by Abu Dharr (Opinion, Crescent International Vol. 51, No. 2, Sha'ban, 1443)
When Abu Bakr took on the complex responsibility of governing the Muslims whose range of commitment stretched from the dedicated Ahl al-Bayt, al-Muhajireen, and al-Ansar to the tenuous al-A‘rab, al-munafiqeen, and al-tulaqa’ among others, all of whom were now citizens of an Islamic governing power, he assumed such difficult duty not in a vacuum but with a course of action already set into motion by the departed Prophet of Allah. One of those Prophetic plans was in the area of “foreign policy”. In his last year(s) the Prophet (pbuh) had communicated with and sent emissaries to certain kings and rulers informing and counseling them about Allah’s undivided divinity and incomparable authority and his mission as Allah’s final Prophet unto mankind.
It is to be noted here that during the Prophet’s years his military strategy, besides confronting the mushriks in Arabia, were crucial confrontations with the Arabian surrogates of the Byzantines (al-Ghasasinah) who were geographically located in what is today northern Arabia and Jordan. These Arabian proxies of the Byzantines scorned Islam, they threatened the Prophet’s emissaries, and they even killed some committed Muslims. Because of this Byzantine and Byzantine-proxy antagonistic and aggressive posture, the Prophet (pbuh) in his final days prepared an armed force headed by Usamah ibn Zayd ibn Harithah whose father Zayd went down as a martyr three years earlier in an essential battle against the Byzantines.
As this Usamah-led-armed-force was preparing to take on the Byzantines and their Arabian surrogates (the Ghasasinah), our dearest and firm-favorite Prophet (pbuh) passed away. Usamah, the Prophetically-assigned commander was young; he was only 18 years old. At this point Usamah thoughtfully felt that he should resign his commanding position and have Abu Bakr, who has now become the commander-in-chief, decide who will lead this army into battle with the Byzantines in the Levant.
Here is where a worrying difference of opinion surfaced between Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. ‘Umar objected to Usamah as military commander because he was too young and inexperienced. But Abu Bakr carried the day saying: how can I overturn a decision made by Allah’s Prophet (before he passed away)? Hence, Usamah led the Islamic armed force into Bilad al-Sham [the Levant]. We mention this incident, out of many others, in which there was a serious difference between Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. And this should tell the sectarians something about how dedicated the Prophet’s supporters were to their Prophet (pbuh) and their conscience and wipe away from their minds the conspiratorial presentation of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar being a working party of “one mind set” in running the affairs of Muslims.
The Shi‘i sectarians today are coming out of their “taqiyyah shell” as they feel emboldened by the Islamic Revolution in Iran that they don’t belong to, to begin with. These fanatic freaks, who should be publically and determinedly censored by the officials of the Islamic Republic, are telling anyone who is naïve enough to listen to them that ISIS, Da‘esh, etc… are the understandable extension of the khulafa’; meaning that the terrorism, bloodshed, massacres, and mayhem that are committed by ISIS, Da‘esh and their likes today are a natural evolution of the reign of Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, and ‘Uthman.
