Asabiyyah - the disuniting solidarity Part 2

Developing Just Leadership

Muhammad H. al-'Asi

Safar 23, 1432 2011-01-28

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,

We shall continue with the misunderstanding that has set in throughout many of these generations and still exist today. That misunderstanding is called Al Asabiyah. We should know that when Allah’s Prophet passed away this Asabiyah made a ferocious, some may say a vicious, comeback. Virtually the populations outside of Al Madinah were in an Asabiyah mode. Many times this phenomenon is just referred to as hurub ar ridda. Not much is said about the danger this presented to the Islamic society/State in Al Madinah. We know from the common history that we have that when Allah’s Prophet passed away there was some opinions about who/how an individual is going to carry his responsibilities forward as the Prophet was physically absent from them. He was no longer with his body-and-instructions among them. We’ve covered this territory previously, but here, in reference to this Asabiyah that we are speaking about, (in today’s language), it would be like saying that Al Madinah was placed under emergency laws/martial law. This piece of information that is absent from the Muslim public mind in extremely important to understand because the answer to why was Al Madinah on lock-down militarily, (so to speak), is because this Asabiyah had presented itself in many different areas in the Arabian Peninsular, to the North/East/South of Al Madinah, Al Hejaz, Najd, Al Yemen Bahrain. All over these Arabians made it very clear/said we are no longer going to pay what is due upon us to the Islamic treasury in Al Madinah. These were people who were saying Ash hadu an laa ilaha illa Allah wa ash hadu anna Muhammadan Rasulullah. They were not denouncing their Islam. They were doing one simple thing that demonstrated their Asabiyah i.e. why should we be paying this money to these people in Al Madinah. There was a serious argument between the first two successors to Allah’s Prophet. One of them said how are we going to fight and kill people who say/pronounce/affirm ash shahadh/Allah’s Oneness? How do you go to war with people like this and the Prophet of Allah says whoever says laa ilaha illa Allah has protected his life/possessions from me meaning the military power of the Muslims. Then the first successor to the Prophet says by Allah is these people out there were going to withhold from me one headdress that they would give to Allah’s Prophet I would go to war against them - remember, these are a lot of people out there. We’re not speaking about a couple of tribes here-and-there. We’re speaking about a good number of these Arabians scattered all around the place. The Asabiyah was so strong that- depending on the historians that you read, either after some weeks /months Al Imam Ali (radi Allahu anahu) refused to the bay’ah of the first Khalifah of Rasulillah. He did! The question that many people skirt/no one wants to face the issue head on is why did he do that. The simple/one word answer to that is Asabiyah. Ali and a good many individuals from Bani Hashim who had with-held their agreeing to this new administration after Allah’s Prophet went and agreed to it. It wasn’t that someone is playing a trick/game/outsmarting someone else. They were looking at the facts of life. The facts of life was that the power/depth/feelings of Asabiyah in all of these people’s around that something had to be done about this. So when that was done Abu Bakr (radi Allahu anhu) commissioned eleven battalions and he placed over every battalion a Commander to go out into the Arabian Peninsular where this Asabiyah began and to put an end to it by military force if need be. And that’s what happened. In the months and years after Allah’s Prophet passed on the Muslims- remember, the majority of these people that we are speaking about are Arabic speaking people. We didn’t have the phenomenal growth of Islam outside the Arabian Peninsular- which was going to happen later on in the coming thirty/forty years. We’re still dealing with the affair inside the Arabian Peninsular. Muslims who were Arabic speakers against other Muslims who were Arabic speakers- some of them without Asabiyah some of them were fiercely with Asabiyah. The way history developed, we know these people who have this Asabiyah were defeated; at least they were defeated in not being able to express this Asabiyah politically/militarily/economically. They may have had it recede into themselves psychologically/socially, (that could have been the case), but as far as this Asabiyah having an economic face/military expression/political clout- it did not. Until we have the Asabiyah making a comeback during the Umawi Monarchy. This is when the political expression of Asabiyah made a comeback. Then we look at the Islamic map- it begins to expand beyond the Arabian Peninsular. Now the Muslims had become/grown into other areas in which we call today North Africa or Persian or Turkish territories. When this happened we notice that there were other people who were not Muslims- most of them were Christians- who took the side of the Muslims against their superpower bosses. In this case we’re talking about North Africa/the Holy Land/geographical Syria/Iraq. If we are speaking about these areas, we’re speaking about a concentrated presence of Byzantium/Byzantine Romans who were ruling in these areas. But something peculiar happened. The peoples on these areas sided with the Muslims. (With) all the problems that we, Muslims, are having internally among ourselves these people sided with us to get rid of, (what we call today), Colonialism. This word didn’t exist at that time but the occupying Byzantine power was acting like a Colonialist/Empires/Imperialists act. So it is attention worthy to note that these people who were Christian by faith opposed an empire that said “it was a Christian Empire” and took the side of the Muslims to such a degree that when the Muslims came, (this was during the administration of the second Khalifah of Rasulillah), the Christian people who lived in Jerusalem/Al Quds said ok- we will recognise Islamic rule but we have some conditions that we want to present to the Islamic leadership and those conditions are that we want the Muslims to evacuate all the thieves/crooks from Jerusalem and to rid us of the Byzantines. Remember- these are Christians and they’re asking the Muslims to get rid of the European Byzantines who say that they are Christians and also to have Jerusalem evacuated from Yahud. They didn’t have any problems with what Islam stood for and they were not interfering in the internal affairs of the Muslims. They were not interfering in our internal affairs- the difficulty that we were experiencing in Al Madinah/Al Hejaz/Makkah among ourselves. They told us, (with the differences of opinions that we have), these are the three conditions: we want Jerusalem to be free of: outlaws/criminals, the external power that is occupying us i.e. Byzantium and Yahud. This speaks volumes about the character of the Muslims. If the Muslims were coming to Jerusalem/Al Quds with an Asabiyah of some sort then obviously people will tell you “we don’t want these types of people. Just go away. We don’t want you. You become another problem. We have these problems (and) we mentioned them to you- we don’t want a fourth problem.” But that wasn’t the case. They