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    Islamic Way of Life
    [ Islamic Way of Life ]

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    ·How to Train Your will power to work for you

    Chapter Five: The Historical Context (3)
    Posted on Friday, March 31 @ 23:27:05 EST by admin

    History of Islam or related The Second Generation
    When `Umar ibn al Khattaab was the head of the Muslim state, his policy was to make the Companions of the Prophet - both the Muhaajiroon and the Ansaar - reside in Madinah. They were only allowed to go out side the city if it was necessary for them to travel, to go on an expedition or educational assignment, to take up an administrative or judicial post, or to undertake some other special task. When they had completed their tasks or tours of duty, they had to return to Madinah - the nerve center of the Muslim state and the seat of the khilaafah - to take up permanent residence. In their capacity as bearers of the message of Islam and the first line of support for the khaleefah, they had to remain close to him to assist him in his various tasks and to participate fully in all the affairs of the Ummah.



    When `Umar ibn al Khattaab was the head of the Muslim state, his policy was to make the Companions of the Prophet - both the Muhaajiroon and the Ansaar - reside in Madinah. They were only allowed to go out side the city if it was necessary for them to travel, to go on an expedition or educational assignment, to take up an administrative or judicial post, or to undertake some other special task. When they had completed their tasks or tours of duty, they had to return to Madinah - the nerve center of the Muslim state and the seat of the khilaafah - to take up permanent residence. In their capacity as bearers of the message of Islam and the first line of support for the khaleefah, they had to remain close to him to assist him in his various tasks and to participate fully in all the affairs of the Ummah.

    When `Uthmaan succeeded `Umar, he did not see any problem in allowing the Companions to leave Madinah and reside permanently wherever they liked in the Muslim lands. As a result, the jurists and reciters of the Qur'an among them spread out into the towns of the newly liberated lands and into the areas which became garrison towns. It is estimated that more than three hundred Companions settled in the garrison towns of Basrah and Kufah, and that a large number of them moved to Egypt and Greater Syria.

    It is reported that when the Prophet, peace be on him, returned from the campaign of Hunayn (8 AH/13 AC), there were 12,000 Companions in Madinah. At the time of the Prophet's death, there were 10,000 of these Companions in Madinah while 2,000 had moved to other towns.1

    In the Tradition of the Companions
    The knowledge of the jurists and reciters of the Qur'an among the Companions was transmitted by them directly to the next generation - the Taabi`oon or Successors. Among these were Sa`eed ibn al Musayyib,2 who was considered as the transmitter of the legacy of `Umar ibn al Khattaab and the upholder of his jurisprudence in Madinah; `Ataa' ibn Aboo Rabaah in Makkah, Taawoos in the Yemen, Yahyaa ibn Abee Katheer in Yamaamah, al Hasan in Basrah, Makhool in Syria, `Ataa' in Khurasaan, `Al qamah in Kufah, and others. These Taabi`oon used to make juristic decisions and exercise ijtihaad in the presence of the Companions of the Prophet from whom they had received knowledge and training. They were conditioned by the ethics and high standards of the Companions' behavior and influenced by their methods of juristic inference and deduction. On occasions when the Taabi`oon differed, they did not deviate from or transgress the ethical standards of behavior set by the Companions. Jurists from this generation were to have a great influence on the masses of the Ummah, and it was through them that the knowledge and discipline of jurisprudence were transmitted. The following debates on compensation would perhaps illustrate the ethical standards of behavior which they followed.

    It is reported3 that a man came to Shurayh and asked what was the compensation for the loss of fingers. Shurayh replied that ten camels was the compensation for each finger. The man exclaimed: "Good God! Are this and this equal (pointing to his little finger and his thumb)?" "Woe to you!" said Shurayh. "The Sunnah prohibits such analogical deduction (qiyaas). Follow and do not innovate." In so saying, he no doubt perceived an unwarranted extension of the Sunnah.

