The First Discussion – The Concept of Nasb according to the Ahlus Sunnah

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The First Discussion

The Concept of Nasb according to the Ahlus Sunnah

 

The term ‘Nasb’ is an invented term which has no basis in the Book of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, the Sunnah of Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, or the reports of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. It is a term which does not feature in the works of any of the early scholars who have documented the Fitnah (unrest) and analysed its various events, starting from the murder of the Khalifah ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and continuing through the various battles which ensued between the people of Iraq and the people of Syria.

Despite it being difficult to identify the precise time wherein this term, with its specific definition, was born, it is, however, possible to say with certainty that it was born at the hands of the Shia. This is so due to the following reasons:

Firstly, the oldest texts wherein this term is used are the texts of the Shia.

Secondly, some of the early scholars of the Ahlus Sunnah considered the usage of this term to be a sign of its user being a Rafidi, which implies that according to their understanding it had a link with the Shia dogma and that it was a term specifically used by the Shia, as will come ahead.

Lastly, the divergence of people regarding the rulership of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and their various opinions regarding it are issues which dominated the Shia attention in the past and remains so right up to the present. Given such attention it is not far-fetched that this term was conceived at their hands so that they may use it to impugn any person who opposes them in their views and beliefs.

 

Probably the oldest text wherein this term appears, according to the sources of the Ahlus Sunnah, is the following poem of al Sayed al Himyari:[1]

وما يجحد ما قد قلت في السبطين إنسان

 

وإن أنكر ذو النصب فعندي فيه برهان

No person can deny what I have said regarding the Sibtayn (the grandsons).

And if a person of Nasb denies, then I have evidence.[2]

 

If the demise of al Sayed al Himyari was somewhere between 173 A.H. and 179 A.H. then most probably the inception of this term came to fruition in the second century, with its usage remaining limited and unpopular at that time.

Now, once it is established that he was a Shia, it is a given fact that any term which is invented by people certainly passes through various stages. In the pages to come we will try to discover these developments according to the viewpoint of the Ahlus Sunnah.

Ostensibly, this term did not enter the circles of the Ahlus Sunnah but in the third century A.H. This is because the oldest text in which the usage of this term features is the text of one of the pioneers of the sciences of hadith ‘Ali ibn al Madini,[3] who passed away in 234 A.H. It reads as follows:

 

من قال: فلان مشبه علمنا أنه جهمي، ومن قال: فلان مجبر علمنا أنه قدري، ومن قال: فلان ناصبي علمنا أنه رافضي

If someone says that so and so is a Mushabbih (anthropomorphist) we will know that he is a Jahmi. And whoever says that so and so is a Mujabbir (determinist) we will know that he is a Qadari (a disputer regarding pre-destiny). And whoever says that so and so is a Nasibi we will know that he is a Rafidi.[4]

 

Thereafter, al Dhuhali[5] who passed away in 258 A.H. and Abu Zur’ah who passed away in 264 A.H. used this term but in a way that does not denote any condemnation from their side. Hence al Dhuhali says:

 

لاتسألوه (يعني البخاري) عن شيء من الكلام، فإنه إن أجاب بخلاف ما نحن عليه وقع بيننا وبينه، وشمت بنا كل ناصبي ورافضي

Do not ask him (i.e. al Bukhari) anything regarding the speech of Allah; for if he answers with an answer which is against what we believe a dispute will ensue between us and him, whereafter every Nasibi and Rafidi will rejoice at out dispute.[6]

 

And Abu Zur’ah says:

 

إذا رأيت الكوفي يطعن في سفيان الثوري وزائدة فلا شك في أنه رافضي، وإذا رأيت الشامي يطعن على مكحول والأوزاعي فلا شك أنه ناصب

If you see a Kufi impugning Sufyan al Thawri[7] and Zaʾidah[8] then there is no doubt that he is a Rafidi. And if you see a Shami impugning Makhul[9] and Awza’i[10] then no doubt he is a Nasibi.[11]

 

Subsequent to this its usage became very popular ushering it henceforth into the circles of people. Hence in the biography of al Qunnabiti,[12] who passed away in 304 A.H., al Khatib al Baghdadi has documented that he said the following to a person who was accused of being a Rafidi:

 

لو أخذت معاوية على كتفك لقال الناس رافضي، ولو أخذت عليا على كتفي لقال الناس ناصبي

If you carry Muawiyah on your shoulder people would say, ‘He is a Rafidi’. And if I carry ‘Ali on my shoulder they would say, “He is a Nasibi.”[13]

 

In his words ‘the people would say’ and in bringing ‘Nasb’ as an opposite of ‘Rafd’ there is indication that its usage was popular and its meaning was known.

In the fourth century its usage became even more rampant, to the extent that even the poets started using it in their poetry.[14]

Till now whatever has passed was regarding the history of its inception. Henceforth we will be discussing the meaning and the definition thereof.

Nasb literally means to erect something or target it.[15] It is said:

 

ناصب الرجل مناصبة

He opposed him and combatted him.

