In the summer of 632, the Prophet ﷺ passed away in the City of Medina setting in motion the events that underlay the rise of Twelver Shi’ism. The Prophet had always been troubled at the hands of the Quraysh tribe elites in his hometown of Mecca, which eventually led to his departure to Medina. He later came back and eventually conquered Mecca. The point of telling you this is that the community of Muslims at that time consisted of various groups. On the one hand you had the “Emigrants” those who had left Mecca with him. Then you had those known as the “Companions” or “Helpers”, who were basically became converts in Medina.
All of these differing people eventually met after the death of the Prophet ﷺ and what ensued resulted in conflicting accounts of the discussions and the politicking between the various factions and personalities present. However, these things we know:
- The meeting was held in the absence of many of the “Emigrants”;
- The meeting was held in the absence of many of the Prophet’s ﷺ family and clan and many Medinans;
- Ali عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ was absent as we he was attending to the Prophet’s body;
- Many of the “Companions” who did attend the meeting did not pledge their loyalty to Abu Bakr as the designee; and
- Other prominent figures and members of the Quraysh also refused to pledge loyalty to Abu Bakr
These points are raised to illustrate two important things: that there were clear manifestations of discontent immediately after the death of the Prophet ﷺ, and the Prophet’s ﷺ spiritual leadership was the basis of the political and military leadership that he exercised over the Muslim community.