Articles > Sahabah > Hadith About the (Non)Incident of the Pen and Paper [A Sunni Perspective]
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of all the Worlds.
The Shia propagandists make a big fuss over the so-called “incident of the pen and paper” or what they ominously refer to as “Black Thursday”. The Shia exaggerate about the Hadiths on this topic, and use them as some sort of proof against Umar ibn al-Khattab. However, the truth of the matter is that these claims are nothing but the melodramatic antics of the Ghullat gossipers who seek to make a mountain out of an anthill. In this article, we shall examine said event in an objective and reasonable manner, after which we will respond to the Shia accusations.
An Overview of the Incident of the Pen and Paper
The Prophet’s last illness before his final departure from this world lasted around two weeks. During this time, the Prophet’s condition gradually deteriorated and he became bedridden. He experienced a high grade fever, severe headaches, and even fainting spells, slipping into and out of consciousness. The so-called “incident of the pen and paper” occurred four days before the Prophet’s death, on a Thursday.
The Prophet asked for a pen and paper in order to write down some religious advice for the Muslims. However, immediately after asking for the pen and paper, the Prophet fainted and became unconscious. While the Prophet lay unconscious, a man got up to get the pen and paper, but Umar ibn al-Khattab called him away from doing that. Umar felt that they should not bother the Prophet by asking him to write down religious advice, but rather they should allow the Prophet to regain consciousness, get some rest, and recuperate. Therefore, Umar said to the other Muslims: “The Prophet is seriously ill and you have the Quran; so the Book of Allah is enough for us.”
Umar ibn al-Khattab thought–and rightfully so–that the request for a pen and paper no longer applied now that the Prophet had fainted. Instead of getting the pen and paper, Umar felt that they should allow the Prophet to rest. However, some of the Sahabah felt that they should get the pen and paper anyways, and that they should implore the Prophet to write for them; these people said: â€œBring him (the writing material) so that Allahâ€™s Messenger may write a document for you and you would never go astray after him.â€
Some of the Sahabah felt that they should let the Prophet rest and ask him for religious advice later; others felt that they should have the Prophet write immediately after he came back to consciousness. This led to a dispute amongst the Sahabah, and they began arguing loudly. It was then that the Prophet awoke from his state of unconsciousness, amid loud noises and great clamor. The Prophet had a splitting headache, so this racket upset him greatly. It was due to this loud bickering that the Prophet told those in the room to “go away” and to leave him alone.
It is amazing how much drama the Shia propagandists can create, and how easily they can misguide people. The explanation to this event is so simple and straightforward that it is very strange that the Shia do not understand this! All that we must do is ask the Shia to correlate the event to their own lives, which more often than not makes impotent their arguments. Ask a Shia for example if he would tolerate a man cursing his wife, and he would say no; then we wonder why they themselves curse the wife of the Prophet! Likewise, when it comes to the incident of the pen and paper, we ask them to correlate the event to their own lives.
Let us consider the following scenario: a teacher is giving a lesson to his student, and he asks his student to bring a piece of chalk to write with on the chalkboard. But then the teacher faints and collapses. Now tell us: is the student going to walk outside the room to find the piece of chalk? Would any sane person do that? Instead, the student would quickly rush to the teacherâ€™s side, try to resuscitate him, bring him a pillow, raise his legs, etc. Now, when the teacher regains consciousness, would the student immediately thrust the chalk into the teacherâ€™s hand and say â€œteach us!â€ Surely not! Instead, the school nurse would be rushed into the room, the teacher would be transported to the medical unit, and the teacher would be given a medical leave for the day in order to rest. Even if the teacher insisted that he was feeling better and that he could resume the lesson, the others would convince the teacher that he should take the day off and rest instead.
Now then, let us say that one of the students in the classroom is worried about his exam the next day, so he tries to thrust the chalk into the teacherâ€™s hand as soon as the teacher is regaining consciousness. What would the other students say to such a student, other than get angry at him and tell him to stop worrying about his own self but rather worry about the condition of the teacher? The students would tell him not to worry about the lesson and that â€œthe textbook would be sufficient for us to study from for the exam.â€
Can anyone imagine a teacher fainting, then regaining consciousness, and immediately writing on the chalkboard with a piece of chalk? Tullaab al-ilm (students of knowledge) do not even approach their Shuyookh (scholars) when they (the Shuyookh) are tired or sleepy, as this is considered rude to pester them at such a time. Even if the Shaykh insists on teaching, the student will say out of courtesy that â€œyou should rest, Shaykh, and we can do the lesson tomorrow.â€ This is common etiquette; now imagine the situation when a Shaykh would be lying on the bed unconscious; would any student ask him to give a religious lesson in such a condition?
After the Prophet asked for the pen and paper, he immediately fainted and it is then that Umar told the people not to get those things as the Prophet was in great pain. It would be, in Umarâ€™s opinion (and ours as well), criminal to pester the Prophet in such a situation. The people were exhorting the Prophet for advice even as he was in between fainting spells. Any doctor alive today would say that if a patient is in and out of consciousness, then such a patient should be stabilized first and under no circumstances should the patient be making speeches, straining himself, or taking stress of any kind; such a patient should rest.
Ayatollah Khomeiniâ€™s final illness lasted eleven days during which he was hospitalized. His Shia followers emptied out his hospital room and did not trouble him with the concerns of the state. No man was allowed to disturb him or pester him, even though the political situation at the time very much required the input of the countryâ€™s leader. How is it then that the Shia would like their Ayatollah Khomeini to be treated with more courtesy than the Prophet of Allah? Surely the Prophet is superior to any Ayatollah, and if the Ayatollah should not be disturbed during his final illness, then surely we are even more cautious with the Prophet of Allah.
To give a simple everyday example, if a man asks his son to give him the T.V. remote, but has a heart attack immediately after saying that, then the son would think that the heart attack takes precedence over and cancels the request for the remote. Instead of giving the remote, the son would rush to his fatherâ€™s side. Common sense dictates that the Prophetâ€™s request for the pen and paper does not apply any more, as the fact that he fainted takes precedence over that request. If the Prophet was in good health, and asked for a pen and paper but the people refused him, then that situation would be different. But here, the Prophet fainted after his request and that changed the situation altogether.
This is such a straightforward matter that it sometimes boggles the mind how the Shia can create so much outcry over this so-called “incident” of the pen and paper. Anyone who was in Umar ibn al-Khattab’s shoes would have said the same thing as he did, evidenced by the many everyday examples we have cited above.
Umar’s Concern for the Prophet’s Wellbeing
During his final illness, the Prophet suffered from severe pain, an intense fever, splitting headaches, and fainting spells. In spite of his medical condition, the Prophet of Allah was an altruistic individual who did not care about himself, but rather his attention was still focused on guiding the Muslim Ummah.
From a medical standpoint, the Prophet was recommended strict bed-rest and a tension free environment. Instead of following this, however, the Prophet was adamant about helping the Muslim Ummah, even if it worsened his own condition. We read:
Despite his illness, the Messenger of Allah was not distracted from his command of Allah and the defense of His religion.In the same book, Tabari writes how the Prophet organized military expeditions from his deathbed. There were times in the last few days when the Prophet was barely able to talk but he would still instruct his generals, ordering them on military campaigns against the false prophets (Tulayhah, Musaylimah, etc.) and apostate renegades in Yamaamah, Yemen, etc. Not only did the Prophet provide military instructions, but he also gave religious advice. The Muslims would come to the bedside of the Prophet, asking him for advice, which the Prophet would give despite his intense pain.
Umar ibn al-Khattab was the Prophet’s father-in-law, and as such, he too was very worried about the Prophet’s health and wellbeing, more so than the Prophet was worried about himself. In his final few days, the Prophet was having a difficult time talking, for it caused a great deal of pain to do that. We read:
When the Apostle’s illness became severe, he (i.e. a Sahabi) and the men came down to Medinah and he went into the Apostle(’s house) who was unable to speak. He (the Prophet) began to lift his hand towards heaven and then bring it down upon him, from which he (the Sahabi) knew that he (the Prophet) was blessing him (the Sahabi).A similar thing is narrated in Tareekh al-Tabari (Vol.9, pp.178-179), in which the Prophet was unable to speak due to the unbearable pain associated with that. This is the context which is missing from Shia narratives. It should be noted that it was on Thursday when the Prophet’s condition worsened incredibly such that the people said that the signs of death were manifest on his noble face. When a group of Sahabah were gathering around the Prophet asking him for advice on matters, the Prophet asked for a pen and paper so that he could dictate a few pieces of advice for them.
The perceptive reader should consider that on Thursday the Prophet was in more intense pain than ever before, and it is likely that the Prophet asked for a pen and paper because he was having a hard time speaking loudly and instead he wished to softly dictate what to write to the people closest to him so that they could convey the written message to the others. We see that it was at this point in time that the Prophet was having unbearable pain and could not talk without unbearable discomfort; it was for this reason that Umar ibn al-Khattab wished that the Prophet would not talk as it would cause him unnecessary pain. This was a sign of love and affection, not of rebellion or opposition. We read:
Sahih Muslim, Book 013, Number 4016:Umar ibn al-Khattab wanted the people to leave the Prophet alone because he was very sick and talking was very painful for him.
Umar Did Not Dispute With the Prophet
When the Prophet asked Ali (may Allah be well-pleased with him) to erase something during the Treaty of Hudaybiyya, Ali refused to do so and disputed with the Prophet about that. On the other hand, Umar did not dispute with the Prophet: when Umar said what he said, the Prophet was actually unconscious. It was the other Sahabah that Umar was addressing when he said: “The Prophet is seriously ill and you have the Quran; so the Book of Allah is enough for us.”
Umar felt–and we agree with him on this–that the Prophet’s request was no longer applicable due to the fact that the Prophet fell unconscious. This is not a matter of disobedience but rather it is simply Umar’s Ijtihad that the request was no longer applicable in this new situation (i.e. the Prophet was now unconscious). Furthermore, Umar’s position was based out of his deep love for the Prophet, as Umar hated to see him in pain and distress.
