Mahmood Abu Maryam

Trying to make sense of it all...



The hadith of “pen and paper”, or the hadith al-qirtas, is also called the raziyya yawm al-khamis that translates to ‘The Calamity of Thursday’.

The authenticity of this event cannot be disputed, it is recorded in multiple sources including the Sahih of Bukhari and the Sahih of Muslim and they record it multiple times.

What is extremely important is the essence of what that event was all about. Can we actually know what the Prophet (s) would have written?

I suggest that we can know with full certainty. And the reason may surprise you.

The answer is contained within the words of the Prophet Muhammad (s) that also show that not only was he in his full faculties, unlike what some people around him alleged at the time to try and dissuade him from writing those words, but also that he left the clue for what he was going to say in his choice of words.

  • Narrated Ibn `Abbas: Thursday! And how great that Thursday was! The ailment of Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) became worse (on Thursday) and he said, 'Fetch me something so that I may write to you something after which you will never go astray."

The construct used by the Prophet (s) was:

أَكْتُبْ لَكُمْ كِتَابًا لَنْ تَضِلُّوا بَعْدَهُ أَبَدًا

The lan tadillu ba’dahu abada(n) phrase, and its very minor variants, have the Prophet (s) promise that his followers will never go astray if they follow that instruction.

Now, clearly if the Prophet (s) failed to write the words and if that was the only time he was going to state something of such importance it would mean he did not fulfil his responsibility to the people. That cannot ever be the case.

And so we must look for all the earlier times that the Prophet (s) used the same construct throughout his career as a Prophet (s).

One might think that must have been on tonnes of occasions.

But, interestingly, it isn’t!

The Prophet (s) was fully cognizant of what he was doing. He chose words that would allow future generations to understand the opposition that he faced, in his final days, to his choice of the system of successorship, whilst also making sure that future generations would be able to identify with precision what that was from a record of his earlier pronouncements.

In other words, this is a perfect use of balagha and a consistency of discourse.

So where else did the Prophet use the construct ‘you will never go astray after me’?

He mentioned it on the day of Ghadir Khumm, in public, several weeks earlier to the Calamity of Thursday event.

(Al-Hakim says:) The first tradition (mentioned above) is supported by this one narrated by Salamah ibn Kuhayl, from Abu al-Tufayl, which is also sahih according to the requirements of al-Bukhari and Muslim.

Narrated to us Abu Bakr ibn Ishaq and Da`laj ibn Ahmad al-Sijzi, both of them from Muhammad ibn Ayyub, from al-'Azraq ibn `Ali, from Hassan ibn Ibrahim al-Kirmani, from Muhammad ibn Salamah ibn Kuhayl, from his father, from Abu al-Tufayl, from Ibn Wathilah that he heard Zayd ibn Arqam, may God be pleased with him, say:

"The Messenger of Allah , may Allah 's peace and benedictions be upon him and his progeny, came down at a place between Makkah and Madinah near the trees with five big shades and the people swept the ground under the trees. Then the Messenger of Allah , may God's peace and benediction be upon him and his progeny, began to perform the evening prayer.

After the prayer he began to address the people. He praised God and extolled Him, preaching and reminding (us), and said what God wanted him to say.

Then he said, 'O people! Verily, I am leaving behind two matters among you- if you follow them (the two) you will never go astray.

These two are: the Book of God and my ahl al-bayt, my `itrah.'

Then he said thrice: 'Do you know that I have more right over the believers than they over themselves?' The people said, 'Yes.'

Then the Messenger of Allah , may Allah's peace and benedictions be upon him and his progeny said, 'Of whomever I am his master (mawla) `Ali also is his master.'"

Source - al-Mustadrak `ala al-Sahihayn, Haydarabad: Da'irat al-ma`arif al-nizamiyyah (4 vols), 1334-42 AH, vol. 3, p. 109

This hadith of the Prophet (s) using the same construct, is attested to in multiple sources, in longer and shorter versions. It is considered not just authentic but mutawatir by Sunni scholars as well.

There are also another set of narrations that also use the same construct of lan tadillu ba’di but instead of the Ahl al-Bayt or ‘itra they mention the sunnah.

Although on face value that does not contradict the successorship of the Ahl al-Bayt as announced at Ghadir Khumm, research scholars have determined that the sunnah versions are all weak and fabricated.

