Miraculous Guidance

Miraculous Guidance continued
August 6, 2015
Prerequisites for Universal faith
August 6, 2015

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Miraculous Guidance

 

The first condition in the nabi giving the call of such a religion should be that he is able to transform those coming into contact with him as if they were reborn with a completely new outlook, thoughts and values; this revolutionary change should have to be brought about without any means or the methods employed by other wise-heads, or social organisations.

He should be dependent neither on fine art, nor literature, nor oratory, nor poetics, nor philosophic discourses, nor take recourse to rewards of positions and prestige, who is more often unlearned and unlettered, should be different in the influence exerted and the change brought about by all others to a marked degree — leaving no doubt that the two are basically different in their origination and consummation.

The change in the character and morals resulting from such a prophetic guidance should be indicative of a divine will and succour. Which could not be attributed to anything save to a light vouchsafed to the nabi or the blessing of his sacred companionship.

As those who are guided by a nabi come to possess a living awareness of Allah, sincerity of purpose, humility and submission, selflessness, devotion, least regard for anything worldly, anxiety for salvation, self-analysis and steadfastness — the qualities which are conspicuous by the absence in the men trained and guided by all masterminds like great philosophers, pedagogues, thinkers and intellectuals.

The miraculous and revolutionary guidance provided by the prophets of Allah has been vividly described in this verse of the Qur’an:

 

هُوَ الَّذِیْ بَعَثَ فِی الْاُمِّیّنَ رَسُوْلًا مِّنْهُمْ یَتْلُوْا عَلَیْهِمْ اٰیٰتِهٖ وَ یُزَکِّیْهِمْ وَ یُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْکِتٰبَ وَ الْحِكْمَةَۗ     وَ اِنْ کَانُوْا مِنْ قَبْلُ لَفِیْ ضَلٰلٍ مُّبِیْنٍ

It is He who has raised among the unlettered people a messenger from among themselves who recites His revelation to them, and purifies them, and teaches them the Book, and wisdom; for they were formerly clearly misguided.[1]

 

At another place the sacred Scripture reads:

 

وَ لٰکِنَّ اللّٰهَ حَبَّبَ اِلَیْكُمُ الْاِیْمَانَ وَ زَیَّنَهُ فِیْ قُلُوْبِكُمْ وَ کَرَّهَ اِلَیْكُمُ الْكُفْرَ وَ الْفُسُوْقَ وَ الْعِصْیَانَ ؕ اُولٓئِكَ هُمُ الرّٰشِدُوْنَ

However, Allah has endeared the faith to you and beautified it in your hearts and has made denial of truth, wickedness, and disobedience hateful to you.[2]

 

Yet another verse of the Qur’an announces:

 

فَاَنْزَلَ اللّٰهُ سَکِیْنَتَهُ عَلٰی رَسُوْلِهٖ وَ عَلَی الْمُؤْمِنِیْنَ وَ اَلْزَمَهُمْ کَلِمَةَ التَّقْوٰی وَ کَانُوْٓا اَحَقَّ بِهَا وَ اهْلَهَا ؕ وَ کَانَ اللّٰهُ بِكُلِّ شَیْءٍ عَلِیْمًا

Allah sent down His tranquillity upon His Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and the believers and made the word of piety binding on them for they were most worthy and deserving of it.[3]

 

Success of Prophetic Guidance

Such a nabi should be able to bring about a marvellous change in the manner and morals of a large number of his comrades. He should be able to produce men with angelic qualities, each one of whom should be capable of converting an entire nation or country to his faith through his strength of character and virtuous behaviour. The nabi should be able to transform the life of his people in such large numbers that an ideal society should come into existence within his own life-time since a nabi who fails to accomplish this feat can hardly be expected to lay a claim that his successors would change the world or bring their contemporaries to inculcate a living awareness of Allah on a scale wider than the nabi had himself achieved.

