The Sahabah's Attitude to the Trend of Opinionism
By: Sayyid Ali Al-Shahristani
The aforesaid texts substantiate the fact that the terms of Ra’y (opinion) and Ta’wīl (interpretation) occupied a large area in the words and deeds of the Sahābah; therefore, Imam `Alī, during the age of his caliphate, tried to treat and fill this gap after it had been opened largely against the Islamic jurisprudence, history, and religion. He thus went on explicating the reasons for such inventions, classifying the peoples who disagree about the religious rulings, and proving the falseness of their course and arguments. Let us now exhibit some of such texts: In disparagement of the differences of view among the theologians, Imam `Alī says,
“When a problem is put before anyone of them he passes judgment on it from his imagination. When exactly the same problem is placed before another of them he passes an opposite verdict. Then these judges go to the chief who had appointed them and he confirms all the verdicts, although their Allah is One (and the same), their Prophet is one (and the same), their Book (the Qur'ān) is one (and the same). Is it that Allah ordered them to differ and they obeyed Him? Or He prohibited them from it but they disobeyed Him? Or (is it that) Allah sent an incomplete Faith and sought their help to complete it? Or they are His partners in the affairs, so that it is their share of duty to pronounce and He has to agree? Or is it that Allah the Glorified sent a perfect faith but the Prophet fell short of conveying it and handing it over (to the people)? The fact is that Allah the Glorified says:
‘…We have not neglected anything in the Book (Qur'ān)… [Holy Qur’ān: 6:38]’
And says that one part of the Qur’ān verifies another part and that there is no divergence in it as He says:
‘…And if it had been from any other than Allah, they would surely have found in it much discrepancy. [Holy Qur’ān: 4:82]’
Certainly the outside of the Qur’ān is wonderful and its inside is deep (in meaning). Its wonders will never disappear, its amazements will never pass away and its intricacies cannot be cleared except through itself.”
About those who sit for dispensation of justice among People but are not fit for it, Imam `Alī says,
“Among all the people the most detested before Allah are two persons. One is he who is devoted to his self. So he is deviated from the true path and loves speaking about (foul) innovations and inviting towards wrong path. He is therefore a nuisance for those who are enamored of him, is himself misled from the guidance of those preceding him, misleads those who follow him in his life or after his death, carries the weight of others’ sins and is entangled in his own misdeeds. The other man is he who has picked up ignorance. He moves among the ignorant, is senseless in the thick of mischief and is blind to the advantages of peace.
Those resembling like men have named him scholar but he is not so. He goes out early morning to collect things whose deficiency is better than plenty, till when he has quenched his thirst from polluted water and acquired meaningless things. He sits among the people as a judge responsible for solving whatever is confusing to the others. If an ambiguous problem is presented before him he manages shabby argument about it of his own accord and passes judgement on its basis. In this way he is entangled in the confusion of doubts as in the spider’s web, not knowing whether he was right or wrong. If he is right he fears lest he erred, while if he is wrong he hopes he is right. He is ignorant, wandering astray in ignorance and riding on carriages aimlessly moving in darkness. He did not try to find reality of knowledge. He scatters the traditions as the wind scatters the dry leaves. By Allah, he is not capable of solving the problems that come to him nor is fit for the position assigned to him. Whatever he does not know he does not regard it worth knowing. He does not realize that what is beyond his reach is within the reach of others. If anything is not clear to him he keeps quiet over it because he knows his own ignorance. Lost lives are crying against his unjust verdicts, and properties (that have been wrongly disposed of) are grumbling against him. I complain to Allah about persons who live ignorant and die misguided. For them nothing is more worthless than Qur’ān if it is recited as it should be recited, nor anything more valuable than the Qur’ān if its verses are removed from their places, nor anything more vicious than virtue nor more virtuous than vice.”
About the admixture of right and wrong, he further says,
“The bases of the occurrence of evils are those desires which are acted upon and the orders that are innovated. They are against the Book of Allah. People co-operate with each other about them even though it is against the Religion of Allah. If wrong had been pure and unmixed it would not be hidden from those who are in search of it. And if right had been pure without admixture of wrong those who bear hatred towards it would have been silenced. What is, however, done is that something is taken from here and something from there and the two are mixed! At this stage Satan overpowers his friends and they alone escape for whom virtue has been apportioned by Allah from before.”
Ra’y and Ta’wīl were the first terms to enter the Islamic legislation. Yet a confusion has occurred between the two; by Ra’y, they have meant interpretation, and by both Ra’y and Ta’wīl, they have meant Ijtihād. As for the other terms, such as Qiyās (analogy), Istihsān (Equitable Preference) and Maslahah (advantage), they have been modern terms that were rarely used in some texts. Although their roots were practically existent in that age, these terms were not used as expansively as they are now. The matter attained climax when the Tābi'ūn (followers of the Sahābah) interpreted Ta’wīl into alteration so largely that this signification became common in the Muslim community. For instance, they asked Imam al-Husayn to rest upon Ta’wīl and stop his blessed march towards martyrdom. It has been narrated that `Umar ibn `Alī came to Imam al-Husayn and suggested, “You may rest upon Ta’wīl and thus you can swear allegiance to Yazīd!”
Hence, the term of Ijtihād is equivalent to that of Ta’wīl whose signification was increasingly distorted until it reached its climax during the ages of the Umayyad and `Abbāsid dynasties.
Even `Abd al-Rahmān ibn `Awf, who at the Shūrā (consultative) Committee tried to bind `Uthmān and the Muslims with the adoption of the manners of Abū-Bakr and `Umar only, could not stop against the torrential trend of Ra’y and Ta'wīl that continued expansion after it had been rooted by Abū-Bakr and `Umar. Similarly, `Abd al-Rahmān’s attempt to restrict the Ijtihād to the deeds of Abū-Bakr and `Umar and ban the other Sahābah from practicing it failed, too. This is because the door of Ra’y and Ta'wīl was wide open and thus it was unfeasible to close it causing each and every individual to demand with having his personal views accepted in the same way as the personal views of Abū-Bakr and `Umar were accepted.
It seems suitable in this respect to refer to the fact that `Abd al-Rahmān ibn `Awf, by specifying the adherence to the Holy Qur'ān and Sunnah and to the conducts of Abū-Bakr and `Umar as stipulation of holding the position of the leadership of the Islamic State, aimed at depriving `Uthmān ibn `Affān of the right of legislation and the resting upon his personal views although `Uthmān was seen as one of the foremost Muslims, the Holy Prophet’s son-in-law, and the coming caliph (leader of the Muslims).
However, the most important issue in this regard is that the political and religious plan that was constituted by Abū-Bakr and `Umar in support of restricting the legislative circle to them in particular and depriving anyone else of issuing any decision concerning to this—this plan was aimed at making the sayings of Abū-Bakr and `Umar as sacred as the Holy Sunnah although the reality rejected this restriction totally causing their plan to take a path other than what they had expected.
Imam `Alī was one of those who realized the objective of the political plot of Abū-Bakr, ``Umar, and `Abd al-Rahmān ibn `Awf and knew exactly what those individuals meant by emphasizing on the resting upon opinions, which was essentially aimed at deciding the personal views of Abū-Bakr and `Umar as true and valid. From this cause, Imam `Alī rejected the stipulation of `Abd al-Rahmān ibn `Awf during the Shūrā Committee since such stipulation stood for validating the innovated concept of resting upon personal opinions in the affairs of the religious rulings and also stood for the recognition of Abū-Bakr and `Umar’s decisions some of which were in violation of the Holy Qur'ān and Sunnah. As Imam `Alī rejected this stipulation and accordingly `Abd al-Rahmān ibn `Awf rejected him as the coming caliph, Imam `Alī confirmed that he was rejecting the conducts of Abū-Bakr and `Umar in general and their resting upon their personal opinions in the issuance of religious rulings in particular. This is because Imam `Alī, undoubtedly, understood and had full knowledge of the Islamic legislation in such an unmatched form that the Holy Prophet was reported as saying,
“`Alī is the most knowledgeable.”
“`Alī is the most acquainted with the religious rulings.”
“`Alī is the most conversant with the judicial questions of the Muslim jurisprudence.”
“The right is following `Alī wherever he would go.”
In addition, the events of the so-called Shūrā Committee demonstrate clearly the features of the two trends; the trend of the Opinionists specified the acceptance of and the adherence to their trend as stipulation of holding the caliphate while the trend of thorough compliance with the sacred texts, represented by Imam `Alī and his faithful adherents, rejected this stipulation and called for thorough observance of the Holy Qur'ān and Sunnah even if this situation would cause them to lose the practical leadership of the Muslim community.
Interpretations And Opinions
Abū-Bakr, the caliph, declared openly that he rested upon Ra’y and Ta'wīl when he was asked about the meaning of Kalālah although the Holy Qur'ān has comprised a clear-cut text in this respect. Abū-Bakr said,
“I will say my own opinion in this question. If it is true, this will be the guidance of Allah; but if it is not, this will be my fault as well as the whisper of Satan. Yet, Allah and His Messenger are released from my misinterpretation. The Kalālah, in my conception, is anything other than the father and the son.”