For instance, the version in the Muwatta’ of Imam Malik does not have a full chain of narration. Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr in his Is’af al-Mubatta’ attempts to find full-isnad versions of the sunnah versions and ends up producing just a few that are filled with confirmed liars and fabricators, not even just weak or forgetful narrators.

For details of this research, see The Hadith of the Will (wasiyya) about the Thaqalayn: The Book and the Sunnah

Clearly, the original and true words of the Prophet (s), using the same language he used on that fateful Thursday, and what he would have written if allowed, was that the Muslims should follow after his death the Qur’an and the Ahl al-Bayt, with ‘Ali b. Abi Talib as the first member of that leadership.

The rest is history.


The default position when you stand up to commence prayer is putting hands on the side - sadl al-yadayn. This was the way Muslims in Medina, Makka, and later in cities such as Kufa, would have been praying, until the rise of the Umayyads in Syria.

The contrary position of qabd - folding hands - almost certainly got introduced by Mu’awiya and this Umayyad custom survived into Sunni orthodoxy, except for the Maliki madhhab.

Professor Yasin Dutton has written an interesting paper - Amal vs Hadith in Islamic Law - that tackles this topic where he says:

  • The non-Sunni madhhab’s, however - the Ithna Asahri Shi’a, the Zaydi’s, the Isma’li’s and the Ibadi’s (Khawarij) - are all agreed, along with the majority of the Maliki’s, on sadl.

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, a prominent contemporary Sunni scholar, has explained, in a video you can find online, how the act of folding hands, versus not, was seen as an indicator of political affiliation during those days such as the civil war between Imam ‘Ali and Mu’awiya. Clearly he sees sadl as the more authentic and well-evidenced position.

He makes the following key points:

  • People who were on the side of Imam ‘Ali in the civil wars prayed with their hands by the side (sadl)
  • Even the Khawarij who seceded from the side continued to pray like that.
  • Later Shi’a Imams, for instance Imams al-Baqir and Ja’far al-Sadiq, prayed the same way, without folding.
  • Basically the outward form of a person, practicing sadl or qabd, used to be an immediate and visual indicator of their political position with respect to Imam ‘Ali or Mu’awiya.

Hope this helps.


This requires a special understanding and cognition of the reality and continuous presence and grace of God in our lives and the nature of our connection with Him as well as our utter dependence on Him.

You may find useful to watch this recently concluded series of lectures by Sh. Javad Shomali.


Here are 12 pieces of evidence that show that Mu'awiya used to curse, and encourage the cursing of, Imam Ali b. Abi Talib.


ثم كان من أمر علي ما كان فنجمت طائفة أخرى حاربوه ثم أشتد الخطب فتنقصوه واتخذوا لعنه على المنابر سنة

“Then it was the matter of Ali and a group of people fought against him, then the situation got more complicated and they began to belittle him and they made cursing Ali from the pulpits, a regular habit”

Source - Fath al-Bari Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7 page 57


“And during the reign of Banu Umayya the dignity of Ali was attacked, he was cursed because Mu’awiya during his reign introduced the ugly bid`ah of cursing Ali.

His successors continued this tradition until the reign of Umar bin Abdul Aziz. The tradition entailed cursing the Imam of Guidance Ali at the end of the Friday Sermons, the Sahaba’s remonstrations that this was wrong was ignored, Mu’awiya and his Governors refused to desist from their actions.

Ummul’Momineen Salma (ra) wrote a letter to Mu’awiya and his respective Governors reminding them that by cursing ‘Ali they were in fact cursing Allah (swt) and his Prophet (s)”.

Source - Ta’rikh Madhahib al-Islam, Volume 1 page 35


He has recorded the following statement of an important early Sunni scholar called Abd al-Rahman b. ‘Amr al-Awza’i (d. 157 H):

سمعت الأوزاعي يقول : ما أخذنا العطاء حتى شهدنا على علي بالنفاق وتبرأنا منه

Al-Awzai said: ‘We didn’t obtain gifts until we testified that Ali was a hypocrite and declared our disavowal towards him”.

