It should be clear that according to the beliefs of Ahlul Sunnat that are expounded in the books of Sahih Tirmidhi, Sahih Muslim, Aqaid Nasafi, Sharh Aqaid Jalali and Sharh Nahdi, the Caliphate of Abu Bakr was not due to the appointment of the Holy Prophet (S), it was at a result of the selection by people. Thus, it could not be said to be from Allah. It was from the side of people. Those Ahlul Sunnat, who consider it to be in keeping with divine appointment, are living in a misunderstanding. Thus, it is not proper to consider Abu Bakr as the Caliph of the prophet, because the people had selected him.
In Sharh Aqaide Nasafi1, it is written that the belief of Ahlul Sunnat regarding Caliphate and Imamate is that for it to be valid it is necessary that all the people should have consensus on Caliphate. Then there is election; that it is for people to select an Imam and not Allah according to Quran and tradition, because the Holy Prophet (S) said that one who dies without recognizing the Imam of his time, dies a death of disbelief. Due to this, after the passing away of the Holy Prophet (S) the companions of the Holy Prophet (S) considered it the most important duty to select an Imam. They considered the appointment of Imam to be more important than even the burial of the Holy Prophet (S).
Readers! Please note! One who dies without recognizing the Imam of his time, dies the death of infidelity. This only implies that the recognition of the Imam is obligatory and not the selection of an Imam. In such a condition, by giving preference to the selection of Imam over the burial of Prophet, the people committed two sins. One is that Abu Bakr and the other participants of Saqifah Bani Sadah were deprived of the rewards of participating in the burial of the Holy Prophet (S). Secondly, the selection of the Imam was itself an innovation. There is no doubt that innovation is deviation. The selection of Imam was an innovation because there is no proof of selection of Imam from Quran and tradition.
If it had been an obligatory duty, the Almighty would have informed about it and the Holy Prophet (S) would also have mentioned that ‘after me you may undertake election and select anyone as my successor.’ In the same way, the selection of Imam is also an illogical act because sometimes reason earns rewards and sometimes it becomes eligible for punishment. Therefore, the Almighty Allah refrained people to use reason where there was no Quranic verse or tradition regarding something.
“O Muhammad! Therefore, do not follow (your) conjectures…”2
Thus, if such a command is for the Prophet, how can the people be allowed to use their opinion for formulation of religious laws. Allah also says:
“Surely conjecture does not avail against the truth at all.”3
In other words, from the aspect of both religious text (Nass) and reason, the selection of Imam was an innovation committed by the people of Saqifah and it informs us of their deviation. Now, we have to see whether anyone can be selected by ‘election’ for the post of Prophet or Caliph of Prophet. It is well- known that since the time of Adam (a.s.), till the Holy Prophet (S) there has never been a single instance when a prophet or the Caliph of a prophet was selected by the ‘election’ of people.
Prophets and Caliphs were always appointed by Allah. The Almighty Allah made Adam (a.s.) a prophet as well as His Caliph. In the same way, the Almighty Allah made Dawood (a.s.) His Prophet and also appointed him as His Caliph. This proves that prophethood is from Allah and not from the people.
The appointment of Abu Bakr by the people was a sort of innovation and a new system. It was a pity that the Caliph of the greatest Prophet should neither be appointed by the Prophet himself nor by Allah, and that he should be selected by a group of people that did not even deserve to be called a perfect group. That is some people should gather and select him as the Caliph in a casual way.
If there had to be a real consensus for the Caliphate of Abu Bakr, if not from all the lands of Islam, at least the leaders of various Arab tribes who had embraced Islam should have been invited. Here the position was, that leave alone the tribes of other than Medina, even the tribe of Bani Hashim, which resided in Medina, was not informed, while it was also related to the Holy Prophet (S).
Umar hurriedly called for the hand of Abu Bakr and an instant ‘marriage’ was performed, thus making him the Caliph. Many companions also did not participate in this ‘election’. For example Zubair, Utbah, Khalid, Miqdad, Salman, Abu Dharr, Baraa and Ubayy, who were having some inclination to Ali (a.s.). By studying all the events, we realize that the Caliphate of Abu Bakr was neither from the side of Allah nor was it absolutely from the side of people. No one in his proper sense could call this defective Ijma ‘an election’.
Evidently, it seems that if with this haste, Umar had not made Abu Bakr the Caliph, and he had initiated a proper system of election, it would not have been possible for Abu Bakr to become the Caliph so easily. In the end, it is my humble statement that the belief of Ahlul Sunnat that the Holy Prophet (S) had not appointed anyone as his successor is an invalid assertion. The truth is that by the command of Allah, the Holy Prophet (S) had appointed Ali (a.s.) his Caliph, practically and by his statements.
But his selfish community (Ummah) rejected his choice. Though apparently the choice was of the Holy Prophet (S), actually it was that of the Almighty. There can be no doubt in its validity. Ali (a.s.) was indeed such a great person that he had no equal in the Ummah of the Prophet and his selection as a Caliph carried many advantages, as mentioned by the writer in the foregoing pages. We should know that the Prophet and Allah dictate the affair of Caliphate. The ‘election’ (Ijma) of Ummah cannot interfere in it. As we see in these words of Allah:
“And set out to them an example of the people of the town, when the messenger came to it. When We sent to them two, they rejected both of them, then We strengthened (them) with a third, so they said: Surely we are messengers to you.”4
The incident is that Isa (a.s.) sent two of his Caliphs or representative to Antioch but the people denied them both. Then the two were helped by a third representative. In this verse, the Almighty has mentioned the act of Isa (a.s.) as His own act and says: “We sent…”
Indeed, this verse clearly proves that Caliphate or representation of Prophet cannot be by anyway, except by the Prophet or Almighty Allah. Rather, this verse also proves that even a prophet is not allowed to appoint his Caliph. He has to take permission of Allah. He mentions in Surah Taha:
“And give to me an aider from my family: Haroon my brother, strengthen my back by him, and associate him (with me) in my affair.”5
This proves that Moosa (a.s.) requested Allah to appoint Haroon as his vizier. This proves that if a Caliph could be appointed by the people, what was the need of Moosa (a.s.) to pray to Allah for this? After the acceptance of this prayer, we learn that Moosa (a.s.) told his brother: You are my Caliph for my people after me.
“And Moosa said to his brother Haroon: Take my place among my people…”6
If Moosa (a.s.) did not value the permission of Allah, he would have appointed Haroon his Caliph or he would have gone to meet the Lord without appointing anyone as his Caliph and the Bani Israel could have appointed a Caliph of their own choice. Regarding the appointment of Haroon (a.s.) as the Caliph, the Almighty says in Surah Furqan:
“And We appointed with him his brother, Haroon an aider.”7
This clearly shows that only Allah has the authority to appoint the Caliph or representative of a prophet. No prophet has the right to select anyone as his Caliph or representative. May Allah be merciful on the nation (Ummah) which appointed Abu Bakr as the Caliph after the Prophet and they did not try to see the choice of Prophet and Allah. The establishment of belief by these people that Allah and the Prophet had not appointed anyone as Caliph is very astonishing. Reason cannot accept it. That the Caliphs of the previous prophets be appointed by Allah by special arrangements and the Prophet’s Ummah be not given any Caliph and it should be left like cattle to select its own Caliph.
Indeed, this Ummah has more importance in comparison to the past nations. To get such careless treatment by Allah is against reason. Indeed, Allah and the Prophet appointed Ali (a.s.) as the Caliph on Muslims, as clear from the event of Ghadeer Khumm. But the world-seeking people preferred the bounty of the world to the bounties of the Hereafter and did not accept Ali (a.s.) the Caliph.
In brief, the Caliphate of Abu Bakr cannot be in anyway from the side of Allah. It also seems to be deficient in being referred to as being from the people. When the Caliphate of Abu Bakr is such, the Caliphate of Umar cannot have any value, whatsoever. That is, his Caliphate is from such a Caliph who himself was not a Caliph from Allah, and it was even doubtful, if he could be called from the people.
Thus, the Caliphate of Umar was itself baseless. From this aspect, he was only the Caliph of Abu Bakr. To think that he was from the Messenger of Allah (S) is wrong. The tradition itself that “the thirty years…” is the period of the Righteous Caliphate is a concocted tradition. If the tradition is really from the Prophet, the total period of four Caliphates had reached 30 years. But this period of 30 years is not complete even after adding the six months of the Caliphate of Imam Hasan (a.s.). Indeed, this tradition is fabricated and it was most probably fabricated so that the Caliphates of the three Caliphs should be said to have been acceptable to the Holy Prophet (S) and thus should be accepted as the Righteous Caliphates.