It is obvious that this opinion is awfully contradictory to the text of the Holy Qur'ān that reads,
“They ask thee for a legal decision. Say: Allah directs (thus) about the Kalālah (those who leave no descendants or ascendants as heirs). If it is a man that dies, leaving a sister but no child, she shall have half the inheritance: If (such a deceased was) a woman, who left no child, Her brother takes her inheritance: If there are two sisters, they shall have two-thirds of the inheritance (between them): if there are brothers and sisters, (they share), the male having twice the share of the female. Thus doth Allah make clear to you (His law), lest ye err. And Allah hath knowledge of all things.” [Holy Qur’ān: 4/176]
“If the man or woman whose inheritance is in question, has left neither ascendants nor descendants, but has left a brother or a sister, each one of the two gets a sixth; but if more than two, they share in a third; after payment of legacies and debts; so that no loss is caused (to any one). Thus is it ordained by Allah; and Allah is All-knowing, Most Forbearing.” [Holy Qur’ān: 4/12]
It is worth mentioning that some scholars who defended the opinions of Abū-Bakr and `Umar have argued that when the Sahābah used the word Ra’y (opinion), they proposed the interpretation of the sacred texts. In this respect, Dr. Madkūr, referring to the stages of the resting upon opinions in the Islamic history, says,
“The word ‘Ra’y’ was then used for the texts that were exclusively defined by the word `Ilm (knowledge). We also can find some of the experts in the Fundamentals of the Muslim Jurisprudence (Usūl al-Fiqh) interpreting Ra’y as specifically analogy while others have made it a comprehensive term that stands for the Holy Qur'ān and Sunnah and consensus. As much as this very concept is concerned, Ra’y is more specific than Ijtihād, which is a kind of it. As has been previously cited, scholars have called this kind as Ijtihād bil-Ra’y (Exerting efforts through resting upon opinion), which is corresponding to the exerting of efforts (Ijtihād) in the circle of the interpretation of the sacred texts. Hence, Ra’y can be defined as prudence and thinking through one of the means to which the Legislation (Sharī`ah) has directed in the field of the inference of a ruling about which there is no sacred text. Ijtihād also includes the inference of a ruling from presumptive texts as well as the aforesaid Ijtihād bil-Ra’y (Exerting efforts through resting upon opinion).
Since Ra’y relies upon the rule that all the rulings of the Islamic legislation are reasonable, it has been commonly used in the field of the ordinary affairs that are aimed at the achievement of worldly interests; therefore, the rulings whose significances cannot be realized, such as the obligatory acts of worship, must be purely followed, not exposed to Ra’y.”
Dr. al-Rudayniy says,
`Umar ibn al-Khattāb, the lofty Sahābiy and the leader of the Opinionists, restricted the general meaning of the verse that reads: “And know that out of all the booty that ye may acquire, a fifth share is assigned to Allah, and to the Messenger, and to near relatives, orphans, the needy, and the wayfarer, if ye do believe in Allah and in the revelation We sent down to Our servant on the Day of Testing—the Day of the meeting of the two forces. For Allah hath power over all things.” [Holy Qur’ān: 8/41].
This holy verse decided that one-fifth of the booty must be given to the categories mentioned therein, and the Holy Prophet himself followed this division when he distributed the booty of the Battle of Khaybar, and thus was the distribution of the booty on every occasion. In the face of all these facts, `Umar ibn al-Khattāb used his own opinion and violated the general and explicit meaning of the holy verse that decides the right of the looters in all the movables and the immovables when he restricted its significance and decided to give to the looters only the movable booty and deprive them of the immovable. In such restriction, `Umar depended upon the public interest that can be inferred from his arguments with the other Sahābah who rejected this restriction. Moreover, `Umar made all those who rejected to his opinions to understand all the texts of the Islamic legislation in the light of the public interest and nothing else. Hence, the one and only evidence that `Umar betook in the restriction of the significance of the holy verse was the public interest or the so-called ‘spirit of the legislation’ since it has not been proven that `Umar rested upon a specific matter in this question.
As a matter of fact, the circumstances of the meaning and the public interest were taken into consideration in the application of the sacred texts. Yet, circumstances played a substantial role in the adaptation of the application that emanated from the understanding of the holy verse and in the restriction of the very purpose of the Holy Legislator under those very circumstances for a simple reason, which is that the outcome of this application under these circumstances influence greatly on the public interest itself. From this cause, it was imperative to identify the Legislator’s very purpose of the text of the holy verse that can be extracted from its linguistic conception as well as the requisites of the general fundamentals of the legislation. Only then can we understand `Umar’s insistence on a definite purport and saying, “This is my opinion.” `Umar then justified his personal opinion that he had relied upon an essential purpose, which is the public interest. In this respect, he said, “I see that I should detain the non-Arab disbelievers in their lands which I also decided to expose to taxes and that they should defray the jizyah (tributes) to the Muslims who fought and their descendants.”
Ta'wīl, in the conception of the Sahābah, is then the core of Ra’y so long as `Umar relied upon the public interest in restricting the general conception of the holy verse. From the very form, it was concluded that the holy verse’s ruling should be restricted to a part of its general meaning, which is namely the movable, not the immovable, booty.
It is now clear that to rest upon personal opinions that was adopted by the caliphs had been exposed to definite circumstances, be it political or social, and that the situation of Abū-Bakr in the issue of exempting Khālid ibn al-Walīd from the doctrinal provision; and in the issue of the Kalālah; and in the issue of the confiscation of the “Near Relatives (Dhawi’l-Qurbā)” share and the gift of Lady Fātimah al-Zahrā’; and in the issue of prohibiting the recordation of the Holy Prophet’s traditions; and in the issue of setting the records of the Hadīth to fire; and in the issue of breaking the Holy Prophet’s order of joining the phalanx of Usāmah ibn Zayd; and in many other issues when he violated the sacred texts—all these issues prove that definite circumstances forced Abū-Bakr and `Umar to take such situations and rest upon their personal opinions in the issuance of religious rulings!
On this ground, a researcher must investigate thoroughly the texts that support the opinions of Abū-Bakr and `Umar; if such texts correspond to the Holy Qur'ān and Sunnah, it will be acceptable to adopt them; but if they are based upon their personal opinions, they must be rejected because it is impermissible to depend upon personal opinions when it is possible to refer to the Holy Qur'ān and Sunnah. Besides, there are numerous matter that should be studied carefully from all angles, such as the claim that the Holy Prophet warned against recording his traditions and the claim that he said that a mujtahid would be rewarded doubly when he hits the target and would be rewarded one fold when he misses the target as well as the other narrations that convey the legality of Ijtihād, such as those reported by Mu`ādh and others.
It has been previously proven that most, if not all, of these matters were issued by the ruling authorities’ formal decisions. Likewise, the decision of the prohibition of reporting and recording the Hadīth was issued by the ruling authorities since it has been proven that the Holy Prophet permitted to record his Hadīth and thus some of the Sahābah kept some records of it. Besides, many other evidences prove this fact; therefore, it is unnecessary to investigate the fabricated texts that claim the Holy Prophet’s prohibition of recording his traditions.
Plurality Or Unity
Due to the aforesaid conclusion, the Hadīths that validate the Ijtihād must be studied carefully in order to prove whether they were actually said by the Holy Prophet or not; whether all the interpretations that have been depended in the Muslim jurisprudence were true or not; whether the Hadīth that reads: “My nation’s disagreement is mercy for them” is authentic or not; or whether its interpretation in the very common sense is true or not although it is contrary to many other Hadīths that read:
“Do not disagree with each other lest you all will be perishing just like the nations that preceded you; they perished because they were engaged in discrepancies.”
“My nation shall be separated into more than seventy parties one of which only will be saved while the others will be in Hellfire.”
The disagreement among Muslim sects has reached a serious stage although their Book is one and their Prophet is the same. What is then the reason beyond such disagreement due to which a group of Muslims are extending their hands during the prayers while another group are hanging them to their bellies or chests; and a group of them are opening their legs wide while another group are lining them together; and a group of them are reciting the Basmalah audibly while another group are reciting it with low voice; and a group of them deem obligatory to say ‘Amen’ after the recitation of the Sūrah of al-Fātihah while another group are deeming this forbidden and so on? The most surprising matter is this issue is that all the groups are ascribing their deeds, in spite of their contrast, to the Holy Prophet! We should then wonder whether the Holy Prophet adopted a certain act only or he did all these acts on different occasions! If he adopted a certain act, what is the origin of the other acts that caused such undeniable and irrefutable disagreements? Why have two contradictory trends emerged concerning the Islamic legislation; one trend called for the plurality of opinions and the other called for unity? If the Holy Legislator allowed plurality in the religious rulings, why did the Holy Prophet inform that only one group among the seventy-two or three Islamic sects would be saved while the others would be in Hellfire? And if unity was ordered by the Holy Legislator, why have the scholars adopted and argued the validity of plurality? Is it rationally acceptable to claim that the disagreement of a nation is a kind of mercy for it? If so, why has Almighty Allah emphasized on the unity among Muslims? Has He, the Almighty, ordered us to be united or to be separated? Again, if He has allowed us to disagree and separate, what will be the meaning of His sayings in the Holy Qur'ān,
“Do they not consider the Qur'ān (with care)? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy.” [Holy Qur’ān: 4/82]
“Verily, this is My way, leading straight! Follow it; follow not (other) paths: they will scatter you about from His (great) path: thus doth He command you. that ye may be righteous.” [Holy Qur’ān: 6/153]
In order to answer all these questions, let us cite the following dialogue that took place between `Umar ibn al-Khattāb and `Abdullāh ibn `Abbās:
Al-Muttaqiy al-Hindiy, in Kanz al-`Ummāl, has narrated the following on the authority of Ibrāhīm al-Tamīmiy:
One day, `Umar ibn al-Khattāb was alone thinking about a question. He therefore summoned `Abdullāh ibn `Abbās and asked, “How come that this nation disagree with each other while their Book (namely, the Holy Qur'ān) is one, the Prophet is the same, and their kiblah is also the same?”
