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This study has revealed the following:
His belief in general was harmonious with the famous tenets of faith of the Ahlus Sunnah wa al Jama’ah, starting from the era of the Salaf right up to our time.
Therefore, his overview of history was encompassed under this glaring idea and this radiant and believing mentality which recognised the Shari’ah of Allah and his rulings.
Likewise, his documentation of history according to the eras of the prophets and the kings who were charged with the responsibility of guiding and given the authority of implementing was so that this format help in clarifying lessons and reflections for the people of intellect. He wanted to demonstrate to them how the systems of Allah are realised in humanity, i.e. how He helps the believers, the Prophets and their followers, who implement his Shari’ah, and how he destroys the transgressors who oppose Allah and His prophets or grants them respite and delays their punishment till the Day of Judgement.
Not forgetting that al Tabari found before him many historical sources, but he selected therefrom what he included in his great Tarikh. In doing so he displayed his outstanding ability to reconcile between various sources, his thorough knowledge of the books that were written before him, and also his ability to critique narrations.
It would also be appropriate to state that the vastness of the hearts of the scholars of the Ahlus Sunnah like al Tabari to narrate even the narrations of the opponents like the Shia and others, is evidence of their understanding, their trustworthiness, and their desire that their readership be capable of learning every detail related to the matter. They felt confident that it will not miss a bright and informed reader that the likes of Abu Mikhnaf, Ibn al Kalbi, and others are the locus of suspicion in narrations related to issues about which they were fanatics. As such thorough deliberation and investigation will be required in order to filter facts which have been jumbled up with hearsay and forgeries.
Notwithstanding that these allegations, some of them ‘Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu answered himself, some were debunked by those who witnessed them from the Sahabah radiya Llahu `anhum and their successors, some of them we have we have substantively opposed and refuted with evidences in the discussion pertaining to the allegations levelled at ‘Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu, and some are not valid to even quote and its chains of transmission are not Sahih, rather they have been narrated by suspicious people and were exploited when the Fitnah erupted to serve the interests of the Khawarij.
Ostensibly the first person to doubt the existence of Ibn Saba’ was an orientalist. Thereafter this hypothesis was supported by most of the contemporary Shia, some among who even went on to deny his existence completely. Likewise, amongst the contemporary researchers many became obsessed with the views of the Orientalists and became influenced by the writings of the Shia. But all these people do not have evidence to substantiate their doubts and their denial other than doubt itself and resorting to mere assumptions and hypotheses.
The Sabai’iyyah were the ones who took most advantage of this reality, i.e. they exploited the presence of a people who could not differentiate between truth and falsehood and the presence of a people who were being propelled by wealth and greed; they exploited the simplicity of these people and the greed of these people in order to orchestrate the Fitnah.
So, when ‘Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu fulfilled his responsibility toward these people who had initiated an opulent and morally degenerative life, these thoughtless people joined the ranks of the protestors who comprised of the riffraff and others.
Having said that, some orientalists and those researchers who tread in their footsteps have exploited fabricated narrations which deem ‘Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu weak, narrations which were forged by the liars. Thus, they focused their attention on expanding in studying them, in fact it was like a treasure which they rushed to distribute as long as it served their motives of criticising the Din and its men. They also exploited the softness of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu, his mercy and his compassion for his subjects, in order to add another misconception to their misconceptions, i.e. that ‘Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu had a weak personality.
This is a vacuous claim because it is not supported by any substantive evidence. Furthermore, from the context of the narrations of al Bukhari and that of al Tabari pertaining to the Shurah (council of the six Sahabah) it is evident that the election of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu was only because he was the most ideal, the most just, and the most capable of those who could bear the responsibility before Allah and the Muslims.
Although ‘Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu was compassionate and merciful with the people, true attributes of a just ruler, but he was never weak when it came to establishing the injunctions of Allah. He followed the policy of ‘Umar radiya Llahu `anhu when investigating about the governors from the delegations of Hajj and would ask the subjects regarding their superiors. Hence, he would write letters to the people of the various cities telling them to meet him in the days of Hajj if they had any offences to report. Consequently, they would report these offences to him in front of their governor and he would thereafter decide justly between them.
