Adherence to the Book of Allah and the Itrah of the Greatest Prophet (S.A.W.)
Dr. Ahmad Al-Hashimi, Chairman
Ihsan Muslim Heritage Society
138 Yorkland Street, Unit 173
Richmond Hill, Ontario L4S 1J1 Canada
It was one Thursday, when our Prophet Muhammad bin Abdullah was on his deathbed. Despite the fact that he had appointed a vicegerent at the Ju’afah on his return from his farewell pilgrimage, he wanted to put that appointment in writing. Objecting to the Prophet’s request for a parchment and ink, Omar claimed that the Book of Allah (the Quran) is a sufficient guide to lead the Muslims through their socio-political-religious life after the demise of the Prophet. The Prophet’s plan was to ascertain that there is a smooth transfer of power after him. Omar’s claim created heated argument not only among those who were present then, but also throughout the centuries that followed. That claim was a manifestation of his political aspiration that showed itself more clearly right after the Prophet’s death. No sage human being would like to see quarrelling persons at his deathbed. Being at the brink of his death, the Prophet became extremely angry and did forgo the writing of what he had wanted to dictate. He died in mysterious circumstances at the age 63, in the year 11 A.H. Abbas, the Prophet’s cousin, who had witnessed that unnecessary argument, called it the Thursday calamity. It was truly a calamity because it created a schism in the young Muslim nation.
Glimpses at Imamate and Khilafate were the topics which I have addressed in a recent article (www.imamreza.net/eng). In this one, I would like to examine the validity of the Khilafate school of thought which has attempted to substitute the Sunnah for the Itrah. Sunnah is the Prophet’s sayings and approvals, whereas the Itrah constitutes the 12 Imams whom he assigned before his death: Imam Ali, Imam Hasan, Imam Hussain and the nine Imams from Al-Hussain’s progeny. The 9th of them is the Imam of our time – Muhammad bin Hasan Al-Askari, who was born in 255 A.H. in Samaraa, Iraq.
The Khilafate School believes in Real Politics and has a liberal view about the Sunnah. Despite the fact that the Itrah is being reported and quoted by many early scholars in this school, and it is specified by the number 12 all of whom are from Quraish, the majority of Muslims give an honorary status to the members of the Prophet’s family – without taking the basics of the religion of Islam from them. They would rather to take their religion from the Prophet’s companions even if some of them embraced Islam in the last 1-2 years of the Prophet’s life such as Abu Hurairah. As a result, the Muslims ended up having 12,000 companions all of whom can become guides. This alone is a good reason for much confusion and going astray.
All Muslims agree that Allah (SWT) took upon Himself the protection of the Quran from any alteration. The 1.5+ billion Muslims all over the world have the same sacred book. It is exactly the same book which was compiled in the Prophet’s time, memorized by many close and early companions, and as mentioned above referred to by Omar at the Prophet’s deathbed.
The Quran states that the Prophet does not utter a word out of his desire. He was guided by Allah; he was infallible; and even he distinguished the text of the Quran that was revealed to him directly (via the arch angel Gabriel) from the revelations before him.
He also made a clear distinction between what was revealed (i.e. the Quran) and what were his words of wisdom, approvals, and disapprovals, i.e. the Sunnah. The body of the latter knowledge was later called the Science of Hadith. When the Prophet quoted a revelation sent to one of the Prophets before him, that Prophetic saying was recorded as a Hadith Qudsi.
This science examines the text of the Prophetic sayings as well as the chain of narrators. The Prophet advised the Muslim scholars to present whatever is being attributed to him to the Quran. If there is no contradiction, a Muslim scholar can take it. Otherwise, he is advised to hit it against the wall – indicating to a flat rejection of any fabricated Hadith. The hypocrites fabricated vary many such sayings. Companions with weak memories narrated the same Prophetic saying in different forms. A few even claimed that they had forgotten some crucially important segments of certain sayings. Others used their own words to report what they had heard the Prophet was saying. Because the Quran is a silent book, the school of the general Muslim population always attempts to invoke it in order to support the Hadith. Categorizing the Hadith into Saheeh, Hasin, and Dhaeef (i.e. authentic, acceptable, and weak, respectively), depending on the credibility of the narrators could not serve the Muslims in any way. Interestingly, sometimes even if a Hadith is being narrated by only one companion, it is being accepted as a saheeh. Based on the guideline provided by the Prophet himself, the Hadith sometimes contradicted the Quran and need to be flatly rejected. Example, Abu Bakr’s claim that he had heard the Prophet saying: “We the folk of the Prophets do not inherit; whatever we leave behind goes for charity.” Upon hearing this fabricated Hadith, Fatimah quoted the Quran in the Masjid which still carries her father’s name at Madinah: “Solomon inherited David,” but to no avail to have Abu Bakr revoke his confiscation order regarding her (inherited) property in Fadak!
