Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Stand of the Sahabah (raa) by Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi

The following is an extract from “Al-Awasim min Al-Qawasim” by Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi (d.543AH/1143CE)

Muslims, as an integral part of Islam, must completely submit to Allah’s(swt) laws. Allah(swt) says in the Qur’an:

“But no, by your Lord, they can have no faith, until they make you rule in all disputes between them, and find within themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission” (An-Nisa 4:65)

Allah(swt) revealed to Muhammad(saaw) a complete system of life to organize humanity encoded in the Shariah, and the Sahabah(raa) sacri- ficed their lives and wealth in perpetuating and sustaining the application of the Shariah in an effort towards achieving the supremacy of Islam, as Allah(swt) commanded in the Qur’an. In spite of their unparalleled contribution to Islam, many Western writers and philosophers, and even some Muslims, have victimized the names and reputation of the Sahabah(raa) and targeted them as subjects of blatant and unjustified mockery.Many Qur’anic Ayat and Ahadith of the Prophet(saaw) praise the Sahabah(raa) and definitively establish as part of the Islamic faith their noble reputation as the highest attainment of piety and righteousness that all future generations should aspire to as examples. For example, Allah(swt) says in the Qur’an:

“Indeed, Allah was pleased with the Believers when they gave their Ba’yaa to you (O Muhammad) under the tree. He knew what was in their hearts, and He sent down As-Sakinah (calmness and tranquillity) upon them, and He rewarded them with a near victory, and abundant spoils that they will capture. And Allah is Ever All-Mighty, All Wise.” (Al-Fath 48:18)

In another place Allah(swt) says: “And those who, before them, had homes (in Al-Medinah) and had adopted the Faith, love those who emigrated to them, and have no jealousy in their breasts for that which they have been given (from the booty of BaniAn-Nadir), and give them (emigrants) preference over themselves, even though they were in need of that. And whosoever is saved from his own covetousness, such are they who will be the successful” (Al-Hashr 59-9)

Furthermore, in a Hadith narrated by Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri, the Prophet(saaw) said: “Don’t insult my Companions. I swear by Allah, if one of you gave gold equivalent to the size of the mountain of Uhud in charity, it would not even reach to half the stature (value) of a Sahabi.” Anas bin Malik heard the Prophet(saaw) saying, “Allah has chosen me as a Prophet and has chosen my companions. He has made them my in-laws, I married from their daughters and my daughters are married amongst them. Near the end of the world, there will be people who will not respect my Sahabah(raa). I, Muhammad(saaw) order you (Muslims) not to give your daughters in marriage to them and don’t get married with their daughters. Also, do not pray with them and don’t pray for them, because the curse of Allah is upon them.”The above mentioned Ayat and Ahadith clearly prohibit the Muslims from indulging in accusation, slandering or defaming of any of the Sahabah(raa). The Sahabah(raa) served as the beacon that would convey Islam directly from the Prophet(saaw) to the people of the world. Because the Qur’an and the Sunnah were transmitted from the Sahabah (raa), any doubt cast upon these persons would entail a doubt in the credibility of the sources of Islam altogether.It was reprted that Abu Zara, said: “if you see a man defaming one of the Companions, say to him (to his face) that you are a Zindeeq (one who is out the circle of lslam).”After the death of the Prophet(saaw) the Sahabah(raa) were instrumental in maintaining the integrity of the model state that the Prophet(saaw) estab- lished that would initiate the momentum for the expansion of Islam to the far reaches of the world and would provide a historical guide for the today’s generations in their efforts to reestablish the State.The Muslims felt that Muhammad’s(saaw) mission had ended when Allah (swt) revealed the Ayah: “... This day I (Allah) have perfected your Deen for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion...” (Al Ma’idah 5:3)

Yet the momentum that the Sahabah(raa) provided was etched in the minds of Muslims existing at the time as well as future generations that the Message of Islam would never be extinguished, but would continue to spread uninterruptedly until Islam reached its objective as stated by Allah(swt): “He it is Who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the deen of truth to make it superior over all other deens, even though the Mushriks hate it.” (Al-Tauba 9:33)

