The Shia criticise Sayyidina Mughirah ibn Shu’bah radiya Llahu ‘anhu that he had committed adultery and there were witnesses to his deed. However, Sayyidina ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu made supplicated for the last witness, and enticed him, resulting in the testimony being incomplete. As a result, Mughirah ibn Shu’bah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was saved from the punishment for adultery.
The criticism here is directed to both these Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. Sayyidina Mughirah ibn Shu’bah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was criticised with the accusation of adultery and Sayyidina ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu was accused of not implementing the shar’i punishment.
There are a number of points that require clarification, which we will mention in sequence, and through which the answer to this accusation will become clear.
Firstly this incident of Sayyidina Mughirah ibn Shu’bah radiya Llahu ‘anhu has been narrated by various chains of narrations, and the lengthy discourse of its credibility has been discussed extensively in many places. Repeating it here will juts unnecessarily lengthen the discussion. If we were to turn away from scrutinising the chains of narration, and hypothetically accept this incident to a certain degree, then we must analyse the circumstances in which this incident occurred and what was the background to it.
The historians write that during the period when Sayyidina Mughirah ibn Shu’bah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was governor of Basrah, there were a few people opposed to him, amongst them being Abu Bakarah.
According to some historians, such as al Tabari and al Baladhuri, his opposition had accused him of this wrong doing on account of an argument or dispute that had occurred between them. His opposition then bore testimony against Sayyidina Mughirah ibn Shu’bah radiya Llahu ‘anhu to Sayyidina ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, claiming that he had committed adultery. The testimony was incomplete and could thus not prove the allegation. As a result, the case was dropped and his accusers were punished for their false accusation. This was in strict accordance to the laws of the shari’ah, and to now claim that it was a plot and a ploy to save his life is nothing more than conjecture and sheer injustice.
Adding to this, the Shia claim that Sayyidina ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu enticed the witnesses, which is utterly baseless. These additions were added into the narration by some of its narrators, thus it is a clear that this is a false accusation against Sayyidina ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
Shah ‘Abdul ‘Aziz rahimahu Llah says:
وتلقين شاهد افتراء محض وبهتان صريح است
Encouraging the witnesses is a false accusation and slander.
In another place, he writes:
There are such words added by the narrators that are nothing but accusations and slander against Sayyidina ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
The reason for this is that when this incident was presented in the court of Sayyidina ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, there were a number of senior Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum — including Sayyidina ‘Ali al Murtada radiya Llahu ‘anhu — present. It was the inherent quality and characteristic of these great luminaries to refute anything they saw as unjust and to voice themselves in refutation of it. Why would they remain silent in this matter? How could they not refute something unjust and false?
It is apparent that nothing contrary to the Shari’ah had transpired nor was any form of injustice carried out, nor was there anything objectionable that took place.
Some scholars have given the following explanation with regards to this incident, Hafiz Ibn Hajar rahimahu Llah in Talkhis al Habir states:
وافاد البلاذري ان المراة التي رمى بها ام جميل بنت محجن بن الافقم الهلالية وقيل ان المغيرة كان تزوج بها سرا وكان عمر لا يجيز نكاح السر ويوجب الحد على فاعله فلهذا سكت المغيرة وهذا لم اره منقولا باسناد وان صح كان عذرا حسنا لهذا الصحابي
Al Baladhuri says that the woman with whom Mughirah ibn Shu’bah was accused was Umm Jamil bint Mihjan al Hilaliyyah, and it is said that Mughirah ibn Shu’bah had married this woman in secret, and Sayyidina ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu classified a secret nikah as impermissible and would punish those who did this. It is because of this that Mughirah ibn Shu’bah remained silent. I have not seen this reported with a chain of narration, and if it is regarded as correct then it will serve as an acceptable excuse for this Sahabi.
In short, the incident of Sayyidina Mughirah ibn Shu’bah radiya Llahu ‘anhu is recorded by certain authors, and not in the authentic books of hadith, then the historians —as is their habit —elaborated further it. There are also considerable differences found amongst the explanations of the narrators. It would be incorrect to rely on such flimsy evidence and on account of it criticise an esteemed Sahabi radiya Llahu ‘anhu, who participated in Hudaybiyyah.
This is the way of the enemies of the Sahabah, that when they cannot prove an accusation, they remain in ambush in order to attack the position and integrity of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. They spend all their energy in spreading something baseless. Here too, they have adopted the same approach.
There is a need to look at this issue in terms of explanation as well.
Sayyidina Mughirah ibn Shu’bah radiya Llahu ‘anhu holds an important position and rank in Islam, he was honoured with Islam in the year of the battle of the Trench (5 A.H) and was present at the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah.