Source - Siyar A’lam al-Nubala, Volume 7 page 130


When Muawiya Ibn Abi Sufyan put al-Mughairah Ibn Shubah in charge of Kufah in Jumada 41 (September 2- October 30, 661), he summoned him. After praising and glorifying God, he said:

“Now then, indeed a forbearing person has been admonished in the past… The wise might do what you want without instruction. Although I have wanted to advise you about many things, I left them alone, trusting in your discernment of what pleases me, what helps my regime and what sets my subjects [raiyyah] on the right path. I would continue to advise you about a quality of yours- do not refrain from abusing Ali and criticizing him, not from asking God’s mercy upon Uthman and His forgiveness for him. Continue to shame the companions of Ali, keep at a distance, and don’t listen to them. Praise the faction of Uthman, bring them near, and listen to them.”

Source - History of Tabari, English version, events of year 51 AH, Execution of Hujr Ibn Adi, v18, pp 122-123


“The Messenger of Muawiya then came to them (Ziyad) with orders to release six and to kill eight, telling them:

We have been ordered to let you disavow Ali and curse him. If you do so, we shall release you, and if you refuse, we shall kill you. “

Source - History of Tabari, English version, events of year 51 AH, v18, p149


“From Abdillah al-Mazini who said: ‘When Muawiya left Kufa he employed al-Mughirah ibn Shubah. ’He said: al-Mughirah hired orators to insult Ali’.”

Source - Musnad Ahmad, Volume 3 page 185


والي المدينة وهو مروان بن الحكم في زمن معاوية كان يسب ويأمر بسب علي على المنابر، هذه حقيقة تاريخية ثابتة

“The governor of Madina, Marwan bin al-Hakam during the reign of Mu’awyia used to curse Ali and ordered the cursing of Ali from the pulpits; this is an affirmed historical fact.”

Source - Nahw Inqad al-Ta’rikh, Volume 3 page 22


“The Governor of Medina who was one of the members of the house of Marwan called Sahl Ibn Sa’d, and ordered him to curse Ali. But Sahl refused to do so. The governor said: “If you don’t want to curse Ali, just say God curse Abu Turab (the nickname of Ali).” Sahl said: “Ali did not like any name for himself better than Abu Turab, and Ali used to become very happy when somebody would call him Abu Turab.”

Source - Sahih Muslim, Chapter of Virtues of Companions, Section of Virtues of Ali, Arabic version, v4, p1874, Tradition #38


وقد كان من شيعة عثمان من يسب عليا ويجهر بذلك على المنابر

“There were from the followers of Uthman ones who used to abuse Ali openly from the Mosque pulpits”

Source - Minhaj al Sunnah, Volume 6 page 201

وأما حديث سعد لما أمره معاوية بالسب فأبى

“While the narration about Sa’d (relates to) when Mu’awyia ordered him to curse (‘Ali) but he refused”

Source - Minhaj al-Sunnah, Volume 5 page 42


وقول معاوية لسعد بن أبي وقاص : ما منعك أن تسب أبا تراب ؛ يدل : على أن مقدم بني أمية كانوا يسبون عليا وينتقصونه

“The statement of Mu’awyia to Sa’d bin Abi Waqas “What prevents you from cursing Abu Turab” indicates that the first generation of Bani Umayya would abuse and belittle Ali.”

Source - Al-Mufhim, Volume 20 page 25


فاشترط أن يأخذ من بيت مال الكوفة خمسة آلاف ألف درهم، وأن يكون خراج دار أبجرد له، وأن لا يسب علي وهو يسمع

“He (Hasan) placed conditions of having five million from Kufa’s treasury, the income from the taxes of the city of Darabjird and not to curse Ali when he (al Hasan) could hear that”

Source - Al Bidayah wal Nihayah, Volume 8 page 17


“When Hassan bin Ali died, Mu’awyia performed the Hajj, and then entered into Madina where he wanted to curse Ali from Prophet’s pulpit, thus they said to him: ‘Sa’d bin Abi Waqqas is right here and he will not accept your behaviour, you should ask him first.’ Thus he sent for him and asked him about this to which he (Sa’d) said: ‘If you did it, I shall leave the mosque and never come here again.’

Thus Mu’awiya restrained himself from cursing (Ali) until Sa’d passed away, when Sa’d died, he cursed him (Ali) from the pulpit and also ordered his governors to curse him from the pulpits and they (his governors) did likewise. Then Umm Salama, the wife of the Prophet (pbuh), wrote to Mu’awyia saying: ‘You are cursing Allah and his Messenger from your pulpits and that is as a result of cursing Ali bin Abi Talib and his lovers and I testify that Allah and his Messenger love him.’ However he (Mu’awyia) didn’t pay any attention to her statement”.

