Al Ansar and Asabiyah

Developing Just Leadership

Muhammad H. al-'Asi

Rajab 28, 1434 2013-06-07

Bismillah Ar-Rahmaan Ar-Raheem. Alhumdulillah. Peace and blessings on Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wa alihi wa sallam), his Noble Companions and Family. Dear Committed brothers, dear committed sisters,

Once again we take refuge in the ayah from Allah (in) Surah Aal Imran.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ وَلَا تَمُوتُنَّ إِلَّا وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ

وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا ۚ وَاذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ كُنتُمْ أَعْدَاءً فَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِكُمْ فَأَصْبَحْتُم بِنِعْمَتِهِ إِخْوَانًا وَكُنتُمْ عَلَىٰ شَفَا حُفْرَةٍ مِّنَ النَّارِ فَأَنقَذَكُم مِّنْهَا ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ

Oh you who are securely committed to Allah guard against Allah as is due to Him in the full measurement of this guard and do not die except in a state of submission to Him. And hold firm to Allah's binding matter all of you- no exceptions- and be not divided; and bare in mind Allah's provision, favour and privilege upon you when you (who are now Committed Muslims), were once enemies of each other and then He reconciled your hearts and familiarized and acquainted you with each other and then, due to this provision, favour and privilege you became brethren of each other; you were on the edge of a pit of fire and Allah saved you from it; it is with this is mind and with understanding these dynamics and factors that Allah is going to guide us. (Surah Aal Imran verse 102-103)

