Mushajrat: The Perspective of Majority of Scholars Regarding Conflicts of the Companions, By Mufti Muhammad Shafi
وَإِن طَائِفَتَانِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ اقْتَتَلُوا فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا ۖ فَإِن بَغَتْ إِحْدَاهُمَا عَلَى الْأُخْرَىٰ فَقَاتِلُوا الَّتِي تَبْغِي حَتَّىٰ تَفِيءَ إِلَىٰ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ ۚ فَإِن فَاءَتْ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا بِالْعَدْلِ وَأَقْسِطُوا ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ (الحجرات:9-10)۔
Translation: And if two groups of the believers fight each other, seek reconciliation between them. And if one of them commits aggression against the other, fight the one that commits aggression until it comes back to Allah’s command. So if it comes back, seek reconciliation between them with fairness, and maintain justice. Surely Allah loves those who maintain justice. All believers are but brothers, therefore seek reconciliation between your two brothers, and fear Allah, so that you may be blessed with mercy.
Ruling: If a very powerful group of Muslims revolts against the Muslim ruler, then it is necessary for the ruler to first hear out their complaint or cause of their dissatisfaction. If a doubt or a misunderstanding has arisen in their mind about some matter, it should be removed. If they show such cause on the basis of which it is permissible in Shariah to oppose a Muslim leader or ruler, like unjust behavior on the part of the government, it is essential for the general body of Muslims to assist the group, so that the leader or ruler may refrain from his tyranny, provided that his tyranny is proved beyond any shadow of doubt (Ibn-ul-Humam; Mazhari).
If they cannot show any clearly legitimate reason for their dissatisfaction, revolt, disobedience, and waging war against the Muslim ruler, it is permitted for Muslims to wage war against the rebels. Imam Shafi` held that the Muslims should not initiate fight against the rebels unless they first start the fight [Mazhari]. This law applies when it is positively and unquestionably clear that the group is rebellious.
However, if it is difficult to determine which group is rebellious and which is just, because each party has a valid Shari argument to justify its course of action, then the pros and cons of both parties may be weighed to determine the party that is “just” on the principle of probability. If the juristic argument of one party seems to someone more convincing, it is permitted for him to assist such a group. If someone cannot prefer the standpoint of any one of them, he should remain neutral, as it happened in the civil wars of the Battle of Camel and the Battle of Siffin when many noble Companions (R.A) remained aloof.
The Battle of Camel and Siffin: Conflicts of the Noble Companions (R.A)
Imam Abu Bakr Ibnul Arabi says that this verse of battle between Muslims covers all cases. It includes the case where both parties prepare for war on grounds of a principle of Shariah. Civil wars of the noble Companions (R.A) were of this nature. Qurtubi, quoting this view of Ibnul Arabi, explains the actual situation of the Battle of Camel and the Battle of Siffin and gives guidelines for later generations of Muslims to follow in the light of the battles of the blessed Companions (R.A) . This author has dealt with this subject in “Ahkamul Quran” in Arabic and his Urdu book “Maqam e Sahabah”. The summary of the discussion given in that book with reference to Qurtubi (V.16, P.322) is as follows:
It is not permitted to attribute categorically, and with certainty, to any of the Companions that he was absolutely wrong in his action, because each of them acted according to his own Ijtihad. Their objective was to seek the pleasure of Allah. The Companions (R.A) are all our leaders, and it is enjoined upon us that we should hold back our tongue from talking about their mutual differences, and always speak the best things about them. Prophet’s companionship is a highly honourable position which should not be violated. The Holy Prophet (ﷺ) has prohibited to revile them or talk bad about them, and informed us that they have been forgiven and that Allah is pleased with them. Besides, there is the Hadith regarding Sayyidna Talhah (R.A) reaching us through several transmitting authorities that:
انّ طلحة شھید یمشی علی وجه الارض
“Talhah is a martyr walking on the face of the earth.”
If Sayyidna Talhah (R.A) was committing a clear sin by going out to wage war against Sayyidna Ali, (R.A) he could not attain the high status of a martyr. In the same way, if his act might be regarded as a failure to perform his duty on the basis of a clearly wrong interpretation, he would still not attain the status of martyrdom. Martyrdom is attained only when a person is killed in obedience of Allah. Therefore, it is necessary to construe the matter of the Companions (R.A) in terms of the principle mentioned above.
Another proof of this is available in authentic and well-established Ahadith which are reported by Sayyidna Ali (R.A) himself where the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) said: “The killer of Zubair is in Hell.” Furthermore, Sayyidna Ali (R.A) reports that the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Give news to the killer of Sayyidah Safiyyah’s (R.A) son that he will be in Hell.” In the light of this we need to believe that Sayyidna Zubair and Sayyidna Talhah (R.A) were not sinners or disobedient to Allah in the position taken by them in the battle. Otherwise the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) would not have referred to Sayyidna Talhah (R.A) as a martyr, nor would he predict about the killer of Zubair (R.A) that he would be in Hell. Also, he is counted among the ten who were given the glad tidings of attaining Paradise. Traditions relating to this subject have almost reached the grade of continuity [tawatur] and the Traditions are referred to as ahadith mutawatir.
Likewise the noble Companions (R.A) who did not participate in the battles on either side, cannot be regarded as defaulters because their behavior, conduct and attitude in this matter was also based on their ijtihad, and Allah maintained them thus. Therefore, it is not proper in any sense of the word to curse them, to taunt them, to hold them as sinners, and to neglect their virtues, their struggles and their great religious stations. Some of the scholars were posed the question: what is your view regarding the blood that was shed in the battles that took place among the blessed Companions (R.A)? They simply recited the following verse of the Qur’an:
تِلْكَ أُمَّةٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَلَكُم مَّا كَسَبْتُمْ وَلَا تُسْأَلُونَ عَمَّا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ
‘Those are a people who have passed away. For them what they earned, and for you what you earned. And you shall not be questioned as to what they have been doing. [2:134] ‘
The same question was posed to another scholar. He replied: “Allah saved my hands from being soiled with that blood. Now I will not soil my tongue with it.” He meant that he does not wish to make the mistake of categorically adjudging any one of the groups as the defaulter.
Allamah Ibn-Fuwarrak (R.A) says:
“Some of our colleagues feel that the example of the conflicts that took place between the noble Companions (R.A) is like that of the episodes of conflict that occurred between Sayyidna Yusuf (A.S) and his brothers. They, despite their mutual differences, did not lose their status of wilayah and nubuwwah. The same principle applies to the matter of conflicts that occurred between the Companions.”
Sayyidna Muhasibi (R.A) says: “As far as this bloodshed is concerned, it is difficult for us to say anything because there was a difference of opinion in this regard among the noble Companions (R.A) themselves.”
When Hasan Al-Basri (R.A) was asked the question concerning the wars between the noble Companions (R.A) he replied: “Those were fights in which the Companions were present and we were not. They knew all the circumstances and we do not know them. The matter in which the Companions are unanimous, we follow; and the matter in which there is difference of opinion, we observe silence.”
Sayyidna Muhasibi (R.A) says: “We concur with Hasan Al-Basri (R.A). We know that when the noble Companions meddled in any matter, they knew fully well why they were doing it. Our task is merely to follow them where they are unanimous, and where they differ we observe silence. We should not on our own introduce new ideas. We are assured that they must have exercised ijtihad and sought the pleasure of Allah. Therefore, in matters of religion they are all beyond doubt.”
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