by Abu Dharr (Opinion, Crescent International Vol. 52, No. 12, Rajab, 1444)
So far, we tried our best to explain how Abu Bakr and ‘Umar did their utmost to selflessly persist on the course of action that was established by Allah’s dear Prophet (pbuh). Abu Bakr and ‘Umar made it clear that they were Allah’s subordinates and the people’s servants. They were particularly mindful of the fact that they were situated under Allah’s scrutiny and beneath their citizens’ attentive evaluation.
The question in some minds becomes: was the Prophet’s higher standards and consistent principles that were honored by both Abu Bakr and ‘Umar advantageously agreeable with the “public mood” or how long can they counter-affect acquisitive human traits such as greed, stinginess, materialism, etc…? Could the Seerah and Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh), that were morally and respectably honored by his two successors Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, endure enough to cause a changeover of the tremendous numbers of people who were becoming Muslims at a breakneck speed?
To answer that question, we would have to take a closer look at the authority and leadership that came into being once the Prophet (pbuh) became the “head of state” in al-Madinah with the Muhajireen and Ansar as the prime/honorary citizens and the line of defense around the Prophet’s ‘itrah (family unit). We have to pore over that period of unwavering governance that extended from the arrival of our beloved Prophet (pbuh) to al-Madinah until the assassination of his second successor ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab and the ascension of ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan to the seat of power.
Most orientalists and their parroting trainees want everyone to believe that the type of government during those twenty-plus years was theocratic. This type of imperial orientalist mental pollution would have us judge the rulers as gaining their legitimacy from Allah (swt) and only Allah (swt), with committed Muslims virtually having no say in who will rule and how he will rule. This excludes Muslim citizens from having any input into who will become their ruling decision makers and the policies to be implemented.
In such a fixated (orientalist) definition of governance, the Muslim citizens are not permitted to legislatively participate in the decision-making process; they cannot object to the resolutions of the rulers or the choices of the chiefs. Such theocratic understanding of the Prophet (pbuh) and the khulafa’ marginalizes and disregards people taking issue with their head of state.
These types of orientalist perceptual prowlers would say: wasn’t it Allah who ordered the Prophet (pbuh) to move to Madinah along with the Muhajireen and to establish an Islamic state there? Isn’t it Allah, they say, who revealed teachings and instructions on how to run an Islamic state? They may, in their out-of-place way, quote the ayat:
This fellow-man of yours [Muhammad] has not gone astray, nor has he lost his sanity, and neither does he speak out of selfishness: [what he speaks to you about] is nothing but a publicized [divine] revelation… (al-Najm, 2-4)
Besides, these orientalist types of researchers [more accurately they are de-searchers] want to convince their readers that the Muslim citizenry are ordered to obey Allah and His Messenger and those who are in power and that they will not be truly committed to Allah until they agree to have those who are in power (regardless of how they gained power) judge and arbitrate among them in matters that they divisively dispute.
By extension, they tell us, that both Abu Bakr and ‘Umar were due the same obedience that was due to the Messenger (pbuh). So, if the Messenger of Allah was authorized to rule by Allah, then his successors were authorized to rule by Allah! Voila! A theocracy up and running!
This imperialist-zionist underwritten line of thinking is what we have today. And many Muslims due to their inability to Qur’anically think through these matters either buy into this misconception, are silent, or try to argue back with their emotions and not with their minds.
Let us calmly respond to these mental menaces (the orientalists and their objects).
First, all Muslims honor and hold in the highest regard the principle of tawhid; which means that all Muslims regard Allah (swt) their only undivided deity/authority. Allah (swt) is the only One who defines morality, sets standards, delineates legality, and distinguishes right from wrong, moral from immoral, and legal from illegal.
Towards this end, Allah (swt) sent His Prophet (pbuh)—and not Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, et al—and revealed His Scripture (the Qur’an) and not al-Bukhari and Muslim, et al. For those who are on the other side of this fence, Allah (swt) sent His Prophet (pbuh)—and not Imam ‘Ali and the Imams—and revealed His Scripture (the Qur’an) and not al-Kafi and al-Majlisi et al, with all due respect to the khulafa’ and imams and to the compilers of hadith.
All of this was not meant by Allah (swt) to deprive people of their freedom and dictate to them displeasing or bad-tempered responsibilities. People’s freedom within the meanings of the divinely-revealed Qur’an and the practices of the exquisitely guided Prophet (pbuh) is guaranteed. Allah (swt) and the Prophet (pbuh) are not dictators forcing themselves into the nitty-gritty of everyday life—even though there are guidelines for such affairs. These guidelines are adhered to by iman and not by armaments.
There are affairs in life that require a practical Qur’anic-Prophetic leap of faith that is anchored in the reasoning of the social being’s Qur’anic mind. There are junctures in life that need us to put together our collective hearts and minds and move Qur’anically and Prophetically forward until justice is done and social justice is accomplished.