Source - al-’Iqd al-Farid, Volume 3 page 300



There is a supplication from Imam Zayn al-'Abidin (a) related to ill health.

His Supplication when Sick or Visited by Distress or an Affliction

1- O God, to Thee belongs praise
for the good health of my body
which lets me move about,
and to Thee belongs praise,
for the ailments
which Thou causest to arise in my flesh!

2- For I know not, my God,
which of the two states deserves more my thanking Thee
and which of the two times is more worthy for my praise of Thee:

3- the time of health,
within which Thou makest me delight in the agreeable things of Thy provision,
through which Thou givest me the joy to seek
the means to Thy good pleasure and bounty,
and by which Thou strengthenest me
for the acts of obedience
which Thou hast given me success to accomplish;

4- or the time of illness
through which Thou puttest me to the test
and bestowest upon me favours:
lightening of the offenses
that weigh down my back,
purification of the evil deeds
into which I have plunged,
incitement to reach for repentance,
reminder of the erasure of misdeeds through ancient favour;

5- and, through all that, what the two writers write for me:
blameless acts,
which no heart had thought,
no tongue had uttered,
and no limb had undertaken,
rather, as Thy bestowal of bounty upon me
and the beneficence of Thy benefaction toward me.1

6- O God,
bless Muhammad and his Household,
make me love what Thou hast approved for me,
make easy for me what Thou hast sent down upon me,
purify me of the defilement of what I have sent ahead,
erase the evil of what I have done beforehand,
let me find the sweetness of well-being,
let me taste the coolness of safety,
and appoint for me
a way out from my illness to Thy pardon,
transformation of my infirmity into Thy forbearance,
escape from my distress to Thy refreshment,
and safety from this hardship in Thy relief!

7- Thou art gratuitously bountiful in beneficence,
ever gracious in kindness,
the Generous, the Giver,
Possessor of majesty and munificence!



Imagine a gang of thieves that was planning to rob a bank in the dead of night as they were aware that it had recently received delivery of some gold bullion.

Another gang, smaller and less powerful, finds out about their plans and seeks to pre-empt them by reaching the bank earlier in order to raid it first.

Whoever steals the gold first will keep it, right?

When the first gang finds out, they rush to the bank to find their rivals about to make their plunder.

They attempt to stop them. The second gang, seeing that they are going to lose to this stronger gang, offer to divide the goods 50-50.

The first gang does not agree to the deal and wants everything for itself.

There is a gunshot and one of their rival gang members is killed.

The powerful gang triumphs and walks away with their loot.

Here is the question: would you expect, in that moment, for either of the gangs to be discussing who the gold bullion actually and rightfully belonged to?

I leave you with the narrative on what transpired at Saqifa Bani Sa'ida from Sahih al-Bukhari in the words of one of the participants, ‘Umar b. al-Khattab, who famously explained how Abu Bakr came to power when he feared that people were planning to give allegiance to ‘Ali after him:

(O people!) I have been informed that a speaker amongst you says, 'By Allah, if `Umar should die, I will give the pledge of allegiance to such-and-such person.'

One should not deceive oneself by saying that the pledge of allegiance given to Abu Bakr was given suddenly and it was successful. No doubt, it was like that, but Allah saved (the people) from its evil, and there is none among you who has the qualities of Abu Bakr.

Remember that whoever gives the pledge of allegiance to anybody among you without consulting the other Muslims, neither that person, nor the person to whom the pledge of allegiance was given, are to be supported, lest they both should be killed.

And no doubt after the death of the Prophet (ﷺ) we were informed that the Ansar disagreed with us and gathered in the shed of Bani Sa`da.

`Ali and Zubair and whoever was with them, opposed us, while the emigrants gathered with Abu Bakr.

I said to Abu Bakr, 'Let's go to these Ansari brothers of ours.' So we set out seeking them, and when we approached them, two pious men of theirs met us and informed us of the final decision of the Ansar, and said, 'O group of Muhajirin (emigrants) ! Where are you going?' We replied, 'We are going to these Ansari brothers of ours.'

They said to us, 'You shouldn't go near them. Carry out whatever we have already decided.'

I said, 'By Allah, we will go to them.' And so we proceeded until we reached them at the shed of Bani Sa`da. Behold! There was a man sitting amongst them and wrapped in something. I asked, 'Who is that man?' They said, 'He is Sa`d bin 'Ubada.' I asked, 'What is wrong with him?' They said, 'He is sick.'