He was stern in following the deeds of his governors and would limit their authority to what would ensure the interests of the Muslims and prove to be a mercy for them and a source of compassion for the subjects. Together with that he would instate confidence, candidness in saying the truth, and not to have cowardice and fear in the hearts of the people so that they could always monitor the governors to see if they were upholding the trust which Allah subhanahu wa ta `ala entrusted them with or not.
‘Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu was not incapable of appointing a “Hajjaj” for himself whom he could impose upon the Ummah with the whips of domination and tyranny and thereby freely shed its blood till it relented and became subservient. Likewise, he was not incapable of instituting punishments for the people far worse than what they initiated and penalising those who revolted against him. He was not incapable of doing this and things of its sort, nor was he weak or vulnerable, but he was a Rightly Guided Khalifah whom the justice of the Caliphate Rashidah had prevented from the crimes of tyrannical monarchy.
It is without doubt that this stance of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu was the greatest and strongest that an individual to whom the Ummah had handed over its matters could do. For he resorted to the lesser of the two evils and the lighter of the two harms in order to support through this sacrifice the order of Caliphate and its authority.
The sinister plots of the Saba’iyyah incessantly continued during the Caliphate of ‘Uthman and ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhuma. Their only objective was to ravage this Din, doing so by exploiting the directionless movement which comprised of the Bedouins of the desert and the new Muslims of the conquests whose hearts were not polished with iman. This is usually the trend in much of these movement which serve as fertile ground for the exploitation of the havoc wreakers. But Islam, with the grace of Allah, emerged stronger than these attacks, greater than these challenges, and more resilient and steadfast. For Ibn Saba’ and his likes have vanished and Islam has remained. As for his destructive ideas, although they still continue to find space in the hearts of a sect of the people of the Qiblah, the Shia, however they are a shunned sect owing to their despicable beliefs and sinister doings. Whereas on the other hand the majority of the Muslims have remained upon the belief of the Ahlus Sunnah wa al Jama’ah.
Allah subhanahu wa ta `ala has ordained for Islam men who repelled from it the impurity of these ideas and exposed their corruption and consequently the Muslims held on to Tawhid and followed the path of the pious Salaf. In this was also the realisation of the prophecy of Nabi salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam wherein he says:
A group of my Ummah will continue to remain upon the truth, those who oppose them will not harm them till the decree of Allah comes.
This is the greatest evidence that he was upon the truth. Hence, whoever opposed him surely deviated from the path. Why should it not be that way when Nabi salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam has described those who wanted him to step down as hypocrites. Hence, it is necessarily known that all the demerits which are narrated regarding him are either forgeries or interpretable, if they are authentically established, as the conclusions he reached based on his Ijtihad, and that the truth was on his side. This is in order to confirm the veracity of the report of Nubuwwah which is true without any doubt.
Then, contrary to the narrations of these people who were not prudent in depicting the Sahabah radiya Llahu `anhum as the conspirators, the instigators against ‘Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu, and those who were responsible for his murder, the books of the Hadith scholars, with the grace of Allah, have preserved the authentic narrations. In them the Sahabah radiya Llahu `anhum are depicted as the supporters and defenders of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu. They strove to protect him and support him and were willing to sacrifice themselves for him. But he prevented them from fighting and said that he preferred meeting Allah as an innocent but oppressed person. Had he given his consent they would have fought on his behalf.
His election was not tainted with any type of pressure of coercion, for Ibn Abi Shaybah has narrated in his Musannaf with a Sahih transmission that Talhah and al Zubair radiya Llahu `anhuma willingly pledged to ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu without being overpowered or forced.
Furthermore, al Baqillani has clarified the stance of some of the Sahabah radiya Llahu `anhum who delayed in supporting ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu and entering into his obedience. He averred that that was not because they denounced his Caliphate and his election; but because they feared fighting the people of the Qiblah and substantiated their position by what was narrated from Nabi salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam regarding the prohibition of fighting in the Fitnah.
My view in this regard is that the opposition which stood in the face of ‘Ali was prompted by well-known political reasons. It was not an opposition which criticised his rule as much as it was one that was demanding the execution of the killers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu.
