Hadith about the incident of Pen and Paper
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: “Bring him (the writing material) so that Allah’s Messenger may write a document for you and you would never go astray after him.”
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 teacher’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 teacher’s hand and say “teach us!” 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 teacher’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 “the textbook would be sufficient for us to study from for the exam.”
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 “you should rest, Shaykh, and we can do the lesson tomorrow.” 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 Umar’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 Khomeini’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 country’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 father’s side. Common sense dictates that the Prophet’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.
(Tareekh al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p.167)
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).
(Ibn Ishaq, Seerah Rasool-Allah, p.680)
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:
Ibn Abbas reported: When Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) was about to leave this world, there were persons (around him) in his house, Umar ibn al-Khattab being one of them. Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) said: “Come, I may write for you a document; you would not go astray after that.” Thereupon Umar said: “Verily Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) is deeply afflicted with pain. You have the Quran with you. The Book of Allah is sufficient for us.” Those who were present in the house differed. Some of them said: “Bring him (the writing material) so that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) may write a document for you and you would never go astray after him.” And some among them said what Umar had (already) said. When they indulged in nonsense and began to dispute in the presence of Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him), he said: “Get up (and go away)” Ubaidullah said: Ibn Abbas used to say: “There was a heavy loss, indeed a heavy loss, that, due to their dispute and noise, Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) could not write (or dictate) the document for them.”
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.
He remained unconscious for a short time while the Muslims wept and his wives and the women and the children of the Muslims and all of those present raised great cries of lamentation. The Apostle of Allah recovered consciousness and looked at them. Then he said: “Bring me ink and parchment so that I may write for you, after which you will never go astray.”
Again he fainted and one of those present rose to look for ink and parchment.
“Go back,” Umar ordered him.
(Kitab Al-Irshad, by Shaykh Mufid, p.130)
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.
Jilal ul Ayoon
Same thing is present in Jilal ul Ayoon, Fatima [ra] doesn't let a person talk to Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him] because of his condition.
So why criticize Umar [ra] but not Fatima [ra]? The thing is his condition was not so well, that is why Umar [ra] and Fatima [ra] avoided people to disturb him. This is very clear from the sunni and shia books.
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–“disturbance 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 alienated
(source: Wortabet’s Arabic - English Dictionary)
In 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 Allah’s Apostle became worse (on Thursday) and he said, “Fetch me something so that I may write to you something after which you will never go astray.” The people (present there) differed in this matter, and it was not right to differ before a prophet.Some said, “What is wrong with him? (Do you think) he is delirious (seriously ill)? Ask him (to understand his state).”
(Sahih Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 716)
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 Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) took a serious turn (on Thursday), and he said: “Come to me, so that I should write for you a document that you may not go astray after me.” They (the Companions around him) disputed, and it is not right to dispute in the presence of the Apostle. They said: “How is (Allah’s Apostle)? Has he lost his consciousness? Try to learn from him (this point).”
(Sahih Muslim, Book 013, Number 4014)
And once again:
…He (the narrator) said that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: “Bring 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.” They said: “Allah’s Messenger (may peace upon him) is in the state of unconsciousness.”
(Sahih Muslim, Book 013, Number 4015)
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: “Bring me ink and parchment so that I may write for you, after which you will never go astray.”
Again he fainted and one of those present rose to look for ink and parchment.
“Go back,” Umar ordered him. “He is delirious.”
The man went back. Those present regretted the dilatoriness (they had shown) in bringing ink and parchment and rebuked each other. They used to say: “We belong to God and to Him we will return, but we have become anxious about disobedience to the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him and his family.”
When he (the Prophet), peace be on him, recovered consciousness…
(Kitab Al-Irshad, by Shaykh Mufid, p.130)
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 grâce 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 Sahabi–-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!”
He (Ali) raised his head and said: “A person who missed his prayer has no share in Islam!” Then he stood up with a jerk and blood gushed out of the wound. He said: “Give me a piece of cloth.” He wrapped it around the wound, offered his prayer and remembered Allah; then he spoke to his son Abdullah: “O Abdullah, rub my cheek on the ground.”
“I did not do it. I thought he had lost his senses! He (Ali) repeated the same thing: ‘My son, rub my cheek on the ground.’ I did not do it again. He (Ali) repeated himself the third time, (saying): ‘Why don’t you rub my cheek on the ground?’ Now I could see that he was in his senses. He himself could not do it out of pain and weakness. I touched his cheek to the ground. I saw the outer hairs of his beard; they were clogged with dust. He cried until the dust gummed onto his eyes.”
