Ali's virtues without asabiyah

Developing Just Leadership

Muhammad H. al-'Asi

Dhu al-Qa'dah 07, 1434 2013-09-13

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

Allah says

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا

Oh you who are firmly committed to Allah avoid Allah’s corrective power and say or express yourself with facts, with the truth, accurately and to the point. (Surah Al Ahzaab verse 70)

It is very difficult- when you give it some thought; think about it (and) pay more attention when people speak- it has become somehow difficult for spokespersons, even those who have plenty of information, to speak in a manner as this ayah is saying

وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا

… to express the truth in a factual manner. (Surah Al Ahzaab verse 70)

Someone can say the truth but they will say it with a hidden agenda. Some people can say the truth but they will say it to serve certain interests. Some people will say the truth to deploy a statement of truth in a policy of falsehood. Some people will say the truth to score against others. None of these methods are

وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا

.. you factually express the truth. (Surah Al Ahzaab verse 70)

It is a very difficult thing to do (and) it’s been that way and it’s going to continue to be that way simply because of our human nature and that is why Allah is reminding us (and) conscientizing us so that we are aware of ourselves when we express ourselves. Don’t think this khutbah is unrelated to the previous khutbahs because now the issue of sectarianism (or) the issue of dividing people- and you can extend that to other issues of divisiveness, (viz.) racism, classism, genderism, (and) all these other isms- when people speak or express themselves trying to remind us or inform us of some facts they do so out side of the instructions of this ayah. When they express themselves it’s not a qaulan sadeeda. So how would this relate to the issue of playing up sectarianism, like is the case in today’s world? There are people in power (and) there are people who have finances and influences now who use some facts to fit into their larger program. We want to, in this khutbah and probably in the khutbah to come, demonstrate to you some of the facts that all Muslims share but we don’t know how to express them and when we don’t know how to express them the way Allah is telling us

وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا

… to express the truth in a factual manner. (Surah Al Ahzaab verse 70)

we open up a gap and through that gap rush the trouble makers and the warmongers.

All Muslims agree to the status and the exceptional character of Al Imam Ali (radi Allahu anhu wa alayhi as salaam). You’d think if that’s the case then why are Muslims suffering from a Sunni-Shi’i sectarianism?! Its simple- it’s because we don’t express ourselves to each other in a way that meets the standard and the quality of this ayah. We’re going to cover this common Muslim knowledge that all Muslims share and we’re going to try to express it in a manner that meets the meaning of the ayah

اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا

… be aware of Allah’s corrective power presence and express yourself as you are expressing facts and the truth. (Surah Al Ahzaab verse 70)

When you express the facts and the truth there’s no room for asabiyah (and) there’s no room for tension. If you go to an academic setting and you watch an informed individual, an instructor, a teacher, a professor (or) an informed individual presenting his class work to his or her students the way they express themselves is that they’re expressing themselves like everyone would (i.e.) these are some facts or these are an approximation of facts meaning if we are speaking about physical sciences as opposed to social sciences no one is there trying to make a raucous out of the presentation. No one is tense; no one is trying to make believe that there are opposing sides in all of this. It’s just a matter of presenting the facts- that’s all it is; just like when you’re in a classroom. Why can’t we have a classroom behaviour and mentality when we speak to each other- whether this is a intra-Islamic affair, meaning a religious issue, (so to speak), that is peculiar only to Muslims or whether it is an intra-religious affair, meaning if Muslims are speaking to Christians or Christians are speaking to Muslims or Jews are speaking to both of these religious persuasions and vice versa? Why can’t we just be like we’re in a classroom (where) someone has some information and they want to communicate this information to the other? No one gets upset about this; no one presents a temper or an attitude when they are expressing facts. They express them because it is their human conscientious responsibility to do so. Simple! So here we are we come back to an intra-Islamic affair that is generating the sectarianism that now has the capability or the potential of drawing in the rest of the world. You heard- this could potentially lead to world war three. The loud mouth pieces out there (and) the propagandistic spokespersons out there are all trying to have us under the impression that we could all in this world wind up in a consuming war and now when we are speaking about war it’s a war that can incinerate a good part of humanity. So we come back to the internal Islamic issue. All Muslims- Sunnis and Shi’is- know, (if they are reading their history books, that Muawiyah or before we get to Muawiyah), that Al Imam Al Hassan (radi Allahu anhu) was agreed upon by all Muslims that he is going to be the leader of the Muslims after his father Ali ibn Abi Talib passed away- that’s common history there. No one disagrees with that, except we have a problem. When some Muslims present this issue, they do it with an attitude. That’s not

اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا

… be aware of Allah’s corrective power presence and express yourself as you are expressing facts and the truth. (Surah Al Ahzaab verse 70)

We go on from this fact to the following one and that is that all Muslims, if they are aware of their history, know that Muawiyah was the one who was responsible for poisoning Hassan. OK- so why should anyone get upset if someone is stating a historical fact that is in the majority of the books of the Sunnis and in the majority of the books of the Shi’is if everyone agrees to that? Why should anyone get upset when someone is just stating a fact? Because of the influence (and) because of the power position that Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan was in (and) because of his fear of the agreement that he had with Hassan- because they agreed when Muawiyah passes away Hassan becomes the leader of the Muslims- so he wanted to get rid of his political nemesis. Muawiyah wanted to get rid of his political opposite so he managed to have him poisoned. Now, if someone says something like that, why does everyone get upset? What is there to get upset about? It’s a fact! Then for other individuals- when you say something like this, why do you say it with an attitude? Why do you say it with a gap between you and the audience you are informing? That is not meeting the quality of

اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا

… be aware of Allah’s corrective power presence and express yourself as you are expressing facts and the truth. (Surah Al Ahzaab verse 70)

Now, another issue is, (you can look it up for yourself. If you’re not comfortable with this- look it up), ibn Taymiyah has a voluminous work called Al Fatawa- many volumes. In the fourth volume when he wanted to speak about this issue (that) Muawiyah was the one who was responsible for poisoning Hassan, (remember ibn Taymiyah is a big person in some Islamic quarters)- he doesn’t deny that that happened but what he says is something like this, “this should be dismissed as being one of these issues in which Muslims, all of them together, are involved in a type of fratricide.” (It’s) his words and he tries to take that from the ayah in the Qur’an

وَإِن طَائِفَتَانِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ اقْتَتَلُوا فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا ۖ فَإِن بَغَتْ إِحْدَاهُمَا عَلَى الْأُخْرَىٰ فَقَاتِلُوا الَّتِي تَبْغِي حَتَّىٰ تَفِيءَ إِلَىٰ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ

If there are two camps of committed Muslims waging war against each other, then the first decision that has to be made by the rest of the Muslims is to reconcile them but if one of these camps harbours the policies of aggression and acts out this aggression in warfare then it’s the responsibility of all the Muslims to channel our energy against the aggressor from Al Mu’minin… (Surah Al Hujurat verse 9)

So this internal fighting is one of these things that happens- it shouldn’t, we’d like it not to happen but it’s one of these things that happen and so we sweep this issue under that carpet. The deliberate planned assassination by Muawiyah of Hassan we sweep under this carpet?! Why should anyone be, (you know), so disturbed by this?! Then he also tries to put it under a fiqhi rule that is attributed by some to a hadith of the Prophet that says if a mujtahid as a consequence of his ijtihad is right he’s rewarded twice (and) if a mujtahid as a consequences of his ijtihad is wrong he’s rewarded once. So according to this ibn Taymiyah way of thinking, Muawiyah is supposed to have exerted an ijtihad- he was wrong so he has one reward for it. Brothers and sisters here we come back to our normal selves- ask yourself is this the way to judge or to evaluate issues? Take these books- they’re there. Al Fatawa (by) ibn Taymiyah- masha’Allah, right now there’s a kingdom of finances that spread these books all around the globe. We’re sure you can go to many of these Masajid around here (or) even some of these prestigious libraries or book stores and find these. Read for yourself. Don’t get upset, don’t be reactionary- be like a person who’s looking for the facts! Obtain these facts and then from there on deal with them with the responsibility of a person who now knows the truth.

