Foundation of The Caliphate
Umar's political genius first manifested as the architect of the caliphate after Muhammad died in 8 June 632. While the funeral of Muhammad was being arranged a group of Muhammad's followers who were natives of Medina, the Ansar (helpers), organised a meeting on the outskirts of the city, effectively locking out those companions known as Muhajirs (The Emigrants) including Umar. Umar found out about this meeting at Saqifah Bani Saadah, and taking with him two other Muhajirs, Abu Bakr and Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah, proceeded to the meeting, presumably to head off the Ansar's plans for political domination. Arriving at the meeting Umar was faced with a unified community of tribes from the Ansar who refused to accept the leadership of the Muhajirs. However Umar was undeterred in his belief the caliphate should be under the control of the Muhajirs. Though they Khazraj were in disagreement, Umar after strained negotiations lasting up to one or two days, brilliantly divided the Ansar into their old warring factions of Aws and Khazraj tribes, Umar resolved the divisions by placing his hand on that of Abu Bakr as a unity candidate for those gathered in the Saqifah, most others gathered at the Saqifah followed suit with the exception of the Khazraj tribe and their leader, Sa'd ibn 'Ubada, whose tribe was ostracized. The Khazraj tribe is said to have posed no significant threat as there were sufficient men of war from the Medinan tribes such as the Banu Aws to immediately organize them into a military bodyguard for Abu Bakr.
The creation of the Islamic caliphate would be one of Umar's most enduring legacies, and its significance to world history is hard to overestimate. However Umar himself was characteristically guarded about his own creation, Dr. Wilferd Madelung in his book The Succession to Muhammad summarising Umar's contribution:Umar judged the outcome of the Saqifa assembly to be a falta because of the absence of most of the prominent Muhajirun, including the Prophet's own family and clan, whose participation he considered vital for any legitimate consultation (shura, mashwara). It was, he warned the community, to be no precedent for the future. Yet he also defended the outcome, claiming that the Muslims were longing for Abu Bakr as for no one else. He apologized, moreover, that the Muhajirun present were forced to press for an immediate oath of allegiance since the Ansar could not have been trusted to wait for a legitimate consultation and might have proceeded to elect one of their own after the departure of the Mekkans. Another reason for Umar to censure the Saqifa meeting as a falta was no doubt its turbulent and undignified end, as he and his followers jumped upon the sick Khazraji leader Sa'd bin Ubada in order to teach him a lesson, if not to kill him, for daring to challenge the sole right of Quraysh to rule. This violent break-up of the meeting indicates, moreover, that the Ansar cannot all have been swayed by the wisdom and eloquence of Abu Bakr's speech and have accepted him as the best choice for the succession, as suggested by Caetani. There would have been no sense in beating up the Khazraji chief if everybody had come around to swearing allegiance to Umar's candidate. A substantial number of the Ansar, presumably of Khazraj in particular, must have refused to follow the lead of the Muhajirun.
According to various Twelver shia sources and some western scholars, Umar and Abu Bakr had in effect mounted a political coup against Ali at the Saqifah According to one version of narrations in primary sources, Umar and Abu Bakr are also said to have used force to secure the allegiance from Ali and his party. It has been reported in main early history sources such as history of al-Tabari that after Ali's refusal to pay homage, Abu Bakr sent Umar with an armed contingent to Fatimah’s house where Ali and his supporters are said to have gathered. Umar is reported to have warned those in the House that unless Ali succumbed to Abu Bakr, he would set the House on fire, with its inhabitants ablaze, and under these circumstances Ali was forced to capitulate. This version of events, fully accepted by Shia scholars, is generally rejected by Sunni scholars who in view of other reports in their literature believe that Ali gave oath of alliance to Abu Bakr without any grievance, However, according to the main Sunni sources such as Sahih al-Bukhari reports, Ali was reluctant to swear allegiance to Abu Bakr after the attack on his house but gave his allegiance six months later after the death of his wife Fatimah.
Western scholars tend to agree that Ali believed he had a clear mandate to politically succeed Muhammad, but offer differing views as to the extent of use of force by Umar in an attempt to intimidate Ali and his supporters, for instance, Dr. Wilferd Madelung in his book The Succession to Muhammad, discounts the possibility of use of force and argues that:Isolated reports of use of force against Ali and Banu Hashim who unanimously refuse to swear alligence for six months are probably to be discounted. Abu Bakr no doubt was wise enough to restrain Umar from any violence against them, well realizing that this would inevitably provoked the sense of solidarity of majority of Abdul Mannaf who’s acquiescence he needed. His policy was rather not isolating Banu Hashim as far as possible.
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