After we sat for a while, the Ansar's speaker said, 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah,' and praising Allah as He deserved, he added, 'To proceed, we are Allah's Ansar (helpers) and the majority of the Muslim army, while you, the emigrants, are a small group and some people among you came with the intention of preventing us from practicing this matter (of caliphate) and depriving us of it.'

When the speaker had finished, I intended to speak as I had prepared a speech which I liked and which I wanted to deliver in the presence of Abu Bakr, and I used to avoid provoking him. So, when I wanted to speak, Abu Bakr said, 'Wait a while.' I disliked to make him angry.

So Abu Bakr himself gave a speech, and he was wiser and more patient than I. By Allah, he never missed a sentence that I liked in my own prepared speech, but he said the like of it or better than it spontaneously.

After a pause he said, 'O Ansar! You deserve all (the qualities that you have attributed to yourselves, but this question (of Caliphate) is only for the Quraish as they are the best of the Arabs as regards descent and home, and I am pleased to suggest that you choose either of these two men, so take the oath of allegiance to either of them as you wish.

And then Abu Bakr held my hand and Abu Ubaida bin al-Jarrah's hand who was sitting amongst us. I hated nothing of what he had said except that proposal, for by Allah, I would rather have my neck chopped off as expiator for a sin than become the ruler of a nation, one of whose members is Abu Bakr, unless at the time of my death my own-self suggests something I don't feel at present.'

And then one of the Ansar said, 'I am the pillar on which the camel with a skin disease (eczema) rubs itself to satisfy the itching (i.e., I am a noble), and I am as a high class palm tree! O Quraish. There should be one ruler from us and one from you.' Then there was a hue and cry among the gathering and their voices rose so that I was afraid there might be great disagreement, so I said, 'O Abu Bakr! Hold your hand out.' He held his hand out and I pledged allegiance to him, and then all the emigrants gave the Pledge of allegiance and so did the Ansar afterwards.

And so we became victorious over Sa`d bin Ubada (whom Al-Ansar wanted to make a ruler).

One of the Ansar said, 'You have killed Sa`d bin Ubada.' I replied, 'Allah has killed Sa`d bin Ubada.'

`Umar added, "By Allah, apart from the great tragedy that had happened to us (i.e. the death of the Prophet), there was no greater problem than the allegiance pledged to Abu Bakr because we were afraid that if we left the people, they might give the Pledge of allegiance after us to one of their men, in which case we would have given them our consent for something against our real wish, or would have opposed them and caused great trouble. So if any person gives the Pledge of allegiance to somebody (to become a Caliph) without consulting the other Muslims, then the one he has selected should not be granted allegiance, lest both of them should be killed."

Source - Sahih al-Bukhari - Sayings and Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم)


I had written a detailed response on Quora analysing this explanation that is advanced to explain the event of Ghadir Khumm. It is reproduced below.

For this response I’d like to examine the favourite context that is used to explain away the importance of Ghadir Khumm as simply a way to respond to unhappy soldiers from the Yemen expedition who were upset with ‘Ali b. Abi Talib.

I consider it a pseudo-context and so would like to title the rest of my analysis as:


My assertion, that I shall try and prove below, is that Yemeni Unhappiness and Ghadir Khumm were two entirely different matters that have been conflated to create this pseudo-context.

I’d like to bring forth some case studies of Companion unhappiness, the way the Prophet (s) dealt with it, and then draw a comparison and some conclusions.

Unhappiness Case Study 1

Narrated Anas bin Malik: When Allah favored His Apostle with the properties of Hawazin tribe as Fai (booty), he started giving to some Quarries men even up to one-hundred camels each, whereupon some Ansari men said about Allah's Apostle, "May Allah forgive His Apostle! He is giving to (men of) Quraish and leaves us, in spite of the fact that our swords are still dropping blood (of the infidels)"

When Allah's Apostle was informed of what they had said, he called the Ansar and gathered them in a leather tent and did not call anybody else along with them.

