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Hadith of the pen and paper

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Hadith of the pen and paper
Arabicرزية يوم الخميس
RomanizationRaziyat Yawm al-Khamis
Literal meaningThe Calamity of Thursday
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This is a sub-article to the Succession to Muhammad.

The Hadith of the pen and paper refers to an event where the Islamic prophet Muhammad expressed a wish to write something down shortly before his death, but was refused and insulted by Umar. The hadith is referenced in both Shia and Sunni traditions,[1] and the event has been called "one of the most hideous scenes in the history of Islam."[2]

This event is also referred to as "The Calamity of Thursday" (Arabic: Raziyat Yawm al-Khamis).[3]


Muhammad became ill in the year 632 and his health took a serious turn on a Thursday. It is reported that Muhammad asked for writing materials to write a statement that would prevent the Muslim nation from going astray forever. Umar replied, insulting Muhammad by saying, "Stop! He is speaking in delirium. The book of Allah is sufficient for us."[4][5] Umar's insult of Muhammad is viewed to go against the Qur'an, which says in Chapter 53, Verses 3 and 4 that "Nor does he (Muhammad) say (anything) of (his own) desire. It is no less than inspiration sent down to him."[6]

Some of those present told Umar, "Obey the instructions of the Messenger of Allah," and an argument broke out.[7]

Narrated Ibn 'Abbas:

When Allah's Apostle was on his death-bed and in the house there were some people among whom was 'Umar bin Al-Khattab, the Prophet said, "Come, let me write for you a statement after which you will not go astray." 'Umar said, "The Prophet is seriously ill and you have the Qur'an; so the Book of Allah is enough for us." The people present in the house differed and quarrelled. Some said "Go near so that the Prophet may write for you a statement after which you will not go astray," while the others said as Umar said. When they caused a hue and cry before the Prophet, Allah's Apostle said, "Go away!" Narrated 'Ubaidullah: Ibn 'Abbas used to say, "It was very unfortunate that Allah's Apostle was prevented from writing that statement for them because of their disagreement and noise."

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 [yahjur, literal translation: "talking nonsense"; obviously, the Prophet was not unconscious since he was speaking].[8]


Umar had heard Muhammad state the Hadith of the two weighty things many times, in which Muhammad stated, "I am leaving amongst you two weighty things, the Book of Allah and my progeny the Ahle Bait (a.s.); if you fasten unto both of them, you will never be deviated after me; for, they will not separate from each other till they meet me at the pond of Kauthar (in paradise)." When Umar heard Muhammad say the phrase "will not be deviated" when requesting to make his will, he believed that Muhammad intended to write about the Quran and the Ahlul Bayt, and made every effort possible to stop that from happening.[10]

Several years later, Ibn Abbas had a conversation with Umar, where Umar told Ibn Abbas, "I am telling you: the noble Messenger wanted to appoint Ali during his illness but I stopped it."[10]

Quranic verses against Umar's actions[edit]

Umar had prevented Muhammad from being able to make his will by stating, "Stop! He is speaking in delirium. The book of Allah is sufficient for us." It has been noted that multiple verses of the Qur'an require Muslims to obey Muhammad at all times, thus going against Umar's statement. Some of these verses are mentioned here.

Surah Hashr, Verse 7[edit]

Verse 7 of Surah Hashr commands obedience to Muhammad, and it is a verse that has been mentioned in light of Umar's actions at this event.[10]

And whatever the Messenger gives you, accept it, and from whatever he forbids you, keep back

Surah Nisa, Verse 65[edit]

Verse 65 of Surah Nisa states that someone is not a believer if they do not listen to Muhammad's decisions, and is another verse that has been mentioned with regard to Umar's actions at this event.[10]

But no! By your Lord! They do not believe (in reality) until they make you a judge of that, which has become a matter of disagreement among them, and then do not find any straightness in their hearts as to what you have decided and submit with entire submission.


After Muhammad passed away, some of his companions left him while his burial rites were being performed. These companions went to Saqifa. There, Umar pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr,[11][12] despite the sermon that the Prophet had delivered at the event of Ghadir Khumm, and despite Umar and Abu Bakr's pledges of allegiance to Ali at the event.[13][14][15][16][17] A group of Muslims supported Abu Bakr, and became known as the Sunni; another group of Muslims kept their allegiance to Ali and became known as the Shia.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sunni narrations include Sahih Muslim, Book of Bequests (Kitab al-Wasiyyah), numbers 4014 and 4016 (; Sahih al-Bukhari 9.468 and 7.573.
  2. ^ Razwy, Sayed Ali Asgher. A Restatement of the History of Islam & Muslims. p. 304.
  3. ^ Muhammad al-Tijani al-Samawi, Black Thursday, trans. S. Athar (Qum: Ansarian, n.d.).
  4. ^ Hayaat al-Qulub, Volume 2. p. 998.
  5. ^ a b Sahih al-Bukhari, 7:70:573
  6. ^ Razwy, Sayed Ali Asgher. A Restatement of the History of Islam and Muslims.
  7. ^ "The Incident of Pen and Paper from Sunni Sources". Serat Online. SeratOnline.
  8. ^ Hans Wehr dictionary, meaning of h-j-r
  9. ^ Sahih Muslim, 013:4015
  10. ^ a b c d Abdullah. "A Brief Analysis of the Incident of the Paper". Umar ibn Khattab.
  11. ^ Al Qazwini, Sayed Hossein. "An Analysis of the event of Saqifa". mohamedridha. Archived from the original on 2018-02-26. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  12. ^ Mohammad Jafri, Syed Husain. The Origins and Early Development of Shi'a Islam (Millennium (Series)) (The Millennium (Series).). Oxford University Press; 1 edition (April 4, 2002). pp. 344 pages. ISBN 978-0195793871.
  13. ^ "A Shi'ite Encyclopedia". Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project.
  14. ^ Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Volume 4. p. 281.
  15. ^ al-Razi, Fakhr. Tafsir al-Kabir, Volume 12. pp. 49–50.
  16. ^ al-Tabrizi, al-Khatib. Mishkat al-Masabih. p. 557.
  17. ^ Khand, Mir. Habib al-Siyar, Volume 1, Part 3. p. 144.

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