Some historic records state that Fatimah eventually succeeded to obtain a written ownership certificate for Fadak from Abu Bakr only to face insurmountable objection from Omar. Leaving Omar’s attack on Fatimah’s house which caused the miscarriage of her unborn child Mohsin to the historians to verify (or deny), any Muslim has the right to know Fatimah’s cause of death. She died in her late teens. No reported sickness. As the only living child for the Prophet, she followed him six months after his demise. [Some historians even puts it shorter – 75 days]. Just before her death, she left with her husband a will. In it she declared to be buried at night. No known remarks should be left on her tomb, just to remain as an unknown solider. In more than one occasion, she made her anger at the two sheikhs known. All this happened within 6 months after the Prophet’s departure. History books even record the name of a thug by the name Qunfoth (translated skunk) who attacked Fatimah’s house – which was actually the Prophet’s. He was Omar’s cousin and known for his cruelty. Omar suggested his name to Abu Bakr to attack the Prophet’s house, to force Imam Ali to give his allegiance to the “elected” Kalif.
Even worse are the unfounded accusations against Imam Ali that he was (emotionally) abusing his wife Fatimah, by hinting to marry Abu Jahl’s daughter on her – that angered the Prophet (in his life time) to an extent to ask Imam Ali to divorce his daughter first!
Imam Ali – doubly wronged
During these trying six months, Imam Ali refused to give his allegiance to the first “elected” Kahlif. Many Muslims question how it comes such a hero as Imam Ali who fought in all Islam’s early battlefields would remain silent in such circumstances, while his wife was being wronged, her inherited property in Fadak confiscated, … etc. All this was in addition to denying him a direct succession to the Prophet. The Imams after Imam Ali provided a Quranic answer to this inquiry any researcher can refer to in all authentic references.
Here, I provide two remarks which I have concluded by thoroughly analysing the historic records that addresses Imam Ali’s stance in that harsh period. First, he knew well the difference between courage and recklessness. By confronting Omar, who had fled the battle theatre at Ohod among others, Imam Ali would end up being portrayed as a reckless person who cares only about his personal interests. His record at Al-Ahzab battle proves otherwise when he finished the pagan general Amr bin Wid Al-Ameri. Secondly, he recognized that the tactics he needed for his (future) political battle were different from those he used in the past battlefields. He remained a hero both at war and at peace. He was not afraid of the death at all. Thirdly, the Prophet had foretold him how (and where) he will be martyred. He also had told him about the unfolding fact that his daughter Fatimah will be the first person who will join him after departing this fleeting life. In brief, the Imam chose to endure all those injustices precipitated in a challenge that unexpectedly came from two of the Prophet’s (close) companions and an economic sanctions imposed on his wife by depriving her from owning the Fadak farmland she had inherited.
Therefore, the conjectures some historians make that he spent six months beside his “weak” wife and studied the Quran thoroughly are absolutely baseless.
Other companions such as Salam, Meqdad, Ammar and Abu Thar were standing on Imam Ali’s side. All Muslim scholars only narrate that the Prophet had testified about Abu Thar’s extreme truthfulness. Unfortunately, when it comes to weighing a fabricated Hadith, Abu Thar is totally forgotten! Not only this. The apathetic Muslims paid little attention to Othman’s unjust decision by exiling the elder Abu Thar to the harsh desert of Ar-Rabathah simply because he had openly opposed him. It is being recorded that Abu Thar’s final words, addressing his beloved Creator, were thus:
“Tighten your (last) grip around my neck; surely, you know I adore meeting You!”
Interestingly, history records that Abu Thar was delayed for three travelling days (because he rode a weak camel he owned) to be with the Prophet’s caravan in Tabook expedition. After the death of his camel, he hurried to reach the caravan. When the Prophet saw him exhausted and thirsty, he praised him thus: “Abu Thar walks by himself; he dies by himself; and he will be resurrected by himself.” A second prophecy came true.