When they gathered, Allah's Apostle came to them and said, "What is the statement which, I have been informed, and that which you have said?" The learned ones among them replied,"

O Allah's Apostle! The wise ones amongst us did not say anything, but the youngsters amongst us said, 'May Allah forgive His Apostle; he gives the Quarish and leaves the Ansar, in spite of the fact that our swords are still dribbling (wet) with the blood of the infidels.' "

Allah's Apostle replied, I give to such people as are still close to the period of Infidelity (i.e. they have recently embraced Islam and Faith is still weak in their hearts). Won't you be pleased to see people go with fortune, while you return with Allah's Apostle to your houses? By Allah, what you will return with, is better than what they are returning with."

The Ansar replied, "Yes, O Allah's Apostle, we are satisfied' Then the Prophet said to them." You will find after me, others being preferred to you. Then be patient till you meet Allah and meet His Apostle at Al-Kauthar (i.e. a fount in Paradise)." (Anas added:) But we did not remain patient.

Source - Sahih al-Bukhari: Volume 4, Book 53, Number 375

Here are the key take-aways from this example:

  • It is also about dispute over war booty where some Ansari Companions openly challenged the Prophet (s) accusing him of nepotism
  • When the Prophet (s) hears about it,
    • He gathers them privately in a tent
    • He does not call anybody else along with them
    • He then allows them to have their say, and he listens to them
    • After hearing that, he gives his own explanation

Unhappiness Case Study 2

"Az-Zubair told me that he quarrelled with an Ansari man who had participated in (the battle of) Badr in front of Allah's Apostle about a water stream which both of them used for irrigation. Allah's Apostle said to Az-Zubair, "O Zubair! Irrigate (your garden) first, and then let the water flow to your neighbor." The Ansari became angry and said, "O Allah's Apostle! Is it because he is your cousin?"

On that the complexion of Allah's Apostle changed (because of anger) and said (to Az-Zubair), "Irrigate (your garden) and then with-hold the water till it reaches the walls (surrounding the palms)." So, Allah's Apostle gave Az-Zubair his full right. Before that Allah's Apostle had given a generous judgment beneficial for Az-Zubair and the Ansari, but when the Ansari irritated Allah's Apostle he gave Az-Zubair his full right according to the evident law. Az-Zubair said, "By Allah ! I think the following Verse was revealed concerning that case: "But no by your Lord They can have No faith Until they make you judge In all disputes between them." (4.65)"

Source - Sahih al-Bukhari (English translation), volume 3, book 49, number 871

Let’s see what happened in this example:

  • Al-Zubayr b. 'Awwam is a cousin of the Prophet (s), just like 'Ali. An Ansari Badri, i.e. very senior Companion, has a conflict with al-Zubayr. They come to the Prophet (s) for resolution and the Prophet (s) gives a ruling.
  • The Ansari Companion is not happy, and accuses the Prophet (s) of nepotism by saying "Is it because he is your cousin?"
  • The complexion of the Prophet's face changes, due to anger.
  • In this conflict resolution, we notice that the Prophet (s)
    • Talks to them privately as the only parties to the conflict
    • He does not call anybody else along with them
    • He allows them to have their say, and he listens to them
    • After hearing that, he gives his ruling that directly correlated to the issue at hand

Unhappiness Case Study 3

Narrated Burayda:

The Prophet sent 'Ali to Khalid to bring the Khumus (of the booty) and I hated Ali, and 'Ali had taken a bath (after a sexual act with a slave-girl from the Khumus). I said to Khalid, "Don't you see this (i.e. Ali)?" When we reached the Prophet I mentioned that to him. He said, "O Burayda! Do you hate Ali?" I said, "Yes." He said, "Do you hate him, for he deserves more than that from the Khumus."

Source - Sahih Bukhari - Volume 5, Book 59, Number 637

Can you see the consistency of the Prophet (s)? A private meeting with just the concerned person(s) and his (s) words clarified the context of complaint and responded to it.

From other narrations in Sahih Bukhari and al-Tabari etc. we know that Khalid b. al-Walid had earlier been sent to Yemen in 9 AH and then ‘Ali was sent to replace him a few months before the hajj in the month of Ramadan. And ‘Ali then joined the hajj directly from Yemen in Dhu’l hijja of 10 AH.

This narration shows that Burayda accompanied Khalid back to Medina. Notice the “When we reached the Prophet” in the narration. Clearly he didn't like to stay on under the command of someone he hated.

So this meeting of Burayda with the Prophet (s) was most likely in Madina before he even set out for the hajj journey and probably many months before it.

Was There A Burayda Meeting At Ghadir Khumm?

However, there exist another set of narrations from Burayda, where he is again complaining about ‘Ali, but this time the Prophet (s) responds differently.