This ayah which everyone knows or which every Jum'ah attendee should know is telling every Muslim from the time it was revealed to the end of time that Muslims should be together. They should not have any serious divisions amongst them and we chose, (in these past khutbahs and we'll continue this effort), to go back to the time when these ayaat were revealed and see where and when was the beginning of the divisions that we suffer from today- divisions that don't belong to us. This is an area that not many Muslims speak about and when some Muslims speak about it they speak about it with either a type of revenge or bad feelings. We don't need any of that. What we need to do is to approach this occasion or these circumstances with open minds and with open hearts and give credit where credit is due and then shed light on some of our historical figures (and) some of our predecessors to see how they behaved when the issue of asabiyah became one of the major issues that we have been suffering from. Now that day and that time was called saqifah Bani Sa'ida or for short as saqifah. When the Prophet passed away, on the day of his funeral we began to detect three types of psychological inclinations or social trends in that formative Islamic society and we said and we repeat that these three directions into the future were represented by those who thought that Abu Bakr (radi Allahu anhu) would be the most qualified to keep this Islamic togetherness as it was during the time of Allah's Prophet. There was another trend that thought that the best way to keep this Islamic solidarity intact was for the Ansar (radi Allahu anhum) to assume the leadership position among this Islamic society. And the other opinion was that Al Imam Ali (radi Allahu anhu) was the most qualified person to assume the highest decision making office in the land. These were the three convictions that were inside the Islamic social psychology as it were- OK. You know, in today's world, (for good or for bad, we don't know- Allah knows best), the position of Al Ansar is not really mentioned. Right now in today’s world you have this, some what, polarisation between those who call themselves Sunnis and those who call themselves Shi’is. The Sunnis are the ones that are identified with Abu Bakr as the first legitimate leader of the Muslims. The Shi’is are identified with those who think Ali is the first legitimate Imam or leader of the Muslims but no one speaks about Ansar. There was another opinion here. So our effort here is to try to go back to the facts of that day or that time period and look at this in an objective manner. In doing so we are looking here at Ansar. We said that Al Ansar had basically two factions to them, Al Aws and Al Khazraj. These were the two main population make up of Yathrib before the Prophet arrived. Sa'd ibn Ubada (radi Allahu anhu) was the leader of the Khazraj and he was the one who basically expressed the notion (or) he came out and said what was inside the Ansar or most of the Ansar. He came outside and said I think right now we are in the position to carry the responsibilities and to shoulder the burdens that the Prophet himself was responsible for in his life. We said that the Ansar felt that they were somewhat slighted because of the treatment that was given to the latter day Muslims (or) the people who became Muslim after twenty years. There’s this principle or concept of Islam of what is called Al Muallafah Qulubuhum that means trying to win these prior Mushriks over to Islam when Makkah was finally liberated; as this ta'leef al qulub was going on Al Ansar were watching. They were saying wait a minute here we are doing most of the sacrifices but most of the revenue is going to the Muhajirin. It sort of registered in their psychology. So what they wanted to do at this time when the Prophet passed away (was) they wanted to reiterate their sovereignty over Al Madinah because remember the first Islamic society and state is their place. It doesn't belong to the Muhajirin, it doesn't belong to the other Muslims who came to it from the other parts of Hejaz. It is theirs so they wanted to sort of make the point. Remember brothers and sisters, there's no divisiveness in this point. It's just trying to percolate some of facts that were beneath the surface. They also wanted to make known that we don't necessarily agree with everything that our guests are doing meaning the people who came to Al Madinah particularly from Makkah because of the persecution called Al Muhajirin. Al Ansar didn't necessarily agree with everything the Muhajirin did and they wanted that to be known and that did not mean that now they are beginning to divide the Muslims. This doesn't mean there's division in the issue because at this point the asabiyah that we spoke about had not gelled yet. They also knew that even though they own the land in Al Madinah, they own the resources of Al Madinah, the market place, the agriculture, etc. (in a sense), that this is no longer theirs; it has become the Madinah of the Prophet and the Madinah of the rest of the Muslims so they had to right now square in themselves that fact they are the original occupants of this Islamic community and society but in addition to them there are other Muslims of equality other Muslims that they had to treat with a sense of fairness. So there was something like a spokesperson for them. Besides the leader Sa'd ibn Ubadah there was a person by the name of Al Habbab ibn Al Mundhir (radi Allahu anhu) who sort of came out and expressed what was on the minds of Al Ansar. Remember we’re speaking about the day of saqifah and we want to remind you that this is a day that is either spoken by people who have asabiyah in them today or is neglected by people who have asabiyah in them today. It's very similar to the tragedy of Karbala’’ many years later- when people speak about it they either speak about it with asabiyah or they ignore it with that peculiar type of asabiyah; yaum al saqifah is similar to that. So Habbab ibn Al Mundir said Oh Ansar folks you are the people who gave refuge and gave support to the people who came to you from Makkah, people made their hijra to you Al Ansar, you are the people who have this land and you are the people who made iman possible. That's the first point that Habbab ibn Al Mundhir said. Still up until now- even though we detect that this could become an asabiyah- there wasn't an asabiyah. He’s just stating simple and actual feelings that people had. The second thing Habbab ibn Al Mundhir was saying in as Saqifa for everyone to hear particularly Al Ansar, you are the most qualified or you are the most meritorious because it was due to your swords (and) your power base all these people around became committed Muslims (and) they entered into this deen. If it wasn't for Al Ansar (or) if it wasn't for Al Madinah how could they have been a spread of this Islam? You gave this Islam, (something like), a backbone so you are worthy of leading the Muslims. Number three Al Habbab ibn Al Mundhir said (and) this statement indicates, (number one) that there is some kind of distance between the people who came from Makkah, Al Muhajirin, and the people in Al Madinah, Al Ansar, and it also indicates that there is some type of fear. Al Ansar inside themselves are living with an apprehension of the people from Makkah. So to be fair to his conscience, (and this also cancels any kind of accusations that right here we find an asabiyah on the day the Prophet was going to be buried), he said on behalf of the rest of the Ansar we can live with the fact that there will be a decision maker from us, meaning Al Ansar, and there will be a decision maker from them, meaning the Muhajirin. We mean this person is trying to be fair; not to be an asabiyyi and to monopolise something for his own self or his own type. He goes on and says if something happens in the future and an Ansari or a Muhajir is going to violate the other then we will be on an equal position to address this issue. As we know, even though this was the internal notions of the Ansar the bai'ah took place for Abi Bakr. We'll get to that insha’Allah if Allah gives us some time into the future but when that happened, (we’re here still with the Ansar before the bai'ah and during the bai'ah and after the bai'ah), when eventually the Muslims came up to Abi Bakr and gave their alliance to him as the leader of the Muslims the same Al Habbab ibn Al Mundhir said you, Ansar, (that's his own people, his own folks, his own community), well you have finally done it which means that whatever you thought should not happen has happened. By Allah, I can almost look into the future and see your children on the doors of their children. Now your children means the children of Al Ansar standing at the doors of the children of the Muhajirin- there they are standing extending their hands asking for what they need and they are not going to be given as much as some water. Now these are very serious measurements of the psychology of what is playing out on this day of as saqifah. Abu Bakr heard this and he said to Al Habbab ibn Al Mundhir Oh Habbab are you afraid of us? Are you being intimidated by us? Al Habbab answered by saying I'm not afraid of you, I'm afraid of those who are going to come after you. Al Habbab is saying to Abi Bakr Once you and I are gone there's going to be people who will come after you who are going to have us experience oppression. As if Al Habbab was looking into the future and he could see what was going to happen to Al Madinah when the Umawis are in charge not when the Khulafahs are in charge because he says I have nothing against you Aba Bakr. Then Abu Bakr responded to him saying, (we'll say to you what Abu Bakr), there’s more or less checks and balances between Al Aws and Al Khazraj that will make it very difficult for this affair to go to the extent that you are talking about. Abu Bakr is reminding Al Habbab ibn Al Mundhir of their past history. There were wars between them and the wounds are still there from the time before Islam because they were in a conflict that continued for about a hundred and forty years before the Prophet arrived in Yathrib. So they had their own psychological wounds (and) they had their own tribal difficulties but now that Islam has come to them they could act in a sense or reciprocity to do the right thing- that's what Abu Bakr is telling Al Habbab. Then we go to sensing finally what we can call asabiyah. From the time the Prophet passed away up to until this moment, (that we’re speaking to you about), i.e. the exchange of opinions and words between Al Habbab and Abi Bakr we could sense maybe there is something here that we could call asabiyah but there is no evidence (or) there's no proof of it but here we realize that Al Ansar themselves began to show a gap among them. A person by the name of Bashir ibn Sa'd (radi Allahu anhu) who was something like a rival of Sa'd ibn Ubada stood up and he said- remember Sa'd ibn Ubada was making the case that Al Ansar should step up to the plate, (as it were), and fill in the vacuum. The Prophet is gone (and) someone has to fill in this vacuum. So this Bashir ibn Sa'd said Oh Ansaris, (he’s speaking to his own people), even though we are the people of a pioneering virtue in as much as we sacrificed for this deen (and) we struggled for this deen but all we only wanted was the satisfaction, the endorsement (and) the agreement of our sustainer and the obedience to our Prophet and we were exerting our efforts for our own sake therefore we shouldn't come out and try to place ourselves in a position superior to other people. This statement superior to other people indicates that this has the potential solidification of the unwanted asabiyah and he wanted to put an end to that. We shouldn't be doing something like that and because of our sacrifices and our struggle for Allah and His Prophet we shouldn't be trying to claim anything from this duniyah. Allah is the one who has favored us with what we have done from the time the Prophet came to Al Madinah up to this very moment. Muhammad is from Quraysh and his people are more worthy of this position then we are. This is to the credit of Al Ansar. Remember they are speaking in their own land, their own territory, in their own city that Muhammad belongs to his people and his people should step in and assume this responsibility. He said by Allah I can’t see myself entering into a contention (or) entering into a fall-out with these people of the Prophet that's the general reference to the Muhajirin, it's not in reference to the Mushrikin of Makkah. At that point this same person, Bashir ibn Sa'd, stood up meaning he walked up and he took the hand of Abi Bakr and he paid allegiance to him as the leader of the Muslims. So when the Aws saw what this person did their leader at this time, his name is Usaid ibn Qadhayr (radi Allahu anhu), too did the same thing. So right now we had the bai'ah begin with the Ansar giving up their virtues, their struggle and their sacrifices and saying in a selfless manner- there's no nafs here even with these internal feelings that could have become an asabiyah- they said we exclude ourselves from this and we want those who come from and belong to the Prophet i.e. the Muhajirin to assume this responsibility.