In Dhu al Qa’dah 6 A.H, on the occasion of the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, the disbelievers sent ‘Urwah ibn Mas’ud to negotiate with the Muslims. When he came before Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, Sayyidina Mughirah ibn Shu’bah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was present as an attendant. He was standing armed at the side of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. During his discussion, ‘Urwah ibn Mas’ud reached out and held the beard of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Using the handle of his sword, Sayyidina Mughirah ibn Shu’bah radiya Llahu ‘anhu moved his hand away and said: “Keep your hand away from the beard of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.” ‘Urwah ibn Mas’ud raised his head and asked: “Who is this?” Those present replied: “This is Mughirah ibn Shu’bah.”
Imam al Bukhari rahimahu Llah has mentioned this incident in the following text:
وجعل (عروة بن مسعود) يكلم النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فكلما كلمة اخذ بلحيته والمغيرة بن شعبة قائم على راس النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ومعه السيف وعليه المغفر فكلما اهوى عروة بيده الى لحيه النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ضرب يده بنعل السيف وقال اخريدك عن لحيه رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فرفع لراسه فقال من هذا؟ قالوا المغيرة بن شعبة
The objective is that Sayyidina Mughirah ibn Shu’bah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was definitely among those who were present at Hudaybiyyah and Allah has mentioned many virtues in the Qur’an with regards to those who participated at Hudaybiyyah. For example, Allah says:
فانزل الله سكينته على رسوله وعلى المؤمنين والزمهم كلمة التقوى وكانوا احق بها واهلها وكان الله بكل شيئ عليما
Allah sent His tranquillity to the heart of His Rasul and to the hearts of the Mu’minin and stuck the word of taqwa onto them as they are most deserving of it and worthy of it. Allah always has knowledge of everything.
Therefore, Sayyidina Mughirah ibn Shu’bah radiya Llahu ‘anhu is included in these virtues and is deserving of these praises. This is testimony to the fact that the actions of Sayyidina Mughirah ibn Shu’bah radiya Llahu ‘anhu were correct, and whatever criticism is levelled against him is baseless and not worthy of consideration.
In addition to this, during the era of the al Khulafa’ al Rashidin, he was appointed to various positions, and during the era of a just and upright khalifah such as Sayyidina ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, he was given the position of a governor, as is mentioned in his biography. Even after this accusation, (which proved to be false), Sayyidina ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu kept him in his position as the governor of Kufah. This highlights the good deeds and excellent character of Sayyidina Mughirah ibn Shu’bah radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
If Sayyidina Mughirah ibn Shu’bah’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu actions were wrong, then why was he not removed from his position? Furthermore, even later, during the khilafah of Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, he was still kept in his position as governor.
During the khilafah of Sayyidina ‘Ali al Murtada radiya Llahu ‘anhu, Sayyidina Mughirah ibn Shu’bah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was the governor of Kufah, but he remained aloof from the mutual differences at the Battles of Jamal and Siffin and he did not take any sides. He played no part in Jamal and Siffin. Later, he once again became governor of Kufah during the era of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
The interpersonal relationship between Sayyidina Mughirah ibn Shu’bah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the al Khulafa’ al Rashidin and the honour they accorded to him is a strong reason to show that he was an noble person, who was averse to evil and wrong doing.
Another factor which indicates this is the fact that many Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum and senior Tabi’in narrated the ahadith of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam from Sayyidina Mughirah ibn Shu’bah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. A few examples are provided below:
The fact that such pious luminaries narrated hadith from Sayyidina Mughirah ibn Shu’bah radiya Llahu ‘anhu indicates that he was pious in his deeds. This is because narrations pertaining to religious matters are not taken from a person of evil character and evil deeds, as one can never rely on an evil person as far as his din is concerned.
Moreover, the scholars of hadith have written there are 136 ahadith narrated from Sayyidina Mughirah ibn Shu’bah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Twelve of these ahadith are present in the Sahihayn (Bukhari and Muslim). This also points out to his nobility, reliability, and piety.
In the light of the above, it is apparent that Sayyidina Mughirah ibn Shu’bah radiya Llahu ‘anhu is a pious high ranking Sahabi. During the era of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, he was the governor of Kufah and he passed away in 50-51 A.H.
Those who slur and criticise him on account of baseless narrations, attempting to smear his name; their efforts will always prove futile. Sufficient to render it futile is it contradicting the practice of that era, which no intelligent person will accept.
The readers can refer to the following references:
 Tuhfah Ithna ʿAshariyyah p. 297
 Talkhis al Habir vol. 4 p. 63, Fayd al Bari ʿala Sahih al Bukhari vol. 3 p. 386
 Bukhari vol. 1 p. 378, 379
 Surah al Fath: 26Back to top