Before his death, the Prophet(saaw) fell ill and was constrained to his bed. During this time, Abbas(raa), one of the uncles of the Prophet (saaw) and Ali lbnTalib(raa) came to visit the Prophet. Abbas(raa), feeling that Muhammad(saaw) was about to die, suggested to Ali, “Let us ask Muhammad about that matter (choosing a successor who would lead the Muslims). ‘Ali refused, saying, “By Allah, if we ask him about this subject and he tells us no, then the people will never give us the leadership”.‘Ali understood that the choosing of the next Khalif (the successor to the Prophet in matters of ruling) lay exclusively in the hands of Allah. This understanding was based on the incident when the tribe of Bani Amir attached a condition to providing the Nussrah (physical protection) to the Prophet(saaw) that the leadership should transfer to their tribe after the Prophet’s(saaw) death. The Prophet(saaw) rejected this proposition on the grounds that Allah(swt) dictates the decision of succession. Without the clear understanding of the Shariah and the firm insistence upon adherence to the Qur’an and the Sunnah demonstrated by ‘Ali, the Muslims could have fumbled on such a decisive issue as electing the next Khalif, thereby setting the spark that would ignite a precipitous decline of the application of the Shariah. When the Prophet(saaw) died, the emotions of the Muslims flared to such astounding levels that, in the absence of the political sharpness and clear understanding of Islam perpetuated by the Sahabah(saaw), the solidarity of the Ummah would have fractured from the emotional turmoil sparked by the death of the Prophet(saaw). The emotional upheaval reached such limits that even some of the Sahabah(raa) temporarily were overwhelmed, and ‘Umar(raa) said: “Any one who says that Muhammad(saaw) had died, I am going to cut his arms and legs. He(saaw) is not dead, he(saaw) is visiting Allah, just like Moses did for 40 days." With this blind emotional mentality that tran spired following the death of the Prophet(saaw) the Muslims hovered on the edge of losing focus of their agenda and straying from their objectives.Abu Bakr(raa) manifested a sharp and decisive understanding that the Prophet(saaw) nurtured and cultivated that saved the Muslims from the tumult that overwhelmed them when he climbed the pulpit of the Masjid and said to the people:“If you worshipped Muhammad(saaw), he is dead. If you wor ship Allah, He will never die”, reciting the Ayah:“Muhammad is no more than a Messenger, and indeed (many) Messengers have passed away before him. If he dies or is killed, will you then turn back on your heels (as disbelieves)? And he who turns back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah, and Allah will give reward to those who are grateful.” (Al-lmran 3:144)

The Sahabah(raa), as human beings, could have easily succumbed to their emotions or realigned themselves with their previous affiliations, but because of the training they received from the Prophet(saaw), the Islamic concepts settled firmly in their hearts and minds. Many opportunities presented themselves for the Sahabah(raa) to yield to their instincts and act on impulse. In Sakifa Bani Saida, where Abu Bakr(raa) joined the Ansars (helpers) in choosing the next leader, and Habbab bin Mundhir(raa) suggested that “we must have one leader from amongst us (Ansars) and one from among you (the Muhajirs),” ‘Umar(raa) quickly rejected this offer based on his understanding of many Ahadith where the Prophet(saaw) said their can only exist one Khalifah.Every action that the Sahabah(raa) undertook and every issue they sought to resolve was derived from the Shariah. Hence, when the Prophet(saaw) died, they could have easily shunned all other considerations in respect for the Prophet’s(saaw) body and prepare his body for burial, but they unanimqusly understood from the actions of the Prophet(saaw) that the criticality of choosing the next Khalif to assume the post of states man on behalf of the Ummah superseded even the burying of the Prophet’s(saaw) body. Any group or party, under the turmoil and uncertainty that proceeded the Prophet’s(saaw) death, could have abandoned their priorities and haphazardly adopted any solution to alleviate the tension, but their firm conviction and adherence to the Shariah, with the realization that Allah(swt) had predetermined their objectives and preset their priorities as transcending place or circumstance, helped maintain the integrity of the Ummah and safeguarded the Muslims from deviating away from their objectives.Nowhere in the history of Islam did political acuteness, clarity in fore sight, and firmness in conviction converge than during the Khilafah of Abu Bakr(raa). Immediately after the Prophet’s(saaw) death, a rebellion took place where almost all of Arabia, with the exception of Medinah, Mecca, and Bahrain, refused to pay the Zakat and seceded from the State. The various tribes justified their rebellion on many grounds, first and foremost the material benefit that arose from neglecting the financial sacrifices the Zakat entailed. The rebellious tribes also justified their refusal based on an Ayah of the Qur’an that states:

