One of the most important studies which I consider to be the cornerstone for all the studies that lead to the truth is the research into the life of the Companions, their affairs, their deeds and their beliefs; because they were the foundations of everything, and from them we took the principles of our religion, and they enlightened our darkness, so that we can see the rules of Allah. Many Muslim scholars- convinced of the above - embarked on the study of the lives and deeds of the Companions, among them: "Usd al-Ghabah fi Tamyeez al-Sahabah", and "al-Isabah fi Maarifat al-Sahabah", and "Mizan al-I'tidal" and various other books which look critically and analytically at the lives of the Companions, but all from the point of view of the Sunnis.
There is a slight problem here, and that is that most of the early scholars wrote in the way which suited the Umayyad and Abbasid rulers who were well known for their opposition to Ahl al-Bayt and all their followers. Therefore, it is not fair to depend on their works alone without reference to the works of the other Muslim scholars who were persecuted and ultimately killed by these governments simply because they were followers of Ahl al-Bayt and the cause behind the revolutions against the oppressive and deviant authorities.
The main problem with all that was the Companions themselves, for they disagreed about the wish of the Messenger of Allah (saw) to write them a document which would help them to remain on the right path until the Day of Judgement. This disagreement deprived the Islamic nation of a unique virtue, and has thrown it into darkness until it was divided and plagued with internal quarrels and finally ended up as a spent force.
It was they who disagreed on the issue of the Caliphate [the successorship of the Prophet], and were divided between a ruling and an opposing party, thus dividing the nation into the followers of Ali and the followers of Muawiyah. It was they who differed in the interpretations of the Book of Allah and the sayings of His Messenger, which led to the creation of the various creeds, groups and subgroups; and from them came many scholars of scholastic theology and schools of thoughts and philosophies inspired by political ambitions with one aim in mind and that was to obtain power.
The Muslims would not have been divided and in disagreement had it not been for the Companions, for every disagreement that has been created in the past, or is being created at the present time is due to their disagreement about the Companions. There is one God, one Qur'an, one Messenger and one Qiblah, and they all agree on that, but the disagreement among the Companions started on the first day after the death of the Messenger (saw), in the Saqifah [house] of Bani Saidah, and has continued up to the present day, and will continue for as long as Allah wills it.
Through my discussions with the Shiite scholars, I discovered that, in their views, the Companions were divided into three categories:
The first category included the good Companions who knew Allah and His Messenger truly well, and they acclaimed him [the Messenger] to the last moments of their lives. They were truly his friends by words and deeds, and they never abandoned him, but rather stood their ground with him. Allah - the most High - praised them in many places in His Holy Book, and the Messenger of Allah (saw) also praised them in many places. This group of Companions are mentioned by the Shia with reverence and respect, they are also mentioned by the Sunnis with the same reverence and respect.
The second category were the Companions who embraced Islam and followed the Messenger of Allah (saw) either through choice or through fear, and they always showed their gratitude to the Messenger of Allah (saw) for their Islam. However, they hurt the Messenger of Allah (saw) on a few occasions, and did not always follow his orders, in fact they often challenged him and challenged the clear text with their points of view, until Allah, through the Holy Qur'an, had to intervene by rebuking them or threatening them. Allah exposed them in many Qur'anic verses, also the Messenger of Allah (saw) warned them in many of his sayings. The Shia mention this group of Companions only because of their deeds, and without respect or reverence.
The third type of Companions were the hypocrites who accompanied the Messenger of Allah (saw) to deceive him. They pretended to be Muslims but inside themselves they were bent on blasphemy and on deceiving Islam and the Muslims as a whole. Allah has revealed a complete Surah in the Qur'an about them, and mentioned them in many other places, and promised them the lowest level in Hell. Also the Messenger of Allah (saw) mentioned them and issued warnings about them, and even informed some of his close friends about their names and characteristics. The Shia and the Sunnis agree in cursing this group of Companions and have nothing to do with them.
There was a special group of Companions who distinguished themselves from the others by being relatives of the Prophet (saw), in addition to having possessed ethical and spiritual virtues and personal distinctions from Allah and His Messenger that no one else was honoured with. These were Ahl al-Bayt (the Prophet's Family) whom Allah cleansed and purified, and ordered us to pray for them in the same way as he ordered us to pray for His Messenger. He made it obligatory for us to pay them one fifth of our income, and that every Muslim must love them as a reward for the Muhammadan Message. They are our leaders and we must obey them; and they are people firmly rooted in knowledge who know the interpretation of the Holy Qur'an and they know the decisive verses of it, as well as those verses which are allegorical.
They are the people of al-Dhikr whom the Messenger of Allah equated with the Holy Qur'an in his saying "the two weighty things" (al-Thaqalayn), and ordered us to adhere to them , He equated them to Noah's Ark: whoever joined it was saved, and whoever left it drowned . The Companions knew the position of Ahl al-Bayt and revered them and respected them. The Shia follow them and put them above any of the Companions, and to support that they have many clear texts as proofs.