Answering him, `Abdullāh ibn `Abbās said, “When the Qur'ān was revealed for us, we have read it and known what for it was revealed. Yet, the coming generation will read it but they will not know what for it was revealed. Hence, each group will rest upon their own opinion. When each group will have their own opinion, they will disagree with each other; and when they disagree with each other, they will fight each other.”
On hearing this, `Umar reproached `Abdullāh ibn `Abbās who then left.
Afterwards, `Umar realized the meaning of `Abdullāh’s words; he therefore summoned him again and asked him to repeat his words.
This narration and its likes can form a basis for investigating many of the inherited texts and concepts, especially those related to the text appertained to the disagreement among the Muslims. This matter will positively open the door of thorough investigation of the mystification of such texts before the objective researchers and, as a result, it will be unacceptable to adopt such confused texts before studying them carefully. As a matter of fact, the thorough study of the confusables of the Muslim legislation, the time of the issuance of a text, the recognition of the backgrounds of a question, the caliphs’ adoption of a question—the study of all these matters improve our capability to distinguish the right from the wrong and to discover historical facts that are helpful for the Muslims in the adoption of legislative situations in the matter. Finally, such studies will make us follow the trend of the thorough compliance with the Holy Prophet’s instruction,
“May Allah have mercy upon him who understands my saying after listening to it and then conveys it to him who has not heard it.”
However, the trend of Ijtihād has adopted another opinion, which has been reported from `Umar ibn `Abd al-`Azīz who says,
“I like the disagreement of the Sahābah, for if they had rested upon one decision only, there would have been constraint in the question.”
Al-Qāsim ibn Muhammad is reported to have said a similar saying.
Even a simple look at this saying proves its inclination towards meekness that causes underestimation of the religion since it goes without saying that Almighty Allah has not aimed at creating contradiction or opposition. Even if we accept `Umar ibn `Abd al-Azīz’s opinion, Almighty Allah would have decided all the laws as optional and instructed us to adopt the easiest for us and to throw away the difficult. Moreover, it is unacceptable to consider the law of Almighty Allah as restriction! It is therefore imperative to search for the only law in the Muslim jurisprudence. In this respect, al-Shātibiy says,
“It is essential to refer to one opinion only in the investigation of the secondary laws of the Islamic legislation no matter how big is the discrepancy. In the same way, in the fundamentals of the Islamic legislation one law only must be adopted. In other words, the Islamic legislation does not comprise any contradiction or contrary laws at all since all of its evidences are in origin free from contradiction despite the existence of discrepancy.”
By investigating the traditions that guide us to the necessity of testing the Sunnah through the Holy Qur'ān and the necessity of following definite regulations for distinguishing the authentic Hadīth from the fabricated and by the observation of the many narrations that confirm the obligation of making careful investigation about the reporter of a Hadīth, we will find out that all these narrations and criteria on which all the Muslims agree unanimously support the fact that the laws of the Islamic legislation must be one and refute the arguments of the Ijtihād bi’l-Ra’y, the plurality of the laws, and the validity of discrepancy. As a matter of fact, the opinion of `Umar ibn `Abd al-`Azīz is no more than a step in the path of originating the Opinionism and inventing excuses for the rulers who depended upon their personal views and practiced Ijtihād.
It is thus inescapable to admit the necessity of studying the texts that were issued in the first age of Islam and not to neglect such studies for no reason other than that `Ā’ishah adopted this opinion or that `Umar, the Muslims’ caliph, adopted that one or that al-Bukhāriy and Muslim accepted that one because its reporter is Abū-Hurayrah and the like!
A Muslim individual must be so enthusiastic and adhering to his religion that he must embrace Islam in such a sound and strong way that is free from feebleness or suspect. In this regard, Almighty Allah says,
“Take hold of that which We have given you with firmness.”
The required qualities of piety, honesty, fairness, and holding fast to the facts provoke us, the Muslims, not to show indifference in the investigation of the pure sources from which we must receive our religious duties and to neglect considering the inherited issues unquestionable facts. Our criterion in this respect must be the Holy Qur'ān that tells between the right and the wrong and the genuine and the fake and distinguishes what is an actual religious meaning from the irreligious indications that were inserted into the religion due to certain historical circumstances. Yet, this mission requires religious courage and audacity that must be aimed at nothing other than exploring the genuine indications that are as pure as the right so as to save from the wrath of Almighty Allah.
In this regard, it seems important to invite the attentions to the matter that some people have surrounded the men of the first generations of Islam with haloes of sacredness and committed themselves to the impermissibility of discussing their words and deeds since, as has been claimed, those men passed away bearing their deeds with them and it is thus improper for us to engage ourselves in their affairs.
This claim can be true when those men were such ordinary persons who had nothing to do with the religious issues; yet the truth is the opposite. Most of the religious issues were referred to those men who played big roles in the issuance of the religious laws. It is thus very important to investigate their texts, conducts, and manners since they are connected to our religious affairs as well as our practical lives. Of course, in the study of the words and deeds of these men, we must rely upon the constant fundamentals of such studies, such as the Holy Qur'ān, Sunnah, and reason.
From this cause, the Ahl al-Bayt, through many narrations that have been reported from them, have emphasized on making the Holy Qur'ān as the criterion to which all the questions of discrepancy must be referred and have invited all the Muslims to release themselves from the complex of the fear from exposing everything to the Holy Qur'ān for its being the prevalent distinguisher between the right and the wrong and thus everything that may oppose it or is not concordant with it must be thrown away. In the course of teaching the Muslims and supplying them with the true religious responsiveness, the Ahl al-Bayt have declared openly that every matter that contradicts the Holy Qur'ān is absolutely false and fabricated.
This invitation, however, is not opposite to the telling that Abū-Bakr and `Umar abstained from many worldly pleasures and contributed greatly in the expansion of the area of Islam and the promulgation for it throughout the globe, since these matters cannot be denied. Yet, it must be understood that abstinence from worldly pleasures and leading campaigns and conquests are matters quite different from the issues of the divine law as well as its characteristics and the purity of its sources. This fact is clearly understood by every individual who possesses an accurate mentality and capacity of discrimination between the fundamentals and the secondary issues and comprehension of the historical and social circumstances that have been intruded in the core of the religious affairs.
As a matter of fact, the prohibition of reporting the traditions of the Holy Prophet—although the Sahābah insisted on the necessity of recording the Hadīth, as has been confirmed in the aforesaid report of `Urwah ibn al-Zubayr,but `Umar, who himself established the foundations of the Shūrā (consult) Committee in the matter of the next leadership, brushed their opinions aside—is an extremely serious matter that corroborates the fact that the recordation of the Hadīth was a cultural and intellectual issue that was firmly linked up with the political affairs to such a great extent that `Umar could not neglect. It is thus conclusible that the issue of prohibiting the reporting and recordation of the Holy Sunnah was not a pure cultural issue that `Umar excused his having feared for the Holy Qur'ān to be mixed with the Holy Prophet’s traditions or that the Muslims would be influenced by the past nations; rather the question was related to the scientific capacity of `Umar who did not enjoy a sufficient, shrewd view about the religious rulings and was not qualifiedly acquainted with the statements of the Holy Prophet.
However, Abū-Bakr and `Umar might have had capacities and sophistication in the military and political affairs; and it is known for the experts that one who enjoys a political sophistication can contain the authority of knowledge, not the opposite.
This fact makes it obligatory upon us to re-investigate the texts of Abū-Bakr and `Umar with a pure religious intention that provokes us to seek the right and to study them in such an objective manner that protects us against rashness and imperfect conclusions. It is also not improbable that covering the words and deeds of Abū-Bakr and `Umar with haloes of sanctity causing the Muslims to fear discussing such words and deeds has created a sort of discommended intellectual terrorism that confiscates any attempt of conversation or discussion other than objection taking into consideration the fact that such haloes have been purposed for making Abū-Bakr and `Umar as holy as the Prophets or even holier. Of course, this is unacceptable for everyone who respects his mind and religion, especially when we know for sure that the Sahābah were men of different degrees of knowledge, faith, and esteem as has been proven by historical events. Moreover, we notice that they, on many occasions, disagreed with each other, found fault with each other, and even criticized each other. Yet, these situations have been acceptable.
It is known for everyone who has acquaintance with the reports, Hadīths, and history of the first age of Islam that neither Abū-Bakr nor `Umar were sinless; rather reports have substantiated that most of their decisions and verdicts were reliant upon their personal views and conjectures rather than inferred from the Holy Qur'ān.
Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah’s Opinion
Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah has argued that all the decisions of Abū-Bakr and `Umar were dependent upon one of the following six probabilities and nothing else,
First, they heard them directly from the Holy Prophet.
Second, they heard them indirectly (i.e. through a mediator) from the Holy Prophet.
Third, they understood a verse of the Holy Qur'ān in a way that we cannot comprehend.
Fourth, these decisions were unanimously agreed upon by the advisories but only the saying of the issuer was reported for us.
Fifth, they issued such decisions due to their perfect acquaintance with the language and the indications therein in such a way that we cannot attain or due to nearby presumptions that were connected to the issue or due to the totality of matters from which they understood that decision owing to their long company with the Holy Prophet during which they noticed his deeds, manners, conducts, and words and thus they understood the indications and witnessed the Divine Revelations and how the Holy Prophet used to interpret. According to these five probabilities, the decisions of Abū-Bakr and `Umar must be considered sources of the Muslim legislation.
The sixth probability is that the caliph might have misunderstood what the Holy Prophet had meant; hence, his decision should not be betaken as acceptable source of legislation. Of course, five probabilities are more powerful than one only.”
Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah has not been accurate in the previous argument; rather he has been too far away from the right. We have previously cited many examples on Abū-Bakr and `Umar’s clear-cut deliberate violations of the texts of the Holy Qur'ān and Sunnah. Except for anticipation of accuracy and seeking excuses for the past generations, their verdicts should have been considered as challenge rather than Ijtihād!
The other part of the verdicts of Abū-Bakr and `Umar are also clear-cut violations of the Holy Qur'ān and Sunnah rather they differ from the previous in the point that they had issued such verdicts while they had not known the actual ruling of the Holy Prophet; hence, they retreated and accepted the Holy Prophet’s ruling when their attentions were invited to this point. Yet, this part of verdicts is the lesser evil.
Had Ijtihād been practiced according to its regulations and principles issued by the master scholars, the issuer of a verdict should have covered all the directives and fully checked the primary proof; and when despair crept into him, he would have decided according to his personal view.
However, neither `Umar nor did the majority of the scholars of the first generation follow such secure and trustworthy regulations in the course of the issuance of personal opinions because they were too hasty in delivering judgments before exerting any effort in investigation or because they were negligent in the comprehension of the whole subject when they did not ask the experts in the Holy Qur'ān and legislation although such individuals were among them. Undoubtedly, the avoidance of reference to the experts in the questions that they did not know sufficiently means carelessness and inattention, since the decisions of such experts are considered as source of legislation. To this very point, Ibn Hazm, in the aforesaid quotation, has referred.
From this cause, the abovementioned probabilities of Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah have not been covering all the causes beyond the Sahābah’s resting upon personal views in the issuance of religious rulings; rather there must be other probabilities to be hereinafter cited:
First: They might have violated the words of the Holy Prophet; and when the Sahābah reminded them of such violation, they retreated. In most cases, one cannot find any extension of such violations of the Holy Prophet’s words in the jurisprudence of the next generations because the caliph himself retreated from his decision.
Second: They might have insisted on their opinions that disagree with the texts of the Holy Qur'ān and Sunnah although the Sahābah would remind them of such violation. Such rulings can be noticed in the Muslim jurisprudence. Moreover, the scholars have preferred Abū-Bakr and `Umar’s opinions in this respect because the opinions of the Sahābah have been considered as sources of the Islamic legislation and thus they cannot be canceled.
Third: They might have issued verdicts opposite to the Holy Qur'ān and Sunnah when the Sahābah were absent and thus none would remind them of the accurate ruling in this very question. Hence, the opinions of the caliphs in this regard are more than these of the Sahābah.
Fourth: They might have issued verdicts opposite to the Holy Qur'ān and Sunnah but the Sahābah did not correct for them for fear of their authority or for anticipation of punishment or because such verdicts became too common to be canceled. Hence, the trend of the caliphs in this regard would be more powerful than the previous probabilities since the Muslims acted upon them. It happens that we, through this study, meet texts of the Sahābah that are opposite to the caliphs’ opinions, yet they are not taken into consideration.
Fifth: They might have issued verdicts on bases of individual or collective interests since the caliphs claimed that they were more knowledgeable than the other Sahābah were in this respect. Yet, they were imprecise in the conception of the public interests; therefore, their inaccuracy in the identification of advantage resulted in the inaccuracy of their verdicts. And because none noticed so, the verdict extended to the next generations. Too many are the historical witnesses on these probabilities that Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah has forgotten or pretended to have forgotten. However, some of such points have been previously cited in this book.
The Book Of Allah Is Sufficient For Us!
It is now clear that the resting upon personal views in the issuance of religious rulings, despite the existence of sacred texts, was widely practiced during the Holy Prophet’s lifetime and the first Islamic era. Under the same circumstances, the slogans of “The Book of Allah is sufficient for us!” and “The Book of Allah is the arbitrator between us!” were raised although the Holy Prophet warned against such, as has been previously proven.
However, not all the Sahābah practiced or acceded to this odd tone! `Alī ibn Abī-Tālib, for instance, rejected these slogans. When `Abdullāh ibn `Abbās decided to argue with the Khawārij, Imam `Alī advised him not to use the Holy Qur'ān as his evidence, since it bears more than one meaning and the Khawārij also can use it in refuting `Abdullāh ibn `Abbās’s claims; rather Imam `Alī advised him to rest upon the Holy Sunnah in disputation, because they would not be able to refute.
This is because the Khawārij adhered firmly, yet blindly, to the explicit meanings of the Holy Qur'ān causing many misfortunes to the Muslims. Thus, it was sagacious to advance the words and deeds of the Holy Prophet as arguments against them because none can deny the Holy Prophet’s practices and because the Khawārij would not commit the same mistake of misunderstanding of the texts. As a consequence, `Abdullāh ibn `Abbās advanced as his argument the Holy Prophet’s action when he agreed to erase the statement “the Messenger of Allah” that he had used in his signature on the Hudaybiyah Truce with the polytheists. In the same way, Imam `Alī agreed to erase the statement “Amīr al-Mu'minīn” that he had used in his signature on the Truce with Mu`āwiyah. Because of this argument, the Khawārij could not object to `Abdullāh ibn `Abbās’s debate since he had used the best way of dealing with them.
Undoubtedly, the Holy Qur'ān and Sunnah are completing each other; and it is unfeasible to rest upon one and reject the other. All Muslims have decided unanimously that these two sources of the Islamic legislation are not contradictory at all and they have also decided that to depend upon one and reject the other is definitely wrong. In this regard, Ibn Hazm, in al-Ihkām fi Usūl al-Ahkām, says,
No contradiction can ever be found between the texts of the Holy Qur'ān from one side and the words and deeds of the Holy Prophet from the other. Informing about His Messenger, Almighty Allah says:
“Nor does he say (aught) of (his own) Desire. It is no less than inspiration sent down to him.” [Holy Qur’ān: 53/3-4] “Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah.” [Holy Qur’ān: 33/21] “Do they not consider the Qur’ān (with care)? Had it been from other Than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy.” [Holy Qur’ān: 4/82]
Hence, Almighty Allah has informed us that, exactly like the Holy Qur'ān, the source of the words of His Messenger is nothing but the Divine Revelation.
Nevertheless, immediately after the demise of the Holy Prophet, Abū-Bakr declared his famous statement, “The Book of Allah is the arbitrator between you and us.” By this statement, which has been narrated by Ibn Abī-Mulaykah in his famous piece of narration, Abū-Bakr wanted to declare that only would the Holy Qur'ān be accepted in arguments. Yet, he was not the originator of this opinion, `Umar ibn al-Khattāb, during the famous incident of the Disastrous Thursday, declared his famous statement, “The Book of Allah is sufficient for us!” while the Holy Prophet was suffering the pains of his final ailment. As Abū-Bakr and `Umar committed themselves to the resting upon the Holy Qur'ān anole, Lady Fātimah al-Zahrā' advanced the Holy Qur'ān alone as her argument against them in the issue of the confiscation of Fadak. She generally specified the holy verses of the laws of inheritance as well as the holy verses that confirm the Prophets having been inherited as her argument against them. Ironically, Abū-Bakr answered her with a Hadīth that reads, according to his claim, “We, the Prophets, do not leave inheritance.” Hence, Abū-Bakr, who rejected the Holy Sunnah and claimed reliance on the Holy Qur'ān alone, had to find himself an exit through the Holy Sunnah itself. This is of course a clear-cut contradiction!
It is now acceptable for us to wonder what Abū-Bakr and `Umar meant by such restrictions to the Holy Qur'ān while they were the closest to the age of the Islamic Legislation. Did they, just like the Khawārij later on, aim at resting upon the Holy Qur'ān alone in the understanding of all of the affairs and neglecting the Holy Sunnah? Or did they bear in their minds another purpose?
In fact, the invitation to the resting upon the Holy Qur'ān alone and shunning the Holy Sunnah was no more than a political decision that was taken for the purpose of justifying the opinions of Abū-Bakr and `Umar. Although the Holy Prophet, as is in the famous Hadīth of Arīkah (the couch), declared openly that his words are actually the Words of Almighty Allah and that He is the expounder of the laws of Almighty Allah, Abū-Bakr and `Umar removed the Holy Prophet’s words away and placed their personal opinions instead. Besides, they knew for sure that not all the laws can be derived from the Holy Qur'ān merely.
