Dr. Faruq Hamadah
All praise is for Allah, the Lord of the worlds. Peace and salutations be upon our master, Muhammad, his family, his companions, and those that follow in their way till the Day of Judgment.
The subject matter of this dissertation, Establishing the stance of the Sahabah in the face of the fitnah (turmoil) according to the narration of Imam al Tabari and the scholars of hadith, is of grave importance as it addresses the ever evolving condition of the Muslim ummah. It will continue to determine the success in the evolution of the Muslims as long as it remains in vogue amongst the masses and its lessons expounded by the historians.
The above rings especially true as the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum revolutionized the human condition and lived an era of unprecedented progress of the spiritual self. They form part of the miracles of prophethood and proofs of the true Islamic creed.
The character that governed their lives was unlike any other nation that had come before them, nor surpassed by those who came after them. Consider the following traits of the nations of the past.
The Banu Isra’il said to Musa ‘alayh al Salam, their greatest Prophet:
قَالُوْا يَا مُوسَىٰ إِنَّ فِيْهَا قَوْمًا جَبَّارِيْنَ وَإِنَّا لَنْ نَّدْخُلَهَا حَتَّىٰ يَخْرُجُوْا مِنْهَا فَإِنْ يَخْرُجُوْا مِنْهَا فَإِنَّا دَاخِلُوْنَ قَالَ رَجُلَانِ مِنَ الَّذِيْنَ يَخَافُوْنَ أَنْعَمَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمَا ادْخُلُوْا عَلَيْهِمُ الْبَابَ فَإِذَا دَخَلْتُمُوْهُ فَإِنَّكُمْ غَالِبُوْنَ وَعَلَى اللَّهِ فَتَوَكَّلُوْا إِنْ كُنْتُمْ مُّؤْمِنِيْنَ قَالُوْا يَا مُوسَىٰ إِنَّا لَنْ نَّدْخُلَهَا أَبَدًا مَّا دَامُوْا فِيهَا فَاذْهَبْ أَنتَ وَرَبُّكَ فَقَاتِلَا إِنَّا هَاهُنَا قَاعِدُوْنَ قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي لَا أَمْلِكُ إِلَّا نَفْسِيْ وَأَخِيْ فَافْرُقْ بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَ الْقَوْمِ الْفَاسِقِيْنَ قَالَ فَإِنَّهَا مُحَرَّمَةٌ عَلَيْهِمْ أَرْبَعِيْنَ سَنَةً يَتِيْهُوْنَ فِيْ الْأَرْضِ فَلَا تَأْسَ عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْفَاسِقِيْنَ
They said, “O Musa, indeed within it is a people of tyrannical strength, and indeed, we will never enter it until they leave it; but if they leave it, then we will enter.” Said two men from those who feared [to disobey] upon whom Allah had bestowed favour, “Enter upon them through the gate, for when you have entered it, you will be predominant. And upon Allah rely, if you should be believers.” They said, “O Musa, indeed we will not enter it, ever, as long as they are within it; so go, you and your Lord, and fight. Indeed, we are remaining right here.” [Musa] said, “My Lord, indeed I do not possess except myself and my brother, so part us from the defiantly disobedient people.” [Allah] said, “Then indeed, it is forbidden to them for forty years [in which] they will wander throughout the land. So do not grieve over the defiantly disobedient people.”
Only two men who understood the weight the command of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala brought; two men who were perhaps Musa and his brother Harun ‘alayh al Salam!
As for the disciples of ‘Isa ‘alayh al Salam, they sincerely assisted him, however, they were ignorant of the recognition of their Lord. They had doubts in the prophethood of their Messenger which led to reluctance in sacrificing for their faith and shari’ah. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala recounts them thus:
إِذْ قَالَ الْحَوَارِيُّوْنَ يَا عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ هَلْ يَسْتَطِيْعُ رَبُّكَ أَنْ يُنَزِّلَ عَلَيْنَا مَائِدَةً مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ قَالَ اتَّقُوْا اللَّهَ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ مُّؤْمِنِيْنَ قَالُوْا نُرِيْدُ أَنْ نَّأْكُلَ مِنْهَا وَتَطْمَئِنَّ قُلُوْبُنَا وَنَعْلَمَ أَنْ قَدْ صَدَقْتَنَا وَنَكُوْنَ عَلَيْهَا مِنَ الشَّاهِدِيْنَ قَالَ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ اللَّهُمَّ رَبَّنَا أَنزِلْ عَلَيْنَا مَائِدَةً مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ تَكُوْنُ لَنَا عِيْدًا لِّأَوَّلِنَا وَآخِرِنَا وَآيَةً مِّنْكَ وَارْزُقْنَا وَأَنتَ خَيْرُ الرَّازِقِيْنَ
[And remember] when the disciples said, “O ‘Isa, Son of Maryam, can your Lord send down to us a table [spread with food] from the heaven? [‘Isa] said, “Fear Allah, if you should be believers.” They said, “We wish to eat from it and let our hearts be reassured and know that you have been truthful to us and be among its witnesses.” Said ‘Isa, the son of Maryam, “O Allah, our Lord, send down to us a table [spread with food] from the heaven to be for us a festival for the first of us and the last of us and a sign from You. And provide for us, and You are the best of providers.”
