Monday, January 7, 2013

The Basis of Unity

Asalamu alikum

When we turn to ahadeeth of the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam, we find that a small hadith might contain so much benefit that volumes can be written about it. As he himself said, "Indeed I have been given comprehensive speech." In other words, a very small statement or a very small phrase will be able to carry a great meaning. This is the case with a particular hadith – the Hadith of ‘Irbad ibn Sa’riya, named after the companion who narrated it. This hadith is so well-known and comprehensive that when this companion’s name is mentioned, this hadith comes to mind. It is an authentic hadith reported in the sunan of Abu Dawud and the ja’mi of Tirmidhi as well as others.

'Irbad ibn Sa'riya narrates: "Verily the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam delivered a sermon, which caused our hearts to tremble and our ears and our eyes to cry." Notice the effect that the Prophet’s speech sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam had on the Sahaabaa. And the Qur’an describes the Believers as such:
…when they hear the verses recited to them they fall down in sajdah and they cry.

This is the way of the Believer; he benefits from and loves to hear advice. And this is in contrast to the hypocrite and the weak believer, the Fasiq. Allah 'azza wa jal describes them in the Qur’an:
Why is it that they turn away when they are reminded? / Why don't they listen? / It is only the believer that benefits from advice and loves it.

The Sahaabaa were affected because of their sincere faith and dedication to the deen. They were moved and more importantly they paid attention. And this is a sign of eman; when a person finds he loves to attend religious gatherings and when Qur’an and Sunnah are recited, he is affected. And the opposite is also true. When a person does not care about religious lectures, khutbahs, sermons, seeking knowledge, or if he does not pay attention when the Qur’an and Sunnah are recited to him, then this is an evil sign befitting of the hypocrites and the kuffar. And that is why the Sahaabaa were the best of our generations. Sitting there they were affected by Prophet Muhammad’s sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam talk. Their hearts trembled and their eyes cried.

'Irbad then goes on and says, “The Sahaabaa said, after the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam had finished the sermon, ‘O Messenger of Allah, we feel that you are about to leave us. The emotion in which you have delivered this talk was so intense that we feel that you are about to leave us. So give us some concise advice, give us a legacy. Give us, if you like, your last will and testament.’”

Ma sha Allah! Look at the eman of the Sahaabaa; after the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam finished his talk, they wanted more, in fact they demanded more. Unlike the people of today, they didn’t get tired or bored or look at their watches waiting for the Islamic knowledge to finish so they could go on with their lives. No, they wanted more because they realized that this was far more precious to them than anything the world contained. So they said, “Ya RasulAllah give us more; we want to hear more.” And this is why the Sahaabaa were the best of all generations. As the Quran says:
Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Allah.

So the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam, due to his merciful nature, agreed to their request, and he gave another sermon, rather another small advice. And the reason that this lecture is so important is that the Sahaabaa had said, "Ya RasulAllah, give us a concise legacy." Basically they were asking the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam to summarize for them what they needed to know, what were the essentials, and his last will and testament to the Ummah. So because they requested such beautiful advice, the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam fulfilled their request. This shows that this hadith is a very important hadith, a hadith of high status, a hadith that every one of us should study. Think about it – this is the legacy that the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam gave to the Sahaabaa when they asked him.

The Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam started off saying, "My legacy to you is that I advise you to have the taqwa of Allah ‘azza wa jall. And I command you to listen and to obey," meaning the rulers, "even if an Abyssinian slave becomes your leader." To listen and to obey even if someone you do not like, someone you look down upon, becomes your leader. In the Shari’ah it is considered better to listen to the rulers even if they are not perfect, as long as they are not non-Muslims and committing open kufr. Listening to them is seen as a lesser sin than revolting and causing chaos, pandemonium, blood being shed, honor being dishonored, women being raped, and villages being pillaged. All of these things could be direct results of revolting against a ruler who is Muslim, even though you dislike some things about him. So the Shari'ah says that if there is a ruler and a leader who is a Muslim and is judging, in general, by the Shari'ah, then it is better, it is the correct thing to do, to leave him in power even if there are other problems with him; and you listen to and you obey him.

He went on and said, "He who lives long amongst you will see a lot of differing," meaning amongst the Muslims. When he said, “He who lives long amongst you,” he was talking to the Sahaabaa, the first generation of Islam. And he said that amongst themselves they will witness a phenomenon that did not exist before. They will see something new that was not there before. And that is, there will be ikhtilaaf, differences of opinion. There will be Muslims disunited. And this is something that never existed during the time of the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam. When Prophet Muhammad sal Allaahu alayhi wa salla was amongst their midst this was unheard of because he was their Prophet, their leader, guiding them, advising them, and mediating between them. But he predicted this disease, ikhtilaaf, would appear shortly after his death, and would continue until the Day of Judgment. He predicted it because Allah ‘azza wa jall told him about it. And he did not tell the Sahaabaa that it would come after a thousand years or after a few hundred years. He said those who lived long amongst them, while Islam would still in its infancy, would be plagued by ikhtilaaf.

And it was exactly as he said. Shortly after Prophet Muhammad sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam’s death, in the middle of the khilaafa of 'Uthman radi Allahu anhu, the neo-Khawaarij, the first splinter group, broke away from the Muslims. And then in the time of 'Ali, the Rafidha broke away. And so on and so forth, it continued, the Muslims kept on breaking away from the Ummah to the point that now we have so many groups, methodologies, and movements, so many ways of understanding Islam, that we cannot even count them. So the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam, because of his concern for us, because of his knowledge that Allah ‘azza wa jall gave him, warned us of a disease that would afflict all of us; the disease of ikhtilaaf, the disease of disunity.

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