The Sunnis respect and revere the Companions but do not accept the above classification and do not believe that some of the Companions were hypocrites, rather, they see the Companions as being the best people after the Messenger of Allah. If they classify the Companions then it would be according to their seniority and their merits and their services to Islam. They put the Rightly Guided Caliphs in the first class, then the first six of the ten who were promised with heaven, according to them. Therefore when they pray for the Prophet (saw) and his household they attach with them all the Companions without exception.
This is what I know from the Sunni scholars, and that is what I heard from the Shii scholars regarding the classification of the Companions; and that is what made me start my detailed study with the issue of the Companions. I promised my God - if He led me on the right path - to rid myself from emotional bias and to be neutral and objective and to listen to what the two sides said, then to follow what was best, basing my conclusions on two premises:
1. A sound and a logical premise: that is to say that I would only depend upon what everybody is in agreement with, regarding the commentary on the Book of Allah, and the correct parts of the honourable Sunnah of the Prophet.
2. The mind: for it is the greatest gift that Allah has given to human beings, and through it He honoured them and distinguished them from the rest of creation. Thus, when Allah protests about what His worshippers do, He asks them to use their minds in the best possible way, and He says: Do they not understand? Do they not comprehend? Do they not see? . . .etc."
Let my Islam primarily be the belief in Allah, His angels, His Books and His messengers; and that Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger; and that the Religion of Allah is Islam; and that I will never depend on any of the Companions, regardless of his relation to the Messenger or his position, for I am neither Umayyad nor Abbasid nor Fatimid, and I am neither Sunni nor Shii, and I have no enmity towards Abu Bakr or Umar or Uthman or Ali or even Wahshi, the killer of our master al-Hamzah, as long as he became a Muslim, and the Messenger of Allah forgave him. Since I had forced myself into this study in order to reach the truth, and since I had rid myself, sincerely, from all my previous beliefs, I decided to start, with the blessing of Allah, by considering the attitudes of the Companions.
Briefly the story is as follows:
In the sixth year after the Hijrah (emigration of the Prophet from Mecca to Madinah), the Messenger of Allah with one thousand and four hundred of his Companions marched towards Mecca to do the Umrah. They camped in "Dhi al-Halifah" where the Prophet (saw) ordered his Companions to put down their arms and wear the Ihram (white gowns worn especially for the purpose of the pilgrimage and the Umrah), then they dispatched al-Hady (an offering for sacrifice) to inform Quraysh that he was coming as a visitor to do the Umrah and not as a fighter. But Quraysh, with all its arrogance, feared that its reputation would be dented if the other Arabs heard that Muhammad had entered Mecca by force. Therefore, they sent a delegation led by Suhayl ibn Amr ibn Abd Wadd al-Amiri to see the Prophet and ask him to turn back that year, but said that they would allow him to visit Mecca for three days the year after. In addition to that, they put down some harsh conditions, which were accepted by the Messenger of Allah as the circumstances warranted such acceptance, and as revealed to him by his God, Glory and Might be to Him.
A few of the Companions did not like the Prophet's action and opposed him very strongly, and Umar ibn al-Khattab came and said to him, "Are you not truly the Prophet of Allah?" He answered,"Yes, I am." Umar asked, "Are we not right and our enemy wrong?" The Prophet answered, "Yes." Umar asked, "Why do we then disgrace our religion?" The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, "I am the Messenger of Allah and I will never disobey Him and He is my support." Umar asked, "Did you not tell us that we would come to the House of Allah and go around it?" The Prophet answered, "Yes, and did I tell you that we were coming this year?" Umar answered, "No." The Prophet said, "Then you are coming to it and going around it." Umar later went to Abu Bakr and asked him, "O Abu Bakr, is he not truly the Prophet of Allah?" He answered, "Yes." Umar then asked him the same questions he had asked the Messenger of Allah, and Abu Bakr answered him with the same answers and added, "O Umar he is the Messenger of Allah, and he will not disobey his God, Who is his support, so hold on to him."
When the Prophet had finished signing the treaty, he said to his Companions "Go and slaughter (sacrifices) and shave your heads." And by Allah one of them stood up until he had said it three times. When nobody obeyed his orders, he went to his quarters, then came out and spoke to no one, and slaughtered a young camel with his own hands, and then asked his barber to shave his head. When the Companions saw all that, they went and slaughtered (sacrifices), and shaved one another, until they nearly killed one another .
This is the summary of the story of peace treaty of al-Hudaibiyah, which is one of the events whose details both the Shia and Sunnah agree upon, and it is cited by many historians and biographers of the Prophet such as al-Tabari, Ibn al-Athir, Ibn Saad, al-Bukhari and Muslim.
I stopped here, for I could not read this kind of material without feeling rather surprised about the behaviour of those Companions towards their Prophet. Could any sensible man accept some people's claims that the Companions, may Allah bless them, always obeyed and implemented the orders of the Messenger of Allah (saw), for these incidents expose their lies, and fall short of what they want! Could any sensible man imagine that such behaviour towards the Prophet is an easy or acceptable matter or even an excusable one! Allah, the Almighty, said:
But no! By your God! They do not believe (in reality) until they make you a judge of that which has become a matter of disagreement among them, and then do not and any straightness in their hearts as to what you have decided and submit with entire submission. (Holy Qur'an 4:65)Did Umar ibn al-Khattab succumb to them and find no difficulty in accepting the order of the Messenger (saw)? Or was he reluctant to accept the order of the Prophet? Especially when he said, "Are you not truly the Prophet of Allah? Did you not tell us? ..." etc, and did he succumb after the Messenger of Allah gave him all these convincing answers? No he was not convinced by his answers, and he went and asked Abu Bakr the same questions. But did he succumb after Abu Bakr answered him and advised him to hold on to the Prophet? I do not know if he actually succumbed to all that and was convinced by the answers of the Prophet (saw) and Abu Bakr! For why did he say about himself, "For that I did so many things..". Allah and His Messenger know the things which were done by Umar.