The Prophet Fainted According to Shia Sources
The point that most Shia propagandists never wish to mention is the fact that the Prophet fainted immediately after making his request. Perhaps some of them would try to deny this, but we find that it is written in their own books. Shaykh Mufid, the classical Shia scholar of the tenth century, writes:
He (the Prophet) fainted from the fatigue which had come upon him and the sorrow which possessed him.From this account it is very clear how dire the Prophet’s situation was. The Prophet kept fainting and he was into and out of consciousness. Immediately after the Prophet asked for the pen and paper, he fainted. This is a key point that the Shia propagandists do not mention! It was only after the Prophet fainted that Umar ibn al-Khattab said to the people (not to the Prophet) that bringing a pen and paper was no longer appropriate. The Shia propagandists portray the matter as if the Prophet said something and then Umar refused the Prophet on his face. Far from it! The Prophet asked for the pen and paper, but then he fainted; it was after the Prophet fainted that Umar felt that the Prophet’s request no longer applied in the changed circumstances.
From Shaykh Mufid’s account of the event of the pen and paper, one thing is very clear: the Prophet fainted immediately after making his request. When the Prophet regained consciousness, he awoke to a room full of bickering and quarreling people. When Umar told the man not to bring the pen and paper, this was during the time the Prophet was unconscious. Therefore, Umar was not talking back to the Prophet or anything of the sort. The Prophet was unconscious during this time and the people did not at all refuse the Prophet’s order to his face. The Prophet awoke to the noise and chaos of their arguments amongst each other, and this is what angered the Prophet. When the Prophet asked for the pen and paper, he was conscious, but the situation and circumstance had–according to Umar ibn al-Khattab–changed when the Prophet fainted and became unconscious.
Shia Slander Against Umar ibn al-Khattab
The Shia propagandists claim that Umar said that the Prophet was talking nonsense or that he asked if the Prophet was delirious. Yet, this is a blatant and manifest lie! In absolutely no Hadith did Umar ibn al-Khattab say these words. The event is narrated in multiple Hadith, including in Sahih Bukhari (4.52.288, 5.59.716, 4.53.393, 7.70.573, 1.3.114) and Sahih Muslim (13.4014, 13.4015, 13.4016). Yet, not in a single version–neither in the Sahihayn nor in any other Hadith compilation for that matter–are any such words ascribed to Umar ibn al-Khattab. It is only the Shia who make such claims that it was Umar who said that, but we demand them to show us the proof, and they can never do that, namely because Umar never said such a thing nor has such a thing ever been ascribed to him (aside from Shia books). Umar’s only explanation for refusing the Prophet’s order was that the Prophet was in a great deal of pain and that he (Umar) wished to ease the Prophet’s pain and burden.
What Was Meant By “Delirious”?
It is the phrase “he is delirious” that the Shia propagandist will use against the Ahlus Sunnah. Before we decide who said those words, let us be clear what was meant by the words “is he delirious?” Some of the Shia get overly emotional over the word “delirious”; in actuality, the meaning of the word “delirium” is simply “disturbance of consciousness”. In the United States, psychiatrists rely on the DSM-IV-TR classification scheme; we find that–according to DSM-IV-TR criteria–â€œdisturbance of consciousness” is the core feature of delirium. Delirium can–and oftentimes is–associated with other symptoms such as hallucinations; however, this is not always the case and in fact frequently is not the case. These other symptoms such as hallucinations are merely associations, but they are not the core feature of delirium.
In fact, delirium does not have a psychiatric etiology, but rather it is classified as an “organic” or “physiological” condition. One of the commonest causes of such a disturbance of consciousness is a high grade fever. Patients who suffer from high grade fevers will oftentimes have clouding of consciousness, and this is what is known as delirium, irrespective of any other associations that may or may not be present. In other words, the one who is in a state of delirium is not considered a lunatic or a psychiatric nut, but rather a patient suffering from a severe medical condition of a biological–not psychiatric–origin.
If we look at the definition of the word used in the Hadith, we find:
hajara; yahjuru; hajran; hijranan; ahjara :- To desert, forsake, leave, renounce, abandon
tahajara; ihtajara :- To depart from one another, separate, or forsake one another; become alienatedIn the context of the Hadith, the word was used in the sense of someone who leaves or departs from his original state of mind; more specifically, it referred to a person who is separating from the people and this world, as in losing consciousness. In other words, the man who asked “is the Prophet delirious” did not mean that the Prophet was talking nonsense or that he had gone crazy. Instead, the man was simply asking if the Prophet was conscious or not, and we know from Shaykh Mufid’s description of the event that the Prophet was unconscious.
The words “is he delirious” appear in Sahih Bukhari, as follows:
…The ailment of Allahâ€™s Apostle became worse (on Thursday) and he said, â€œFetch me something so that I may write to you something after which you will never go astray.â€ The people (present there) differed in this matter, and it was not right to differ before a prophet. Some said, â€œWhat is wrong with him? (Do you think) he is delirious (seriously ill)? Ask him (to understand his state).â€In the above narration, someone asked “is he delirious?” By this, he meant “is he in a state of altered consciousness?” In Sahih Muslim, we read:
The illness of Allahâ€™s Messenger (may peace be upon him) took a serious turn (on Thursday), and he said: â€œCome to me, so that I should write for you a document that you may not go astray after me.â€ They (the Companions around him) disputed, and it is not right to dispute in the presence of the Apostle. They said: â€œHow is (Allahâ€™s Apostle)? Has he lost his consciousness? Try to learn from him (this point).â€And once again:
…He (the narrator) said that Allahâ€™s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: â€œBring me a shoulder blade and ink-pot (or tablet and ink pot), so that I write for you a document (by following which) you would never go astray.â€ They said: â€œAllahâ€™s Messenger (may peace upon him) is in the state of unconsciousness.â€The man who asked this question was simply wondering if the Prophet was conscious or not. He did not mean to imply any disrespect. And that is why the man said “ask him (to understand his state of consciousness)” and “try to learn from him (this point)”. This is a clear proof that the man did not mean that the Prophet was talking nonsense, because if that were the case, then there would be no point in asking the Prophet that. Medical practitioners and psychiatrists say that those who suffer from psychosis (i.e. a break from reality, hallucinations, etc.) do not have “insight” into their illness: they themselves will not admit that they are “crazy”. This is common sense: one does not ask a person who is talking nonsense if they are talking nonsense.
The man said “ask him” and “try to learn from him” which means that he wished for them to see if the Prophet was conscious. In the medical world, doctors routinely use the “Glasgow Coma Scale” (GCS exam) in order to test for the patient’s level of consciousness. The GCS exam is done by asking the patient various questions to see if he responds, and his responses confirm his level of consciousness. In plain English that means that to check if a man is conscious or not, the best thing to do is to ask him if he is OK. In fact, this is the first step of CPR: in order to check if the patient is conscious or not, the first thing that is done is that the person is asked “are you OK?” If he responds, all is well; if not, CPR maneuvers are begun.
To conclude the matter, the Shia should not get overly emotional over the word “delirious”, because all that was meant by this is “consciousness” or lack thereof. And it was Shaykh Mufid himself who said that the Prophet was unconscious during this time. He wrote in his book (emphasis is ours):
He (the Prophet) fainted from the fatigue which had come upon him and the sorrow which possessed him. He remained unconscious for a short time…The Apostle of Allah recovered consciousness and looked at them. Then he said: â€œBring me ink and parchment so that I may write for you, after which you will never go astray.â€This narration found in one of the Shia’s most reliable books is the end of the debate altogether. Based on this narration above, we find that the order of events was:
1) The Prophet asked for a pen and paper.
2) Next, the Prophet fainted.
3) After that, a man got up to get the pen and paper.
4) Umar ordered him not to. (This Shia book attributes the word “delirious” to Umar but we know this part to be incorrect, as it was someone else who said that.)
5) The statement “he is delirious” is said.
6) The people bickered.
7) Only then did the Prophet recover consciousness.
From this account it becomes clear that the words “is he delirious” were said when the Prophet was unconscious (i.e. before he recovered consciousness)! Does an unconscious person talk? Surely not! This is the coup de grÃ¢ce to the Shia argument, and so whenever a Shia creates a ruckus about the words “is he delirious”, then we direct him here. If the words “is he delirious” were said while the Prophet was unconscious, then there is no issue of “nonsense talk” as an unconscious person cannot talk let alone talk nonsense. On the other hand, understanding the word “delirium” to be be a disorder in consciousness makes total sense; a man who is slipping into unconsciousness is said to be “departing” (hajara) from the people and this world.
To conclude the matter, the man who asked the question “is he delirious” meant to ask about the Prophet’s level of consciousness, and nothing more. He did not say it in a sarcastic or demeaning tone, but rather he was asking a sincere question. This man cannot be blamed for that any more than the Shia’s own Shaykh Mufid can be, for both of them were indicating that the Prophet had slipped into a state of unconsciousness.
Who Asked If the Prophet Was Delirious?
In any case, it was not Umar who asked that question to begin with. The Ahle Ilm say that the man who asked the question was a new convert to Islam. The Shia would demand textual proof of this claim (i.e. that it was a new convert who asked this), and to this, we would have to admit that there is no such proof that we can provide. The reason we cannot provide such a proof is that the Hadiths do not mention at all who said those words! Instead, they simply say that “some said” without mentioning who these people were. However, this is a proof against the Shia claims: there is no way they can claim that it was Umar who said that; if they say that, then where is their evidence for that? There were so many people in that room at the time, and it is unfair to accuse Umar of saying that.
