Succession of the Prophet and the issue of Qirtas | 23rd March 2019
Was the Prophet denied a chance to record a last testament before his death by his own companions? The issue of qirtas, refers to the incident at the end of the Prophet’s life when he asked his companions for a pen and paper to record something but was refused, which has been an ideological dividing line for the Shia and the ahl al-Sunna. Shia scholars maintain that the Prophet wished to write down the successorship of Imam Ali whilst Sunni scholars refute this understanding.
The first Centre for Intra Muslim Studies (CIMS) meeting on the topic was led by Shaykh Muhammad Umar Bin Ramadhan who presented different arguments regarding the issue of qirtas put forth by Sunni scholars. He stressed the importance of gatherings where scholars of both sides can come together for academic discussions on topics which have historically been a source of conflict and commended AMI for providing such a forum.
Shaykh Muhammad argued that although there are solitary narrations the Prophet wanted to record something, it was not related to succession. He reasoned that the issue of succession is so great that the Prophet would have insisted because it would have been his duty to convey the message. However, according to the narration when the Prophet asked for a pen and paper Umar ibn Khattab said that he was unwell and that the book of God is sufficient guidance. When his companions began arguing the Prophet said it was not appropriate for them to raise their voices and ordered them to leave. If he wanted to write something so fundamental to the wellbeing of the Muslim Ummah, he would have corrected Umar ibn Khattab as he had done on previous occasions and persisted. Thus, the Prophet wanted to convey something personal, and not something which had been revealed to him regarding the leadership after him. The final revelation of the verses of the Quran which occurred a few days prior to the incident stating, ‘We have not missed anything from the book’, support this view and provide a justification as to why Umar ibn Khattab insisted that the book of God is enough.
Shaykh Muhammad Umar is the Chairman of Ramadhan Foundation. He has been granted an authorisation in all his certificates, commonly known as ijaza al-amm by the late Grand Muhaddith of the Haramain, al-Sharif Al- Sayyid Muhammad al-Hasan ibn Alawi al Makki al Maliki. With a high media profile focused on imparting Islamic knowledge to both Muslims and non-Muslims alike one of his central messages is to promote tolerance and peaceful co-existence
Discussion and Q&A:
Pictures of the event can be viewed here