 

Likewise:

ناصبه الحرب أو العداوة

He declared war/enmity against him.[16]

 

When attributing a person to it the term Nasibi is used, and the plural thereof is Nawasib. Likewise the terms Nasibah, Nasibiyyah and Ahl al Nasb are also used.[17]

As for the technical definition of Nasb, the scholars have given variant but close definitions of Nasb and Nawasib:

  1. Nasb is hating ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and opposing him.[18] This is the definition given by al Zamakhshari.[19]
  2. Nasb is hating ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and giving preference to others over him.[20] Or it is turning away from ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his household.[21] Both these definitions are given by Ibn Hajar al ‘Asqalani.
  3. Nasb also refers to a school which is all about hating ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[22] This is stated by Abu al Baqaʾ al Kafawi.[23]
  4. Nawasib are a people who consider hating ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu to be an act of worship.[24] This is stated by Ibn Sidah,[25] Ibn Manzur[26], and al Firozabadi.[27]
  5. The Nawasib are the people who hurt the Ahlul Bayt by word or by action.[28] This is stated by Ibn Taymiyah.

 

Having analysed all these definitions two things are clearly noticeable:

  1. The meagre amount of definitions offered by the Ahlus Sunnah, this is owing to the fact that the Nawasib barely existed in Sunni communities.
  2. The strong link between the literal and technical meanings.

Also, although the definitions seem be to slightly different from one another, but in reality that is not the case; because some scholars considered the core meaning, which is pertaining to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu only, and provided a definition accordingly, whilst others took into consideration the more broader meaning and provided a broader definition. But in reality Nasb is a combination of both.

 

The Two phases of Nasb

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The First Phase

In this phase ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was the direct victim of Nasb, for all that it entailed at that time was hatred for ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Hence it comprised of two components:

  1. Open hatred, whether it be for religious reasons or otherwise.
  2. It was specific to Amir al Muʾminin ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu

Two types of people considered this to be a virtue and an act of worship:

The first type: The Khawarij. Initially they were his ardent supporters and his courageous soldiers who fought by his side and under his flag. Subsequently, after the famous incident of arbitration occurred they turned against him; they excommunicated him and considered harbouring enmity against him to be an act of worship due to entertaining the notion that a disbeliever can never be befriended.[29]

There is no dispute amidst the scholars as to the Khawarij being from the people of Nasb; because they opposed him very vigorously by hating him, excommunicating him and thereafter assassinating him.

However, some scholars like al ‘Ukbari[30] and al Zabidi[31] have suggested that Nasb specifically applies to the Khawarij only.[32] This is what is understood from the definition of Ibn Sidah and others as well.

But the reality is that although the Khawarij are one of the first people regarding who the definition of Nasb is true, however, restricting Nasb to them is not very precise, especially when considering the various usages of the scholars in this regard; for they have labelled people and groups who have no link with the Khawarij whatsoever as Nawasib, rather at times these groups turnout to be the most staunch opponents of the Khawarij.

 

The second type: Many of the Marwaniyyah[33] and those who agree with them. They all agreed that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu played a role in the murder of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, but thereafter they disputed. Some said that he openly ordered the assassination of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, some said that he clandestinely ordered his murder, whilst others say that he did not do any of that but displayed happiness when he received the news.[34] They therefore considered hating ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu to be an act of worship, as suggested by Ibn Hajar. But at a later stage the movement was dominated by political motives.

Very soon after the tribulation of the murder of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu those who held this stance amongst the early generations became known as the ‘‘Uthmaniyyah’, [35] i.e. his supporters, the establishers of his merits, and his defenders.[36]

This term was very often used by the later historians who documented the events of that era.[37] Hence when al Jahiz wrote his book regarding the issue of Imamah in which he comprehensively discussed the evidences and views of those who impugn ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his Caliphate, he named his book al ‘Uthmaniyyah.

Later on, much of expansion had occurred in the usage and the purport of the term ‘‘Uthmaniyyah’. As a result, some of its meanings were considered to be synonymous with Nasb, subsequent to which Nasb replaced it[38] and it, the term ‘Uthmaniyyah, no more remained popular.

This transition conveys to us the developments that have occurred in the concept. This is because the term ‘Uthmaniyyah suggests that the primary motive of this sect was supporting ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu by spreading his merits and defending him against the oppression and injustice he suffered, even if doing so entailed disrespecting ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. As opposed to the concept of Nasb, for it suggests, according to its meaning in language, that the matter no more concerned ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu but surpassed him to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, making the display of enmity toward him a salient feature in itself which previously was not so.

Hence the term Nawasib is vaster than the term ‘Uthmaniyyah in a sense,[39] because the former includes every person who is disillusioned with ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu whereas the latter does not include the Khawarij due to them holding the same stance of enmity and opposition against ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu which they held against ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

Furthermore, the fact that the Khawarij are part of the Nawasib suggests that Nasb is not an independent sect that has set principles which distinguish it from all others sects. Rather it is a leaning which a myriad of people share with the only common factor among them being disillusionment with ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, even though they thereafter deem each other misguided.