Let us remind ourselves that our dearest Prophet (pbuh) was ordered by Allah (swt) to consult with the committed Muslims. Had the decision pertaining to the “public interest” already been decided by Allah (swt), Muhammad (pbuh) would have no reason to consult and confer with the committed Muslims. The often-overlooked fact of the matter is that our beloved (pbuh) was sensitively and spiritually integrated into the involved citizenry; i.e., his kindred spirits (Ahl al-Bayt), those who relinquished their materialistic world in Makkah (the Muhajireen) and the steadfast supporters in al-Madinah (the Ansar). Now we can read the following ayat and have a better understanding of it:
And it was by Allah’s grace that you [O Muhammad] dealt gently with them [your adherents], for if you had been harsh and hard of heart, they would indeed have broken away from you. Pardon them, then, and pray that they be forgiven. And take counsel [confer] with them in all matters of public concern; then, when you have decided on a course of action, place your trust in Allah, for, of a certainty, Allah loves those who place their trust in Him (Aal-‘Imran, 159)
The ayat above was revealed in the aftermath of the adversity of the battle of Uhud when there were psychological scars inflicted on committed Muslims who did not win a decisive victory and may have thought that they lost a battle despite Allah and His Prophet being with them. Leading up to this particular spurt of maturity through trial and error at Uhud, the impeccable Prophet (pbuh) accepted the shura decision of his Muhajireen and Ansar companions pertaining to the Battle of Badr about one year before Uhud. The pre-battle war-plan leading to Badr had the Prophet (pbuh) agree to the widely held opinion that took issue with his positioning of the troops in pre-battle formation.
The available and approachable commander-in-chief [our dearly loved Prophet (pbuh)] was asked by some of his battle-ready troops: Is it a [military] order revealed from on high [to camp at this position]? Or is this position a matter of opinion and military outmaneuvering? The Prophet’s amicable answer was: Rather it [the choice of this location] is one of opinion [estimation] and military outmaneuvering.
At that point the Prophet (pbuh) was cordially advised to reposition the combat-ready Muslims in another area that is more to the military advantage of the Islamic fighting force—an area in close proximity to the water source of Badr.
The Prophet (pbuh) also accepted his companions’ better judgment pertaining to prisoners of war and as a consequence the true and tested companions’ opinion was rectified from on high with the following ayat:
It does not behoove a Prophet to keep prisoners of war unless he has battled strenuously on earth. You may desire the fleeting gains of this world – but Allah desires [for you the good of] the life to come: and Allah is magnificent, wise. (Al-Anfaal, 67)
On another occasion, our impeccable Prophet (pbuh) estimated/evaluated, when news came to him about the advancing military convoy of the Quraishi enemy, that it would be better to fight this Makkan Quraishi force within the boundaries of al-Madinah. The honorable Prophet (pbuh) did not favor an Islamic fighting force leaving al-Madinah, going out to meet the enemy on an open battlefield. His assessment was to militarily take on the enemy within the confines of al-Madinah.
But his companions, especially many of the Ansar and younger enthusiasts, insisted that they leave al-Madinah and duel with Quraish’s antagonistic army beyond the city confines. Seeing that most of the combat ready Muslims wanted to fight outside al-Madinah, the Prophet (pbuh) abided by their widely-held view.
After that, the Prophet (pbuh) went to put on his military gear. As he (pbuh) was doing that, those who insisted on leaving al-Madinah felt remorseful as they figured that they compelled the Prophet (pbuh) to do something contrary to his own preference.
When the Prophet (pbuh) returned in his combat attire they apologized to him for “overriding his appraisal” and requested him to disregard their opinion and go ahead with his (i.e., fighting the mushrik Makkans within al-Madinah). Our Prophet-teacher (pbuh) refused their proposal and carried on with the widely-held opinion (i.e., to fight the mushrik warriors outside al-Madinah).
If the Prophet (pbuh) was a theocratic ruler receiving directives and directions in every public policy decision from on high, he would not have agreed to the “popular” reasoning and feeling of his closest supporters. Also, his closest supporters, assuming that the Prophet is a theocratic ruler, would not have suggested to him to leave al-Madinah and fight somewhere else.
Likewise, the Prophet (pbuh) accepted the advice of his ardent supporters to dig a trench around al-Madinah in preparation for the battle of al-Ahzab (the Arabian Confederates). This same scenario would be repeated during the battle of Siffin with Imam ‘Ali and his supporters: some of them wanting to fight on (the lesser in numbers) and the more in numbers who wanted to sue for peace.
Indeed, there has come to you [O Arabians, and to mankind] an Apostle – one from among your own selves: serious, [significant and substantial] to him [the thought] that you might suffer [in eternal life]; full of concern for you [is he and] full of compassion and mercy toward the committed Muslims… (Al-Tawbah, 128)