A deep look into the history of Islam takes to the conclusion that the Sahabah in the age of the Divine Mission and legislation can be classified into two groups in the capacity of their conducts towards the Holy Prophet’s words and instructions. The representatives of the fist group entered upon the ultimate compliance with all the rulings issued by Almighty Allah and the Holy Prophet. This situation was based upon a number of considerations such as
(1) the sacredness of such rulings, for they are issued by Almighty Allah, the one and only God,
(2) the obligation of the compliance with the Holy Legislator and the impermissibility of breaking
His laws as is deduced from Almighty Allah’s sayings
“O ye who believe! Obey Allah and His messenger, and turn not away from him when ye hear (him speak), (Holy Qur’an: 8:20)”
“He who obeyeth Allah and His messenger, and feareth Allah, and keepeth duty (unto Him): such indeed are the victorious, (Holy Qur’an: 24:52)”
“And whatsoever the messenger giveth you, take it. And whatsoever he forbiddeth, abstain (from it), (Holy Qur’an: 59:7)”
“But nay, by thy Lord, they will not believe (in truth) until they make thee judge of what is in dispute between them and find within themselves no dislike of that which thou decidest, and submit with full submission, (Holy Qur’an: 4:65)”
“The saying of (all true) believers when they appeal unto Allah and His messenger to judge between them is only that they say: We hear and we obey. And such are the successful, (Holy Qur’an: 24:51)”
“And it becometh not a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His messenger have decided an affair (for them), that they should (after that) claim any say in their affair; and whoso is rebellious to Allah and His messenger, he verily goeth astray in error manifest, (Holy Qur’an: 33:36)”
and similar verses, and
(3) the fact that personal opinions in the fields of systemizing the social and individual conducts are worthless so long as there is a perfect legislation and flawless elucidation of all the laws comprised by the Holy Qur'an. In other words, since there is an all-inclusive and unqualified legislation, it is meaningless to adopt anything claimed to make up for such unblemished code of law. In this regard, Almighty Allah says,
“And We reveal the Scripture unto thee as an exposition of all things, and a guidance and a mercy and good tidings for those who have surrendered (to Allah). (Holy Qur’an: 15:89)”
The members of this group were characterized by their incontrovertible abidance by the Prophet’s words and instructions and their negligence of any personal opinion alongside of the Divine legislation and elucidation taking into consideration that the members of this group are exposed to flaw, oblivion, or inadvertence because they are not sinless! Later on, we will present models of this group.
The second group includes those who treated the Holy Prophet as an imperfect mortal who is liable to making mistakes such as insulting and cursing others and then asking Almighty Allah’s forgiveness for them.1
They neither confessed of the sacredness and actual position of the Holy Prophet that he received from Almighty Allah nor did they treat him as exactly as Almighty Allah has commanded. This fact can be proven through many Qur'anic verses and narrations. As much as the Qur'anic verses are concerned, let us cite the following:
“O ye who believe! Lift not up your voices above the voice of the Prophet, nor shout when speaking to him as ye shout one to another, lest your works be rendered vain while ye perceive not. (Holy Qur’an: 49:2)”
This verse shows that some of the Sahabah did not observe the sacredness of the Holy Prophet; therefore, Almighty Allah has instructed them to conform to his unattainable position.
“O ye who believe! What aileth you that when it is said unto you: Go forth in the way of Allah, ye are bowed down to the ground with heaviness. Take ye pleasure in the life of the world rather than in the Hereafter? The comfort of the life of the world is but little in the Hereafter. (Holy Qur’an: 9:38)”
This verse, too, shows that some of the Sahabah did not carry out or comply with the Holy Prophet’s command of participating in jihad (holy warfare); rather they bowed down to the ground with heaviness.
“Lo! those who malign Allah and His messenger, Allah hath cursed them in the world and the Hereafter, and hath prepared for them the doom of the disdained. (Holy Qur’an: 33:57)”
“And of them are those who vex the Prophet and say: He is only a hearer. Say: A hearer of good for you, who believeth in Allah and is true to the believers, and a mercy for such of you as believe. Those who vex the messenger of Allah, for them there is a painful doom. (Holy Qur’an: 9:61)”
These verses show clearly that some of the Sahabah used to vex the Holy Prophet.
“Hast thou not observed those who were forbidden conspiracy and afterward returned to that which they had been forbidden, and (now) conspire together for crime and wrongdoing and disobedience toward the messenger? And when they come unto thee they greet thee with a greeting wherewith Allah greeteth thee not, and say within themselves: Why should Allah punish us for what we say? Hell will suffice them; they will feel the heat thereof - a hapless journey's end. (Holy Qur’an: 58:8)”
All the forecited Qur'anic texts indicate the existence of some men among the Sahabah who did not realize the actual connotation of the Holy Prophet’s position in the Islamic legislation in specific and all fields of life in general.
