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Shura of Umar ibn al-Khattab.pdf NOTES ON AN ACCOUNT OF THE SHURA APPOINTED BY 'UMAR B. AL-KHATTAB By M. J. KISTER. Document no. 6 in Professor Nabia Abbott's Studies in Arabic Papyri,'1 dealing with the assassination of 'Umax and the appointment of the Shura (i.e. the council destined to settle the succession to the caliphate), is an important piece of early Islamic historiography. The papyrus has been admirably edited by Professor Abbott, who proves that it is a leaf from Ibn Ishaq's Ta'rtkb alKbulafd'. She has also added a translation and a valuable commentary and discusses in full the document's date, provenance, and significance. It seems, however, that a few passages were not correctly read, and since their accurate interpretation is of relevance for the understanding and evaluation of the historical events related in the text, they deserve to be examined in detail. Downloaded from at Hebrew University of Jerusalem on September 20, 2010 A sentence from the speech addressed, according to Ibn Ishaq, by the dying 'Umar t o ' Amr b. al-' As and remonstrating with him for trying to enter the Shura (second half of verso, line i ; p. 81, transl. p. 82) is read and translated by Abbott as follows: L V>J.» jJJ» lt_J- ~ » L, JJJU^ CMA> "and had you not coveted it for A Mu'awiyah it would not have been coveted by anyone who was set free [after the victory of Mecca]". She comments:2 So far no direct early parallel text has come to light in support of thia teamwork between 'Amr b. al-'As. and Mu'awiyah b. Abl Sufyan in reference to the caliphate at this early date. But confirmation of 'Umar's concern about Mu'awiyah's ambitions as well as about those of 'Abdallah b. Abl Rabfah are reflected in Ifdbab, n, 74 j in a passage that gives no indication of its earlier sources. Mu'awiyah's caliphal ambitions, according to Mu'awiyah himself, are said to date back to a conversation between him and Muhammad, whom he quotes as saying: "Should you be in command, fear God and render justice" using, it should be noted, some of the very terms that TJmar used in addressing 'All and TJthmin. Cf. 'Iqd, n, 229; Navawi, p. 565; Ifdbab, m, 887. 1 1 VoL 1, Historical Texts (Chicago, 1957). P. 85, verso 1 1-2. L 320 . THE SHURA APPOINTED BY 'UMAR B. AL-KHATTAB For the crucial word read by Abbott fami'ta Dietrich proposes in his corrections satia'ta;1 this would not affect Professor Abbott's proposition about the "team-work between 'Amr b. al-'As and Mu'awiyah". The correct reading is, however, sana'tu: what I did for Mu'awiyah, not one of the tulaqd'2 would have coveted it [i.e. the caliphate]." The passage recto 1. 17 to verso 1. 2 consists of two statements by "Umax. The first is a pronouncement that he would not have as Caliph anyone who had carried arms against the Prophet. This statement has its parallel in al-Baladhuri's Ansdb, v, 17 (as quoted by Abbott) and in Ansdb, MS. 860 £; in both cases it is reported on the authority of al-Waqidl.3 The second statement, with which we are now dealing, is elucidated by al-Baladhuri in a significant report in Ansdb, MS. 86o£: AJJI JU* ^ J jjli. \J jJ. t, JJJU^ c**+ U Vjij; which means: "were it not for Downloaded from at Hebrew University of Jerusalem on September 20, 2010 ^dkJI ^ JUJ & j - i T frt. tfOil^JI Muh. b. Sa'd>al W5qidi'>KathIr b. Zaid*>al MufiaUb b. 'Abdallah.* 'Umar said: "This affair [i.e. the Caliphate] is notfitfor the fulaqd' nor the sons of the ptlaqd'. Had I foreseen [the course of] my affair as I do now that I see the consequences of it, Yazld b. Abl Sufyfin and Mu'awiyah b. Abl Sufyan would not have coveted to be appointed as governors of Syria." According to this tradition TJmar on his death-bed regrets that he appointed Mu'awiyah as governor of Syria: and that is exactly the idea expressed in our text in verso 1. 