As for the statement of Abu al Baqaʾ al Kafawi that ‘Nasb also refers to a position which entails hating ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu’, he does not intend to provide a technical definition by way of this, instead he is referring to the more general literal meaning which is the point of progress.[40]

 

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The Second Phase:

In this this phase the concept of Nasb considerably expanded from what it previously was. And this expansion occurred in both the components which we discussed in the first phase, which form the basis of Nasb, i.e.:

  1. The component of open hatred, for it exceeded this extent and later on became inclusive of every person upon who any signs of disillusionment with ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu were discernible, whether it be due to him denying his established merits, impugning his integrity, or doubting his Caliphate. Similar indications would be: giving preference to those who without any dispute were inferior to him, like Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, even if the incentive for doing so be some sort of reasoning[41] however weak it might be.

Ibn Taymiyah has stated that deeming ‘Ali or Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, either of the two, to be correct without specifying is a type of Nasb. Hence he has considered the refrainment from giving preference to be from the views of the Nawasib.[42]

  1. The component of the hatred being restricted to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. It surpassed this extent to include his sons as well, thereby taking into its fold all those who claim that Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu was a rebel killing whom was permissible.[43] Likewise also deeming any disillusionment with his relatives, however distantly related they may be, and harassing them without any right to be Nasb. For example, a person who opposes their leadership, neglects their compulsory rights or exaggerates in extolling Yazid ibn Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu without any right.[44]

However, it should be noted that including disillusionment with his progeny into the definition of Nasb is not a distinct extension but a natural one. Because intentionally slackening in fulfilling their rights specifically and being disillusioned with them, not anyone else, is mostly due to disillusionment with their father.

Moving on, one of the researchers has concluded that the Rawafid are Nawasib, a view that is unprecedented. He has advanced the following to substantiate his view:

Proof 1: The Kamiliyyah,[45] who were Shia, excommunicated ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu due to him not taking up arms against the Sahabah who had disbelieved after not pledging allegiance to him.[46]

This proof does not stand, especially when considering the fact that they no more remained Shia after taking the position they took, which is why the rest of the Shia excommunicated them.

Also, would it be fine to consider someone who excommunicates ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu to be a Rafidi, especially when knowing full well that much of hatred for him and opposition will set in due to this stance? And if it is fine to consider the Kamiliyyah to be part of the Shia, then it should be also fine to consider the Khawarij to be part of the Shia because they were initially from his supporters and partisans.

Furthermore, when the scholars say that the Kamiliyyah are from the Rawafid, it does not imply that they remained Rawafid even after the stance they took. Rather it means that in terms of their origin they and the Shia were born out of the same Shia roots.

 

Proof 2: The Rawafid impugn some of the Mothers of the Believers, ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and others besides them despite them all being from the Ahlul Bayt,[47] and it goes without doubt that whoever harasses any member of the Ahlul Bayt is a Nasibi, as is stated by Ibn Taymiyah who has defined them by saying, “They verbally and by action harass the Ahlul Bayt.[48]

This proof also cannot be accepted, for whoever knew Nasb or dealt with some of its issues has never identified a similarity between it and them. Hence the scholars, of ancient and of recent, have not spoken a word referring to Nasb when discussing the issue of ‘Aʾishah radiya Llahu ‘anha being accused after she was exonerated by Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala. As for the generality in the definition ‘they harass the Ahlul Bayt verbally or by action’ the generality here is restricted to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his progeny; this falls under the principle of mentioning a general but intending a specific. An example of this would be to say that the Rawafid revile all the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum and despise them,[49] but it is well known that they do not revile ‘Ali, Salman, Abu Dhar, and others.[50]

Furthermore, Ibn Taymiyah himself has mentioned the harassment of the Rawafid toward many members of the Ahlul Bayt besides the ‘Alawi branch, but still did not deem them Nawasib and did not consider their behaviour to be a reflection of Nasb.[51]

 

Proof 3: The Rafidah impugn some members of the ‘Alawi branch of the children of Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha. Doing so at times by deeming them liars, at times by deeming them imposters, and at times by excommunicating them.[52]

This proof also does not have any merit because the basis of Nasb originally is only linked to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu; he is the primary target of his opponents. As for his children and his progeny thereafter; they follow him, i.e. they become victims because of him just as his companions were hated because of him.[53] Whereas when we analyse the stance of the Rawafid regarding ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu we will find that not only do they love, but they go to the furthest extremes regarding him.

Having discussed the aforementioned, a question persistently lingers, and that is: Why is the term Nasb coined to specifically to refer to hatred for ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, to the exclusion of the rest of the Ahlul Bayt, whereas they all fall part of the texts which exhort us to respect, associate with and love the Ahlul Bayt.

The answer to this lies in history. The reason why this term specifically refers to him is that he was the focal point of many great events which transpired in the early dawn of the history of this Ummah. The unjust murder of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu in Madinah, the capital of the Caliphate, is the first spark which brought about unrest and dispute. Hence in this hyped atmosphere various views and ideas were being circulated, one among them being that ‘Ali ibn Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu had something to do with the murder of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Consequently, he became the focal point of discussion in every conflict and dominated the hearts and minds of many even decades after his martyrdom. This of course is not true for any of the other members of the Ahlul Bayt.

