Give Not Reins To Your Inflamed Passions; Take A Little Time And Reflect

Developing Just Leadership

Abu Dharr

Shawwal 22, 1445 2024-05-01


by Abu Dharr (Opinion, Crescent International Vol. 54, No. 3, Shawwal, 1445)

Image Source - Pixbay Free Content

(Continued from previous article)

After ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Awf had his concluding one-on-one confidential questioning with Imam ‘Ali as well as with ‘Uthman, he went to the Prophet’s masjid. He ascended the minbar and sat where the Prophet (pbuh) used to sit. He wore an ‘amaamah (headdress) which was given to him by the Prophet (pbuh). Then he stood up and paused at length. Next he expressed a du‘a unfamiliar to the attendees.

After that he politely said: Come to me, ‘Ali! Imam ‘Ali stood and approached him. ‘Abd al-Rahman extended his hand and grasped Imam ‘Ali’s hand. Speaking to Imam ‘Ali he said: Will you assert to me [and to all] that you will carry out your responsibilities [as leader] in accordance with the Book of Allah, the precedent of His messenger, and in line with the undertakings of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar?

Imam ‘Ali answered اللهم لا (O (and) for Allah, No). But I will exert my utmost to do my best. [It should be made clear that Imam ‘Ali was objecting to the continuation of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar’s ijtihad (diligence/discretion) of governance and not an objection to ruling according to the Book of Allah and His messenger (pbuh)].

Then they disengaged their hand-grasp. Next, ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Awf called on ‘Uthman, who came to the minbar. He said to him: Will you assert to me [and to all] that you will carry out your responsibilities [as leader] in accordance with the Book of Allah, the precedent of His messenger, and in line with the undertakings of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar? ‘Uthman answered: اللهم نعم (O (and) for Allah, Yes).

At that point ‘Abd al-Rahman said: اللهم اشهد [O Allah! Bear witness]. He repeated that three times. After that the muhajireen and Ansar and others in attendance stood up, approached ‘Uthman and expressed their loyalty. [Remember this promise of ‘Uthman, towards the end of his term in office, proved unable to live up to his words.]

Imam ‘Ali did not hesitate; he, too, approached ‘Uthman and expressed his trustworthiness in him [to primarily bridge the gap between a well-entrenched Islamic Madinah and an Islamically tenuous and delicate Makkah] according to one version of this historical event. According to another version, Imam ‘Ali was cautious and hesitant not concerning ‘Uthman’s earnestness but rather concerning Makkah’s disinclination and unwillingness to totally fall in line with the Islamic leadership in al-Madinah.

Sensing that hesitation, ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Awf spoke to Imam ‘Ali saying: O ‘Ali! Don’t give others the chance to make inroads against you, then he recited the following ayat: “Hence anyone who contravenes his pledge contravenes it to his own detriment, whereas whoever honors what he has pledged unto Allah, to him will He grant a vast reward.” (Surat al-Fat-h, ayat 10).

Thus did Imam ‘Ali step forward and express his hope/trust in ‘Uthman. Whatever version seems more appealing, the fact of the matter is that Imam ‘Ali agreed to ‘Uthman as a leader not because ‘Uthman was more qualified than Imam ‘Ali per se, but because the overwhelming majority of the Muhajireen and Ansar agreed to it and because there was a serious strategy of coupling both Makkah and Madinah together when Makkah was still reeling from its military confrontations with the Prophet (pbuh) and the central role Imam ‘Ali had played during the past 20 odd years in the surrender of Makkah: deep socio-psychological wounds that had to be nursed even though the population of Makkah had become, ostensibly Muslims, in the Prophet’s words: طلقاء [amnestied offenders].

On that day, the last day of Dhi al-Hijjah, the 23rd year of the hijrah, ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan became the third widely recognized ruler to come after the Prophet (pbuh) and the first day of the year 24 hijri would be his first full day in office as most historians narrate.

A most crucial and primary “national security” issue to confront ‘Uthman on his first day in office was the question of ‘Ubaid Illah ibn ‘Umar. A few days earlier, he had killed al-Hurmuzan and Jufainah and the daughter of Abu Lu’lu’ah. This event is surrounded in controversy, disagreements and polemics.