Nonetheless, it would be plausible to aver that ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu was the strongest candidate of the Caliphate after the martyrdom of ‘Umar radiya Llahu `anhu. Al Faruq had deemed him eligible for it when he appointed him as a member of the council. Not forgetting that four of the members of council, viz. ‘Abdur Rahman, Sa’d, Talhah, and al Zubair radiya Llahu `anhum relinquished their right for him and for ‘Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu and, thus, only he and ‘Uthman remained. This is sort of a consensus of the members of the council that if ‘Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu was not present ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu would be most deserving. And after the demise of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu when he was nominated by the people of Madinah he became worthy thereof.
Furthermore, his early contributions to Islam, his kinship with Rasul Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam and his relationship by marriage were not the only specialities which made ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu eligible for this overwhelming task, but added to that was his ability and competence as well which cannot be denied. For his valour, advancing in attacking the enemy, acumen, rare judicial prowess, his resoluteness in his positions, firmness upon the truth, and his foresight in administering matters which had even motivated ‘Umar radiya Llahu `anhu to solicit his opinions in confusing matters, all of these factors had made him the only uncontended candidate for ruling over the Muslims in that sensitive time of their lives.
The policy of ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu in his positions was to use wisdom and to handle the matter with leniency as long as it was possible to do so. But when he would not manage to do so he would resort to warfare.
The fact of the matter is that the issue was not about weakness, inadequacy of opinion, and deficiency of political prowess, but the circumstances had changed from what they were previously. This change had entailed a change in the groups which thronged around the Khalifah, for they were people other than the companions of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu `anhuma and comprised mostly of Bedouins and affiliates of tribes, a rather big difference between the two groups.
This change had also entailed change in the centre of the Caliphate which shifted from Hijaz, the locus of the Prophetic Sunnah, to Iraq, the place where interests, personal tendencies and leanings prevailed.
One will also sense a change in ideas and the emergence of multiplicity in schools which were the result of the Fitnah. There is no doubt that this division in views and disparity and standpoints had led to added bickering and disunity which necessarily enfeebled the centre of the Khalifah and his control over the matters.
And even though the storms of change had brought about a difference in the circumstances during the reign of ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu; however, his position, in spite of all of that, did not change according to the temperament of that generation. He was uninterested in conforming with the new developments, which is why he gave preference to deficiency in everything else over deficiency in his guidance and justice.
Anyway, if political prowess means conforming with the spirit of the time, exploiting advantages, and procuring personal interests and ulterior benefits for the ruler and the groups that surround him, then ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu was not a politician in this sense. But if it means sound understanding, insight, acumen, and striving to actualise the common interest of the Ummah, then ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu surely enjoyed a very great portion thereof.
The decisive conclusion in this regard is that ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu was from the best politicians and rulers, had the era of the Caliphate Rashidah remained as it was in its initial days. As for when the spirit of the times was taking a course other than its usual one, his methodology in politics no more remained relevant to those circumstances, which is why some have not considered him a politician.
After the embassy of al Qa’qa’ ibn ‘Amr radiya Llahu `anhu, Talhah, al Zubair, and Aisha radiya Llahu `anhum did not consider anything more ideal than reconciliation. For Talhah and al Zubair radiya Llahu `anhuma later became convinced with the argument of ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu regarding exercising patience and not rushing in the matter of retribution from the killers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu till circumstances normalised and the centre of the Caliphate gained strength whereafter justice could run its course.
The people spent that night with the intentions of reconciliation and well-being in both armies and they were not doubting that that will ensue. However, those who instigated the Fitnah spent the worst possible night due to them being on the brink of destruction. Especially after ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu addressed the people and asked them to travel the next day and also demanded that whoever helped in the murder of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu in anyway should not travel with him. Ibn Saba’ spoke and suggested that clandestinely a war be instigated by night.
It is important to note that the impact of the Saba’iyyah in Jamal and in fuelling the war is something that is almost unanimously accepted by the historians and scholars, irrespective of whether they dub them as the riffraff, the mischief makers, the deviants, the killers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu, or even the Saba’iyyah.