In fact, the truth is that if it was Umar who said such a thing, then the narrator would have mentioned this. Whenever the narrator mentioned something Umar said, he did so by name. We read:
Umar said, “The Prophet is seriously ill and you have the Quran; so the Book of Allah is enough for us.”And yet, when the narrator mentions the Prophet being delirious, suddenly he switches to using the term “some said”:
Some said, “What is wrong with him? (Do you think) he is delirious?”Had it been Umar who said that, then the narrator would have said that. It does not make sense for a narrator to say “Umar said this, and then someone said this” if he is talking about the same person. If it had been Umar who said that, then it would have been clearly mentioned that he is the one who said that. The methodology of the narrators and the compilers of Hadith was that they would note down the names of important personalities (i.e. the row-echelon amongst the Sahabah) whereas they would use general terms (i.e. “they”, “some”, etc) to describe lesser important figures. Therefore, had it been Umar who said such a thing–or any other leading Sahabiâ€“-then he would have been taken by name.
The truth is that an unbiased reading indicates that it was not at all Umar who asked if the Prophet was delirious, and nowhere–except in the Shia imagination–have these words been attributed to him. Umar refused to bring the Prophet a pen and paper for no other reason other than the fact that he felt that the Prophet was very sick and it hurt him to speak; this was a mercy to the Prophet, and not at all an insult as the Shia claim.
Ali Had Lost His Senses According to the Shia?
The Shia create a very big outcry over the words “is he delirious.” Let us analyze whether or not their indignation is over those words or rather simply over who said them. In the famous Sharh Nahjul Balagha, we read a Shia narration in which Ali ibn Abi Talib was wounded and bleeding; Ali ordered his son, Abdullah, to rub his cheek on the ground (i.e. in order to stop the bleeding). According to the Shia, when Abdullah heard this request, he thought that his father had lost his senses and he refused the request. We read the following Shia narration:
When the Amir al-Mu’mineen (Ali) was wounded, people turned aside from him. He (Ali) was spattered all over with blood and he had not offered his morning prayers (yet). He was told: “Prayer, O Amir al-Mu’mineen!”Is not the Shia anger over the word “delirious” a bit pretentious when we find that Ali’s own progeny, one of the Ahlel Bayt, says that their first Infallible Imam “has lost his senses?” It is clear from this narration that the meaning behind these words was that Abdullah had thought that his father had gone crazy; Abdullah thought that Ali was making an absurd and nonsensical request.
The Shia believe that Ali ibn Abi Talib was infallible just as the Prophet was; as such, should they not create an outcry over one of Ali’s own sons asking if he had lost his senses? Why do the Shia excuse Ali’s son, Abdullah, but then they spit their venom at Umar ibn al-Khattab for supposedly saying something similar? In fact, the words “is he delirious” are much less offensive than “he has lost his senses.” It should be remembered that the Shia have a very high opinion of Abdullah who is the son of their Infallible Imam; therefore, whatever excuse they come up for Abdullah for what he said, then surely the same excuse can be applied to the man who wondered if the Prophet was delirious.
The perceptive reader should note that the Sunnis never bring up this Shia Hadith to malign Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him). It is not in the nature of the Ahlus Sunnah to backbite and slander, especially not the great heroes of Islam. And yet if this same narration was in reference to Umar instead of Abdullah, then we would find the Shia using it as some sort of “proof” against Umar! We would find the Shia propagandists poking at us with sticks and asking quizzically: “What did Umar mean by saying that ‘he lost his senses?’” Such is the double-standard of the Shia. This is the two-faced nature of the disingenuous Shia, a people who specialize in being partisan and biased.
The Prophet’s Family Forced Him to Take Medicine
The Shia propagandists malign Umar ibn al-Khattab for supposedly “disobeying” the Prophet’s orders, despite the fact that he (Umar) did so out of love for the Prophet. And yet, it was around that same time period (i.e. during the Prophet’s final days) that the Ahlel Bayt (including Ali, Abbas, Fatima, and the Prophet’s wives) would also “disobey” the Prophet out of love for him. The similarities between the two incidents will surely cause the Shia to rethink his position.
As the Prophet’s condition worsened, his family was gathered around him and demanded that he take medication for his illness. But the Prophet categorically refused to do so, and forbade his family members–including Ali, Abbas, Fatima, and his wives–from giving him any sort of medication. And yet, these relatives of the Prophet disobeyed his direct order and chose instead to forcibly administer medication to the Prophet. It was their opinion that the Prophet was being negligent in taking care of his own self, namely because his noble nature was to worry about others without any care for himself. In any case, the Prophet was so angered by this gesture that he punished them by making them drink the medication themselves.
Here, we narrate a few of the narrations about this incident:
All of his family–his wives, his daughter [Fatima], al-Abbas, and Ali–gathered (round him). Asma said “This pain of his is nothing but pleuritis, so force him to take medicine.” We did so, and, after he had recovered, he inquired who had done that to him.If the Shia would like to take offense at the idea of the Prophet being called “delirious”, then would they also like to take offense to the idea that he would be afflicted by a disease from Satan? Would any Shia like to criticize the Ahlel Bayt for disobeying the Prophet here? Instead, the Shia–like ourselves–say that those of the Ahlel Bayt were simply worried about the Prophet’s wellbeing more than even the Prophet was worried about himself. Their so-called “disobedience” was out of love for the Prophet and there can be no blame on them for that. Likewise, Umar asking the Prophet to rest cannot possibly be construed as something blameworthy.
What Was the Calamity?
Ibn Abbas referred to the incident of the pen and paper as a “calamity”, yet we must analyze on what basis he did that. Did Ibn Abbas refer to the event as a calamity because of Umar’s refusal to give the pen and paper? This is what the Shia claim, but it is not based on an unbiased reading of the text. What we find is that Ibn Abbas referred to the incident as a calamity not due to Umar’s refusal but rather due to the fact that the Sahabah were bickering with each other in front of the Prophet. This is a very important distinction to make; what the Shia do is conflate issues in order to superimpose a Shia understanding to the text. We read:
Ibn Abbas came out saying, â€œIt was most unfortunate (a great calamity) that Allahâ€™s Apostle was prevented from writing that statement for thembecause of their disagreement and noise.Ibn Abbas said himself:
“The people (present there) differed in this matter, and it was not right to differ before a prophet.”Why Did the Prophet Say “Go Away”
Similarly, the Prophet got angry and told the people to leave not because Umar refused him a pen and paper, but rather because the people started arguing and bickering in front of him (i.e. the Prophet). We read:
When they caused a hue and cry before the Prophet, Allahâ€™s Apostle said, â€œGo away!â€ Narrated Ubaidullah: Ibn Abbas used to say, â€œIt was very unfortunate that Allahâ€™s Apostle was prevented from writing that statement for them because of their disagreement and noise.â€Near the end of his life, the Prophet was having severe headaches, and the noise from the disagreement of the people hurt the Prophet’s head. We read:
During his illness, the Prophet of Allah asked for a pen and paper. Since he was then undergoing the intensity of his illness, Umar intervened to say that he must not be put in any trouble for the Quran is enough for us all as he has already said. But some of the companions were in favor of letting him dictate. The Prophet disliked the clamor of voices and asked the people to leave. At the time, he was suffering from a violent headache and this was the reason why Umar had suggested not to trouble him in any way. When his (the Prophet’s) pain had subsided a little, he called the people in and [narrated three things]”And so it was the clamor of the voices which exacerbated the Prophet’s headache, and this was what the Prophet became angry over, not Umar’s refusal. It was after all, not Umar’s refusal which worsened his headache but rather the loud noise of bickering which did that. We read:
But the companions of the Prophet differed about this and there was a hue and cry. On that the Prophet said to them, â€œGo away (and leave me alone). It is not right that you should quarrel in front of me.â€ Ibn Abbas came out saying, “It was most unfortunate (a great disaster) that Allahâ€™s Apostle was prevented from writing that statement for them because of their disagreement and noise.”The Prophet himself explains the reason why he got angry which was (in his very own words): “Go away (and leave me alone). It is not right that you should quarrel in front of me.” Notice that the Prophet was angry at their bickering with each other, not the fact that Umar refused to give him a pen and paper. The Prophet did not say “go away” when Umar refused the pen and paper, but rather he said “go away” when the people started quarreling amongst each other. It is important to catch the Shia propagandist on this point. We read:
When they indulged in nonsense (talk) and began to dispute in the presence of Allahâ€™s Messenger (may peace be upon him), he said: â€œGet up (and go away)â€ Ubaidullah said: Ibn Abbas used to say: “There was a heavy loss, indeed a heavy loss, that, due to their dispute and noise.”The Muslims began to quarrel with each other even before the Prophet passed away. Their ranks were already becoming disunited, and as soon as the Prophet died, there would be even greater schisms and civil wars. Allah has warned this Ummah against such a thing in the Quran, and this is what worried the Prophet: the people arguing in front of him was a proof to him that his Ummah would schism into so many groups and sects.
A very important point to ponder upon is that the Prophet said “go away” to everyone in the room, not just to Umar or those who wished to deny him the pen and paper. The Prophet said “go away” to even those who wanted to give the Prophet a pen and paper. This is a very strong proof that the Prophet was angered by them all, and he was angry at them for bickering amongst each other. Had the Prophet been angry only at those who sought to deny him the pen and paper, then it is nonsensical to think that the Prophet would say so angrily “go away” to those who wished to fulfill his request.
Logically, if the Prophet had wanted to convey a message, then he should have said “go away” to those who were preventing him from that, but he should say “stay” to those who wished to fulfill his request. What prevented the Prophet from simply saying “go away Umar” or “go away” to the group which was denying his request? Instead, the Prophet said “go away” to both parties, condemning them all for arguing with each other. Indeed, we find that both of the parties left the room, and the Prophet did not end up writing for them those words. If the Shia paradigm were true, then the Prophet should have been pleased with those who wished to fulfill his request, but instead the Prophet was angry with them for bickering.
Was the Prophet Appointing Ali ibn Abi Talib as His Successor?
The Shia propagandists claim that the Prophet asked for a pen and paper so that he could write his will in which he would supposedly appoint Ali as his successor. They accuse Umar of preventing the Prophet from doing that.