(Sharh Nahjul Balagha, by Ibn abi al-Hadid)
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.
(Tareekh al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p.178)
Then he (the Prophet) came down and entered his house and his pain increased until he was exhausted. Then some of his wives gathered around him, Umm Salamah and Maymoona–and some of the wives of the Muslims (among them Asma)–while his uncle Abbas was with him, and they agreed to force him to take medicine. Abbas said, “Let me force him,” but they did it (instead). When he recovered, he asked who had treated him (with medication) thus. When they told him it was his uncle…he (the Prophet) asked why they had done that..when he asked why they had done that, his uncle said: “We were afraid that you would get pleuritis.” He (the Prophet) replied: “This is a disease which Allah would not afflict me with. Let no one stop in the house until they have been forced to take this medication (i.e. as a punishment)”
(Ibn Ishaq, Seerah Rasool-Allah, p.680)
They agreed to force him to take medicine. Al-Abbas said, “Let me force him,” and the (the Messenger of Allah) was forced.
(Tareekh al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p.178)
We (the Ahlel Bayt) forced the Messenger of Allah to take medicine during his illness. He said not to force him, but we said that the sick man does not like medicine. After he recovered, he (the Prophet) said: “Let not one remain in the house until (everyone of you) has been forced to take this medicine…”
(Tareekh al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p.177)
When they said that they were afraid that he (the Prophet) might have pleuritis, he (the Prophet) said: “It is from Satan and Allah would not inflict it on me.”
(Tareekh al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p.178)
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, “It was most unfortunate (a great calamity) that Allah’s Apostle was prevented from writing that statement for them because of their disagreement and noise.
(Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 3, Number 114)
Ibn Abbas said himself:
“The people (present there) differed in this matter, and it was not right to differ before a prophet.”
(Sahih Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 716)
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, Allah’s Apostle said, “Go away!” Narrated Ubaidullah: Ibn Abbas used to say, “It was very unfortunate that Allah’s Apostle was prevented from writing that statement for them because of their disagreement and noise.”
(Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 70, Number 573)
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]”
(Tareekh al-Islam, Vol.1, pp.244-245)
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, “Go away (and leave me alone). It is not right that you should quarrel in front of me.” Ibn Abbas came out saying, “It was most unfortunate (a great disaster) that Allah’s Apostle was prevented from writing that statement for them because of their disagreement and noise.”
(Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 3, Number 114)
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 Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him), he said: “Get up (and go away)” Ubaidullah said: Ibn Abbas used to say: “There was a heavy loss, indeed a heavy loss, that, due to their dispute and noise.”
(Sahih Muslim, Book 013, Number 4016)
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.
Answering-Ansar says“The Prophet requested writing materials near the end of his life to give his last instructions to the Muslim Ummah, but was prevented from doing so by a group among the Companions.
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?
Answering-Ansar says“the Prophet requested writing materials near the end of his life to give his last instructions to the Muslim Ummah, but was prevented from doing so by a group among the Companions.
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:
Al-Islam.org says“Prophet [s] was leaving Makkah toward Madinah, where he and the crowd of people reached a place called Ghadir Khumm…In this place, the following verse of the Qur’an was revealed:
“O Apostle! Deliver what has been sent down to you from your Lord; and if you don’t do it, you have not delivered His message (at all); and Allah will protect you from the people …” (Qur’an 5:67)
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.
Then followed the key sentence denoting the clear designation of ‘Ali as the leader of the Muslim ummah. The Prophet [s] held up the hand of ‘Ali and said:
“For whoever I am his Leader (mawla), ‘Ali is his Leader (mawla).”
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:
“O Apostle! Deliver what has been sent down to you from your Lord; and if you don’t do it, you have not delivered His message (at all); and Allah will protect you from the people …”
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:
Answering-Ansar says“the Prophet requested writing materials near the end of his life to give his last instructions to the Muslim Ummah, but was prevented from doing so by a group among the Companions.
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”?
Answering-Ansar says“as (it) is unambiguously manifest by the Prophet’s (s) pointing out that the instructions to be written would prevent the Muslim Ummah from ever going astray after him if the instructions were obeyed.
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):