Furthermore, I do not know the reasons behind the reluctance of the rest of the Companions after that, when the Messenger of Allah said to him, "Go and slaughter [sacrifices] and shave your heads." Nobody listened to his orders even when he repeated them three times, and then in vain.
Allah, be praised! I could not believe what I had read. Could the Companions go to that extent in their treatment of the Messenger. If the story had been told by the Shia alone, I would have considered it a lie directed towards the honourable Companions. But the story has become so well known that all the Sunni historians refer to it. As I had committed myself to accept what had been agreed on by all parties, I found myself resigned and perplexed. What could I say? What excuse could I find for those Companions who had spent nearly twenty years with the Messenger of Allah, from the start of the Mission to the day of al-Hudaibiyah, and had seen all the miracles and enlightenment of the Prophethood? Furthermore the Qur'an was teaching them day and night how they should behave in the presence of the Messenger, and how they should talk to him, to the extent that Allah had threatened to ruin their deeds if they raised their voices above his voice.
Briefly the story is as follows:
The Companions were meeting in the Messenger's house, three days before he died. He ordered them to bring him a bone and an ink pot so that he could write a statement for them which would prevent them from straying from the right path, but the Companions differed among themselves, and some of them disobeyed the Prophet and accused him of talking nonsense. The Messenger of Allah became very angry and ordered them out of his house without issuing any statement.
This is the story in some details:
Ibn Abbas said: Thursday, and what a Thursday that was! The Messenger's pain became very severe, and he said, "Come here, I will write you a document which will prevent you from straying from the right path." But Umar said that the Prophet was under the spell of the pain, and that they had the Qur'an which was sufficient being the Book of Allah. Ahl al-Bayt then differed and quarrelled amongst themselves, some of them agreeing with what the Prophet said, while others supported Umar's view. When the debate became heated and the noise became louder, the Messenger of Allah said to them, "Leave me alone."
Ibn Abbas said: The disaster was that the disagreement among the Companions prevented the Messenger from writing that document for them .
The incident is correct and there is no doubt about its authenticity, for it was cited by the Shii scholars and their historians in their books, as well as by the Sunni scholars and historians in their books. As I was committed to consider the incident, I found myself bewildered by Umar's behaviour regarding the order of the Messenger of Allah. And what an order it was! "To prevent the nation from going astray", for undoubtedly that statement would have had something new in it for the Muslims and would have left them without a shadow of doubt.
Now let us leave the points of view of the Shia, that is that the Messenger wanted to write the name of Ali as his successor, and that Umar realized this, so he prevented it. Perhaps because they do not convince us initially with that hypothesis. But can we find a sensible explanation to this hurtful incident which angered the Messenger so much that he ordered them to leave, and made Ibn Abbas cry until he made the stones wet from his tears and called it a "great disaster"? The Sunnis say that Umar recognized that the Prophet's illness was advancing, so he wanted to comfort him and relieve him from any pressure.
This type of reasoning would not be accepted by simple-minded people, let alone by the scholars. I repeatedly tried to find an excuse for Umar. but the circumstances surrounding the incident prevented me from finding an excuse. Even if I changed the words "He is talking nonsense" - God forbid - to "the pain has overcome him", I could not find any justification for Umar when he said, "You have the Qur'an, and it is sufficient being the Book of Allah." Did he know the Qur'an better than the Messenger of Allah, for whom it was revealed? Or was the Messenger of Allah - God forbid - unaware of what he was? Or did he seek, through his order, to create division and disagreement among the Companions - God forbid. Even if the Sunni reasoning was right, then the Messenger of Allah would have realized the good will of Umar and thanked him for that and perhaps asked him to stay, instead of feeling angry at him and telling them to leave his house. May I ask why did they abide by his order when he asked them to leave the room and did not say then that he was "talking nonsense"? Was it because they had succeeded in their plot to prevent the Prophet from writing the document, so that there was no need for them to stay any longer? Thus, we find them creating noise and difference in the presence of the Messenger, and divided into two parties: one agreeing with the Messenger of Allah about writing that document, while the other agreed with Umar "that he was talking nonsense".
The matter is not just concerned with Umar alone, for if it was so, the Messenger of Allah would have persuaded him that he could not be talking nonsense and that the pain could not overcome him in matters of the nation's guidance and of preventing it from going astray. But the situation became much more serious, and Umar found some supporters who seemingly had a prior agreement on their stand, and so they created the noise and the disagreement among themselves and forgot, or perhaps pretended to forget, the words of Allah - the Most High:
O You who believe! Do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet, and do not speak loud to him as you speak loud to one another, lest your deeds become null while you do not perceive (Holy Qur'an 49:2).In this incident they went beyond raising their voices and talking loud to accusing the Messenger of Allah of talking nonsense - God forbid - then they increased their noise and differences until it became a battle of words in his presence.