 

Prophets and Political Strategists

Anyone sent by Allah to call towards such a religion should bear no resemblance in his character and morals, procedure and behaviour patterns as well as in his ends and objectives with political leaders, conquerors and founders of empires. The methods applied by him in pursuance of his objectives should rather be contrary to the ways adopted by all other worldly-minded persons whose ultimate aim is to establish a dynastic rule. The history of Roman, Byzantine, Sassanid, Kiyani, Suryavanshi, Chandravanshi and similar other dynasties is witness to the fact that the family of an empire builder is passed on the reins of government and if, for any reason, that is not possible, the clan, tribe or family of the victor comes to occupy a position of prosperity and privilege which is enjoyed by it for several generations. Their exploits are like the kill of a lion providing feast to other animals of the jungle. One would have hardly believed the stories of wanton enjoyment and festivity of the Roman and Persian emperors if these had not been recorded by reliable historians.[4] The grandeur of their palaces and the golden carpets[5] they contained as well as ostentatious living of the Indian rulers furnish an example of their luxurious way of life.

As against the kings and emperors, a nabi of Allah never builds an empire nor does he do anything to ensure a life of peace and prosperity for his progeny, nor does he vest his family with any exclusive right or privilege to be exercised by them by virtue of their relationship to him. Rather, his way is entirely different: he requires his family members to lead a life of hardship, austerity and self-sacrifice and they have to depend after him on their own capabilities and efforts. They are never allowed by a nabi to become social parasites like monks and priests.[6]

 

Pure and Simple Scripture

The third essential feature is that the scripture revealed to such a nabi is the bull work of his religion, fountainhead of his teachings, a means to bring man closer to Allah, a lighthouse of true spirituality and, finally, a guidebook of his creed; it teaches nothing else than absolute and uncompromising monotheism. It has to retain these characteristics to the end of time. Allah takes the responsibility of protecting it from every corruption. It remains entirely unchanged, understood and recited by the people in large numbers and also treasured in human memory through divine dispensation unlike any other book. All this is made possible since it has to be presented as the last revelation to the coming generations for their salvation.

The annals of the Old and the New Testaments and other religious scriptures record the events leading to the destruction of these sacred writings sometimes by the invaders and enemies and often through interpolations by their own over-religious followers.[7] Some of these writings were even lost for ever by the heedlessness of their insincere and selfish trustees. The reason for it was that safekeeping of these scriptures was entrusted to their followers alone who were:

اسْتُحْفِظُوْا مِنْ کِتٰبِ اللّٰهِ وَکَانُوْا عَلَیْهِ شُهَدَآءَ

Bidden to observe it and there unto were they witnesses.[8]

 

Whereas the responsibility of protecting the Noble Qur’an against every alteration and interpolation was assumed by Allah for He says:

 

اِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَ اِنَّا لَهُ لَحٰفِظُوْنَ

It is We who have sent down the Reminder and it is We who will most surely safeguard it.[9]

 

Fount of Guidance

The forth characteristic is that such a nabi should be the sole leader and guide and cynosure for his followers. Just as the Creator of the universe is to be accepted as the Only Lord and Master, the followers of such a nabi have to be unanimous in their obedience, love and regard for the unique personality of the nabi whom they should hold as the wisest of the wise, the last of the prophets and the prince of all human beings. They ought to disdain regarding anybody else — howsoever near and dear he may be to the nabi — as impeccable, worthy of their unquestioning obedience or a recipient of revelation. In reality, the solidarity of his followers, protection against multiplicity of creeds and divisive forces and the guarantee of their own inherent spiritual strength lie in their acceptance of the principle of finality of nubuwwah.[10]

Now we shall discuss each of these four requirements for an abiding religion in order to examine each issue objectively in the light of observations of Muslim and non-Muslim thinkers and writers, and the record of events preserved by history.

 

Miraculous moulding of Hearts.

Every nabi of Allah had guided and trained a band of followers, comprising of men who had given a new lease of life to our world, by making the existence of man more meaningful. Among the accomplishments of these prophets those of Nabi Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam stands out as the most luminous and surpassing all others. His achievements in this regard, preserved by historians in much greater detail, show that his success was not only more than a match for earlier prophets but that he had to start his work in circumstances more adverse than anybody else. He undertook the task of character building among a people who were as profligate as beasts and raised them morally to a standard never achieved by any nabi. Thus, beginning his work from the lowest, he took it to the highest standard.

 

The Soul shining through its Crystal covering.