Unlike the majority of the companions who were either with the ruling party or kept silent, Abu Thar paid the price for speaking out for justice. As one of the early Muslims, he was known for his truthfulness. Being truthful, trustworthy were titles the Prophet enjoyed even before receiving his mission. The Prophet took the Shahadah of Abu Thar only 5 years after receiving his mission in Mecca; and, sent him to propagate Islam among his tribe. Later he joined the Prophet in Madinah. The Prophet’s prophecies did not come true only in Fatimah’s and Abu Thar’s cases, but also in Ammar’s and Salman’s destinies. Researchers can find Salman’s testimony about such prophecies, just before dying in Al-Madaen, Iraq. Imam Ali had appointed him as a governor there. Miraculously, the Imam moved from Madinah to Al-Madaen and personally buried Salam. To shun the fallacy that Shiah Islam is the fabrication of the (Safawi) Iranians, I only refer the reader to the interpreters of the Quran who narrated the Prophet’s praise for Salman in the shade of more than one verse. Plus, “Salman is from us the household (of the Prophet), is a very famous Hadith quoted by very many Muslim scholars throughout history.
To Ammar the Propht said, “the transgressing party will kill you.” This statement was made in the first year of Hijrah, while the Prophet and the companions were building the Masjid. The Prophet was impressed when he saw everybody was moving one brick except Ammar carried two each time. Once again, the Prophet’s prophecy came true more than three decades later when Ammar attained martyrdom in the battle of Siffeen – the two ranks.
With that said, any impartial Muslim scholar should trace the ramification of violating the Prophetic saying when he showed the status of his daughter:
“Fatimah is a piece from me; whoever annoys her, he surely annoys me; and, whoever annoys me, he certainly annoys Allah.”
Not only Ali’s wife and children suffered cruel treatment, the history books attempt to smear the image of his father too. Personality assassination is the word for such attempt. Abu Talib was being portrayed as a disbeliever. Ahadith were fabricated for describing his place in the Hellfire! But because of the prominent status of his cousin Muhammad in the Hereafter, the latter will go for the rescue of his uncle, as the majority of Muslims writers contend. Unfortunately, the majority of Muslims forget that Abu Talib was from Al-Ahnaaf, i.e. those who followed the religion of Prophet Ibrahim, before Prophet Muhammad’s birth. [So was Fatimah bint Assad, Imam Ali’s mother; whom the Prophet considered as his own mother – to the extent that he personally buried her when she died]. Abu Talib sponsored his orphan nephew (6 yr) right after the death of his father Abdul Mittalib. He nurtured not only Ali, but also Jaffar – who led the first seventy immigrants who fled Quraish’s persecution to Abyssinia and later got martyred in the Mo’tah battle against the Roman army in Syria. Hiding his faith from the thugs of Quraish, he asked his son Jaffar to be the left wing, with Ali being the right one, of Muhammad in the first ever congregational prayer. When Quraish boycotted the Hashimites and imposed economic sanctions on them, Muhammad, his wife Khadijah, his uncle Abu Talib and many others lived for three years on a parcel of land (Shieb Abi Talib) on the suburbs of Mecca that belonged to Abu Talib. It was in such harsh circumstances the Prophet of Islam lost his wife and his uncle Abu Talib in the same year – the year of sorrow as he named it. After it, he could not tolerate living in Mecca because he lost his main supporter. Upon Allah’s instruction, he migrated to Madinah 1428 years ago.
In brief, researchers with taste in Arabic poetry will find some compositions made by Abu Talib in which he expressed his believe in the new massage brought by his nephew. Such historic facts were overshadowed by fabrications made by the adversaries to Ali and Muhammad. [Even The documentary “The Messenger” portrayed Abu Talib as a disbeliever, whereas his eldest son Jaffar spoke to the just Christian ruler of Abyssinia as he headed the Muslim immigrants to that country]. Such a gross wrongs must end.
Who were the Prophet’s genuine vicegerents?
Immaterial if a reversion happened after the Prophet’s death or not, it is incumbent on every Muslim to recognize the genuine figures who truly represented the Quran, the Prophet of Allah, and the religion of Islam. Were they the Khalifs or the rightful Imams? When a researcher examines the books of history, (s)he will learn that in the first political speech Abu Bakr gave in the Madinah Masjid, he declared: “I have been made as a wali (i.e. political authority) upon you; and, I am not the best amongst you!” In another statement, he said: “dismiss me!” Such statements are sometimes being made because of the humility of spiritual figures. In this case, Abu Bakr stated it right after winning the “elected” post in a fierce political campaign against the Ansar camp at the Saqifah (of Bani Saedah). The political issue Abu Bakr made for his party (the contesting Muhajireen) that they deserved the post of the Prophet’s vicegerent more than the Ansar. While Imam Ali was busy with washing and burying the Prophet’s body, Abu Bakr won the election at the Saqifah by the coordinated help of Omar. Both did not comply with the repeated orders of the Prophet to join the army of Osamah bin Zaid (18), under the pretext that the Prophet was ill. This stance even agonized the Prophet more just before his death. His repeated and direct reminders to join the said army fell on deaf ears.