It is also a known fact that ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu was more accurate in his opinion and more correct in his statement. Because had he started establishing the capital punishment upon them, their tribes would have stood by their side to unjustly support them, which in turn would lead to civil strife. This is exactly what happened in Basrah when Talhah and al Zubair radiya Llahu `anhuma wanted to execute some of the killers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu. Thousands of people supported them and they united against Talhah and al Zubair radiya Llahu `anhuma.
But by doing a holistic study of the narrations it is evident that the stance of ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu regarding the killers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu who were in his army was one of prudence, precaution, and disassociation from them.
There is no doubt in that the result of the fighting was very painful. Nabi salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam, thus, praised Hassan radiya Llahu `anhu because Allah subhanahu wa ta `ala united two major groups of the Muslims by way of him and preserved their blood, he said, “This son of mine is a leader. Soon Allah subhanahu wa ta `ala will reconcile between two groups of the Muslims because of him.” But he did not praise his father for waging war against the people of Sham; the most that he said about him was that he was closer to the truth. As opposed to fighting the Khawarij, for he had emphatically praised that saying, “Where ever you meet them kill them, for in killing them there is reward for those who kill them till they Day of Judgment.” Likewise, ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu himself was happy and delightful after fighting the Khawarij but was distraught and disheartened after fighting the people of Jamal and Siffin.
These people relied upon a Shar’i principle which is established in the emphatic texts from Nabi salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam, some of which are even instructions to specific individuals, i.e. the principle of refraining from fighting in the Fitnah.
Similarly, it was from the outstanding jurisprudence of the Sahabah radiya Llahu `anhum that they differentiated between the validity of the Caliphate of ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu and the obligation of fighting by his side, in fact the validity of fighting the people of the Qiblah. For, according to them, although he was the Shar’i ruler it did not necessarily follow from there that he was absolutely correct in his battles against the people of Jamal and Siffin.
In brief, refraining from fighting and avoiding the Fitnah was the position of most of the Ahl al Hadith. Whoever ponders over this position the strength of its evidences and the favourability of its outcomes will become clear to him.
The Shar’i texts have featured with mass transmission regarding repelling the transgression of the Khawarij and those who wreak havoc in the earth. However, to opt to be the slain servant of Allah instead of the slaying servant of Allah is permissible in a Fitnah which erupts between Muslims who differ with one another due to the Ijtihad of each differing from that of the other as to what is most ideal for the Ummah.
Also, this position, i.e. the position of avoiding the Fitnah, is the strongest of positions and the most preferred in light of the Shar’i texts and the statements of the pious Salaf. It was stronger than the position of those who felt that the truth was in fighting with ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu, never mind it be stronger that the position of those who felt that the truth was in fighting those who opposed him.
Many Prophetic Hadith have made mention of them, and the end condition at which their matter was going to settle, i.e. to rebelling against the Ummah and spilling its blood without any right. The hadith have warned against them and have praised those who will fight them.
Therefore, they made their enemies, the Khawarij, bear the responsibility thereof in order to escape its consequences, and also made their claims seem self-contradictory. So, they were the ones who coerced ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu to accept the Arbitration and they were also the ones who remonstrated against him due to him accepting the Arbitration.
It should also be noted that the propellants for this type of narrations were the circumstances Kufah, the stronghold of the Shia, was undergoing at that particular time, the second half of the first century. For it had transitioned into a city which was under the jurisdiction of the people of Sham to which the Umayyads sent dictator type governors like Ziyad, his son ‘Ubaidullah, and al Hajjaj in order to diffuse their strength. As such Kufah was a centre of opposition and a hatching place for insurrections against the Umayyads. All of this had prompted the Shia to throw the liability of those events upon their enemies due to being driven by sectarian fanaticism.
This is an analysis which the heart is convinced about, because it is harmonious with the hard and constricted mentality of the Khawarij which allowed them to violate the blood and the belonging of the Muslims. For they were, in the various phases of their existence, always spearheading such movement that weakened the edifice of the Islamic empire and destroyed much of its stored strength.
By subjecting this narration to scrutiny three matters are taken note of. One of them concerns the point of dispute between ‘Ali and Muawiyah radiya Llahu `anhuma which led to the war between them, the second concerns the positions of ‘Ali and Muawiyah radiya Llahu `anhuma, and the third concerns the personalities of both Abu Musa al Ash’ari and ‘Amr ibn al ’As radiya Llahu `anhuma.