Answering those who ordered him to depend upon the Holy Qur'ān alone and neglect the Holy Sunnah, `Imrān ibn al-Husayn said, “Supposing that you rested upon the Holy Qur'ān merely, would you be skilled enough to recognize that the `Asr Prayer must be of four units (Rak`ah), the Maghrib Prayer be of three, the Fajr Prayer be of two? And would you know that the Circumambulation of the Holy Ka`bah must be repeated seven times… etc?”
It is thus illogic to think that Abū-Bakr and `Umar did not have acquaintance with such matters; and if they had actually ignored them, why did they call people to satisfy themselves with the Holy Qur'ān claiming that “the Qur'ān is sufficient for us!”?
It is now obvious that the narrations that are forbidden are those comprising what the caliphs did not know and those comprising objects of embarrassment for them. In this fashion, it was allowable to report and record the traditions that comprised information known by the caliphs as well as everybody else.
Abū-Bakr, in the same speech in which he declared the decision of resting upon the Holy Qur'ān alone and neglecting the Holy Sunnah, foretold that the people of the coming generations would be more discrepant. This prediction implied that the Muslims would follow inconsistent trends because each group would follow the opinion of a certain Sahābiy. To this very fact, the Holy Prophet invited the attentions by saying on more than one occasion that his ummah would separate after him. Undoubtedly, the discrepancy in the reports of those Sahābah would contradict the personal opinions of Abū-Bakr and `Umar.
If truth be told, the replacing of the personal opinions of Abū-Bakr and `Umar with the Holy Sunnah—or the rising of their opinions to the level of the Holy Sunnah—that resulted in the coming caliphs’ having entirely adopted these opinions and made them the course and constitution of the government is no more than an expression of the interest for which the caliph called and the clue that was used in solving all the problems. We have previously discussed that `Umar, out of his fear from the reporters, restricted the activities of them and ordered them to decrease reporting the Hadīth and detained them in the capital on the pretext that they reported excessively and contributed largely in the spread of the Hadīth. Such excessive reports and spread of the Hadīth prejudiced `Umar since it showed the contradiction between his personal opinions and the traditions of the Holy Prophet. Such being the case, he had to order them to rest upon the Holy Qur'ān alone so that he would be able to decide the substitute, which is his personal opinions and the claim that he, representing the ruling authority, was the most knowledgeable in this respect and thus all the matters must be, first and last, referred to him. Of course, he did not believe that the Holy Qur'ān could present solutions for all problems; rather he knew for sure that the Holy Qur'ān needed the Holy Sunnah and that the Holy Prophet was ordered, by Almighty Allah, to explain the religious laws that are mentioned in the Holy Qur'ān that reads,
“We have sent down unto thee the Message; that thou mayest explain clearly to men what is sent for them, and that they may give thought.” [Holy Qur’ān: 16/44]
From this cause, some of the Sahābah did not accept the personal opinions of Abū-Bakr and `Umar since they knew the Holy Book and Sunnah, not Ijtihād, having been the main sources of the Islamic legislation. Similarly, had those Sahābah known that the personal judgments of Abū-Bakr and `Umar were based upon these two sources, they would have accepted them and would not have declared resentfully “Will we follow `Umar or the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet?” and “I see coming that you shall certainly perished! While I say to you that it was the Messenger of Allah who deemed it lawful, you answer me that Abū-Bakr and `Umar prohibited it!”
In order to throw dust in the eyes and confuse the matter, historians have added some names to the list of the Opinionists, such as `Abdullāh ibn Mas`ūd, Mu`ādh ibn Jabal, `Abdullāh ibn `Abbās and many others while it is evidentially known that these men rejected the resting upon personal opinions in the issuance of religious verdicts, adopted the course of thorough compliance with the sacred texts and practically wrote down many records that comprised the Hadīth. Some fabricated texts, corroborating the trend of Opinionism, have been ascribed to those Sahābah, although the series of narrations have been omitted, because of the exigent need of `Umar for supporters for his invention of Opinionism and because of the confusions that surrounded this trend. To study such texts, one can obviously point out numerous contradictions, confusions, and objections. Likewise, Ibn Hazm and others have decided Mu`ādh’s narration about Ijtihād as doubtful and fabricated. In this regard, he says,
My evidence on the fabrication of this narration is that it is impossible for the Holy Prophet to put the probability of the nonexistence of a solution in the Holy Qur'ān and Sunnah while Almighty Allah says:
“And follow the best of (the courses) revealed to you from your Lord.” [Holy Qur’ān: 39/55] “This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” [Holy Qur’ān: 5/3] “And any who transgresses the limits of Allah, does verily wrong his (own) soul.” [Holy Qur’ān: 65/1]
It is also authentic that the Holy Prophet prohibited resting upon personal opinions in religious matters.
The investigation of such matters in the Islamic legislation will lead a searcher to look at them from a wider horizon and more scientific angle provided that a searcher throws away all passions and bears in mind freedom of thinking and deeps study of the surroundings. Only then will a searcher consider whether the Holy Prophet actually permitted the resting upon personal opinions in the issuance of religious verdicts while he was present or he only wanted the verdicts to be issued according to the authentic traditions and texts of the Holy Qur'ān and Sunnah, not according to the Ijtihād that is based upon conjectures.
Views About Opinionism
It is said that Goldtzheir, the famous German Orientalist, argued that Opinionism was not founded during the Holy Prophet’s lifetime; rather it was added to the sources of the Islamic legislation later on. Discussing this argument, Dr. Muhammad Yūsuf Mūsā says,
“This Orientalist researcher, who is well-versed in the Islamic studies, argues that Opinionism was used among the first generation of the Islamic history although it was, in that very stage, ambiguous, negative, and far away from its private belief and method. Only in the next generation did Opinionism acquire a certain definition and identity and begin to move towards a constant trend obtaining the logic form of analogy.”
Dr. Mūsā then launched an attack on Goldtzheir arousing doubts around the worth of his opinion that is also adopted by the Orientalists generally. He accused them of being far away from understanding the spirit of Islam since, in his view, the evidences submitted by Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah being enough for proving the Opinionism. Ironically, he then agrees with the Orientalists by saying,
“It is true that Opinionism on that very period was unlike the analogy (Qiyās) as was defined during the Age of the Scholars (namely, the founders of the four major Sunnite Schools of Jurisprudence). Yet, the opinion that was used by some of the Sahābah was not very far from the analogy; rather it might have been the very analogy, although it has not been narrated whether those Sahābah used the bases of analogy, as a term, such as cause, method, and other bases that were commonly known during the Age of the Scholars.”
No matter how much valuable the doubt of Dr. Mūsā is, what we need to know is the attitude of Abū-Bakr and `Umar from Opinionism and whether they rested upon it although they had known about the laws of Almighty Allah and the Holy Prophet in that very question or not since they believed that their opinions are as important sources of Islamic legislation as the Holy Qur'ān and Sunnah.
The aforementioned texts have confirmed that both Abū-Bakr and `Umar decided their own opinions although they had known about the actual ruling decided by the Holy Qur'ān and Sunnah. Although Abū-Bakr knew about the holy verse that reads,
“If any of you die and leave widows behind, they shall wait concerning themselves four months and ten days: When they have fulfilled their term, there is no blame on you if they dispose of themselves in a just and reasonable manner. And Allah is well acquainted with what ye do.” [Holy Qur’ān: 2/234],
he violated this verse in the issue of Khālid ibn al-Walīd who married the widow of Mālik ibn Nuwayrah a few hours after he had killed her husband unlawfully. As `Umar asked him to punish Khālid for this violation of the Islamic laws, Abū-Bakr answered, “No, I will not kill him. He tried to infer the actual law in this issue, but he missed it!” It is illogic to claim that Khālid, or Abū-Bakr, had never known about the aforesaid holy verse.
Was this case not a clear example on the resting upon personal opinion that is totally opposite to the sacred text?
Did Abū-Bakr really not know about the holy verse or did he know but he believed that interest necessitated resting upon his opinion and disregarding the holy text?
Are the anticipation of advantage and analogy practiced only when sacred texts are absent or is it permissible to practice them even if sacred texts are available?
Let us now present the story of Khālid ibn al-Walīd, yet in brief, as has been narrated by al-Tabariy,
… When Khālid came back and entered the Masjid, `Umar went towards him, took out the remains of arrows from his head, and smashed them, saying, “This is only for showing off! You have killed a Muslim individual then slept with his widow! I will certainly stone you. I swear it by Allah!” Yet, Khālid kept silent as he thought that Abū-Bakr would have this very impression about his deed. But when he saw Abū-Bakr… etc.
Al-Tabariy narrated that `Umar, once, met a man who had provided his case to `Alī ibn Abī-Tālib, and asked him what `Alī had decided for him. As the man told about `Alī’s decision, `Umar said, “Had you submitted your case before me, I would have decided another thing.”
The man wondered, “What prevents you from doing so while you are the authority?”
`Umar answered, “If I judged in your case according to the laws of the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Messenger, I would do so; rather I judge in it according to a personal opinion; and opinions are common. I thus cannot tell which one is more accurate.”