1. On the point of death hejsees the consequences of appointing to high posts pdaqa' of thi type of Mu'awiyah and 'Abdallah b. Abl RabVah: they are dangerous for orthodox Islam; they have grown so Der Islam (1959), p. 205. UA. s.v. flq gives two opinions about the mining of the word; cf. also Ibn 'Abd al-Barr, d-httiqi', p. 50. 1 I could not find die undd "traced back again to 'Amr b. Maimun" (Abbott, op. tit. p. 8j, L 1) in the work of al-BaladhurL 4 See Tabdtib al-Tabdtib, vra, 414; he was the transmitter of al-Muftalib b. 'Abdallah b. al-Hantab. ! 1 See IfSbab, no. 4627 (s.v. 'Abdallah b. al-Hantab) and no. 8021 (s.v. alMuftalib b. al-Hantab); and see UA. s.v. frnfb; Tabdtib, x, 178; DH&1 alq, p. 92, ed. al-SawL 1 1 321 THE SHURA APPOINTED BY 'UMAR B. AL-KHATTAB powerful that in the event of disagreement among the men of the Shura they are in a position to intervene and even seize power. The passage qtioted by Abbott in her comment on verso 1-2 (mentioned above) and in her comment on verso 3-4 (p. 85), from the Isabab, n, 745 (the biographical notice of 'AbdaJlah b. Abl Rabfah; in ed. Cairo 1907—vol. rv, 64 inf., no. 4662) also contains a warning by IJmar. The passage in question reads: fl£J1 And it is said that TJmar told the men of the ShurS: "Do.not disagree among yourselves, for if you disagree Mu'iwiyah will enter upon you from Syria, and 'Abdallah b. Abl Rabfah from the Yemen. They will not respect the fact that you were the first to accept Islam"..., etc Abbott remarks (comments on verso 1-2, 3-4) that the source of this report is not specified. Fortunately, however, it can be discovered. Ibn 'Asakir quotes this very report in the article "Mu'awiyah", 1 f. 125 a,under the following isndd: Ibn Sa'd>Muh. b. IJmar (Le. al-WaqidI)>Kathlr b. Zaid>'Abdallah b. al-Hantab> IJmar. This is exactly the same isndd as given by al-Baladhuri for 'Umar's warning quoted above (p. 3 21) from the Ansdb, MS. 860 b. Another such warning is included in the report of Sufyan b. IJyayna2 told on the authority of Abu Harun (Le. Mas'ud b. alHakam -al-MadanI).3 Here 'Umar warns the men of the Shura not to disagree among themselves lest Mu'awiyah seize power [i.e. the Caliphate] for himself (yastabiddubd dunaJb/m).* Downloaded from at Hebrew University of Jerusalem on September 20, 2010 In a remarkable tradition told on the authority of Hablb b. Abl Thabit (see below, p. 326, n. 1) 'AH is said to have stated that he accepted the Caliphate only for fear that a billy-goat from among the Banu Umayya might leap at it and play with the book of Allah.5 All these reports are clearly anti-Umayyad. The same tendency is clearly reflected in a peculiar conversation between al-Aswadt. Yazld6 and 'A'isha. He asked 'A'isha: "Do you not wonder how a rnan from among the pdaq&'~ass. contend for the Caliphate against the Companions of the Prophet?" 'A'isha answered: " Why do you wonder at it? It is the power (sultan) of Allah, He 1 This article was copied for die late Dr Schloessinger from die Damascus MS. * See al-Khatlb's TSrIkbBag/)ddd, tx, 174. » See TabtUab aJ-Tabdtib, x, 116. * Ibn 'Asikir, op. fit. € 114b. 6 s, ^i-BaUdhnd, Aniab, MS. 1584. IfSbab, 1, 108. 322 THE SHURA APPOINTED BY 'UMAR B. AL-KHATTAB grants it to the pious and the wicked; Fir'aun ruled Egypt for 400 years."1 Abbot remarks that "Mu'awiyah's caliphal amb'itions, according to Mu'awiyah himself, are said to date back to a conversation between him and Muhammad" (see above, p. 320). This tradition cannot serve, however, to establish the date at which Mu'awiyah actually began planning to win the Caliphate, since traditions about the Prophet foretelling the rule of Mu'awiyah, exhortations of the Prophet on behalf of Mu'awiyah, and the enumeration of his virtues by the Prophet, are fabrications of Umayyad propaganda. Traditions of this kind are found in al-BalldhurTs Ansdb1 and in Ibn 'Asakir's Tctrikh.3 There is a curious tradition, breathing the spirit of the Jahiliyya, in which the Prophet is said to have given Mu'awiyah an arrow with which he would meet him in Paradise.