If the Prophet was really going to write a will appointing Ali as his successor, then why didn’t the Prophet do that before his death? The event of the pen and paper happened on a Thursday, whereas the Prophet died on a Monday. The Prophet had more than three days to write such a will, and yet he did no such thing; no Sunni or Shia source indicates that the Prophet wrote this will in the three days after the event of Thursday. The Shia claim that Umar prevented the Prophet from writing about Ali in his will, so we wish to ask: was Umar ibn al-Khattab with the Prophet 24/7 for three days straight? Of course not. We know that this is not the case, and even Shia narratives tell about how Ali and a few close family members were with the Prophet alone in his final days. And yet, the Prophet did not write any such document in his last three days.
What prevented the Prophet from writing this will to Ali during those three days after the event of Thursday? What is interesting–and a point that negates the Shia claims completely–is that Ali himself never claimed that the Prophet was writing a will for him. No reliable Sunni or Shia account exists in which Ali ever mentions the “event of Thursday” as a proof for his Caliphate. Ali contested the Caliphate of Abu Bakr as well as the Caliphate of Uthman, and in both instances he and his advocates brought forth certain proofs as to why he (Ali) should be the Caliph over them (i.e. Abu Bakr and Uthman). And yet, never did Ali mention the incident of the pen and paper; surely if it is as the Shia claim it was, then Ali and his party would have mentioned that day of Thursday as a strong proof for Ali’s claim to the Caliphate, and yet the Hadith and historical literature is devoid of any such references in the lifetime of Ali.
The truth of the matter is that the Prophet did not say what it was that he wished to write on that day, and nobody knows what it was, so why and how do the Shia claim that they know what it was? The matter is part of al-Ghaib (the Unseen), knowledge of which is denied to humanity, so whoever claims to know with certainty what that information was can only be a liar and/or fool. Today, we see how the Shia claim that the matter was the appointment of Ali, and yet how can they know what the matter was when the Prophet never mentioned it, nor did Ali, Abbas, Ibn Abbas, Hasan, or Hussain ever claim to know what it was!
If Ali knew that the Prophet wrote a will in his favor, then why did he not use this as a proof for his Caliphate? When Ali contested the Caliphate of Abu Bakr and Uthman, he (Ali) brought forth many proofs to bolster his claims against the two, and yet never did he mention any will to be written in his name. We find that the Shia narrative is based on pure guesswork: what basis do they have to claim that it was the appointment of Ali? Why couldn’t we claim that that the Prophet wanted to write down something else such as the date of Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Power) or even the appointment of Abu Bakr? If the Shia insist that the Prophet was going to write his will in favor of Ali, then what prevents us from claiming that in actuality it was for Abu Bakr? There is no proof either way. If the Shia bring up proofs, then we too have our proofs, such as the nomination of Abu Bakr as Imam of the prayers!
Another interesting point is that the Shia say that Umar sought to prevent the Prophet from writing a will in favor of Ali. We wonder: how would Umar know what the Prophet wished to write on that day when in fact this knowledge was part of al-Ghaib (the Unseen)? Not even Ali knew what the Prophet wished to write on that day, so how could Umar have known?
What prevented Ali from giving the Prophet a pen and paper in the last three days of his life? The Prophet had the entire rest of Thursday to write that will, as well as the next day (Friday), the next day after that (Saturday), and the day after that (Sunday). And yet, where is that mysterious will? Why didn’t the Prophet write it? Let us assume that the Prophet wished to write a will in favor of Ali so that the people would never be misguided about that. Then wouldn’t the Prophet be misguiding the people by not writing that will? A written will in favor of Ali would have ended all debate on the issue of Caliphate and served as a strong proof for Ali’s Imamah, and yet we find that no such will was ever written, so who should the Shia blame other than the Prophet for not writing that will? If the duty was placed on the Prophet’s shoulders to will the leadership to Ali, then it was the Prophet who failed to do that, and it was Ali who failed to beseech the Prophet to write that will in the last three days of his life. Indeed, the Prophet gave much advice in those three days, and he advised many things on those three days–even up until his last breath–yet the Prophet never returned to talk about the matter of Thursday. Why not?
Were Umar and some of the other Sahabah preventing the Prophet from writing this will? Was the Prophet a prisoner of Umar and his associates for an entire three days before his death? Were Umar and his associates standing guard over the Prophet near the end of his times, such that he (the Prophet) could not write the will even through the span of over seventy-two hours? And yet, we know that this is the not the case, since the Prophet was alone with his family members many times during the course of three days. What prevented the Prophet from writing the will in that time, and then giving it to Ali? And yet we find that Ali never produced such a will, nor claimed it, nor used it as a proof for his Caliphate. If the will was necessary to ensure the Caliphate of Ali, then it was the Prophet’s fault for not writing it and Ali’s fault for not beseeching the Prophet to write it. We seek Allah’s Mercy from such blasphemy.
Was the Prophet living in fear of the Sahabah, who were preventing the Message from being delivered by the Messenger? Again, we seek Allah’s Mercy from such blasphemy. It is a central belief of Islam that the Prophet delivered the Message in full, and that no human being could prevent him from doing his divine duty. Throughout the Prophet’s life, his enemies from amongst the Kufaar and the Munaafiqoon sought to prevent the Prophet from delivering his message, but Allah commanded the Prophet to never fear them and to deliver the message in full. And it is our Islamic belief that the Prophet was successful in his mission and he delivered the message in full, and he dutifully discharged his mission as a Prophet and Messenger.
At this point in time, it would be appropriate to discuss a very major inconsistency in the Shia narrative. The Shia claim that Ali was nominated by the Prophet at Ghadir Khumm, and they claim that verse 5:67 was revealed then:
Let us accept this fairytale of the Shia as being factual. In that case, we find that the Prophet wished to appoint Ali at Ghadir Khumm, and yet the Sahabah (such as Umar) were against that, but then Allah revealed verse 5:67 saying:
â€œO Apostle! Deliver what has been sent down to you from your Lord; and if you donâ€™t do it, you have not delivered His message (at all); and Allah will protect you from the people â€¦â€Al-Islam.org added to this that “the last sentence in the above verse indicates that the Prophet [s] was mindful of the reaction of his people in delivering that message but Allah informs him not to worry, for He will protect His Messenger from people.” And so, the Shia narrative goes, the Prophet pronounced Ali as the leader of the Ummah despite the protestations of the people, for had he failed in that, then he would not have delivered Allah’s Message at all.
In a very similar incident, the Shia say that the Prophet wished to write his will in favor of Ali’s leadership on the event of Thursday, but he was prevented from that by the people. We read:
What a major inconsistency! At Ghadir Khumm, Allah supposedly warned the Prophet that if he did not appoint Ali, then he would have failed in his mission in delivering the message, and that he should do this without care for the protestations of the people. And yet, on the event of Thursday suddenly the Prophet fails to deliver the message due to the protestations of the people! What happened? Does not the same verse of the Quran apply? If the matter were the appointment of Ali, then surely the same verse would apply as it did at Ghadir Khumm. If the Prophet was appointing Ali in his will and the people tried to stop him from doing that, then how is this any different than at Ghadir Khumm? Shouldn’t the Prophet have appointed Ali in his will, despite the opposition of the people, as Allah has said that He would “protect you (O Muhammad) from the people”?
We find that the Shia narrative is slander against the Prophet, as it is accusing him of failing to deliver Allah’s Message because of the people’s protestations. If the appointment of Ali was something which would have saved humanity from being misguided, then why did the Prophet fail to do that just because a handful of people such as Umar ibn al-Khattab wished to prevent that? Answering-Ansar has an entire chapter entitled “the consequences of the pen and paper incident” and in it, these Shia propagandists discuss how the Prophet’s failure to write the will was responsible for misguiding the Ummah! It was the Prophet’s task to do that, and he had at least three more days to do that (from Thursday to Monday), and yet he did not do that. Therefore, based on the Shia logic, it is the Prophet who was–Allah forbid–the reason for the misguidance of the Ummah, as he failed to deliver Allah’s message.
Now let us read the words of the Shia scholar, Dr. Al-Tijani (emphasis is ours):
We agree with Dr. Al-Tijani and the Shia propagandists on the idea that whatever the Prophet wished to write was indeed something “new” and that this knowledge was withdrawn just as the knowledge of the date of Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Power) was withdrawn. Well, if this information was “new” as Dr. Al-Tijani claims, then we ask: what would be “new” about appointing Ali as Caliph? The Shia claim that Ali was appointed as Caliph of the Muslims at the event of Ghadir Khumm, which preceded the event of Thursday. If the original appointment of Ali was at Ghadir Khumm, and if the Shia believe that he was to be appointed again by the Prophet during the pen and paper incident, then how is this a statement that “had something new in it for the Muslims” as Dr. Al-Tijani claimed, for it had nothing new but was the exact same thing which was supposedly revealed at Ghadir Khumm.
This leads us to another interesting question, which is: what was the significance of Ghadir Khumm, which the Shia say was witnessed by hundreds of thousands? Was this not sufficient as an appointment? Herein lies another gaping Shia inconsistency: the Shia claim that Ghadir Khumm was the greatest proof for Ali since the Prophet nominated Ali in front of over a hundred thousand Muslims. They argue that this event would make it impossible to deny the Imamah of Ali or to be misguided about that, yet now the Shia claim that without the piece of paper to be written on Thursday, the people would forever be misguided about this matter.
The idea that the Prophet thought it “useless” to convey the Message is blasphemous. Allah says in the Quran:
“If you (o people) shall turn away (from the Message), then the sole duty of the Messenger is to deliver the Message.”And Allah says further:
“But if they are averse (to the Message), We have not sent you (O Muhammad) as a watcher over them. Your duty is only to convey (the Message).”The Prophet would be sinning if he were to fail to deliver the message due to the protestations of the people, for Allah warns:
“O Apostle! Deliver what has been sent down to you from your Lord; and if you donâ€™t do it, you have not delivered His message (at all); and Allah will protect you from the people â€¦”The Shia propagandists say that the Prophet did not write the document for one of two reasons (and both reasons are furthered by them): (1) The people prevented him from doing that; and (2) The Prophet was angry at them for their insubordination. Let us analyze each of these claims individually. The first position means that the Prophet was in violation of verse 5:67 (and others as well) for he failed to deliver the Message for fear of the people (i.e. that they physically prevented him from conveying the Message), despite the fact Allah reassured the Prophet that he would be protected from the people. And we know from the Seerah of the Prophet that he never failed to deliver any religious message out of fear or intimidation: when the Prophet declared the Message of Islam, the Quraysh Mushrikeen persecuted him and even tried to have him killed. Yet, this did not deter the Prophet from delivering the Message. So how can the Shia say that our dear Prophet failed to write some religious advice for fear or due to physical intimidation? The Shia say:
How can the Shia claim that the Prophet failed to complete his mission because people prevented him from doing that? Do these Shia not realize how blasphemous of a thing this is to say? Ironically, this is saying something similar to the accusation that the Prophet was talking nonsense in his delirium; just as it violates the Quran to claim that the Prophet spoke nonsense, likewise it flouts the Quran to claim that the Prophet failed in delivering the Message because of the people’s protestations. As Muslims, we believe that the Prophet was infallible when it came to delivering the Message, and this means that he could never talk nonsense when delivering that Message nor could he be prevented by anyone–be it by intimidation or force–from delivering the Message without fail.
It is interesting to see that Answering-Ansar has quoted a verse of the Quran which damns them (emphasis is ours):
In that very verse quoted by Answering-Ansar, we find that Allah commands the Prophet that his only task is to deliver the Message clearly. It is not proper for a Prophet to hide information from the people simply out of fear of them or because he is angry with them, for then he would not be fulfilling his duty of conveying the Message clearly, but rather the Prophet would be guilty of having “not delivered His Message (at all).” (Quran, 5:67) Dr. Al-Tijani has argued that it would have been “useless” for the Prophet to deliver his Message, and yet the Quran has repeatedly said that even if the people reject the Message, then it does not affect the Prophet whose only job is to deliver the Message, even if “they are averse (to the Message).” (Quran, 42:48)
The Prophet could not at all be prevented by anyone from delivering the Message and we fear Allah from uttering such blasphemy; now then, let us move on to the next claim, which is that the Prophet did not write the message out of anger towards the people for their insubordination. Once again, we find that the Quran condemns such a thing, not only for Prophet Muhammad but for all Prophets. Let us recall the story of Prophet Yunus (Jonah), who was commanded to convey the Message to his people, but he got frustrated by his people because they wouldn’t heed his religious advice. And so, Prophet Yunus decided not to convey the Message to them any more as he thought it useless, and instead he stormed off in anger. Yet, we find that Allah chastised him in the Quran for this. We read:
“And remember Yunus, when he went off in anger; he imagined that We had no power of him! But he (Yunus) cried out in the darkness: ‘There is no God but you; glory be to You. I was indeed wrong!’”So we find that it is not right for the Prophets to fail to deliver the Message to the people, no matter how frustrating the people are. When Prophet Yunus did that, Allah chastised him and punished him. And the Shia say that Prophet Muhammad was infallible and above any mistakes (and they even go to the extreme in this), so how can the Shia claim that the Prophet failed to deliver the Message out of anger? The eighth Imam of the Shia, Imam Reza, said in an authentic Shia Hadith:
“The believerâ€™s anger will not deviate him from the right path.”How is it then that the Shia accuse the Prophet of having deviated from the right path which was to deliver the Message? We find that it does not befit the Prophet to say that he failed to write the document out of fear, or by force, or due to anger.
Why Didn’t the Prophet Write the Document?
The idea that the Prophet didn’t write the document because the Sahabah prevented him is false; nobody could prevent the Prophet from delivering his Message. Instead, the reason the Prophet did not write the document was that the people were bickering amongst themselves and because of that, Allah removed the Baraqah (blessing) from that. This is similar to what happened when the Prophet was about to inform the people about the date of Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Power). We read:
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 32, Number 240:It should be remembered that the date of Laylat al-Qadr is considered something that would have led Muslims into Paradise, and the knowledge of that would have saved many people from Hell-Fire. Imam Malik said:
Allah’s Messenger looked back at the previous communities and saw that his community lived for a much shorter period in comparison to them. He was concerned about how his community would be able to gain as many rewards as those of the previous communities. So when Allah the Exalted saw the concerns in the heart of His Beloved, then he (the Messenger) was given Laylat al-Qadr, which is more virtuous than a thousand months.”An entire chapter of the Quran is entitled “Al-Qadr”, in which Allah says:
“We have indeed revealed this (Message) on the Night of Power. And what will explain to you what the Night of Power is? The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.”The Prophet said:
â€œWhoever stood in prayer on Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Power), in faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, he will have all of his previous sins forgiven.â€The Prophet said:
“In it (the holy month) is a night better than a thousand months; whoever loses the benefits of it has lost something irreplaceable.”So we see that this matter is very similar to the issue that the Prophet wished to write down on the event of Thursday. The words “whoever loses the benefits of it has lost something irreplaceable” are similar to the words “after which you will never go astray.” And yet, in both instances, Allah withdrew the knowledge from the people. When the Prophet saw two people bickering, Allah withdrew the knowledge of Laylat al-Qadr because by that time, the Baraqah (blessing) in that knowledge had passed. Similarly, during the incident of the pen and paper, the time for that knowledge had passed and the Baraqah (blessing) had been removed from it. Because of that, the Prophet did not write for them the document.
It should be noted that–like the date of Laylat al-Qadr–the denial of this knowledge “might be for your own good”, and this is based on our understanding that Allah does all things for the betterment of humanity. When Prophet Adam violated Allah’s Command by nearing the tree, Allah banished him and his wife from Paradise. The Christians argue that this was a punishment from God, and yet this is not an Islamic belief; Muslims believe that Allah forgave Prophet Adam and his wife, and that the banishment from Paradise was not a punishment but a necessary chain of events through which Allah wished to enact His Divine Plan. In the longterm, the banishment of Prophet Adam from Paradise was a mercy upon him and was for his own betterment.
Ibn Kathir says:
Some people believe that the reason why mankind does not dwell in Paradise is that Adam was disobedient and that if it had not been for this sin, we could have been there all along. These are naive fictions because when Allah wanted to create Adam, He said to the angels, “I shall make a vicegerent on the earth.” He did not say, “I shall make a vicegerent in Paradise.”On its surface, the banishment from Paradise seems like something negative, but in the longterm there was great benefit in this. It gave Prophet Adam the opportunity to seek repentance, and in that is a great reward. The Shia commentators of the Quran have even said that the Paradise that Prophet Adam and his wife were banished from was not the “true Paradise”, and that by being banished, Prophet Adam and his wife were given the opportunity to work hard to enter the “true Paradise”. We read:
Pooya/Ali Commentary 2:35It should be noted that the strongest opinion amongst the Ahlus Sunnah is to refrain from commenting on the nature of the Paradise from which Prophet Adam was banished from. But all sides agree that what happened was for the longterm benefit of Prophet Adam who was able to reach a higher status thanks to his “dignified descent” to earth. By seeking repentance and attaining good deeds in this worldly life, Prophet Adam would reach a higher status on the Day of Judgment. In other words, Allah “banished” Prophet Adam for two reasons: (1) to teach Prophet Adam a lesson, and (2) for his own betterment in the longterm.
To put forth an everyday analogy, if a teacher assigns extra homework to a student because he failed his exam, then perhaps the student would perceive this as a sort of a punishment. However, the reality is that the teacher is actually assigning extra homework to the student for his own benefit so that the student can get more practice and become a more successful person in life. “Punishing” the student with extra homework will serve two functions, both of which benefit none other than the student himself: firstly, the student will study harder for his next exam so that he doesn’t fail that, and secondly, he will get much needed practice from the extra homework. To bring this analogy even closer in line with the Hadith of the pen and paper, let us assume that the teacher is going to give the students an answer to one of the questions in their homework; but the students are rowdy so the teacher tells them that she will not give them the answer to that question any more. The students might think that they will now lose out on this information, but the teacher knows that there is a great benefit in this, because the students will be forced to go through their books in order to find the answer for themselves. In that process, the students will acquire much more knowledge than if the teacher had simply blurted out the answer to them. Additionally, the students will not be rowdy in the future, which will help them pay attention to the teacher’s future lessons.
The same is the case with the date of Laylat al-Qadr. Allah withdrew the knowledge of it to teach the people a lesson (which was to refrain from bickering and disunity); additionally, it was for their own benefit that this knowledge was withdrawn. The benefit was of course that the people would pray all night long on many nights as opposed to just one, and therefore it was for their own betterment. If the Prophet had disclosed the date of Laylat al-Qadr, then the people would only pray all night long on that one day, instead of praying all night long on many days. Despite the fact that knowledge was withdrawn from us, it was for our own benefit, since man has been made weak; had we known the date of Laylat al-Qadr, we would have harmed ourselves with that knowledge, in the sense that we would abandon prayer on other nights.
Likewise, we believe that it was for our own betterment that Allah and His Messenger withdrew knowledge during the incident of the pen and paper. It is written in Fath al-Bari by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Hajar that it is likely that the knowledge in that document would have been too burdensome on the Muslims, and caused many of them to apostatize. And so it was for the betterment of the Muslims that the Prophet refrained from conveying this to them. Something similar has been narrated in Sahih Bukhari, in which knowledge was withdrawn from the people for fear that they would become too lax in their ways:
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 3, Number 130What the Prophet wished to write in the incident of the pen and paper was similar in the sense that there was some benefit in not writing it. Perhaps it was as Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Hajar said, that it would have been too much of a burden on the people; or perhaps it was that the people would have relied too much upon it as the Hadith above mentions. An alternate view is given in Fath al-Bari that perhaps the knowledge in that document would have closed the doors of Ijtihad, and so it was a mercy upon the Muslims that this was not done. Whatever the case, we believe that there was some benefit in the withdrawal of this knowledge; we do not know the exact reason why and we can only speculate as to the benefit in that, but we trust in Allah in that, and we know that Allah does all things for our betterment, and we know further that Allah’s Messenger would not have denied us such knowledge unless it was for our good. The Prophet was sent to guide, and he would never have failed in that.