 

NEXT⇒ The Second Discussion – The Concept of Nasb according to the Twelver Shia


[1] Ismail ibn Muhammad ibn Yazid ibn Mufarragh al Himyari, Abu Hashim, known as al Sayed. He was born in 105 A.H. He was a very staunch Rafidi who was an affiliate of the Kaysaniyyah sect. Most of his poetry is regarding the Ahlul Bayt. But because he reviled the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum and accused the Mothers of the Believers radiya Llahu ‘anhunna, his poetry was discarded despite it being of a high quality. He praised some of the Abbasid rulers and was famous for consuming wine. He died in 173 A.H. See: al Muntazam 9/39; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 8/44; Fawat al Wafayat 1/218; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 10/173.

[2] Al Ghadir 2/158; Mawaqif al Shia 2/426.

[3] ‘Ali ibn al Tamimi (their client, associate), Abu al Hassan al Madini. One of the scholars of hadith and the pioneers of approving and impugning narrators. He was born in 161 A.H. Al Bukhari said regarding him, “I did not consider myself to be junior before anyone besides Ibn al Madini.” He passed away in 234 A.H. The following are some of his books: ‘Ilal al Hadith, al Asami wa al Kuna and al Tarikh. His narrations feature in Sahih al Bukhari and the Sunans of Abu Dawood, al Tirmidhi and al Nasaʾi. See: al Thiqat 8/469; Tarikh Baghdad 11/455; Tahdhib al Kamal 21/5; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 11/41.

[4] Sharh Usul I’tiqad Ahlus Sunnah wa al Jama’ah 1/147. Similar reports are report from the two Razis Abu Zur’ah and Abu Hatim in the same book (1/167). Also see: al Barbihari: Sharh al Sunnah p. 52. For the implementation of this principle refer to Lisan al Mizan 5/268.

[5] Muhammad ibn Yahya ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Khalid al Dhuhali (their client), Abu ‘Abdullah al Nisaburi. One of the great scholars and analyses of hadith. He was born sometime after 170 A.H. He became famous for collecting the knowledge of al Zuhri and perfecting it till he became known as al Zuhri. A dispute had broken out between him and al Bukhari due to the issue of the enunciation of the word of the Qurʾan. He passed away in 258 A.H. His narrations are reported in Sahih al Bukhari and the four Sunan. Jam’ hadith al Zuhri is one of his books. See: Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 12/273; Tadhkirah al Huffaz 2/530; Lisan al Mizan 7/507; Tahdhib al Tahdhib 9/452.

[6] Muqaddamah Fath al Bari 1/490; Taghliq al Ta’liq 5/431.

[7] Sufyan ibn Sa’id ibn Masruq al Thawri, Abu ‘Abdullah al Kufi. He was one of the prominent people of his time in knowledge and piety. He was born in 97 A.H. and was accorded the title ‘the leader of the believers in hadith’. He was offered the post of a judge few times but he declined. He had his own school in Fiqh but with the passage of time it dwindled away. He passed away in 161 A.H. Some of his works are: al Jami’ al Kabir, al Jami’ al Saghir and Kitab fi al Faraʾid. His narrations feature in all six canonical works. See: Tabaqat Ibn Sa’d 6/371; Tarikh Baghdad 9/151; Tahdhib al Kamal 11/154; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 7/229.

[8] Zaʾidah ibn Qudamah al Thaqafi, Abu al Salt al Kufi. A scholar of precision in hadith and a great retainer thereof; he is considered to be an equal of Shu’bah in precision. But he only narrated from the people of his city and would not narrate any narration to an innovator. He passed away whilst out in Jihad in the lands of Rome in 161 A.H. The following are his books: Kitab al Sunan, Kitab al Qiraʾat and Kitab al Tafsir. His narrations feature in all six of the canonical works. See: al Fihrist p. 316; Tadhkirah al Huffaz 1/215; Tahdhib al Kamal 9/273; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 7/375.

[9] Makhul ibn Abi Muslim Shahzab ibn Shadhil al Hudhali (their client), Abu ‘Abdullah al Dimashqi. A prominent jurist of his time and a Qariʾ. He was originally from Persia and was born in Kabul. He is considered to be from the middle class of the Tabi’in. Al Zuhri has said the following regarding him, “There was no one more knowledgeable than him in his time in matters of Fatwa.” He had an unclear way of expression. He passed away in Damascus in 112 A.H. His narrations appear in Sahih Muslim and the four Sunans. See: al Tabaqat al Kubra 7/453; Tarikh Madinah Dimashq 60/197; Tahdhib al Kamal 28/464; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 5/155.

[10] ‘Abdul Rahman ibn ‘Amr ibn Yahmud al Awza’i, Abu ‘Amr. A reliable scholar and ascetic who was considered the supreme jurist of Sham. He was born in 88 A.H. He was known to follow the Sunnah rigorously. His school prevailed for a while in Sham and Spain and thereafter dwindled away. He passed away in Beirut in 157 A.H. Some of his books are: Kitab al Sunan fi al Fiqh and al Masaʾil fi al Fiqh. His narrations appear in all six of the canonical works. See: Tarikh Madinah Dimashq 35/147; Tahdhib al Kamal 17/307; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 7/107; Tarikh al Islam 9/483.

