Fasting at the beginning of Islam
Source: Al-Nass Wal-Ijtihad, Text and Interpretation
By: Allama Abdul Husayn Sharafuddin al-Musawi
In Ramadan, at the beginning of Islam, a fasting Muslim could eat, drink, sleep with his wife and do the other permissible things since the sunset until he offered Isha’ prayer or he slept. If he offered Isha’ prayer or he slept, it would be impermissible for him to eat, to drink, to sleep with his wife or to do other things that were not permissible for a fasting one until the next night.
But one night after Isha’ prayer Umar slept with his wife. He regretted what he had done. He came to the Prophet (S) and said to him: “O Messenger of Allah, I apologize to Allah and to you my mistaken soul…” He told the Prophet (S) of what he had done. Then some men got up and confessed that they often did as Umar had done after Isha’ prayer.
Then Allah revealed to the Prophet (S) this verse: “It is made lawful to you to go into your wives on the night of the fast; they are an apparel for you and you are an apparel for them; Allah knew that you acted unfaithfully to yourselves, so He has turned to you (mercifully) and removed from you (this burden); so now be in contact with them and seek what Allah has ordained for you, and eat and drink until the whiteness of the day becomes distinct from the blackness of the night at dawn, then complete the fast till night” (Qur’an 2:187)175
The verse showed clearly that they disobeyed Allah more than one time but Allah had forgiven them and accepted their repentance and He permitted them to practice what had been impermissible for them as mercy from Him.
Allah has revealed three verses about wine; the first was: “They ask you about intoxicants and games of chance. Say: In both of them there is a great sin and means of profit for men, and their sin is greater than their profit” (Qur’an 2:219).
After this verse some of the Muslims drank wine and others refrained from drinking it until a man offered his prayer while he was drunk and so he mistook in reciting the verses in the prayer. Then Allah revealed: “O you who believe! Do not go near prayer when you are intoxicated until you know (well) what you say” (Qur’an 4:43)
After the revelation of this verse some Muslims drank wine and some others gave it up. Some historians mentioned that one day Umar drank wine and then he took a jawbone of a camel and struck Abdurrahman bin Ouff on the head. Then he sat weeping for the killed people of the battle of Badr and reciting some poetry of al-Aswad bin Ya’fur: “Is he unable to keep death away from me, or resurrect me when my bones become destroyed?
Is there someone who tells the Beneficent that I have given up the month of fast?
Say to Allah to prevent me my drink And say to Allah to prevent me my food.”
The Prophet (S) was informed of that and he became very angry. He went out dragging his garment and he hit Umar with something he had in his hand. Umar said: “May Allah save me from His wrath and from the wrath of His Messenger!” Then Allah revealed: “The Shaitan only desires to cause enmity and hatred to spring in your midst by means of intoxicants and games of chance, and to keep you off from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. Will you then desist”(Qur’an 5:91).
Umar said: “We desist! We desist!” 176
The Prophet (S) forbids from killing al-Abbas and others177
During the battle of Badr the Prophet (S) said to his companions: “I know that some men of Bani Hashim have been forced to go to the battle (to fight against the Muslims) unwillingly. We have no need to fight them. When you meet any one of them (the Hashemites), you are not to kill him and if any one of you meets Abul Bukhturi bin Hisham bin al-Harith bin Asad, he has not to kill him 178 and if any of you meets al-Abbas bin Abdul Muttalib (the Prophet’s uncle) he has not to kill him because he has gone to war unwillingly.”
The Prophet (S) had forbidden his companions from killing any one of the Hashemites and then he had forbidden them from killing his uncle al-Abbas especially to confirm and to stress on that al-Abbas were not to be killed. When al-Abbas had been captured as prisoner, the Prophet (S) had spent that night sleeplessly. His companions asked him: “O Messenger of Allah, why could you not sleep?” He said: “I heard my uncle writhing in his ties and I could not sleep.” They went and set al-Abbas free of his ties and then the Prophet (S) could sleep. 179
Yahya bin Katheer said: “On the day (the battle) of Badr the Muslims had captured seventy men of the polytheists, among whom was al-Abbas, the Prophet’s uncle. Umar bin al-Khattab was responsible for tying him. Al-Abbas said: “O Umar, by Allah, what leads you to tighten my ties is because of my slapping you for the sake of the Messenger of Allah.”