As for the first matter, the arbiters were appointed to reach a decisive conclusion regarding the dispute of ‘Ali and Muawiyah radiya Llahu `anhuma. The dispute was never regarding the Caliphate and who was most deserving of it, but it was regarding the execution of the retribution against the killers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu, something that has nothing to do with the Caliphate. This is because the dispute around the Caliphate had not risen as yet and Muawiyah radiya Llahu `anhu had not claimed the Caliphate for himself, nor did he deny that ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu was deserving of it. He only resisted pledging allegiance due to him enjoying dominion over the lands of Sham on the ground (although not officially) due to the people following him and being convinced that his resistance from pledging allegiance to ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu was based on a valid reason, i.e. seeking his right of retribution from the killers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu due to him being the guardian. Hence, if the arbiters discarded this primary matter, which is what they were called to decide about, and took a decision regarding the Caliphate as is alleged in the popular narration, then that would entail that they did not understand the focal point of the contention and did not comprehensively comprehend the claims of either side. This is something which is very unlikely.
As for the second matter, if the decision of the arbiters entailed the dismissal of both ‘Ali and Muawiyah radiya Llahu `anhuma, as alleged by the popular narration, then in the case of Muawiyah radiya Llahu `anhu his dismissal was definitely out of place. For it is still possible to envision the dismissal of ‘Ali from the position of Caliphate, but from which position did they dismiss Muawiyah radiya Llahu `anhu? Did they have the authority to dismiss him from his kinship or from seeking his right based on it? And has history ever witnessed in any of its annuls that a revolutionist gets dismissed from his spearheading of an insurrection due to the decision of two arbiters? There is no doubt that this is another reason for the disapproval of the popular narration of the Arbitration and the decision that was taken therein.
As for the third matter, the idea that Abu Musa al Ash’ari radiya Llahu `anhu was a victim of the deceit of ‘Amr ibn al ’As radiya Llahu `anhu in the Arbitration contradicts the historical realities which establish his merit, acumen, and his deep understanding of the Din. All of these traits are established for him due to him presiding over some positions of governance and law in the Islamic world in the time of Nabi salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam and during the Caliphate of ‘Umar ‘Uthman, and ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhum. Would it then be possible to imagine that a person who was trusted by Rasul Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam and his Khalifas thereafter was beguiled by a deception like the one stated in the incident of the arbitration. Furthermore, the Sahabah and many scholars of the successors have attested to the thorough knowledge of Abu Musa radiya Llahu `anhu, his competence in governance, and his shrewdness in matters of law. Also, accepting this narrative would entail that ‘Amr ibn al ’As radiya Llahu `anhu was a man who was driven by his ego when fulfilling his responsibilities. Owing to which his ego overrode not only his intellect and experience, but also his piety and abstinence. Thereafter the alleged reviling and swearing that transpired between him and Abu Musa radiya Llahu `anhuma is something that is in complete contrast with what is categorically known of their good conduct and their well-mannered speech.
This slogan, ‘there is no rule but for Allah’, has remained the distinguishing symbol of the Khawarij in spite of all their various sects and their multiplicity. Their interpretations thereof, however, have differed from sect to sect. Hence, the Khawarij on the basis of their warped understanding and their forced interpretation of the texts perpetrated many crimes, and wreaked havoc on the earth by killing and looting the wealth of the Muslims. They did this considering it to be permissible due to their belief that whoever opposed them was not a Muslim. And they are the predecessors of the excommunicating sects of this Ummah till today.
From the specialities of the sects of the Khawarij was fanaticism, exceeding of bounds and being nit-picky. They also held a distinguished identity due to their reactionary methodology which was characterised by hastiness and carelessness, and their swift ability to divide and instigate problems. Callousness was their temperament and narrow-mindedness was their speciality. Whenever they would be given a choice between two things, they would always choose the more difficult; whenever they coincidentally encountered two matters, they would choose the more unlikely; and whenever they saw two paths, they treaded the more challenging one.