[11] Tabaqat al Hanabilah 1/200; al Maqsid al Arshad 2/70.

[12] Muhammad ibn al Hussain ibn Khalid al Qunnabiti, Abu al Hassan al Baghdadi. Al Khatib al Baghdadi has considered him reliable. He passed away in 304 A.H. See: Tarikh Baghdad 2/231; al Ansab 4/547.

[13] Tarikh Baghdad 2/232. Interestingly what really draws ones attention is that all the scholars whose quotes have been cited above were from Iraq, which is suggestive of the fact that the term Nasb was born in Iraq.

[14] See: al Mutanabbi, d. 354 A.H.: Diwan al Mutanabbi 1/269; the biography of al Khal al Qarmati, d. 291 A.H., in al Wafi bi al Wafayat 7/79; Diwan Ibn Haniʾ al Andalusi, killed in 362 A.H., p. 351; Diwan Tamim ibn al Mu’izz li Din Allah al Fatimi, d. 374, p. 221; Diwan Badi’ al Zaman al Hamdani, d. 398 A.H., p. 39; Diwan al Waʾwaʾ al Dimashqi , d. 385 A.H., p. 18.

[15] Maqayis al Lughah 5/434.

[16] Al ‘Ayn 7/136; al Muhkam wa al Muhit al A’zam 8/344; Lisan al ‘Arab 1/761; al Qamus al Muhit p. 176

[17] Asas al Balaghah p. 458; Iqtidaʾ al Sirat al Mustaqim p. 300; Minhaj al Sunnah al Nabawiyyah 4/39; al Qamus al Muhit p. 177; Fath al Bari 7/437; al Sawa’iq al Muhriqah 2/534.

[18] Al Kashshaf 4/777; Ruh al Ma’ani 30/172.

[19] Mahmud ibn ‘Umar ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmed al Khawarizmi, Abu al Qasim al Zamakhshari. A Hanafi jurist who was an expert in language and its various sciences. He was born in Zamakhshar, one of the villages of Khwarazm, in 467 A.H. He earned acclaim for his knowledge of Arabic literature and for his affiliation to I’tizal. He passed away in 538 A.H. Some of his works are: al Kashshaf, al Faʾiq and Asas al Balaghah. See: Tarikh al Islam 36/486; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 20/151; al Jawahir al Mudiʾah fi Tabaqat al Hanafiyyah 2/160; Bughyah al Wu’ah 2/279.

[20] Hady al Sari p. 459; Tadreeb al Rawi 1/328; Tawdih al Afkar 2/443.

[21] Fath al Bari 10/420.

[22] Al Kulliyyat p. 361.

[23] Ayub ibn Musa al Hussaini al Qarimi, Abu al Baqaʾ al Kafawi. A Hanafi scholar. He assumed the position of judicature in Kafa, in Turkey, the place to which he is attributed. Likewise he was appointed as a judge in al Quds and Baghdad. He thereafter returned to Istanbul and passed away there in 1094 A.H. One of his books in Arabic is Kitab al Kulliyyat. See: al A’lam 2/38; Mujam al Muʾallifin 3/31.

[24] Al Muhkam wa al Muhit al A’zam 8/345, Lisan al ‘Arab 1/762; al Qamus al Muhit p. 176. Also see: al San’ani: Thamarat al Nazr p. 30, 36.

[25] ‘Ali ibn Ahmed ibn Sidah, Abu al Hassan al Mursi al Darir. One of the masters of language and Arabic literature. Al Dhahabi said regarding him, “There was no one in his time who could match him in language.” He was deemed to partially be a Shu’ubi (populist). He passed away in Andalusia in 458 A.H. some of his books are: al Mukhassis, al Muhkam wa al Muhit al A’zam and al Aniq fi Sharh al Hamasah. See: Mujam al Udabaʾ 3/544; Tarikh al Islam 30/448; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 18/144; al Wafi bi al Wafayat 20/100.

[26] Muhammad ibn Mukarram ibn ‘Ali ibn Manzur al Khazraji, Abu al Fadl al Misri. A linguist and dynamic author. He was born in Egypt in 630 A.H. He was appointed as a judge in Tarabulus. He had Shia leanings, but without Rafd. He paid due importance to abridging books, to the extent that it is said that his abridgements had reached five hundred volumes. He passed away in 711 A.H. Some of his books are Lisan al ‘Arab, Mukhtasar al Aghani and Mukhtasar al ‘Iqd al Farid. See: al Durar al Kaminah 6/15; al Wafi bi al Wafayat 5/37; Shadharat al Dhahab 6/26; Abjad al ‘Ulum 3/10.