With that being said and done Abu Bakr felt that there was an element of fear among the Ansar. He spoke to them directly, he said you folks of Ansar- no one can deny your contribution to this deen. No one can take issue with your pioneering role in Islam. Allah has measured or Allah has chosen that you become the supporters of Allah and His Prophet, He has decreed that the Hijra be to you. It wasn't to any other place. There were people in At Ta’if-the Prophet went to At Ta’if (and) he was turned down. The Muslims went in their hijra to other places (and) they were turned down. You were the ones who accepted us. Abu Bakr is saying to Al Ansar most of the Prophet's companions and most of the Prophet's wives are from you Al Ansar. This is a significant statement because it tells us the proportionality between the Muhajirin and the Ansar. The Ansar were the major support bloc of Prophet (and) without them nothing much would have been achieved in as far as we know. Abu Bakr is saying to Al Habbab and to Sa'd ibn Al Mundhir and to Sa'd ibn Ubada and to Al Bashir ibn Sa'd who spoke on the day of the saqifah after the Muhajirin… How many were the Muhajirin? A hundred (or) two hundred- somewhere in between? After these Muhajirin there is no one that can match the role that Al Ansar were responsible for. No one can fill in for you. (It is something like saying), we are commanders and you are the ministers, which gives a sense of we're sharing this responsibility. Don't think just because I'm a Muhajir, I'm from Makkah (and) I'm close to the Prophet I'm something special; this is something that we are all responsible for. This is the last sentence here, Abu Bakr is saying there’s not going to be a decision done with your exclusion; you’re going to be involved in every decision that’s going to be made. That also puts an end to any notion if Al Ansar had any asabiyah.

