Should the Prophet ﷺ have given the declaration in Makkah?

We arguably now come on to the most compelling evidence which every objective reader should ponder over when considering why the Prophet ﷺ may have felt hesitant to make the declaration in Mecca. On this occasion, we have no choice but to agree with the reasoning of Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf, and Umar ibn al-Khattab as narrated in Saheeh-al-Bukahri [1]

“I used to teach (the Qur’an to) some people of the Muhajirln (emigrants), among whom there was `Abdur Rahman bin `Auf. While I was in his house at Mina, and he was with `Umar bin Al-Khattab during `Umar’s last Hajj, `Abdur-Rahman came to me and said, “Would that you had seen the man who came today to the Chief of the Believers (`Umar), saying, ‘O Chief of the Believers! What do you think about so-and-so who says, ‘If `Umar should die, I will give the pledge of allegiance to such-and such person, as by Allah, the pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr was nothing but a prompt sudden action which got established afterwards.’ `Umar became angry and then said, ‘Allah willing, I will stand before the people tonight and warn them against those people who want to deprive the others of their rights (the question of rulership). `Abdur-Rahman said, “I said, ‘O Chief of the believers! Do not do that, for the season of Hajj gathers the riff-raff and the rubble, and it will be they who will gather around you when you stand to address the people. And I am afraid that you will get up and say something, and some people will spread your statement and may not say what you have actually said and may not understand its meaning, and may interpret it incorrectly, so you should wait till you reach Medina, as it is the place of emigration and the place of Prophet’s Traditions, and there you can come in touch with the learned and noble people, and tell them your ideas with confidence; and the learned people will understand your statement and put it in its proper place.’ On that, `Umar said, ‘By Allah! Allah willing, I will do this in the first speech I will deliver before the people in Medina.

There are significant parallels between what occurred with Umar ibn al-Khattab, and what occurred with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ.  If we consider the case of Umar ibn al-Khattab first, he had an opportunity to make a very important statement and warning in front those who were residents of Mecca, Medina, tribes from Southern Arabia, Northern Arabia, Iraq, Syria, and other conquered lands, pertaining to the issue of succesorship after him. Yet, Abdurahman ibn Awf recognises that among the people of Mecca, and those who have gathered from all over the empire for the Hajj, are many hypocrites, as well as those who may not be able to truly appreciate and recognise the significance of certain statements and declarations, nor put them in their proper place.

Some may accuse Umar ibn al-Khattab of one thing or another, distort his words, or use it to cause discord among the people against him. He is advised to wait until he reaches Medina, when people have already dispersed and he is only in the company of those who had spent the most amount of time with the Prophet ﷺ and had the greatest role in preserving his traditions. It is these individuals who would be able to put statements of great importance in their proper place. Umar ibn al-Khattab is pleased with his logic and agrees to it at once, and postpones his statement until he reaches Medina. We have already clearly demonstrated the insignificant role of those Muslims who converted at the conquest of Mecca and after this period in transmitting from the Prophet ﷺ – and so Abdurahman ibn Awf is correct in his claim.

The Prophet ﷺ was in a similar position. The people of Mecca who had abused and opposed him for most of his life had only just succumbed. Many of the tribes around Arabia – particularly the southern regions- had succumbed but with great hostility. There existed hypocrites in their large numbers, who may have accused him of trying to keep rule within his clan, or our of jealousy claim he is favouring a member of his own family. We do not here rule out that hypocrites all existed among those in Medina, and those travelling north of Mecca, however the situation was far graver when everyone had gathered in one place. 

One must also consider that by the time of Umar ibn Al Khattab, many of the apostate tribes of Yemen, Oman, Bahrain, T’aif and other regions had been dealt with in the Ridda wars. Furthermore, Islam had been in these lands for at least a decade, if not more than this. Despite this, Umar ibn Al Khattab was concerned about hypocrites from Mecca and those of surrounding regions not putting his statement in its proper place and misinterpreting it and causing mischief. Undoubtedly, the situation was graver at the time of the Prophet ﷺ whenMecca had only just been taken, and the neighbouring regions of Yemen, Ta’if and other regions had only just been conquered or had been fought with to submission, still harbouring hypocrites who would apostate during and after his death.

Indeed, we find from an authentic narration contained in al-Kafi [2] whereby the Prophet ﷺ is described as hesitating and being frightened he would be accused of lying – perhaps favouring his own cousin and wishing to procure rule for his own clan. No doubt it shows he was worried about people not putting his declaration and statement in its proper place, and assuming the Prophet ﷺ is essentially a man who has cunningly obtained power and now wants to ensure he has his own circle of blood-relatives share in that power, ruling over the others. Many people who had originally submitted to the Prophet ﷺ , apostated after his death, and the Ridda wars are evidence of this. 


“Allāh commanded Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) that he explains to them al-Wilāyah like he has explained to them al-Salāh, al-Zakāh, al-Sawm, al-Hajj. So when this came to him from Allāh, He tightened with that the Messenger of Allāh’s (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) chest, and he became frightened that people will apostate from their religion and they would (accuse) him of lying, and his chest became tightened, and he (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) returned to his Lord (عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ), and Allāh (عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ) revealed (wahy) to him – ‘O Messenger, convey what is revealed to you from your Lord. If you do not do so, it will be as though you have not conveyed My message. Allāh protects you from men.’ (5:67). So he (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) executed the command of Allāh (تعالى), and he mentioned and established the wilāyah of `Alī (عليه السلام) on the day of Ghadīr, and he called for a congregational salāh and commanded the people to convey what they witnessed to the absentees (i.e. convey the news of Wilāyah of `Alī to those who are not present)”





[1] Sahih al-Bukhari 6830, Book 86, Hadith 57/ Vol. 8, Book 82, Hadith 817 ENG

[2] Al Kafi – Kulayni. Usul-al-Kafi, Volume 1.