Situated 200m west of Masjid-e-Nabwi, the Saqeefah garden belonged to the Banu Sa’edah and is where the Muslims consulted regarding who should be appointed the Caliphate after the demise of the Prophet (ﷺ). It is presently a library.
- Confusion reined among the Sahabah as a result of the devastating impact of the death of the Prophet (ﷺ) and the most significant dispute that arose was choosing the Prophet’s (ﷺ) successor. Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) thought that he was within his rights to succeed the Prophet because he had been close to him from the beginning of his mission. He withdrew to his house with Talha and Zubair (may Allah be pleased with them). The Ansar (Helpers) had gathered at Saqeefah Banu Sa’edah to discuss the question of succession and felt that it should be one of them as they had protected Islam and offered a home for the Prophet (ﷺ) and his companions when they were persecuted by their own people.
- When news of this dispute reached Abu Bakr and Umar (may Allah be pleased with them), they rushed from Masjid-e-Nabwi to Saqeefah Banu Sa’edah accompanied by a group of Muhajireen (Emigrants). The Ansar were on the verge of pledging allegience to Sa’d ibn Ubadah (may Allah be pleased with him). They re-iterated the right of the Ansar to the leadership of the Muslims but Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) spoke about the gravity of the problem. He pointed out that the matter did not concern the citizens of Madinah alone; it was a matter of concern for all the Arabs who had become Muslims, who were not likely to accept the leadership of the Ansars, particularly when there were differences among the two principal tribes of the Ansars themselves.
- Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) pointed out that under the circumstances the Quraysh, who were the custodians of the Ka’bah could alone provide the leadership for the Muslim community. Addressing his appeal to the Ansar he said: “O Ansar, none can deny the superiority of your position in religion or the greatness of your eminence in Islam. You were chosen by Allah as the helpers of His religion and His Apostle. To you the Prophet (ﷺ) was sent on his emigration from Makkah and from you come the majority of his companions and his wives. Indeed in position you are next only to the earliest companions. Therefore it would be fair if we take the Caliphate and you accept the ministry. You should not be obstinate in your stand. We assure you that we will do nothing without consulting you.”
- Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) then caught the hand of Umar and Abu Ubaidah bin Jarrah and said, “I choose either of these two to be our Amir”. “One Amir from among us and one from among you,” someone from among the Ansar suggested. People began to raise their voices until finally Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) intervened saying, ”O Helpers, know ye not that the Messenger of Allah ordered Abu Bakr to lead the prayer?”. “We know it,” they answered, and he said: “Then which of you will willingly take precedence over him?”. “Allah forbid that we take precedence over him!” they said whereupon Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) seized the hand of Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) and pledged allegiance to him, followed by Abu Ubaidah (may Allah be pleased with him) and others of the Emigrants who had now joined them. Then all the Helpers who were present likewise pledged their allegiance to Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him). Only Sa’d ibn Ubadah (may Allah be pleased with him) did not offer allegiance.
- Whatever they had decided in the hall, it would have been unacceptable for anyone to have led the prayers in Masjid-e-Nabwi other than Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) so long as he was there. The next day at dawn, before leading the prayer, he sat in the pulpit and Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) rose and addressed the assembly, bidding them pledge their allegiance to Abu Bakr, whom he described as “the best of you, the Companion of Allah’s Messenger, the second of two when they were both in the cave.” A recent Revelation of the Quran had recalled the privilege of Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) to have been the Prophet’s sole companion at this crucial moment; and with one voice the whole congregation swore allegiance to him – all except Ali (may Allah be pleased with him), who did so later.
- Some months later, Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) said to Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him): “We know well thy pre-eminence and what Allah has bestowed upon thee, and we are not jealous of any benefit that He hath caused to come unto thee. But thou didst confront us with a thing accomplished, leaving us no choice, and we felt that we had some claim therein for our nearness of kinship unto the Messenger of Allah.” Then Abu Bakr’s (may Allah be pleased with him) eyes filled with tears and he said: “By Him in whose hand is my soul, I had rather that all should be well between me and the kindred of Allah’s Messenger than between me and mine own kindred”; and at noon that day in the masjid he publicly exonerated Ali for not yet having recognised him as Caliph, whereupon Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) affirmed the right of Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) and pledged his allegiance to him.
References: Muhammad – Martin Lings, When the Moon Split – Safiur Rahman Mubarakpuri, AlMiskeenah.com