Mufti Amjad Abbas
In the last days of his life Hazrat Abu Bakar nominated Hazrat Umar as his successor (ruler), though Banu Hashim and the companions who allied with them regarded this role to be the right of Ahl-e-bait [Prophet’s family], and in their view Hazrat Ali was the most deserving candidate.
However after Hazrat Umar being appointed as the ruler they did not organise any protest against him. Hazrat Ali considered himself to be more suitable to be the leader than the rulers (he did not accept any government post during the rule of any of the other three rulers). Yet his relationship with all the three rulers was of mutual respect.
As for Hazrat Umar, he personally gave great respect to the family of the Prophet (PBUH). (With regard to Fidak and Bay’ah, Hazrat Abu Bakar and Hazrat Umar took transitory decisions with which one cannot agree. On this I regard the stand of Ahl-e-Bait as the right stand).
Historians have noted that on all important issues Hazrat Umar used to consult Prophet’s companions, specially Hazrat Ali and in most of the cases gave preference to Hazrat Ali’s advice to his own opinion. Both Shi’ite and Sunni historians have quoted Hazrat Umar as saying, ‘If Ali was not around [to advise me] I would have been ruined.’ He prayed to Allah SWT to be protected from a test in which Hazrat Ali was not there to help and assist him.
Hazrat Ali helped and cooperated with the government in many of the crises. During the war against Persia Hazrat Umar wanted to lead the army himself but Hazrat Ali advised him not to leave the capital and not to go to the battlefield. There are numerous examples in Shi’ite and Sunni books when Hazrat Ali gave advice to Hazrat Umar and Hazrat Umar followed it.
As for Hazrat Umar as a ruler, he was an extremely simple and saintly person. He maintained an excellent judicial system. He did not give any role in the government to anyone from his family. He maintained a strict checks on his governors, sacked a prominent companion from governorship as Abu Huraira and appointed one of Hazrat Ali’s close ally Hazrat Salman Pharsi, in his place.
One can differ with him on some of the decisions taken by him. For example, practicing distinction between an Arab and an Iranian, between a Badari [those who had participated in the battle of Badar] and non Badari companions, taking Mu’awia’s exuberance lifestyle lightly by commenting, with a smile that he follows the lifestyle of Caesar and Khosrow.
Hazrat Umar knew that if Hazrat Ali was given the task to rule he would make an excellent administration. But he was also conscious of the thinking of Hazrat Ali’s opponents. I have been told by Mufti Mohammad Farooq Alvi that towards the end of his life Hazrat Umar once said, ‘The most deserving to lead the government is Ali but I know there are some who are opposed to him and if the leadership was handed to Ali they would rise against him.’
It must also be mentioned here that despite the advice of many to transfer power to his sons he did not do so. In his last time, he constituted a small consultative committee consisting of Hazrat Ali, Hazrat Usman and some other companions. Although Hazrat Abu Bakar had of his own accord appointed Hazrat Umar as his successor, but he did not follow this precedent and, to an extent, left it to the ummah to decide its own affairs. This is, however, a different issue that more power was given to Hazrat Abdur Rahman Bin Auf who asked Hazrat Ali and Hazrat Usman if they would follow Qur’an, Sunnah and the examples of previous two rulers should they be appointed to rule. To this Hazrat Usman said yes but Hazrat Ali said, ‘I understand Qur’an and Sunnah the best but will not follow the examples of the two predecessors. I will take my own decisions.’ And thus the decision was made in favour of Hazrat Usman.
In the early period of Islam differences did exist between the companions but mutual respect remained intact. The first clash among the companions took place during the rule of Hazrat Usman and has been continuing since then.
May Allah SWT bless us with the taufeeq to respect each other, notwithstanding our differences, like the early companions of the Prophet (PBUH). Ameen
Mufti Amjad Abbas is a scholar of Fiqha-e-Jafria and a preacher of unity among the Muslim Ummah.