The issue was: ‘Ubaid Ullah ibn ‘Umar suspected that these three individuals were involved in the assassination of his father, the Khalifah ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab. So, he “took the law into his own hands” and killed them—what some may call “an impulsive revenge killing”.

The complicating factors here are that one of the alleged assassins was Persian, another one was Christian and the third was a woman. As one may deduce, this revenge killing had elements of “nationalism”, “sectarianism”, and “feminism” all entangled into it.

It truly constituted a major political test as well as a crucial legal ordeal. In today’s political vocabulary ‘Uthman was faced with a “national security issue” that amounted to “an existential threat” to an incipient Islamic society and state.

The Qur’an and the Prophet anchored into the public sphere a deep sense of social justice and equality: a Persian, a Christian, and a woman should not be “an easy killing” just because they are in a residual cultural sense suspects who are lesser than “mainstream” committed Muslims. Abu Lu’lu’ah was the one who stabbed ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab with a pronged (split) dagger when ‘Umar was about to lead the salat. The prayer attendees rushed Abu Lu’lu’ah and took hold of him but Abu Lu’lu’ah managed to take his own life before being apprehended and investigated.

After this alarming incident some people came forth and said that they had seen Abu Lu’lu’ah and al-Hurmuzan (who had (allegedly) become a Muslim) along with Jufainah (who remained a Christian) meeting up stealthily with that same split dagger in their hands. When they were approached, they threw down the dagger.

This guarded “background information” motivated ‘Umar’s son after his father was assassinated to come up to al-Hurmuzan and kill him by a strike of his sword. Some historians say that al-Hurmuzan shouted (yelled out) the article of faith, as the sword pierced him, saying: I bear witness that there is no deity/authority except Allah. Then Ibn ‘Umar set out to kill Jufainah – which he did.

When he felt his dying moments Jufainah motioned his hand with the sign of the cross between his eyes as some historians put it. Then Ibn ‘Umar went to the house of Abu Lu’lu’ah and killed his daughter. All of this happened in quick succession.

The news quickly reached Suhaib who was the prayer leader. Suhaib dispatched a confidant to shield Ibn ‘Umar from any harmful revenge. Sa‘d Ibn Abi Waqqas finally managed to talk Ibn ‘Umar into letting go of his sword and handing it over to Sa‘d. At that point Ibn ‘Umar was taken into custody – pending the final decision of the khalifah ‘Uthman.

Without delay, ‘Uthman began to check with, consult, and seek the advice of important individuals and connected companions of the Prophet (pbuh) about what to do with Ibn ‘Umar. He acted irrationally and imprudently and without recourse to a court of law. He killed one Muslim and two non-Muslims without legal validation or moral justification.

Ibn ‘Umar was not authorized by the Khalifah, a judge, or a court of law to execute those three individuals. The more knowledgeable and perceptive confidants of the Prophet (pbuh), among them Imam ‘Ali, advised ‘Uthman to penalize/punish Ibn ‘Umar in a court of law because the latter had crossed all the Islamic legal red lines.

The general public, though, was not comfortable with a very-likely legal decision that would dictate a death penalty on Ibn ‘Umar as that would mean that ‘Umar was killed yesterday, and today we kill his son! That feeling and thought did not sit well with the widely held common temperament.

This writer is aware that these details are not ongoing and enduring pieces of information in the current thoughts of the overwhelming majority of Muslims. Nor is this writer trying to dig up information that has been dormant and even forgotten for many centuries. But the dilemma this writer finds himself in is that this absent information along with other relevant portions of information has become the breeding ground for divisions and hostilities among today’s Muslims fueled by the mainstream media all over the world.

Thus, it becomes necessary to do our due diligence in visiting this obscured history of ours to learn from it and to avoid the politico-sectarian traps that have been arranged for us by a combination of internal ignorance dressed up as scholarship and foreign violence camouflaged with the paraphernalia of modernity and humanitarianism. [Please stay the course; we still have a long way to go].

…have patience in difficult times until Allah shall judge between us [and them]: for He is the best of all judges - Al-A‘raf, ayat 87.

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