Muharram - Burdened by Ignorance Part 7

Developing Just Leadership

Muhammad H. al-'Asi

Muharram 16, 1434 2012-11-30

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 have in the previous khutbahs spoken about the much maligned body of information that is thrown out to be consumed by an ignorant public within that ignorant public there are also ignorant Muslims who consume this information and wind-up thinking that we have to apologise for our Islam, our iman, our Prophet and our Qur’an. We’ve been trying as much as is humanly possible, with Allah’s help and with Allah’s guidance, to set the record straight and express the full truth about this matter. Muslims are not trigger-happy, Muslims are not fanatics, Muslims are not killers, Muslims are not terrorists and the rest of this broken record verbiage that all of us are aware of or should be.

There is a certain chapter in Islamic history that is used by certain Orientalists, politicians, writers and speakers against we, the Muslims, simply because presenting it is not done with objectivity, with the facts and with the truth. By the way, for those of you who are still in the atmospherics of the month of Muharram, it serves also to expand your horizons as to what fed into the tragedy of the tenth of Al Muharram because this issue is not an issue of personalities as we have on numerous occasions expressed. It’s not an issue of personalities, it’s an issue of social forces that are at work and within these social forces there is the divine will that is adhered to by individuals and by the coalescing of efforts. This chapter that I am speaking about, that is not in the mental radar of many Muslims, is what is referred to in Islamic history as Hurub Al Ridda’ and that is mis-translated as the wars of apostasy. Before we begin with some more-or-less factual information about these events let us say that as far as we Muslims are concerned the word apostasy does not belong in our vocabulary. Ridda’, if we want to approximate its meaning in English, is regression- that simply is the general meaning of the word. So if we say Hurub Al Ridda and want to liberate ourselves from Orientalist vocabulary we would say the wars of regression. Now that captures more of the essence of these wars- let us be clear about this. These wars that took place during the Prophet’s final months… Remember, Hurub Al Ridda’, the wars of regression, did not begin after the Prophet passed away, they actually began when he was still alive and then they continued during the years following his departure from earthly life and then those were also followed by internal conflicts pertaining to we, the Muslims. So first of all we are going to clear the air on these wars of regression or wars of retreat, Hurub Al Ridda’. They first began during the last months of the Prophet’s lifetime. The social impression at that time in Arabia- this is the area the Muslims have to understand more to appreciate more the meanings of the Qur’an and the meanings of the Prophet as well as their own history. If your mind does not capture the facts of society at that time, the information you have becomes fast and loose information. You have to anchor the information, the meanings of the ayaat and the ahadith in the social fabric that they came to change. So when these breakaway movements began- this is also another flavour of the meaning of Hurub Al Ridda’ or wars of regression- in them there was a breakaway component and the issue that is foggy in many minds is was this breakaway component a religious breakaway movement or was it a civic, a tribal and a political breakaway movement? It’s very important to get these facts straight our minds so that these trouble makers out there don’t continue to use this misinformed chapter in our history against us.