They therefore raised their voices in the presence of the Holy Prophet2 and felt annoyed for his ordering them to fight against the enemy.3 Moreover, some of them used to object to the Holy Prophet’s acts4 and follow what is personally advantageous for themselves although a divine text in this regard was put between their hands.5
They also issued personal opinions in his presence.6 Exceeding all limits, some of them asked him to change some religious laws just because they did not meet their interests. Facing such objections, the Holy Prophet used to recite Almighty Allah’s saying,
“Say (O Muhammad): It is not for me to change it of my accord. I only follow that which is inspired in me. Lo! If I disobey my Lord, I fear the retribution of an awful Day. (Holy Qur’an: 10:15)”
Meanwhile, Almighty Allah, on more than one occasion, confirms to the Holy Prophet to abide by the divine commands. In this regard, He says,
“And now have We set thee (O Muhammad) on a clear road of (Our) commandment; so follow it, and follow not the whims of those who know not. (Holy Qur’an: 45:18)”
Not only were the hypocrites and opportunists who fall under the category of ‘al-Mu’allafah Qulubuhum—Those whose hearts are made to incline to Islam’—classified under the second group of the Sahabah, but there were also some ‘first-class’ Sahabah who, as is concluded from historical facts and biographies of the Holy Prophet’s companions, carried wrong impressions towards treating the divine texts in general and the Holy Prophet’s words and instructions in particular.
Since they were still holding the traditional concepts that a Prophet is no more than an ordinary mortal who may be right or wrong, they used to object to the Holy Prophet in the same way as they object to any man. Both Almighty Allah and the Holy Prophet have frequently denied such concepts. In this regard, the Holy Prophet is reported to have addressed to his companions,
“What for are you attempting to violate the Book of Allah? Because of this very thing did the past nations perish.”7
“How dare you act playfully in the Book of Allah while I am still among you?”8
“Have you been ordered of or created for violating the Book of Allah? Only because of such acts did the nations that preceded you go astray. You are not allowed to do anything with these instructions except to obey. You must carry out what you have been ordered to do and must refrain from what you have been ordered to avoid.”9
Too many are the Holy Prophet’s words that hint at the same topic and confirm his inerrancy and extraordinary character because the community, due to a traditional view, regarded him as an ordinary person who may make mistakes, forget or neglect… etc.
As a consequence, many of the Holy Prophet’s decisions, which were taken in compliance with the Divine Commissions, were objected by his companions; such as releasing the prisoners of the Battle of Badr, offering the Dead Prayer for the hypocrite, entering into the Hudaybiyah Truce, and many other occurrences.
Nevertheless, an inclusive study of this topic leads us to a bitter fact that most of those who used to object to the Holy Prophet did not stop and did not accept the divine elucidations in this regard; rather they, disregarding the divine instructions, exerted all efforts in instilling this wrong idea in the minds of the Muslims after the departure of the Holy Prophet.
oHolAAAlthough it goes without saying that by uttering the shahadah (the two creeds of Islam), one’s blood becomes too regardful to be shed unjustly, and although the Holy Prophet had been confirming on this principle since the first stages of his promulgation for Islam, Usamah ibn Zayd killed Mirdas ibn Nuhayk, the Muslim, unjustly.
When Usamah was the commander of a brigade, he ordered to raid on a group of people among whom was Mirdas who had already converted to Islam. Having seen the attacking horsemen of Usamah’s brigade, Mirdas drove his sheep towards a corner in the mountain so as to save them. When the horsemen caught him, he received them with statements of Allahu Akbar and the two creeds of Islam; but Usamah ibn Zayd killed him and took his sheep.
When the Holy Prophet was informed about this incident, he was terribly depressed. He then said to them, “You have killed him only because you wanted to seize his sheep!” He then recited Almighty Allah’s saying,
“And do not say to any one who offers you peace: You are not a believer. Do you seek goods of this world's life! (Holy Qur’an: 4:94)”10
The incident of Khalid ibn al-Walid’s awful deed with the Banu-Judhaymah is a more expressive example. Writing the incidents that fell in AH 8, al-Tabariy recorded that after the Conquest of Makkah, the Holy Prophet decided to promulgate Islam in the neighboring districts through groups that he appointed for this purpose.
Khalid ibn al-Walid was the leader of the group sent to the Banu-Judhaymah as promulgators about Islam, not fighters. When Khalid resided in an area there, the men of Banu-Judhaymah armed themselves. Khalid then ordered them to lay down their weapons for all the people had accepted Islam. When they did, Khalid ordered his men to tie their hands behind their backs. He then killed a number of them.
When the Holy Prophet was informed about this massacre, he raised his two hands towards the heavens and declared, “O Allah: I repudiate Khalid’s deed before You.” He then ordered (Imam) `Ali to take with him some money and pay them to the heirs of the victims of Khalid’s massacre as blood money. `Ali carried out… etc.11
Such incidents and such mentalities did not stop; they left their imprints on the events of the social life of Islam and continued to influence the reigns of Abu-Bakr and `Umar. In this regard, Ibn Hajar records that Khalid ibn al-Walid used to issue personal orders without letting the caliph, Abu-Bakr, know about him.12
In addition to Khalid ibn al-Walid and Usamah ibn Zayd, too many were the Sahabah who used to act upon their own opinions, which were in violation of the Holy Qur'an and Sunnah, while the Holy Prophet was among them. In fact, the Muhajirun rested upon their personal views that violated the divine laws and instructions more than the Ansar13 did. Most of the Ansar complied with the divine laws and instructions without discussion.
Those Sahabah who objected and acted upon their personal views were the originators of the schools of Ijtihad14 (personal inference) and Ra’y (personal opinion) that emerged thereafter. Similarly, they were the cornerstones of the decision of prohibiting reporting and recording the Hadith.
