Friday, June 4, 2010

Shura Council of the Sahaba‏


The description of those who are in a confident relationship with Allah is portrayed in the words of His Prophets when they face the doubts, uncertainties and the obscurities of the people around them. They would say qul inni ala baynaat mir Rabbi as Allah instructed them to say

Of course I am in a clear affair from my Sustainer

This bayyina that is the possession everyone who conforms or complies with Allah, (in our case, today as current unraveling events indicates), barely exists. In one of these areas where this is obvious is in what is becoming the Sunni/Shi'i division of peoples and opinions and therefore a lack of unity and common purpose. This is unknown to those who repeat

Of course I am in a clear affair from my Sustainer

In other words, is the Qur'an and the Prophet, both of them, our trust from Allah or are they less obvious then the petty issues that are dividing the Muslims? To gain this descriptive of

Of course I am in a clear affair from my Sustainer

we are trying, with Allah's help, to clarify these issues that have watered down or marginalized this bayinnah from Allah. We are thankful to Allah to be ahead of our brothers and sisters who are still smothered by inaccurate information that dilutes the brotherhood of the Muslims and their common destiny. We will, with our reliance on Allah, continue to open up some chapters of these critical first generation of Muslims and see whether understanding them increases the distance among us or lends itself to our consolidation. In the time of Uthmaan (radi Allahu anhu), the 3rd successor to Allah's Prophet, there were five individuals who were left out of those 1st generation of Muslims who had become very high profiled Muslims. In the words of some of the personalities of that generation, they said, (which means) the Prophet of Allah expired while he was satisfied with them. These individuals were the ones who were (more or else) contributors in one way or the other to Uthman's responsibility of governing the Muslims. That doesn't mean though the agreed with Uthman. Let us take a quick look at these high profile Islamic personalities who were the shura that was to decide 1st of all the reign of Uthman or to give this responsibility to him and 2nd of all to see where they stood after Uthman himself or the usbah around Uthman began to make decisions. Notice, after we consider these personalities there is no hard feelings.

Abdur Rahmaan ibn Awf (radi Allahu anhu)

The 1st one is Abdur Rahmaan ibn Awf (radi Allahu anhu). This was a person who he himself excluded himself from being one of those several individuals who qualified to lead the Muslims. He was a relative of Allah's Prophet on his mother's side. His name before he became a Muslim was Abd Al-Ka'aba or Abd Al-Amr and the Prophet himself gave him the name Abdur Ar-Rahman. This person was known to be a very prosperous or wealthy man. When he was exiled or became a muhaajir to Al-Madinah, he became a brother of another ansaari (radi Allahu anhu) who was also a very prosperous man in Al-Madinah. The altruism between the muhaajirin and the ansaar was such that the ansaari who had everything would offer the muhaajir who had nothing the choicest of what he had. In this case, Abdur Rahman ibn Awf was offered all that he wanted and he declines. He would say just show me the market. As is the case with some people, wealth and money comes in their way naturally. So, he goes and begins his market activity and he becomes a very wealthy man. This wealth begins to multiply and increase by leaps and bounds. But he was also generous. He would give to the Muslims without question when they were in need. On one occasion, one of his caravans was coming to Al-Madinah and there was a rumble to it as if it were some military division and he gave off that to all who were in need. The Prophet of Allah said to him you are a very rich man, indeed, and I see you crawling meaning I see you moving on your arms and legs into al jannah meaning you are not walking like a normal man into Al-Jannah, you're barely making it into Al-Jannah therefore offer Allah a perfecting loan. These words lived with this man, even though Allah gave him all this wealth. He lived until the time of Uthman and he was almost the arbiter in the decision that was to be made among these six individuals of "who is going to become the next successor to Allah's Prophet." It was with his influence that the Uthman himself became the 3rd successor to Allah's Prophet. At the beginning, the relationship between Abdur Rahmaan ibn Awf and Uthman ibn Affan was what we may call, very normal relationships. But then, after the family circle of Uthman began to move Islamic issues of policy and destiny in the wrong direction Abdur Rahmaan ibn Awf would no longer speak to Uthman or want to meet with Uthman. So- not all is like the information in the public wants to convey- not all these developments were some kind of conspiracy. Even though this person was not known to be a person of austerity- there was no austere aspect to his life. He was not a zaahid.. He wanted to partake of the abundance that was around him. He came to the Prophet, because of a skin condition, and asked permission to wear silk. Allah's Prophet made it an exception and gave him that permission, but then he wanted to extend this and he wanted his family to wear silk and Umar (radi Allahu anhu) rebuked him in more or less words, he said enough is enough- you don't carry this exception to make it the norm. So, Uthman was boycotted more or less by the same person who was instrumental in him becoming the 3rd successor to Allah's Prophet.