In conclusion, the Prophet decided against writing the document to (1) teach the Muslims a lesson, and (2) for their own longterm benefit. The lesson he taught the Sahabah was very important, namely that they should not bicker and quarrel amongst themselves. This was a very necessary lesson to convey to the Muslims at this point in time, because it was immediately after the Prophet’s death that the Muslim ranks became disunited. It is therefore not all impossible that what the Prophet wished to write in the document “after which you will never go astray” could have been about abstaining from bickering and quarreling with each other. Truly, if the Muslims had not done that after the Prophet’s death, the Muslim nation would have remained strong and powerful, but instead the Muslims have become disunited and have thus been led astray.
Additionally, we believe that the prohibition of this knowledge was for the longterm benefit of the Muslims, much like the date of Laylat al-Qadr was restricted for our own longterm benefit. Such knowledge may have caused many Muslims to apostatize. To give a modern day example, the Saudis scholars have chosen to restrict the knowledge of certain historical sites in Mecca and Medinah. Admittedly, the knowledge of such places could be of benefit to many Muslims, but many other Muslims would be led astray by such knowledge, as they would then go to such places and commit Shirk, as the Shia do. So we see that there is great benefit in restricting knowledge from the people, and if the Prophet did that, then he had his reasons and we trust in that.
Playing the Shia Game
On what basis do the Shia say that the Prophet wished to write about Ali in his will? If the Shia were to claim that, then we Sunnis could easily claim that it was actually Abu Bakr that the Prophet wished to appoint on that day. How easy is that! In fact, Imam Nawawi states in his Sharh that Sufyan ibn Uyana said that some of the people of knowledge stated that the Prophet intended to appoint Abu Bakr as the Caliph. And then Imam Nawawi states that the Prophet chose to withdrew this knowledge because Allah’s decree would be fulfilled in a better way. If the Prophet had appointed Abu Bakr as Caliph over the Muslims, then the masses would have felt that this was an act of tyranny, as the Arabs of that time were used to nominating their own leader through mutual consultation and popular sovereignty. Therefore, argued some scholars, the withdrawal of the knowledge of Abu Bakr’s appointment was for the benefit of the people, so that they would nominate their own leader themselves as is more just.
If the Shia claim that the document was about Ali, then what prevents us from claiming that it was for Abu Bakr? And we have greater proof, because after this incident, it was Abu Bakr–not Ali–who was nominated by the Prophet as Imam of the prayers. And we know that it was Umar who began to lead the prayers, when the Prophet stopped him from that, in order that he (the Prophet) could nominate Abu Bakr alone to do that. So if the Shia would like to paint the fictitious story that Umar was preventing the nomination of Ali, then why couldn’t another person claim that Umar was preventing the nomination of Abu Bakr? The truth of the matter is that one can claim just about anything. We read in Imam Nawawi’s Sharh:
Qadhi Iyad said: Bakr, the nephew of Abdul Wahid, differed and claimed that he (the Prophet) specified Abu Bakr, and Ibn Al-Rawandi said that he specified Abbas, Shia and Rafidhis said he specified Ali; and these are (all) false claims! (These claims are) impudent forger[ies], and (to say such things is) an audacious obstinacy against the senses…Neither Ali, nor Abbas, nor Abu Bakr claimed that there was a will (i.e from the Prophet regarding one of them being a successor) at any point in time. Ali and Abbas have agreed upon all of this (i.e. that there was no will) without any obstacle preventing them from mentioning the will had it existed…Had it happened (i.e. any of the Sahabah claiming a will), it (such a thing) would have been reported, for it is one of the important matters.Some people used this event of Thursday to claim that the Prophet was about to appoint Abu Bakr, others said it was to appoint Abbas, and others said it was to appoint Ali. And all of these are baseless claims, because they are all without proof. What is interesting is that the Qadianis use the event of the pen and paper as a “proof” for their leader, claiming that this was the document in which the Prophet was about to appoint Mirza Ghulam Ahmed as his successor. The reality is that one can claim pretty much anything. The point is that we can easily play the Shia game, and claim that it was actually Abu Bakr who was to be appointed in that document the Prophet wished to write. However, the Ahlus Sunnah are an honest people, and we do not speak about al-Ghaib (the Unseen) with certainty. The strongest position is that we do not know what the Prophet wished to write in that document, as that knowledge was denied to us, and everything else is guesswork.
Ali Himself Did Not Know
Tabari writes what happened after the incident of the pen and paper:
Ali ibn Abi Talib went out from the Messenger of Allah during his illness in which he died. The people asked him: “O Abu Hasan, how did the Messenger of Allah wake up?”A few things about this narration. First of all, it is clear that the Prophet recovered, and yet the Prophet still did not write the document despite the fact that he lived for at least three more days. Secondly, Abbas attempted to convince Ali to ask the Prophet who will be entrusted the Caliphate, and he was not sure who the Prophet would give it to. How then can the Shia claim that the document was to be for Ali, when not even Abbas and Ali knew who the Prophet would appoint? Thirdly, there is no correlation between the document and the appointment of the Caliphate. Abbas asked Ali to inquire about the Caliphate but nowhere does he correlate this with the document.
The Shia narrative is that the Prophet appointed Ali at Ghadir Khumm, so therefore if we accept this, then there should be no doubt at all in the minds of Ali or Abbas as to who the Caliphate would be entrusted to. It is perplexing then that three days before the Prophet’s death, Ali and Abbas are not sure who the Prophet will appoint. Perhaps the Shia will not accept the narration from Tabari as a proof, but this same incident–of Abbas asking the Prophet who will get the Caliphate–is narrated by Shaykh Mufid in Kitab Al-Irshad:
“If this matter [of leadership] is to be given to us after you, then tell us,” Al-Abbas asked him. “If you (O Prophet) know that we are to be overcome, then give us the decision.”This event took place immediately after the incident of the pen and paper. It is clear from this quote that Abbas, the Prophet’s uncle whom the Shia revere, is not sure who will get the Caliphate and has to ask the Prophet about that. This destroys the Shia argument that Ali was nominated at Ghadir Khumm; if that were the case, then why is Abbas asking the Prophet who he will appoint after him? And Ali himself was not sure who the Caliphate would be entrusted to; if he had known that it was to himself, then he would have–according to his own words–asked the Prophet to announce that in the three remaining days of his life. The fact that Ali did not press the Prophet on this matter makes it clear that Ali was not sure if the Prophet would appoint him or not; if Ali himself was not sure about this, how then can the Shia be so certain about this?
In fact, the Shia claim that Umar prevented the Prophet from writing his will in favor of Ali. But, according to Shia sources, immediately after the incident of the pen and paper, the Prophet in fact first asked Abbas to be the Caliph! Shaykh Mufid writes:
When they (the people) had left (the room), he (the Prophet) said: “Send back to me my brother (Ali) and my uncle (Abbas).”The Prophet–according to Shia sources–called Ali and Abbas into his room and he asked Abbas to be the Caliph. So why do the Shia say that Umar wished to prevent the Prophet from writing the will in favor of Ali? The Prophet gave priority and preference to Abbas, so the Shia should say that Umar wished to prevent the Caliphate of Abbas. What a predicament and mess for the Shia! What happened to Ghadir Khumm, where the Prophet had–according to the Shia–settled the matter of Caliphate and had entrusted it to Ali? We read various Shia websites saying things such as:
So then why is Abbas confused about the matter even after Ghadir Khumm? How come he has to ask the Prophet about who will inherit the leadership, even after the formal appointment of Ali? If the Prophet went to great lengths to ensure the Caliphate of Ali, then why did he first offer it to Abbas? When the Prophet offered the Caliphate to Abbas, why didn’t Abbas look at the Prophet incredulously and say “but you already gave it to Ali!” From this discussion, it becomes clear that the Prophet had never appointed Ali as his successor, that Abbas and Ali were not sure what the document was about or who the Prophet would appoint, and that the Prophet offered the Caliphate to Abbas over Ali.
It should be noted that the Sunnis reject the idea that the Prophet offered the Caliphate to Abbas or Ali; we are simply establishing the fact that there are too many holes in the Shia historical narrative, and the holes are so large that jumbo jets could fly through them.
Where is the Prophet’s Mysterious Will?
It is true that the Prophet exhorted the believers to write their wills in order to distribute their property amongst their inheritors. To this, the Shia ask us: how is it possible that the Prophet would command the Muslims to write a will and yet never write one for himself? We read:
The above was written in the famous Shia book, Al-Muraja’at. Hereby the Shia has shot himself in the foot. The Sunnis believe that the document the Prophet wished to write on Thursday was not his will at all but rather it was a piece of paper with religious advice on it. In order to prove their side, the overzealous Shia brings forth various proofs in order to convince the reader that the Prophet must have wished to write his will. To back this claim, they provide the Quranic verses and Hadiths about writing wills. One of the Hadiths they quote, as shown above, is the one in which the Prophet says:
“No believer who knows that he is leaving something behind him should sleep even two nights without having his will written…”And this is what we meant by the Shia shooting himself in the foot! In this Hadith quoted by the Shia in their famous book Al-Muraja’at, the Prophet says that one should not sleep even two nights without having a will. Then, O Shia, please explain why the Prophet slept three nights without writing a will? After the event of Thursday, the Prophet had three more days to write that will, and yet he never did that! Why not? If this was truly a Command of Allah to write a will, then was the Prophet not sinful for abstaining from doing that? Fine, we can excuse the day of Thursday using the explanation that Umar prevented the will from being written. But what about Friday, Saturday, and Sunday?