[27] Muhammad ibn Ya’qub ibn Muhammad al Shirazi, Abu Tahir al Firozabadi. A dynamic Shafi’i scholar. He was a master in language. He was born in Firozabad, Persia, in 729 A.H. He traversed to many a cities and was welcomed by their rulers. He finally settled in Zabid as a judge and passed away there in 817 A.H. Some of his works are: al Qamus al Muhit, Basaʾir Dhawi al Tamyiz and Sifr al Sa’adah. See: al Nujum al Zahirah 14/132; al Dawʾ al Lami’ 10/79; Shadharat al Dhahab 7/126; al Badr al Tali’ 2/280.

[28] Majmu’ Fatawa Sheikh al Islam 3/154.

[29] Ibid. 4/469.

[30] ‘Abdullah ibn al Hussain ibn ‘Abdullah al Baghdadi, al ‘Ukbari. A dynamic Hanbali scholar who became famous for language and literature, to the extent that people would come to benefit from him from all places. He was born in 538 A.H. He was ‘Ukbara, a small town on the bank of Euphrates River. He was afflicted with measles in his childhood. He passed away in Baghdad in 616 A.H. Some of his books are: Imlaʾ ma Manna bihi al Rahman, Sharh Diwan al Mutanabbi and Sharh al Luma’. See: Tarikh al Islam 44/294; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 13/85; Tarikh ibn al Wardi 2/136; Bughyah al Wu’ah 2/38.

[31] Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul Razzaq al Hussaini, Abu al Fayd al Zabidi. A dynamic Hanafi jurist. He was born in India and grew up in Zabid, in Yemen. He travelled to Hijaz and thereafter settled in Egypt. He earned acclaim there and the kings wrote letters to him. He passed away in Egypt in a plague in the year 1205. Some of his books are: Taj al ‘Arus, Ithaf al Sadah al Muttaqin and ‘Uqud al Jawahir al Munifah. See: ‘Ajaʾib al Athar 2/104; Abjad al ‘Ulum 3/12; al A’lam 7/70; Mujam al Muʾallifin 11/282.

[32] Al ‘Ukbari: Diwan al Mutanabbi bi Sharh Abi al Baqaʾ al ‘Ukbari 1/156; al Zabidi: Taj al ‘Arus 4/277.

[33] Al Marwaniyyah: The second branch of the Umayyad family which came into power, the first amongst who to rule was Marwan ibn al Hakam and the last amongst who was Marwan ibn Muhammad. This title came about after Marwan rose to power in Damascus. See: al Dawlah al Umawiyyah wa al Mu’aradah p. 126; Tarikh Caliphate Bani Umayyah p. 60.

[34] Majmu’ Fatawa Sheikh al Islam 35/73; Minhaj al Sunnah al Nabawiyyah 4/405.

[35] The opposite of this term is ‘Alawiyyah which refers to those who are drawn to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and give him preference over ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. This is a famous stance of a group of scholars of the Ahlus Sunnah in Kufah. See: Fath al Bari 6/191. To see how the terms are used as opposites of each other also see: Ma’rifah al Thiqat 1/460, 480; al Kamil fi Du’afaʾ al Rijal 6/236; Tahdhib al Kamal 9/337; Fath al Bari 12/306.

Likewise the ‘Uthmanis might have dubbed one of the partisans of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu ‘Turabi’ attributing him to the famous title of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu Abu Turab. See: al Kamil fi al Tarikh 3/330.

[36] This is from the introduction of the book al ‘Uthmaniyyah of ‘Abdul Salam Harun with slight alteration.

According to the Twelvers the term ‘Uthmaniyyah refers to a group of Nawasib who go beyond limits in loving ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. See: Mashariq al Shumus 2/391.

[37] Tarikh al Tabari 3/503; Tarikh al Ya’qubi 2/187; al Badʾ wa al Tarikh 5/123, 209; Tarikh Dimashq 49/465; al Muntazam 5/150; al Kamil fi al Tarikh 3/229, 232; Majmu’ Fatawa Sheikh al Islam 35/73; Minhaj al Sunnah al Nabawiyyah 6/199; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 3/39; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 7/252, 314; Tarikh Ibn Khaldun 2/641, 4/381.

[38] When analysing the various usages of the scholars of the term ‘Uthmani it becomes abundantly clear that its purport was very general and vast and that it passed through various stages. It therefore includes a variety of people who all have one thing in common, inclination toward ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

The first usage: It was used to refer to those who respected ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and gave him preference over ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu in merit, but without impugning ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and denying his lofty rank. This was the initial usage of this term, for Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu used it as well, as is stated in al Ihkam of Ibn Hazm 6/315. And it is probably this meaning which is meant when this term is used to describe many of the scholars, especially those from Basrah and Kufah.

Hafiz Ibn Hajar radiya Llahu ‘anhu has defined a ‘Uthmani in the following way in his book in his book Fath al Bari 6/191: “A person who give preference to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu over ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu in virtue”. Also see ‘Umdat al Qari 15/12.

A report which is documented by al Khallal in his al Sunnah (2/324) supports this meaning:

Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Bakr al Shaybani narrates from Sa’id ibn Abi ‘Arubah that he said, “When a person would pass by the early scholars and they were told that he is a ‘Uthmani they would love that.” The narrator says, “I asked Sa’id, “Why would that be?” He said, “Because he gave preference to ‘Uthman but did not denigrate ‘Ali.”