Saad ibn Waqqas (radi Allahu anhu)

Another personality that figured pre-dominantly in those days was Saad ibn Waqqas (radi Allahu anhu). We covered a little territory in which there was a dispute between Saad and Uthman and that was as a result of Uthman relieving Saad of his position as governor of Al-Kufa. Once again, Saad was reported to have been, during those critical hours, in making the decision of who is going to lead the Muslims when it came down to two Uthman or Ali (radi Allahu anhuma). It was said that personally, Saad was in favor of Ali becoming the leader of the Muslims, but he didn't make much of this. He kept this personal feelings to himself. We don't know- we say this as a matter of honesty and trust- whether the family circle around Uthman sensed an independent character in Saad and therefore relieved him of his responsibility of being the governor of Al-Kufa. It's just one of those questions that presents itself in the coverage of this territory. When Uthman's family decision makers began to steer the Islamic decision in the wrong direction, Saad took a position of conscience. He said he was neutral to all of this he didn't want to be involved in what was beginning to become obvious- an Islamic government and an Islamic opposition. He felt in himself that he wasn't comfortable with all of this and he didn't want to be involved. He expressed some opinions in opposition to Uthman, but when opposition become more than just expressing yourself, meaning he saw people beginning to carry arms in this opposition, he excluded himself from it. So what do we have right now? Abdur Rahman ibn Awf and Saad, both of them, towards the end of the rule of Uthman as opponents to Uthman in their own way.

Az-Zubair ibn Al-Awwam (radi Allahu anhu)

Then, we have Az-Zubair ibn Al-Awwam (radi Allahu anhu), who is one of these outstanding personalities at that time- one of this shura counsel to decide on the future of the Muslims. To begin with, I think some of us should understand Az-Zubair is the Prophet's cousin. He is the son of Safiyyah; Saffiyah being the sister of Abdillah, the Prophet's father. That's in one direction. In another direction- because some of us look as family issues- with Islamic standards, family issues should not contribute to the worthiness or lack there-of of a committed Muslim, but because some of us have been programmed to factor in these issues it is only our right to look at these factors that are involved. Az-Zubair, the full name is Az-Zubair ibn Al-Awwam Al-Khuwailid. You know, from elementary Islamic history, Khadijah (radi Allahu anha) is the daughter of Khuwailid. So, Az-Zubair's father and Khadijah are a brother and a sister. This is another contributing factor. In other words, let's put it in the way you can understand it, Khadijah was Az-Zubair's paternal aunt- an aunt on his father's side. In another addition to this, Az-Zubair was married to Aisha (radi Allahu anha)'s sister, the daughter of Abi Bakr (radi Allahu anhu)- Asma' (radi Allahu anha), which means that Az-Zubair and the Prophet of Allah were Adis of each other (in Arabic or in farsi) baajnaak or in English) two men married to two sisters. We say "so what?" Our Islamic values don't look at blood relationships. This could be a positive and it can be a negative. Az-Zubair is also one of these people who became extremely rich. If we are talking about understanding the wealth of Abdur Rahman ibn Awf- let's just get a sense of how wealthy he was- when he died, one of these wives (depending on the book that you're reading he died while he had three or four wives) whose inheritance was one-four of one-eighth, which comes out (some what) percentage wise to 3,1 or 3,2% of his wealth went to her which translated into between 80,000 to 100,000 dhirhams or dinaars- it's not made specific. A little, a tad bit over 3% was between 80,000 and 100,000 of the currency of that time. It is said that when Az-Zubair passed away his wealth (here, we, once again run into different numbers) on the lower side it was 35,000,000 and on the higher side it was 52,000,000; the number in between was 45,000,000. Whatever it is, in the context of that time it was much beyond of what we call today's billionaires. How did he make this wealth? He made it in simply what we call today real estate. He asked where is the high value property? He was told in Al-Kufa, Al-Basra, Al-Fastaf, Al-Askandaria, Iraq and in Egypt and he bought and invested. When he died, he had 11 residences in Al-Madinah alone- 11 homes in Al-Madinah. Now, you can understand why there were some Muslims like Abu Dharr (radi Allahu anhu) who was very concerned "why are some people in possession of all of this wealth and other people barely in possession of survival?" So, we come to Az-Zubair himself and his position vis-à-vis Uthman. At the beginning, it was normal, but then, towards the end even though Uthman showed much favoritism to Az-Zubair's son Abdullah (radi Allahu anhu), Az-Zubair turned an opponent of Uthman, so we can't speak about a homogenized wealthy class of Muslims who did not have their differences- they did have their differences. It's not a simple as some people want to cast it a simple issue of polarization of wealth or a conflict between families. There was much more to it then that, even though these were some of the elements of it. This person also turns against Uthman and becomes one of the opponents of Uthman.