    Maalik in his al Muwattaa' reported that Rabee`ah said:

    I asked Sa`eed ibn al Musayyib how much compensation was payable for the loss of a woman's finger. "Ten camels," he replied. I asked him what was the compensation for two fingers. "Twenty camels," he replied. "And for three fingers?" "Thirty camels," he replied. "And for four fingers? "Twenty camels," he replied. I asked (incredulously): "Does compensation payable to a woman decrease when her injury is greater and her affliction is more severe?" Here Sa`eed asked: "Are you an Iraqi?" Rabeeah replied: "Rather think of me as a jurist well-grounded in knowledge or as an ignorant person who desires to be better instructed." Sa`eed replied: "Son of my brother, this is the Sunnah."4
    The discussion ended then and there without either person accusing the other of ignorance or claiming that he himself was right and the other wrong. Sa`eed's judgment and that of the people of the Hijaz is based on the principle that compensation for a woman is the same as that for a man, but only up to a third of the man's compensation. Thereafter, it is half that of a man's. This is based on a hadeeth reported by `Amr ibn Shu`ayb. The judgment of people from Iraq, on the other hand, is that from the outset a woman's compensation is half that of a man.5

    Another example which we may cite in this context is the argument al Sha`bee had with another person over qiyaas. Al Sha`bee said:

    "Suppose that al Ahnaf ibn Qays and his young son were both killed. Would the compensation for each of them be the same, or would that of al Ahnaf be more on account of his intelligence and wisdom?" "The same, of course," replied the man. "Qiyaas is therefore irrelevant," concluded al Sha`bee.
    Al Awzaa`ee met Aboo Haneefah in Makkah and observed:

    "Why do you not raise your hands just before rukoo` and after?" Aboo Haneefah replied: "There is no recorded word or action of the Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace, to authenticate this." "How so," replied al Awzaa`ee, "when al Zuhree has reported this to me on the authority of Saalim and that of his father who said that the Prophet used to raise his hands at the beginning of the salaah and before and after rukoo`?"
    Aboo Haneefah also reported:

    "Hammaad related to me through Ibraaheem, through `Alqamah, through al Aswad, and through Ibn Mas`ood that the Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace, only raised his hands at the beginning of the salaah and did not repeat this action again."
    Al Awzaa`ee then suggested that his authorities were more reliable than those of Aboo Haneefah, who countered:

    "Hammaad was more knowledgeable than al Zuhree, and Ibraaheem was more knowledgeable than Saalim. `Alqamah was not below Ibn `Umar in rank. And if Ibn `Umar is to be credited as a companion of the Prophet, then al Aswad has many merits. And the merits of `Abd Allaah ibn Mas`ood speak for themselves." At this, al Awzaa`ee remained silent.6
    Aboo Haneefah is reported to have said:

    "Ours is no more than an opinion. We do not oblige or coerce anyone into accepting it. Whoever has a better judgment, let him advance it."7
    We can thus see that all Muslims were followers and upholders of the Sunnah. When the Sunnah was authenticated, no one deviated from it. If differences occurred it was only because of varying understanding or interpretation. However, when this happened each person accepted the other's point of view so long as the interpretation could be sustained by the text and there was no other authentic evidence to the contrary.

    The Effect of Political Disagreement on Credal and Juristic Differences
    It is important to point out that the differences which existed among the vast majority of Muslims in the early stages were in the main limited to juristic issues. These were easily resolved when they were referred to the paramount authority of texts from the Qur'an and the Sunnah. Everyone imbued with the behavioral pattern of the noble Prophet yielded willingly to the truth when it was made clear to them.

    As mentioned previously, the differences that existed were mainly due to the availability of a text to one party and the ignorance of the other party about it. They were also caused by the fact that certain texts and expressions were open to more than one interpretation.

    Eventually, however, new situations arose. Political schisms emerged in the wake of the assassination of the third khaleefah, `Uthmaan ibn `Affaan, the transfer of the seat of government first to Kufah and then to Damascus, and the occurrence of many other upheavals. Many alien notions and developments filtered into the accepted framework for dealing with differences. A narrowness of vision and feelings of exclusiveness were encouraged whereby Muslims in each region or town began to cling to what was available to them of the Prophet's Sunnah and to view what was available to other regions with considerable caution. Their attitudes were greatly influenced by considerations of political support or opposition. As a result Iraq, with its two great garrison towns of Kufah and Basrah, became a fertile ground for the interplay of political ideas and beliefs which were disseminated to various other regions. From Iraq emerged the Shee`ah,8 the Jahmeeyah,9 the Mu`tazilah,10 the Khawaarij11 and a number of innovators and idiosyncratic groups. So began the fabrication of hadeeth, the invention and circulation of political and factional stories, and the surfacing of mutual animosity and discord among people. So rife was this situation that Imaam Maalik described Kufah as "the home of strife,"12 and al Zuhree said: "A hadeeth which leaves us as a hand-span in length becomes an arm's length when it reaches Iraq."13

    Keen on safeguarding their religion against innovation, heretical tendencies and corruption, Iraqi jurists themselves began taking precautions and establishing conditions, which their predecessors had not paid attention to, for the acceptance of reports concerning the Sunnah. If the Iraqis themselves were so alarmed, Muslims in other regions were even more so. The people of the Hijaz, for example, considered any hadith reported by people from Iraq and even from Syria as unacceptable unless it had some origin in their own literature.

