DEMYTHOLOGIZING OF KHALIF/IMAM/AMEER AL-MU'MININ ALI (RADI ALLAHU ANHU)- CONSOLIDATING THE MUSLIM RANK AND FILE PART 11
- THE STREET MIMBAR Khutbah (14 July 2006)e-mail: khutbahs@... webpage: www.geocities.com/khutbahshttp://groups.yahoo.com/group/the_street_mimbar/Suggestions & Criticisms: PLEASE E-MAILIt is such a manner that We make plain our signs so that the course of thecriminals may become clear.Bismillah Ar-Rahmaan Ar-Raheem.Alhumdulillah. Peace and blessings on Muhammad, his Noble Companions and Family.Brothers and Sisters, Muslims whose relationship with Allah is one of responsibilities and duties and one of tasks and obligations....audio on http://www.islamiccenterdc.com/khutbassermons.htm?archived=1&page=9 (11-11-2005)CONSOLIDATING THE MUSLIM RANK AND FILE PART 11DEMYTHOLOGIZING OF KHALIF/IMAM/AMEER AL-MU'MININ ALI (RADI ALLAHU ANHU)We ask Allahs assistance as we proceed to role back some of the ignorance that has taken a firm hold in some of our individual minds and even a stronger hold in some of our public minds. In previous khutbahs, we have been trying our best to trace events that occurred at the dawn of Islamic history that have become signposts to many Muslims, showing them which way to go, who to rely upon, how to understand and to interpret the Qur'an and the Prophet (sallalahu alaihi wa sallam) through these awe inspiring events. With Allahs help, we will try to continue to take a look at further developments that are related to this ¡§maybe misunderstood¡¨ history. We realize that there is a type of centralization of who is going to fill in the seat of authority after Allah's Prophet had gone on to heavenly company. The crux of this matter culminated in the later years of the Khilaafah around Ali (radi Allahu anhu). We covered some of the details of history, as best as we could, without falling victim to the exaggerations, the superstitions and the unreasonable versions that accompanied these events. We may say that Ali became to certain people a man of principle- and a man of imaan, but to other people, he became a person of mythology- an idealist whose practical behavior belongs to the past and is no longer a matter of human repetition. Then, he is a character of history, and there are different versions of history that have their own interpretation of his positions. This is probably the best way to summarize where the Muslims left off- a person of imaan, a person who has become a myth to some people and a person who has shades of history attached to him. Obviously, if we are to break away from Allah and His Prophet, meaning from the Qur'an and the Sunnah, then anyone could be anything. We need an anchor. We need firm information that comes to us from Allah and His Prophet to begin to see things in their proper perspective. Let us remind ourselves that history was not written when the events were taking place. This is an important this that is absent from the Muslim mind. We think that when we look back at these events, they were recorded as they were happening- that¡¦s not the case. No-one recorded our initial pages in history as the events were happening, the Prophets history included, - they were recorded later on. When we come to the record that we have pertaining to these very awe inspiring events and history, we have people who wrote this history through their experiences on the sides that they took in the events that followed this history. This is very important to understand, because if we can understand this, we can by-pass much of the tension that is built into these versions of history. After these events that we covered, we spoke about Al-Jamal, Siffin, An-Nahrawaan- none of these events were registered when they were occurring. There was no historian at the war-fronts who was inking for us the positions, the character, the exchange, the fatalities and everything that was happening-it wasn't recorded at the time. It was recorded after the event, years and generations after they happened- that's when we began to be appraised of what went on. This is not peculiar to these, Al-Jamal, Siffin, An-Nahrawaan, which generally speaking in Islamic history is referred to as the time period of the fitnah. Then, later on, we have the Abbasi rulers who were in possession of power in Baghdad , and even though these Abbasi rulers came from a trend that was present in the opposition to the Umawis- ibn Abbas, Al-Abbas ibn Abbas, Abdullah ibn Abbas. Power was to be channeled from an Umawi dynasty to a new dynasty and people began to write history and to collect information. They began to tap on elderly people memories of what happened. So, what do we have now? We have a body of information that is put together through the lens and the interpretation of people who had already taken sides- that's what we have. Our humble scholar is trying to give you a sense for what is in the books that we refer to- whichever background you may have- we don't care.The books that we refer to, generally have the following flavors: what has become known as the Sunni version of these events. This Sunni version of events tries to give legitimacy to the 1st four successors to the Prophet and then, from there on it does not give, in theory, any legitimacy to the rulers that came after that. Some of it may have been silent about the Umawi and Abbasi dynasties, but as far as the fuqaha that represents what has become Sunni rituals- they were in opposition to the rulers that came after Ali in their own ways. So, contrary to some of the notions that are out there, there is no legitimacy in the Sunni literature of the rulers that followed Ali, ie. the Umawi and Abbasi dynasties. If