The Incident of Pen and Paper from Sunni Sources

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On the eve of his demise on Monday, when a group of companions visited the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), he (s.a.w.a.) ordered them:

آتُوْنِیْ بِدَوَاتٍ وَ قِرْطَاسٍ اِکْتُبُ لَکُمْ کِتَابًا لَنْ تَضِلُّوْا بَعْدَہ اَبَدًا

“Fetch me a pen and a paper so that I write a will for you so that you are not deviated after me.”

Umar said:

اِنَّ النَّبِیَّ غَلَبَہ الْوَجْعُ وَ عِنْدَکُمْ کِتَابُ اللهِ، حَسْبُنَا کِتَابُ اللهِ۔

“Surely the Prophet is overcome by illness (suggesting that his words should not be taken seriously).The Book of Allah is with you. The Book of Allah is sufficient for us!!!”

(Sahih Bukhari Chapter on Knowledge, v 22, Musnad-e-Ahmad b. Hanbal, Research of Ahmad Muhammad Shakir, trad 2,996, Tabaqaat of Ibn Saad v 2, p 244 Beirut Edition)

In Tabaqaat of Ibn Saad we find another narration which reveals that a person present in the assembly declared:

اِنَّ النَّبِیَّ اللهِ لِیَجْہَرَ

“The Prophet is speaking in delirium.”

(Tabaqaat of Ibn Saad v 2 p 242, Beirut Edition, Sahih Bukhari Chapter on جوائز الوفد from the Book of Jihad v 2 p 120, and the Chapter of Exodus of Jews form the Arabian Peninsula v 2 p 36 has these words

“The person who said this was the one who said that the Book of Allah is sufficient for us.” i.e. Umar

The Confession of Umar in Sunni Books

Umar himself has confessed about this lowly and shameful act. While describing the conditions of Umar, Abul Fazl Ahmad b. Abi Tahir in Taarikh Baghdad and Ibn Abil Hadid in Sharh-o-Nahjil Balaagha v 3 p 97 have documented:

On a particular day, there occurred a lengthy discussion between Umar and Ibn Abbas when Umar said:

“During the illness which led to his demise, Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) wished to put forward his (Imam Ali’s) name but we prevented him from doing so. Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) did not approve of this.”

At that time, some of those present urged:

“Obey the instructions of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.).”

After a heated debate some people intended to bring the pen and paper upon which the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) declared:

اَوْ بَعْدَ مَاذَا؟

“(Of what use is it) after this?”

(Tabaqaat of Ibn Saad v 2 p 242, Beirut Edition)

Even if a pen and paper had been provided as per the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) instructions and had he (s.a.w.a.) written a will nominating Imam Ali (a.s.) as his successor, Umar’s calculated remark placed the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) nomination under a shadow of uncertainty. To foil the nomination, all that the opponents of Imam Ali (a.s.) and Islam had to do was summon a group of cronies to testify that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) was speaking in delirium, Allah forbid!!

When voices rose in his presence and events took an ugly turn, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) exclaimed:

قُوْمُوْا عَنِّیْ، لاَ یَنْبَغِیْ عِنْدَ نَبِیَّ تَنَازَعٌ۔

“Go away from me, it is not appropriate to quarrel in the presence of a Prophet.”

(Taarikh-o-Abi al-Fidaa, v. 1, p. 15)

In Sahih Bukhari in the Chapter on Book of Knowledge v 1 p 22, the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) annoyance is recorded with a slight variation:

قَالَ: قُوْمُوْا عَنِّیْ و لاَ یَنْبَغِیْ عِنْدِی التَّنَازَعُ

“Go away from me, it is not appropriate to argue in my presence.”

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