    This was why a jurist from the Hijaz, when asked about the isnaad (chain of reporters) of a hadeeth which the Iraqis believed to be most reliable, said that he would not accept it unless there was evidence for it in the Hijaz literature.14

    Al `Abbaas appointed Rabee`ah ibn Abee `Abd al Rahmaan15 from Madinah as a minister and a consultant. After a short period Rabee`ah was discharged and returned to Madinah. When asked what he thought of Iraq and its people, he replied:

    "I saw a people who prohibit what we regard as lawful and who make lawful what we prohibit. When I left, there were more than forty thousand people who were conspiring against this religion." He is also reported to have said: "It seems that the Prophet who was sent to us was different from the one sent to them!"16
    Although these statements were aimed at the deviators and innovators in Iraq and not at the upholders of the Sunnah and the generality of the people, they do point quite clearly to some of the matters which had a far-reaching effect on the development of jurisprudence and on the attitudes of the jurists in the two regions and their methods of deduction.

    Hijaazee and Iraqi Scholars
    People of the Hijaz believed that they observed the Sunnah strictly and did not deviate from it at all. There were ten thousand companions whom the Prophet left in Madinah after the battle of Hunayn. They lived there till his death. `Umar ibn `Abd al `Azeez used to write to the inhabitants of the garrison towns instructing them in the Prophet's Sunnah and in jurisprudence. When he wrote to Madinah, however, he would ask them about events in the city and would also request them to instruct him in the Sunnah of the Prophet so that he could disseminate it among others. Sa`eed ibn al Musayyib was well known as the upholder of the Prophet's Sunnah and the established methods and practice of the Companions in Madinah. He and the other `ulamaa' among his contemporaries in Madinah - from among the Taabi`oon - were of the opinion that what was available to them of the Sunnah and established practice was sufficient to meet the needs of jurisprudence. They believed that there was nothing to induce them to adopt juristic reasoning with all its snares. However, there were other jurists who differed with them and adopted juristic reasoning to such an extent that they were known as "the people of juristic reasoning (ahl al ra'y)". One such person was Rabee`ah ibn Abee `Abd al Rahmaan, the teacher of Maalik, who became known as Rabee`ah the master of reasoning (Rabee`ah al Ra'y). The majority of Madinan jurists, however, were scholars who upheld the Sunnah and established practice.

    Iraqi scholars on the other hand, like Ibraaheem al Nakha`ee17 and his colleagues, believed that their share of the Sunnah was not negligible. There lived among them more than 300 highly knowledgeable companions, many of whom were jurists. At their forefront was `Abd Allaah ibn Mas`ood, who was among the companions who had the best understanding of the Qur'an. `Alee ibn Abee Taalib also lived among them during the period of his khilaafah. Other prominent companions there were Aboo Moosaa al Ash`aree and `Ammaar ibn Yaasir.

    Ibraaheem al Nakha`ee and the majority of Iraqi scholars held that the Sharee`ah laws were intelligible and logical; that they embodied whatever was good for public welfare; that they were based on clear unequivocal principles as well as underlying reasons or ratio legis (`ilal; sing: `illah); that they were linked to considerations of public interest; that these principles and reasons could be derived from the Qur'an and the Sunnah; and that subsidiary laws could be formulated in accordance with these reasons or ratio legis. Hence, they argued that the competent jurist could discover the effective reasoning behind these laws and comprehend their purposes or intent. They also argued that legal texts are finite but that circumstances are not. Since revelation and the clear textual rulings (nusoos) came to an end with the Prophet's death, it would be impossible to meet the needs of legislation unless the underlying reasons for particular rulings derived from the Qur'an and the Sunnah were determined and acted upon.

    It is fitting to recall here that Ibraaheem al Nakha`ee was asked by al Hasan ibn `Ubayd Allaah al Nakha`ee whether he based all his juristic judgments on precedents he had heard. He replied in the negative and al Hasan, apparently surprised, then asked him: "Do you pass judgment on the basis of what you have not heard?" Ibraaheem replied: "[There are precedents which] I have heard. But when faced with an issue on which I have not heard anything, I apply analogical deduction using what I have heard.'18

    This in fact was a feature of the Iraqi school of jurisprudence; they would rely on reason in the absence of a precedent (athar) from the Companions of the Prophet.

