Delivered when Caliph `Umar ibn al-Khattab consulted (1)
Amir al-mu'minin about himself, taking part in the march towards
Rome ( Byzantine Empire ).
Allah has taken upon Himself for the followers of this religion
the strengthening of boundaries and hiding of the secret places.
Allah helped them when they were few and could not protect themselves.
He is living and will not die. If you will your self proceed towards
the enemy and clash with them and fall into some trouble, there
will be no place of refuge for the Muslims other than their remote
cities, nor any place they would return to. Therefore, you should
send there an experienced man and send with him people of good
performance who are well-intentioned. If Allah grants you victory,
then this is what you want. If it is otherwise, you would serve
as a support for the people and a returning place for the Muslims.
(1). About Amir al-mu'minin, the strange
position is adopted that
on the one hand, it is said that he was ignorant of practical
politics and unacquainted with ways of administration from which
it is intended that the revolts created by the Umayyad's lust
for power should be shown to be the outcome of Amir al-mu'minin's
weak administration. On the other hand, much is made of the various
occasions when the then Caliphs consulted Amir al-mu'minin in important
affairs of State in the matter of wars with unbelievers. The aim
in this is not to exhibit his correctness of thinking and judgement
or deep sagacity but to show that there was unity and concord
between him and the Caliphs so that attention should not be paid
to the fact that in some matters they also differed and that mutual
clashes had also occurred. History shows that Amir al-mu'minin
did have differences of principles with the Caliphs and did not
approve every step of theirs. In the sermon of ash-Shiqshiqiyyah
he has expressed in loud words his difference of opinion and anger
about each regime. Nevertheless, this difference does not mean
that correct guidance should be withheld in collective Islamic
problems. Again, Amir al-mu'minin's character was so high that
no one could imagine that he would ever evade giving counsel which
concerned the common weal, or would give such counsel which would
damage public interests. That is why, despite differences of principle,
he was consulted. This throws light on the greatness of his character
and the correctness of his thinking and judgement. Similarly,
it is a prominent trait of the Holy Prophet's character that despite
rejecting his claim to prophethood the unbelievers acknowledged
him the best trustee and could never doubt his trustworthiness.
Rather, even during clashes of mutual opposition they entrusted
to him their property without fear and never suspected that their
property would be misappropriated. Similarly, Amir al-mu'minin
was held to occupy so high a position of trust and confidence
that friend and foe both trusted in the correctness of his counsel.
So, just as the Prophet's conduct shows his height of trustworthiness,
and just as it cannot be inferred from it that there was mutual
accord between him and the unbelievers, because trust has its
own place while the clash of Islam and unbelief has another, in
the same way, despite having differences with the Caliphs, Amir
al-mu'minin was regarded as the protector of national and community
interests and as the guardian of Islam's wellbeing and prosperity.
Thus when national interests were involved he was consulted and
he tendered his unbiased advice raising himself above personal
ends and keeping in view the Prophet's tradition to the effect
that "He who is consulted is a trustee" never allowed
any dishonesty or duplicity to interfere. When on the occasion
of the battle of Palestine, the Caliph `Umar consulted him about
his taking part in it himself, then, irrespective of whether or
not his opinion would accord with `Umar's feelings, he kept in
view Islam's prestige and existence and counselled him to stay
in his place and to send to the battlefront such a man who should
be experienced and wellversed in the art of fighting, because
the going of an inexperienced man would have damaged the established
prestige of Islam and the awe in which the Muslims were held which
had existed from the Prophet's days would have vanished. In fact,
in the Caliph `Umar's going there Amir al-mu'minin saw signs of
defeat and vanquishment. He therefore found Islam's interest to
lie in detaining him and indicated his view in the words that:
"If you have to retreat from the battlefield, it would not
be your personal defeat only, but the Muslims would lose heart
by it and leave the battle-field and disperse here and there,
because with the officer in command leaving the field the army
too would lose ground. Furthermore, with the centre being without
the Caliph there would be no hope of any further assistance from
behind which could sustain courage of the combatants."
This is that counsel which is put forth as a proof of mutual accord
although this advice was tendered in view of Islam's prestige
and life which was dearer to Amir al-mu'minin than any other interest.
No particular individual's life was dear to him for which he might
have advised against participation in the battle.
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Forward to Sermon 134.
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