disagreement was prevented, which was a mercy.

5) Those who say they have tremendous love for Hz. Ali, who disparage him, and whose creed necessitates accusing him of immorality say,  

"Although Hz. Abu Bakr and Hz. Umar acted unjustly, Ali feigned approval for them."

According to Shiite terminology, he dissimulated. That is, he was frightened of them and behaved hypocritically (God forbid). How can it be possible to accuse a person who won the title “Asadullah,”2 deservedly, who was the commander and guide of the veracious people of hypocrisy, cowardice and simulating love for people he did not love, and of feigning approval for them in fear for more than twenty years? It does not mean to love him. Hz. Ali would not accept such a love. Thus, Ahl as-Sunnah, the People of truth, do not disparage Hz. Ali or level accusations of immorality at him; they do not attribute cowardice to such a remarkable hero of courage. Ahl as-Sunnah say, "If Hz. Ali had not considered the Rightly-Guided Caliphs to be truthful, he would not have recognized them for a minute or obeyed them. Since he thought them right and preferable, he surrendered his endeavor and courage in the way of truth.

They all show that the people of Ahl as-Sunnah love Hz. Ali more than Alawites do. In that case, they are regarded Alawites more than them. They also support him. The following four issues indicate it:

1) Firs of all, they mention Hz. Ali with praise that he deserves in all of their prayers (duas) supplications and sermon. 

2) The great majority of the saints and pure people of Ahl as-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah regard Hz. Ali as "Murshid (Guide)" and "Shah al-Walayah (Shah of Sainthood)".

3) Besides, it is regarded as overstepping the mark for those who lived after the Companions to question them because the best period of Islam the period of the Companions. (12) Each of them is a star of guidance. They conveyed the Quran to us and we learned tafsir from them. Hadiths were heard from them. Religious decrees were taken from them too. Can we question them with what we learned from them? To err is human. Mujtahids also make mistakes in their views but even if they do, they get thawabs. Therefore, we cannot and will not say bad things about and criticize Hz. Ali, Hz. Abu Bakr and the others.

4) The Companions are the pillars of Islam. The disagreements and debates among them are like discussions about ijtihads. Even if they make a mistake in ijtihad, they accept the truth when they see it. Even if they address one another harshly for the sake of the truth, they appreciate one another. Partiality and self-love were not dominant in them but love of truth was. If they had acted partially, would Zubayr b. Awwam had supported Hashimis instead of Hz. Abu Bakr, his father-in-law? Although they did not hold the same view related to the caliphate, Hz. Umar was among the people that appreciated Hz. Ali most. When Hz. Ali found an answer to a problem he mentioned, he said, "I take refuge in Allah from the emergence of a hard issue in a congregation where Ali is not present." (13) Hz. Ali sometimes said, "After the Messenger of Allah, the best people of this ummah are Abu Bakr and Umar." (14)

To sum up, their disagreement was ijtihad; they were free from worldly interest, love of leadership and politics. However, the people living today have completely different views and ideas. Intentions and ideals today are related to the world more. The people living with those ideas today think the Companions were like them too. 

1- For the issue of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) being the messenger of Allah, see al-Baqara, 2/119,252; al-An'am, 6/14, 19, 48; Aal-i Imran, 3/62, 79, 114, 159; an-Nisa, 4/105, 106; al-Maida, 5/67, 99; Sad, 38/65, 70.
2- Ibn Kathir, Izzaddin Abul Hasan, al-Kamil fit-Tarikh, I-XII, Beirut 1996, II, 335 ff.
3- Sarıcık, Murat. İnanç ve Zihniyet Olarak Cahiliye, Isparta 1988; for Zann al-Jahiliyya, Hukm al-Jahiliyya and Asabiyya, see p. 18-45; Muhammed Khudari Bak, Nurul-Yaqin, Beirut, nd. p. 125-127; Yazır, Hamdi. Hak Dini Kuran Dili, I-IX, Istanbul 1979, III, 1618; at-Taj, V, 22, 46: the interpretation of "the Prophet’s asabiyya"
4- Abu Sufyan was the commander of the polytheists in Uhud. He became a Muslim immediately before the conquest of Makkah. His real name was Sahr b. Harb. He was the father of Umm Habiba, one of the wives of the Messenger of Allah. He took part in the Expedition of Hunayn and Taif. He lost one of his eyes in the Siege of Taif and Battle of Yarmuk. The Messenger of Allah prayed for him a few times. Once, the Messenger of Allah called Hz. Ali and told him that he was pleased with Abu Sufyan. See Mutlu, İsmail et al. Sahabiler Ansiklopedisi, I-II, İstanbul 1993, I, 380-386; al-Bukhari, Mughira b. Bardizbah, Sahihul-Bukhari, IV-III, Istanbul, nd, VI, 126; at-Taj, III, 376; for the virtue of Abu Sufyan, see Siratun-Nabawi, IV, 198; Tafsirul Quranil Azim, IV, 254; being sent to break the idol Lat into pieces.
5- at-Taj, III, 391-392; for Sa'd b. Ubada and Usayd b. Khudayr, see al-Kamil, II, 332.
6- For the evidences of the Shiite about the caliphate of Hz. Ali and the answers given to them, see Ehli Beyt, p. 65-99; Sahihu Bukhari, IV, 207 ff; at-Taj, III, 330 ff; Suyuti, Abdurrahman b. Abi Bakr. Tarikhul-Khulafa, Egypt 1952, s. 166; Tarikhul-Khamis, II, 44-45; Ibn Majah, Sunanu Ibn Majah, I-II, Istanbul, nd I, 44 ff.
7- al-Kamil, II, 332.
8- Kısas-ı Enbiya, I, 291.
9- Hz. Ali put together all of the chapters and verses based on a different arrangement and prepared a mushaf with a special order after the death of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh).
10- Kısas-ı Enbiya, I, 294; al-Masudi, Ali b. Husayn, Murujudh-Dhahab, I-IV, Beirut 1986, II, 330. The views about when Hz. Ali paid allegiance.
11- Ibn Kathir states that Hz. Ali, Sons of Hashim and Zubayr b. Awwam did not pay allegiance until Hz. Fatima died. see al-Kamil, II, 331.
12- Sahabe modeli, p. 192, 231 ff 239; Sunanun-Nasai, VIII, 94; Sunanu Ibn Majah, II, 137; Sah. Bukhari, VIII, 94; Sah. Muslim, No: 210, 215.
13- See also Ehl-i Beyt, p. 150, 155 ff.
14- Kısas-ı Enbiya, I, 301.

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