* Another specimen of transparent Umayyad fabrication is given in al-Baladhurfs Ansdb, MS. 374<*, on the authority of Abu Hurayra: Gabriel told the Prophet: "God entrusted the revelation to me, to you and to Mu'awiyah."* In conclusion it may be said that, if correctly interpreted, the papyrus contains no evidence of collaboration between Mu'awiyah and 'Amr b. al-'As. The passage discussed stresses the background of the pdaqcT and purports to prove that TJmar considered their regime as a menace to Islam; it shows, as has already been pointed out by Sir Hamilton Gibb in bis review of Abbott's book,6 an anti-Umayyad tendency.7 Ibn 'Asikir, op. eit. f. 1300; the tradition about the fubufd' mentioned by Abbott, op. eit. p. 85, L 23, is told by Ibn Abzi (sit, not Ibn Aim)—nee Tabdtib al-Tabdtib, vi, 132 note 2 inf.; some anti-Umayyad traditions are recorded in al-Suyutfs aJ-Dttrr al-mMtbSr, rv, 191. 1 See Levi della Vida-Pinto: HCaBffo Mu'dwiyab, 1, nos. 319, 322, 321, 323 and 316 n.; and see Pellat: "Le cnlte de Mu'awiyah au Hie siede", Studia Islamiea, vi, 5 3-66 (esp. pp. 56-7). 1 Op. eit. chapter "Mu'awiyah". 4 Ibn 'Asikir, op. eit. p. 118; and see Fracnkel, "Das Schutzrecht der Araber", Or. Stud. NSldeke, 1, 294. 5 6 Levi della Vida-Pinto, op. eit. no. 320. J.N.ES. xvn, 222-4. 7 It may be pointed out that 'Abdallah b. Abl Rabfah was governor, not of Najd (p. 8 j , L 20), but of Janad in Yemen; c£ Ibn 'Abd al-Barr, al-Isfl'db, no. 1515; al-Baladhud, Ansib, MS. 8040. Verso L 4: read djxi^^i instead of djjj^-i. Verso L 5 is readout UU 1 3 » and translated: "They asked: 'What ^1 is it you wish [to say]'"; Dietrich tookfa-amma to be a slip of the scribe and proposed fa-mi (Dtr Islam, 1959, p. 205). The correct reading is, however, £*,:.*. U J i \ji\i : "They said: 'Say what you wish [to say]'." 1 Downloaded from at Hebrew University of Jerusalem on September 20, 2010 THE SHURA APPOINTED BY 'UMAR B. AL-KHATTAB II Professor Abbott transcribes verso II. I O - I I , a passage of 'Uthm5n's speech in which he defends himself from al-Miqdad's attacks, as follows: This is translated: "So the Messenger of God—may God bless him and give him peace—took the oath for me by grasping his (own) left hand (furthermore) the Messenger of God specified bounty to come to me." Dietrich accepts this reading, adding only J before *JJI JJ-J in 1. u . 1 The correct reading of the passage is, however, as follows: " So the Messenger of Allah—may Allah bless him and give him peace—took the oath for me by grasping his [own] left hand, and the left hand of the Messenger of Allah is better [than]2 my right hand." This indeed is the expression which occurs in 'Uthmin's answer to 'Abd al-Rahman b. 'Auf as reported by al-Zurqanl in his Sbarfr al-Mao/dbib1 Downloaded from at Hebrew University of Jerusalem on September 20, 2010 Commenting on this passage containing al-Miqdad's attack on 'Uthman, Abbott remarks that "the direct attack of al-Miqdad on IJthman and the bitter's speech in defence of himself are nowhere reported in this setting, though the substance of the passage is frequently met with in the sources in various other settings and versions ". 4 Abbott suggests that the passage may be traced to the lost work of 'Awana on the Umayyad dynasty, and repeats that "Miqdad is nowhere else in the sources associated directly with the passage. Neither does the passage itself appear in any of the sources in connexion with 'Uthman at the time of the elective council".5 These remarks are correct as far as Sunn! sources are concerned. This account, however, seems to be of ShTite character, and is in fact found in the Amdti of al-Shaykh al-Mufld (died 413 A.H.) 6 1 (1959), p. 205. min was dropped; other such omissions are discussed by Abbott, p. 83 inf. ' VoL n, 208; for various other versions see: Ibn Katbir, Tafdr, iv, 186; also al-Suyuft Ta'rikb ai-Kbulafd, p. 152. • Op. fit. p. 86 (comments on verso 7-1 j). * Ibid. p. 96. « Ed-Najaf 1367A.H., p. 66. 