Every man guided by Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was the shadow of the divine perfection, of whom the entire humanity can justly be proud of. We do not find men with similar elegance and sublime character save among the prophets of Allah. Their unflinching faith, depth of knowledge unsullied heart, simplicity, self-abnegation, clemency, pious disposition, kindness to others, courage and velour, devotion to Allah and eagerness to lay down their lives for Him, their vigils by night and engagements by day, indifference to the world and all it contains, probity and candidness and their direction and management were unprecedented in world history. Every one of them would have been taken as mythical figures if verifiable records of history had not preserved their extra ordinary achievements.

The Sahabah of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam were a class by themselves; a group of men who had absorbed, through prophetic guidance, the highest qualities of head and heart ever aspired by man. Iqbal, the poet of the East, has made an immortal verse of the acme of perfection which can be rephrased as under:

 

Child of earth and light, creature with divine traits, his heart is indifferent to both the worlds, this and that.

Of hopes, he has little, but lofty in aims,

Winsome in his ways, his glance is sure to attract.

Courteous in speech, irresistible in effort,

Whether its war or peace he is pious, pure of heart.

His ways are strange, his exploits unsurpassed,

March ahead was his call to the times past.

Inspiring to the upward-looking, cup-bearer to the chaste,

His liquor is inebriate, truth is his sword.

 

Now we shall present some historical evidence to prove that the Sahabah of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam truly deserve the above eulogy.

 

Khalifah ‘Ali’s Testimony

We begin with two statements of Khalifah ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu whose testimony is based on his personal knowledge. He is reported to have made these observations after most of his comrades had already reached their journey’s end. His attestation does not relate to his four confidants (Salman al Farsi, Abu Dhar al Ghaffari, Miqdad ibn al Aswad and ‘Ammar ibn Yasir) who were alive when he was elected Khalifah[11],but to all the departed Sahabah of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. These extracts have been taken from Nahj al Balaghah, an authentic compilation of his sermons, letters, orders and sayings. It was compiled by the noted Shia poet and man of letters, al Sharif al Radi (359 – 404 A.H/970 – 1013), and has been regarded highly ever since it came to be written. Another Shia scholar Ibn Abi al Hadid (586 – 655 A.H/1190 – 1257) has written a detailed commentary of this work. The elegance, warmth and vigour of Khalifah ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu diction are apparent in these statements in all its intensity and colour.

 

I have seen Sahabah of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. None of you leads a life like them; they used to spend their nights in prayer and meditation; they were very often standing or bowing before Allah; the apprehension on the Day of Judgment always was in their minds; thought of Allah the Almighty always kept them frightened. They feared His Wrath and kept hoping for His Blessing and Reward.[12]

 

In another sermon says ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu:

 

Where have those people gone who when invited to Islam accepted it sincerely; who read the Qur’an and whole-heartedly, followed the commands it contained; who loved Islam as a she-camel loves her young one and when ordered to fight in defence of Islam, they willingly left their homes and families. Some of them died like martyrs and some survived the ordeal. Success never overjoyed them and death never made them despaired. Sites of human misery saddened their lives, constant absorption of their minds and bodies in performance of the duties towards Allah and men had made them look pale and haggard; and humility manifested itself from their behaviour (as against the vanity of pseudo-pious people). They were brethren unto me. They have gone (are dead). I am justified in desiring to meet them once again and to be sad at separation from them.[13]

 

Attestation by European Scholars

After this attestation by ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, we would now cite few European scholars in confirmation of his observation. Caetani writes in Annali dell’ Islam:

 

These men were true moral heirs of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, the future apostles of Islam, the faithful trustees of all that Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam revealed unto the men of Allah. Unto these men, through their constant contact with the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and their devotion to him, there had already entered a new mode of thought and feeling, loftier and more civilised than they had known any before; they had really changed for the better from every point of view, and later on as statesmen and generals, in this difficult moments of war and conquests they gave magnificent and undeniable proof that the ideas and doctrines of Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had been seed cast on fruitful soil, and had produced a body of men of the highest worth. They were the depositories of the sacred text of the Noble Qur’an, which they alone knew by heart; they were the jealous guardians of the memory of every word and bidding of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, the trustees of moral heritage of Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. These men formed the venerable stock of Islam from whom one day was to spring the noble band of the first jurists, theologians and traditions of Muslim society.[14]

 

The noted French writer Dr. Gustave Lebon states about the Sahabah of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:

 