our information is incorrect on this score, now is the time to begin to correct us. Then, there is the Shi'i version of history. The events in the Shi'i version of history were a reaction to the absence of the continuation of the legitimacy that was represented by the leadership of Ali. Most of it was distilled into what is called the "wasiyyah" that the Prophet communicated to Ali, according to this reading of history, and there-upon the same "wasiyyah" as it is communicated from one generation to the next, ie. the 12 imams as it has now settled in the public mind. Then, the least that survived that initial unfolding of events is the Uthmani version, (meaning those who adopted the course of Uthman (radi Allahu anhu)) of those events. Practically speaking, now it doesn't exist as a current, you don't find people adhering to it, but at the time of these events that we are speaking about, it was a social block of people who were under the influence of the government that was defying the legitimacy of Ali. It is curios to note, that this whole interpretation of events began around Uthman, the third successor to Allahs Prophet, but in its historicism, it deletes Uthman and refers to Abu Bakr (radi allahu anhu). It developed a literature in trying to say that Abu Bakr is more preferable to Ali. Later on, when this version of historical events ceased to exist, it was placed on the Sunnis. Nothing in actual fact developed that way, it's just the way that power worked itself out. Hence, the Sunnis are left with the Uthmani version of history, even though it doesn't belong to them. This is another area whereby trouble makers can move in and say- "look, history is very clear on this issue." It's not! You have to be careful before accusing other people.Now, to reduce some of these issues even more, when history began to look back at these events, this is what we have- we're going to give you a sense of what we have in the three different historical lenses. Beginning with the Prophets history himself, the events that occurred after the Prophet had the force of coming back and then re-examining and re-explaining what happened in the Prophets mind. This is how significant these events were, they had an impact on the Prophets days itself. What do we mean by this? We take a look at let's say the Battle of Badr- All of us know the Battle of Badr, but we don't know some of the nuances in the information that is communicated about the Battle of Badr. We know that Ali was a participant in the Battle of Badr, everyone knows that, but when we scrutinize the information about this battle, we find that there was about 70 from the kaafirs who were killed at the Battle of Badr. We know that Ali was a front-line combatant, he was involved in cutting down the lives of many of those who wanted to extinguish Islam, eliminate the Prophet, and put an end to this nuisance in Arabia . Up until here, we have a common mind, but when we take a closer look at the details, in the Sunni version of history, it is recognized that Ali was a brave warrior, he defended the Prophet, he defended the Qur'an and Islam and he extinguished the lives of the kaafirs in the Battle of Badr. That's as far as that goes, which is a conciliatory position. But, we have in the Shi'i version (we're trying to stay as far as possible within the mainstream on all of these sides, because there's a mainstream and then there is the marginalized versions of these events. We try as much as possible to stay away from those because many times they are irreconcilable and we are looking at bringing Muslims together and we are not looking at perpetuating divisions among Muslims.) In this version of history, we know the common information which is among whichever version you want, the Sunni, the Shi'i or the Uthmani, they don't dispute that there was about 70 from the kaafirs who were killed by the Muslims at Badr. In the Shi'i version of these events, it tells us that Ali killed 35 of the 70. Even though Ali is a person who stands out like no other in the group besides Allah's Prophet, of course, but to come and say that out of 70 people, he alone killed 35, meaning all the rest of the Muslims were involved in eliminating out of 70 people half of those who were killed on the kaafir side and he killed the other half. This lends itself of a type of exaggeration that can be understood in the events that happened after Ali passed on. It happens in our time- an Islamic movement is defeated somewhere, then the followers of that Islamic Movement have a tendency of exaggerating the virtues of the leader or the leaders in that Islamic movement. We have to find a common ground of common sense where we can trim these exaggerations a little, and that doesn't mean that we are trying to devalue someone by doing that, all it means is we are trying to stick to the facts as much as possible.You can take another instance, the Battle of Uhud- we go from Badr to Uhud. In the Sunni version of history of this military encounter, we all know that the Prophet was deserted at the battle-field, we tried to cover this in previous khutbahs. This is a very dangerous moment in the life of Allahs Prophet, where the rumor circulated that he was killed. If you take a close look at these books of history, you find that in the Sunni books of history, it is not mentioned that Ali was in the presence, in the company or in the direct protection of Allah's Prophet. Much is mentioned about Abu Bakr, Umar, Talha and Zubair (radi Allahu anhum) and a couple of other people, but it seems that there is a type of exaggeration here, that Ali, who before and after that always (with one