Interestingly, when the aging father of Abu Bakr later heard that the Muslims who emerged from the Saqifah did not act upon the Prophet’s appointment at Ghadeer and “elected” his son because of his age (i.e. seniority amongst the Muhajireen), he jokingly commented that if the age had been the sole determining factor, he deserved the Khilafah more than his son. Abu Bakr’s father was blind at the time, but obviously he was with a sense of humour. Before the end of his 3-yr reign which also marked his death, Abu Bakr appointed Omar. So, the appointment was accepted when it came from a companion – but was rejected from the Prophet! This appointment exposed the close political collaboration between the two chiefs. Omar’s real power was behind the scenes. To cover up the above blatant contradiction, the two had to resort to more fabrications to overshadow the stature of the Prophet’s appointee – Imam Ali. By disobeying the Prophet, any Muslim is in a clear violation to a fundamental Quranic injunction: “fear Allah and be the truthful.”
In the Peak of Eloquence, Imam Ali depicts this collaboration between the two Shaikhs as grasping the four nipples of a she-camel. He also exposes Omar’s plan to shore up support for Othman, to succeed him as a third Kalif. In a word, Imam Ali resented the fact that Omar challenged the Prophet’s appointment, accepted Abu Bakr’s de facto nomination, and set the stage for the coming of Othman. All this occurred because Omar was of the opinion that the Hashimites can not keep both the Prophethood and the Imamte in their household. He openly expressed this opinion to the Prophet’s uncle Abbas; and, according to some narrators to the Prophet’s daughter – Fatimah, right after the Prophet’s death.
Imam Ali and the Politically-Shrewd Omar
The same way the Meccian chiefs forced Prophet Muhammad to migrate to Madinah, Omar forced his appointed vicegerent to temporary forgo his uncontested right in Imamate and pay allegiance to Abu Bakr – who seized the political power in a unique opportunity after speaking on behalf of a group of contesting Muhajireen while the appointed Imam and other close companions were absent. Omar was an individual with a very aggressive personality. Before becoming a Muslim, he gave his sister and his brother in law bloody noses simply for embracing Islam. According to his profession, he was then an adamant enemy of the Prophet. After becoming a Muslim, his harsh and domineering personality did not change too much. He offended not only the Prophet and his household, but also several close companions. At the Saqifah, he revealed his sword right after giving his hand in allegiance to Abu Bakr in order to enforce him as the “elected” Khalif. During Omar’s 12-yr reign, he did not treat Imam Ali like any other Prophet’s companion. The books of history are full with very many consultations he had in the legislative, judiciary, and executive jurisdictions with Imam Ali. A late Iraqi historian and theologian (Najmu Al-Deen Al-Askari) counted 115 occasions in which Omar badly needed Imam Ali’s advice. His dependency on the Imam was desperate to such an extent that he used to say: “May Allah does not leave me alive for a difficult situation (Mu’adhilah) in which Abu Al-Hasan is absent.” Despite this testimony, while being on his deathbed Omar appointed six candidates so that one of them would be eventually elected. He introduced the consultation process at a time in which his own political power reached him via appointment. Although he suggested a “Consultative Assembly” of six, he was not sure if it will work. Still he did not abandon the use of the sword in building consensus. He instructed the members while supporting the camp of Abdul Rahman bin Awf, just in the case of not reaching a decision. Knowing that this companion was more inclined to Othman, Omar actually gave him a veto power over Imam Ali – the Prophet’s appointee. What makes the whole “new” election process a sham, is that he instructed: if any member of the Assembly objects to bin Awf’s final decision, such member(s) must be killed! This revealed that how free was the election process. According to the general Muslim population, all these members were told by the Prophet that they will enter Paradise.
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Through the deliberations to select the third Kalif, Abdul Rahman bin Awf initially offered the position to Imam Ali but he attached two conditions: (1) to follow the Book of Allah and (2) to adhere to the policy of the two sheikhs – Abu Bakr and Omar. As for the first condition, any impartial researcher will find that the Imam (in comparison to bin Awf) was a highly-esteemed authority in Quran. Thus, the silent book of Allah once again was being used against the talking one. Imam Ali declined to accept the second condition. Consequently, Abdul Rahman bin Afw left Imam Ali’s hand empty and put his hand in Othan’s, publicizing his allegiance. Martyr Muhammad Baqir As-Sadr, who wrote Fadak in History and enriched the Islamic literacy with his novel writings, narrated this historic event with agonised voice in one of his lectures.