The first person who began this movement against the Prophet in the Prophet’s lifetime is referred to in Islamic history as Al Aswad Al Ansi. This person had a religious social figure, he was a kaahin. He wasn’t just a tribal chieftain or a military commander- he had a religious imagery to him. His name was Ayhala ibn Ka’ab ibn Awf ibn Ansi- that’s his full name. He was the first to express his breakaway movement from the central Islamic Prophetic authority in Al Madinah. He began this breakaway movement from a place called Cave Khabaan in Al Yemen and then he expanded to the territories today that is inclusive of a large proportion of Yemen- from San’a to Oman and then towards At Ta’if. So this was a significant development. Its not some little protest movement bottled up in a small area tucked in somewhere in the geography of the Arabian Peninsula. This is a wide swap of territory bordering on Al Hejaz, basically to the South of it but also extending to the East of it. As we said, this began in the last months of the Prophet’s lifetime. The committed Muslims (and) the Islamic authority in Al Madinah took issue with this breakaway movement. This person, Al Aswad Al Ansi, for short claimed that he was a Nabi and this is what creates the confusion or the misunderstanding in the minds of those who don’t care to scrutinise this history a little more. They say “look, Muslims don’t grant their citizens or their neighbours or whoever freedom of religion.” This had nothing to do with freedom of religion; even though Al Aswad Al Ansi himself was notable for him being a kahin- a religious person with an Islamic creed but who claimed prophethood. It didn’t stop there. Claiming that prophethood extended itself to become a civic or a civil independent area that had nothing to do with Al Madinah and now in the lifetime of Allah’s Prophet (it) had nothing to do with the leadership of Allah’s Prophet. The reason Muslims and the Islamic state and authority took issue with this was not because of freedom of religion, it was because this movement, (which was going to be followed by other similar movements), wanted to breakaway from the authority of Allah and His Prophet. It was on the night before the Prophet of Allah passed away that this movement was eliminated after about two or three months of duelling between the committed unionists or unification of Muslims under the leadership of Allah’s Prophet in Al Madinah that they put an end to this breakaway secessionist movement that had emanated in Al Yemen. It had nothing to do with people’s freedom of religion; it had more to do with using religion to breakaway from the authority of Allah and His Prophet. This may be to some people a delicate point because they haven’t exercised their thinking and their mind on how what is called Islamic religion and Islamic statehood is inseparable but that’s another issue for another khutbah or another time.

Them there was another person whose movement also began at the last months of the Prophet’s lifetime but continued into the year or two after the Prophet. This person is called ibn Khuwailid Al Asdi who died in the twenty-first year of the Hijrah. Obviously from his name Asdi, this is a branch of Khuzayma. Most of his followers were from these tribal centres in Arabia- Asd, Al Ghatfaan and Tayi’ and Abs and Dhubyaan. So once again this is not one of these little small contained insurrection activities by a few individuals. A person came up and he said I’m a Prophet. What he meant by that wasn’t that he’s testing the Muslims ability to coexist with peoples or individuals of another faith or another creed, he also extended that to saying that we have nothing to do with the Islamic authority in Al Madinah. He also, not because of some religious interpretation, but because of the civic, the political (and) the military extension of his claims that the Muslims, the Islamic authority and the Islamic leadership in Al Madinah took issue with him and he and his followers were defeated.

Then we have another of these self claimed Prophets, his name is Musailama ibn Habib otherwise referred to as Musailama Al Kadh’dhaab, Musailamah the Liar. His movement climaxed during the twelfth year of the Hijrah, meaning just in that immediate time period after the Prophet of Allah passed away. He also had a religious imagery- he was a religious figure (or) a religious notable from a Christian tribe in Arabia called Banu Hanifah. It was concentrated in the part of Arabia called Al Yamama between Najd and Al Ahqaaf. His movement against the Islamic leadership of the Prophet in Al Madinah also began in the last days of the Prophet of Allah and it continued until a year or two after that and it was finished. It wasn’t finished because- this is the issue because you are going to have to take control of to push back and to defeat the propaganda that say “we Muslims don’t tolerate people of another faith or we Muslims don’t tolerate Muslims we have another understanding of this Islam.” In reading our sources of information- the Book of Allah and the Prophet of Allah- we have no problem in giving people the freedom that they want when it comes to issues of conviction and creed unlike what is happening in today’s world. You will hear scattered events in today’s Islamic world that are highlighted in the news- whether these are in Nigeria or whether they are in Indonesia or Malaysia or in Mali or in other parts of the Muslim world- “look this is what Muslims are doing to those who don’t agree with them in as far as their faith, their conviction and in as far as their creed is concerned.” This is the field of troublemakers. They do this because we haven’t thought through our own working and practical history in its formative years that we are referring to right now to tell you how Muslims can and do tolerate to those who differ with them in as far as faith, creed, religion persuasion, denomination, whatever is in concerned; but when that becomes a tool to undermine the God-given and the God-led Islamic authority then that’s another issue. It has nothing to do with freedom of religion and freedom of conscience and freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and the other freedoms that they speak about. It has nothing to do with it.