Now, we want you brothers and sisters on this day of taqwa to take a little time out with yourself and to measure this whole issue if it were to happen in our time and day. If there was a country (and) Muslims living in one country went to another country of support and they were the first ones in the course of thirteen years to suffer the most extreme circumstances because of their commitment to Allah and His Prophet, as was the case with Al Muhajirin, and this other country supported them with all that they had and when the leader passes away- in our world today, because we want to bring the events of that time into the world today- is that receiving country (or) that welcoming country going to say to these people that we are going to step down from us assuming this position and we’re going to have you assume it? Now there are years to come, after that the whole issue changes but at that time we had a selfless society, Al Ansar, saying to these Muhajirin OK- you assume this responsibility. In our world today, would there be another people going from one country to the next and the second country telling them after the ultimate leader passes away OK- you assume this responsibility? A difference between the asabiyah today, as it exists, and the asabiyah at least in the first years after the Prophet passed away where it did not exist! It may have been notions, it may have been impressions, it may have been internal feelings and thoughts but it wasn't a force in society. Some of us, (still up until now), have difficulty figuring this thing out and we tell you as a brother to each one of you- we don't care what your background is- all of this that you heard was said out of selflessness not selfishness. It was said absent the nafs that is ammara (and) the nafs that is lawwama. Here you have it- they proved and maybe that's why up until today Al Ansar doesn't have a faction among the Muslims. Have you heard anyone in today's world advocating the position of Al Ansar? No. It's gone. It was there but it's gone. The Muslims that were listening to the same ayah that was repeated at the beginning of the khutbah

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ وَلَا تَمُوتُنَّ إِلَّا وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ

وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا ۚ وَاذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ كُنتُمْ أَعْدَاءً

Oh you who are securely committed to Allah guard against Allah as is due to Him in the full measurement of this guard and do not die except in a state of submission to Him. And hold firm to Allah's binding matter all of you and be not divided; and bare in mind Allah's provision, favour and privilege upon you when you were once enemies of each … (Surah Aal Imran verse 102-103)

See- all of these words are applicable to the psychology there and the psychology here; when they performed there and some of us fail perform here.

فَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِكُمْ فَأَصْبَحْتُم بِنِعْمَتِهِ إِخْوَانًا

… He reconciled your hearts together and due to Allah’s blessings and His provisions you have become brothers to each other…(Surah Aal Imran verse 103)

This is how they proved- this wasn't talk- that they were brothers of each other.

