Author: Jaʻfar Sobhani
Reviewed by: Muhammad-Reza Fakhr-Rohani

Jaʻfar Sobhani, Saqīfah, Qum: Entesharat Towhid, 1392 Sh/ 2013. 232 pp.

Ayatollah Sobhani

Saqīfah was certainly one of the most scandalous and regrettable mishaps that took place in the early Islamic history, just immediately after the demise of the Prophet Muḥammad. It was in stark opposition to the event of Ghadir Khumm where the Prophet announced the Divine decision to select and nominate Imam ʻAlī as the immediate successor and the first Infallible Imam to the Prophet. The roots of the shameful event of Saqīfah go back to certain hypocrites and covert opponents of the Prophet who had decided to put aside Imam ʻAlī and to prevent him from reaching the status he had gained at Ghadir Khumm.


The book under review takes the reader to the details, backgrounds, and the aftermaths of the event of Saqīfah. First, it gives detailed information on Islamic caliphate and the views of those who believe in the Divine or prophetic assertions. In this regard, the book mentions several hadiths, particularly the Ghadir hadith, i.e., the Prophet’s sermon at Ghadir Khumm. This is followed by other Prophetic hadiths, e.g., the Superintendence (wilāyah) hadith, the Sublime Status (manzalah) hadith. Chapter Two turns to logic of those who believe in the criterion of selection, i.e., that the leader must be selected by people. In reality, the selection of Abu Bakr was never in effect of any public referendum. Instead, it was done by incessant threats of ʻUmar where only a few members of a council selected Abu Bakr as their leader. Chapter Three of the book deals with the aftermaths of leaving the issue of Muslim leadership to the (often ignorant) people who are easily entrapped and led astray by their whims and lusts. Chapter Four tackles certain verses which are misunderstood by those who insist on a council-based selection procedure. In fact, the event of Ghadir Khumm was never for selecting a leader; it was a public announcement of the leadership of Imam ʻAlī. Chapters Five and Six highlight the procedure of selecting a leader based on public oaths of allegiance and that those two lines emerged, one insisting on the Divine nomination of Imam ʻAlī and the other one which deliberately ignore any Divine act in this regard. The rest of the book deals with the aftermaths of Saqīfah and that in effect of the Saqīfah conspiracy, the leading opponents of the Prophet Muḥammad attacked the house of Imam ʻAlī and martyred his wife, Fāṭimah, the daughter of the Prophet Muḥammad.

It is historically well proved that the attacks unto the home of Imam ʻAlī and the martyrdom of his wife, Hz. Fāṭimah al-Zahrāʼ, took place shortly after the demise of the Prophet occurred in the reign of Abu Bakr. In this regard over 37 sources, mainly Sunni books and sources, are carefully cited and referenced.