The Prophet (S) heard the moaning of al-Abbas and he could not sleep. The companions asked: “O Messenger of Allah, what prevents you from sleeping?” He said: “How can I sleep while I hear the moaning of my uncle?” Then the Ansar set him free…”180
All the Prophet’s companions of the Ansar, the Muhajireen and others knew well what high position Abul Fadhl al-Abbas had near the Prophet (S). When the Prophet (S) heard the word of Abu Huthayfa bin Utba bin Rabee’a bin Abd Shams, who fought with the Prophet (S) in Badr, when he said: “Do we kill our fathers and brothers and we leave al-Abbas free? By Allah, if I meet him, I will strike him with the sword” he became very angry for that and then he said to Umar provoking his zeal: “O Abu Hafs, is it right that the face of the Prophet’s uncle is struck with the sword?” Umar said: “By Allah, it was the first day that the Prophet (S) had called me as Abu Hafs.” 181
The war came to an end. The Prophet (S) gained victory and his army returned with honor. Seventy of the tyrants were killed and other seventy of them were captured. The prisoners were brought dragging their ties. Abu Hafs (Umar) began inciting to kill them with severe words. He said: “O Messenger of Allah, they have (considered you as a liar) disbelieved in you, exiled you and fought you. Would you permit me to kill so-and-so (one of his relatives) and permit Ali to kill his brother Aqeel and permit Hamza to kill his brother al-Abbas?”
Glory be to Allah! Al-Abbas and Aqeel were neither among those who had considered the Prophet (S) as a liar nor among those who had exiled him nor among those who had harmed him! They were with him in the Shi’b during the long period of the blockade against the Hashimites suffering distresses with him. They had been taken to the battle unwillingly as the Prophet (S) himself had witnessed and the Prophet (S) had forbidden his companions from killing them under the heat of the war so how would they be killed while they were captives?
As the withering of al-Abbas had worried the Prophet (S) and prevented him from sleeping, then how would he become if his uncle was killed for no reason? Al-Abbas had been a Muslim before that but he had concealed his faith for a wisdom behind which there was contentment to Allah and His Messenger and goodness to him and to the umma. 182
Taking ransom from the prisoners of Badr
When Allah has granted His servant and Messenger with victory on the day of distinction, the day on which the two parties met; the prisoners have been brought to the Prophet (S). It seemed then that he would keep them alive so that Allah might guide them to His religion later on; and it happened by the grace of Allah!
But the Prophet (S) decided, after forgiving them, to take ransom from them in order to weaken them so that they would not be able to stand against him again and that he would be stronger than them with that ransom. This was the best for the two parties and it was the loyalty to Allah and to His people undoubtedly; “Nor does he speak out of desire. It is naught but revelation that is revealed” (Qur’an 53:3-4).
Though the Prophet (S) was merciful in nature and wherever he found a way he would not fail to show his mercy.
Umar thought that all of the prisoners should be killed as a reward because they had considered the Prophet (S) as a liar, harmed him, exiled him and fought him. Umar was too determined to do away with them and that they should be killed by their Muslim relatives.
But the Prophet (S) had exemplified the word of Allah: “I follow naught but what is revealed to me; surely I fear, if I disobey my Lord, the punishment of a mighty day” (Qur’an 10:15).
The Prophet (S) forgave them and set them free after taking the ransom. After that those, who were ignorant of his infallibility and wisdom, became as if they “cannot arise except as one, whom the Satan has prostrated by (his) touch, does rise. That is because they say”(Qur’an 2:275)
that the Prophet (S), when keeping them (the prisoners) and taking ransom from them, acted according to his own ijtihad (opinion) 183 whereas the right thing for him was to kill them and to get rid of their evil. They depended on false and fabricated traditions that neither reason nor custom would accept.
Among those false traditions was this one: “After the Prophet (S) had taken the ransom from the prisoners of Quraysh (and set them free), Umar came to him and found him and Abu Bakr crying. Umar said to them: “What are you crying for?” The Prophet (S) said: “We are about to be afflicted with a great torment because we have contradicted (Umar) Ibn al-Khattab. If torment comes down, no one will be safe from it except Ibn al-Khattab.” 184
(They said) then Allah revealed: “It is not fit for a prophet that he should take captives unless he has fought and triumphed in the land; you desire the frail goods of this world, while Allah desires (for you) the hereafter; and Allah is Mighty, Wise. Were it not for an ordinance from Allah that had already gone forth, surely there would have befallen you a great chastisement for what you had taken to” (Qur’an 8:67-68).
“And they did not assign to Allah the attributes due to Him”(Qur’an 6:91) when they went far in deviation and ascribed ijtihad to the Prophet (S) whereas Allah said: “It is naught but revelation that is revealed” (Qur’an 53:4).