I think the majority of the Companions were with Umar, and that is why the Messenger of Allah found it useless to write the document, because he knew that they would not respect him and would not abide by the command of Allah by not raising their voices in his presence, and if they were rebellious against the command of Allah, then they would never obey the order of His Messenger.
Thus, the wisdom of the Messenger ruled that he was not to write the document because it had been attacked during his lifetime, let alone after his death.
The critics would say that he was talking nonsense, and perhaps they would doubt some of the orders he passed whilst on his death-bed, for they were convinced that he was talking nonsense.
I ask Allah for forgiveness, and renounce what has been said in the presence of the holy Messenger, for how could I convince myself and my free conscience that Umar ibn al-Khattab was acting spontaneously, whereas his friends and others who were present at the incident cried until their tears wet the stones, and named the incident "the misfortune of the Muslims". I therefore decided to reject all the justifications given to explain the incident, and even tried to deny it so that I could relax and forget about the tragedy, but all the books referred to it and accepted its authenticity but could not provide sound justification for it.
I tend to agree with the Shii point of view in explaining the incident because I find it logical and very coherent.
I still remember the answer which al-Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr gave me when I asked him, "How did our master Umar understand, among all the Companions what the Messenger wanted to write, namely the appointment of Ali as his successor- as you claim - which shows that he was a clever man?"
Al-Sayyid al-Sadr said: Umar was not the only one who anticipated what the Messenger was going to write. In fact most of the people who were present then understood the situation the same way as Umar did, because the Messenger of Allah had previously indicated the issue when he said, "I shall leave you with two weighty things: the Book of Allah and the members of my Family (Ahl al-Bayt) and their descendants, if you follow them, you will never go astray after me." And during his illness he said to them, "Let me write you a document, if you follow its contents, you will never go astray." Those who were present, including Umar, understood that the Messenger of Allah wanted to reiterate, in writing, what he had already said in Ghadir Khum, and that was to follow the Book of Allah and Ahl al-Bayt and that Ali was the head of it. It was as if the holy Prophet (saw) was saying, "Follow the Qur'an and Ali." He said similar things on many occasions, as has been stated by many historians.
The majority of Quraysh did not like Ali because he was young and because he smashed their arrogance and had killed their heroes; but they did not dare oppose the Messenger of Allah, as they had done at the "Treaty of al-Hudaibiyah', and when the Messenger prayed for Abdullah ibn Abi al- Munafiq, and on many other incidents recorded by history. This incident was one of them, and you see that the opposition against writing that document during the Prophets illness encouraged some of those who were present to be insolent and make so much noise in his presence.
That answer came in accordance with what the saying meant. But Umar's statement, "You have the Qur'an, and it is sufficient, being the Book of Allah" was not in accordance with the saying which ordered them to follow the Book of Allah and the Household [Ahl al-Bayt] together. It looks as if he meant to say, "We have the Book of Allah, and that is sufficient for us, therefore there is no need for Ahl al-Bayt." I could not see any other reasonable explanation to the incident other than this one, unless it was meant to say, 'Obey Allah but not His Messenger." And this argument is invalid and not sensible. If I put my prejudices and my emotions aside and base my judgement on a clean and free mind, I would tend towards the first analysis, which stops short of accusing Umar of being the first one to reject the Prophet's Tradition (al-Sunnah) when he said, "It is sufficient for us, being the Book of Allah".
Then if there were some rulers who rejected the Prophet's Traditions claiming that it was "contradictory", they only followed an earlier example in the history of Islam. However, I do not want to burden Umar alone with the responsibility for that incident and the subsequent deprivation of the nation of the guidance. To be fair to him, I suggest that the responsibility should be borne by him and those Companions who were with him and who supported him in his opposition to the command of the Messenger of Allah.
I am astonished by those who read this incident and feel as if nothing happened, despite that it was one of the "great misfortunes" as Ibn Abbas called it. My astonishment is even greater regarding those who try hard to preserve the honour of a Companion and to correct his mistake, even if at the cost of the Prophet's dignity and honour and at the cost of Islam and its foundations.
Why do we escape from the truth and try to obliterate it when it is not in accordance with our whims . . . why do not we accept that the Companions were human like us, and had their own whims, prejudices and interests, and could commit mistakes or could be right?
But my astonishment fades when I read the Book of Allah in which He tells us the stories of the prophets- may Allah bless them and grant them peace - and the disobedience they faced from their people despite all the miracles they produced .. Our God! Make not our hearts to deviate after thou hast guided us aright, and grant us from Your Mercy; surely You are the Most Liberal Giver.
I began to understand the background to the Shia's attitude towards the second Caliph, whom they charge with the responsibility for many tragic events in the history of Islam, starting from "Raziyat Yawm al-Khamis" when the Islamic nation was deprived of the written guidance which the Messenger wanted to write for them. The inescapable fact is that the sensible man who knew the truth before he encountered the men seeks an excuse for the Shias in this matter, but there is nothing we can say to convince those who only judge truth through men.