Now, ponder over the traits of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum in stark comparison to the above mentioned nations as established by Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala:
مُّحَمَّدٌ رَّسُوْلُ اللَّهِ وَالَّذِيْنَ مَعَهُ أَشِدَّاءُ عَلَى الْكُفَّارِ رُحَمَاءُ بَيْنَهُمْ تَرَاهُمْ رُكَّعًا سُجَّدًا يَبْتَغُوْنَ فَضْلًا مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانًا سِيْمَاهُمْ فِيْ وُجُوْهِهِمْ مِّنْ أَثَرِ السُّجُوْدِ ذَٰلِكَ مَثَلُهُمْ فِيْ التَّوْرَاةِ وَمَثَلُهُمْ فِيْ الْإِنْجِيْلِ كَزَرْعٍ أَخْرَجَ شَطْأَهُ فَآزَرَهُ فَاسْتَغْلَظَ فَاسْتَوَىٰ عَلَىٰ سُوْقِهِ يُعْجِبُ الزُّرَّاعَ لِيَغِيْظَ بِهِمُ الْكُفَّارَ وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِيْنَ آمَنُوْا وَعَمِلُوْا الصَّالِحَاتِ مِنْهُمْ مَّغْفِرَةً وَأَجْرًا عَظِيْمًا
Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; and those with him are forceful against the disbelievers, merciful among themselves. You see them bowing and prostrating [in prayer], seeking bounty from Allah and [His] pleasure. Their mark is on their faces from the trace of prostration. That is their description in the Torah. And their description in the Gospel is as a plant which produces its offshoots and strengthens them so they grow firm and stand upon their stalks, delighting the sowers – so that Allah may enrage by them the disbelievers. Allah has promised those who believe and do righteous deeds among them forgiveness and a great reward.
لِلْفُقَرَاءِ الْمُهَاجِرِينَ الَّذِينَ أُخْرِجُوا مِن دِيَارِهِمْ وَأَمْوَالِهِمْ يَبْتَغُونَ فَضْلًا مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانًا وَيَنصُرُونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الصَّادِقُونَ وَالَّذِينَ تَبَوَّءُوا الدَّارَ وَالْإِيمَانَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ يُحِبُّونَ مَنْ هَاجَرَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَا يَجِدُونَ فِي صُدُورِهِمْ حَاجَةً مِّمَّا أُوتُوا وَيُؤْثِرُونَ عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ وَلَوْ كَانَ بِهِمْ خَصَاصَةٌ وَمَن يُوقَ شُحَّ نَفْسِهِ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ
For the poor Emigrants who were expelled from their homes and their properties, seeking bounty from Allah and [His] approval and supporting Allah and His Messenger, [there is also a share]. Those are the truthful. And [also for] those who were settled in al Madinah and [adopted] the faith before them. They love those who emigrated to them and find not any want in their breasts of what the emigrants were given but give [them] preference over themselves, even though they are in privation. And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul – it is those who will be the successful.
لَّقَدْ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنِ الْمُؤْمِنِيْنَ إِذْ يُبَايِعُوْنَكَ تَحْتَ الشَّجَرَةِ فَعَلِمَ مَا فِيْ قُلُوْبِهِمْ فَأَنزَلَ السَّكِيْنَةَ عَلَيْهِمْ وَأَثَابَهُمْ فَتْحًا قَرِيْبًا
Certainly was Allah pleased with the believers when they pledged allegiance to you, [O Muhammad], under the tree, and He knew what was in their hearts, so He sent down tranquillity upon them and rewarded them with an imminent conquest.