We have to say it once again- this is in all these history books. We’re not selectively cherry picking information from here and there; this is in all these Islamic history books. When Muawiyah was incriminated in killing Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr (radi Allahu anhu) or Muhammad the son of Abi Bakr in the ugly way that he was killed and he was stashed into the intestines of a donkey (and) when Aa’isha (radi Allahu anha) the sister of Muhammad, both of them being the siblings of Abi Bakr (radi Allahu anhu), heard about this she went to Muawiyah and she spoke to him and she said harsh things to him. One issue here is (that) not many people are aware of this and that should not be. This is our history (and) these are issues that we have to assume knowledge of! The unfortunate thing in addition to this is that the people who know this type of history begin to present it in a way that is not factual (and) it’s not objective. You sense there is an asabiyah in it and that should not be.

If you read these history books across the divide in both directions you will find that the stature of Ali is acknowledged by everyone. When we use Islamic words it’s enough to say that when someone is referring “to the Imam” in the average Muslim’s mind, if we’re speaking of that historical period, the mind locks in on Ali ibn Abi Talib. He’s the Imam. When someone says “the Imam” no one thinks of Abu Bakr, no one thinks of Umar (radi Allahu anhu) and no one thinks of Uthman (radi Allahu anhu) even though in the linguistic sense of the word they were Imams, they were leaders; but in the Shar’i sense of the word when it is said “Al Imam” immediately the mind goes to Ali the son in law of the Prophet, the cousin of the Prophet, the one who gave progeny to the Prophet, etc. Words and statements such as Ali is with the truth and the truth is with Ali. In our salah we say Allahumma salli ala Muhammad wa ala Aali Muhammad… (It’s) a fact but what do we do with some Muslim minds that are just closed? Having a Muslim mind closed is one thing but locking a Muslim mind is something else. Some Muslims are guilty of locking the Muslim mind! The statement that is well known among all Muslims whoever’s Mawla I am, then Ali is his Mawla. O Allah, be the Supported of those who support Ali and be the tormentor of those who torment him. That is a statement that all Muslims agree to. So what’s the problem if someone is quoting a fact? Where does this problem arise?

A Lebanese Christian by the name of George Gerdar wrote five volumes about the justice of Ali. This person wasn’t a Muslim but he thought- that’s all it takes. Just open your mind and think. The shame is ours, we the Muslims, who are incapable of opening our minds and thinking! That’s all. We’re not supposed to go into these Masajid and close our minds or go into these Masajid and lock our intellect. Where did this come from? How does this continue for fourteen hundred years with all of this information that circulates around? Hey- can we take a look at this with open minds? Forget about attitudes and reactionaries and muta’assibeen and the rest of all of these people. Forget about them, take yourself- you’re responsible for yourself.

Then there are ahadith from the Prophet. The occasion here does not permit to quote these many hadith pertaining to the status, the virtue, the unique character of Ali (alayhi as salaam). This is another issue. If some Sunnis were reading their own Sunni reference books they will find in them Ali (alayhi as salaam). So what happened? Right now in today’s world with this fuelled atmosphere of sectarianism, if a Muslim were to say Ali (alayhi as salaam) that mind out there that is not supposed to think but is supposed to be alerted to words (has a problem). You can not say Ali (alayhi as salaam). What’s wrong? You can’t say Ali (alayhi as salaam)- someone has a problem with that. We say salaams to each other, As Salaamu Alaykum; we can’t say it to an Imam? We can’t say it to a person in the quality and in the character of Ali? Something’s wrong. As we said, there are many ahadith, one of them says only a person who adores you is a committed Muslim and it is only he who is averse to you who is a Munafiq. That pretty much summaries his history and the people he had to deal with. This is a character that stands out. Ali is a character that stands out. We don’t say this with any sectarian impulse, we don’t say this because we’re trying to score points here, “oh how are we going to take it against them? Oh no, these people were wrong for over a thousand four hundred years and we want them to know that they are wrong for a thousand four hundred years.” No brothers and sisters- this is not the way we speak to each other. It’s not the way it is done. This is not

اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا

… be aware of Allah’s corrective power presence and express yourself as you are expressing facts and the truth. (Surah Al Ahzaab verse 70)

Next time when you hear these type of fiery individuals speaking from their guts instead of from their intellect and trying to give the image that they are sectarian superiors because this is the way its processed on the other side of this divide when you present the same information that we’re trying to present to you with the asabiyah pulse it doesn’t go anywhere! It doesn’t move.