From Ibn Abbas, who in turn reported Burayda as saying:

‘I was together with Ali in the invasion of Yemen wherein he once treated me harshly. So when I got back to the Messenger of Allah - peace and salutation of Allah be upon him - I mentioned 'Ali and diminished his personality. Accordingly, I observed a change in the expression of the Messenger of Allah - peace and salutation of Allah be upon him - and he thus remarked:

‘O' Burayda! Have I not a greater claim [mastery] on the believers than they have on themselves?

I responded: Yes, indeed, O Messenger of Allah. He then asserted: ‘Of whosoever I am the master (mawla) then Ali is his master (master).’

Source - Musnad Ahmad b. Hanbal, vol. 5, p. 347

But this one seems very relevant to Ghadir Khumm since it contains the man kuntu mawlahu fa ‘Ali mawlahu statement. So let’s examine it some more.

Here are the facts gleaned from examining all the narrations from Burayda b. Husayb that mention the man kuntu mawlahu declaration of the Prophet (s):

  • Burayda b. Husayb is one out of 110 Companions who narrated the man kuntu mawlahu narration in Sunni sources.
  • None of these narrations, on Burayda’s authority, mention Ghadir Khumm (or al-Juhfa) as the location.
  • None of the man kuntu mawlahu narrations from the any of the other 109 Companions mention Yemen at all.
  • None of the man kuntu mawlahu narrations from the any of the other 109 Companions mention any unhappiness of anyone whatsoever on any topic whatsoever.

So it seems that this second instance of Burayda’s backbiting of ‘Ali in the presence of the Prophet (s) was not at Ghadir Khumm but was a separate event, most likely in Medina but this time after his return from the hajj. This is because the Prophet (s) was repeating something he had already mentioned at Ghadir Khumm as a reminder of ‘Ali’s position.

He also got agitated with Burayda, unlike the first time when he had complained months ago.

Recall, from earlier above, that Burayda had already complained once to the Prophet (s) about ‘Ali on his return from Yemen along with Khalid b. al-Walid in 9 AH, and the Prophet (s) had given a different response then without signs of anger.

What About Those Other Unhappy Yemeni Soldiers?

There is no clarity in any of the sources on how many people were unhappy with ‘Ali in the matter of the Yemeni spoils.

So let’s try and do an estimate.

  • The total number of soldiers sent with 'Ali, from Medina, was probably around 300 as mentioned in al-Sirah al-Halabiyya, Nur al-Din al-Halabi al-Shafi’i, under the section Expedition of ‘Ali b. Abi Talib towards the land of Manhaj
  • Some of the Companions returned to Medina along with Khalid b. al-Walid whom 'Ali was replacing.
  • If Yemen was largely converted by the time 'Ali left to join the hajj (as confirmed by historical sources), it stands to reason that there would also be Yemeni soldiers amongst the Muslim army. After all, why would you not allow local soldiers with local knowledge to join your own forces, when they have adopted Islam? And with the vast area of Yemen under Islam, you would need to have local Yemeni soldiers who will also join you in any skirmishes with the remaining Yemeni's who refuse jizya and fight the Muslims.
  • In any case, the unhappy soldiers were in all likelihood very few in number, a handful.

Could some of these Yemeni soldiers have been amongst the unhappy soldiers? It is quite possible, as we do not know for a fact that it was only Medinan soldiers.

Even if the Yemeni soldiers were not involved, if a scene had been created by the complainers in front of them, based on booty arising in Yemen, it would stand to reason that the issue resolution also involved them so that there were no misunderstandings later.

So what happened next?

Timing Of Ghadir Khumm And The Yemeni Red Herring

The perfect time for giving an address to deal with Yemeni unhappiness would have been during the hajj days.

Narrated Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari : Allah's Apostle said, "It is not lawful for a man to desert his brother Muslim for more than three nights. (It is unlawful for them that) when they meet, one of them turns his face away from the other, and the other turns his face from the former, and the better of the two will be the one who greets the other first."

Source - Sahih Al Bukhari - Book of Good Manners And Form (Al-Adab) Volume 008, Book 073, Hadith Number 100

If we assume that the Sunni narrative is true, why would the Prophet (s) wait for 18th Dhu’l hijja, the date of the Ghadir Khumm event, before clarifying this major misunderstanding about 'Ali, a major Companion of the Prophet (s)? Surely he found out about it as soon as 'Ali and his troops arrived from Yemen for the hajj.