It was they who warned `Abdullah ibn `Amr ibn al-`Ās against recording the Hadith during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet and it was they who spread definite opinions and concepts that were later on included with the Holy Sunnah.15
In order to sketch a clearer picture about the motives of the prohibition of reporting and recording the Hadith, it is necessary to probe the situations of Abu-Bakr and `Umar towards the divine texts and instructions and their intuition about the Holy Prophet though we do desire to skip this page so as to avoid sectarian matters that are unnecessary in this discussion.
In spite of that, this study requires matters of this kind the skipping of which results in the concealment of important facts, the deprivation of the actual motive beyond the prohibition of reporting and recording the Hadith, the curtailment of the ideas and beliefs, and the confiscation of the freedom of presenting the concepts and motives.
On account of the abovementioned introduction, we have to tackle this topic even if it may add some points to the characters of Abu-Bakr and `Umar in particular and some of the Sahabah in general.
It has been narrated on the authority of Abu-Sa`id al-Khidriy, Anas ibn Malik, Jabir ibn `Abdullah al-Ansariy, and many grand Sahabah that Abu-Bakr, once, came to the Holy Prophet and told that he saw such a pious and religious man offering prayers in so-and-so valley. Suddenly, the Holy Prophet ordered Abu-Bakr to go back there and kill that man. Abu-Bakr did; but when he saw the man offering prayers in such a state of piety, he disliked carrying out the Holy Prophet’s order. He therefore came back. The Holy Prophet then ordered `Umar to carry out that order; but when `Umar went there, he also disliked killing the man for the same reason that made Abu-Bakr break the Holy Prophet’s order. When `Umar came back without carrying out the order, the Holy Prophet ordered Imam `Ali to go there and kill the man. Unfortunately, Imam `Ali could not find that man; he therefore came back and told the Holy Prophet. Commenting on the situation, the Holy Prophet said,
“Verily, that man and his companions recite the Holy Qur'an but it does not reach even their clavicles. They will slip from the religion in the same way as an arrow slips the hit; then they will never return to it until the arrow corrects its position!”16
It has been also narrated that Anas ibn Malik said: We, once, were sitting with the Holy Prophet in the yard of the mosque when one of us mentioned the manners of an individual known for his bravery and diligence. The Holy Prophet denied the man although we mentioned other characteristics. Meanwhile, the man appeared before us and we said, “This is the man, Allah’s Messenger!” The Holy Prophet said, “I did not know him. This is the leader of the first straying group in my nation in the first age. Verily, he holds a characteristic from the Devil.”
When the man came near the Holy Prophet, he greeted him, and the Holy Prophet replied and then said, “I adjure you by Almighty Allah to answer me frankly; when you came to us, you thought of yourself as being the most excellent and that none of us is better than you are, did you not?”
“Yes, I did,” answered the man who, then, entered the mosque to offer a prayer.
The Holy Prophet then ordered Abu-Bakr to go and kill that man. When Abu-Bakr entered the mosque, he found the man offering a prayer. He thus thought that because a prayer had sanctity, he should go back to the Holy Prophet and ask him. When Abu-Bakr came back, the Holy Prophet asked whether he had killed the man or not.
“I did not. I found him offering a prayer and I know that prayer has sanctity. However, I could have killed him if I had wanted,” answered Abu-Bakr.
The Holy Prophet said, “You are not the appropriate man for this mission.” He then ordered `Umar ibn al-Khattab of the same matter.
When `Umar entered the mosque, he found the man prostrating himself. He thought that prostration has sanctity and that he should ask the Holy Prophet about the matter before he would kill the man in the same way as Abu-Bakr had done.
He thus returned to the Holy Prophet who asked him whether he had killed the man.
“No, I did not. I found him prostrating himself and I know that prostration has sanctity and I could have killed him if I had wanted,” `Umar answered.
The Holy Prophet said, “You are not the appropriate man for this mission.” He then asked `Ali to kill the man if he would find him.
When Imam `Ali entered the mosque, he could not find the man. He thus returned to the Holy Prophet who asked him whether he had done the mission.
“No, I did not,” answered Imam `Ali.
The Holy Prophet commented, “If this man was killed this day, no single dispute would ever take place in my nation up to the coming of the Dajjal.17”
The Holy Prophet then spoke to them about the past nations, saying,
“The nation of (Prophet) Moses separated into seventy-one sects all of whom will be in Hellfire except one only. Similarly, the nation of (Prophet) Jesus separated into seventy-two sects all of whom will be in Hellfire except one only. My nation will exceed these two nations in the number of the separating sects in one degree. They will separate into seventy-three sects all of whom will be in Hellfire except one only.”18
From the previous narration, we conclude that Abu-Bakr behaved according to his own view believing that it is proper not to kill the man because he was offering prayers so piously. He therefore violated the Holy Prophet’s command and followed his own opinion. This proves that he did not comply with the divine texts and the Holy Prophet’s words and instructions as exactly as divinely commissioned.
The same thing is applicable to `Umar ibn al-Khattab who, too, had followed his personal opinion and disobeyed the Holy Prophet’s command after he had heard Abu-Bakr’s excuse and the Holy Prophet’s confirmation.