In short the new religion came across many crucial moments and, there is the least doubt, that it was the sagacity of the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam companions which helped them to succeed on these occasions. They selected men for the Caliphate whose only object in mind was to propagate the religion of Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.[15]

 

About the first four Khulafaʼ, the foremost Sahabah of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, the historian Edward Gibbon writes:

 

Any historian who balances the four Caliphs with a hand unshaken by superstition will calmly pronounce that their manners were alike, pure and exemplary; that their zeal was fervent, and probably sincere; and that, in the midst of riches and power, their lives were devoted to the practice of moral and religious duties.[16]

 

A historian taken as authority on the history of Arabia has the following to say about the first two Khulafaʼ:

 

Abu Bakr (632 – 634), the conqueror and pacifier of Arabia, lived in patriarchal simplicity. In the first six months of his short reign he travelled back and forth daily from al Sunh (when he lived in a modest household with his wife, Habibah) to his capital Madinah, and received no stipend since the state had at that time hardly any income. All state business he transacted on the courtyard of the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam Mosque… In character he was endowed with much strength and forcefulness than current traditions credit to him.

Simple and frugal in manner, his energetic and talented successor, ‘Umar (634 – 644), who was a towering height, strong physique and bald-headed, continued for some time after becoming Caliph to support himself by trade and lived throughout his life in a style as unostentatious as that of a Bedouin sheikh… His irreproachable character became an exemplar for all conscientious successors to follow. He owned, we are told, one shirt and one mantle only, both conspicuous for their patch work, slept in the beds of palm leaves and had no concern other than maintenance of the purity of the faith, the upholding of justice and the ascendancy and the security of Islam and the Arabians.[17]

 

Another European writer, by no means sympathetic to Islam, has acknowledged the sterling qualities of these Sahabah of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Writes William Muir:

 

At his court, Abu Bakr maintained the same simple and frugal life as Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Guards and servitors there were none, nor anything approaching the pomp and circumstance of state. He was diligent in business… Abu Bakr never spared himself, and many incidents are related of the manner in which he descended to the minutest thing. Thus, he would sally forth by night to seek the destitute or oppressed person… In the choice of his agents for high office or command, he was absolutely free from nepotism or partiality, and was wise and discerning in his estimate of character.[18]

 

In regard to Khalifah ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, William Muir says:

 

Simplicity and duty were his guiding principle, impartiality and devotion characterised the discharge of his office; and responsibility so weighed upon him that at times he would exclaim: “O that my mother had not borne me; would that I had been this stalk of grass, instead!” — He was tender-hearted, and numberless acts of kindness are recorded, such as relieving the wants of the widow and fatherless.[19]

 

He portrays the great achievements of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu in this manner:

 

So died ‘Umar, next to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam the greatest in the kingdom of Islam; for it was within these ten years, that by his wisdom of Islam, patience, and vigour, domination was achieved through Syria, Egypt, and Persia, which Islam has ever maintained… Yet throughout his marvellous fortune he never lost equipoise of wise and sober judgment, nor exalted himself above the frugal and familiar style of an Arab chief. “Where is the Khalifah?” would the visitor from distant provinces inquire, as he looked around the court of the great mosque; and all the while the monarch sat in homely guise before him.[20]

 

Testimony of a Shia Scholar

We shall not set forth the findings of any Sunni penman here is favour of the two Khulafaʼ, but depend on a Shia scholar, Justice Sayed Amir ‘Ali[21],who writes in The Spirit of Islam:

 

An examination of the political condition of the Muslims under the early khulafaʼ brings into view a popular government administered by an elective chief with limited powers. The prerogatives of the head of the State were confined to administrative and executive matters, such as the regulation of the police, control of army, transaction of foreign affairs, disbursement of finances, etc. but could not act in contravention of the recognised law. The law was the same for the poor as for the rich, for the man in power as for the labourer in the field.[22]

 

He also says:

 

The stern devotion of the early Caliphs to the well-being of the people, and the austere simplicity of their lives, were in strict accordance with the example of the Master. They preached and prayed in the mosque like the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam; received in their homes the poor and the oppressed, and failed not to give hearing to the meanest. Without cortege, without pomp or ceremony, they ruled the hearts of men by the force of the character.[23]

 

