What is the commentary of the following narration ?
عن علي قال: قيل يا رسول الله من نؤمّر بعدك؟ قال: إن تؤمّروا أبا بكر تجدوه أمينا زاهدا في الدنيا راغبا في الآخرة وإن تؤمّروا عمر تجدوه قويا أمينا لا يخاف في الله لومة لائم وإن تؤمّروا عليا -ولا أراكم فاعلين- تجدوه هاديا مهديا، يأخذ بكم الطريق المستقيم
This narration is recorded in Musnad Ahmad and other Hadith collections.
(Musnad Ahmad, vol. 1 pg. 108/109, Also see: Majma’uz Zawaid, vol. 5 pg. 176)
Sayyiduna ‘Ali (radiyallahu ‘anhu) says, “It was said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Who should we appoint as leader after you’? Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, ‘If you appoint Abu Bakr, you will find him to be trustworthy, abstaining from this world and desirous of the Hereafter, and if you appoint ‘Umar, you will find him to be strong and trustworthy, he does not fear the rebuke/censure of the critic [when it comes to matters of Allah/Din], and if you appoint ‘Ali (radiyallahu ‘anhu), but I don’t think you would do so, you would find him to be a guide and rightly guided, he will take you/lead you on the straight path.'”
It is quite evident from this Hadith, that Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) did not clearly instruct the Sahabah as to who they should appoint, rather he indicated, by mentioning the merits of Sayyiduna Abu Bakr, Sayyiduna ‘Umar and Sayyiduna ‘Ali (radiyallahu ‘anhum). He entrusted the matter over to the Sahabah (radiyallahu ‘anhum) completely, trusting their judgement.
Since Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) mentioned Sayyiduna Abu Bakr (radiyallahu ‘anhu) first, he gave a subtle indication that he is preferred and will be the first khalifah.
When it came to Sayyiduna ‘Ali (radiyallahu ‘anhu) [after mentioning Sayyiduna ‘Umar], Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, ‘I don’t think you would do so’ i.e. After ‘Umar (radiyallahu ‘anhu), I don’t think you would appoint ‘Ali (radiyallahu ‘anhu), thereby indicating that there will be someone else as Khalifah, after Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radiyallahu’anhu). This was realised when Sayyiduna ‘Uthman (radiyallahu ‘anhu) was appointed before Sayyiduna ‘Ali (radiyallahu’anhu).
This could also mean that ‘I don’t think you would appoint ‘Ali (radiyallahu ‘anhu) as the first khalifah.
(Refer: Sharhut Tibi ‘Ala Mishkatil Masabih, Hadith: 6133, Mirqatul Mafatih, Hadith: 6133 and Hashiyatus Sindhi ‘Ala Musnadil Imam Ahmad, vol. 1 pg. 231/232)
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best.
Answered by: Moulana Suhail Motala
Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar