Did the Prophet ﷺ not deliver his message to the majority of muslims?


A common contention against the Shia interpretation of Ghadeer Khumm centres around who would have been present to hear the declaration. This line of argumentation states that anyone travelling south of Mecca would not have followed the Prophet ﷺ when he was travelling north on his way back to Medina. The contention is therefore that those in Mecca, as well as individuals from Yemen, T’aif, Najran, Oman among other major southern locations would have not logically followed him when the route back to their homes was in the direction opposite. Thus it is concluded that if he truly intended to appoint Ali ibn Abi Talib عليهم السلام as his successor, it would surely have been done in Mecca when all of the muslims would had been present and when the Prophet ﷺ would have had a large audience.

Our response to this will clearly demonstrate why there would have been comparatively fewer Muslims from these southern regions, as well as a greater proportion of hypocrites and those who had only recently converted. Not only were there fewer muslims, but among those who converted there were greater proportions of hypocrites. As for Mecca, we will dedicate a separate piece discussing it – and within it concluding why the Prophet ﷺ was justified by several compelling reasons as to why he did not deliver it in Mecca.  

 

We will dissect this section by analysing each individual southern region in the following manner:

 

1. Yemen with districts such as [San’aa, Ma’rib, Al-Jund, Hamdhaan, Zama, Zabeed, Jarsh, Hadramaut, As-Sakaasik and As-Sukoon]

2. T’aif

3. Oman

4. Najran

5.  Kufa, Syria and other locations

6.  Summary

 

Yemen with districts such as [San’aa, Ma’rib, Al-Jund, Hamdhaan, Zama, Zabeed, Jarsh, Hadramaut, As-Sakaasik and As-Sukoon]

 

The Messenger of Allah  has sent Khalid ibn Walid to Yemen in order to try to bring order to it and invite them towards Islam. Khalid ibn Walid had failed in his attempt to try to gain victory in Yemen and Ali ibn Abi Talib  عليهم السلام was instead sent in his place to try to secure a victory and then immediately join the Prophet for Hajj. It is clear therefore that of those who converted, they would have been very new to the religion, and thus could not have been expected to constitute large numbers towards the Hajj. We do not deny there exist traditions whereby the Prophet  appointed a gathering place for Pilgrims from Yemen – but this in itself does not prove the sound inference we have made here.

It is also worthy to mention that many did not convert to Islam, and many who did may only have done so for political reasons. We evidence this by the fact that the first region to apostate within the lifetime of the Prophet ﷺ was Yemen, led by the self-proclaimed Prophet ‘al-Aswad’ [1]. After hearing of the death of Muhammed  there were further rebellions from this region [2].  Not only was Yemen one of the very last regions to succumb, it was one of the first to rebel both within and after the life of the Prophet ﷺ. 

 

T’aif

 

T’aif is another region south of Mecca, and one which cause every Muslim to remember the humiliating treatment inflicted on the Prophet  during the early period of his prophethood there. It holds a poignant history, when Muhammed  had attempted to find a place of safety and security after persecution and exile by the Meccan polytheists who were then under the leadership of the staunch enemy of the Prophet , Abu Sufiyan. Furthermore, this region was one of the last to submit to Islam, and contained  those soldiers who had fled from the Battle of Hunayn. Once they were back in their homeland of T’aif, they had built forts and strengthened their defences. When the Muslims attempted to attack them, they found they incurred many challenges in doing so , and in turn claimed the lives of many Muslims.

Ibn Hisham states:“As the Muslims camp was just within the range of arrows shot from the rampart of Taif, the Prophet transferred it to another side of the city. The siege continued for some twenty-five to thirty nights during which the two opponents fought tooth and nail to get the better of one another as they traded a barrage of arrows. The Prophet  , used for the first time catapults in the siege of Taif whose ingress and egress were completely blocked. The arrows shot by the enemy took its toll on the lives of several Muslims.” [3]  

Thus, at the very end of the life of the Prophet , T’aif still remained a region which harboured those who had been staunch enemies of the , with the last encounter being an inconclusive battle. T’aif was far from a region containing a stronghold of muslims like in Medina, and if those who may have converted our of fear or for political reasons may have constituted part of the contingent of hypocrites in Mecca. This is not to claim there were no genuine Muslims , but rather we must observe this region through a realistic and not idealistic lens.

 

Oman

 

Oman is a region that is to the south-east of Mecca and one of the very last regions to have submitted to Islam. Shortly after the passing away of the Prophet ﷺ and rebelled through the ,dominant tribe of Azd their chief Laqeet bin Malik [4] . This is hardly compelling evidence for the piety, spread, and strength of Islam in this region. Like Yemen and T’aif, it had only succumbed during the very last year or so of the life of the Prophet , and additionally contained either very newly converted muslims or dominant groups of hypocrites and those that may have politically submitted for political justifications or out of lack of options. Once more we do not deny there were genuine converts in the region, but one must examine this in a holistic manner. 

 

Najran

 

It is due to a lack of geopolitical and historical context that one assumes Najran had any sizeable Muslim following during the period of the farewell Hajj. Najran is a region south of Mecca and Yemen, and was the home to a Christian community who famously had almost entered into a Mubahila (المباهلة‎) [mutual invocation of Gods curse on the wrongdoers] with the Prophet ﷺ in the very last year of his life, and a short period before the farewell hajj. They had decided not to go through with the Mubahila. Upon seeing the Prophet ﷺ bringing Ali ibn Abi Talib  عليهم السلام, Fatima  عليهم السلام, Hasan  عليهم السلام and Hussain  عليهم السلام and instead the region submitted to the Prophet  and paid the Jizya tax and were thus now under the protection of the Muslims. This Christian dominant region would not have been occupied by many Muslims at this time.

 

Kufa, Syria and other locations

 

Though many writing on this matter have rightly pointed out that Kufa did not embrace Islam until after the death of the Prophet , a number have erroneously included this region. Unfortunately, this is an error on part of many refutations on Ghadeer – they often do not fully appreciate the geographic and historical context.

 

Summary

 

It has been clearly demonstrated that the regions of Yemen, Oman, T’aif and Najran only submitted very shortly after the farewell Hajj, and staunchly opposed the Prophet and even then only surrendered as a last resort. Most of these regions contained a large number of continuing hostile tribes many of whom rebelled after the Prophet  has passed away. Thus, those muslims who were anywhere south of Mecca would have only comprised of a small fraction of the total present during the farewell Hajj rather than being a large percentage. There is good evidence to suggest of those who converted a sizeable number may not have truly accepted Islam, owing to the rebellions and wars of apostasy after the passing away of the Prophet .  It is therefore no surprise – as we will come to in later sections – that Muhammed  was worried about the hypocrites who would distort his message and accusing him of lying and favouring his cousin , or keeping power in the family.

A special section has been devoted specifically for Mecca, as it is a region which requires an deeper analysis which will be covered later  إِنْ شَاءَ ٱللَٰه where we will conclude as to compelling reasons why Muhammed ﷺ may not have delivered the proclamation at Mecca.

 

 

References:

[1] Michael M.J. Fischer, Mehdi Abedi (1990). Debating Muslims: Cultural Dialogues in Postmodernity and Tradition. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 193, 194.

[2] Ahmed, Mufti (2007-12-01). Encyclopaedia of Islam. Anmol Publications Pvt Ltd.

[3] Ibn Hisham, Vol. II, pp. 478-83.

[4] Muhammad Rajih Jad’an, Abu Bakr As-Siddiq. Retrieved August 26, 2006.