Who was preventing the Prophet from writing the will for those three days? In fact, we know–from Shia sources–that the Prophet made a recovery during those three days and also that he was alone with Ali and Abbas during that time. We read:
Ali ibn Abi Talib went out from the Messenger of Allah during his illness in which he died. The people asked him: â€œO Abu Hasan, how did the Messenger of Allah wake up?â€And so, after the incident of the pen and paper, the Prophet did recover. So why didn’t he avail that time in order to complete his obligation to Allah, as the Shia say? The Shia propagandists are the ones who insist that it was Wajib (mandatory) on the Prophet to write a will, so why didn’t the Prophet write it in those remaining days when he recovered?
On Thursday, after the incident of the pen and paper, the Prophet called Ali and Abbas back into the room, according to Shaykh Mufid. So that was one opportunity for the Prophet to have written the will and given it to Ali. Then, the very next day (i.e. Friday), the Prophet had another opportunity to write the will for Ali; the Shia cannot claim that Umar prevented the Prophet from writing the will because Ali was alone with the Prophet throughout the day of Friday! Shaykh Mufid writes:
On the next day [Friday], the people were denied access to him (the Prophet) as he was seriously ill in bed. The Commander of the Faithful (Ali) did not leave him except to fulfill some necessities. Then he had to go to attend some of his affairs. The Apostle of Allah recovered consciousness and he missed Ali. His wives were around him and he said: “Call my brother and my companion.”During all this time, the Prophet could have dictated to Ali a will in his name. Then, Ali could have presented the will to the people as a strong proof for his Caliphate. And yet, no Sunni or Shia account attests to such a thing. The Shia author of Al-Muraja’at continues to shoot himself in the foot, saying:
This is the weak point in the Shia argument: if Allah had commanded the Prophet to write a will and he had “received instructions in its regard from his Lord”, then why didn’t the Prophet use the last three days of his life to fulfill these instructions? According to the Shia, the Prophet attempted to write the will on Thursday but was prevented to do so by Umar ibn al-Khattab. Then why did the Prophet simply abandon his intention after this event, especially since “he [the Prophet] is above abandoning the will”? If the Shia claims are true, then the Prophet should not have abandoned the will after what happened, but rather he should have continued with the plan to write the will in the next three days of his life.
The Shia argument is actually not self-consistent. The Shia claim that written wills are Wajib (obligatory) therefore the Prophet must have been writing his will on Thursday. The very basis of their claim is the idea that it is Wajib to have a written will. But when we ask the Shia where is this mysterious will, then they say that the Prophet only made a verbal will for Ali. Now then, if this is the case, then the question is: did the Prophet complete the Wajib requirement? If the Shia say ‘no’, then the Shia have maligned our Prophet as a sinner. If the Shia say ‘yes’ and if they claim that a verbal will would fulfill the Wajib requirement, then this collapses their argument for the need for the written will in the first place! We must remember the basis of the Shia argument which is that the Prophet must have been writing a will in that document in order to fulfill the Wajib requirement. Yet suddenly, the Shia does a complete one hundred eight degree turn by claiming that a written will is no longer Wajib but a verbal one is sufficient.
The Shia cannot provide any good explanation for why the Prophet never wrote a will, and why–to this day–no human being alive has seen a will written by the Prophet. The Shia have been relying on the argument that the Prophet was prevented from fulfilling this obligation by Umar ibn al-Khattab; but unfortunately, this argument falls apart when one considers that the event of the pen and paper took place on Thursday and there were three more days for the Prophet to write such a will. The Shia explanation can only explain why the Prophet failed to write the will on Thursday, but it doesn’t explain why the Prophet didn’t write it on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
On the other hand, the Sunnis rely on a quite simple and straightforward explanation as to why the Prophet did not write a will: the Prophet did not need to write a will because he had nothing to give as inheritance. The writing of a will is only necessary on the one who has something to give as inheritance, as clearly mentioned in the Prophetic Hadith quoted by the Shia book Al-Muraja’at:
“No believer who knows that he is leaving something behind him should sleep even two nights without having his will written…”In fact, Sahih Bukhari has an entire section about how those who do not have anything to give do not need to write a will. The reason that the Prophet did not have anything to give as inheritance is because the property of Prophets is given away as charity. This is based on the principle that the Prophets are a very noble group and it is above them to hoard wealth but rather it is fitting their nature to give away their material possessions to charity. The Prophet said:
â€œWe do not leave inheritance. What we leave behind is charity.â€This is confirmed in Shia Hadith:
â€œThe Prophets did not leave dinars and dirhams as inheritance, but they left knowledge.â€If Allah truly commanded the Prophet to write a will as the Shia say, then the Prophet was sinful for not doing that. One cannot place the blame on Umar since that would only explain Thursday, but it does not explain away Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. On the other hand, the Ahlus Sunnah’s explanation makes more sense, namely that the Prophet did not write a will because he had no need to do that.
Ali Refuses the Prophet’s Command
The Answering-Ansar website (a Shia propaganda site) has entitled its article “Obedience to the Prophet” and then writes page after page about the importance of “unconditional obedience” to the Prophet. We read:
However, we contend that this cannot apply to the given scenario, because Umar did not directly disobey the Prophet. Instead, he felt that the Prophet’s request was no longer applicable now that the Prophet had fainted. And even if we accept the idea that Umar refused the Prophet’s request, then we say that it was done out of sincere love for the Prophet and nothing else. To give an analogy, would it be appropriate for a soldier to disobey his commanding officer? Of course not. Yes, we say that a soldier must unconditionally obey his commander. But let us take into consideration the following scenario: the commander is heavily injured in the battle, and the enemy is in hot pursuit. The soldier, however, refuses to leave his injured commander behind. The commander orders the soldier to leave him behind and go without him. However, the soldier refuses the order and stays behind with his commander. The commander repeatedly orders the soldier to leave him behind, but the soldier says “No, this is a command I cannot fulfill!” In such a scenario, would anyone accuse the soldier of insubordination or treachery? Far from it! Instead, we would wish to award such a soldier with a gold medal for his bravery and loyalty.
Likewise, when the Prophet was signing the Treaty of Hudaybiyya, the Prophet ordered Ali to erase something, but Ali refused to do that. It was a direct order from the Prophet, but Ali categorically refused and said that he could not fulfill the command; Ali put his foot down and said bluntly: “By Allah, I will never erase it!” Would the Shia now accuse Ali of disobedience to the Prophet, or of insubordination? Certainly not. The Shia, like the Sunnis, say that Ali refused the Prophet out of love and respect for him. We read:
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 53, Number 408:Perhaps the knee-jerk reaction of the e-Shia would be to deny this narration; to deal with such a claim, we refer the reader to a source considered very reliable to the Shia. Shaykh Mufid, the eminent Shia scholar of the tenth century, writes:
Other things connected with (the expedition to) al-Hudaybiyya are (as follows): When Suhayl ibn Amir saw them and came towards their position, he begged the Prophet for peace. Inspiration came down on the Prophet in answer to that, and that he should make the Commander of the Faithful (Ali) his writer on that day and the one who would take down the peace treaty in his handwriting.Shaykh Mufid says, in no uncertain terms, that “the Prophet ordered him.” It was a direct order, and Ali ibn Abi Talib refused this command. And to completely end any doubt about this, the Prophet–according to Shaykh Mufid–gave two orders to Ali. On the first order (i.e. to remove the words “the Merciful” and “the Compassionate”), Ali said: “If it was not for the fact that I obey you, O Apostle of Allah, I would not remove (it).” So Ali didn’t erase these words because that would be disobedience; but then on the Prophet’s second command (i.e. to erase the words “Apostle of Allah”), Ali refused to do that. Based on this, it is clear that this is “disobedience” according to the Shia understanding. The Shia must rethink their position on “unconditional obedience” to the Prophet. Obviously, “refusal” of a command out of sincere love for the Prophet is not real refusal nor can it be construed as real disobedience.
If this Hadith had been about Umar, then the Shia would have been using it as a proof against him. Should we Sunnis now be like the Shia and refer to this “event” of Hudaybiyya as the “Hadith of the Eraser” and go on Wikipedia to create an entire article about it in order to slander Ali? May Allah save us from such misguidance! Truly, it is clear as daylight that Ali refused to use the eraser out of love for the Prophet, just as Umar refused the pen and paper out of love for the Prophet. It is strange how the Shia condemn Umar ibn al-Khattab for the very same action! Umar said out of deep love for the Prophet: “Verily Allahâ€™s Messenger (may peace be upon him) is deeply afflicted with pain.” This cannot be construed as a proof against Umar but rather it is a proof for Umar and his sincere love and concern for the Prophet. Only a biased fool can interpret it any other way.
To this, the Shia propagandist might say that the Prophet was pleased with Ali when he (Ali) refused to erase those words, whereas he was displeased with Umar after the incident of the pen and paper. First of all, there is no proof for the latter claim, as the Prophet never singled Umar out for that. However, even if we accept this fallacious argument, we then direct the Shia to the incident just before the event of Thursday, when Ali and Abbas disobeyed the Prophet’s instructions and forcibly fed him medicine. We have narrated this incident earlier in our article, so the reader is advised to scroll up for that. Should we Sunnis refer to this event as “the event of the forced medicine”? In that incident, the Prophet ordered something, Ali and Abbas disobeyed his command, and the Prophet was so infuriated that he punished those in the room by forcing them to drink the same medicine.
Based on these two events (the Treaty of Hudaibiya and the force-feeding of medicine), we find that the Shia have no leg to stand upon when they slander Umar ibn al-Khattab. Yes, Umar refused a command of the Prophet, but just as Ali and Abbas did that. This was nothing but a sign of love, and Allah is well-pleased with them!
The Quran is Sufficient for Us
The Shia propagandists will then criticize Umar ibn al-Khattab for what he said (i.e. “the Quran is sufficient for us”). The Shia will say that Umar meant by this that obeying the Sunnah was not necessary. However, this is not a proper understanding of what Umar was saying. In fact, Umar–throughout his life–stressed the importance of obeying the Prophet’s Sunnah, so it would be impossible to accuse Umar of being one of the so-called “Quraniyyoon” or “Munkar-e-Hadith” (i.e. Hadith rejectors).