“Take Sadaqa (alms) from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it, and invoke Allah for them. Verily! Your invocations are a source of security for them, and Allah is All Hearer, All Knower” (At Tauba 9:103)

To conform to their justification, they misinterpreted the ayah to indicate that paying the Zaka requires the prayer of Muhammad(saaw) and his death eliminates any possibility of Muhammad(saaw) offering his prayers and legitimizing the Zakat. Some of the Sahabah(raa) in Medinah, started requesting Abu Bakr (raa) to allot time for the tribes to strengthen their Iman. In spite of such suggestions, Abu Bakr(raa) remained adamant in his adherence to the Shariah and manifested the keen understanding of Islam and sharp decisiveness to the level that, when ‘Umar(raa) quoted a Hadith of the Prophet(saaw), stating “You have no right to fight the people, if they say Laillah, ill-Iallah, Muhammad dur Rasool Allah, their necks are saved, as long as they do what is commanded by it, which is to accept Islam as a whole,” Abu Bakr(raa) responded, “Is it not mandatory for the people who declare the Shahada to have to pay Zakat (to practice Islam as a whole)? I’ll fight these rebellious tribes, even if I have to fight them alone.” Abu Bakr(raa) called these tribes Murtads (one who rejects Islam after accepting it) and declared war on them.Some of the Murtads went even further and took this opportunity to eliminate the newly formed Islamic State by preparing to attack it. Despite this threat, Abu Bakr(raa) dispatched the Army of Usama(raa) that Muhammad(saaw) prepared before his death to fight the Romans who were attacking the borders of the Islamic State. Many people in Medinah inquired why Abu Bakr(raa), in the midst of the immediate threat of the State’s internal security, would send the armies to deal with a foreign issue weeks away. ‘Umar(raa) himself said, “The Romans are at least a month away, in distance. They did not pose any immediate danger to the people of Medinah. The danger is here in Medinah, so we should keep the army here to fight the Murtads.” Abu Bakr(raa), understanding that the Muhammad(saaw) designated the army of Usama(raa) for a special function and that Jihad must continue in spite of the severity of the State’s internal tension, grabbed ‘Umar by his beard and said: “Oh ‘Umar, what has happened to you? Do you not want me to do something which the Prophet(saaw) ordered to do? By Allah, even if the lions dragged me by my feet, I’ll not stop the army of Usama. Another narration mentions that he said: “Even if I see the lions dragging the Prophet’s wives, I’ll not stop the army of Usama, which was ordered by Muhammad(saaw).”‘Umar(raa) was convinced by Abu Bakr(raa) and finally said to him, let us go and fight. When ‘Umar(raa) came out of the meeting with Abu Bakr(raa), people once again asked him to go back and talk to Abu Bakr(raa) one more time. ‘Umar told the people, I already got in trouble twice, I don’t want to get in trouble a third time with ‘Abdullah bin Abi Kahafah (Abu Bakr). In his short office as Khalifah, Abu Bakr(raa) successfully stamped the Murtad rebellion and reunified the Arabian Peninsula and eliminated the Roman influence in present-day Jordan. Immediately he initiated six armies to Bilad as-Sham and the Persian Empire, all of whom were victorious in their conquests. By the year 15 A.H., two years after Abu Bakr’s death, the Islamic State had covered the entire Middle East, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, and some parts of Iran. Abu Bakr(raa) manifested the sharpness in political maneuvering and administration, the firm conviction, and the clear understanding that the Prophet(saaw) cultivated among the Sahabah(raa).Many future Khalifs and prominent scholars and thinkers also demonstrated the same qualities that the Sahabah(raa) left behind as a legacy that would serve as a supreme example for future generations that no Muslim undertaking the task of revival can undermine.


Arshad said...

Salam alykum
Alf Mabrook on this fantastic blog. I too am trying something similar ie looking at issues through an Islamic perspective.
Please visit and add to your blogroll if you like it.
Jazakallah Khair

Arkan udDin said...