Likewise another report which is documented by al Fasawi in his al Ma’rifah wa al Tarikh also supports this meaning. He says:

I heard ‘Ataʾ saying, “I said to Abu ‘Abdul Rahman, who was a ‘Uthmani, “It seems as though you display more disinterest in the narrations you heard from ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib.” He replied, “Certainly the narrations I have heard from ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu are more beloved to me than red camels.”

It is for this reason we find that many a times the term Uthmani is contrasted with the term ‘Alawi, or even at times Shia. In which case ‘Alawi would refer to a person who believes in giving preference to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu over ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. To see examples of this contrast refer to: Sahih al Bukhari 3/1120; Tarikh Baghdad 10/201; al Kamil fi Du’afaʾ al Rijal 6/236; Tarikh Madinah Dimashq 24/199.

This is also the reason why many of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum were described as ‘Uthmanis after the occurrence of the Fitnah, tribulation. Their ‘Uthmani status did not mean anything more than giving ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu preference over ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and being inclined toward him. Hence Abu ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul Barr mentions the following in his book al Isti’ab 2/540:

‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu loved Zaid ibn Thabit radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and Zaid was a ‘Uthmani. He did not participate in any of the battles with ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, but despite that he would give preference to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and display love for him.

Ibn Athir likewise mentions:

Zaid ibn Thabit radiya Llahu ‘anhu was a ‘Uthmani. He did not participate in any of the battles with ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. But he would respect him tremendously and acknowledge his virtue. (Fayd al Qadir 2/22).

Hassan ibn Thabit radiya Llahu ‘anhu was likewise described with the same. See: al Badʾ wa al Tarikh 5/209; Tarikh al Tabari 3/67; al Kamil fi al Tarikh 3/156.

So was al Nu’man ibn Bashir (See: Ibn Sa’d: al Tabaqat al Kubra 6/53), Muawiyah ibn Hudayj (See: al Tabaqat al Kubra 7/503; Tarikh al Tabari 3/204; Tarikh Madinah Dimashq 59/19; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 8/61), and Busr ibn Artah, if authentically proven (see: al Tabaqat al Kubra 7/409).

Furthermore, hereunder are the names of some scholars and transmitters of hadith who were dubbed ‘Uthmanis:

  • Bishr ibn al Mufaddal al Raqqashi (al Tabaqat al Kubra 7/290)
  • Qais ibn Hazim (Ibn al Madini: al ‘Ilal 1/50)
  • Musa ibn Tarif (Suʾalat Abi ‘Ubaid al Ajurri 1/141)
  • Abu ‘Abdul Rahman al Sulami (al Ma’rifah wa al Tarikh 2/240)
  • ‘Asim ibn Abi al Najud (Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 5/258)
  • ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Awn (Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 6/365)
  • Hammad ibn Zaid (Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 7/463)
  • Masruq (Ma’rifah al Thiqat 1/460)
  • Talhah ibn Musarrif al Yami (Ma’rifah al Thiqat 1/479)
  • ‘Abdullah ibn Idris ibn Yazid al Awdi (Ma’rifah al Thiqat 2/21)
  • ‘Abdullah ibn Abi al Hudhayl (Ma’rifah al Thiqat 2/64)
  • ‘Uthman ibn ‘Asim, Abu Hussain al Asadi (Ma’rifah al Thiqat 2/129)
  • Fudayl ibn Ghazwan al Dabbi (Ma’rifah al Thiqat 2/207)
  • Muhammad ibn ‘Ubaid al Tanafisi (Ma’rifah al Thiqat 2/247)
  • Muhammad ibn al Qasim al Asadi (Ma’rifah al Thiqat 2/250)
  • Mughirah ibn Miqsam al Dabbi (Ma’rifah al Thiqat 2/293)
  • Abu Hussain ‘Uthman ibn ‘Asim (al ‘Ibar fi Akhbar man Ghabar 1/167)
  • Abu al Rawa al Dawsi (al Tabaqat al Kubra 4/341).

However it is important to note that none of these people and their like have been accused of Nasb besides ‘Abdullah ibn Shaqiq due to him denigrating ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, as will come. This clearly suggests that what is meant when dubbing them ‘Uthmani is merely giving ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu preference over ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

The second usage concerned those who exceeded the extent of merely giving preference to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu over ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu to becoming disillusioned with him and using unsavoury language regarding him, but without impugning his Din and exaggerating regarding the Umayyads. It has been used with this meaning, for example, regarding Mughirah ibn Miqsam al Dabbi; al Dhahabi mentions the following in his biography in Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 6/12, “He was a ‘Uthmani who to some extent despised ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.” The same has been said regarding ‘Abdullah ibn Shaqiq al ‘Uqayli, for we find the following regarding him in Tarikh Madinah Dimashq 29/161, “He was a ‘Uthmani who would undermine ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.” In Mizan al I’tidal 4/120 the following appears regarding him, “A reliable narrator who despised ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.” In Ma’rifat al Thiqat 2/37 of al ‘Ijli the following appears, “A Basri scholar who despised ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.” For more details see: Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 3/39.