It is now fair to put the following questions:
What does the Holy Prophet’s confirmation on killing that pious man mean especially after he had heard Abu-Bakr’s excuse to give up carrying out the Holy Prophet’s order? Is it permissible for the Holy Prophet to order of killing a pious man? Did he have the right to kill people unjustly? How can one accept a personal error from the Holy Prophet especially in a question of suppressing innocent souls? Supposing that it was acceptable or even obligatory to kill that man, why did Abu-Bakr and `Umar break the Holy Prophet’s order?
Abu-Bakr and `Umar should have understood Almighty Allah’s sayings,
“And whatsoever the messenger giveth you, take it. And whatsoever he forbiddeth, abstain (from it). (Holy Qur’an: 59:7)”
“That this is in truth the word of an honored messenger Mighty, established in the presence of the Lord of the Throne (One) to be obeyed, and trustworthy And your comrade is not mad. (Holy Qur’an: 81:19-22)”
“That it is indeed the speech of an illustrious messenger. It is not poet's speech—little is it that ye believe nor diviner's speech—little is it that ye remember. (Holy Qur’an: 69:40-41)”
“Your comrade erreth not, nor is deceived nor doth he speak of (his own) desire It is naught save an inspiration that is inspired. (Holy Qur’an: 53:2-4)”
It is vastly important to study, investigate, and analyze the question of the disobedience that Abu-Bakr and `Umar showed towards the commissions of the Holy Prophet and their objections to his decisions as well as their acting upon their personal opinions in his presence. Let us refer to an example on such objections:
During the Hudaybiyah Truce, `Umar objected to the Holy Prophet, saying, “Are you really the messenger of Allah?”
Answering him, the Holy Prophet said, “Yes, I am.”
“Are we really the right while our enemies the wrong?” `Umar asked again.
“Yes, this is true,” answered the Holy Prophet.
“Why are we then making relinquishments for them?” wondered `Umar.
The Holy Prophet replied, “Verily, I am the Messenger of Allah and I will never disobey Him, for He will certainly give me victory.”
Keeping on asking, `Umar said, “Have you not told us that we will be at the Holy House (the Ka`bah) and circumambulate it?”
“Yes, I have,” answered the Holy Prophet, “Have I told you that we will come to it this very year?”
“No, you have not,” answered `Umar.
“You will certainly come to and circumambulate the Holy House,” asserted the Holy Prophet.
`Umar then came to Abu-Bakr and asked, “Is he really the prophet of Allah?”
“Of course he is,” answered Abu-Bakr.
“Why are we then making relinquishments for our enemies?” `Umar asked again.
Abu-Bakr answered, “Listen man! He is verily the messenger of Allah; and he will never disobey his Lord Who will surely give him victory. You must thus hold fast to him for he is surely the right. I swear it by Allah.”
Keeping on asking, `Umar said, “Has he not told us that we will come to and circumambulate the Holy House?”
“Has he told you that you will come to it this very year?” asked Abu-Bakr.
“No, he has not,” answered `Umar.
“You will then certainly come to and circumambulate the Holy House,” confirmed Abu-Bakr.19
The clearest thing that can be concluded from the aforementioned incident is `Umar’s having suspected and mistrusted the Holy Prophet’s words—the obvious fact that none can ever doubt about it. Although the Holy Prophet explained the question of the prediction for him, `Umar repeated the same questions for Abu-Bakr. This means that he was not sure of the Holy Prophet’s words.
Yet, Abu-Bakr confirmed the fact that the Holy Prophet would never disobey the Lord for he was surely His Messenger. He also urged `Umar earnestly to adhere to the Holy Prophet for he was right.
Although he heard the same words from Abu-Bakr, `Umar insisted on the question and again doubted the Holy Prophet’s words by asking, “Has he not told us that we will come to and circumambulate the Holy House?”
This incident proves that `Umar did not belong to the group of the Sahabah who practiced ultimate compliance with all the rulings issued by Almighty Allah and the Holy Prophet; otherwise he would have complied with the Holy Prophet’s words, deeds, and instructions and would not have needed the confirmations of Abu-Bakr or anyone else.
History has kept for us other situations in which `Umar ibn al-Khattab expressed his personal opinions. Moreover, he confirmed such opinions and obliged the Sahabah to follow them although he knew that the Holy Prophet had rejected them. In the presence of the Holy Prophet, he once beat some of those who wept for the demise of Ruqayyah and Ibrahim, daughter and son of the Holy Prophet20 because he did not like weeping for the dead. In the same situation, the Holy Prophet said,
“Verily, the heart naturally grieves and the eye sheds tears.”21
This sacred saying means that those who weep for their dead people must be treated mercifully, not severely. In the same manner, the Holy Prophet is reported to have wiped the tears off the eyes of Lady Fatimah when she wept for her sister, Ruqayyah, and the ladies of the Ansar to weep for the martyrdom of Hamzah, his uncle, saying,
“How is it that none is weeping for Hamzah?”22
Moreover, the Holy Prophet himself wept for the martyrdom of Hamzah.
It has been also narrated that `Umar, once, objected to the Holy Prophet who wanted to offer the ritual Deceased Prayer for a hypocrite. Further, `Umar pulled the Holy Prophet round and shouted, “How come you are offering a prayer for a hypocrite?”23 From then on, `Umar expressed his remorse for his situation.
As a matter of fact, `Umar’s situations of objection to the Holy Prophet were more serious than the aforementioned incidents; he protested against the Holy Prophet’s decision of releasing the prisoners of the Battle of Badr in return for a definite ransom. In this issue, `Umar suggested that Hamzah should have killed al-`Abbas, his brother who was within the prisoners, and `Ali should have killed `Aqil, his brother, and the same should have been applied to every Muslim who had relatives within the prisoners so that all the prisoners would be killed.24
Out of his compliance with the Divine Revelation Whose distinctive feature has been mercy and wisdom, the Holy Prophet rejected this opinion totally.
As a sequence, a big number of historians and traditionalists have dared to criticize the Holy Prophet in order to justify the objections of Abu-Bakr and `Umar against him! Of course, such audacity has been the result of the distorted principles of history and Islamic jurisprudence, which were sketched by or during the reigns of Abu-Bakr and `Umar themselves and which have been, unfortunately, still depended by some sects that claim their belongingness to Islam.
One of such historians has claimed that the objections of Abu-Bakr and `Umar were in fact the actual exegesis of the Qur'anic texts revealed during that incident! Exceeding all limits, this historian has added that Almighty Allah’s saying,
“It is not for any prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land. Ye desire the lure of this world and Allah desireth (for you) the Hereafter, and Allah is Mighty, Wise, (Holy Qur’an: 8:67)”
was no more than condemnation addressed to the Holy Prophet and some of the Sahabah who, according to the speech of this historian, desired the lure of this world against the Hereafter and took ransoms from the prisoners before they had ‘thoroughly subdued in the land.’ Moreover, this historian and his likes have claimed that none was saved from that ‘sin’ except `Umar ibn al-Khattab!
In order to avoid the lengthy details of this issue, it is sufficient to quote Sayyid Sharaf al-Din’s words explaining the holy verse involved:
Anyone who claims that the Holy Prophet had prisoners and accepted ransoms from them in return for releasing them before he had fought and triumphed—anyone claiming such is definitely liar! Only after he had fought, triumphed, and killed the tyrannical heads of the polytheists of Quraysh, such as Abu-Jahl, `Utbah, Shaybah, al-Walid, and Handhalah up to seventy foes—only after that, the Holy Prophet took prisoners.
This fact is openly known for everybody. In view of that, the Holy Prophet is too far above any censure mentioned in the holy verse involved. Glorified is Allah and High Exalted above what those unjust people say.
The truth is that the holy verse blamed those who desired to gain the caravan rather to fight for the sake of Allah. About them, Almighty Allah has said,
“And when Allah promised you one of the two bands (of the enemy) that it should be yours, and ye longed that other than the armed one might be yours. And Allah willed that He should cause the Truth to triumph by His words, and cut the root of the disbelievers. (Holy Qur’an: 8:7)”
Counseling his companions, the Holy Prophet said to them:
“The polytheists have set off riding any possible ridden animal. Do you desire to have their properties, including the animals, or to fight them for the sake of Allah?”
Although they noticed that the Holy Prophet desired earnestly to fight the enemies, they answered that they would rather seize the enemies’ animals than to fight them. Some of them, however, suggested to him that he should have identified fighting the enemy so that they would be ready for it, because they had readied themselves for seizing the enemies’ caravan. This situation saddened the Holy Prophet so much that the color of his face changed. Consequently, Almighty Allah revealed to him saying,
“Even as thy Lord caused thee (Muhammad) to go forth from thy home with the Truth, and lo! A party of the believers were averse (to it), disputing with thee of the Truth after it had been made manifest, as if they were being driven to death visible. (Holy Qur’an: 8:5-6)”
As Almighty Allah wanted to convince the Sahabah of the Holy Prophet’s insistence on fighting the enemies and disregarding seizing their caravan, He revealed the verse involved. The explanation of the verse is put between parentheses in the following exposition:
“It is not for any prophet (among those whom were chosen by Almighty Allah before Muhammad) to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land. (Thus, your Prophet, following the norms of the Prophets who preceded him in time, shall not take captives before he fights and triumphs. From this cause, he did not care about the seizure of the caravan and the imprisonment of its owners—Abu-Sufyan and his companions) Ye desire the lure of this world and Allah desireth (for you) the Hereafter (through terminating the armed enemies), and Allah is Mighty, Wise (and might and wisdom, on that day, required eradicating the enemies and extinguishing their fire of polytheism). (Holy Qur’an: 8:67)”
Reproaching and threatening those who desired for the properties of the polytheists’ caravan, Almighty Allah then says,
“Had it not been for an ordinance of Allah which had gone before (in His eternal Knowledge that He would prevent you against seizing the animals of the caravan and capturing its people, you would have captured them and seized the animals of their caravan; and had you done this), an awful doom had come upon you on account of what ye took (before you would fight and triumph). (Holy Qur’an: 8:68)”
This is the exact meaning of the holy verse; and Almighty Allah is too Glorified to reproach His Prophet, as has been claimed by those ignorant people.25
During the battle of Uhud, the same Sahabah committed such acts that prove our exposition. Facing al-Madinah and turning the back to Mount Uhud, the Holy Prophet ordered the archers, who were fifty in number, to stay behind the army. Historians and traditionalists have confirmed that the Holy Prophet appointed `Abdullah ibn Jubayr as the commander of the archers and ordered him saying, “Pelt the horsemen with arcs so that they will not come upon us from the back; and never leave your place whether we win or lose.”
Besides, the Holy Prophet urged them earnestly to keep their places and to obey their commander. Nevertheless, they preferred their personal opinions to the Holy Prophet’s orders as they did not comply with his emphatic instructions. When the battle reached its climax and the Muslim army beat the enemies so fiercely that Imam `Ali could kill the bearers of the enemies’ standard one after another causing their standard to be thrown on the ground as none of them had the courage to raise it, the enemies absconded disorderly.
Hence, the Muslim army attacked their camp looting whatever they found there. On account of their avarice to gain such loots, the archers left their positions breaking the Holy Prophet’s orders and paying no attention to the instructions of their commander. They said to him, “Why should we keep up our positions while we have seen how the enemies ran away?”
Yet, `Abdullah ibn Jubayr said, “I swear by Allah that I will never violate the order of Allah’s Messenger. Together with less than ten archers, `Abdullah did not leave his position. Khalid ibn al-Walid, accompanied by `Ikrimah ibn Abi-Jahl, seized the opportunity and led a brigade of horsemen to attack the archers who were behind the Muslim army. They killed `Abdullah ibn Jubayr so savagely that they mutilated his limbs. They then stroke the Muslim army from the back raising their voices with the names of their idol-gods; Lat and `Uzza.26
It is worth mentioning that to refer to the witticism that although those who supported, welcomed, and defended the raising of personal opinions, especially by the Sahabah, in the face of the divine texts and the Holy Prophet’s words and instructions have claimed that a mujtahid –one who rests upon his personal opinion in the face of the divine texts- will be given twice as the reward when his opinion hits the target and will be rewarded once when his opinion is wrong—although they maintain such a principle, they have not applied it to the Holy Prophet when they claimed that Almighty Allah blamed him -Allah forbid- for accepting ransoms in return for releasing the prisoners of the Battle of Badr! Moreover, they have fabricated the lie that the Holy Prophet, after the incident, wept heavily for he knew that the heavenly chastisement was on his doorstep; therefore, he said, “The heavenly chastisement is very close. If it will befall us, nobody will be saved from it except `Umar!”27
In short, a group of the Sahabah used to act upon their personal opinions disregarding the Holy Prophet’s words and deeds; they therefore used to deem incorrect the Holy Prophet’s deeds and declare openly that his deeds were in violation of the Divine Commissions -Allah forbid-.
On the other side, another group of the Sahabah believed in the obligatory compliance with the Holy Prophet’s instructions and the forbiddingness of violating his words, deeds, and confirmations as evidenced by Almighty Allah’s saying,
“And your Lord creates and chooses whom He pleases; to choose is not theirs. (Holy Qur’an: 28:68)”
Above and beyond, the Holy Qur'an is full of such verses confirming the impermissibility to go over the Holy Prophet’s instructions:
“They only are the true believers who believe in Allah and His messenger and, when they are with him on some common errand, go not away until they have asked leave of him. Lo! those who ask leave of thee, those are they who believe in Allah and His messenger. So, if they ask thy leave for some affair of theirs, give leave to whom thou wilt of them, and ask for them forgiveness of Allah. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (Holy Qur’an: 24:62)”
“O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and the messenger when He calleth you to that which quickeneth you, and know that Allah cometh in between the man and his own heart, and that He it is unto Whom ye will be gathered. And guard yourselves against a chastisement which cannot fall exclusively on those of you who are wrong-doers, and know that Allah is severe in punishment. (Holy Qur’an: 8:24-25)”
It has been narrated that al-Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam, explaining the aforementioned verse, said,
“Although we were with the Messenger of Allah, we did not recognize that this verse intended us and nobody else.”28
He is also reported to have said,
“We have been reciting this verse for ages without noticing that we might have been intended. We are now fully aware that the verse intended us and nobody else.”29
According to al-Siddiy, the verse intended the warriors of the Battle of Badr by name. It thus was applied to them during the Battle of the Camel (al-Jamal) when they fought against each other.30
We have previously pointed out that too many were the situations on which `Umar ibn al-Khattab objected to the Holy Prophet; yet, some historians and biographers have considered them special talents that were given to `Umar exclusively after it had been made obscure to the others, including the Holy Prophet, so as to present what is advantageous and refrain what is not! One of such situations is `Umar’s having prevented the Holy Prophet from recording his last will, which he described as ‘perpetually protecting the Muslim community against deviation.’
While he was in the last hours of his honorable life, the Holy Prophet ordered the attendants to bring him a paper and a pen so that he would write for them a will that would protect them from deviation forever. Yet, `Umar said, “This man is hallucinating! Sufficient for us is the Book of Allah!”31
Let us make a comparison between the last hours of the honorable life of the Holy Prophet and the last hours of Abu-Bakr’s life in order to allude to an important, yet ironical, affair. `Umar rejected and deterred from the carrying out of the Holy Prophet’s final will that would, in the words of the Holy Prophet, save the ummah from deviation forever, but when Abu-Bakr, having been in the final hours of his life, wanted to appoint `Umar as the coming caliph, he uttered a few words then he was fainted. Hence, `Uthman ibn `Affan wrote down the name of `Umar ibn al-Khattab as the successor of Abu-Bakr.
When the latter regained consciousness, he accepted `Uthman’s personal dictation.32 Historians have not regarded the recordation of `Umar’s name as the next caliph as hallucination, but they have regarded the Holy Prophet’s request to write down a document protecting his ummah from deviation as absolute hallucination!