Ibn Hazm, in al-Ihkām fi Usūl al-Ahkām, says,
“Abū-Muhammad says: It has been proven that the Sahābah did not oblige people to act upon their personal opinions and did not claim their having been ultimately true; rather they decided them as conjecture and sought Allah’s forgiveness against them, or decided them for reaching at reconciliation between the two parties of a case.”
Ibn Hazm further says,
“There is no indication that `Umar’s having taught people the form of Tashahhud while he was on the minbar was a part of the Holy Prophet’s instructions; rather it was his own opinion. Similarly, everybody knows that `Umar, while he was on the minbar also, warned people against exaggeration in the values of the dowries out of his own opinion, not according to the instructions of the Holy Prophet. Therefore, he canceled this decision afterwards when he was informed that the decision was in violation of the Holy Qur'ān. The forms of Tashahhud that are reported from `Abdullāh ibn `Abbās, `Ā’ishah, `Abdullāh ibn Mas`ūd, and Abū-Mūsā al-Ash`ariy must not be violated since their source was the Holy Prophet. Although they witnessed `Umar using his own form of Tashahhud while he was on the minbar, `Abdullāh ibn `Umar, `Abdullāh ibn Mas`ūd, `Abdullāh ibn `Abbās, `Ā'ishah, and many other grand Sahābah disagreed with him.”
Trying to deny the reports that when `Umar could not find a ruling in the Holy Qur'ān or Sunnah, he would investigate whether Abū-Bakr had issued a judgment in that regard; and when he would find such a thing, he would follow it, Dr. Nādiah al-`Umariy says:
“Although he had great regard for Abū-Bakr, `Umar would not commit himself thoroughly to the opinions of Abū-Bakr unless such had been inferred from the Holy Qur'ān and Sunnah; and such a commitment was in fact to the sacred text rather than Abū-Bakr’s opinion. An example on this commitment is the incident when, immediately after the demise of the Holy Prophet, Abū-Bakr reminded `Umar of a holy verse from the Holy Qur'ān. However, when the case is exposed to the Shūrā or to personal opinions, opinions would be, in the word of `Umar himself, common. In the case of the cessation of the shares of al-Mu’allafah Qulūbuhum, `Umar disagreed with Abū-Bakr who, then, accepted `Umar’s view. Similarly, In the case of the appointment of the coming leader, `Umar violated Abū-Bakr’s opinion and ordered of the establishment of the Shūrā Committee. In plain words, although `Umar acceded to Abū-Bakr’s opinions, he did not commit himself to them in the same way as he had committed himself to the texts of the Holy Qur'ān and Sunnah. The evidence on this claim is `Umar’s having violated Abū-Bakr’s opinion on more than one occasion.”
Let us now put the following questions: How is it possible to take in the manners of both Abū-Bakr and `Umar while they disagreed on many points concerning their reports and personal judgments?
How can we believe that the Holy Prophet did order us to follow those who would come after him so firmly while they disagreed with each other on more than one occasion and one issue?
Concerning the aforementioned issue of Khālid ibn al-Walīd; whose decision was the more accurate—Abū-Bakr or `Umar?
Is it logic that the Holy Prophet imposed upon us to follow a person subjectible of making mistakes although this very person had attempted to rest upon his personal opinions and judgments as regard the religious issues during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet?
How can we justify `Umar who canceled the share of the al-Mu’allafah Qulūbuhum while we read in the Holy Qur'ān Almighty Allah’s saying,
“Alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer the (funds); for al-Mu’allafah Qulūbuhum (those whose hearts have been recently reconciled to truth); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of Allah; and for the wayfarer: thus is it ordained by Allah, and Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom.” [Holy Qur’ān: 9/60]
What is the appropriate justification for `Umar’s too many judgments that he issued out of his personal opinions, such as in the case of the grandfather’s share of the inheritance with the existence of brothers; the three-time divorce; the sale of bond mothers; the shortage in the shares of inheritance; the non-obligatoriness of practicing the Dry Ablution (Tayammum) for the obligatory prayers when water is missing; the warning against offering supererogatory prayers after the `Asr Prayer; the four prayers in the funerals—and in all of these issues, the Holy Prophet had issued rulings that were disagreeing `Umar’s judgments?
How is it feasible to find excuses for Abū-Bakr and `Umar and consider their opinions validly acceptable while `Umar himself declared openly that the Salāt al-Tarāwīh had been a heresy; an excellent heresy?
Despite of everything, some of the so-called scholars have interpreted the word “heresy” said openly by `Umar in this issue as bearing a linguistic rather than a terminological meaning. They have then cited as evidence a report telling that the Holy Prophet, once, went to the Masjid for a prayer and people followed him; on the next day, the number of people increased and on the third day, the number was too large to be contained by the Masjid; therefore, the Holy Prophet had to leave the Masjid to the courtyard. On the fourth night, he refrained from going to the Masjid; yet he did not warn people against such collective prayers! Accordingly, the Salāt al-Tarāwīh is legal!
If the Salāt al-Tarāwīh is legal and the Holy Prophet did not warn people against participating in it, why have those scholars interpreted `Umar’s word of “heresy” as bearing a linguistic, not terminological, meaning? The likes of such ironies and contradictions in the field of finding acceptable excuses for individuals are unfortunately very numerous; yet, a fair researcher can identify them easily.
Should we believe the texts that came to us from our ancient heritage or should we believe the scholars’ justifications for the violations of Abū-Bakr and `Umar?
Has Allah preserved Abū-Bakr and `Umar from making mistakes and instead given them exclusively the right to act upon their personal views as regards the religious laws?
Has he commissioned the Muslims to comply with the opinions of Abū-Bakr and `Umar other than the other Sahābah according to the claim that the Holy Prophet said, “You have to adhere to my Sunnah as well as the Sunnah of the orthodox caliphs who will succeed me?”
Is it rational that the Holy Prophet decided the “sunnah” of the caliphs who came after him as the equivalent of his Holy Sunnah while he knew for sure that his ummah would be engaged in discrepancies after him according to the holy verse that reads,
“Muhammad is no more than a messenger: many Were the messenger that passed away before him. If he died or were slain, will ye then Turn back on your heels? If any did turn back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah; but Allah (on the other hand) will swiftly reward those who (serve Him) with gratitude. [Holy Qur’ān: 3/144]”
Even if we accept the aforementioned “Hadīth”, although it is subjected to many contradictions, we will face another problem, which is the contradictory words and deeds of the caliphs who came after him. Which opinion should we then accept and which should we reject? Who are the caliphs whom have been described as orthodox? Are they exclusively the first four ones; or does the “Hadīth” involve every one who came to power and was entitled “caliph”? Again, if we accept the “Hadīth”; why do we not choose the Twelve Successors who defended the Holy Sunnah and worked on spreading the Holy Prophet’s words and deeds as the intendeds? Imam `Alī has narrated that the Holy Prophet said,
“O Allah! Have mercy upon my successors who will come after me, reporting my Hadīth and Sunnah and teaching them to the people.”
About those successors, the Holy Prophet also ordered us not to precede them, lest we will perish, and not to fall behind them, lest we will perish too, and not to claim being more knowledgeable than they are, for they are always more knowledgeable than we are.He has also said about them, “If you adhere to them, you shall never be led astray,” “The Ahl al-Bayt preserve my ummah against discrepancy,” as well as many other Hadīths.
In his famous Hadīth of “The Divine Pool”, the Holy Prophet warned us that a group of his Sahābah should be prevented from joining him on the Resurrection Day.
Those who have claimed the authenticity of the Hadīth of the adherence to the “sunnah” of Abū-Bakr and `Umar must explain to us why the Holy Prophet did not define the Holy Qur'ān and his Sunnah as the only sources of the religion! Have these two sources needed the “sunnah” of Abū-Bakr and `Umar because they are inadequate? Can we accept the claim that the Holy Sunnah is incomplete; therefore, it required the “sunnah” of Abū-Bakr and `Umar?
The statements of “the sunnah of the caliphs who will come after me” and “follow those who will come (to power) after me” reveal the emergence of new opinions, opposite to the Holy Prophet’s Sunnah, in the scientific lives of the Muslims and thus these statements were fabricated against the Holy Prophet so that the opinions of Abū-Bakr and `Umar would be acceptable.
On both levels of reason and Muslim legislation, the adherence to the “sunnah” of the caliphs are unacceptable since it is ironic to accept both the Holy Prophet’s Sunnah and `Umar’s sunnah because they are at odds. For instance, the temporary marriage is either legal, according to `Umar’s declaration that it was legal during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet, or illegal, according to `Umar’s decision of prohibiting it. A simple look in the history of the Islamic legislation leads to tens of examples on such contradiction.
The most acceptable probability in this regard is that all the texts in which the names of the caliphs or their chronical order (Abū-Bakr, `Umar, `Uthmān, and `Alī) are mentioned were later on fabricated in order to justify the Opinionism invented by `Umar and followed by his fans. Later on in this book, we will provide many evidences on this claim.