Then, for those who are a little into the feminist world, we have a Prophetess, (i.e.) a female Prophet who was in this atmosphere in Arabia. Her name is Sajjah bint Al Haarith ibn Suwayd ibn Aqfaali- that’s the full name of this particular lady. She died around the fifty-fifth Hijri year. She was from the tribe of Bani Taghlib. In her own self (or) in her own life she was known as being educated, as being a scholar and even, (you may say), a theologian in as far as the Christian religion is concerned. She’s a Christian or at least her tribe was Christian. She went to the previously mentioned Musailamah Al Kadh’dhaab and she entered into an alliance with him. This was not an alliance of faith, it wasn’t an alliance of theology. It was an alliance, in today’s political language, to declare independence from the Islamic state in Al Madinah. They wanted to declare independence. Some history books say that they even got married. It went further than just an alliance- it was also a biological marriage between both of these, one male Prophet and one female Prophet. Once again, not because of what they believed in (and) not because of their theological mentalities- no, it had nothing to do with that; but because they were saying to the Islamic leadership- whether it was the Prophet himself during his last months in this world or whether it was to his successors after him- we don’t want to have anything to do with you. You run your own affairs in Al Madinah and we shall run our own affairs in Yemen in Oman in Al Ahqaaf in At Ta’if, in Al Yamama and all these other areas in the Arabian Peninsula. That’s why we, the committed Muslims, terminated those policies that went militaristic against our Islamic leadership and our Islamic state in Al Madinah. After this female Prophet’s ally Musailama Al Kadh’dhaab was defeated she also with the tribalistic- remember, this is very important… When we say tribalistic in those days, it’s like saying ethnic or nationalist in our days today. Both of them are an expression of asabiyah. So it was this breakaway political, economic and therefore social and militaristic asabiyah that did not want any connections or any relationship with Al Madinah. Now this is our observations about this chapter in our history. Reading through- there’s a couple of books that offer information about these events. One of them is Tarikh At Tabari. There’s a chapter there called akhbaar hurub Ar Ridda’, (i.e.) the news pertaining to the wars of regression or the breakaway wars. Please don’t use the word apostate or apostatic or whatever derivative thereof because just by using that word you concede the argument of the enemy. It has nothing to do with apostates. There is another book called Nihayat Al Irad by Al Muwayri. The information, (if you read carefully), you’ll find out that these “Prophets” did not really repudiate Islam. This is an important thing that you should register in your mind- whether it was Musailama Al Kadh’dhaab or whether it was Aswad Al Ansi or whether it was a couple of others besides them, they did not repudiate Islam. They didn’t argue against Islam, they did not deny Islam. None of them took issue with the prophethood of Muhammad- none of them; the only thing they did was they said, (and this could echo in today’s world), Muhammad was not the only Prophet at that time. OK-he’s a Prophet... They didn’t argue that but they also said … in addition to that, that they are Prophets. The way they perceived things was that, (you see), even though Islam is a force of liberation that liberates people from their asabiyah, from their clannishness, from their individualistic and egotistic peculiarities- that’s what Islam is- but you think Islam in the Arabian Peninsula in that short time period could liberate people from their asabiyah? You’re wrong. It did not liberate the mass population of Arabia from its asabiyah. This has to be understood by those who are far and near, even those of you who are commemorating the occasion of Aashura’’ you cannot commemorate it and understand it if you don’t look at the whole picture of Asabiyah in the Arabian Peninsula. Fortunately or unfortunately some people in this time of year (from) a certain community of Muslims think of two individuals- they think of Imam Husayn and they think of king Yazeed- that’s all they think about. Well what happened? Look! We are telling you, we are informing you, we are feeding you with the necessary history that went into those two camps; that asabiyah was around, it was alive and kicking. These self-proclaimed Prophets in Arabia knew that the only way they could dislodge a Prophet was that they have to proclaim themselves to be Prophets. So if Muhammad is the Prophet of Quraysh then Al Ansi is going to be the Prophet of Yemen or another person is going to be the Prophet of Oman and so on and so forth. Saying they were a Prophet was not really meant to dislodge the prophethood of Muhammad, it was only meant to serve their political purposes of breaking away from his leadership. They were praying and they were fasting and they were paying their zakah but when they were paying their zakah they didn’t want their zakah to go Al Madinah. They wanted this zakah to remain among themselves. They didn’t argue with the principle of zakah, that’s why the famous statement of Abi Bakr (radi Allahu anhu), the first successor of the Prophet if they were to withhold from me one years worth of zakah that they used