They were too ignorant when they thought that the Prophet (S) had been mistaken and they went astray to the full when they preferred the saying of other than the Prophet (S). They became confused with this verse and became blind before its intents. They said that it had been revealed to scold the Prophet (S) and his companions when they - as the fool had pretended - preferred the pleasures of this life to the afterlife by keeping the prisoners alive and taking ransom from them before they “..had fought and triumphed in the land” (Qur’an 8:67). They pretended that no one innocent of that sin save Umar and if the great chastisement would come down, no one would be safe from it except Umar!
Had told lies he who had pretended that the Prophet (S) had kept the prisoners and taken ransom from them before he “..had fought and triumphed in the land..”.
The Prophet (S) did that after he had fought and killed the heroes and tyrants of Quraysh like Abu Jahl bin Hisham, Utba, Shayba bin Abu Rabee’a, al-Waleed bin Utba, al-Aas bin Sa’eed, al-Aswad bin Abdul Asad al-Makhzoomi, Umayya bin Khalaf, Zam’a bin al-Asad, Aqeel bin al-Aswad, Nabeeh, Munabbih, Abul Bukhturi, Handhala bin Abu Sufyan, Tu’ayma bin Adiy bin Nawfal, Nawfal bin Khuwaylid, al-Harith bin Zam’a, an-Nadhr bin al-Harith bin Abd ad-Dar, Umayr bin Othman at-Tameemi, Othman and Malik, the brothers of Talha, Mas’ood bin Umayya bin al-Mugheera, Qayss bin al-Faqih bin al-Mugheera, Huthayfa bin Abu Huthayfa bin al-Mugheera, Abu Qayss bin al-Waleed bin al-Mugheera, Amr bin Makhzoom, Abul Munthir bin Abu Rifa’a, Hajib bin as-Sa’ib bin Uwaymir, Ouss bin al-Mugheera bin Louthan, Zayd bin Malees, Aasim bin Abu Ouff, Sa’eed bin Wahab, Mo’awiya bin Abdul Qays, Abdullah bin Jameel bin Zuhayr bin al-Harith bin Asad, as-Sa’ib bin Malik, Abul Hakam bin al-Ahnass, Hisham bin Umayya bin al-Mugheera…to the seventy heads of disbelief and the chiefs of polytheism.
After all that how could the Prophet (S) have taken ransom before fighting? Would that they had minds! How did they dare to blame the Prophet (S) after his victories, O you Muslims?! Allah forbid! The Prophet (S) is too far above all what they have raved!
The fact was that the verse had been revealed to scold those who wanted to obtain the caravans and to capture their keepers as Allah had said about the event: “And when Allah promised you one of the two parties that it shall be yours and you loved that the one not armed should be yours and Allah desired to manifest the truth of what was true by His words and to cut off the root of the unbelievers” (Qur’an 8:7).
The Prophet (S) had consulted with his companions and said to them: “The people (the polytheists) have set out on their camels. Are camels more beloved to you or fighting?” They said: “Camels are more beloved to us than meeting the enemy.” One of them said to the Prophet (S) when he saw him insisting on fighting: “You should have told us about fighting so that we could get ready for it. We have come to obtain the camels and not to fight.” The Prophet (S) became too angry. 185
Then Allah revealed: “Even as your Lord caused you to go forth from your house with the truth, though a party of the believers were surely averse. They disputed with you about the truth after it had become clear, (and they went forth) as if they were being driven to death while they saw (it)” (Qur’an 8:5-6).
Then Allah wanted to convince them by justifying the situation of the Prophet (S) in his insisting on fighting and in his indifference to the camels and their keepers when He said: “It is not fit for a prophet” (from among the prophets who had come before your Prophet Muhammad) “that he should take captives unless he has fought and triumphed in the land” (Qur’an 8:67); so your prophet would have no captives “unless he has fought and triumphed in the land” like the other previous prophets before him. But you wanted, by taking the camels and capturing their keepers, to obtain the pleasures of this life but Allah wanted the hereafter by doing away with His enemies and Allah is (Mighty, Wise). Might and wisdom at those days required to do away with the power of the enemies and to put out their flame.
Then Allah said scolding them: “Were it not for an ordinance from Allah that had already gone forth” to prevent them from taking the camels and capturing their keepers, they would have captured the people and taken their camels. If they had done so “..surely there would have befallen you a great chastisement for what you had taken to” (Qur’an 8:68) before fighting in the land!
This is the meaning of the verse and it cannot be interpreted into other than this meaning. I do not know that there is someone preceding me in this interpretation when I have mentioned this verse and explained it in my book al-Fusool al-Muhimma (the important chapters). 186
Prisoners of Hunayn
When Allah made His Messenger defeat the tribe of Hawazin in Hunayn and granted him with that great victory, the caller of the Prophet (S) announced: “No prisoner is to be killed!”
