Hadith of the pen and paper

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Hadith of the pen and paper
Arabic رزية يوم الخميس
Romanization Raziyat Yawm al-Khamis
Literal meaning The Calamity of Thursday
This is a sub-article to the Succession to Muhammad.

The Hadith of the pen and paper is a hadith in Islam about an event when the Islamic prophet Muhammad expressed a wish to write something down. The hadith is referenced in both Shia and Sunni traditions.

Shias also refer to it as "The Calamity of Thursday" (Arabic Raziyat Yawm al-Khamis)


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. The first person to reply was Umar, answering that there was no need for the statement, arguing that Muhammad was ill and that the Muslims had The book of Allah "Hasabuna Kitaab Allah (the Book of Allah is enough for us)".[1]

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."

Sunnis tend to view this as Sahih and have included it in Sahih al-Bukhari.

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.

Sunnis tend to view this as Sahih and have included it in Sahih Muslim.


This event is the source of much controversy between Shias and Sunnis.

Shia view[edit]

  • This event proves the disobedience of Umar toward the Messenger and Allah's commands.In Quran Allah warned people and threatened with punishment, so they do not dare contradict Prophet Muhammad (saws) or take any of his words lightly.

In Quran, surah:24(An-Noor), verse:63. Allah commands:

                      " Make not the calling of the Messenger among you as your calling of one another.
                                   Allah knows those of you who slip away under shelter. 
                                 And let those who oppose the Messenger's commands beware, 
                         lest some Fitnah befall them or a painful torment be inflicted on them."
  • What the Messenger of God said is necessary, Umar said that unnecessary. So could it be that Umar was wiser than the leader of all the messengers of God, and prophet Muhammad was incorrect? But in Quran Allah says Prophet Muhammad does not make a mistake.

In Quran, surah:53(An-Najm), verse:2-5. Allah says:

                            "2. Your companion (Muhammad SAW) has neither  erred  nor decieved. 
                             3. Nor does he speak of desire. 
                             4. It is only an Inspiration that is inspired. 
                             5. He has been taught by one mighty power."
  • In surah "Muhammad", Allah warns if anyone, even a believer disobeys the prophet Allah will make their good deeds fruitless.

In Quran, surah:47(Muhammad), verse:33. Allah says:

                     " O you who believe! Obey Allâh, and obey the Messenger and render not vain your deeds."
  • Umar said "The Book of Allah is enough for Us", so if only the book of Allah was enough then the prophet was not needed? Then why Allah sent hundred and twenty four thousand prophets? In fact Allah sent more prophets than he sent the books(104 books).Allah sent not only the books but also teachers to teach and explain those books.These teachers were the prophets, those prophets who were not given any books, taught from the books which were given to the earlier prophets.As Muhammad was the last prophet, the question arises that, after his death who is going to teach the Quran to the future generations? without a prophet people will differ about the interpretations of the verses of quran. There will be division and chaos.
To prevent such from happening, in different places and times Muhammad mentioned Ali as his inheritor except for the prophethood, like when he said :
                           'Ali to me like Aron to Moses, Except after me there is no prophet'  

or in his last sermon at Ghadir Khumm when the prophet declared:

                            'Of whomsoever I am the master, then this Ali is also his master.'

After the event of the Thursday, the prophet remained in this world for several days, one can only speculate why he did not made a will in this period, may be he thought that he made it clear to the people regarding Ali, if they wish to follow the prophet's commands they know what to do, and if God puts the people in a test and they disobey the prophet's command, a mere piece of paper can not prevent them from going astray.

  • Shias point out that obedience to Muhammad was required from every Muslim at all times. The Quran orders Muslims regarding Muhammad, "So take what the Messenger assigns to you".[3] Therefore it was not the place of anyone to take matters into their own hands.
  • The idea that Umar disobeyed Muhammad out of love is an unproven assumption and conjecture.
  • They refer back to the events of Ghadir and Da‘wat dhul-‘Ashīrah which show that Muhammad had already nominated Ali as his successor. On the day of Ghadir, after Muhammad had announced, "Whosoever's master I am, this Ali is his master," the verse of the Quran was revealed "This day I have perfected for you your religion."
  • Umar ibn Al-Khattab claimed the Quran was sufficient guidance, despite the well-known tradition that Muhammad would be leaving two weighty things, not one. These being the Quran, and the Ahl al-Bayt (the progeny of Muhammad)
  • Muhammad's own words were that if they followed what he wished to write down, no one would go astray, hence it was a matter of grave importance.
  • Both the first and second caliphs were able to implement their wills despite being in great pain. Abu Bakr had fainted during dictating his will; and Umar ibn Khattab had multiple stab wounds, yet both considered it necessary to give details regarding their successor.
  • Shias do not claim that all Sahabah were part of a conspiracy. Only three Muhajirun were present in the hut of Saqifah.citation needed The fact that there was mixed views on Muhammad's deathbed regarding writing his will, shows that Ibn al-Khattab's opinion was not necessarily the best.
  • Ibn al-Khattab spoke about Muhammad in an irreverent manner, when he said, "He is delirious" (yahjura).

Sunni view[edit]

Sunni Muslims refer to this episode as the "Event of Thursday". It is generally seen as a minor event and a test by Muhammad of the Sahabah (his companions). The companions are considered to have chosen to do the right thing and passed the test, having remained free from criticism by Muhammad for the rest of the days he remained with them. Further Sunni's say it was not a matter of disobedience but rather it was Umar's Ijtihad (independent reasoning) in that situation.[4]

This period (from Thursday to Monday) during which Muhammad remained with the companions after this incident was also not utilized to make a will - which, Sunnis argue, confirms that it was not an important document to be written but rather a simple test to know whether the Ummah is aware of the message of the Quran. The following passage is cited as evidence:

This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.

—Quran, sura 5 (Al-Ma'ida), ayah 3[5]

This is also backed up by Hadith: Uqbah bin Amir (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Holy Prophet, may Allah send greetings and salutations on him, said:

   لو كان بعدى نبى لكان عمر بن الخطاب
   If there were to be a prophet after me, indeed he would be Umar, son of Khattab. [Sunan Tirmidhi, Hadith 3686]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Sahih al-Bukhari, 7:70:573
  2. ^ Sahih Muslim, 013:4015
  3. ^ Quran 59:7
  4. ^ Hadith About the (Non)Incident of the Pen and Paper - A Sunni Perspective
  5. ^ Quran 5:3

External links[edit]