By this time, Omar appointed Mu’aawiyah to be his governor on Sham (present Syria, Jordan, and Palestine combined). The latter consolidated his powerbase there. An era of monarchy accompanied with repression that left very many ugly marks in history ensued.
From the descendents of Mu’aawiyah who later came to power, only Omar bin Abdul Aziz was truthful enough and attempted to undo some of the injustice done earlier by, for example, returning Fadak to its legitimate heirs – the Hashimites. During his very short reign, the Muslims enjoyed some economic prosperity. For that reason, the majority of the historians confer on him as the fifth and the last “rightly guided” Kalif. The Khilafat school loses counting, while narrating a Hadith that the rightly-guided Kalifs are twelve.
Imam Ali and Othman
Othman was a pro-Umayyah (Mu’aawiyah’s clan) to the bone. Marwan was the son of Al-Hakam who belonged to this tribe, too. As one of the contemporaries of Mu’aawiyah’s father (Abu Sofyan), Al-Hakam was such shallow in spirituality and low in moral conducts that the Prophet expelled him from Madinah. The “elected” Prophet’s vicegerent (Othman) brought Marwan back so near and made him his sole confidant, favouring tribal over spiritual considerations. Of course, he kept Mu’aawiyah in the same post Omar gave him. The rationale behind this appointment, or actually reinstatement, could have been 10+ years of administrative experience. The corruption during a decade-long Othman’s reign reached to its apex. Resentment from the misconducts of all Othman’s governors became prevalent. Othman failed to use his authority to dismiss anybody. Delegations from Egypt, Iraq, and many other places came to Madinah to voice their respective constituents’ grievances. This was not to any avail, but only fell on the deaf ears of Marwan - the Kalif’s chief political advisor. The commotion was so loud that even Imam Ali’s advice to the ruling Kalif went unnoticed. The only thing the Imam could do was to send his two sons (Hasan and Hussain) to provide personal protection for Othman against the rage of the provincial delegations. How Marwan attempted to trick the Egyptian delegation to silence the most populous province of the time is a good reading in the books of history. But, the trickery did not work this time. Discovering there was no good faith in their negotiations with the palace of Othman, the angry envoys returned to Madinah and turned to a mob that killed Othman. His bloody shirt fell as a bogus political tool in the hands of Mu’aawiyah to the extent to become a lasting adage!
The Muslims unanimously elected Imam Ali
The Muslims masses came in magnitudes to Imam Ali and elected him as a Khalif. His policy was totally different from his predecessors. It was a continuation of the policy of the Muslim state initially established by the Prophet (in Al-Madinah). The first thing the Imam did was to transfer his capital for Madinah to Kufa. There were two reasons for such a transfer: (1) to be closer to Damascus, where Mu’aawiyah established his powerbase. (2) the inhabitants of Iraq have comparatively been more civilized than the wandering Arabs in the desert. The land of Mesopotamia hosted the oldest civilizations in the human history. It’s people have unquenchable thirst for possessing knowledge. They could provide a better alternative for transferring the acquired knowledge from one generation to another and to the rest of the world. The Quran speaks to this fact also when finding alternative if the (wandering) Arabs revert from Islam.
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Despite the legitimacy of Imam Ali’s reign, his government was marred by a series of wars against those who broke their oath (Talhah and Zubair supported by Aeshah), those who were unjust (Mu’awiyyah who trenched himself in Sham since the days of Omar), and those who rebelled (the Kharijites of An-Nahrawan). It was agonizing for the Imam too much to see himself in such circumstances – to be a war-time Imam. None of his appeals worked with the two male leaders in Basra to avoid the battle of the Camel. Not even the Prophet’s warning to his wife Aeshah that: “the dogs of Al-Hawab (near Basra) will bark at you,” which was actually another fulfilled prophecy, has stopped her from waging a bloody battle while sitting on the back of her camel. Against Mu’awiyyah, the Imam fought the battle of Siffeen. His commander in chief, Malik Al-Ashtar, was very close to bring Mu’awiyyah as a captive, when the latter brought Amr bin Al-Ass on board by offering him the governorship of Egypt if he turned the tides of that battle. In his childhood, Amr was known to be the son of his mother An-Nabighah – an infamous, unchaste woman in Arabia. Five men disputed his fatherhood. Eventually, he Al-Ass won the case. Al-Ass was the same person who taunted the Prophet that he was a cut-off person, i.e. had no male progeny. In the shortest surah of the Quran, Allah refuted him by prophesizing that he is indeed the cut-off one and the Prophet will be having abundant offspring through his daughter Fatimah (Refer to surat Al-Kawthar).