Syed Amir ‘Ali has paid tribute, without any reservation to the simple and frugal living, even-handed justice and the service rendered to Islam by the first three Khulafaʼ, Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhum. The circumstances leading to the election of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu as the first successor of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam has been described as follows by him:

 

Among the Arabs, the chieftaincy of a tribe is not hereditary but elective; the principle of universal suffrage is recognised in its extremist form, and all the members of the tribe have a voice in the election of the chief. The election is made on the basis of seniority among the surviving male members of the deceased chieftain’s family. The old tribal custom was followed in the choice of a successor to the Prophet, for the urgency of the times admitted for no delay. Abu Bakr, who by virtue of his age and the position he had held at Makkah occupied a high place in the estimation of the Arabs, was hastily elected to the office of Caliph or Vicegerent of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He was recognised as a man of wisdom and moderation, and his election was accepted with their usual devotion to the faith by ‘Ali and the chief members of Muhammad’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam family.[24]

 

The character of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu has been thus depicted by Amir ‘Ali:

 

Like his Master, Abu Bakr was extremely simple in his habits; gentle but firm; he devoted all his energies to the administration of the new-born state and to the good of the people. He would sally forth by night to help the distressed and relieve the destitute.[25]

 

The achievements of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu as summed up by Amir ‘Ali testify that:

 

The short government was too fully occupied with the labour of pacifying the dessert tribes to afford time for any systematic regulations of the provinces. But with the reign of ‘Umar — a truly great man — commenced that sleepless care for the welfare of the subject nations which characterised the early Muslim governments.[26]

 

He also says:

 

‘Umar’s accession to the Caliphate was of immense value to Islam. He was a man of strong moral fibre and a keen sense of justice, possessed a great energy and force of character.[27]

 

Martyrdom of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, according to Amir ‘Ali, was one of the greatest disaster suffered by Islam:

 

The death of ‘Umar was a real calamity to Islam. Stern but just, far-sighted, thoroughly versed in the character of his people; he was perfectly fitted for the leadership of unruly Arabs. He held the helm with a strong hand and severely repressed the natural tendency to demoralisation among nomadic tribes and semi-civilised people when coming in contact with the luxury and vices of the cities… Of people habits, austere and frugal, always accessible to the meanest of his subjects, wandering about at night to inquire into the condition of people without guard or court— such was the greatest and most powerful ruler of the time.[28]

 

Khalifah ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan

 

History bears witness to the fact that purity of faith patriarchal simplicity dominated the life of the third Khalifah ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He entertained guests with sumptuous meal, but he himself took bread with vinegar.[29] Very often he fasted continuously for days together. He mostly attended to his necessities himself and never woke up any servant at night. “The night is theirs”, he used to say if he was asked to take their help.[30]

‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu had a slave whom he had once pulled by the ear. After he had been elected to preside over the Khilafah, he asked the slave to avenge himself and insisted until the slave had exacted the retribution. He even remarked on the occasion: “Satisfy yourself, and take your vengeance in this world so that nothing remains for the hereafter.”

‘Abd al Malik ibn Shaddad relates that he saw ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu on the pulpit one Friday donning a coarse woollen sheet of Adan, hardly costing four or five dirhams.[31]

Hassan al Basri once saw ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu taking rest in the masjid at noon, and when he stood up the marks made by the pebbles were visible on his body. Those present on the occasion wondered at the austere ways of the Khalifah.[32]

So solicitous was he about the welfare of the people that he often enquired about the market rates of different commodities even after ascending the pulpit of the masjid. Musa ibn Talhah relates that he saw the Khalifah sitting on the pulpit, while the iqamah was being recited, and he was enquiring from certain persons about their welfare and itinerary.[33]

Nothing can illustrate his sincerity and self-abnegation more than the events dealing with his martyrdom. While the insurgents had besieged him in Madinah, he calmly bade the citizens to go back to their homes since he did not want to fight or allow the blood of any Muslim to be shed for him. He died, while reciting the Qur’an, at the hands of the rebels but did not succumb to their demands of retiring from the khilafah, a trust committed to his care by the Muslims. He stood fast to his post till his last breath for he deemed a sacred office entrusted to him in accordance with the prediction of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.[34]

“His chief merit lay in his piety”[35], says Amir ‘Ali while William Muir observes that he had a “kindly nature which might have made him, in less troubling times, a favourite of people.”[36]