These pure souls attracted the mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala that engulfed the worlds and through them Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala gave honor to this faith. They are a shining page amongst the dull libraries of history. Days will pass and eras will lapse, yet their achievements will never fail to be recognized by the true seekers of guidance. On the other hand, those whose hearts are diseased and whose minds have been overtaken by the cancerous influences of Shaitan will show an aversion to them; resulting in their own disgrace. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala says regarding such people:
رَضُوْا بِأَنْ يَكُوْنُوْا مَعَ الْخَوَالِفِ وَطُبِعَ عَلَىٰ قُلُوْبِهِمْ فَهُمْ لَا يَفْقَهُوْنَ لَٰكِنِ الرَّسُوْلُ وَالَّذِيْنَ آمَنُوْا مَعَهُ جَاهَدُوْا بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ وَأُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمُ الْخَيْرَاتُ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُوْنَ
They were satisfied to be with those who stay behind, and their hearts were sealed over, so they do not understand. But the Messenger and those who believed with him fought with their wealth and their lives. Those will have [all that is] good, and it is those who are the successful.
These were men with human qualities, not angels nor a creation of infallible actions and speech. They were moulded by the Qur’an and through the instruction of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, in a gentle and loving manner. They erred, like men err though they were, unlike men, authorities in Islamic law. Their conclusions in Islamic law were thus both correct and otherwise, which was then sifted through and adopted by the great scholars. Looking at the history of Islamic law one will no doubt realise this, a factuality.
At times the opinion of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu in a particular matter was not taken and at times the opinion of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu was overlooked and so on and so forth. Consider the incidents of killing the renegades, ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu being corrected by a woman, and the statement of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, “If it wasn’t for ‘Ali, ‘Uthman would have been destroyed.”
As lands were conquered and droves of people from different demographics came into the fold of Islam there were two phenomena that would naturally occur. Firstly, differences of opinion in matters of shari’ah would multiply due to the portal of Islamic law-making widening; and secondly, there would be a sharp increase in plans to bury the Islamic faith. The latter would be fronted by mainly two groups, the Jews and the Persians.
The Jews were motivated by their jealousy as established by the Qur’an time and again. Their envy, hatred, and sinister plots, all common knowledge, led them to leave no stone unturned in attempting to harm the Muslims whilst living in close proximity to them.
The Persians on the other hand were motivated by their sense of egotism. Ibn al Hazam writes:
ان الفرس كانوا من سعة الملك وعلو اليد على جميع الامم وجلالة الخطير في انفسهم حتى انهم كانوا يسمون انفسهم الاحرار والابناء وكانوا يعدون سائر الناس عبيداً لهم فلما امتحنوا بزوال الدولة عنهم على ايدي العرب تعاظمهم الامر وتضاعفت لديهم المصيبة وراموا كيد الاسلام بالمحاربة في اوقات شتى وكان من قائمتهم المقنع وبابك وابو سلم السراج وغيرهم فراوا ان كيده على الحيلة انجع فاظهر قوم منهم الاسلام واستمالوا اهل التشيع باظهار محبة اهل بيت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم واستشناع ظلم علي رضي الله عنه ثم سلكوا بهم مسالك حتى اخرجوهم عن الاسلام وكفروا اصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم واحدثوا الحلول واسقاط الشرائع وغيرها حتى ان علي بن ابي طالب رضي الله عنه منهم واحرق طوائف منهم
The Persians were a superpower having the upper hand over other nations, holding themselves as sublime and royal. They would call themselves ‘the liberated’ and ‘the sons’ considering all others their slaves. When their kingdom was taken away by the Arabs, they were astounded and bewildered at this great loss. They attempted to wage war against the Muslims on various occasions, without much luck. They then infiltrated the Muslims with a group outwardly accepting the Islamic faith whilst joining the ranks of the Shia. They made a show of love for the Ahlul Bayt and raised a hue and cry about the oppression of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. They then walked the treacherous path of regarding the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum as renegade. They ascribed to the belief of incarnation, considered themselves above the law of shari’ah and held many other erroneous views. This led to some of them regarding ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu as a deity which he punished by burning them.
The differences amongst the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum had become, for these hypocrites, an establishment of hostility which they imbued within themselves to inflate and exaggerate resulting in carnage for the ummah. The greatest of these was the unjust killing of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu; a door which opened many other tragedies such as the stand-off between Muawiyah and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhuma due to the different approach taken in avenging the blood of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
This difference led to many other differences with a concerted effort to realize the truth by the Muslims on either side, both forming the Ahlus Sunnah wa al Jama’ah. Another group though was strengthened by this; a group whose hearts were diseased, seeking only misguidance and anarchy. This group has persisted throughout history with the same goals reiterated in every century.