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Thus, Amr devised a tricky plot and ordered to place copies of the Quran on the swords’ tips and call for the immediate stoppage of bloodletting. This trick worked to buy out time for his master, after protecting his own self from the sword of Imam Ali by becoming nude in the battlefield. The Imam had to turn his face from him. So, the truce was imposed on Imam Ali in this battle. When the two sides discussed the selection of arbitrators for negotiations, once Abu Musa Al-Ash’aari was imposed on the Imam instead of his choice – the Commander in Chief, Malik bin Al-Ashtar. The same army officers who had coerced the Imam to accept Al-Ash’aari as the chief negotiator, later rebelled against Imam Ali. He fought them in An-Naheawan after they created instability and attacked innocent civilians as a provocation to the Imam’s government. Mu’awiyyah could later bribe one of these misguided individuals to assassinate Imam Ali on the 19th of Ramadhan 40 A.H. while he was prostrating during the dawn prayer in Masjid Al-Kufa.
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In brief, the 4.5 years of Imam Ali’s reign was spent in wars. Instead of using his capacities for the advancement of the Muslims, he had to use them to eliminate the corrupt elements planted during 25 years. Mu’awiyyah fomented social strife, poisoned Malik Al-Ashtar while he was on his way to resume the governorship of Egypt, collaborated in the said assassination of Imam Ali and bribed Imam Hassan’s wife to poison her husband. His propagandists cursed Imam Ali from the pulpits. All this lead some late researchers to conclude that the Imam lacked any diplomatic skills. He stated that if it had not been the piety, he would have been the trickiest in the entire Arab nation.
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Mu’awiyyah’s appointment of his drunken and pampered son Yazid has precipitated to the tragedy of Karbala – where Imam Hussain and 72 of his companions were slaughtered on the 10th of Muharram 61 A.H. Like the Kalifs before him, Yazid undeservingly carried the title “Commander of the believers!” This title is given to him even now in the history books of a few “Muslim” countries. An impartial researcher also finds that the majority of historians absorb any criticism against Mu’awiyyah and Yazid as defence line from criticising any Kalif before them. These historians also attempt to portray the relations between the companions of the Prophet as being perfect, without touching any of the clashes discussed above. They quote the Quran’s saying: “that nation has passed away before you. It’s people will find the result of what they did. And, you will find the result of your deeds.” If any of the historians of that era ever attempted to come up with any explanation for those internal wars, they conveniently threw the blame on a fictitious personality named Abdullah bin Sabaa (a Yamani Jew who converted to Islam to destruct Islam from within
. Allamah Sayyid Murtadha Al-Askari proved that such personalities were absolutely bogus. They were probably created by the rulers to have a firm grip over the Muslim masses. History repeats itself. Sectarianism was a non issue even when the most hated dictator Saddam reigned Iraq for 35 years. After his downfall in March 2003, the Muslims started hearing that all of Iraq’s instability problems are caused by a Jordanian fugitive named Zarqawi. After his death, an Egyptian Abu Hamzah Al-Muhajir was very much handy for use at the occupation’s convenience.
Interpretation of the laws by Caliphs
All Muslims agree that the Glorious Quran is a constitution for the socio-political life of the Muslims. Upon his migration from Mecca to Madina, the Prophet established the first Muslim state. Throughout his life, the Prophet not only prepared his vicegerent to facilitate the smooth transfer of power after his departure, but also consulted his companions and delegated to them the running of their own day-to-day affairs. “Their affairs can be run through the consultation amongst themselves,” the Quran declares. No other place in the entire Quran does Allah speak about the “Consultative Assembly: Ahlul Al-Halli wa Al-Aqd” form of governance that the two early Kalifs initially promoted. Later, Abu Bakr appointed Omar for filling the vacancy he left behind. Or Omar filled it by de facto, better known in these days by acclamation.
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So, Omar interpreted the above verse to confer a constitutional paint to the rules of Abu Bakr and Othman. His own reign naturally becomes unconstitutional because it was not in conformity with a collective decision reached by any consultative assembly. Unlike Abu Bakr who rule for three short years, Omar’s reign lasted for 12 years. During this relatively long epoch, he had to (re) interpret other verses in the Quran. Leaving several examples for those who consider Omar as the most prominent “legislator” at the front history of Islam, I only cite here the Quranic law which regulates the temporary marriage.
Despite the testimony of a number of close companions that this kind of marriage was absolutely legal during the time of the Prophet, Abu Bakr, and half of the reign of Omar, the second Kalif made it illegal by a stroke of a pen.