His state policy has been described thus by Levi della Vida in the Shorter Encyclopaedia of Islam:

As Wellhausen pointed out and Caetani has expounded at length, ‘Uthman only followed and developed the policy of ‘Umar.[37]

 

The twelve years ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu held the helm, Islamic domination saw an unprecedented rapid expansion. Writes Amir ‘Ali:

 

The incursions of the Turks in Transoxiana lead to the conquest of Balkh. Similarly were Herat, Kabul and Ghazni captured. The rising in Southern Persia lead to the subjugation of Kerman and Sistan. In the settlement of the new acquisitions, the policy of ‘Umar was followed. No sooner were these countries conquered, then effective measures were set on foot for the development of their material resources. Water-courses were dug, roads made, fruit trees planted, and security given to trade by establishment of a regular police organisation. Byzantine inroads from the north led to an advance on the country now called Asia Minor, towards the Black Sea. In Africa, Tripoli and Barco, and in the Mediterranean Cyprus, were conquered. A large fleet sent by the Romans to re-conquer Egypt was destroyed of Alexandria.[38]

 

In short, the limits of the Islamic empire were extended from Sindh, in the east, to Spain in the West. A powerful armada was organised although the Arabs did not earlier possess a single ship.

The enlargement of the grand square of the Ka’bah, undertaken in 26 A.H. was a great service to Islam by ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. The Masjid of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in Madinah was also enlarged and beautified in 29 A.H. He also sent orders to build new masjids in the conquered dominions and enlarge the existing ones. But still his greatest achievement was to secure the uniformity of the sacred Scripture for the sake of doing away with the differences in its recitation, and bringing the standard text into exclusive use throughout the far-flung Islamic dominions.[39] It would be interesting to mention here that when ‘Ali found certain citizens in Kufah blaming his predecessor for standardisation of the Qur’anic recitation he was filled with anger. “Silence!”, said ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu “‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu acted as he did with the advice of leading men amongst us; and if I had been a ruler at the time, instead of him, I should myself have exactly done the same.”[40]

 

Khalifah ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib

Nobody has ever disputed the angelical disposition of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu except the Khawarij.[41] We shall give here the reminiscences of Dirar ibn Damurah, a comrade of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu who described the character and temperament of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu at the behest of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, who had been a long while at loggerheads with his predecessor. The picture of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu portrayed by Dirar is really a graphic description of the chivalrous, human, forbearing and self-sacrificing companion brought up under the guidance of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:

 

He looked askance at the world and its pleasures; the night and its darkness were more agreeable to him. By my troth, his eyes were more often filled with tears and appeared to be care-worn. He had the touch of conscience which often made him to reproach himself. He was happy to wear garments made of coarse cloth and partake coarse food, lived like a common man, and made no distinction between himself and others. Whenever we asked anything, he would reply; whenever we went to him, he would salute first; and whenever we invited him, he came ungrudgingly; but despite this nearness, his awe never permitted us to talk to his presence or join his conversation. When he laughed, his teeth used to shine as hail stones. He respected the pious and loved the poor. More men of influence or authority could not hope to achieve any undeserved gain from him, nor did the weak ever give up hope of obtaining justice from him.

I declare to Allah that I have seen him often after the night fall, standing on the prayer-mat, holding his beard, weeping bitterly. I have heard him sobbing and lamenting: “O World, do you wish to entice me away? Have you brought your charms for me? Away! Away with you! Go about your business and deceive somebody else. I have already divorced you thrice. O World! Your pleasure is transitory, your life is short, and your allurements are unreliable and dangerous. Alas! I have but little provisions, the voyage is long and the route is extremely perilous.[42]

 
 

NEXT⇒ Miraculous Guidance continued


[1]  Surah al Jumu’ah: 2.

[2]  Surah al Hujurat: 7 for a detailed discussion of Qur’anic verses praising the companions of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam see Ayat al Bayyinat, Vol. 1. p. 12 – 31 by Muhsin al Mulk.

[3]  Surah al Fath: 26.

[4]  A Christensen. Iran Sous Les Sassanides, Paris, 1936 (trans. By Prof. Muhammad Iqbal, Iran ba’ahd-i-Sasanian).