In this era, with the rise of the twentieth century, there has perhaps been no part of the shari’ah that hasn’t been a target of opposition, interpolation, and repudiation. This began with opposing the Qur’an, going onto rejecting the sciences of hadith and fiqh, and culminating with attempting to weave lies into history and civilisations of the past. Distorting history was perhaps the easiest of the lot as it does not adopt as stringent measures in verification as the other sciences do. This attack of falsities was primarily on the history of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum with one object in mind; establish their disinterest in the laws of shari’ah. The conclusion they hoped to come to was, if the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum were not attached to the injunctions of Islam then we shouldn’t be either. A deconstruction of the practical applications of shar’i injunctions.
This was deemed achievable by attributing statements to them and views related from them, not considering the veracity of either. Literary authors would go on to drift along this wave of distortion, furthering it through the currents of their works. The literary authors though were lax in their writings, with no governing principles to guide them which resulted in the implausibilities we deal with today. These forgeries and senseless fairy tales need to be opposed and corrected by every thinker, Muslim, and, especially, historian. The author, Sayed Muhammad Amahzun, has taken up this very task in the book before you.
The author has tackled many a thorny question and grave view herein with bravery, strength, and unwavering conviction. He has approached each discussion in a clear manner without any ambiguity or disparity. He has adopted the way of the true historians deciding on a matter after searching for and pondering over all the recorded accounts whilst weighing the strengths and weaknesses of either side. He then draws a conclusion citing his proofs as a scholar of the sunni maliki persuasion, not merely assuming conclusions based on pretences, nor for recognition of uncommon views, and certainly not to brag and boast.
A brief outline of this book is as follows:
Sayed Muhammad Amahzun has broken down the book into three chapters comprising of various modules, citing with proficiency, knowing well the books, particularly those of hadith, sirah, and Tarikh. He has referenced wisely, keeping to the authentic sources of Islamic history such as the books of al Bukhari (d. 256), Ibn Abi Hatim al Razi (d. 327), al Baladhuri (d. 279), al Khatib al Baghdadi, Ibn ‘Asakir, Ibn al Athir, al Dhahabi, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Khallikan, and Ibn Hajar. This methodology is in line with that of the erudite scholars in sourcing historical facts as opposed to sourcing history from story books and ode’s as done by inattentive liberals these days.
The author has conformed to using the jargon of the historians, not the useless jargon of late, as well as quoting directly from them extensively. Furthermore, the books relied upon hold a high status amongst researchers and tutors alike.
An in depth review of this book is as follows:
Module one of chapter one covers the subject of Islamic history through the following angles:
- Issue of Methodology.
- Reasons for distortion.
- The History of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum through Islamic Jurisprudence.
He has also written at length on the issue of contemporary thought.
Modules two and three of this chapter cover the life and works of Imam al Tabari. The author has expounded on this with insight, discussing:
- The sources of al Tabari.
- His chain of narrations, and the narrators he has relied upon in his book.
- He has dismissed the doubts that some seek to cast upon the life of Imam al Tabari and has dealt with the lies attributed to him, a prelude to discussing the methodology of his book. The author has deliberated on this point extensively as al Tabari and his book have been, and remain a breeding ground for those that wish to select certain weak and fabricated narrations to appease their desire in criticizing the faith and its leaders.
This chapter has been dedicated to discussing the following:
- Explaining the meaning and applications of the word fitnah.
- The Saba’iyyah rebellion (in attribution to Abdullah ibn Saba’, the Jew).
He has vehemently rejected the view that the Saba’iyyah rebellion did not occur citing the successive record of it through the centuries. Some contemporaries hold this view negating what no one has ever sought to deny. The following couplet fits them perfectly as the author says:
إذا احتاج النهار إلى دليل
وليس يصح في الأذهان شيء
Nothing will make sense to one,
who needs proof for day being day.
He has presented statements and authentic narrations of the early Muslims and those after them in favour of the presence of this group, headed by Abdullah ibn Saba’, the Jew. The proofs cited by him are sufficient for one seeking the truth.
- The reasons behind the fitnah during the Caliphate of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
- The life of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and refuting— just as the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum and Tabi’in had done—those who seek to tarnish his legacy with an impartial approach.