And because the Khawarij were a breed of unique humans who were difficult, had very limited perception, narrow horizons, and an inability to understand differences, owing to which they would revolt for the most inessential of reasons without pondering over the catalysts and the ramifications thereof, and without deliberation; this induced them to excommunicate the entire Muslim congregation and display hatred and enmity for the denominations that opposed them.
Similarly, one of their principles was that revolting against a tyrannical ruler is an obligation which could not be discarded. Hence, it was binding upon every capable person to revolt even if he was alone, and whether he was confident that his rebellion will produce a positive result or not. Thus, they did not place numbers and ability to change a vice as a requisite to revolt, which is why their history is filled with series of insurrections and incessant wars. In doing so, they were exterminated or they were almost close to extermination.
They opposed the stance of most of the Khawarij of excommunicating the Sahabah radiya Llahu `anhum, and the stance of most of the Shia of exceeding bounds regarding ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu and denigrating ‘Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu, and they also diverged from the stance of the Ahlus Sunnah.
The extremity of their view which entails deferring the matter of ‘Ali and ‘Uthman radiya Llahu `anhuma and doubting their entrance into Jannat is quite clear. For it entails digressing from that which is established in the Shar’i texts and is unanimously well-known to the scholars, i.e. the merit of ‘Uthman and ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhuma and the testimony of Jannat for them. And this is from the errors and the deviances of the Murji’ah.
Nonetheless, whether Irja’ was an independent position which came about because of the Fitnah or it was a product of the Khariji ideology and its offshoot, it, due to it being a psychological position, could have existed in this blind Fitnah and whatever followed. Because one of the trends of a society is that any debate between two sects or groups necessarily leads to the emergence of a third group which is impartial for whatever reason. But this neutrality is nothing but a negative stance which is followed by scepticism and doubt regarding the Sahabah radiya Llahu `anhu who were embroiled in the dispute.
It would also be good to point out that the early Shia did not criticise the Sahabah radiya Llahu `anhum of Rasul Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam, revile them and denigrate them. In fact, they would give preference to Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu `anhuma over ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu and would give preference to ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu over ‘Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu. Subsequent to that the Mufaddilah emerged who gave preference to ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu over even Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu `anhuma. Thereafter, Shi’ism took on novel and grave extremes, for now it was gripped by extremism, the denouncing of the Caliphate of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu `anhuma, and reviling the Sahabah of Nabi salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam.
It should be noted that several factors contributed to the development of the Shia dogma. The most important of them was the Saba’iyyah. The greatest evidence to prove this is that the beliefs of the Shia are harmonious with some of the ideas and beliefs proposed by ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’, like believing in the Wasiyyah (immediate appointment of ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu, his Raj’ah (his return), Bada’ (otherwise occurring to Allah), the reviling of the Sahabah radiya Llahu `anhum and disassociation from them, and extremism regarding ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu.
What is also worth noting is that the one belief which is found across all the Shia sects is the belief that ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu was the best and that he was most deserving of the Caliphate. According to them, this is not something which is based on common interest and thus is left to the discretion of the general people, but is rather a pillar from the pillars of Din. In order to justify this belief, they conjured the Wasiyyah, i.e. the idea that Rasul Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam emphatically appointed ‘Ali radiya Llahu `anhu as his immediate successor after him.
Furthermore, despite the fact that the year 40 A.H/660 A.D. was considered the year of the congregation; however, the congregation was not completely realised. For there always remained those who opposed verbally or through action the settling of events which transpired in the time after the martyrdom of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu `anhu and the prevailing circumstances of the Umayyad dynasty. Together with that there were those who overtly displayed agreement but covertly concealed dissension.
The Khawarij also believed that whoever opposed the Qur’an in practice or in an opinion in which he erred was be a disbeliever. Therefore, they excommunicated the perpetrators of major sins and averred that they will be doomed to Hell-fire for eternity. In this they have opposed what is established in the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of Rasul Allah which state that the perpetration of a sin does not necessitate eternity in Hell-fire as long as it is not Shirk.