Umar bin al-Khattab passed by a tied captive called Ibn al-Akwa’ who had been sent before by the tribe of Huthayl to Mecca as a spy on the Prophet (S) to convey the news of the Prophet (S) and his companions. When Umar saw him, he said: “This is the enemy of Allah. He had been spying on us. He is a captive here. Kill him!” One of the Ansar beheaded him. When the Prophet (S) was informed of that, he scolded them for doing that and said: “Have I not ordered you not to kill any captive?” 187
After killing this one, they killed Jameel bin Ma’mar bin Zuhayr. The Prophet (S) sent for the Ansar while he was very angry. He said to them: “Why did you kill him whereas my messenger has come to you ordering you not to kill any prisoner?” They apologized and said that Umar had ordered them to kill the prisoner. The Prophet (S) became angry and deserted them (Umar) until Umayr bin Wahab interceded with him (for Umar) and then he forgave them. 188
Among those, who had been killed in Hunayn, was a woman from Hawazin. She was killed by Khalid bin al-Waleed. The Prophet (S) became very angry when he passed by her body, around which many people had gathered. The Prophet (S) said to one of his companions: “Follow after Khalid and say to him that the Prophet (S) orders you not to kill women, children or employees.” It has been narrated by Ibn Ishaq.
Ahmad bin Hanbal said: “Abu Aamir bin Abdul Melik narrated from al-Mugheera bin Abdurrahman from Abu az-Zinad from al-Muraqqi’ bin Sayfi that his grandfather Rabah bin Rabee’ had told him that once the Prophet (S) had come back from one of his battles where Khalid bin al-Waleed was the leader of the army. Rabah and the companions of the Prophet (S) passed by a killed woman, who had been killed by of the front of the army. They stopped looking at her astonishingly.
When the Prophet (S) arrived, they spread out. The Prophet (S) stopped, looked at her and said: “She would not have fought!” He said to one of his companions: “Follow after Khalid and say to him not to kill a woman or an employee.” 189 It has also been mentioned by Ibn Dawood, an-Nassa’iy and Ibn Maja from al-Muraqqi’ bin Sayfi.
167. It may be Rawdat Khakh, which is a place between Mecca and Medina.
168. Imam ‘Ali (as) threatened to disrobe her of her outer garment in which the book was.
169. Al-Bukhari's Sahih, vol. 4. chap. Forgiving the apostatized.
170. As in Hayat al-Haywan by ad-Dimyari, chap. “luqha” she-camel.
171. Vol.1, p.20.
172. Suffa means shed, in which the neediest people lived at that time. It was erected beside the mosque of the Prophet (S).
173. Al-Bukhari’s Sahih, Vol.1, p.19.
174. Tareekh Falsafatul Islam (history of the philosophy of Islam) by Muhammad Lutfi, p.301.
175. Refer to Tafseer al-Kashshaf by az-Zamakhshari and the other books of Tafseer to see the interpretation of this verse. Refer to Asbab an-Nuzool by al-Wahidy, p.33 for this tradition.
176. Al-Mustatraf fee Kulli Fanin Mustadhraf by Shihabuddeen al-Absheehi, vol.3 chap.74. It has also been quoted by some scholars from Rabee’ul Abrar by az-Zamakhshari. Al-Fakhr ar-Razi has referred to some of this event in his Tafseer al-Kabeer, vol.3 p.446 when interpreting the Qur’anic verse “The Shaitan only desires to cause enmity and hatred to spring in your midst by means of intoxicants and games of chance”.
He said: “It has been narrated that when Allah has revealed “O you who believe! Do not go near prayer when you are intoxicated”, Umar said: “O Allah, declare to us a full declaration about wine! And when this verse “The Shaitan only desires to cause enmity and hatred to spring in your midst by means of intoxicants and games of chance, and to keep you off from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. Will you then desist” was revealed, Umar said: “O our Lord, we desist!”
177. The Prophet (S) had forbidden from killing al-Abbas (the Prophet’s uncle). It has been mentionen in many true traditions and the books of Hadith are full of such traditions. All the historians, who have recorded the history of the battle of Badr, have mentioned this and mentioned that the Prophet (S) had forbidden from killing any one of the Hashemites.
