The fleers from jihad
Source: Al-Nass Wal-Ijtihad, Text and Interpretation
By: Allama Abdul Husayn Sharafuddin al-Musawi
Allah has prohibited fleeing from jihad at all by this verse: “O you who believe! When you meet those who disbelieve marching for war, then turn not your backs to them. And whoever shall turn his back to them on that day, unless he turn aside for the sake of fighting or withdraws to a company, then he, indeed, becomes deserving of Allah's wrath, and his abode is hell; and an evil destination shall it be” (Qur’an 8:15-16)
It is a clear and absolute text in a clear verse of the holy Qur'an. But some of the companions have interpreted it according to their own opinions preferring the benefits to obeying the holy texts. In fact they have violated this clear text in many occasions.
One of those occasions was on the day of Uhud. Ibn Qam’a attacked Mus’ab bin Umayr (may Allah be pleased with him) and killed him thinking that he was the Prophet (S). He returned to Quraysh telling them that he had killed Muhammad. The polytheists began bringing good news to each other. They said: “Muhammad was killed! Muhammad was killed! Ibn Qam’a killed him.” The Muslims were frightened and they fled unknowing what to do as Allah has said expressing their state: “When you ran off precipitately and did not wait for any one, and the Messenger was calling you from your rear, so He gave you another sorrow instead of (your) sorrow” (Qur’an 3:153).
The Prophet (S) was calling upon them: “O slaves of Allah, come to me! O slaves of Allah, come to me! I am the Messenger of Allah. He, who attacks the enemy, will be in Paradise!” He was calling upon them while he was at the rear but they did not turn to any one at all (while fleeing).
Ibn Jareer and Ibnul Atheer mentioned in their Tareekh: “The defeat of the fleeing group of the Muslims, among whom was Othman bin Affan and others, took them to al-A’was. They stayed there for three days and then they came back to the Prophet (S) who said to them when he saw them: “You have gone where you liked!” 190
Ibn Jareer and Ibnul Atheer also mentioned that Anas bin an-Nadhr, who was the uncle of Anas bin Malik, met Umar, Talha and some of the Muhajireen, who had put their weapons aside and given up fighting. He asked them: “Why have you given up fighting?” They said: “The Prophet (S) has been killed”. He said to them: “Then what do you do with life after him? Die for what the Prophet (S) has died for!” Then he attacked the polytheists and fought them until he was killed. Seventy stabs and strokes were found in his body and no one could know him save his sister.
They mentioned that Anas bin an-Nadhr had heard some of the Muslims, among whom were Umar and Talha, saying when they heard that the Prophet (S) had been killed: “Would that Abdullah bin Abu Salool come to take safeguard for us from Abu Sufyan before they kill us!” Anas said to them: “O people, if Muhammad has been killed, the Lord of Muhammad has not been killed. Fight for what Muhammad has fought for! O Allah, I apologize to You for what these people say and acquit myself from what they do!” Then he fought until he was martyred. 191 Blessings of Allah be upon him.
And another one of those occasions was: “..on the day of Hunayn, when your great numbers made you vain, but they availed you nothing and the earth became strait to you notwithstanding its spaciousness, then you turned back retreating. Then Allah sent down His tranquility upon His Messenger and upon the believers” (Qur’an 9:25-26)
who kept to the Prophet (S) when his companions fled; the companions among whom was Umar as al-Bukhari said in his Sahih 192 when mentioning a tradition that Abu Qatada al-Ansari had said: “…on the day of Hunayn the Muslims fled away and I fled with them. I saw Umar among the fleers. I said to him: “What is the matter with the people?” He said: “It is an affair of Allah…”
And another occasion; when the Prophet (S) marched to conquer Khaybar, he sent Abu Bakr at the head of the army. He was defeated and came back. 193
Imam ‘Ali (as) said: “The Prophet (S) marched to conquer Khaybar. He sent Umar at the head of the companions (the army). He and his companions were defeated and came back; one cowarding the other…” 194
Al-Hakim mentioned in his Mustadrak 195 that Jabir bin Abdullah had said: “The Messenger of Allah said: “Tomorrow I will send a man, who loves Allah and His Messenger and they love him. He will not turn his back (to the enemy). Allah will grant him victory.” The men looked forward to it. Ali was sore-eyed on that day. The Prophet (S) asked him to set out with the army. Ali said: “O Messenger of Allah, I can see nothing.” The Prophet (S) spit in Ali’s eyes and gave him the banner.
Ali asked: “O Messenger of Allah, what shall I fight them for?” The Prophet (S) said: “To witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. If they do, they will spare their bloods and monies and their reward will be with Allah.” He fought them (the people of Khaybar) and defeated them.”
Al-Hakim, after mentioning this tradition, said: “Al-Bukhari and Muslim have agreed on the tradition (of the banner) but they did not mention it in this way.” So has been said by ath-Thahabi in his Talkhees after mentioning the tradition.
Iyass bin Salama narrated that his father had said: “We have fought with the Prophet (S) in Khaybar when he spit in Ali’s eyes and they recovered and then the Prophet (S) gave him the banner. Marhab came out to Ali reciting: “Khaybar has known that I am Marhab, Expert hero with sharp weapons When wars come flaming.”
Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) came out to him reciting: “It is me, whom my mother has called me Haydara, like a lion of forest with bad look. I kill (many of) you with the sword.” Ali struck Marhab and split his head and then the victory came.” 196
And another occasion during the battle of as-Silsila in the valley of ar-Raml (sand); it was like the battle of Khaybar. First the Prophet (S) sent Abu Bakr and then he came back defeated with his army. Then the Prophet (S) sent Umar who came back with defeat too. After that the Prophet (S) sent Imam ‘Ali (as) who came back with victory, booties and captives. 197
The battle of as-Silsila is other than the battle of Thaat as-Salasil, which was in the seventh year of hijra under the leadership of Amr bin al-Aas. Abu Bakr, Umar and Abu Ubayda were among the army on that day according to all of the historians.