to pay to the Prophet of Allah… because before that they were paying this zakah to the central treasury in Al Madinah. They were not going to stop paying zakah itself, they were still paying it; they just didn’t want to pay it to where it belonged then that would have been, not their belief… No one was fighting them because they wanted to believe that this is the way things should be, they were fought because they were breaking away from the Islamic central authority (and) from the unity of the Muslims. Of course, they claimed they were receiving revelation from Allah. Of course you’re not going to claim you’re a Prophet unless you are receiving revelation but their revelation was so rhythmical or words that rhymed with each other and anyone who reads the Qur’an and reads their nonsensical rhythms and rhymes would know that there’s no comparison here- that’s why they died out. They had no content to what they had to say. They were exposed. The only thing they wanted to do was well, if there’s a Prophet in Al Madinah, now we can have a Prophet in Sana’ or we can have a Prophet in At Ta’if or we can have a Prophet in another area of Arabia not because that was their overriding belief but it was an excuse that they no longer would be answerable to the prophethood of the final Prophet. Al Aswad Al Ansi who was in Yemen conceded. Look, we’re going to quote for you what he said to the rest of the Muslims who were coming to him at the beginning to advice him don’t do what you are doing but when he insisted then the military had to come in and take charge of these affairs. This is what he said, we’re quoting his word. Aswad Al Ansi, this self proclaimed Prophet, is telling the Muslims who came his way to Al Yemen from Al Madinah, from Makkah (and) from Al Hejaz and in today’s world it has the meaning of You imported Muslims (or) you individuals- if you people who are undocumented in our areas (or) in our territories (or) in our country: give us the land that you have taken from our territories, which means we are Yemenis and you are Hejazis or we are Qaftanis and you are Qurayshis or we are a certain tribe and you are a certain other tribe. What do you have to do with us? What do we have to do with you? And maintain the capital or the money that you have collected for us. You took it from us and it is ours. We deserve it more than you do and we leave you to be whoever you want to be (or) whoever you are. Now this may sound rosy and appealing to those who want to interject into this dynamic the issue of pluralism. Yeah, some of you might come out and say “why can’t that be?” Those people in Yemen and in Oman or the others in Bahrain or to those who are living to the Northern part in Arabia, right now in Jordon because this is the extent to which the Muslims have expanded themselves. Others say “well what’s wrong with that?” There is nothing wrong with that if this pluralism acknowledges the central authority in Al Madinah and don’t try to breakaway using a religious argument. We can name a few religious breakaway realities in today’s Islamic world and Muslims should have no problem with the theology that they may develop but Muslims should have very serious problems with using that type of “theology” to explain the divisions of Muslims (and) the breakaway of Muslims from each other as was done those years the same is done in our years but not many Muslims can relate the two histories to each other. Let us end by quoting, (and) this is an encounter between two individuals, one of them is Musailama, (the one that we referred to earlier who claimed to be a Prophet from god), and the other person was Talha Al Nimri. Talha Al Nimri who did not obviously belong to Quraysh and to the tribal setup of Al Hejaz. He asked where’s Musailama, I want to go and see him. So finally he finds his way to Musailama and his. They point him out , that’s him over there. He goes to Musailama and says are you Musailama? He says yes, I am. He says so who comes to you? Who relates to you scripture of revelation and wahi? Musailama says Rahman. The other says does He come to you when there is light or He comes to you in darkness? Musailama replies in darkness. Listen to the comment that Musailama’s interlocutor finished this conversation, he said I bear witness that you are a liar and that Muhammad is truthful but the liar of Rabi’ah is most fond to us or is more in our interest than the truthful person from Mudhar. You see the asabiyah that was there did not go away. It still exists today. It may have changed nomenclature, vocabulary (and) terms but it’s still there. Listen to what he said- this man came up to Musailama. He could see he’s a liar. He says the liar of Rabi’ah is most fond to us or is more in our interest than the truthful person from Mudhar in reference to the Prophet of Allah. So it is not just a matter of knowing the truth. This person knew the truth very well, he attested to it (and) he beared witness to it but he said well, if my interest is with a lying Prophet I rather be with a Prophet who’s a liar than a Prophet who is telling the truth! Does this echo, especially for those of you who are supposedly recalling the event of Karbala’’? Isn’t it time you expand your horizons and understand that the power struggle that culminated in Karbala’’ and Aashura’’ is not simply a matter between two individuals as much as it is a fact of life between two social currents diametrically opposed to each other?

