Fact One - The Holy Prophet (s.w.s) asked that writing materials be brought to him and Umar opposed the instruction
This is one of the traditions we read in Sahih al-Bukhari (the others which provide more detail will be shown shortly) as narrated by Ibn 'Abbas:
When the time of the death of the Prophet approached while there were some men in the house, and among them was 'Umar Ibn al-Khattab, the Prophet said: "Come near let me write for you a writing after which you will never go astray." 'Umar said: "The Prophet is seriously ill, and you have the Qur'an, so Allah's Book is sufficient for us." The people in the house differed and disputed. Some of them said, "Come near so that Allah's Apostle may write for you a writing after which you will not go astray," while the others said what 'Umar said. When they made much noise and quarreled greatly in front of the Prophet, he said to them, "Go away and leave me." Ibn 'Abbas used to say, "It was a great disaster that their quarrel and noise prevented Allah's Apostle from writing a statement for them.
Sahih al Bukhari Arabic-English Volume 9 hadith number 468 and Volume 7 hadith 573
Fact Two - The instruction was refused and questions were raised over the mental state of the Prophet (s.w.s)
"Thursday! And you know not what Thursday is?" After that Ibn 'Abbas wept till the stones on the ground were soaked with his tears. On that I asked Ibn 'Abbas, "What is (about) Thursday?" He said, "When the condition (i.e. health) of Allah's Apostle deteriorated, he said, 'Bring me a bone of scapula, so that I may write something for you after which you will never go astray.' The people differed in their opinions although it was improper to differ in front of a prophet. They said, 'What is wrong with him? Do you think he is talking no sense (delirious)? Ask him (to see if he is talking no sense). The Prophet replied, 'Leave me, for I am in a better state than what you are asking me.' Then the Prophet ordered them to do three things saying: 'Turn out all the pagans from the Arabian Peninsula, show respect to all foreign delegates by giving them gifts as I used to do.' The third order was something beneficial which either Ibn 'Abbas did not mention or he mentioned but I forgot!.
Sahih al Bukhari Arabic-English Volume 9 hadith number 468 and Volume 4 hadith 393
Fact Three – This was a major episode
"the first dispute that took place during the Prophet's sickness, according to what the Imam Abu Abdullah Muhammad b. Isma'il al-Bukhari relates on the authority of Abdullah b. Abbas, is as follows: When the last sickness of the Prophet became acute, he said, 'Bring me an inkpot and writing material; I shall write something for you so that you will not be led astray after my departure'. Umar said, 'the Prophet has been overcome by pain, God's Book is sufficient for us'. A noisy argument arose among those gathered; whereupon the Prophet said 'Go away there should be no quarrelling in my presence'. Ibn Abbas says, 'What a tragedy which prevented us from having some writing of the Prophet!".
Al Mihal al Nahal, by Allamah Muhuummud b. Add'al Karim Shahrastani, page 18 - English translation by A.K.Kazi and J.G.Flynn (publishers Kegan Paul International, First Edition 1984)
Muslim presents various narratives of the event in the Book of Wills:
Sa'id b. Jubair reported that Ibn 'Abbas said: Thursday, (and then said): What is this Thursday? He then wept so much that his tears moistened the pebbles. I said: Ibn 'Abbas, what is (significant) about Thursday? He (Ibn 'Abbas) said: The illness of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) took a serious turn (on this day), and he said: Come to me, so that I should write for you a document that you may not go astray after me. They (the Companions around him) disputed, and it is not right to dispute in the presence of the Apostle. They said: How is he (Allah's Apostle)? Has he lost his consciousness? Try to learn from him (this point). He (the Holy Prophet) said: Leave me. I am better in the state (than the one in which you are engaged). I make a will about three things: Turn out the polytheists from the territory of Arabia; show hospitality to the (foreign) delegations as I used to show them hospitality. He (the narrator) said: He (Ibn Abbas) kept silent on the third point, or he (the narrator) said: But I forgot that.
Sahih Muslim Book 013, Number 4014
Sa'id b. Jubair reported from Ibn Abbas that he said: Thursday, and what about Thursday? Then tears began to flow until I saw them on his cheeks as it they were the strings of pearls. He (the narrator) said that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: Bring me a shoulder blade and ink-pot (or tablet and inkpot), so that I write for you a document (by following which) you would never go astray. They said: Allah's Messenger (may peace upon him) is in the state of unconsciousness.
Sahih Muslim Book 013, Number 4015
Ibn Abbas reported: When Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) was about to leave this world, there were persons (around him) in his house, 'Umar b. al-Kbattab being one of them. Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) said: Come, I may write for you a document; you would not go astray after that. Thereupon Umar said: Verily Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) is deeply afflicted with pain. You have the Qur'an with you. The Book of Allah is sufficient for us. Those who were present in the house differed. Some of them said: Bring him (the writing material) so that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) may write a document for you and you would never go astray after him. And some among them said what 'Umar had (already) said. When they indulged in nonsense and began to dispute in the presence of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him), he said: Get up (and go away) 'Ubaidullah said: Ibn Abbas used to say: There was a heavy loss, indeed a heavy loss, that, due to their dispute and noise. Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) could not write (or dictate) the document for them.
Sahih Muslim Book 013, Number 4016
- "The Messenger of God said bring me a tablet (lawh) and an inkpot (dawat), so that I can write for you a document, after which you will not go astray ... Some people said that The Messenger of God was talking deliriously".
- Sunni References:
- Tarikh al-Tabari, Volume 9 translated by Ismail. K. Poonawala p 175
When Umar claimed that there was no need for Muhammad's statement since the Muslims had the Qur'an, Ibn Abbas allegedly rushed out crying. There he met Ubaidullah ibn Abdullah. According to him, Ibn Abbas used to say,
- '"No doubt, it was a great disaster that Allah's Apostle was prevented from writing for them that writing because of their differences and noise."
Sahih Bukhari 59.717