I asked in history stackexchange.

Sunni source is that the first four Chaliphs are "properly" elected.

However, some Syiah disagree.

This one says, for example,


In reference to comments, the idea that the first three caliphs were "elected" is also contested. If the electoral excludes some of the most prominent companions of the Prophet and involves coercion, it can't be called an "election" and this was the case for Saqifa the first "election" which was more like a factional coup d'état. The second caliph was also appointed not elected. You may want to post a separate question on this but you can also consult Madelung's comprehensive account of post-prophetic politics.

So in case of Abu Bakr, it seems that some prominent companions are not excluded. Is there a reasoanable reason why they're not included? What coercion he's talking about?

The reason I asked this is because in politic, this is a very normal game.

Suharto, for example, is always "elected". By who? By MPR. Who elect members of MPR? About 50% is chosen by Suharto.

So in a very good sense, the whole thing is just a show. Suharto isn't really elected. He just elect himself by electing those who will elect him in MPR.

So who elect Abu Bakr? Same trick? He's elected by consensus among those who like him?


This answer covers the viewpoint of the Ahl al-Sunnah. You should realize that this is a controversial subject with a lot of disagreement and alternative narratives among the sects.

The caliph is nominated by the following means:

  • By the preceding Imam. For example some hold the belief the Prophet ﷺ left indications regarding whom should succeed him. The factions have differed over whether it was Abu Bakr, Ali or Abbas. Abu Bakr appointed Umar. Umar appointed a group to choose from themselves who agreed on Uthman.

  • By the consultation and giving of allegiance of the majority of Ahlul Hal wal Aqd (أهل الحل والعقد). These are the senior scholars, leaders and representatives of the people. In the case of the rashidun caliphs they were the prominent Muhajirin and Ansar who were in Medinah. Abu Bakr was chosen by this method as well. Ali was chosen by this method.

  • By dominating using force. None of the rashidun caliphs were selected by this method.

Regarding the first caliph there was initially disagreement on the matter, however the Muslims eventually all agreed on Abu Bakr and consensus was established. Similarly consensus was established on Umar and Uthman.

References: Tafsir al-Qurtubi, Islamic Jurisprudence and its Proofs

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