Furthermore, regarding some of them al Dhahabi and Ibn Hajar state that ‘he has a tendency of Nasb’. And at times the biographers would overstate their status and say that ‘he was a Nasibi’. Hence we find that ‘Abdullah ibn Shaqiq al ‘Uqayli is described differently in difference sources; he is described as a ‘Uthmani in al Tabaqat al Kubra 7/126 and Tarikh Madinah Dimashq 29/161, as one who would despise ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu in Ma’rifah al Thiqat 2/37, as a person who had Nasb leanings in Mizan al I’tidal 4/120, as a Nasibi in al Mughni fi al Du’afaʾ 1/342, and as one with Nasb leanings in Taqrib al Tahdhib p. 307.

The third usage concerned those who openly proclaimed hatred for ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and exaggerated in extolling the Banu Umayyah.

From amongst these people was Shimar ibn Dhu al Jawshan. Abu Ishaq has said the following regarding him, “Shimar ibn Dhi al Jawshan would perform the Fajr prayer with us, whereafter he would sit till sunrise, perform Salah and supplicate thus, “O Allah you are noble and you love nobility, You know that I am noble so forgive me.” Abu Ishaq says, “I said to him, “How will Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala forgive you when you came out and helped in the assassination of the grandson of Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam?” He said, “What could we do? Our leaders ordered us and we could not oppose them, and if we opposed them we would be worse than these water donkeys.” See: al Ishraf fi Manazil al Ashraf 1/140; Lisan al Mizan 3/152.

Hajjaj ibn Yusuf al Thaqafi falls under this category as well. Ibn Kathir has said the following regarding him in al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 9/131, “He was an ‘Uthmani and Umawi who was very drawn toward them; he would consider opposing them to be disbelief and would due to that consider shedding blood to be permissible. No reprimand would come in the way of him doing so.”

Khalid al Qasri was likewise. He would say, “By Allah if Amir al Muʾminin wrote to me I would demolish the Ka’bah brick by brick.” See: Tarikh Madinah Dimashq 16/161.

All the scholars of the ‘Uthmani sect, many among who believe that if Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala appoints a Khalifah his good will be accepted and his evil will be overlooked and that his obedience is obligatory in everything he orders (Minhaj al Sunnah al Nabawiyyah 6/199), can also be included here.

In conclusion, whoever falls under the third usage is certainly a Nasibi. Hence every Nasibi is a ‘Uthmani, but every ‘Uthmani is not a Nasibi; just as is the relation between Tashayyu’ and Rafd, i.e. every Rafidi is a Shia but every Shia is not a Rafidi.

[39] And from a different perspective the term ‘Uthmaniyyah is vaster than the term Nawasib; because the former includes those who hate ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and those who do not, whereas the latter only includes those who hate ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

[40] Al Tawqif ‘ala Muhimmat al Ta’arif p. 636.

[41] Majmu’ Fatawa Sheikh al Islam 4/438.

[42] Ibid. 4/438.

[43] Minhaj al Sunnah al Nabawiyyah 4/585.

[44] Majmu’ Fatawa Sheikh al Islam 28/493. Yazid ibn Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan al Qurashi, Abu Khalid al Umawi. He was born during the Caliphate of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the mantle of Caliphate was handed over to him after the demise of his father in 60 A.H. Many horrendous events, like the incident of Harrah and the massacre of Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu occurred in his time, and he was accused of drinking wine. ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz thus lashed a person who called him Amir al Muʾminin. A narration of his appears in the Marasil of Abu Dawood. He passed away in 64 A.H. See: Tarikh Madinah Dimashq 65/394; Mizan al I’tidal 7/262; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 8/146; Taqrib al Tahdhib p. 605.

[45] Al Kamiliyyah: are the followers of a person called Abu Kamil. He claimed that the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum disbelieved due to not pledging allegiance to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu in turn also disbelieved due to not fighting them. He also denied any rebellion against oppressive rulers without the presence of the emphatically appointed Imam. He would say, “Imamah is a light which transmigrates from person to person.” See: Maqalat al Islamiyyin p. 17; al Farq bayn al Firaq p. 39; al Milal wa al Nihal 1/174; I’tiqadat Firaq al Muslimin wa al Mushrikin p. 60.

[46] Maqalat al Islamiyyin p. 17; Sharh Sahih Muslim 15/174; Minhaj al Sunnah al Nabawiyyah 4/585.

[47] Al ‘Aqidah fi Ahlul Bayt bayn al Ifrat wa al Tafrit p. 533.

[48] Majmu’ Fatawa Sheikh al Islam 3/154.

[49] Ibid. 3/154.

[50] Al Tanbih wa al Radd ‘ala Ahl al Ahwaʾ wa al Bida’ 1/13; al Badʾ wa al Tarikh 5/127.

[51] Minhaj al Sunnah al Nabawiyyah 4/592.

[52] Al  ‘Aqidah fi Ahlul Bayt bayn al Ifrat wa al Tafrit p. 535

[53] Majmu’ Fatawa Sheikh al Islam 25/301.

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