exception) participated in all of the battles of Allahs Prophet, and then, at this critical time, we look and we find "where is he?!" He's not found here in this version of history. It's not common sense number one, and number two it's not conducive to the unity of the Muslims, but you can understand how this happened if you take a look at the unfolding history a generation and two after that.Now, to come to the three major events. Here, we're trying to give you the essence of this historical issue. There are three departure areas in this history, specifically between those who are Sunnis and those who are Shi'is and the way they understand themselves today. We wish there could come a time where Muslims would outgrow some of this divisive information. There are three incidents that have become something, an area that the Muslims have to work on, whether you consider yourself a Sunni or you consider yourself a Shi'i, these areas we're going to have to work on. The 1st one is the Battle of Tabuk. From what we know, this was the only battle in which the Prophet of Allah participated in and he left Ali to be the governor of Al-Medinah. It is said, that when Ali felt that he is going to be excluded from a major military campaign like this- the Muslim military was in the tens of thousands- they were going to engage a kaafir force, the Byzantines, who were potentially going to be in the hundreds of thousands, so Ali felt that he was being excluded. He participated in everything up until then, as far as military efforts are concerned, and now a very major and important encounter of this military magnitude is going to take place and he's going to be the governor of Al-Medinah, he's going to be the deputy of Rasulillah in Al-Medinah- he sought of felt that this was something like less than what he expected. As the Muslims depart, he sends a letter of communication to Allah's Prophet that 'I sought of feel like I¡¦m left behind here with women and children. Most or the rest are on their way, if not all of those who were able bodied and ready to fight.' Then, the Prophet responds to him, and this again is across the board, you'll find it in all of these history books, the Prophet tells Ali, 'Are you not satisfied to be in your relationship with me as Harun was to Musa' (Harun is Musa's brother.) This comment which is in these two versions of history is taken out of this context. Some people want to play it down and some people want to play it up. We have not developed enough understanding of Allah and his Prophet to place this event and this prophetic statement in the context of that time. Why should something like this- seems like it's an innocent development with an innocent statement from Allahs Prophet that has been taken to serve the political ends of those who consider themselves either Sunni or either Shi'i. Why can¡¦t we understand this in context? This is one event that gives us an opportunity to think in reconciliation terms.The 2nd one or these areas in our incongruent versions of history is when Allahs Prophet during Hajj Al-Wada', the last year of the hijrah in his life, and in some other history books, the year before that- we don't want to get into some fine points of history here, we want to look at the thrust of it, Allahs Prophet sends Abu Bakr to Makkah. The purpose of that delegation that was chaired, so to speak, by Abu Bakr was to have the relations that the Muslims had with the Mushriks of the Arabian Peninsula annulled and to forbid access to Al-Masjid Al-Haram to the mushriks- that was the gist of it. After Abu Bakr leaves, the beginning of Surah At-Taubah or Al-Bara'a or Al-Faadiha were revealed and then, the Prophet dispatches Ali with these ayaat to follow Abu Bakr and to join in the same mission together in Makkah. How does this become an area on contention among the Muslims of today? It has become. When you read the historical literature on this issue by both sides, you find that they are trying to score against each other politically. From what we know, there was no rivalry in this same event between Abu Bakr and Ali. There's nothing that this humble khateeb has come across that would indicate that there's some type of competition between them to fulfill the mission of Allahs Prophet. They were coordinating themselves, they were helping themselves, they were complementing themselves. How did this come across to us as if there was some type of rivalry or as we go on, some type of bad blood between these two individuals. It's not there, but somehow it lingers on in our public minds.Then, the 3rd, and this is probably the most critical issue in which it is understood out of context. After Hajj al-Wada', when the Muslims and the Prophet were returning from Makkah to al-Medinah, they stopped at a place called Ghadir Khom. This is in all the books, there¡¦s not one version of it. The Prophet, in the presence of all those who were there, hundreds or thousands of Muslims, he said 'Whoevers guardian I am, Ali is his guardian. O Allah! Be the protector of those who protect him and be the tormentor of those who torment him.'