Talha ibn Ubaidillah

The other frontline personality in this shura council was Talha ibn Ubaidillah (radi Allahu anhu). Talha belonged to the family structure of Abi Bakr (radi Allahu anhu) called Taim. He also was a very prosperous or rich man. They say when he died he had 30,000,000 dirham or dinaar- we're not very clear on this one is a silver based currency and the other is a gold based currency. By profession, ever since before he became a Muslim, he was a merchant. He had ventures with Uthman- before and after Islam, they would go on commercial journeys to Ass-Shaam. Talha and Uthman became Muslims in the same year. Talha ran into the Prophet of Allah and Abi Bakr when they were on their way from Makkah to Al-Madinah, meaning, during their Hijra from Makkah to Al-Madinah. So, what was Talha's position? Talha, at the beginning, was upset why the decision was made to appoint Uthman to be the leader of the Muslims when he was absent. He was on one of his commercial journeys and he wasn't present in Al-Madinah when the decision was made to appoint Uthman as the ruler of the Muslims. When he came back to Al-Madinah it was a feat accompli. Uthman had already become the successor to the Prophet and the leader to the Muslims. He was very upset about this. In other words, how is a council of people making decisions while I am a member of that counsel and the decision was made and I wasn't consulted. Uthman realizes this was the case and he tried his best to diminish this feeling or this position of Talha. Let us remind ourselves that Talha was one of the persons who (as did all of these people that we are talking about) attended the wars of Allah's Prophet. Talha was distinguished by being one of those rare personalities who fought with Allah's Prophet in the crucial moments of Uhud when many people abandoned him. He was hit by an arrow in his hand while defending Allah's Prophet and one of his fingers was paralyzed. He was injured in all parts of his body in defending Allah's Prophet in Uhud. So, what was his position when the opposition though, when the opposition against Uthman amongst the Muslims increased? Even though- listen to this how sometimes the details that are very critical, we sort of by pass them and generalize- Talha was one of the persons who turned against Uthman with an opposition of arms. In other words, he joined the Muslim armed opposition when Uthman was besieged in his residence. We just mentioned that Az-Zubair was opposed to Uthman. Az-Zubair's son Abdullah (radi Allahu anhu) was in charge of security of Uthman's residence. Talha was one of the people who was in the crowd of opposition that came to unseat Uthman. When Uthman was killed and Ali showed discomfort with the killing of Uthman, Talha was one of the persons who was surprised- how could Ali feel uneasy or disturbed by the killing of Uthman. This could not make sense to him. We later know that even though Talha gave his bai'ah after Uthman to Ali, along with Az-Zubair, they were in almost a quick fashion to renege on that bai'ah and Marwan ibn Hakam was a person who was destined to kill Talha in the battle of Al-Jamal because he said this is for that- you, Talha, was instrumental in this revolt against Uthman and now I am getting equal with you.

Imam Ali (as)

The last outstanding personality in this counsel of shura was Ali, who, (save us from much of the details of what has become the tit for tat between Sunnis and Shi'is in their versions of history) we'll spare ourselves this and we will take what is known by every Muslim whatever their background is. Ali became a Muslim in the household of the Prophet of Allah when he was either 9 or 11 years old. He was the Prophet's cousin. Abu Talib took care of the Prophet when the Prophet needed help and the Prophet took care of Ali when Abu Talib's family needed help. Ali was married to the Prophet's daughter (radi Allahu anha). Ali was the trustee of the possessions that were in the Prophet's control when he was in Makkah the day or the night that he had to leave from Al-Makkah to Al-Madinah. The Prophet said to Ali, this was when the Prophet was going on a military mission to Tabuk and deputized Ali over Al-Madinah when he wanted to participate in this military mission of the Prophet. Ali was the one who would carry the banner of the Muslims in every military encounter. He was the one who gave his bai'ah with sincerity and honesty to Abi Bakr and Umar and he did not boycott them. He did not express any hostility towards them. When they needed advice he would give them advice. He did not say "I am going to isolate myself from political life because the affairs of the Ummah are going in the wrong direction"- none of that is reported in history, if we want to be fair to what we are reading. But, when things began to go wrong at the time of Uthman, even though, on a personal level, he was not an enemy of Uthman, he disagreed with the decisions that were being made out of the office of Uthman. When the opposition turned violent against Uthman Ali's sons were the ones who were entering and leaving the residence of Uthman. That being said, obviously Ali did not agree with many of the things that were done in the name of Uthman, either by his relatives or by him, himself, or by some ambiguous shouldering of the responsibility. Whatever the case was, this was the shura council that made the critical decisions in those times and days and we find out, at the end, that barely anyone- rather none of them none of them from this shura counsel- were satisfied with at least the latter second half of the rule of Uthman ibn Affan. Now, we ask you, if this is the information that is affordable or available to all Muslims, then why is everyone worked up with each other saying "I am a Sunni" or "I am a Shi'i?" Where did this come from? It wasn't there. We're looking at this information 1st hand, without any interference and we don't find this type of tension among these sincere Muslims who sincerely disagreed amongst themselves. So, does recalling these events generate bad feelings? NO. Recalling these events lends itself to experience. We learn from this. If we cannot learn from this, maybe being six feet under is more honorable than shouldering the responsibilities of life. Let us ask ourselves also- we notice that the Muslims did not have, in this time period, a vice-president as it were, meaning the khalifah or the imam or the Ameer Al-mu'muneen, whatever you want to call the chief executive of the Muslims. The Muslims did not have a deputy. Are we missing something, can we not ask ourselves why was that not the case? Were they less then able to find someone who could fill in for the Muslim ruler if something happens to him? Are we allowed have someone in that position or not? Can we learn from this history, absorb its lessons or are we blinded by fanatical emotionalism?

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