The best argument that the opponents can advance against the Shias to validate claims of Abu Bakr’s caliphate is consensus (ijmaa’). They claim that Abu Bakr by virtue of consensus was most suited for caliphate. In other words, the Muslims of the time, including the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) leading companions, selected Abu Bakr as the caliph and hence he deserves the position more than other companions like Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.).
The argument of consensus is the biggest falsehood propagated to justify shifting caliphate from Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.), the rightful heir of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), to Abu Bakr.
The incident regarding Osama Ibn Zaid’s army is one of the many proofs that destroy Abu Bakr’s claim to caliphate based on consensus of the companions.
It should be remembered that Osama Ibn Zaid was appointed the commander of an army by the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) and was ordered to proceed towards Syria to crush the aggression of the enemy. The Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had declared that anyone who did not pay heed to the command of Osama was a hypocrite. Thus, at the time of the demise of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and the proceedings of Saqifah, Osama was away from Medina at a place called Jurf (near Medina), proceeding towards Syria (following the command of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)).
On usurping the caliphate, Abu Bakr wrote a letter to Osama.
The contents of the letter were as follows – ‘From Abu Bakr, the caliph of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) of Allah to Osama Ibn Zaid. Now then! The Muslims have taken refuge in me and have chosen me for the leadership of caliphate and made me their chief after the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) of Allah….Thus, when my letter reaches you, you may come to me and like other Muslims, swear allegiance to me. You may even permit Umar Ibn Khattab to be free from under your leadership and stay with me here for I need him. Thereafter, you may proceed towards the frontline as directed by the Prophet (s.a.w.a.).’
When the letter reached Osama, he read it and replied: ‘From Osama Ibn Zaid, the freed slave of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) of Allah, to Abu Bakr Ibn Abi Qahafah. Now then! Your letter has reached me, but it is completely incongruous from the beginning till the end.’
‘First you claim to be the caliph of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and then say that the Muslims gathered around you and chose you as their leader? If it was such, then they would have pledged allegiance at your hands in the Prophet’s Mosque and not at Saqifah Bani Saidah.’ (Meaning if Abu Bakr was the caliph of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) why was he in need of the approval and selection of the Muslims? And even then, why would they approve of his choice in Saqifah, instead of Masjid al-Nabawi?)
‘Furthermore you request me to excuse Umar Ibn Khattab from the army for the reason that you need him! Know that he has already stayed away on his own without my permission and it is not lawful for me to excuse anyone for the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) himself had deputed them for this battle under my command. In this matter there is no difference between you and Umar, that both of you have stayed behind, and violation of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.)’s command after his demise is similar to disobeying him during his lifetime.’
‘You very well know that the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had ordered you and Umar to proceed towards this expedition under my command while the opinion and command of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) regarding you is better and preferable to your own opinions regarding yourselves. Your position was not hidden from the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) who made me your commander and not you my commander. Thus opposing the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is hypocrisy and deceit…’
• Oyoon al-Balaghah fi Uns al-Hadhir wa Naqlah al-Musaafir of Shaikh Abbas al-Qummi (r.a.)
This incident shows that Abu Bakr was not selected with the consensus of Muslims. Rather, he was imposed by a handful of conspirators upon the Muslims. The majority of Muslims were deceived into paying him allegiance with the argument of consensus. Much like the Bani Israel majority were deceived into worshipping the calf.
The majority of Muslims were not even present in Medina (forget Saqifah) at the time of Abu Bakr’s selection. Based on the Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) standing instructions, they were all geared up for an expedition to Syria under Osama Ibn Zaid’s leadership. Yet this large group of Muslims, who were not present in Medina and had not yet given allegiance to Abu Bakr, were being ordered to pay fealty following the footsteps of the minority of Muslims!
Consensus is when the minority accepts the decision of the majority. In case of Abu Bakr’s caliphate, consensus has been redefined as the majority submitting to the minority.
Take lesson, O people of vision!