وَكُنتُمْ عَلَىٰ شَفَا حُفْرَةٍ مِّنَ النَّارِ فَأَنقَذَكُم مِّنْهَا ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ

… you were teethering on the brink of falling into the abyss of the fire, Allah has saved you from that destiny and from that consequences; it is in this manner that Allah presents you with His authority and power presence so that you may be guided. (Surah Aal Imran verse 103)

Dear committed Muslims, brothers and sisters…

Compare the quality and the superb obedience of Allah and His Prophet we just spoke about, (and we will continue to dwell on this so that we can learn from our own selves. When we are speaking about these people we are speaking about our own selves. Anyone who doesn't consider these events as part of their history has broken away from his own civilization, his own history and his own Islamic past), with today- we have Muslims coming along and because they disagree on matters like this they say the other person is a Kafir. We throw the accusation of kufr on our own selves in today's world, (we don't have to go through a news reel right here (or) the broadcasting of the news that you've listened to in the past days and months for you to know exactly who we’re talking about). (It’s a) fact of life. Is there asabiyah here? Can someone detect asabiyah here? Some of these holier than thous in the Arabian Peninsula come to other Muslims who are following another school of thought and they say to them “you are worshipping those who are the originators of these schools of thought.” Imagine these words! That's what they say. If you’re going to a grave site they equate that with shirk and you recognise the scholarship of Imams and Fuqaha’ and they equate that with shirk. We have a problem here. Talk about asabiyah in its fanatical expression. We said (or) we mentioned some of their prejudice and blind self centeredness in the previous khutbah when we spoke about them and how they treat certain graves. They come now and their first line scholars are saying “the Prophet's grave should be eliminated, meaning there shouldn't be a type of dharih (or) a type of mausoleum over the grave. It should be leveled with the earth.” They say this and they quote a hadith from the Prophet in which the Prophet is speaking- you see, this is our problem with these types, they don't contextualise the hadiths of the Prophet- timthaalan here means people who have icons or they have idols; he says these idols should be leveled. Muslims don't have idols. “So there are other graves that have become synonymous with idols- they should be leveled. The material aspect (or) the physical aspect of a grave that has taken on the image of an idol should be level.” OK- but when we bury ourselves we don't bury it in a grave that has become an idol but that's how these types think. And because they think this way they figured right now that they are the smartest. They are inferring that they are the smartest people and (from) all the other Muslims from the time of the Prophet up to us today no one figured out that the Prophet's grave is an idol- they figured it out so right now they have students who are writing doctoral dissertations that are saying “the Prophet's grave has to be leveled.” The Prophet's body will remain under the ground but everything over is nothing. It’s just like the floor that you walk on. Nothing is there. Now all of these Muslims from the Prophet's time until now didn't discover this breakthrough that they have come up with?! But this is the type of people- one of their preachers there in Al Hejaz stands up and says “every Muslim man who doesn't force the niqab on his womanhood, his wife, his daughters, his mothers and sisters etc. is a dayyuth is a pimp.” Where did this come from? Niqab? He didn't say hijab, he said niqab meaning “they should only show their eyes that's all and if any Muslim man doesn't have his women in his family cover up all of their bodies only to show their eyes that Muslim man is a pimp.” This is the type of asabiyah that has grown into its political proportions to kill and justify and legalise the killing of other Muslims. Just in the news today the same kingdom of evil says “on the borders, there were one hundred and sixty thousand people trying to illegally enter Saudi Arabia or to sneak in.” The land of Allah and His Prophet now has become some peoples personal territories so Muslims (or) other people who want to go to Makkah and Al Madinah need to pass through the Saudi official processing centers, (i.e.) immigration, customs, whatever and so they tell us “a hundred and sixty thousand, many of them women, in the past six months try to make their way into the Al Hejaz or into Arabia.” So right now the Saudi royals figured they need women to be at their borders to check through those who are trying to come into their kingdom but now they are presented with a problem- how are you going to have a woman stationed at a customs and immigrations office somewhere around their kingdom and she doesn't have her mahram with her?! They say that can't be. So any woman who is going to be employed in that position needs a mahram with her, meaning either her husband or her brother or her father to be there at work where she is working. So they went from that and figured out “well then we’re going to have to employ husband and wife. That is the only way we are going to be able to run these stations around the country- to basically have husbands and wives involved in the immigrations and customs issues.” The affair here is not this particular incident or legislation (or) what they’re going to right into law- it's the mentality. Once the Muslimah wears her hijab that's it, wherever she is. You can't say “she can't do this or she can't drive a car or she can't have a job unless there's a mahram with her” but this is the frame of mind that is destroying us from within that has taken al asabiyah to a new level (and) to the killing fields that we are suffering from.

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