The Prophet (saw) organized an army to be sent to Asia Minor two days before his death. He appointed Usamah ibn Zayd ibn Haritha, (who was eighteen years old), as its commander in chief, then the holy Prophet attached some important men, both Muhajireen and Ansar, to this expedition, such as Abu Bakr, Umar, Abu Obaydah and other well-known Companions. Some people criticized the Prophet for appointing Usamah as the commander in chief of that army, and asked how could he have appointed so young a man as their commander. In fact the same people had previously criticized the Prophet for appointing Usamah's father as an army commander before him. They went on criticizing until the Prophet became so angry that he left his bed, feverish and with his head bandaged, with two men supporting him and his feet barely touching the ground (may my parents be sacrificed for him). He ascended the pulpit, praised Allah highly then said,
O People ! I have been informed that some of you object to my appointing Usamah as commander of the detachment. You now object to my appointing Usamah as commander in chief as you objected to me appointing his father commander in chief before him. By Allah, his father was certainly competent for his appointment as commander in chief and his son is also competent for the appointment .Then he exhorted them to start without further delay and kept saying,
"Send the detachment of Usamah; deploy the detachment of Usamah, send forward the detachment of Usamah." He kept repeating the exhortations but the Companions were still sluggish, and camped by al-Jurf.
Events like that made me ask, "What is this insolence towards Allah and His Messenger? Why all that disobedience towards the orders of the blessed Messenger who was so caring and kind to all the believers?"
I could not imagine, nor indeed could anybody else, an acceptable explanation for all that disobedience and insolence. As usual, when I read about those events which touch on the integrity of the Companions, I try to deny or ignore them, but it is impossible to do so when all the historians and scholars, Shia and Sunnis, agree on their authenticity.
I have promised my God to be fair, and I shall never be biased in favour of my creed, and will never use anything but the truth as my criterion. But the truth here is so bitter, and the holy Prophet (s.a.w.) said, "Say the truth even if it is about yourself, and say the truth even if it is bitter..." The truth in this case is that the Companions who criticized the appointment of Usamah disobeyed all the clear texts that could not be doubted or misinterpreted, and there is no excuse for that, although some people make flimsy excuses in order to preserve the integrity of the Companions and "the virtuous ancestors". But the free and sensible person would not accept such feeble excuses, unless he is one of those who cannot comprehend any saying, or is perhaps one of those who are blinded by their own prejudice to the extent that they cannot differentiate between the obligatory task that must be obeyed and the prohibition that must be avoided. I thought deeply to find an acceptable excuse for those people, but without success. I read the points of view of the Sunnis which provide us with an excuse based on the fact that these people were the elders of Quraysh, and were among the early followers of Islam, whereas Usamah was a young man who had not fought in the decisive battles that gave Islam its glory, such as Badr, Uhud and Hunayn; and that he was a young man with no experience of life when the Messenger of Allah appointed him military commander. Furthermore, they thought that human nature, by its inclination, makes it difficult for elderly people to be led by young men, therefore they [i.e. the Companions] criticized the appointment and wanted the Messenger of Allah to appoint a prominent and respectable Companion.
It is an excuse which is not based on any rational or logical premise, and any Muslim who reads the Qur'an and understands its rules must reject such an excuse, because Allah- the Almighty - says: "Whatever the Messenger gives you, accept it, and from whatever he forbids you, keep back" (Holy Qur'an 59:7).
"And it behooves not a believing man and a believing woman that they should have any choice in their matter when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter; and whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he surely strays off a manifest straying" (Holy Qur'an 33:36).
So what kind of an excuse could any rational person accept after reading all these clear texts, and what can I say about people who angered the Messenger of Allah, when they knew that the Messenger's anger is Allah's anger. They accused him of talking "nonsense", and they shouted and disagreed in his presence when he was ill (may my parents be sacrificed for him), until he ordered them to leave his room. That did not seem to be enough for them, and instead of returning to the right path and asking Allah's forgiveness for what they had done to His Messenger, and asking the Messenger for forgiveness as the Qur'an taught them, they went on criticizing him, despite all the care and kindness he had for them. They did not appreciate him or respect him, and two days after having accused him of talking "nonsense", they criticized him for appointing Usamah as military commander. They forced him to come out in the appalling condition which the historians describe. Due to the severity of his illness, he had to walk with the support of two men, then he had to swear by Allah that Usamah was a competent commander for the army. Furthermore, the Messenger informed us that they had criticized him previously for appointing his father as a commander, which indicates that these people had had many previous confrontations with him, and that they were not willing to obey his orders or accept his judgement, rather, they were prepared to oppose him and confront him, even if such behaviour went against the rules of Allah and His Messenger.
What leads us to believe that there was open opposition (to the orders of the Prophet), was that in spite of all the anger shown by the Messenger of Allah, and the fact that he himself tied the flag with his noble hand to the post and commanded them to march immediately, they were sluggish and reluctant to move, and did not go until he had died (may my parents be sacrificed for him). The Prophet(s.a.w.) died feeling sorry for his unfortunate nation, which he feared would go backwards and end up in hell, and no one would be saved except a few, and the Messenger of Allah described them as a handful.