The best time to resolve the conflict would have been as soon as the complaints were made, and in Makka itself.

In light of the hadith quoted just above, how could the Prophet (s) have happily continued with the rites of hajj knowing that some of his Companions festered ill-will against 'Ali, and not try and resolve it as soon as possible?

Location Of Ghadir Khumm And The Yemeni Red Herring

There is this misconception that the Shi’a say that everyone continued to Ghadir Khumm before going their own way. Well, I have never said that for the same logical reason that it is simply silly.

You cannot expect hujjaj from areas south of Makka to travel quite a distance the wrong direction towards Ghadir Khumm and then turn back. At least I have never accepted that and seen no evidence of that in the sources.

So here’s the thing.

Yemen is south of Makka!

Any affected soldiers from Yemen would have already returned to their hometown directly from the hajj.

Furthermore, the crowd at Ghadir Khumm that had around 100-120,000 people, whilst missing the Yemenis, included many people who were from towns nearby to Medina. They were not just purely Medinan people as this narration from Sahih Muslim shows.

"As the caravan moved on the number of participants swelled till, according to some of the narrators, it reached more than one lakh and thirty thousands. The Farewell Pilgrimage is one of the most important occasions in the sacred life of Muhammad (May peace be upon him)."

Source - Sahih Muslim, Book 007, Number 2802

Why would the Prophet (s) choose to stop all those 110-120k people, with no relevance to the episode of unhappiness, as a belated reaction to the complaints of a handful of soldiers?

Why would you stop a hajj caravan of that magnitude, who are tired after days of a very physically demanding 'ibada, who have just heard several sermons by the Prophet (s) during the days of hajj, including his major Arafa address, and give them yet another sermon - just because a handful of pathetic people developed rancour in their hearts for 'Ali?

And why does that sermon - in narrations that specify Ghadir Khumm or the area of al-Juhfa as the location and on the authority of 109 Companions of the Prophet (s) - make no mention of that bitterness whatsoever? Every other conflict resolution, as we saw, involved a mention of the problem.

Finally, as mentioned earlier, this would be completely against the established method of dealing with complaints as practiced by the Prophet (s).

Sermon At Ghadir Khumm

Having discussed the Yemeni Red Herring, I’d like to end my response with one narration of the Ghadir Khumm event that is confirmed sahih according to Bukhari and Muslim.

Read it and tell me if you still honestly think this was about unhappy Yemeni soldiers!

[Al-Hakim al-Naysaburi says:] ... from Zayd ibn Arqam, may God be pleased with him, who said:

"The Messenger of Allah (s) while returning from his Last Hajj came down at Ghadir Khumm and ordered (us) towards the big trees, and the ground underneath them was swept.

"Then he said, 'I am about to answer the call (of death).

Verily, I have left behind two precious things amongst you, one of which is greater than the other. The Book of Allah, the Exalted, and my 'itrah (i.e. Ahl al-bayt). So watch out how you treat these two after me, for verily they will not separate from each other until they come back to me by the side of the Pond.'

Then he said 'Verily, Allah, the Almighty and the Glorious, is my master (mawla) and I am the master (mawla) of every believer.'

Then he took 'Ali, may God be pleased with him, by the hand and said, 'This ('Ali) is the master of whomever I am his master. O God, love whoever loves him and be the enemy of his enemy.'"

[Al­-Hakim adds:] "This hadith is sahih in accordance with the conditions of sihhah laid down by the Shaykhayn (al­-Bukhari and Muslim), although they have not recorded it in its full length.

Source - al-Mustadrak `ala al-Sahihayn, Haydarabad: Da'irat al-ma`arif al-nizamiyyah (4 vols), 1334-42 AH vol. 3, p. 109



It is the consensus of the Shi'a scholars that there is no distortion in the Qur'an. You can read more about this topic in the article below that gives references to the statements of a variety of scholars.

A famous scholar Ayatullah Sayyid Abu'l Qasim al-Khu'i has a detailed discussion around this topic in his book that you can also go through for a more in-depth treatment of this subject.


There are plenty of books written by Shia scholars who have explained in detail the evidence for all the matters in which the Shia have a different view compared to their Sunni brethren.

You can find many of them on this site. For instance you can start by exploring material listed under the following topic: