Malediction does not go against Muslim unity
Just as was previously shown, the historical reports demonstrate to us that some major individuals1 around the Messenger of God (S) - people such as Muʿawiyah, ʿUmru b. ʿAs, Khalid b. Walid, Ziyad and Hajjaj b. Yusuf had all evoked malediction (upon others).
In addition, the day that ʿUthman was killed, Imam ʿAli (as) also imprecated against and evoked malediction against ʿAbdullah b. Zubayr as he did not stand up to defend ʿUthman.2
It is clear that it is not possible for today’s generation of Muslims, those who want to traverse the path of goodness, dignity and moral refinement, to shut their eyes to the historical legacy which they have inherited, and only partially study the state of affairs of the earlier groups of Muslims.
If history is supposed to be the mirror for learning lessons and gaining experiences (from what has transpired), then one who wants to take a lesson from the past cannot help but reflect on what has gone by.
Thus, the art of evoking malediction and imprecation as a mechanism for expressing one’s revulsion and aversion towards the epitome of foulness, plays a great role in the strengthening of a believer’s inner beliefs and spiritual soul; and by not giving this importance and taking the issue lightly by being indifferent to the matter will result in a person being easily able to trespass beyond the borders of the religious and ethical aura.
Of course, naturally when a believer studies the unadulterated pages of history, one will definitely see the manifestations of hypocrisy, oppression and misguidedness and this should fill one with detest towards those historical criminals.
Certainly we must keep the following point in mind that when it comes to specific individuals, one must be careful that one only evokes malediction upon those for whom there are solid arguments that clearly indicate that within those individuals existed the traits which would validate the evoking of malediction upon them.
In instances of questionable ethical traits [which they may or may not have displayed] one must be sure to evoke malediction upon such people only after proof has been established, as it is not permissible that one carries out this action except with solid proofs.
Therefore, evoking malediction upon the companions of the Prophet (S) who have not shown any proofs for them to be imprecated against will definitely bring about damage to the unity of the Muslims.
In addition, it must also be noted that rather than resorting to exaggeration when it comes to evoking malediction in the religious gatherings and in the various forms of mass media, one should instead make use of rational arguments which are impartial and balanced and are backed up with proofs (from the Islamic texts), and that this should be the sort of culture which is spread throughout the masses [meaning using logical discussions and debates rather than just the act of mere malediction].
There is no greater interest over the convergence and unity of the Muslims with one another which can be imaged which would necessitate that the usage of any coarse and abrasive words of disparagement against the revered personalities of the majority of the Muslims.
Therefore, everyone must think in this same way and keep away from any sort of discussions on the sidelines [which would bring about ill feelings amongst the Muslims].
Through practical steps, we should lay down a course for the advancement of the principle goals of Islam and the Muslims and indeed the best and most practical example which we have is embodied in the life history of the Infallibles (as) as they show us the best examples that we need in order for us to traverse this path.
In addition, by reviewing the ways of the Commander of the Faithful ʿAli Ibn Abi Talib (as), we see points of guidance which he was able to convey to the second caliph, ʿUmar – all of which were done simply to protect and strengthen Islam and the Muslims.
In the book, Mustadrak ʿala al-sahihayn, as narrated by Saʿid b. Musayyab it has been mentioned that: “ʿUmar gathered the people together and asked them: ‘From what day should we start the calendar [of the Muslims]?’
Each of the people present gave their own opinions however ʿUmar was not satisfied with what he heard. At that time, ʿAli Ibn Abi Talib (as) said: ‘Start the Muslim calendar from the day that the Messenger of God migrated and left the land of polytheism [Mecca].’” ʿUmar accepted his suggestion and thus the Islamic calendar began with the Hijrah – the migration to Medina.”3
In the book, al-Bidayah wa al-nihayah, it has been cited that when ʿUmar wanted to date writings which had been done up until that point, he wished to start [Islamic] history from the date of the birth of the Prophet of God (S).
Later on, he changed his mind and said that he would start it from the biʿthah (the official appointment of Prophet Muhammad (S) to prophethood). At this point in time, ʿAli Ibn Abi Talib (as) gave his opinion that they should take the Hijrah or migration from Mecca to Medina as the starting point to which ʿUmar agreed and began to use this date in his writings.4
In the book, The History of Tabari, as narrated by Ibn ʿUmar, it has been mentioned that after the conquest of Qadisiyyah and Damishq (The Levant), ʿUmar (b. Al-Khattab) gathered the people in Medina together and said to them: “In your opinion, how much wealth from the public treasury should I be allowed to use on my own personal self?’ Those present each spoke out with an opinion, however ʿAli (as) remained silent.
ʿUmar said: ‘O ʿAli! What do you think?’ To this, ʿAli (as) replied: ‘Only that amount which brings about ease for you and your family and other than this, there is no more wealth from the public treasury which is permissible for you.’ Everyone present replied: ‘The [correct] opinion is that of ʿAli Ibn Abi Talib.’”5
In addition, in the book Rabiʿ al-abrar it has been mentioned that: “During the era of the reign of ʿUmar b. al-Khattab, a discussion once ensued in his presence in regards to the numerous precious, expensive chains which were upon the Kaʿbah, used as decorations.
A group of people said to him: ‘If we were to sell them and use that money to mobilize and equip the Muslim army, the reward would be much greater [than just having them hang on the Kaʿbah]. What need does the Kaʿbah have for these chains!?’ ʿ
Umar took the decision to do as others suggested and to take the chains on the Kaʿbah and sell them, however ʿAli said to him: ‘This Qurʾan was revealed to the Prophet (S) and at that time, there were four forms of income which were expressly spoken about: the first is the inheritance of the Muslims (and amongst the inheritors who are entitled to a portion, one is God); the second is the khums (which God has mentioned in the Qurʾan); the third is the zakat (which God has also specifically spoken about and has also mentioned how this wealth should be used); the fourth are the chains of the Kaʿbah which were present even in that day [during the era of the Prophet (S)] – however God left them as they were and did not speak about them – not because He forgot to mention them and not because these were hidden from the sight and knowledge of God.