We should thus wonder why Abu-Bakr was not accused of hallucination while the Holy Prophet, who does never speak out of desire in the words of the Holy Qur'an, was! In fact, the state of Abu-Bakr was greatly more intense than the Holy Prophet’s.
In like manner, why did they accept the words of `Umar, while he was intensely ailed, that defined the names of the members of the so-called Shura Committee and reject the words of the infallible Prophet? Why did they oppose each other before the Holy Prophet while they all together accepted `Umar’s will?
Why have we never heard that anybody had the courage to accuse `Umar of hallucination in spite of his too many contradictory words and deeds while they have dared to accuse the Holy Prophet of such a disgraceful charge although they, yet openly, confess that `Umar would have never reached the rank of the Holy Prophet?
Is it not rightful for every Muslim individual to declare his will? If so, why did `Umar stood against the declaration of the will of the Holy Messenger of Allah? Was the Holy Prophet less ranked than any other ordinary Muslim?
If the Holy Prophet did not appoint any individual as his successor leaving his ummah to select a leader for themselves, why did Abu-Bakr violate this Prophetic method when he nominated his successor?
Furthermore, how can one believe that the Holy Prophet left his ummah for themselves while he used to tell them about what the past generations had done to their religions and used to declare that people had not had full faith yet since they were very near to the pre-Islamic era (Jahiliyyah)? According to authenticated narrations, the Holy Prophet had never left al-Madinah before he would appoint an individual as his representative.33
Similarly, Prophet Moses did not go at Almighty Allah’s Appointed Time before he had appointed his brother, Aaron, as his representative.34 These facts are in violation of the claim that he left his ummah without leader.
Similarly, Abu-Bakr did not depart his subjects before he nominated `Umar as his successor so that, as has been claimed by his fans, he would avoid dispute and disagreements among the publics,35 and `Umar, too, did not depart them before he nominated the six members of the so-called Shura Committee.
After all, it is unbelievable that the Holy Prophet left his ummah for themselves without nominating a successor while, according to authenticated narrations, he emphasized on joining the phalanx of Usamah until the last spark of his honorable life. Undoubtedly, this indicates his interest in the matter of his successorship.
Throughout this study, the trend of those who followed and complied with the Holy Prophet’s instructions thoroughly will be called “The School of Thorough Compliance with the Sacred Texts” while the trend of those who adopted and depended upon their personal views and opinions will be called “The School of Ijtihad and Opinionism.”36
To sum it up, the aforesaid, as well as the coming, discussions prove unquestionably that Abu-Bakr and `Umar were not accustomed to follow everything said by the Holy Prophet; rather they used to depend upon their personal views in defining the good of a question in his presence. Of course, such a spirit was the product of their tribal tendency that was, in their conception, above everything.
During the lifetime and in the presence of the Holy Prophet, the companions generally followed two methods as regards their attitude to the Holy Prophet. One group purely adopted and followed every single word or commanded said by the Holy Prophet without any argument, while the other group, to which Abu-Bakr and `Umar belonged, presented the Holy Prophet’s commandments to their personal viewpoints; if they were compatible, they would carry out otherwise they would follow their opinions violating the Holy Prophet’s instructions. These two trends continued to exist even after the departure of the Holy Prophet.
For instance, although the Holy Prophet very frequently confirmed the impermissibility to observe fasting incessantly and, instead, instructed that to observe fasting on the first, middle, and last days of a month would be regarded as fasting all the days of one’s lifetime,37 some of the Sahabah did not stop observing fasting incessantly.
Another example is that although the Holy Prophet, during the Battle of Tabuk, permitted his companions to slaughter and eat the meat of camels, some of the Sahabah denied this matter.38
During the Battle of Uhud, five warriors from the polytheists’ army attacked the Holy Prophet. One of them hit his forehead, another broke his scapula, another hit him on the cheek… etc. He then did not want the polytheists to know that he was still alive lest they would again attack the Muslims and him. When Ka`b ibn Malik knew that the Holy Prophet was not killed, he, intending to convey this good tiding to the Muslims, shouted that the Holy Prophet was still alive.
Yet, the Holy Prophet gestured him not to declare it so that the enemy would not attack him again. The man understood and kept silence. Then Abu-Sufyan overlooked the Muslim army and shouted, “Is Muhammad still among you?” The Holy Prophet ordered his army not to answer him at all. Abu-Sufyan then asked `Umar by name, “Did we kill Muhammad?” Breaking the Holy Prophet’s order, `Umar shouted, “No, by Allah! He (the Prophet) can hear your words!” Having been happy for this reply, Abu-Sufyan said, “You (`Umar) have been more truthful that Ibn Qama.”39
Although the Holy Prophet ordered, confirmatively, his army not to tell the enemies about his having been still alive, `Umar broke this order and informed Abu-Sufyan. Beyond doubt, `Umar followed his personal conjecture and he was definitely wrong.