Ali, in his unique character, on a couple of occasions one of them was in a duel with a person called Al Arqam ibn Abi Al Arqam the person showed his private part when he knew that the sword was going to come down on him and finish him off while he was duelling with Ali. Ali turned away from him and spared him the death blow. Now, you tell us, is this a normal individual? In the heat of the fight when we are charged and when that person is a couple of inches from killing you and here you are in a legitimate battle you have the right in warfare to finish him off but the person shows his private part when he fell on the ground and Ali turns away from him and he lives. This didn’t happen once, it happened twice. Once with this person and another time with Amr ibn Al Aas in Siffin. Now you tell us- this is like some other average person?

He was brought up in the house of the Prophet. Let us sneak to you, in a calm way, another factoid that is not mentioned very much in Islamic history. Fatima bint Asad, that is Ali’s mother, was the second person to become a Muslimah. As we said, these are in Sunni and Shi’i books but we’re not supposed to speak about them and those who do speak about them have to speak about them with an asabiyah. You take a look at today’s TV satellite stations- you have Sunni satellite TV stations meaning that these satellite TV stations are located in countries that are traditionally known as Sunnis. They’re all over the place. No one took them off the air. Has anyone heard of any of these satellite TV stations that come from the Sunni geography of the world that were unplugged from these satellites? It didn’t happen. But there are some satellite TV stations that have been unplugged from the air. We think you know what we’re talking about but there are satellite TV stations that come from the Shi’i mentality in this world in its traditional sense (i.e.) the one with the asabiyah in it (and) they’re all over. No one unplugged them?! You can listen to them. Tune in (and) listen to what is permitted to be said but more importantly listen to how it is being said. Ali ibn Abi Talib was the first one to pray with the Prophet. In all of the military encounters that the Prophet had with the Mushrikin Ali never took a step backward. He never fled the battle and he never fled the frontlines of the battle. This cannot be said concerning the rest of those who were around the Prophet at that time. Ali is not referred to as a Sahabi. This is a curious observation. When you read the Islamic books of history on this side or on that side he’s never referred to as a Sahabi. Think about that. As we said we’re not here to score points, we’re not here to present historical information with a type of asabiyah- no. Facts speak for themselves. Al asabiyah many times is a filler because the person who’s presenting the facts feels that the facts don’t speak for themselves so he wants to substitute that gap with his asabiyah. A problem we have. Umar said may Allah bless a person who presents me with my own deficiencies. This is our own deficiency. In all of the battles of the Muslims attended by Ali, at one time or the other during each one of these battles, Ali hoisted the Islamic banner (or) he lifted the Islamic banner. Compare that with his political enemy Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan. We all know that there are many books that are written or articles of discourses that are written about the virtue about Ali. Can anyone present us with a booklet about the virtues of Muawiyah- come forth. Those of you who are influenced by financial Islam, by sponsored Islam, by the Islam of gold and currencies bring us some type of booklet that speaks to us about the virtues of Muawiyah. It doesn’t exist! In that time during the last years of Ali when the tension (and) the military polarisation had reached the climax some of Ali’s detractors said we have to look for something wrong about this man. It’s very hard to find something wrong about Ali- very hard. They couldn’t. The fact of life was there’s nothing wrong in him so what did they do? They went to Muawiyah. Muawiyah is his political adversary and he is the person who has the power and the money just like people today who have the power and the money (and) they can pick on certain individuals who have information. “Hey you Mr. so and so- you have information, you’re a scholar begin to write some things.” You find things that are written, as scarce as they are, against Ali that were done under the political sponsorship supervision of king Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan. So we said there were two occasions in which two individuals were saved from the deathblow when they fought against Ali in what is called al mubaraza. Al mubaraza was a type of prelude from both armies going at it or both military camps going at it simultaneously en mass. There was a prelude to that called al mubaraza in which one person from this camp and the other person from the other camp stepped into the middle between these two armies and begin to fight against themselves just with their swords and with whatever instruments they had with them. So two of these individuals, Sa’d ibn Talha and Amr ibn Al Aas, because of the high moral character of Ali were not killed when the laws of war said they should be killed.

