According to the belief of the Shia, ʻUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb was a person who did not have strength and courage but rather, on the contrary, he was a coward.
My question is: How can a person with these characteristics be able to control the course of events after the death of the Prophet and force the Islamic ummah at that time to agree to choose Abu Bakr as the successor of the Prophet?
In the Name of Allah, the All-Beneficent, the All-Merciful.
May Allah bless Muhammad and his Family and damn their enemies.
He sought help from the Bedouins and the roughnecks to force people to pledge allegiance as stated by the sources of the two sects. Otherwise, as a single person, he was cowardly, as he himself admitted when he said,
I saw myself jumping like a female mountain goat.
Tafsīr al-Ṭabari, al-Suyūṭi, and others
As for what was recorded in our sources:
In Kitāb al-Jamal by al-Shaykh al-Mufid: From Zā’ida ibn Qudāmah, he said: “A group of Bedouins had entered al-Madinah for dispute, and the people were occupied from them with the death of the Messenger of Allah. And, they witnessed the pledge of allegiance and attended the matter, so ʻUmar sent for them and summoned them and said, “take a portion from the aid for the allegiance of the successor of the Messenger of Allah and go out to the people, and gather them to pledge allegiance, so he who abstained, then strike his head and forehead. He [the narrator] said: “By Allah, I saw that the Bedouins had worn belts, and I saw that they had dressed in Sanʻani izars, and they had taken wood by their hands and went out until they hit the people and brought them to pledge allegiance by force.”
Ibn Abī l-Ḥadīd and Sulaym ibn Qays also narrated from al-Barā’ ibn ʻĀzib, he said:
I have always been a lover of Bani Hāshim, so when the Prophet died, it was as if I was a she-camel that had lost her child with what was in myself from sadness for the death of the Prophet. So, I used to go to Bani Hashim when they were with the Prophet in the apartment, and I used to visit the leaders of Quraysh, so I was like that until I lost sight of Abū Bakr and ʻUmar, and I heard a person saying, “the people are in the Saqifah of Bani Sāʻidah,” and another saying, “allegiance has been pledged to Abū Bakr,” so I didn’t stay like that until Abū Bakr came with ʻUmar, Abū ʻUbaidah and a group of the people of al-Saqifah wearing Sanʻāni izārs, they don’t pass by a person except that they hit him and precede him, so they’d extend his hand and rub it on the hand of Abū Bakr, willing or not.”
And as for what was recorded in the sources of the opposing sect:
In Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhāri: Narrated Aisha: (the wife of the Prophet) Allah’s Messenger died while Abū Bakr was at a place called As-Sunḥ (..) So they said, “there should be one Amir from us and one from you.” Then Abū Bakr, ʻUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb and Abū ʻUbaidah ibn al-Jarrāḥ went to them (..) So ʻUmar took Abū Bakr’s hand and gave the pledge of allegiance and the people too gave the pledge of allegiance to Abū Bakr. Someone said, “You have killed Saʻd bin ʻUbada.” ʻUmar said, “Allah has killed him.” Aisha said: “ʻUmar scared the people and there was hypocrisy in them, so Allah brought them back by that.”
This way, the answer to your question is understood and how he (ʻUmar) paved the way for his friend, Abu Bakr, to seize power by using the Bedouins from the tribes of Bani Aslam, Juhaina and others.
The Office of Sheikh al-Habib