[5]  See ‘Abd al Halim Sharar, Tarikh Islam, Vol. I, p. 356, Tarikh Tabari.

[6]  Details given elsewhere.

[7]  See Tarikh Suhaf-e Samawi by Prof. Nawab ‘Ali and the author’s Islamic Concept of Prophethood, p. 171-183.

[8]  Surah al Maʼidah: 44.

[9]  Surah al Hijr: 9.

[10]  See Chapter VIII Muhammad, the last Prophet of the author’s Islamic concept of Prophethood, (Lucknow 1976). The creed of Imamah held by the Shia sect will be discussed later on.

[11]  ‘Ammar ibn Yasir radiya Llahu ‘anhu died in 37 A.H. and Salman al Farsi radiya Llahu ‘anhu in 36 A.H, during the reign of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu who died in 40 A.H.

[12]Peak of Eloquence (Nahj al Balaghah), Sermons. Letters and Sayings of Imam ‘Ali, radiya Llahu ‘anhu ‘Askari Jafery, Bombay, 1979, Sermon No. 100, p. 211 (published by Islamic Seminary for World Shia Muslim Organization, USA).

[13]  Ibid, Sermon No. 124, p. 244.

[14]  Caetani, Annal dell’ Islam, vol. II. p. 429, cited from T.W Arnold, Preaching of Islam, London, 1935, pg. 41-42.

[15]  Translated from Urdu translation Tamaddun ‘Arab by Dr. S. ‘Ali Bilgrami, p. 134.

[16]  Edward Gibbon, The History of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, vol. V London, 1911, p. 384-385

[17]  Philip K. Hitti, History of the Arabs, London, 1953, p. 175-176.

[18]  Sir William Muir, Annals of early Caliphate, London, 1882, p. 123

[19]  Ibid, p. 283-285

[20]Annals of the Early Caliphate, op. cit. p. 283

[21]  Justice Sir Sayed Amir ‘Ali (1849 – 1928) was a descendent of a Shia family which immigrated to India from Khurasan during the reign of Nadir Shah. He first received education of English, Law, and Arabic in the Muhsiniyyah Hoogli College, Calcutta and then was called to Bar in England in 1873. He retired in Bengal high Court in 1904 and took up residence in England. He was elected as the first Indian member of the Privy Council’s Law Committee in 1909 and died in 1928. Few Indians can claim to have a command over the English language and as a facile a pen as Sayed Amir ‘Ali, Major Osborn, the noted orientalist, once remarked that even English men envied his easy and forceful edition.

[22]The Spirit of Islam, London, 1922, p. 27.

[23]The spirit of Islam, op, cit, p. 280.

[24] S. Amir ‘Ali, A Short History of the Saracens, London, 1955. p. 21

[25]A Short History of Saracens, op. cit., p. 26-27

[26]The spirit of Islam, op. cit, p. 278.

[27]A Short History of the Saracens, op. cit., p.27.

[28]  Ibid, p. 43-44

[29]  Abu Nu’aym, Hafiz Ahmed ibn ‘Abdullah, Hilyat al Auliyaʼ, Lebanon, 1980 (cited on the authority of Sharjil ibn Muslim), Vol. I, p.60

[30]  Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, Vol. III, p. 60.

[31]  Ibn Sa’d Tabaqat, Vol. III. p. 60.

[32]  Ibid, p. 60.

[33]  Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, Vol. III. p. 59.

[34]  See Suyuti, Tarikh al Khulafaʼ, Maktabah al Sa’adah, Egypt, 1952; Ibn Kathir, Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, Matba’ al Ma’arif, 1966

[35]A Short History of Saracens, op. cit., p. 341.

[36]Shorter Encyclopaedia of Islam, p. 116.

[37]A Short History of Saracens, op. cit., p. 47.

[38]A Short History of Saracens, op. cit., p. 47.

[39]Da’irat al Ma’arif Islamiyyah Lahore, 1973, vol. XII.

[40]Annals of Early Caliphate, op. cit., p. 308.

[41]  A section of ‘Ali’s army which mutinied during the Battle of Siffin and withdrew to Nahrawan on the borders of the desert and assumed a threatening attitude.

[42]  Ibn Jawzi, Sifat al Safwah, Daʼirat al Ma’arif (Hyderabad, 1355-6 A.H.) Vol. I, p. 122.

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