I am surprised that those Companions angered the Prophet on that Thursday and accused him of talking "nonsense", and said, "It is sufficient for us that we have the Book of Allah", when the Holy Qur'an states:"Say if you love Allah, then follow me and Allah will love you" (Holy Qur'an 3:31). As if they were more knowledgeable about the Book of Allah and its rules than he to whom it had been revealed. There they were, two days after that great misfortune, and two days before he [the holy Prophet] went up to meet his High Companion, angering him even more by criticizing him for appointing Usamah, and not obeying his orders. Whereas he was ill and bed-ridden in the first misfortune, in the second one he had to come out, with his head bandaged and covered by a blanket and supported by two men with his feet barely on the ground, and address them from the top of the pulpit. He started his speech with the profession of the unity of Allah and praised Him in order to make them feel that he was not talking nonsense, then he informed them about what he knew regarding their criticism of his orders. Furthermore, he reminded them of an incident which had occurred four years previously, in which he was criticized by them. After all that, did they really think that he was talking nonsense or that his illness had overcome him so that he was unaware of what he was saying?
Praise and thanks be to You, Allah, how did these people dare oppose Your Messenger. They disagreed with him when he signed the peace treaty, they opposed him very strongly even when he ordered them to make the sacrifice and shave their heads, and even repeated it three times although no one cared to obey; and again they pulled him by his shirt to prevent him from praying for Abdullah ibn Ubay and said to him, "Allah forbade you from praying for the hypocrites!" As if they were teaching him what had been revealed to him, when You said in Your Holy Qur'an: "We have revealed to you the reminder that you may make clear to men what has been revealed to them" (Holy Qur'an 16:44).
And You said: "We have revealed the Book to you with the truth that you may judge between people by means of that which Allah has taught you"(Holy Qur'an 4:105).
And You said, and Your saying is the truth: "We have sent among you a messenger from among you who recites to you Our Verses and purifies you and teaches you the Book and the wisdom and teaches you that which you did not know" (Holy Qur'an 2:151).
I am astonished at those people who put themselves in a position higher than that of the Prophet. On one occasion they disobeyed his orders, and on another occasion they accused him of talking nonsense, and then talked loudly and without respect in his presence. They criticized him for appointing Zayd ibn Harithah to the military command, and after him his son Usamah. How could they leave the scholars in any doubt, after all this evidence, that the Shia are right when they put a question mark on the position of some of the Companions, and show their resentment towards these positions purely out of respect and love for the Messenger and the members of his Household.
I have mentioned only four or five of these controversial issues to be brief and to use them as examples, but the Shii scholars could recount hundreds of situations in which the Companions contradicted the clear texts. In all this the Shia refer to sources written in books by Sunni scholars.
When I look at a number of positions taken by a few of the Companions with regard to the Messenger of Allah, I stand astonished; not because of the attitudes of those Companions alone, but because of the position of the Sunni scholars who gave us the impression that the Companions were always right and could not be criticized. Thus they prevented any researcher from reaching the truth and left him puzzled in the midst of all these contradictions.
In addition to the examples that I have mentioned above, I will bring some more in order to establish a better picture of those Companions, so that we may understand the position of the Shia towards them.
According to al-Bukhari in his Sahih, Vol. 4 Page 47, section "The virtue of Patience when one is hurt" and the words of the Almighty "...And those who are patient, surely they will be rewarded", in the Book of Conduct he said:
Al-Amash told us that he heard Shaqiq saying that Abdullah told him: Once the Holy Prophet divided something among a group of men, as he used to do, when one man from al-Ansar stood up and said, "This division is not for the sake of Allah." I said, "For my part, I shall have a word with the Prophet (s.a.w.)." So I went to see him, and I found him with his Companions. I explained my grievances, and the Prophet's face changed and showed signs of anger, and I wished that I had not told him, then he said: "Moses was hurt more than that but he was patient."
Al-Bukhari mentioned in the same book - i.e. the book of Conduct - in the chapter concerning smiling and laughter that Anas ibn Malik was heard saying: I was walking with the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) who was wearing a Najrani cloak with a rather thin edge to it, and suddenly a man approached him and pulled harshly at his cloak. Anas continued: I looked at the side of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and noticed that as a result of that harsh pull, the edge of the cloak went up to his shoulder, then the man said, 'O Muhammad, give me some of what you have from Allah's wealth!" The Prophet turned to him and laughed, then he ordered his Companions to pay him something.
Al-Bukhari also mentioned the following incident in the Book of Conduct and put it in the chapter concerning "He who does not face people with blame", he said: Aisha said that the Prophet (s.a.w.) did something and made it permissible, but no one followed what the Prophet did. The Prophet (s.a.w.) happened to hear about it, so he decided to address the people. He first thanked Allah then said: "What is the matter with people who refrain from the thing I did? By Allah, I know more than any of them about Allah, and I fear Him most... !"