The people were pestering the Prophet to give them religious advice, despite the fact that the Prophet was having a difficult time talking without pain. So Umar was calling them away from that; in other words, Umar was saying “leave him alone and let him rest”. And he told them that “the Quran is sufficient”. The Shia imply that by this Umar meant that the Prophet’s words were useless or not worthy because the Quran was “sufficient”. However, this is an incorrect definition of the word; the word “sufficient” means “adequate, enough, meeting the requirement, etc.” What the Prophet would have told them would definitely be beneficial, and Umar was not saying otherwise. He was simply saying that the people had enough to survive with, to make do, etc, such that they shouldn’t bother the Prophet in his time of pain.
A proper analogy of this is if a man wants to give his sons some money. But one of his sons knows that his father is running low on money, so he says to the rest of his brothers: “Leave father alone; what we have earned from work is sufficient for us.” This does not mean that he is scorning the money from his father or that this money wouldn’t be beneficial; it simply means that what they already have is enough to get by, such that they should not bother their father for any more.
Of course, the Shia will never be silent until and unless we quiet them ourselves. They will continue to pester us, criticizing Umar for why he said that the Quran is sufficient. And they will say “what did Umar mean by that” and other such things. To end such a discussion, we refer the Shia reader to a Hadith from their own books, in which their Infallible Imam said the exact same thing that Umar did. We read:
Rayyan says I said to Imam Reza (A.S.) â€œWhat do you say about the Quran?â€ So he replied “It is the speech of Allah; do not exceed and move ahead of it, and do not seek guidance from other than it; otherwise, you would go astray.”So if the Shia would like to criticize Umar for saying that the Quran is sufficient, then let them take even more criticism towards their Infallible Imam who said that we should not seek guidance from any other than the Quran! Umar’s comment was not exclusive, as in it did not exclude other sources of knowledge; instead, Umar simply stated that the Quran was enough to survive on. On the other hand, Imam Reza’s statement is exclusive, stating that whoever seeks a source other than the Quran has gone astray. Again, whatever blame the Shia put on Umar for his comment, let them put double blame on their Imam (may Allah be pleased with him)!
The Prophet’s Anger in Context
Before his death, the Prophet said:
“If I abused any person of my people, or cursed him in anger, then I am one of the children of Adam: I become angry as they do. He, Allah, has sent me as a mercy to the worlds. And O Allah, make my anger and abuse a blessing for them on the Day of Judgment!”The same speech is mentioned in Ibn Saad’s al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, with the addition of:
“I am only a human being.”In Tareekh al-Tabari, the Prophet’s speech is recorded as:
“O people, I praise God, the only God, unto you. Now then: Your rights are dear to me…whomever I have reviled, here is my honor–let him retort! Malice is neither my nature nor characteristic of me. Indeed, the most loved of you to me is the one who claims his right from me [if he is the aggrieved party], so that he should absolve me [from it] so that I shall meet the Lord while I am content. I see that this is not enough until I stand before you several times [i.e. to emphasize the point] ” …The Messenger of Allah smiled and said: “Umar is with me and I am with him.” Referring to that man, the Prophet said: “Follow Umar after me, wherever he might be.”Appendix
Having thus discussed the event in detail, let us now analyze the Hadiths in question, one by one. The event of Thursday has been mentioned in the Sahihayn, five times in Imam Bukhari’s collection and another three in Imam Muslim’s collection. Let us examine these eight Hadiths, and comment on each of them. Our comments are in brackets:
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 288: The Shia wish to indicate that the “great thing” or calamity was because of Umar’s “rebellion” against the Prophet’s orders. And yet this is not the case, and the text does not at all indicate this. Ibn Abbas never criticized Umar ibn al-Khattab for refusing to bring the pen and paper; instead, Ibn Abbas’s complaint was  “people should not differ before a prophet.” It was the disagreement, bickering, and quarreling that was the tragedy. Both sides had legitimate arguments: on the one hand, there were those who wished to get advice from the Prophet, and there were others who felt that it would inconvenience the Prophet to do that (i.e. because he was sick and it hurt him to speak). These were both valid arguments, and the two sides should have calmly discussed the matter instead of bickering about it.
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 716: Notice that the Prophet’s health turned worse on this day, worse than it had ever been before. And we know that the Prophet was even having a difficult time talking:
When the Apostle’s illness became severe, he (i.e. a Sahabi) and the men came down to Medinah and he went into the Apostle(’s house) who was unable to speak. He (the Prophet) began to lift his hand towards heaven and then bring it down upon him, from which he (the Sahabi) knew that he (the Prophet) was blessing him.So the Prophet’s condition had deteriorated to its worst at this point in time, worse even than when Abbas and Ali had attempted to force-feed the Prophet medicine against his will. So based on these two facts–namely that (a) the Prophet could not speak without intense pain and (b) Abbas and Ali had contradicted the Prophet’s wishes when he was in a better condition than he was on Thursday–we find that the Shia have really no leg to stand upon when they attack Umar who only wished that the people not burden the Prophet by causing him the pain of talking in a time when his condition was the worst it had been yet.
 Notice that Ibn Abbas says that it was not right to argue in front of the Prophet; this was what angered the Prophet, not the actual positions of the two sides.
 Once again, it says “some said”, not “Umar said.”
 The important point here is that the person who did ask if the Prophet was delirious was asking if this was the case, not saying that this was indeed the case. He was genuinely asking, not saying this in a sarcastic or demeaning fashion. And what he meant by delirious was if the Prophet was conscious or not.
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 53, Number 393: Again, quite clearly, the “calamity” was that it was “improper to differ in front of a Prophet” (i.e. bickering with each other), and it was not that Umar refused to give the paper and pen. The refusal of Umar was no more of a calamity than it was a calamity when Abbas and Ali refused to obey the Prophet by forcing him to take medicine against his will.
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 70, Number 573: Notice that Umar ibn al-Khattab only said that the Prophet was “seriously ill”, which proves that Umar was worried about the well-being of the Prophet, nothing else.
 It was only “when they caused a hue and cry” that the Prophet said “go away” which shows that it was the disagreement and bickering which angered the Prophet. He was angry at both sides, not just the side which opposed giving him the pen and paper. The Prophet used to have splitting headaches during his final illness, and so it is no wonder that it would annoy him when the people created “a hue and cry”. A verykey point here is that the Prophet ordered both sides out of the house, not just those who opposed the writing; the Prophet could have simply scolded Umar and told him alone to leave, but instead he sent everyone out of the room. Had it been Umar’s refusal that angered the Prophet, then he would not have sent those out who wished to give the Prophet a pen and paper! The reality is that the Prophet was merely disappointed with his followers for falling into argumentation and disunity, no doubt a precursor of things to come after the Prophet’s death. On numerous occasions, the Prophet would warn against division, and even up until this day the Muslim Ummah remains fragmented and disunited.
 Once again, it was the “disagreement and noise” which was the calamity Ibn Abbas was referring to.
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 3, Number 114: It was “on that” (referring to the “hue and cry”) that the Prophet said “go away”. He did not say “go away” when Umar said what he said, but rather only after the people fell into argumentation.
 It could not get clearer than this! The Prophet’s very own words in which he specifically says why he got upset. It was because “you should not quarrel in front of me” and it was not because of anything Umar ibn al-Khattab said. The Prophet did not say “I am angry with you because you refused to bring me a pen and paper” but rather said “it is not right that you should quarrel in front of me.” The Prophet did not show anger towards those who refused to bring him a pen and paper, just as he did not show anger towards Ali when he refused to erase certain words in the Treaty of Hudaybiya.
 It was the “disagreement and noise” which hurt the Prophet’s head (as he had a headache) and which the Prophet found inappropriate.
Sahih Muslim, Book 013, Number 4014: Notice that the person said “try to learn from him (this point)”, in the sense that he was sincerely wondering about this point and not trying to insult the Prophet in any way.
Sahih Muslim, Book 013, Number 4015:Nothing new here.
Sahih Muslim, Book 013, Number 4016: Notice here that the narrator always mentions Umar ibn al-Khattab by name, singling him out from all the rest. If it had truly been Umar who had asked if the Prophet was delirious, then the narrator would have mentioned that (i.e. taken Umar’s name), but the narrator did no such thing which is a strong proof that it was not Umar who said that.
 Umar was worried about the Prophet being “deeply afflicted with pain.” This is Umar’s love for the Prophet which enticed him to “refuse” the Prophet’s orders, and nothing else. This is therefore commendable and not something to criticize Umar about.
 The Prophet had not been angered by Umar’s refusal, but rather he only later got angry when the people “indulged in nonsense (talk) and began to dispute.”
 Again, it was the “dispute and noise” that caused the Prophet to ask them to leave, not Umar’s refusal.
The truth of the matter is that the Shia take the event of the pen and paper dramatically out of context in order to further their sectarian agenda. They have turned an anthill into a mountain, and we know that the Shia are well-known for their exaggerations, something quite peculiar about their sect. Umar ibn al-Khattab, the Prophet’s father-in-law, cannot be blamed for what he did because he did that out of love for the Prophet. The Prophet was in a great deal of pain, and Umar didn’t want the people pestering him (the Prophet).
Furthermore, there is no proof at all that the Prophet wished to nominate Ali in that document; on the contrary, Ali never claimed such a thing and this is a strong proof against the Shia claims. The Prophet lived for three more days after the event, and he gave much advice on those three days. If the matter on Thursday had been about the nomination of Ali, then surely the Prophet would have returned to that topic in those three days, but he never did that.
May Allah save us from misguidance and those who misguide!
Article Written By: Ibn al-Hashimi, www.ahlelbayt.com
- Ahlel Byayt
- Ghadir Khumm
- Pen & Paper
- Door Burning Myth
- Burial & Caliphate
- Answering Shia
- Catholics & Shia
- Twenty Answers
- 15 Questions
- Anti-Islam FAQs
- تحفة اثنا عشرية
- Shia & Islam: شیعہ اور اسلام