The avoidance of raising any objection to any such rulings by Omar has put the majority of the Muslims in a real predicament. On the one hand, they read the Quran that the religious laws were made easy for them; and, on the other hand, they find the law which sanctions temporary marriage nullified. Although Islam makes permanent marriage easy for Muslims, many Muslims males and females usually face difficulties to enter in permanent relations – specially at early age, war times, or when their societies pass through economic recession or depression. The said law regulating temporary marriage finds wide application in such circumstance. Its nullification has led the majority of Muslims to resort to fornication and indecent acts. Yet, some Muslim scholars give Omar the right to abrogate the Creator’s law. It has been only recently in Arabian Peninsula where the “Mesyar” marriage was considered Islamic by prominent sheikhs.
Overlooking other kinds of marriages which were innovated for convenience or out of necessity, this kind of marriage is actually a re-packaging of the same original temporary marriage. Though in a hard way, these sheikhs realized the truthfulness of this saying which is attributed to Imam Ali: “if it was not Omar’s prohibition, the only few would have committed adultry.”
Alteration of the Islamic rules
For brevity, I will adhere to the two aspects discussed above. As a matter of fact, these two rules which shape the form of Islamic government and regulate the affairs between the two genders in a Muslim society have remained to be the main source of debate ever since the dawn of Islamic history.
The use of sheer political power to change a number of Islamic rulings in the early history of Islam is both unprecedented and well documented. The scholars who were in agreement with Abu Bakr and Omar were ready to find justification.
They resorted to interpret the Quran, sometimes fabricate Ahadith, or mostly narrate stories on how just Abu Bakr and Omar were. The books of Islamic history are full with such narrations, which were transmitted from one generation to another uncontested. Again for the benefit of the space, I quote only two examples here.
Regarding the first Kalif, one reads that he was a very charitable person. He used to go out of his way, using the darkness of the night to go to the house of a handicapped, blind widow to help her out in performing the house chores – washing dishes, dusting, and milking her she-sheep. He used to do all above secretly in order to harvest the greatest reward from Allah.
Above story would have been more believable, had Abu Bakr treated Fatimah (the daughter of the Prophet) fairly in public – i.e. the Masjid of her father.
With respect to Omar’s piety, a researcher finds that the second Kalif objected to bending the neck by some Muslims while praying, claiming that the humbleness ought to be only in the heart. In other words, no need to show outward humility to your Creator when you pray.
Once again, the narration was more fitting to a man who had abjured the world and turned to a monk. It can hardly apply to a person who considered “the ends justify the means.” He gave personal opinions towards which both the sacred book and the holy Prophet have stipulated certain rules.
The Muslims all along the history have had a hard choice to make between what Allah and His apostle said, on the one hand, and what Abu Bakr and Omar (as a great legislator) have said, and the following Kalifs, on the other.
Obeying people in authority even if they are in violation with some basic Islamic tenets became customary. While the Quran declares that all the messengers were sent with the books and the tools of measure so that mankind establish justice in their life, we see that clear violations were committed by individuals who seized power or simply inherited it.
Seemingly, the Muslims did not learn any lessons from the past nations. The Quran makes it clear that the chiefs of those nations always sided with the Pharaohs of the day. The Pharaoh claimed Lordship, denying even the existence of Allah. In his story there are two lessons: one for the scholars, whereas the other for the laymen in any society. A scholar, such as Bal’aam bin Ba’aoraa, despite his vast knowledge of the Old Testament, he deserted Moses and sided with the Pharaoh when the two clashed. The Quran portrays him like a donkey carrying voluminous books. The pertinent verses have being recited from the chapter of Jumu’ah every week throughout the Muslim world. Searching throughout Islam’s history, an impartial researcher will find that the majority of the Muslim scholars are like this one in Bani Israel. The result was to misguide the Muslim masses, not only in the days of the Prophet (as the hypocrites attempted to do) but also afterwards.
The Prophet stressed the fact that the status of Ali towards him was similar to that of Aron towards Moses. While departing his people for forty nights to receive the revelation on the Mount of Sinai, Moses came back to see them rebelled against his brother and resorted to the worship of an idol – a golden calf. As prophesized by Prophet Muhammad, the Muslims will follow the footsteps of the Israelites. This is exactly what happened when the majority of the Muslims became complacent when the reversion took place right after the Prophet’s departure.