    On the other hand, Sa`eed ibn al Musayyib together with other scholars from Madinah did not pay much attention to the reasons behind any law in making rulings except when indicated by a particular text or precedent. He felt he was in a position to do so inasmuch as he said: "There is no judgment passed by the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, or by Aboo Bakr, `Umar, 'Uthmaan, or `Alee that I do not know of."19 Furthermore, the society in Madinah did not experience the changes nor was it beset by the upheavals that occurred in Iraq. This is why when many a scholar from Madinah was consulted about a particular issue, he would reply if he had a precedent or tradition to follow. If not, he would decline to give an answer. Masrooq was asked about a certain issue and answered: "I do not know." He was then asked to apply analogy to reach a judgment and he said: "I am afraid that I may slip."20

    The fear which the people of Madinah had of applying independent reasoning on issues on which no precedent or tradition was available can be clearly seen in the statement of Ibn Wahb. He reported that Maalik said:

    The Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, was both the leader (imaam) of the Muslims and the most learned person of all. Nonetheless if he was asked about something [he was not sure of], he would not reply until the answer was revealed to him by God. If the Messenger of the Lord and Sustainer of the worlds only replied on the basis of revelation, how supremely insolent or dangerously risky it is for someone to reply on the basis of independent reasoning, analogy, blind imitation of an allegedly good person, custom, convention, politics, tact, visionary experience, dreams, preference, or conjecture. We seek help from God and in Him we trust.21
    Although the controversy between the two schools of thought was intense and criticism vigorously exchanged, neither side forsook the ethics and proper standards of behavior in their disagreement, as was clearly seen in the conduct of debates we have described and in many others which the scholars from both schools engaged in.22 None of them crossed the limits of proper behavior by making pronouncements of unbelief and immorality, or accusations of sinful innovation or downright exclusion from the fold of Islam.

    Ibn Abee Shabramah related that he and Aboo Haneefah visited his friend Ja`far ibn Muhammad ibn al-Hanafeeyah. He greeted Ja`far and introduced Aboo Haneefah saying: "This man is from Iraq. He is a man of understanding and intelligence." Ja`far said: "Is he perhaps the one who uses analogy and independent reasoning in religious matters? Is he al Nu`maan?" Aboo Haneefah replied: "Yes, may God improve you and make you prosper." Ja`far then said: "Be conscious of God and do not use analogy and in dependent reasoning in religious matters. Iblees (Satan) was the first to use analogy to justify his disobedience of God's command to prostrate to Adam when he said: `I am better than he. You created me from fire and You created him from clay.'" The following exchange then took place:

    Ja`far: Tell me about a statement whose beginning is unbelief and whose end is faith.
    Aboo Haneefah: I do not know.
    Ja`far: The statement is, `There is no god but Allah.' If a person says the first part, `There is no god' and stopped there, he would be a disbeliever . . . Now - woe to you! - which is more heinous in the sight of God: Murder, which God has forbidden, or adultery?
    Aboo Haneefah: Murder, of course.
    But Ja`far said: God requires two witnesses to prove the crime of murder but would only accept four to prove adultery. So how can you apply analogy here? He then asked: Which is greater - fasting (.sawm) or prayer (.salaah)?
    Aboo Haneefah: Prayer, of course.
    Ja`far: How is it then that a woman must make up for the days of fasting she misses during menstruation but does not have to make up for the salaah she misses? Fear Allah, O servant of God, and do not use analogy. We will all one day, you and I, stand before God. We will say, `God, Glorified and Exalted is He, has said and the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, has said . . .' while you and your companions will say, `We applied analogy and used independent reasoning.' And God will do with both you and us as He wishes."23
    The questions raised by Imam Ja`far were not too difficult for someone like Aboo Haneefah to answer. But he chose to remain silent and not to argue out of respect for and in consideration of the proper manner in treating a descendant of the Prophet's household, as Ja`far was.

    These exchanges and debates show that the sublime ethics and norms of behavior set by the noble Prophet greatly influenced those who were involved. They also show that differences in methodology and opinion did not result in estrangement and the setting up of barriers between brothers in faith. The coarse harshness which historians associate with this period was in the main connected with groups of scholastic theologians who extended their differences to matters of belief. Some felt themselves justified in accusing others of unbelief (kufr), immorality (fisq) or innovation (bid`ah). However, even among these groups history will not fail to find some norms of proper behavior to record.