When we look deeply at incidents like those above we find that the Companions put themselves on a higher level than the Prophet, and thought that he was wrong and they were right. Furthermore, there were some historians who deliberately corrected the position of the Companions, even if that contradicted the action taken by the Prophet, and showed them at a level of knowledge and piety higher than that of the Prophet. As is the case when they judge the Prophet wrong in the case of the Prisoners of War at the battle of Badr, so it appears that Umar ibn al-Khattab was right. They also tell wrong stories, such as the following saying attributed to the people: If Allah decided to inflict a disaster on us, no one will escape except Ibn al-Khattab. In other words, they were saying, "If it was not for Umar, the Prophet would have perished." God protect us from such a corrupt and shameful belief, and he who adheres to this kind of belief is surely far from Islam, and ought to review his thinking or rid himself of the devil.
Allah - the most High - said:
"Have you considered him who takes his low desire for his God, and Allah has made him err having knowledge and has set a seal upon his hear and his heart and put a covering upon his eye. Who can then guide him after Allah? Will not they be mindful?" (Holy Qur'an 45:23)
I believe that those who think that the Prophet (s.a.w.) was subject to his emotions to the extent that he deviated from the right path and made a judgement not for the cause of Allah, or those who refrained from doing things which were done by the Messenger of Allah thinking that they were more knowledgeable and more pious than the Messenger, do not deserve any respect or appreciation from the Muslims. They were put at the same level as the angels, as the best people in the whole of creation after the Messenger of Allah, so that Muslims are obliged to follow them and take them as an example, just because they were the Companions of the Messenger of Allah.
That contradicts the belief of Ahl al-Sunnah, who pray for Muhammad and his family, and then add all the Companions. If Allah - praise be to Him the Most High - appreciated them and put them in their correct position and ordered them to pray for His Messenger and the purified members of his family, they should have submitted and known their place with Allah. Why should we then put them in a position which is higher than they deserve. and equate them with those people whom Allah has elevated and preferred above all people?
Let me then conclude that the Umayyads and the Abbasids, who opposed-Ahl al-Bayt and exiled them and killed them with their followers, got the gist of that distinguished position and recognized its danger for them. For if Allah - praise be to Him - would not accept the prayers of a Muslim unless he prays for them (Ahl al-Bayt): how could they justify their opposition to them. Therefore, they attached the Companions to Ahl al-Bayt in order to give the impression to the public that they are equal.
Especially when we know that their masters and dignitaries were Companions who bought some other Companions known to have weak personalities and asked them to distribute fabricated sayings (of the Prophet) in praise of the Companions and the next generation, and in particular those who reached the position of Caliphs (i.e. the Umayyad and Abbasid) and they were the direct reason behind them attaining this position and becoming rulers over all the Muslims. History is the best witness to what I am saying: Umar ibn al-Khattab, who was well known for his strictness towards his governors whom used to dismiss them on mere suspicions, was quite gentle towards Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan and never disciplined him. Muawiyah was appointed by Abu Bakr and confirmed by Umar throughout his life, who never even rebuked him or blamed him, despite the fact that many people complained about Muawiyah and reported him for wearing silk and gold, which was prohibited to men by the Messenger of Allah. Umar used to answer these complaints by saying, "Let him be, he is the Kisra (king) of the Arabs." Muawiyah continued in the governorship for more than twenty years without being touched or criticized, and when Uthman succeeded to the caliphate of the Muslims, he added to his authority further districts and regions, which enabled him to a mass great wealth from the Islamic nation and to raise armies to rebel against the Imam (Leader) of the nation and subsequently take the full power by force and intimidation. Thus he became the sole ruler of all Muslims, and later forced them to vote for his corrupt and alcohol drinking son Yazid, as his heir and successor.
This is a long story so I will not go into its details in this book, but the important thing is that we should understand the mentality of those Companions who reached the position of caliph and facilitated the establishment of the Umayyad state in a direct way, so as to please Quraysh which did not want to see both the Prophethood and the caliphate in the House of Bani Hashim(7). The Umayyad state had the right, or indeed was obliged to thank those who had facilitated its establishment, most of all the "story tellers" whom it hired to tell tales about the virtues of their masters. In the meantime it elevated them to a higher place than that of their enemies, Ahl al-Bayt, simply by inventing virtues and merits, which if (may Allah witness) examined under the light of logical and legal evidence mostly disappear, unless there is something wrong with our minds or we have started believing in contradictions.
For example, we hear so much about Umar's justice which the "story-tellers" attributed to him. It was even said about him "You ruled with justice, therefore you can sleep." It has also been said that Umar was buried in a standing position so that justice would not die with him, . . . and you could go on and on talking about Umar's justice. However, the correct history tells us that when Umar ordered that grants should be distributed among the people during the twentieth year of al-Hijrah, he did not follow the tradition of the Messenger of Allah, nor did he confine himself to its rules. The Prophet (s.a.w.) distributed the grants on an equal basis among all Muslims and did not differentiate between one person and another, and Abu Bakr did the same throughout his caliphate. But Umar introduced a new method. He preferred the early converts to Islam to those who came later. He preferred al-Muhajireen (immigrants from Mecca to Medinah) from Quraysh to other Muhajireen. He preferred all the Muhajireen to al-Ansar (followers of Prophet Muhammad in Medinah who granted him refuge after the Hijra). He preferred the Arabs to the non-Arabs. He preferred the freeman to the slave(8). He preferred (the tribe of) Mudar to (the tribe of) Rabia for he gave three hundred to the former and two hundred to the latter(9). He also preferred al-Aws to al-Khazraj. (10)
Where is the justice in all this differentiation, O people who have minds?