Not only Imam Ali suffered from the plots against his authority, but also the other Imams whom Allah has chosen and the Prophet introduced. The Muslims tend to forget that Allah did not leave the selection of His envoys to the whims of the people. In the chapter of Houd in the Quran, Allah chronologically cites the biographies of several other prominent prophets who came before Prophet Muhammad and how they suffered at the hand of their peoples. The universal objection against all those prophets came from the chiefs of their nations. In the language of the Quran, the chiefs are the ones who are most visible and vocal in their belying of their sent prophets. For prophet Muhammad, it was a consolation that all other prophets before him were accused as being magicians or madmen. With its high standard in Arabic literature, the Quran refuted the accusation of being a magician set against prophet Muhammad by the chiefs of Quraish and pagan Arabs. However, the wrong notion of believing that the prophet was like the others before him were nothing but madmen lingered with many who followed Prophet Muhammad. This notion surfaced in the thinking of Omar when he objected the provision of a parchment and ink for the prophet to enable him to dictate a written will.
For ordinary Muslims, the Quran recommends to leave written wills before their death. Even if the chiefs of Muhammad’s companions have treated him as an ordinary Muslim, they should have stopped Omar from imposing his will against the prophet’s final will. The danger of such imposition is two fold. One, on a personal level, there was a blatant violation of personal liberties of the Prophet Muhammad and his right to inherit Fadak farmland to his only living daughter Fatimah. Secondly, and most importantly, the matter of leadership, succession, and power transfer for the young Muslim state could have been done in a way that was in harmony with Quranic injunctions not the whims of two chiefs.
Omar’s claim that the Prophet was hallucinating at his deathbed was in a direct contradiction with the Quran. By this claim he fulfilled his political aspiration, but he left a legacy which overshadowed the one left by the Prophet in an unprecedented way. Omar was not alone in laying the foundation of this trend. His daughter Hafsah, who was one of the Prophet’s wives, her best friend Aeshah, her father, Khalid bin Al-Waleed and many others were sharing the same views. To shore up support to these views, they resorted to Abu Hurairah – that is why you see this person narrated 78% of the Prophetic sayings, whereas all other Prophet’s companions (Imam Ali included) narrated the rest. Sayyid A. H. Sharaf ul-Deen reported these figures and added that this narrator accompanied the Prophet only for two years. In brief, what is called Sunnah today was the Sunnah of Omar and Abu Bakr. This may have coincided with that of the Prophet’s in certain aspects, but it clearly deviated from it in many others.
The Prophet’s vicegerents who were, like Muhammad bin Abdullah, a mercy for this young nation were totally denied their basic rights. Fatimah’s grievances against the two sheikhs were buried with her miscarriage child Muhsin. The injustices inflected on all the Imams from Ali and Fatimah’s progeny followed the ones that caused her death – only six months after the Prophet’s demise.
Those Muslims who adhered to the Prophet’s advice regarding the Itrah are the ones who truly followed his authentic Sunnah. The so-called Sunnah of the Prophet in the wide segment of literature became polluted with very many socio-political factors over the centuries that render it unreliable to lead any Muslim to the straight path. The Quran remains the sole source of guidance. Allah has vowed to keep its text immune from any alteration. Because it is a silent book, those who have polluted the Hadith tend to use the Quran to shore up necessary support for their fabrications. As a mere claim, “the Book of Allah suffices us,” proved to be nothing but a political slogan that was articulated on the ears of the Prophet just before his death. Reversion of the majority of the Muslims right after the demise of the Prophet was not only a Quranic prophecy but also a historic reality. The seemingly rich legacy left behind in the from of Sunnah by the lawmakers (and policy makers) add nothing but confusion for the successive generations, in all areas of personal, familial, spiritual and mundane ones. A Muslim cannot simultaneously believe in the Quran as a Constitution and give the right to any of the Prophet’s companions to make Constitutional amendments as they wish. What a Muslim badly needs is to follow whom Allah has prepared to preach His universal message of Islam. This trend can be discovered by knowing a Quranic fact resembled in the always few who adhered to the genuine paths of all the great prophets: Noah, Ibrahim, Moses and Jesus. Prophet Muhammad is no exception, especially in the matter of a designated vicegerent who fills for his absence.
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Key to not only the religion of Islam but all other revealed faiths is the implementation of justice. When there is oppression, there is no justice. Both the Quran and authentic Sunnah tell how abhorred the Creator was with the Israelites who persecuted their prophets and their progenies. Again, the Muslims followed the same old path of the past nations. The chief among the prophet’s companions acted against his will. All those who usurped the power after him from his appointed vicegerents committed gross injustices. The case of Fatimah stands by itself. The oppression of her progeny continued and resulted in the occultation of the 12th Imam – Muhammad bin Al-Hassan Al-Askari. The Itrah are these Imams after the prophet; and, they are the chosen ones. They are infallible and the second weighty trust the Prophet left behind along with the Quran for the guidance of the Muslims. This guidance (to the straight path as the Quran puts it) is unattainable without a conscientious adherence to both the Book of Allah and the Itrah.