Thus, you need not think about those chains - just leave them where they are – just as God and His Prophet did.’ ʿUmar replied and said: ‘If you were not here, we would have been disgraced.’ Following this, he [ʿUmar] left the chains as they were.’”6
Of course it must be noted that the Commander of the Faithful ʿAli (as) working with ʿUmar and giving him advise was not a sign of Imam ʿAli (as) accepting ʿUmar’s caliphate – rather, it was only done to save the faith of Islam and the Muslims, as it can be seen that during the periods of the caliphate of Abu Bakr, ʿUmar and ʿUthman, he continued to emphasize on his own truthfulness to the seat of caliphate and him being the rightful successor of the Messenger of God (S).
As an example, during the event of the ‘consultative assembly’ that ʿUmar devised in order to choose his own successor, in one of Imam ʿAli’s (as) sermons in regards to the outcome of this assembly he stated: “Nevertheless, I remained patient despite length of period and stiffness of trial, until when he went his way (of death) he put the matter (of caliphate) in a group and regarded me to be one of them. But good heavens! What had I to do with this “consultation”? Where was any doubt about me with regard to the first of them that I was now considered akin to these ones? But I remained low when they were low and flew high when they flew high.
One of them turned against me because of his hatred and the other got inclined the other way due to his in-law relationship and this thing and that thing, until the third man of these people stood up with heaving breasts between his dung and fodder.”7
In addition, it has been mentioned in the commentary of Nahj al-balagha that Imam ʿAli (as) said the following to Ibn ʿAbbas: ‘It is for this reason that I entered into that gathering of the ‘consultative assembly’ [to decide on the next caliph] as before this, ʿUmar had said that he heard the Prophet of Allah say, ‘Nubuwwah and Imamah will never be combined in one house.’ I went into this consultative assembly just to show the people his contradictory actions with the (supposed) statement [from the Noble Prophet] which he was claiming.’”8
In addition, it has also been mentioned in Nahj al-balagha that ʿAli (as) said the following to ʿAbd al-Rahman b. ʿAwf: “ʿUmar knew that you and the son of your uncle, Saʿd and your brother-in-law (ʿUthman) all share the same opinions, and yet he still ordered that those who disobey you should be killed, whereas you very well know that I am much more worthy for this (caliphate) than anyone else.
I swear by God that I will be submissive [to what happens] as long as the affairs of the Muslims are protected and there is no oppression over them – even if I see that I myself am subjugated - and all of this is only due to the rewards and worthiness of patience and also due to the lack of desire which I have to the gold and glitter [of this world] and it is this which will take precedence [in my life].”9
It has been mentioned in the book, Al-Irhsad, as narrated by Jundab b. ʿAbdullah that: “I went to see ʿAli Ibn Abi Talib (as) in Medina just after the people had sworn the oath of allegiance to ʿUthman and saw him reflecting on the sad state of affairs and said to him: ‘What have your people done?’ He replied: ‘We must have beautiful patience.’ I said to him: ‘Glory be to God! I swear by God that you are the most patient [of all].’
He replied: ‘If I do not show patience, then what else shall I do!? The people are all looking at the Quraysh and the Quraysh are saying: ‘If the caliphate falls into the hands of the family of Muhammad (S) then it will never reach into the hands of anyone else [from any other tribe], however if it is allowed to go to others, then it will be passed around amongst others.’”10
- 1. Please note that this section relates names of individuals whom the general masses of the Muslims (the Ahlus Sunnah) revere as great and important companions of the Prophet (S). (Tr.)
- 2. Muruj al-dhahab, vol. 2, pg. 54
- 3. Mustadrak ʿala al-sahihayn, vol. 3, pg. 3287; Al-Tarikh al-kabir, vol. 1, pg. 9; Tarikh of al-Tabari, vol. 4, pg. 39; Tarikh al-Madinah, vol. 2, pg. 758; al-Iqbal, vol. 3, pg. 22; al-Manaqib of Ibn Shahr al-Ashub, vol. 2, pg. 144 – all of these have been referenced from the book al-Tanbiat al-ishraf, pg. 252
- 4. Tarikh al-Yaʿqubi, vol. 2, pg. 145; al-Bidayah wa al-nihayah, vol. 7, pg. 74
- 5. The History of Tabari, vol. 3, pg. 616; Al-Kamil fi at-tarikh, vol. 2, pg. 135; Commentary of Nahj al-Balagha, vol. 12, pg. 220
- 6. Nahj al-balagha, wise saying 270; Al-Manaqib of Ibn Shahr al-Ashub, vol. 2, pg. 368; Rabi al-abrar, vol. 4, pg. 26
- 7. Nahj al-balagha, sermon 3; Al-Irshad, vol. 1, pg. 287; Maʿani al-akhbar, pg. 361, tradition 1; ʿIlal ash-sharaiʿi, pg. 150, tradition 12; Al-Amali of Shaykh al-Tusi, pg. 372; Al-Ihtijaj, vol. 1, pg. 452, tradition 105; Al-Manaqib of Ibn Shahr al-Ashub, vol. 2, pg. 204; Nathr al-durr, vol. 1, pg. 274; Tadhkirat al-khawwas, pg. 124
- 8. Commentary on Nahj al-balagha, vol. 1, pg. 189
- 9. Nahj al-balagha, sermon 74
- 10. Al-Irshad, vol. 1, pg. 241