3. Tijani accuses ‘Umar of ignorance

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3. Tijani accuses ‘Umar of ignorance

 

Tijani says:

 

We also hear so much about Umar’s knowledge, to the extent he was described as the most knowledgeable Companion, and it has been said about him that he agreed with his God on many ideas that were revealed in various Qur’anic verses, and that he disagreed with the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam about them. But the correct history tells us that Umar did not agree with the Qur’an, even after it had been revealed. When one of the Companions asked him one day during his caliphate, “O Commander of the Believers, I am unclean, but I cannot find water to wash.” Umar answered, “Do not pray.” Then Ammar ibn Yasir had to remind him about Tayammum [ritual cleaning with earth], but Umar was not convinced, and said to Ammar, “You are responsible only for the duties which have been assigned to you”.

Where is Umar’s knowledge regarding the Tayammum verse which had been revealed in the Book of Allah, and where is Umar’s knowledge of the Tradition of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam who taught them how to do Tayammum as well as Wudu [ritual ablution]?[1]

 

Refuting Tijani’s accusation of ignorance

Contrary to what Tijani attributed to the Ahlul Sunnah, the general view is that the most knowledgeable of the Ummah after its Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu. That aside, Tijani’s façade is beginning to fade as can be seen from his petty objections against ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Tijani is eager to condemn ‘Umar on account of a single incident that escaped his memory.

Al Bukhari from Sa’id ibn ‘Abd al Rahman ibn Abza—from his father, who said:

 

جاء رجل إلى عمر بن الخطاب فقال إني أجنبت فلم أُصب الماء، فقال عمار بن ياسر لعمر بن الخطاب أما تذكر أنّا كنّا في سفر أنا وأنت، فأما أنت لم تُصلِّ، وأما أنا فتمعّكت فصلّيت، فذكرت ذلك للنبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فقال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم : إنما كان يكفيك هكذا، فضرب النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم بكفيه الأرض ونفخ فيهما، ثم مسح بهما وجهه وكفيه

A man came to ‘Umar ibn al Khattab and said, “I was in a state of major ritual impurity but I could not find any water.”

‘Ammar ibn Yasir said to ‘Umar ibn al Khattab, “Do you not remember when we were on a journey? You did not make salah but I rubbed myself with soil and performed salah. I then mentioned that to the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “This would have sufficed you,” and the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam struck his hands on the earth and blew in it. Then he wiped his face and his hands (arms) with it.”[2]

 

It is well-known that ‘Umar initially considered it incorrect for the Junub (person in the state of major ritual impurity) to take tayammum as a substitute for the mandatory Ghusl holding onto the apparent meaning of the verses:

 

وَإِنْ كُنْتُمْ جُنُبًا فَاطَّهَّرُوْا

And if you are in a state of Janabah then purify yourselves.[3]

 

وَلَا جُنُبًا إِلَّا عَابِرِيْ سَبِيْلٍ حَتّٰى تَغْتَسِلُوْا

Or in a state of Janabah except those passing through (a place of prayer), until you have washed (your whole body).[4]

 

‘Umar maintained that position until ‘Ammar reminded him about the incident which involved the two of them but he could not recall. It is for that reason that ‘Umar said to ‘Ammar, as mentioned in the narration of Sahih Muslim, “Fear Allah, O ‘Ammar!”

Al Nawawi elaborates on this in his commentary of Sahih Muslim:

 

The meaning of ‘Umar’s statement, “Fear Allah, O ‘Ammar,” in other words, (fear Allah) with regards to what you narrate and be sure of it. Perhaps you forgot (something) or you are confused as I was with you and I do not remember anything about that.[5]

 

When ‘Ammar told him, “If you wish I will stop narrating it,” ‘Umar said to him, “We hold you responsible for what you have taken responsibility for,” (and he did not say, “we burden you with what you burdened yourself with”), in other words:

My inability to recall the incident does not mean it is untrue. Therefore, I will not prevent you from narrating it.[6]

 

The most that can be said about this matter is that ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu did not remember this incident as he was not infallible.

The shallowness in Tijani’s objection is evident from this statement of his:

Where is Umar’s knowledge regarding the Tayammum verse which had been revealed in the Book of Allah, and where is Umar’s knowledge of the Tradition of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam who taught them how to do Tayammum as well as Wudu [ritual ablution]?

 

‘Umar was aware of this verse just as he knew the manner of performing tayammum. The issue was whether or not Tayammum was applicable to the Junub (one in a state of major impurity) or not. Allah says:

 

وَإِنْ كُنْتُمْ مَرْضٰى أَوْ عَلٰى سَفَرٍ أَوْ جَاءَ أَحَدٌ مِّنْكُمْ مِّنَ الْغَائِطِ أَوْ لَامَسْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَلَمْ تَجِدُوْا مَاءً فَتَيَمَّمُوْا صَعِيْدًا طَيِّبًا

And if you are ill or on a journey or one of you comes from the place of relieving himself or you have contacted women and find no water, then seek clean earth and wipe over your faces and your hands (with it).[7]

 

‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu held the view that the Junub is not included in this verse. The ‘contact’ mentioned in the verse was understood to mean touching with the hand and not sexual intercourse. Therefore, he held Tayammum necessary for the male who touched a female in the absence of water.

‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu is not infallible. His Ijtihad was off mark on one issue but was spot on for so many others. One wonders whether it was Tijani’s impartiality that caused him to cast aside all the successful Ijtihad based opinions of ‘Umar, and only focus on one issue where he erred.

 
 

NEXT ⇒ 4. Tijani accuses ‘Umar of contravening revealed text


[1]Then I was guided, p. 95.

[2]Saḥiḥ al Bukhari, Kitab al Tayammum, ḥadith no. 331.

[3]  Surah al Ma’idah: 6.

[4]  Surah al Nisa’: 43.

[5] Fatḥ al Bari, vol. 1, p. 544-545.

[6]  Ibid, p. 545.

[7]  Surah al Nisa’: 43.