3*4 THE SHURA APPOINTED BY 'UMAR B. AL-KHATTAB and copied in the Bihar aJ-Anwar.1 The report in the AmaG reads as follows: J l i i *JJI JL-^—J ^JL53I jj_J$ll ^ 1 ^J! JUJ . ij,u .^ ^ ilJOJI . 1 * tfj^DJ JIJJI p i l > * jj U ; tfx* J) ou UJ Downloaded from at Hebrew University of Jerusalem on September 20, 2010 I •** J i - * » = . . .Habib b. Abl Thibit said: When the people assembled in the court to attend the ShurS, al-Miqdad b. al-Aswad al-Kindl raiti^ and said: "Take me in, for I have some advice to give for the sake of God and your own good!" They refused. Then he said: "Let me put my head [in the door] and listen to me." They refused. Then he said: " Since you have refused I recommend [at least that you] do not swear allegiance to a man who was not present at Badr, did not swear the Ridwin oath of allegiance, who was put to flight at the battle of Uhud and at the battle when the two arming met." Whereupon IJthman said: "Should I become ruler [Le. caliph] I will return you to your first master."1 When death came upon al-MiqdSd he said: "Triform TJthmin that I am going to be returned to my first and last Master." When TJthman was informed of his death he ram*^ stood at his grave and said: "God grant you His mercy, you were [sciL excellent], you were [excellent]"—extolling him thus. Al-Zubayr recited to him [TJthman]: I know that you will bewail me after my death But in my lifetime you did not provide me with provision. VoL vm, 352. The verse is attributed to 'Abld b. al-Abras (see Divan, ed. Husayn Na$sit, p. 48). J He was a poJlfof the Band Zuhta; see Ifdbob, no. 8179. 1 1 3*5 THE SHURA APPOINTED BY 'UMAR B. AL-KHATTAB 'Uthmin then said: " O Zubayr, do you think that I would want such a. Companion of Muhammad—may Allah bless him and give him peace— to die while wrodi with me?" The setting in the Am&K of al-Mufld and the role played by alMiqdad are the same as in the papyrus text of Ibn Ishaq; in the account of the Amali, however, 'Uthman resorts to threats instead of defending himsf.lfThere is no doubt that the account in Ibn Ishlq's work is of ShTite character. It is enough to note that one of the transmitters of the account, TJbayd Allah b. Musa al-'Abs! was a notorious inventor of ShTite traditions.1 Gibb rightly classifies Ibn Ishaq's account as Shfite Dicbtmg.2 It may be mentioned that alJahi? denies the authenticity of all the traditions transmitted on the authority of al-Miqdad which support the rights of 'All to the caliphate or deny those of Abu Bakr. Al-Jahi? stresses that alMiqdad bore a grudge against 'All because 'AH tried to prevent the marriage of al-Miqdad with al-Duba'ah bint al-Zubayr b. 'Abd al-Muttalib.3 All in all it is difficult to share Abbott's opinion that the account in the papyrus "gives no inkling of partiality for either of these two major candidates and hence calls into question the accusation that Ibn Ishaq favoured the Shi'ite religio-political party". 4 On the contrary, the text preserved in the papyrus clearly shows bis ShTite inclinations.5 See TabdUb al-Tabdtib, v n , 50-3. J.N.RS. x v n , 2*4. J Al-'Utbm&ujya (ed. 'Abd al-Sal4m Hlrttn), pp. 180-1. 4 Op. fit. p. 97. 5 In 1L 11-12 of the verso the correct reading is neither t&kinaUm nor s&kitatan as suggested by Abbott, nor tHsdkintdm as suggested by Dietrich, but sbdkiyatm; in fact the other sources have maridattn, or vql'atm (in al-B&ihaql, al-Swum al-Kxbrd, vi, 293), which are synonyms of sbdktyattm. 1 1 Downloaded from at Hebrew University of Jerusalem on September 20, 2010 326