There were some problems between Umar and Amr bin al-Aas as al-Hakim has mentioned in his Mustadrak. 198 Abdullah bin Burayda narrated that his father had said: “The Prophet (S) had sent Amr bin al-Aas to the battle of Thaat as-Salasil as the leader of the army, in which Abu Bakr and Umar were as soldiers. When they arrived at the place of the battle, Amr ordered his army not to light any fire. Umar bin al-Khattab became angry and tried to attack Amr but Abu Bakr forbade him from doing that and said to him that the Prophet (S) had appointed Amr as the leader because he knew that he was expert in the affairs of the wars and then Umar became quiet.”
Al-Hakim said, after mentioning this tradition, that it was true and ath-Thahabi said the same after mentioning the tradition in his Talkhees.
The Prophet (S) had wise ways in announcing the virtues of Imam ‘Ali (as) and in preferring him to the rest of the companions. The researchers knew that well.
Among these ways was that the Prophet (S) had never appointed any one as a leader over Imam ‘Ali (as) neither in war nor in peace whereas the other companions had been under the leadership of others. 199 The Prophet (S) had appointed Amr bin al-Aas as the emir over Abu Bakr and Umar in the battle of Thaat as-Salasil. When the Prophet (S) left to the better world, Usama bin Zayd, although he was too young, was the emir over the heads of the Muhajireen and the Ansar like Abu Bakr, Umar, Abu Ubayda and their likes.
When the Prophet (S) appointed Imam ‘Ali (as) as a leader of an army, he joined to his army famous personalities but when he appointed other than him, he excluded him from those armies and kept him to be with him. 200
When the Prophet (S) sent two brigades; one under the leadership of Imam ‘Ali (as) and the other under the leadership of another one, he ordered them that when the two brigades gathered together, both would be under the leadership of Imam ‘Ali (as) and when they separated again, each one would lead his brigade. 201
The Prophet (S), more than one time, had sent other than Imam ‘Ali (as) on the armies but they came back unsuccessfully and then the Prophet (S) sent Imam ‘Ali (as) to obtain great victories 202 and in this way the virtue of Imam ‘Ali (as) appeared better than if the Prophet (S) would have sent him from the first.
The Prophet (S) might have sent other than Imam ‘Ali (as) in a task, to which the necks stretched, and then Allah revealed to the Prophet (S) that: “No one is to carry out your tasks save you or a man from you” meaning Imam ‘Ali (as) as it was with the matter of the sura of Bara’a and breaking the covenants of the polytheists on the day of the great hajj. 203
190. These details have been mentioned by all the historians who have talked about the Battle of Uhud.
191. This story has been mentioned by the historians who have detailed the events of the battle of Uhud.
192. Vol.3 p.46. Al-Bidayeh wen-Nihayeh by Ibn Katheer, vol.4 p.329 from al-Bukhari, Muslim and others.
193. Mustadrak of al-Hakim, vol.3 p.37, Talkhees al-Mustadrak by ath-Thahabi.
194. Mustadrak of al-Hakim, Talkhees al-Mustadrak of ath-Thahabi.
195. Vol.3, p.38.
196. Mustadrak of al-Hakim, who said it was a true tradition according to the conditions of al-Bukhari and Muslim. So was said by ath-Thahabi in his Talkhees.
197. Refer to al-Irshad by Sheikh al-Mufeed for more details.
198. Vol. 3, p.43.
199. Once al-Hasan al-Basri was asked about Imam ‘Ali (as) and he said: “What shall I say about one, who has obtained the four aspects; being entrusted with the sura of Bara’a, what the Prophet (S) has said about him in the battle of Tabook… if he missed any thing of virtues other than prophethood, the Prophet (S) would exclude him, the saying of the Prophet (S): …the two weighty things; the Book of Allah and my family and that no emir has ever been appointed over him at all whereas the emirs have commanded other (companions) than him…” Refer to Sharh Nahjul Balagha, vol. 1 p.369
200. As he had done in the battle of Khaybar when he appointed Abu Bakr and then Umar as the leaders but he was not under their leaderships but when he appointed Imam ‘Ali (as) as the leader, they both were under his leadership. Praise be to Allah for all of that!
201. Ahmad bin Hanbal mentioned in his Musnad, vol.5 p.356 that Burayda had said: “The Prophet (S) had sent two armies to Yemen; one of them was under the leadership of Ali bin Abu Talib and the other was under the leadership of Khalid bin al-Waleed. He said to them: “If you meet together, Ali will be the leader of the two armies and if you separate, each one of you will lead his army.” We met the tribe of Zubayda and we fought each other. The Muslims defeated the polytheists. We killed the warriors and captured the women. Ali chose a woman from among the captives to himself. Khalid sent a letter with me to the Prophet (S) telling him about that. When I came to the Prophet (S), I gave him the book. It was read to him. The sign of anger seemed on the face of the Prophet (S). I said: “O Messenger of Allah, you have sent me with a man and ordered me to obey him and I did as I was ordered.” The Prophet (S) said: “Do not involve yourself with Ali in any problem! He is from me and I am from him and he is your guardian after me.” This tradition has been mentioned by other scholars of Hadith. Refer to our book al-Muraja’at, no.36.
202. As in the battle of Khaybar and the battle of Thaat as-Salasil mentioned above.
203. We have written a good research on this subject in our book Abu Hurayra. Please refer to p.157-188, tradition no.18.