Developments And Modifications
Let us now bring up the manners of the Islamic ummah in the later ages as regards the religious legislation. In al-Ijtihād fī’l-Islām, Dr. Nādiah al-`Umariy says,
“It has been proven that the later jurisprudents modified many of the religious laws that they had received from their masters when exigency demanded so. When he moved to Egypt and left Iraq and Hijāz, al-Shāfi`iy modified his whole sect into a new one. He then wrote his famous books of Kitāb al-Umm and al-Risālah. The same thing was done by Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah.”
Dr. Turkiy says,
“Istihsān (Equitable Preference), which is in fact a method of escaping analogy for personal reasons, emerged in the third century. Ibn Hazm has reported this piece of information.”
Al-Wāfi al-Mahdiy also says,
“In the age of the establishment of the (Sunnite) Schools of jurisprudence, the Islamic legislation was greatly influenced by the social customs. As a result, many master jurisprudents decided the social customs as restricting the sacred texts. For instance, the Islamic legislation has prohibited the contracts of sale of what is not possessed (in Muslim jurisprudential terminology: istisnā`), that is to agree on selling a thing that is not within the hand or not currently available; rather the purchaser will agree on such a contract according to the descriptions of the stock before seeing it. Yet, this sort of sale has been deemed legal according to the social customs.”
It has been reported that Mr. Rashīd Ridā says,
“To argue that hundreds of the verses of the Holy Qur'ān were repealed, to invalidate positive contentions through hypothetical arguments, and to prefer personal opinions to sacred texts—all these rules are irresponsible Qiyās (analogy) and challenge to Almighty Allah. Al-Shāfi`iy says that Qiyās must not be used except in emergency, such as the necessity of eating the meat of an animal that is not slaughtered according to the religious laws.”
Shafīq Shahātah, an Egyptian researcher, says,
“Qiyās has been elevated to a level due to which it has been a source of Islamic legislation. The reasons beyond this must be purely historical.”
It is regrettable to end up this discussion with a text said by one of the extremists, namely al-Sāwiy, in his commentary on Tafsīr al-Jalālayn,
“It is impermissible to act upon any school other than the Four Schools (of Sunnite jurisprudence) even if such schools agree with the Sahābah’s words, the authentic Hadīths, and even the holy verses. One who exceeds the acting upon the Four Schools is definitely straying (from the right path) and misleading. Perhaps, such thing may lead to infidelity, because to act upon the external manifestations of the Book (i.e. the Holy Qur'ān) and the Sunnah are among the principles of infidelity.”
The previously mentioned summary of the history of the Islamic legislation and the confusive issues of Muslim jurisprudence has been presented for purpose of giving the gentle readers an idea about the topic discussed herein and to acquaint them with some of the principles that were invented during the first age of Islam as well as the roots of discrepancy among the Muslims due to which multiplicity of religious opinions have been validated while the Lord is One, the Messenger is one, and the Holy Book is one although Almighty Allah has called us to be united in laws and doctrines and warned us against discrepancy and disunity; and the Holy Prophet has confirmed that only one sect shall be saved.
Back To The Main Topic
It is known for everybody that the Holy Prophet managed the legislative and political affairs of the Islamic State; therefore, his successor must be qualified in these two aspects. Yet, Abū-Bakr and `Umar were rulers rather than versed in religious knowledge; and because the authority in Islam requires knowledge in addition to administration, they had to make some changes to the principles of the religious laws so that they would be able to legalize their words and deeds and to take them out of the circle of personal views that would be criticized in the coming ages. As previously cited, neither Abū-Bakr nor did `Umar, in the beginning of their reign, claim that they had full acquaintance with the knowledge of the Holy Prophet; rather they used to consult and ask the Sahābah about the question that they had not known, such as in the issue of grandmothers’ shares of inheritances and many others. In addition, when their opinions violated the Holy Prophet’s decisions, they would retreat their personal decisions, as took place on many occasions. Yet, in the last period of his reign, `Umar increasingly refused to retreat his opinions, and claimed his having been the first and last criterion of discriminating the authentic from the untrue until he detained some of the Sahābah who could not release themselves before `Umar’s death.
Abū-Bakr and `Umar, as well as all the Muslims, knew that only Almighty Allah and the Holy Prophet had the right to legislate; and when a ruling is issued by the Holy Qur'ān and Sunnah, none else would have the right to repeal or violate; yet, the others’ mission would be no more than inferring rulings from these two sources of legislation. As a result, as Abū-Bakr and `Umar had retreated their decisions when they were informed of the actual ruling of the Holy Qur'ān and Sunnah as regards a certain question, this means that they knew for sure that the source of the Islamic legislation had been the Holy Sunnah, not their personal judgments. However, they then went on emphasizing on their personal judgments and opinions even if they would violate the Holy Prophet’s words or their past judgments. For instance, `Umar, in one of the issues, stated “That decision was for that case and this decision is for this case!”
He knew for sure that if the demonstration of the contradiction between the Sahābah’s reports from the Holy Prophet continued, it would certainly lead to the detachment of the political leadership from the religious; and this would not be admitted by `Umar under any circumstance.
As an undeniable fact, the allowance of reporting the Holy Prophet’s Sunnah would lead to the raising of the levels of cognizance and perceptiveness of the Muslims as they would have acquaintance with the Holy Prophet’s decisions; and because `Umar did not know all these decisions and rulings, he would certainly issue verdicts that are in violation of the Holy Prophet’s; and this would put him in an embarrassing situation before the Sahābah and would cause their opinions as regards the religious issues to be contradictory. In order to stop all these results, he summoned all the Sahābah and said to them, “You have spread the Hadīth of the Messenger of Allah,” or “You have reported extremely much the Hadīth of the Messenger of Allah.” This is because he knew that the spreading and reporting of the Hadīth would make his conflict with them more complicated. He therefore confirmed on analogy (Qiyās)and the resting upon individual opinions in the issuance of religious rulings as has been previously cited in his message to Abū-Mūsā al-Ash`ariy and Shurayh the judge. The same thing can be said about the Hadīths of Ijtihād that have been narrated on the authority of Mu`ādh, `Amr ibn al-`Ās, and others that were invented for the purpose of justifying `Umar’s decisions.
Our assertion that `Umar ibn al-Khattāb suggested Ijtihād more than Abū-Bakr does not oppose the arguments that Qiyās, as a term, was originated in later ages because of temporal necessities experienced by the ruling authorities and their jurisprudents. The first seeds of Ijtihād were sowed by `Umar, as has been proven in the previous discussions. Yet, that sowing and origination was not perfect in aspects and fundaments; rather it stumbled and was hindered by many of the Sahābah and their disciples. However, its final picture was displayed in later ages, precisely in the beginning of the second century of Hijrah, after it had taken definite principles and structure that discriminated it from the other sources of Muslim jurisprudence. From this cause, we can notice the emergence of other titles and terms, such as Istihsān and Masālih (advantage), beside it.
Exposition Of Imam `Alī
As a result of the above, not all the religious rulings were decided according to sacred texts and authentic reports from the Holy Prophet; rather personal opinions and analogy were inserted into the Islamic legislation. For that reason, some of the Sahābah, as has been previously cited, did not accept Ijtihād in matters about which sacred texts are not available because they were close to the age of the direct legislation and also because they knew the very persons who had texts from the Holy Prophet concerning the new issues. However, it is not justifiable for `Umar to open wide the doors of Ijtihād just because he had not known such sacred texts, since his act would cause danger to the Islamic jurisprudence and doctrine. Imam `Alī unquestionably identified the actuality of the Islamic nation in general and the situation of the first age of Islam, which was indeed critical, through a section of his famous sermon of al-Shaqshaqiyyah as he said,
“It is strange that during his lifetime he (Abū-Bakr) wished to be released from the caliphate but he confirmed it for the other one (`Umar) after his death. No doubt, these two shared its udders strictly among themselves. This one put the Caliphate in a tough enclosure where the utterance was haughty and the touch was rough. Mistakes were in plenty and so also the excuses therefore. One in contact with it was like the rider of an unruly camel. If he pulled up its rein, the very nostril would be slit, but if he let it loose, he would be thrown. Consequently, by Allah people got involved in recklessness, wickedness, unsteadiness and deviation. Nevertheless, I remained patient despite length of period and stiffness of trial… etc.”
Expanding on this sermon, Ibn Abi’l-Hadīd says,
“Imam `Alī wanted to say that the path to which they led people were not easy; rather it is so rough that a walker will certainly stumble. By ‘mistakes were in plenty and so also the excuses therefore,’ Imam `Alī meant that `Umar very frequently repealed the decisions that he had decided concerning religious laws. Similarly, he very frequently apologized for having issued inaccurate verdicts. Another meaning may be cited for this very statement is that the people’s deeds and movements might be excused for it… etc.”
This statement reveals the actual situation of the ummah during the reign of `Umar ibn al-Khattāb who made many changes and modifications due to which people had to experience such a chronic disease that took them away from the right path, which they should have taken in their religious, political, and social lives. Describing this stage, Imam `Alī says that people were certainly involved in recklessness, wickedness, unsteadiness, and deviation. After the departure of the Holy Prophet, it became clear that those who held his position and came to power after him were too weak to represent him as regards the religious, cultural, educational, and even political affairs when they could not discriminate the apostates from others for purpose of annihilating all the enemies of Abū-Bakr. For instance, the murder of slaying Mālik ibn Nuwayrah passed without punishment or even reproach.
However, the short period of Abū-Bakr’s caliphate covered some of his mistakes and concealed the actual appearance of confusion, unlike the period of `Umar’s caliphate that took long time during which all the matters and incidents that had been veiled were unveiled. As a result, Imam `Alī emphasized on the reign of `Umar for it carried the greatest share of changing and distortion. In addition, because their caliph ignored many of their affairs, the people correspondingly ignored these affairs since a caliph is the ruler and reformer of the subjects; and because the reformer confessed of his need for reformation since he was incompetent, confusion prevailed on the situation and caused the people to take a path other than the one sketched by the Holy Prophet and the Muslims. As a consequence, opinions and personal views seized the lion’s share of the Islamic legislation and each individual claimed accurateness of his opinion and inaccurateness of the others’ views. Furthermore, the caliph himself issued certain judgments and then repealed or canceled them claiming all these opinions having been true even if they opposed each other because all of his opinions, for his having been the highest authority of Islam, were true. Consequently, the right path was missed and nothing remained other than a rough one. The people therefore had to take wrong paths.
To this very point, Imam `Alī referred by saying,
“He sits among the people as a judge responsible for solving whatever is confusing to the others. If an ambiguous problem is presented before him he manages shabby argument about it of his own accord and passes judgment on its basis. In this way he is entangled in the confusion of doubts as in the spider’s web, not knowing whether he was right or wrong. If he is right he fears lest he erred, while if he is wrong he hopes he is right. He is ignorant, wandering astray in ignorance and riding on carriages aimlessly moving in darkness. He did not try to find reality of knowledge. He scatters the traditions as the wind scatters the dry leaves.”
Having demonstrated the feature of the first stage, Imam `Alī described the second stage as wickedness since the natural result of neglecting the right path and taking other paths without guidance was alienation and sorts of unintentional reactions. Hence, wicked incidents emerged among the Muslims who unfortunately acquired unprecedented manners, which were the natural result of missing the right path. In that period, many masters killed their slaves; therefore, `Umar, having tried to stop this event, violated the Holy Prophet’s decision of the impermissibility of retaliating upon masters who kill their slavesalthough this decision was known by every Muslim. Unnatural conducts were obviously noticed from both the caliph and the subjects because the earlier caused the latter to miss the right path and because the latter misused the Islamic law because of the absence of the religious awareness that are inspired from the sacred texts that prohibited intensely suicide and mistreatment of others. This is the very “wickedness” mentioned by Imam `Alī. It is also a serious danger suffered by the communities on which complexes and states of revenge, quarrel, and social disorder prevail. Other examples are the emergence of states like women’s calling at men (Nasr ibn al-Hajjāj) and the state of people’s detestation towards definite jurisprudential terms that are unfitting to their tastes disregarding the sacredness of the Holy Legislator, such as the forbiddingness of the temporary marriage that leaves a great effect on the stability of communities, especially in cases of war, fewness of men… etc.
A little ponderation over the aforementioned conducts of `Umar and the Sahābah’s objections to his decisions although a group of them supported him causing secession and irregular states that were not found during the Holy Prophet’s lifetime—a little ponderation over these things proves that `Umar could not do anything about them or took negative decisions, such as in the issue of seizing the half of the fortunes of his officials. During the Holy Prophet’s lifetime, there was not any disloyal official who would appropriate the public treasury; and the Holy Prophet never seized any part of those officials’ fortunes. Even if such officials had stolen a part of the public treasury, `Umar should have investigated the matter and seized the very stolen part, not all or half of their fortunes. Hence, the state of wickedness existed in the Muslim community because people had followed a path other than the right one.
Then, Imam `Alī refers to a third stage of change, which is modification or distortion. In the reign of `Umar, the conversion of the religious laws became a natural state since the caliph was considered having the right to issue a law, to cancel another, to restrict a general religious law, to generalize a restricted law, to repeal a holy verse, to invalidate an act of the Holy Prophet, to exile anyone, to detain others, to punish, and to forgive! All these actions would be taken for nothing other than the claim that a caliph is a mujtahid who has his own opinion that must be regarded since he would identify what is good for the religion more than others would.
Unfortunately, this idea was gradually concentrated in the mentalities of the publics who were not at the required level of knowledgeability with the general rules of the religion as well as those who were influenced by the Sahābah who had acted upon their personal opinions during the Holy Prophet’s lifetime. As a result, all the religious laws were changed or distorted. It became recommended to beat a Sahābiy on bases of “disciplining the deviants” and it became naturally that the caliph forbids a lawful matter or deems lawful an unlawful matter since he, not anyone else, had the competence to identify what is good for the Muslims. Similarly, to have numerous decisions in a single issue became a familiar thing since all the verdicts of a “mujtahid” must be decided as the laws of Allah. In the age of `Umar too, each decision as regards the religious laws became acceptably valid since the caliph himself said, “That decision was for that case and this decision is for this!” Likewise, the share of the al-Mu’allafah Qulūbuhum was canceled because Islam became powerful and thus it no longer needed for others… etc.
All these examples of modification and distortion of the religious laws influenced the Muslims who had to accept incorrect jurisprudence and wrong beliefs that the Holy Prophet rejected, such as the case in the weeping for the deceased and other personal baseless inferences.
The greatest catastrophe came about in the fourth stage, which is the stage of objection; the stage of getting lost in floundering paths, in this stage, a taker of a path is going astray; hence, the more he walks, the remoter from the target he becomes. Imam `Alī has described this stage very accurately. His word “deviation” comprises many indications that can be understood with a little ponderation.
In the previous stages, people took paths other than the right one; yet, it was hoped that they would see the right path and follow if they were shown the evidences on the right one, but because of the nonexistence of a guide who leads to the right path, people’s walking became aimless and thus it became impossible to lead them to the right one. This is because they believed in those wrong paths as the right and their taking them became a rule, not an irregular state that could be treated under certain circumstances.
A ponderation over the meaning of “deviation” proves that the walking in the wrong paths increased the state of deviation and the keeping on this path would cause aloofness from the right path. If the right path is sketched as a straight line and the wrong path is sketched as a curved one then the two lines are extended in the same direction, the right line will take one original path while the curved line will keep on going away from the right one although its followers believe that they are taking the right path. The current expansion of the abyss among the Muslims to such a degree that it has become impossible to bring them together to the same path or unite their viewpoints in a certain question has been the result of following curved lines. A group of Muslims has argued Qiyās being a source of legislation while another group has declared it as an act of Satan. A group has claimed that the temporary marriage is lawful while another group has claimed that `Umar’s words invalidated it. A group has believed that the leadership of the ummah must be nominated by sacred texts and divine commission while another group has rested upon the Shūrā principle and validated the leadership of the one that is selected by experts and so on. Hence, “deviation” has covered all the affairs of the Divine Legislation that has been conveyed by the same Prophet.
In an excellent statement, Imam `Alī has described that stage along with its disagreeing opinions. Ijtihād and Opinionism invented by `Umar have been too stretchy to be stopped:
“One in contact with it was like the rider of an unruly camel. If he pulled up its rein, the very nostril would be slit, but if he let it loose, he would be thrown.”
For instance, as `Abd al-Rahmān ibn `Awf put `Uthmān ibn `Affān under the pledge that he would act upon the manners of the two caliphs, Abū-Bakr and `Umar (Sīrat al-Shaykhayn), he could not later on oblige him to stop his personal decisions, such as offering complete, not shortened, prayers at Minā, since `Uthmān actually acted upon the manners of the two caliphs who established Opinionism. Hence, neither `Abd al-Rahmān ibn `Awf nor could anyone else blame `Uthmān for a deed because he, just like Abū-Bakr and `Umar, acted upon Ijtihād although he knew for sure that the Holy Prophet, Abū-Bakr and, `Umar offered shortened prayers at Minā. As a consequence, it was unacceptable to object to the deeds of the Sahābah or caliphs that violated the Holy Prophet’s instructions since they, including Mu`āwiyah ibn Abī-Sufyān, Yazīd and `Abd al-Malik ibn Marwān, acted upon Ijtihād and Opinionism.
Imam `Alī is also reported to have said,
“Know, O creatures of Allah, that a believer should regard lawful this year what he regarded lawful in the previous year, and should consider unlawful this year what he considered unlawful in the previous year. Certainly, people’s innovation cannot make lawful for you what has been declared unlawful; rather, lawful is that which Allah has made lawful and unlawful is that which Allah has made unlawful. You have already tested the matters and tried them; you have been preached by those before you. Illustrations have been drawn for you and you have been called to clear fact. Only a deaf man can remain deaf to all this, and only a blind man can remain blind to all this.”
He is also reported as saying,
“Verily, Allah has not created you in vain nor left you unbridled nor left you alone in ignorance and gloom. He has defined what you should leave behind, taught you your acts, ordained your death, sent down to you
‘the Book (the Holy Qur'ān) explaining everything’ [Holy Qur’ān: 16:89]
and made His Prophet live among you for a long time till He completed for him and for you the message sent through the Qur'ān namely the religion liked by Him, and clarified through him His good acts and evil acts, His prohibitions and His commands. He placed before you His arguments and exhausted his excuses upon you. He put forth to you His promises and warned you of severe retribution.”