reconciled themselves with the Muslims and had no difficulty with that but once the Muslims began to express their Asabiyah, and this was don’t during the rule of the Umawis, in that part of the world then we had, (if we wanted to put it in today’s language), an Arab/Arabian Nationalism become a Government structure. This is in reference to the Umawi Dynasty, then we began to have a counter Asabiyah. The Arabians refer to this counter Asabiyah as Shu’ubiyyah which roughly translates into peoplism- the ism belonging to other peoples. Much of this was expressed at that time in what was called the Persian context. So we had, because of the difficulties/internal differences that were inside the Arabian Peninsular among the Muslims, those internal differences moved a distance away Eastward from Arabia and we had some people who understood Islam and wanted to make/ draw a line between Islam and those people who are speaking with a tongue of Asabiyah/Arabian Nationalism. To be fair to people there were others who covered with them the bag of ancient history- the Persians and the Arabians; the Persians and the Lakhmees who were in Iraq; the Persians and Iraq itself; the Persians and Bahrain; the Persians and the Eastern part of Arabia- all of this had a history to it. So here we encounter another Asabiyah. It’s not the Arabians who have a monopoly on Asabiyah. We had some Persians who were also tainted with the same Asabiyah and so they began to express themselves in a language/literature that made fun of all Arabians/Arabs. They didn’t discriminate between the good one and the bad one. Here we had them make fun of everything that belonged to them. In their literature there may have been words said about a camel just because the camel is considered a desert/Arabian animal. The same thing can be said about the palm tree/persons who used to give speech. If they used to use a stick in their hand when they used to give a speech that also became a matter of poking fun at these khutaba’ From here they made fun of the Arabs who used to rely, (in their speeches), on their memory. They didn’t rely/read from a piece of paper. They were people of memory but that was also made fun of. The gist of it here is (that) one Asabiyah began to feed another Asabiyah. In the middle of all of this there was no objectivity. Those who came from the Arabian Peninsula could not see that those who were becoming Muslims in territories East of them were dealing with two types of expression of Islam- one of them was an Islam of justice and equality and the other one was an Islam of Asabiyah and Nationalism and where do you lump this all together? The same thing can be said against the other side. The fact of the matter is that Asabiyah remained very strong in this territory. All of us are familiar with Abdullah ibn Abbas (radi Allahu anhu). The name occurs very frequently in the literature- Abdullah ibn Abbas said that the Prophet of Allah said... Abdullah ibn Abbas spent most of his life except for the last, (we don’t know- year or two or whatever they were), on the side of Ali against the beginning expression of this Asabiyah at that time. Here we had a person by the name of Ibrahim ibn Muhammad ibn Ali- the great grandson of Abdullah ibn Abbas- this is what he said… This is at the time when the Umawi state was going down and at the beginning of what was to become the Abbasi state or the Umawi Dynasty versus the Abbasi Dynasty. He said to one of the commanders in Khurasan, (we all know that Khurasan is a geographical area of Persia), and we quote. The great grandson of Abdullah ibn Abbas through all of these years of Asabiyah and counter Asabiyah says to one of the military leaders in Khurasan if you encounter anyone in Khurasan who speaks Arabic and the only thing you can do is kill him- then do it. Why do we quote a person/citation like this? It is quoted because it indicates to us how far this Asabiyah can go. On the other side- how did the Umawi Asabiyah express itself? There was some Mawaali in the Umawi Dynastic state. These are non-Arabs, ( Muslims of course), but they didn’t come from an Arab origin. Their names were deleted from receiving any assistance from the state. When there was a war. The Umawi state was at war, (remember- we have to remind you because sometimes your memory needs to be tuned up), with opponents who were Muslim who were from the Arabian Peninsula who were the most Arab of Arabs. This Umawi Dynasty that was raising the flag of Nationalism was at war with these superb Arab quality people inside its own territorial jurisdiction. So when it used to go to war it used to tell this Mawaali you cannot mount a horse. You can’t fight on a horse. If you are going to fight you go walking. Another thing the Umawi state did in as far as this Asabiyah is concerned is they collected jizyah from Mawaali who are Muslims. This is in contradiction to Islam and justice. They didn’t care about justice/Islam when the element of Asabiyah was there. These Umawis gave permission for the nobles of Hejaz to buy the fertile territories of the Muslims and non- Muslims in Iraq. This was in violation/contradiction to the policy of the second Khalifah of Rasulillah who said this is, (which roughly is translated as), revenue territory and so no one could come and say I am going to be the owner of this but when Al Asabiyah kicked in during the Umawi Dynasty then we had the super rich in Arabia coming to buy what was supposed to be revenue lands. This Asabiyah got very nasty during the time of one of the Governors in Iraq. His name was Al Hajjaj ibn Yusuf Al Thaqafi- a blood-thirsty/bloody Governor in Iraq who would take these people who are called Mawaali and he would take a piece of iron that had a certain configuration to it and brand the Mawaali on their behind with this iron. Now brothers and sisters- we’re speaking about Muslims here. Of course, a Muslim can be as ruthless as this type of Governor was and a Muslim can be victimised like these Mawaali were victimised. In salaah we have Imams and ma’mums. This same Governor in the same territory, today’s Iraq, made it a law and would say in salaah it is against the law for a person from Al Mawaali to lead as salaah if there is an Arabic speaking person behind him in the lines of the ma’mums. If there’s one Arabic speaking person a person who is a Mawla from Al Mawaali can no longer lead as salaah. He gave permission for an Arab wife to divorce a non-Arab husband, (regardless of whether she has the right to divorce or not). As far as this type of law is concerned she has automatic right to divorce if she is from Arab stock and her husband is from non-Arab stock. It became so ugly that there was a type of fiqhi statement that said if you’re praying towards Al Qiblah your salaah is invalidated if a dog/donkey/Mawla walks in front of your. This is the type of Asabiyah. Now brothers and sisters, some individuals will ask “why are you bringing these issues up? Why are we listening to these types of low moments in our history?” The simple answer to that is because Al Asabiyah was a mistake at one time that engulfed many of us- almost no one is free of Asabiyah. It doesn’t matter which background/people you come from, there is an Asabiyah in that type of people and when we begin to look at our behaviour with this Asabiyah 1,300years ago or so we learn from it. We say “we are not going to act like that.” Allah say

وَاذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ كُنتُمْ أَعْدَاءً

… and recall Allah’s bounty/blessing upon you as you were enemies… (Surah Aal Imran verse 103)

This animosity came from this Asabiyah. The Arabian Peninsular in Aam Al Fil- the year that Allah’s Prophet was born- was wrecked/wrapped by Asabiyah so-much-so that outsiders were coming of thinking of coming to Makkah and destroying it altogether. This is what Al Asabiyah did to them. When the Prophet of Allah passed away, because hearts were brought together the expression of this Asabiyah-politically, militarily and economically was gone; that doesn’t mean, (as we said), it wasn’t there economically or socially. Obviously is was, but this is where it made a comeback. We saw how it came back. The Prophet of Allah says people are equal the same way the teeth of one comb are equal. Do you know what Al Asabiyah did to us during that time? It’s not easy to dig up these statements that make us feel ashamed of ourselves. Listen to this perversion of Allah’s Prophet’s hadith - some of us 1,300 some odd years ago took the Prophet’s hadith and said oh yes- people are equal the same way a donkey’s teeth are equal. Do you see what Asabiyah does? Do you see how we have victimised ourselves by this Asabiyah? This is what the Arabians did when Asabiyah took control of them and they forgot Allah’s blessings/bounty upon them. We pray that this does not happen again and that we learn from our mistakes. It’s enough that we are guilty of this Asabiyah once; we don’t want to be guilty of it again.

Brothers and sisters, committed Muslims…

We come to you with this khutbah at a time when there is a movement of people. You and I listen to the news and we know that people are on the move in a place like Tunisia/North Africa/Egypt. We know that there is a yearning in the hearts/lives of these people for justice/equality. When don’t know what the future has because we also learn from Allah and His Prophet and from human history/nature that people who have power will use that power in a very ugly way. The Muslims in North Africa have been subjected to all sorts of Asabiyaat and all sorts of expression of Asabiyah and we hope and ask Allah that on their way to justice/equality they will not fall into the mistakes/ pitfalls of this Asabiyah that can turn the force and potential that they have into a disaster. Our heart/thinking mind have us hope that they will bind to the instructions of Allah and the directions of His Prophet to begin a future that is free from the super powers of our time and their agents in that area. We don’t have the latest news and the details of what is happening over there but we do know that the average Egyptian, (60 million out of a population of about 85-to-90 million people), are living below the poverty line; that means there are 60 million Egyptians who are making about $2 a day. The average income of the well-to-do Egyptian is about $800 a month. That’s a middle class that is semi absent. The rest of the population is polarised between the super-rich, and they are very few in number, and the super-poor, and they are fed up with all of these years of humiliation. Any way out of this is with a sound mind/heart in the company of Allah and His Prophet

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