When Abu Sufyan realised the tide was turning against the Mushriks and the liberation of Makkah was imminent, first of all he went to Abu Bakr and he said to Abi Bakr try to speak to Muhammad so that he will treat us with mercy and amnesty once Makkah is liberated. Abu Bakr told him I’m not going to do it. Then Abu Sufyan goes and he speaks to Umar (saying the) same thing (and) pleading you know me. I know you our days go way back. Speak to Muhammad to show kindness and compassion when Makkah is liberated. Umar in his way said something like are you kidding me? Are you serious? You want me to intercede for you with the Prophet? Forget it. Go away. Abu Sufyan finally goes to Ali and he says to him the same thing. This is about to happen (and) we Mushriks are going to lose control of Makkah. Ali told him something to the effect stay away from trouble do not take on combatant role and everything will be alright and Abu Sufyan left. Abu Sufyan (is) not here (or) there some Joe Shmo- Abu Sufyan himself said in my requests (or) when I went and requested all of these individuals, the way they responded to me the most compassionate from among all those I approached Ali was the one who expressed more kindness and more compassion when he was replying to me. As we said, this information is pooled from all of these history books- Sunni history books and Shi’i history books- why can’t we, the Muslims, just stimulate our minds? Forget about these emotional things that lurk in the background, sideline them- why can’t we stir our minds to acknowledge these facts like we acknowledge scientific facts?

There is a person by the name of Amr ibn Abd Wud. This was a person who was like, (of course we’re going to use borrowed words because we’re dealing with languages and cultures), in the cultures of the west, the Greeko-Roman context, he was like Hercules. Amr ibn Abd Wud in the Arabian culture was like Hercules in the Greek or Roman cultures. This is a strong man, a big man, a warrior, a knight. So he comes and he challenges in one of the wars (or) in one of the battles the Muslims to this mubaraza. Remember we said there’s a prelude (and) there is this one on one fight that takes place between a person belonging to the Islamic camp and a person belonging to the Mushrik camp. So here is Amr ibn Abdi Wud- this Arabian Hercules- stands and says who wants to come and fight me? They hear this. Everyone knows this guy. We mean this is not an easy guy to fight against. It’s not going to be easy. So Ali volunteers, he said I will. He is permitted and he goes, (to make a long story short). Then Amr ibn Abdi Wud sees Ali and he says aren’t you the son of Abu Talib. He says yes. He says look- I knew your father very well. I really don’t want to do this. He thinks he is going to win. Ali was not a type of Hercules figure. He was compact. He wasn’t that tall person, he wasn’t short neither- we’re not speaking about shorty here but he wasn’t that figure that will give you the impression even though he was courageous (and) even though he had a military record to his chivalry and the rest. So Amr tells him I really don’t want to do this meaning I don’t really want to kill you boy. Just leave. Let someone else come. Ali said to him something like let’s do it. So they began. They took their swords and they began fighting. Remember, this is one of the issues that later on after the Prophet passes away will come back to haunt Ali because he made so many enemies. Many of these Mushriks have families and tribes and extensions here and there (and) they had some type of emotion. Even though many of them became Muslims but deep down in that emotional side of man there’s a grudge (and) there’s that revenge factor. So when Ali struck him with his sword, the sword penetrated the head and stuck to the tooth and even some historical reporters said the people who were around heard the tooth crack.