We also hear so much about Umar's knowledge, to the extent he was described as the most knowledgeable Companion, and it has been said about him that he agreed with his God on many ideas that were revealed in various Qur'anic verses, and that he disagreed with the Prophet about them. But the correct history tells us that Umar did not agree with the Qur'an, even after it had been revealed. When one of the Companions asked him one day during his caliphate, "O Commander of the Believers, I am unclean, but I cannot find water to wash." Umar answered, "Do not pray." Then Ammar ibn Yasir had to remind him about Tayammum [ritual cleaning with earth], but Umar was not convinced, and said to Ammar, "You are responsible only for the duties which have been assigned to you"(11).
Where is Umar's knowledge regarding the Tayammum verse which had been revealed in the Book of Allah, and where is Umar's knowledge of the Tradition of the Prophet (s.a.w.) who taught them how to do Tayammum as well as Wudu [ritual ablution]. Umar himself confessed on many occasions that he was not a scholar, and that all people, even women were more knowledgeable than him, and he was heard saying many times, "If it was not for Ali, Umar would have perished." And throughout his life he did not know the rule of al-Kalalah [relatives of the dead excluding the son and the father], although he passed various different judgements about it, as history witnesses.
We also hear a great deal about the courage and physical strength of Umar, and it has been said that Quraysh feared the day when Umar became a Muslim, and that Islam became even stronger when he entered the religion. It has also been said that Allah glorified Islam with Umar, and that the Messenger of Allah did not call for Islam openly until after Umar had become a Muslim.
But the correct historical references do not seem to indicate that courage, and history does not mention one famous or even ordinary person who has been killed by Umar in a dual or a battle like Badr and Uhud or al-Khandaq. In fact the correct historical references tell us exactly the opposite; they tell us that he escaped with the fugitives in Uhud, and escaped on the day of Hunayn, and that when the Messenger of Allah sent him to take the city of Khayber he returned defeated. He was never even the leader in the military detachments in which he served, and in the last one (that of Usamah) he was put under the charge of young Usamah ibn Zayd. So where is all that courage compared to these historical facts ... O people who have minds?
We also hear about Umar's piety and his great fear of Allah, to the extent of crying. It has been said that he was afraid of being accountable before Allah if a mule tumbled in Iraq because he did not pave the road for it. But the correct historical sources tell us that he was a rough man who lacked piety and did not hesitate to beat a man until he bled because he asked him about a Qur'anic verse, and even that women used to miscarry their babies out of fear when they saw him. Why did he not fear Allah when he raised his sword and threatened anybody who said that Muhammad had died, and he swore by Allah that he had not died, rather, he had gone to talk to his God in the same way as Moses did. Then he threatened to kill whoever said that Muhammad was dead(12).
Why did he not fear Allah when he threatened to burn Fatimah al-Zahra's house if those who refrained from voting for the successorship of the caliphate did not come out(13)? It has been said that when he was told that Fatimah was inside, he answered, "So what!" He violated the Book of Allah and the Tradition of the Prophet and passed rules and judgements during his caliphate which contradicted the texts of the Holy Qur'an and the noble Tradition of the Prophet (s.a.w.)(14).
So where was all that piety and fear of Allah in all these bitter and sad historical facts, O good worshippers of Allah? I took this great and famous Companion as an example, and I have summarized a great deal to avoid prolongation, but if I wanted to talk in some detail, I could have filled many volumes. But as I said I have mentioned these historical references as examples and not for specific reasons.
What I have mentioned is a small amount, but it gives us a clear indication as to the mentalities of the Companions and the contradictory attitudes of the Sunni scholars and historians. For on the one hand they forbid people from criticizing them or doubting their intentions, but on the other hand they write in their books things that make people doubt their deeds and criticize them.
I wish the Sunni scholars had not written about these matters in such a way that it clearly sullies the dignity of the Companions and ruins their integrity. If they had not we would have been spared all that confusion.
I still remember meeting a scholar from al-Najaf whose name was Asad Hayder (author of "Al-lmam al-Sadiq wa al- Madhahib al-Arbaah") and as we were talking about the Sunnis and the Shia he told me a story about his father. He (i.e. the father) had met a Tunisian scholar from al-Zaytunah during the pilgrimage season some fifty years ago, and started a debate about the Imamate of Ali - may Allah's peace be upon him - and his eligibility to the succession for the caliphate. The Tunisian scholar listened attentively as the other man mentioned four or five reasons. When he had finished, the scholar from al-Zaytunah asked him, "Have you got any other reasons?" The man answered, "No." Then the Tunisian scholar said, "Get your rosary out and start counting, then he listed some hundred reasons that my father had not known before.
Shaykh Asad Hayder added, "If the Sunnis read what is in their books, then they would say similar things to what we are saying and we would not have any differences between us for a long time."
By my life! It is the inevitable truth, if only man would liberate himself from his blind prejudice and his arrogance and submit to the clear proof.