- they listened to this. No-one came and objected to what he was saying. No-one said that this is some type of political imposition on the Muslim conscience. At that time, everyone processed this according to their non-conflicting understanding of the Prophet. When we scrutinize the literature in this area, we find that Sunni historicism, the writing of history from a Sunni perspective, even though this hadith is mentioned in the reliable Sunni books, there are some who come and say that, and this is a very minority opinion, that this hadith is not an authentic one, and reference is made to ibn Hazm in this regard, who stands out on a few other issues as being the odd person in the mainstream of the coming together of this version of history. Then, Al-Bukhari says that this hadith is less than a sahih hadith, even though it is present in the other books of the sihaah. We can sense here, that the Uthmani version is trying to make its impact on the sunni version of these historical events, but the mainstream here is an acknowledgement of what happened, an acknowledgement of this hadith, and then in the least damaging of version of this, there are some who say in sunni historicism that the 1st part of the hadith is valid but not the latter part- meaning, 'Whoevers guardian I am, Ali is his guardian' that is accepted, but 'O Allah! Be the protector of those who protect him and be the tormentor of those who torment him.'- the Prophet didn't say that. All of these Sunni versions put together about this event do not account for dismissing it from Sunni historicism, meaning it is still there, no Sunni can dispute it, but it doesn't have a divisive connotation to it. There's nothing that you understand form this hadith that tells the Muslims that you have to be divided in deciding who you leader is going to be. Now, we go to the Shi'i processing of this event. In the Shi'i version of history, it says that what Allah means here, is He is telling His Prophet to appoint by name, the leader of the Muslims who is going to succeed him. There's no ayah and there's no hadith that stands up to the veracity of this statement. To the contrary, the ayah saysO you who are securely committed to Allah, obey Allah and obey His Messenger and those who carry authority in this interactive-position amongst you. (Surah An-Nisa verse 59)That sets the frame of reference for how and for who is to be vouched for by Alladhina Aamanu to become the Imam or the Wali Amr or leader of the Muslims. But, in the historical version that reacted to the events, if you can recall, all of this is in the context of the years that we were talking about, Al-Jamal, Siffin, An-Nahrawaan, At-Tahkeem, Al-Khawaarij, the fall of Egypt to Muawiya, the virtual nationalization of the Hejaz by Muawiya and then, the institutionalization for 80 years that Ali, his sons and even the Prophets daughter had to be condemned from the mimbar- this gives ground for an attitude of reaction, which is not justified. You can understand it, but you can't justify it. This is what happened, they came and said after these events, that Allahs Prophet had skipped the ayah of the Qur'an and had given the responsibility, regardless of the participation of the Muslims, regardless of the ayaat of Shura, regardless of considering the Muslim equality, regardless of the forces of nationalism at work against Allah Prophet himself who could not return to Makkah to have it the seat of the Islamic authority, regardless of Allahs Prophets knowledge himself, skipping all of that, your leader is going to be so and so, whether you like it or not. Someone saying something like that is not in tune with Allah and His Prophet. Then, there's an ayah that is selected,O Messenger! Proclaim that which has been to you from your Lord, and if you do not, then you have not conveyed His message. Allah will protect you from mankind. Verily, Allah guides not those who disbelieve. (Surah Al-Maaidah verse 67)This ayah, just like the understanding of the hadith is taken out of its larger historical and its scriptural context, this ayah is likewise taken out of context which doesn't serve the complementary positions that the Muslims should have towards each other, it doesn't serve as a common ground. This is an area that we have to deal with, with our common minds, our common sense and our goodwill, but no-one has taken these events and looked at them in such a way that we can recuperate our unity that was there at the time of the Prophet, with the ability to expose the munafiqin yet with the tolerance to have them amongst us. This is what we live with. We're trying to bring you up to par with what we have. Where are we at, where are the Muslim ulema who can serve as a medium of communication, looking at these issues in their context, with a strong reference to Allah and His Prophet and without going out on these extremes?The Uthmani version of history began a strong argument early on, after these events that we spoke about in all of these previous jum'ahs- they began creating a divisive issue among the Muslims- who is better, Abu Bakr or Ali? This actually became an issue of separating, dividing and conflicting the Muslims with each other. The argument deteriorated to such an extent that to identify when Ali became a Muslim had become a problem. If you read thoroughly through these books, the Sunni books so to speak, (we¡¦re sorry brothers and sisters, that we have to use this type of language) say that he was a s young as seven years old, even though most of them say he was either nine or ten years old. They say that because they want to give the impression, and this is the impact of the Uthmani government, meaning Muawiyas administration that adopted the course of Uthman, that's what we mean by this, they wanted to say that to exclude Ali from the virtues of becoming a Muslim when you have to decide on it, meaning if you're like Abu Bakr, an older person, then you made your decision because you had to think about what you were doing, you're not just a young lad in the backyard of the Prophet or in his household who sought of became a Muslim because he was a child. This is how the arguments had deteriorated, to the extent that