On the occasion of Khaybar there’s also this other Jewish Yahudi warrior called Marhab and they stood there against the Muslims and said how dare you come into our fortified Khaybar? The Muslims attempted the first time, the second, the fourth- nothing could be done. It was very fortified. The Prophet said tomorrow I’m going to give this banner to a person who is loved by Allah and His Prophet and who loves Allah and His Prophet. In the interim, (i.e.) between today and tomorrow many of these individuals around the Prophet were saying amongst themselves is he going to give it to me? I want to have it because the Prophet said because when he takes it there’s going to be a breakthrough and Khaybar is going to collapse eventually. So everyone was entertaining the hope and the notion that they are going to be receiving the banner in the following day. Who received the banner the following day? Ali.

Umar ibn Abd Al Aziz (radi Allahu anhu), one of the rulers of Bani Umayah- probably the best ruler in all of Bani Umayah (or) by no doubt the best ruler in all of Bani Umayah said the person who is least interested in the world and in its attractions and its materialism is Ali. Now, if you were to just present these issues to anyone, because this is common Islamic knowledge, why would any Muslim get upset? Why would any Muslim refuse these facts? The problem is those who do speak about these issues speak about it in a way that doesn’t communicate and that is why we remind them of Allah’s words

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا

Oh you who are firmly committed to Allah avoid Allah’s corrective power and say or express yourself with facts, with the truth, accurately and to the point. (Surah Al Ahzaab verse 70)

Dear brothers, dear sisters on our way to Allah…

Remember, in our salah in Surah Al Fatiha we say

اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ

Guide us to the straight path. (Surah Al Fatihah verse 6)

These words give us the impression that we are in movement. When you’re speaking about a path you’re speaking about movement forward (or) going ahead- so we’re not static. We were not meant to be irrelevant or passive, we are involved. So in this conceptionalisation of things with these issues going on take today. Just this day- by the way, today at sunset the Jews observe Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. Those who are religious will be fasting from sunset tonight until sunset tomorrow night- twenty four hours and it is supposed to be a time in which they reflect on what they did and open their hearts for forgiveness. We don’t know how that squares with their Zionist political ideology that today has barred Muslims from going to Al Masjid Al Aqsa. We pray to Allah that we are able to see these Shayateen who are dividing the human family. Listen brothers and sisters, listen- they get this human family involved in “Oh you Muslim- how can you in your right mind find something in common with a Christian? Look at all of this theological difference that you have? You, the Christian, and you, the Muslim.” They come to both sides and they say “the only thing we see common between you is animosity and shedding each other’s blood- that’s what you have in common.” They do this with the Jews and they do this with the Hindus and they do this with the Buddists and they do this with anyone and everyone. “Look! Look at the theological differences that you have.” So they want us to chill and freeze our relationships with each other because we have different concepts pertaining to divinity. Have you realised that all of this no one- Muslim, Christian or Jew Buddhist, Hindu or whatever- is concentrating who Ash Shaytaan is?! Can we for a moment take a break, put our theological differences aside and identify Ash Shaytaan? Let us look and see who Ash Shaytaan is. But they’re afraid if something like that was to happen then we’re all going to come together and we’re going to defeat that Shaytaan. They don’t want that to happen. So no one speaks about Ash Shaytaan- the military Shaytaan, the religious Shaytaan in this world, the Shaytaan that comes in a Muslim garment, the Shaytaan that cloaks theological dresses. No you can’t look at that Shaytaan because as we said if we begin to get to the bottom of this and identify who this Shaytaan is we will realise how trivial and how foolish we were distancing ourselves from each other because we entertain different theological concepts. You know when that happens (and) when we fight against each other because some of us are Muslims of one type and others are Muslims of another type (or) some of us are Muslims on this side and others are Christians on that side (or) some of us are Muslims here and some of us are Jewish there we begin to fight because of all of this and then none of us- no Muslim, no Christian, no Jew- is going to be able to have justice on earth. To them that is mission accomplished! No justice on earth to them is mission accomplished, to us it is a failure to our scripture, our Prophets and our understanding of Allah.

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