    1. Al Fikr al Saamee, 1/311.
    2. Sa`eed ibn al Musayyib was regarded as the most distinguished scholar among the second generation of Muslims - the Taabi`oon. He was born in 15 AH and died in 94 AH. There are several biographical sketches of him, for example, in: Ibn Sa`d, al Tabaqaat al Kubraa, 5/119-123; Tahdheeb al Tahdheeb, 4/84; al Bidaayah, 9/99.
    3. In Al Fikr al Saamee, 1/391 and other sources.
    4. In al Zamraanee's commentary of Maalik's Muwattaa', 4/188; the Musannaf of `Abd al Razzaaq, 9/349; and in al Bayhaqee, al Sunan, 8/96.
    5. Transmitted by al Nasaa'ee, 8/54; and by al Daaraqutnee, 4/364.
    6. Al Fikr al Saamee, 1/320.
    7. Al Intiqaa', 140.
    8. The word "Shee`ah" literally means "sect" or "party." The Shee`ah are so called because of their "partisanship" for `Alee and his descendants and the belief that they were entitled to the khilaafah after the Prophet, peace be on him. They also regard the leadership (imaamah) of the Ummah as a divine commission just as the prophethood was; the imaamah therefore could not be conferred through elections, nominations, or other such processes. They also believe that the a'immah are capable of performing miracles and that, like the prophets, they are protected from sin. There are subsects within the Shee`ah such as the Imaameeyah and the Zaydeeyah, the latter being closer to the Sunnah in their beliefs than other groups. For further references on the Shee`ah consult the book Usool al Kaafee on which there are several commentaries; Al Shahrastaani, Al Milal wa al Nihal, 1/234; I`tiqaadaat Firaq al Muslimeen (Beliefs of Muslim Sects) 77-95, published by Maktabat al Kulleeyaat al Azhareeyah.
    9. The Jahmeeyah was a sect named after Jahm ibn Safwaan who was killed in 128 AH. They believed that it was sacrilegious to describe God by any epithet which can be applied to others; that man has no choice or free will and that all his actions are determined by God; that Paradise and Hell will completely disappear as soon as people enter them; and that the whole of creation will disappear. References for further reading: I`tiqaadaat Firaq al Muslimeen, 103; Al Tabseer fee al Deen, 107-8.
    10. The Mu`tazilah is the name by which this sect is most widely known, but they call themselves the "Upholders of Justice (`Adl) and Monotheism (Tawheed)." Their main beliefs are that nothing existed before Allah who himself is without a beginning or end, that God's attributes are not unique but have a quality of their own, and that the Qur'aan is the created, and not the eternal, word of God. See Faarooqee & Faarooqi, The Cultural Atlas of Islam, 286-93; al Tabseer fee al Deen, 63ff., al Milal wa al Nihal, 1/61-132; al Farq bayna al Firaq, 93-190; I`tiqaadaat Firaq al Muslimeen, 23ff.
    11. The Khawaarij or `Seceders" from both the camps of the Khaleefah `Alee ibn Abee Taalib and Mu`aawiyah ibn Abee Sufyaan following the attempt to arbitrate between them. They eventually evolved into many subsects and developed some distinctive beliefs. One of their main beliefs is that if a believer sins he commits unbelief and becomes a kaafir, an outlaw, and an apostate whom it is legitimate and imperative to fight. Consequently they accused many Companions of the Prophet of unbelief such as `Uthmaan, `Alee, Talhah, al Zubayr, and `Aa'ishah. References for further reading: I`tiqaadaat Firaq al Muslimeen, 51ff, al Tabseer fee al Deen, 45 ff; al Milal wa al Nihal, 1/195-256; al Farq bayna al Firaq, 54-93; Faarooqee & Faarooqee, The Cultural Atlas of Islam, p. 286.
    12. Al Fikr al Saamee, 1/313.
    13. Al Intiqaa'.
    14. Al Fikr al Saamee, 1/312.
    15. Rabee`ah ibn Abee `Abd al Rahmaan (d. circa 136 AH) was known as a master of reasoning and was one of the prominent teachers of Imam Maalik.
    16. Al Fikr al Saamee, 1/312.
    17. Ibraaheem al Nakha`ee (d. 96 AH) was considered head of the school of reasoning (al ra'y). He inherited the jurisprudence (fiqh) of Ibn Mas`ood and is regarded as very trustworthy. He is credited with having brought fiqh and hadeeth together. When he died, Al Sha`bee said: "Ibraaheem has not left behind anyone like himself."
    18. Al Faqeeh wa al Mutafaqqih, 1/203.
    19. Ibn Sa`d, al Tabaqaat.
    20. Ibn Hazm, I`laam al Muwaqqi`een, 1/257.
    21. Ibid, 1/256.
    22. Ibid, 1/130 ff.
    23. Ibid, 1/255-6.

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