One day, the Holy Prophet distributed the almsgivings in a definite way, but `Umar objected saying, “Allah’s Messenger: there are others who are worthier than those whom you have given.”40 The Holy Prophet answered, “You are asking me to be unfair! You are forcing me to be either spendthrift or niggardly; yet I am not ungenerous.”41
It has been narrated on the authority of `Abdullah that, once, the Holy Prophet distributed the almsgiving in a definite way, but one of Ansar objected saying, “I swear by Allah that this distribution has not been purely intended for the sake of Allah.” I (`Abdullah the narrator) decided to bear this wording to the Holy Prophet. When I did, yet secretly, the Holy Prophet’s color changed out of rage for he was very upset. He then commented, “(Prophet) Moses suffered injuries that were severer than this one; yet he could stand them.”42
Talhah and `Uthman ibn `Affan are reported to have said, “How is it that Muhammad is allowed to marry our widows while we are not allowed to marry his? As soon as he dies, we will certainly have all of his women by lottery!” 43 Talhah intended to marry `Ā’ishah44 and `Uthman Ummu-Salamah (the Holy Prophet’s wives). By such words, they both wanted to hurt the Holy Prophet; therefore, Almighty Allah revealed to him saying,
“Nor is it right for you that ye should annoy Allah's Messenger, or that ye should marry his widows after him at any time. Truly, such a thing is in Allah's sight an enormity. (Holy Qur’an: 33:53)”
“Whether ye show what is in your minds or conceal it, Allah Calleth you to account for it. (Holy Qur’an: 2/284)”
“Those who annoy Allah and His Messenger - Allah has cursed them in this World and in the Hereafter, and has prepared for them a humiliating Punishment. (Holy Qur’an: 33/57)”
“The Prophet has a greater claim on the faithful than they have on themselves, and his wives are (as) their mothers. (Holy Qur’an: 33/6)”
Among the many incidents of this kind is the occurrence narrated by al-Bukhariy, al-Sahih, Kitab al-Ādab, that some of the Sahabah45 disdained to carry out one of the Holy Prophet’s orders; he therefore was angry. He said,
“What for do some people disdain carrying out the order that I myself do. I swear by Allah that I am more knowledgeable and more pious than they are.”46
Among the Sahabah, there were those who slandered the Holy Prophet in the matter of the distribution of the almsgivings,47 those who, when seeing some bargain or amusement, disperse headlong to it and leave the Holy Prophet’s standing alone,48 those who injured the Holy Prophet,49 those who escaped participating in jihad,50 those who raised their voices about the Holy Prophet’s voice,51 those who falsely ascribed... to the chastity of the Holy Prophet’s wife,52 those who conspired with each other to assassinate the Holy Prophet at the night of al-`Aqabah,53 those who disobeyed the Holy Prophet54… etc.
On the other side, among the Sahabah were those who followed him on any matter that required collective action, those who complied with his commandments and refrained from matters that he deemed unlawful, and those who never broke his orders, and those who accepted to sleep in his bed in order to save him from assassination.
For instance, Handhalah, the one washed by the angels, never absented himself from any campaign led by the Holy Prophet except on one occasion after he had obtained the Holy Prophet’s permission to stay with his bride on his wedding night.55 In the same time, too many were the Sahabah who refused to join the Holy Prophet.
This paradox indicates that Handhalah belonged to the group of the Sahabah who purely followed the Holy Prophet’s orders and instructions while the others belonged to the group of the Sahabah who followed their personal conjectures and opinions.
It is worth mentioning that the Holy Prophet, through such commandments, wanted to test definite individuals. The strange story of killing Dhu’l-Thadyah while he was in an elevated state of piety; the request of recording his will in the final hours of his honorable life; the appointment of the eighteen year old Usamah ibn Zayd as the commander of aged men like Abu-Bakr, `Umar and Abu-`Ubaydah—all these are points worthy of considerable investigation.
By giving the name of ‘the group of identifying what is good and personal conjecture’ to the group of the Sahabah who followed their personal opinions even if they would violate the Holy Prophet’s orders, I mean that, whenever they were asked for explanation for their deeds, they always answered that they identified the advantage or that they attempted to infer the best but they failed! And one who attempts to infer the best (mujtahid) and finds it will be rewarded twice but one who attempts but fails will be rewarded once!
It also seems that most of the previously represented issues were in the form of a divine test for those Sahabah and purposed for distinguishing the obedient believer from the disobedient.
According to the Shari`ah, the followers must obey whatever the Holy Prophet instructs and refrain from doing whatever he forbids, whether his commandment and forbiddance are related to the religious or the ordinary affairs.
In other words, the Holy Prophet’s orders must be always obeyed under any circumstance. Besides, the followers do not enjoy any right of choice in this regard according to the following holy verse that reads,
“It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger to have any option about their decision: if any one disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path. (Holy Qur’an: 33/36)”
On the grounds of the aforementioned givings, it is very likely that the Holy Prophet’s request for a paper and ink to record his will and the events that resulted from this request was only intended to uncover the reality of those Sahabah before the attendants as well as to expose their actual view about the Holy Prophet.
The same conclusion can be deduced from the nomination of Usamah ibn Zayd as the commander of the Muslims. When the Holy Prophet was informed that a group of the Muslims rejected the commandment of Usamah and thus refused to join his army, he went out and said,
“O People: Is it true that some of you have denied and rejected the commandment of Usamah? It is yet not strange from you, because you also denied my decision of nominating his father as your commander some time ago.”56
As a conclusion, there were two trends during the life of the Holy Prophet; one trend includes those who followed their personal opinions even if that would lead them to violate the Holy Prophet’s orders. Abu-Bakr and `Umar were among this trend. The other trend represented the sincere Sahabah who would never break the Holy Prophet’s order whatever the consequence would be.