- The stance of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum in the face of fitnah in general and in this fitnah specifically.
He establishes their aloofness from falling into such fitnah deliberately and their regret if having done so otherwise. He also discusses the stance of the Tabi’in on the involvement of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum in such; thinking only good of them and finding a praiseworthy explanation for their actions.
This chapter deals with the complexities rising from the spread of the Islamic Empire and the inauguration of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu as the khalifah. The author has gathered the texts, sifted through the statements, and summarized the views adopted into three:
- Those that sought the blood ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu be avenged.
- Those that sought to delay capital punishment until conditions were calm again.
- Those that adopted the stance to not be party to this difference and voice no opinion on the matter. This was the view of the majority of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum.
Imam Ahmed narrates:
هاجت الفتنة وأصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم عشرات ألالوف ، فلم يحضرها منهم مائة ، بل لم يبلغوا ثلاثين
The fitnah arose whilst there were tens of thousands of Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. Not even a hundred of them came. Those that came didn’t number even thirty.
Imam Ahmed narrates that Umayyah ibn Khalid said to Shu’bah ibn Hajjaj, “Abu Shaibah narrates from Hakam from ‘Abdul Rahman ibn Abi Laylah; who says:
شهد صفين من أهل بدر سبعون رجلا،
Seventy men of Badr took part at Siffin.
But Shu’bah replied:
فقال كذب أبو شيبة، والله لقد ذاكرنا الحكم في ذلك فما وجدناه شهد صفين من أهل بدر غير خزيمة بن ثابت
Abu Shaibah has lied! By Allah, we discussed this with Hakam and we only found Khuzaimah ibn Thabit of the men of Badr to have taken part at Siffin.
This discussion was important to remove the cobwebs of falsities that surround this incident. The image of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum marching with their swords seeking the gains of this world has perhaps entered the mind of many. This is an extremely incorrect portrayal of these pure souls, which the author has thoroughly refuted.
This chapter further discusses the theological and applied outcomes of this fitnah, out of which many factions and schools of thought were born. A spectacle that the ummah continues to reel from. This last module explains the principles, event, and strain that were a result of it. The reader will be able to place his finger on many of the pivotal points where factions were born resulting in theological and other differences. The reader will also realise that which unifies the ummah and that which causes its disunity. The conclusion, a worthy one.
The respected teacher, Muhammad Amahzun has relied upon the books of Tarikh, in this significant book of his, more than the books of hadith. This is not only his right; it is a wonderful choice that has far reaching effects. It is known that the books of hadith have been served throughout the ages and its traditions successively and diligently narrated from one generation to the next. This rings especially true to the six authentic books of hadith and Musnad Imam Ahmed. On the other hand, the books of Tarikh don’t come close to such exclusivity with regards to examining its traditions and establishing the reports therein. He has used his expertise do delve into the field of Tarikh and sift through the authentic and fabrications. This has led to his proficiency in the sciences of both; hadith and Tarikh.
In conclusion, I would like to acknowledge the unabated efforts of Ustadh Muhammad Amahzun from the very first time he revealed this study of his to me up till presenting it to the esteemed committee. His attention to detail in procuring manuscripts for this book and sacrifice in the field of knowledge is an example of his sincerity. He has travelled far and wide in obtaining material for the book whilst referencing no less than four hundred sources.
I would also like to acknowledge his good character and sublime conduct when I would interject between his writings. I did not influence his findings in any way, leaving the explicit texts to express the correct conclusions. I hope that he will continue to write as a Muslim historian searching only for the truth and that he and other researches benefit from his works.
I also ask of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala to guide us all to the best of knowledge and understanding. May He guide us to the straight path.
Exalted are You; we have no knowledge except what You have taught us. Indeed, it is You who is the Knowing, the Wise.
Servant of the noble knowledge
Dr. Faruq Hamadah
Tenured professor of Sunnah and its sciences
Faculty of Arts – Jami’ah Muhammad al Khamis, al Rabat
 Surah al Ma’idah: 22-26.
 Surah al Ma’idah: 112-114.
 Surah al Fath: 29.
 Surah al Hashr: 8-9.
 Surah al Fath: 18.
 Surah al Tawbah: 87-88.
 Al Fasl fi al Milal wa al Ahwa’ wa al Nihal, vol. 2 pg. 115-116.
 See al Bidayah wa al Nihayah vol. 7 pg. 52.
 See al Bidayah wa al Nihayah vol. 7 pg. 281.