people began to feel very tensed towards each other, because some say that he became a Muslim when he was seven years old on that extreme and the others say he became a Muslim when he was 14 years old, trying to extend him to the age of puberty to try to give him the virtue of becoming a Muslim. How silly?! How silly is an argument like that that can divide the Muslims. But we have it, and we have some people who are so vulnerable that they will listen to something like that and then they will begin to take emotional sides against each other. This is the type of seeding that we have in Iraq today that has the potential of flaring up and drawing everyone into it, so those feelings that are hundreds of years old are being given an extension of life in our time. It's as silly as that.They go on to say that Ali was a person who killed many people. Listen to this, brothers and sisters, you are being given access to an area no-one wants to speak about, because not many people have confidence in your thinking. They come and they say to try to discredit Ali, "He killed many people in the wars against the Mushriks and the Kaafirs." That's true, he killed many people. But why should something that discredit him? Look at that twisted logic. They say that the Prophet of Allah only killed one person, and he did. In these Muslim books, no-one disputed that Ubay ibn Khalaf was killed by Allahs Prophet early on. They take that as a measuring stick and they want to tell us that Ali was far from the Prophets sunnah because he killed many people- if he was ideal, he would have only killed one person. Imagine if all of these Muslims who were fighting along with Allahs Prophet only killed one person- the kaafirs would have won. But, this is what happens when people twist these events around and take them out of context and begin to create issues of division among the Muslims.For those who are still hung up about the meanings of "Whoevers guardian I am, Ali is his guardian. Allah! Be the protector of those who protect him and be the tormentor of those who torment him." A little bit of thinking. The Prophet was not incapable of choosing the right word. If, (and we are speaking specifically to those who consider themselves influenced by the Shi'i version of history), and this is not trying to discredit everything in these versions of history- we are trying to selectively take some of the critical issues that are used to divide the Muslims, the Prophet didn't say "Whoevers leader I am, Ali is his leader." Had the Prophet used the word Imam instead of Mawla, then, we can understand that the Prophet has made up his mind and is trying to use his influence on the Muslims around to make the right decision after he passes away, but, because he selectively loosened the word of leadership from Imam to Mawla, he was giving the Muslims the Shura that belongs to them, he was giving the Muslims the confidence that belonged to them, and even if they were to make a mistake with good intentions, they had the right to do that, which is what many people see unfolding after he passed away.Brothers and sisters, Committed Muslims-When we approximate these expressions of ours, whichever way you're looking at this and however far developed you are in processing this information, it still belongs to us- this is our experience. Our fault is we haven't learnt from our experiences and because of that, there are gaps in which we have powers of persuasion, powers of influence, powers of logic, powers of the military and technology who are moving in. What they want to do now, if we haven't said this before, we will remind you of it- what they want to do is, they want to identify those of us who have sectarian tendencies. Whether you are a Sunni or a Shi'i, if you are a sectarian, you are favored by todays mushriks and kaafirs. You are the one they are looking for. Then, they want to identify amongst us those who are moderates and those who are extremists. You can be a moderate in your own Sunni or your own Shi'i make-up, but they definitely want to know who you are so that they can ignite someone's moderate approach against another person's extreme approach. We begin to have these moderates and these extremists when we no longer understand Allah and His Prophet- we begin to fall apart. Don't you see, what happened in those days? These experiences that we are trying to relate to you, at that time they generated sectarianism and they time generated extremists. Now, these sectarians and these potential enemies are in high demand by the people now, who have made in-roads all over the place, militarily and psychologically. What are you going to do? Some of us take the easy way out? We read a couple of books and then we think we're on top of the world, we think we know everything. We don't want to bother ourselves to think what type of validity a person who disagrees with us may have on the basis of the Qur'an and the Prophet. Self-righteousness can consume us and it can destroy our potential. The "holier than thou attitude"- they are looking for that, whether you are a clergy-man, whether you are an educator or whether you are a spokesperson, whether you are a politician, whoever you are, if they sense in you any merits- they call these merits, sectarianism to them is a merit- they'll open doors for you, they have programs and think tanks working around this issue. This information that you just heard, they will never want this information to be heard in all of the Masaajid in the Muslim world, because it's going to cause you and me to think, and they don't want us to think.
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