From the aforementioned it is clear that the true standard for passing a decision regarding any situation is the standard of the first century and the reality of the pious Salaf before the Ummah got embroiled in bickering in the time which followed after the Fitnah. That standard is that the reality of iman is a compound reality which comprises of both confession and practice, just as the reality of a human comprises of the body and the soul. This is something agreed upon by the Salaf. It is something that is categorically supported by the Shar’i texts and is sufficiently substantiated by rational and revelation based evidences. Only an innovator who deviated from the path, ignored the suggestions of the texts of revelation and the evidences of disposition and reason, and reverted to the assumptions of the philosophers, and a person in who the misconceptions of the theologians were deeply embedded, has opposed and diverged in this matter.
Another of their innovations is their belief in Bada’, Allah subhanahu wa ta `ala is completely above what they say. Bada’ means for such a matter to occur to Allah subhanahu wa ta `ala after him having previously been unaware of it that necessitates him changing his decree.
Another of their innovations is their extremist conception of their Imams whom they accord a rank higher than that of the Prophets `alayhim al Salam. They believe that they are infallible, that that they know the deeds of people and their lifespans, and that they have knowledge of the unseen.
And yet another of their innovations is that they adopted the stance of the Jahmiyyah regarding the attributes of Allah, and the stance of the Qadariyyah regarding the actions of men.
All of this is diametrically opposed to the pure belief of Salaf of this Ummah, the Sahabah radiya Llahu `anhum and those who followed them with goodness.
The theoretical angle was blown out of proportion to the detriment of the practical angle which the Sahabah radiya Llahu `anhum emphasised upon. They were the ones who understood the spirit of the message and deeply fathomed Islam, owing to which their hearts opened up to practice and were satisfied with constraining themselves from delving into the ambiguous texts, and the verses of the Qur’an, and the hadith which concern the attributes of Allah. And in doing so, they preserved the pristineness of the faith and its radiance. As opposed to the people of Kalam who because of their arguments and Byzantine dialogues, which concerned researching and investigating areas which were beyond the scope of the mind, destroyed the clarity of the faith and the transparency of the ideology. Their efforts did not produce any positive result other than inducing division, disputes, and shattering of the Islamic edifice because of inessential knowledge, which Rasul Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam the majority of the Ummah from the Sahabah, the successors, and the scholars of the Salaf all prohibited.
Some of the rulings in this regard were the following: a fleeing person should not be killed, a wounded person should not be finished off, a prisoner should not be killed, no chastity and wealth should be violated, and whoever dropped his weapons was safe. This was all because fighting the rebels was merely to repel them and return them to the truth. Hence, only that much was violable which came about due to the necessity of repelling, and the wealth, women and children, thus, remained upon the default ruling of amnesty.
The Ahlus Sunnah wa al Jama’ah always remain distant from extremism in everything and they give preference to moderation in opinion and in practice. They also strictly hold on to what their predecessors from the Sahabah radiya Llahu `anhum understood from the verses of the Qur’an and the hadith of Nabi salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam.
So, when the disputes and battles which transpired between the Sahabah radiya Llahu `anhum are mentioned their position is to supplicate that Allah be pleased with them and shower His mercy on them and to only make mention of them with goodness and nobleness.
And when the attributes of Allah are mentioned they affirm them and consign their modality to Allah subhanahu wa ta `ala in a way that befits his majesty and grandeur. They describe him with that with which he has described himself in the Qur’an and with which Nabi salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam has described him. They do so without distorting these attributes, rendering them useless, assigning modality to them, or assigning similarity.
Similarly, when a ruler is oppressive or transgressive, they do not rebel against him but after a few requisites are met. One such requisite is: assurance regarding the non-occurrence of a Fitnah and the realisation of what is best for the Muslims. Also, most of them do not consider leading an insurrection to be permissible only unless there is explicit disbelief which they are able to substantiate by way of evidence from Allah.
Also, it would be plausible to aver that the specific tendency of the Ahlus Sunnah wa al Jama’ah is that knowledge and practice are more fruitful and beneficial than mere debating and argumentation. And that is why they emphasise that the reality of Shar’i iman is confession and practice, and that it increases and decreases; increases with acts of obedience and decreases with sins.
Hence, the ideological and jurisprudential legacy of the Ahlus Sunnah has till the present day remained an ideal example of moderation in understanding events, weighing matters with the balance of Islam, and staying distant from the deviations of the extremist of the various sects in all contentious issues.