Dear brothers, dear sisters, dear committed Muslims…

We try to make a transfer from these reference times of Allah’s Prophet and the first generation of Muslims to our time (and) we say that in today’s world there are false leaders. Just like there were false Prophets that claimed that they were Prophets even in the last weeks and days of the final Prophet there were people standing up and claiming they were Prophets and that meant that they should be leaders. Today no one could come out and say he’s a Prophet. We have enough common sense and enough understanding of the Qur’an and the Sunnah that tell us well, the guy is a phoney. No one is going to buy his argument even if he may have support of treasuries and militaries the world over. It can’t penetrate the Muslim psyche or the Muslim mind even with the shallow information (and) without the details that we’ve just been through. No one is going to come and say “I’m a Prophet so you owe me your fealty or your allegiance.” What happened? So what do we have? We have false rulers. When these “Prophets”, Musailama Al Kadh’dhaab and the rest claimed that they were Prophets, they weren’t very much interested in being Prophets. They were interested in being rulers- that was a stepping stone for them to be the rulers. Today, these rulers don’t need a stepping stone, they are already the rulers. They are false rulers. One of their clergymen, officials comes up and said “demonstrations and those who are criticising the leader in Saudi Arabia are sick individuals, misled individuals and misleading individuals.” He says “the way we solve the issues among us is to sit down. There’s the shura’ and nasihah.” These words he used. If that’s the case, Mr. Know-it-all in Arabia, we’ve been here for thirty years- where’s your shura and where’s your nasihah?! We haven’t seen your employees here. We’ve been out in the street every Friday for the past thirty years in the lunar calendar and we haven’t seen any of you around?! They are not approachable for shura and nasihah. What do we do? You say we can’t speak the truth! Have you ever heard the ayah in the Qur’an that says

لَّا يُحِبُّ اللَّهُ الْجَهْرَ بِالسُّوءِ مِنَ الْقَوْلِ إِلَّا مَن ظُلِمَ

Allah does not favour sharp language when one expresses himself except when the person expressing himself is madhlum… (Surah An Nisa’ verse 148)

Another tin-pot dictator, there’s a poet who last year wrote some poetry against the ruler in Qatar and then he goes to court just this past week and in the news all over the place he’s condemned to spend the rest of his life in prison. Why? Because he wrote some poetry they didn’t like?! This is how these rulers turn the issue around. They are the one’s who can’t tolerate another opinion. This poet was not claiming that he is a ruler, he wasn’t saying that he is a Prophet and these rulers can’t tolerate another opinion?! And they turn this whole thing around and say grassroots Muslims and struggling Muslims are the ones who can’t tolerate another opinion?! They go to harvest because of our ignorance!

وَقُلْ جَاءَ الْحَقُّ وَزَهَقَ الْبَاطِلُ ۚ إِنَّ الْبَاطِلَ كَانَ زَهُوقًا

Say: truth has come and falsehood has perished; surely, falsehood is meant to perish. (Surah Al Isra’ verse 81)

The only way their falsehood is going to perish is when we are enlightened with the facts and with the truth, part of which this khutbah by Allah’s leave contributed to.

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