178. Al-Bidayeh wen-Nihayeh by Ibn Katheer, vol.3 p.284 and other books of history like Seera of Ibn Ishaq. The Prophet (S) has forbidden his companions from killing Abul Bukhturi because he was one of those who had broken the bond (as-Saheefa) of the blockade against the Hashimites and he was among those who had not harmed the Prophet (S) or showed him what he disliked. The Prophet (S) intended to keep him alive so that Allah might guide him to the right path one day. In the thick of the battle al-Mujthir bin Ziyad al-Balawi met Abul Bukhturi and said to him: “The Messenger of Allah (S) has forbidden us from killing you.” Abul Bukhturi had a companion with him. He was Junada bin Maleeha from bani Layth who had come with him from Mecca. Abul Bukhturi said to al-Mujthir: “Will my friend not be killed too?” Al-Mujthir said: “No by Allah, we will not leave your friend. The Messenger of Allah has ordered us about you alone.” Abul Bukhturi said: “Then I will die with him. I do not let the women of Quraysh in Mecca say that he has left his friend alone for the sake of his own life.” They fought each other until al-Mujthir killed him. Then al-Mujthir came to the Prophet (S) and said to him: “I swear by Him, Who has sent you with the truth! I have insisted on him to be as prisoner to bring him to you but he refused except to fight me. We fought each other until I killed him.”
179. It has been mentioned by the historians who have recorded the events of the battle of Badr.
180. Kanzol Ummal, vol. 5 p.272, also mentioned by Ibn Asakir.
181. Al-Bidayeh wen-Nihayeh, vol.3 p.285.
182. Ahmad Zayni Dahlan, the Mufti of the Shafiites, said in his book as-Seera an-Nabawiyya, vol.1 p.504 when mentioning al-Abbas during the battle of Badr: “Al-Abbas, according to what the scholars and historians had said, had become a Muslim a long time ago but he had concealed his faith. He became delighted when the Muslims obtained victory. The Prophet (S) often told him of his secrets when he was in Mecca and he always accompanied the Prophet (S) when going to invite the different tribes to believe in Islam. Al-Abbas always encouraged the tribes to support the Prophet (S). He had attended the homage of al-Aqaba which was between the Prophet (S) and the Ansar. All that showed that he was a Muslim. The Prophet (S) had ordered him to stay in Mecca in order to write to him the secrets and news of Quraysh. When Quraysh wanted to go to the war in Badr and called upon people to fight (against the Muslims) he could not but to go with them; therefore the Prophet (S) had said on the day of Badr: “He, who meets al-Abbas, has not to kill him because he has gone to the war unwillingly.” This did not contradict the Prophet’s saying when he asked him for redemption: “Apparently you were against us” because his being apparently against them did not contradict his being with them in his innerness. The Prophet (S) treated him according to his apparent condition to please the hearts of the companions where he had treated their fathers, sons and tribes in the same way. Al-Abbas had properties and monies near the people of Quraysh and he feared that if he had announced his being a Muslim, his properties would have been lost among them. He had concealed his faith according to the order of the Prophet (S). The Prophet (S) himself had not told his companions about the faith of his uncle out of his kindness to his uncle and because he had feared that his uncle’s monies would have been lost. The Prophet (S) had had another aim in concealing his uncle’s faith. He wanted him to be as a spy to bring him the news of Quraysh. But then when Islam prevailed over Quraysh on the day of conquering Mecca, al-Abbas declared his faith openly. He had not declared his faith until the conquest of Mecca. Al-Abbas often asked the Prophet (S) to permit him to immigrate to Medina to be with the Prophet (S) but the Prophet (S) wrote to him: “Your stay in Mecca is better to you.” In another tradition the Prophet (S) had written to him: “O uncle, stay in the place where you are. Allah will complete the hijra (emigration) with you as he has completed prophethood.” And it was so because al-Abbas was the last emigrant for he had met the Prophet (S) in al-Abwa’ where he had not known that the Prophet (S) had gone to conquer Mecca and then he went back with him…”Al-Halabi in his Seera has had clearer speech about the preceding faith of al-Abbas and his wife Umm al-Fadhl, who had immigrated to the Prophet (S) too early. Refer to that and to the sayings of the other scholars about this subject.
183. Ad-Dahlani in his as-Seera an-Nabawiyya, vol.1 p.512.
184. As-Seera an-Nabawiyya by ad-Dahlani, vol.1 p.512, other traditions having somehow the same meaning mentioned in as-Seera by al-Halabi and al-Bidayeh wen-Nihayeh quoted from Ahmad bin Hanbal, Muslim, Abu Dawood and at-Tarmithi all narrated from Umar bin al-Khattab.
185. Al-Halabi’s Seera, ad-Dahlani’s Seera and other books of history.
187. Sheikh al-Mufeed’s Irshad, chap. the battle of Hunayn.
189. Al-Bidayeh wen-Nihayeh by Ibn Katheer, chap. The battle of Hunayn.