For the purpose of setting the record straight let us listen to Abu Bakr as he instructs Usamah ibn Zayd, the commander of the Muslim Military, on its way to battle the Byzantines. And let us see for ourselves whether today’s terrorism can be traced to the khulafa’. The following are Abu Bakr’s words and instructions to the Islamic Armed Forces:
لا تخونوا ولا تغدروا ولا تفعلوا ولا تمثلوا ولاتقتلوا طفلا ولا شيخا كبيرا ولا امرأة ولا تعقروا نخلا ولا تحرقوه ولاتقطعوا شجرة مثمرة ولا تذبحوا شاة ولا بقرة ولا بعيرا. وسوف تمرون بأقوام قد فرغوا أنفسهم في الصوامع فدعوهم وما فرغوا أنفسهم له. وسوف تقدمون على قوم بآنية فيها ألوان الطعام فاذا أكلتم منها شيئا بعد شيء فاذكروا اسم الله عليه. وتلقون أقواما قد فحصوا أوساط رؤوسهم وتركوا حولها العصائب فاخفقوهم بالسيف خفقا. اندفعوا باسم الله
Don’t be perfidious. Don’t be conniving. Don’t be high-strung. Don’t mutilate [anyone], and do not kill any child or an elderly person, or a woman. Do not spray or burn down any [tropical] trees, and do not cut down any fruit-bearing tree. And do not slaughter any sheep, cow or camel. You will come across people who have dedicated themselves [to God] by sequestering themselves inside monasteries – those you should leave alone [let be] for them to finish refining themselves. You will also come upon people whose bowls are full of all sorts of food; so, if you partake of any of that, then be advised to consciously recite Allah’s name as you are eating. You will also encounter people who have shaved the middle of their heads and encircled their heads with headbands [denoting them as out of control enemy warriors]; those are the ones you are to [attack and] strike with your swords. Carry on [with your military mission] in the name of Allah.
Almost every single military instruction imparted by Abu Bakr above has been disobeyed and desecrated by ISIS, Da‘esh, and their equivalents. How can any sensible and sane person connect the khulafa’ who were the disciples of Rasulallah (pbuh) with ISIS and Da‘esh who are the cohorts of the CIA, the cronies of MI6, and the cabals of Mossad!?
We should say to those whose emotionalism and traditionalism have taken control of them that our point of reference in this shared post-Prophetic-history of ours is Imam ‘Ali. And Imam ‘Ali when we understand the Qur’an and know the Prophet (pbuh) never appears to be an opposition figure or an opponent of the khulafa’. That is not to say that he did not have differences with them. He certainly did; but those differences were not antagonistic or bellicose as the Shi‘i sectarians want everyone to believe.
The most serious disagreements in the duration of the khilafah years were those between Imam ‘Ali and ‘Uthman; still, Imam ‘Ali was not an enemy of ‘Uthman. Imam ‘Ali counseled and warned ‘Uthman of the nepotism that began to rear its ugly head during the second half of ‘Uthman’s reign. The pre-Islamic jahiliyah with its tribal concentration of power was beginning to entrench itself in Madinah’s corridors of power.
The Umayyad clan took advantage of ‘Uthman’s family ties to them and began to creep into the higher offices and give the Muslim public the impression that ‘Uthman himself is fully in charge, when in fact he was not – maybe due to his old age and/or maybe due to his disproportionate confidence in and reliance upon his family ties – the Umayyad lineage. This Umayyad lineage, by and large, was made up of the tulaqa’ who opposed the Prophet (pbuh), and his household devotees – primarily Imam ‘Ali, as well as the Muhajireen and the Ansar. These tulaqa’ never burned their bridges with the Yahudi community in Arabia or with the Byzantine Empire beyond Arabia as far as we know.
Imam ‘Ali and those forty or so followers of the Prophet (pbuh) who were with him as they were innocently absent from the Saqifah were living these facts and details – more aware of them than we are fourteen centuries later. They knew very well how tenuous the union of Muslims in Arabia was, so they were very careful and prudent in preserving the togetherness of the ummah. Imam ‘Ali’s cooperation and teamwork with Abu Bakr and ‘Umar should teach us a lesson on how to be cordial Muslims who can work together to defeat all types of breakaway sectarians and break-in enemies.
The difference between big hearted Shi‘is i.e. those who understand Imam ‘Ali in context on one side and bigoted Shi‘is i.e. those who understand Imam ‘Ali out of context on the other, is that the former researched an outstanding Imam ‘Ali void of prejudice while the latter considered Imam ‘Ali a superior with [censored] partiality.
And those who track [the exemplary behavior of the Muhajireen and Ansar] in times to come pray, “O our Sustainer! Forgive us our sins, as well as those of our brethren who went ahead of us with their divine commitment, and do not allow our hearts to well up with spiteful thoughts and feelings toward [other] committed Muslims. O our Sustainer! You are compassionate, enormously merciful.” (Al-Hashr, 10)