The exemplary young Companions: Obedience to the imam of the time

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Last Updated on 15th January 2021

Rahmatullah Khan Shakir (1901-2000), Former Assistant Editor and Manager of Al Fazl

One thing is very clear from the lives of the Companionsra of the Holy Prophetsa: under no circumstances did they shirk from the obedience of the Khulafa and the authorities. Despite their own learning and excellence, they would never allow differences to rise between them and their leaders; rather, they would obey them and maintain national unity.

This is why, despite differences of opinion, their organisation remained intact. As a nation, they had become so strong that in spite of their insignificant number, poverty, helplessness and powerlessness, they emerged victorious against mighty foes.

In this regard, some accounts are as follows.

Conceding knowledge

Once, Hazrat Ammarra narrated a hadith before Hazrat Umarra, but Hazrat Umarra objected to it. Despite his certainty of the narration, Hazrat Ammarra kept quiet and did not show any sign of disagreement with the imam of the age. In utter remorse, he submitted, “O Leader of the Faithful! If you say so, I will never report this hadith again.” (Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitab al-Taharat, Bab Tayammum)

Submitting to the edict of the Khalifa

Once, Hazrat Abu Musa Ash‘arira gave an edict with regard to Hajj. Somebody told him to wait because the Leader of the Faithful, Hazrat Umarra had said something different about it.

Instantly, he directed people not to follow his edict and said, “The Leader of the Faithful will be here any moment; you should follow him.” (Sunan al-Nasa‘i, Kitab al-Hajj, Bab al-Hajj bi-ghairi niyyati yaqsudu-hul-Muhrimu)

Disagreeing with the imam of the time

Once, Hazrat Uthmanra offered [the full] four rak‘aat [units of prayer] at Mina. Hazrat Abdullahra bin Umar differed with him about the number of rak‘aat to be offered there and said that earlier, at the same place, he had offered two rak‘aat [by performing qasr – shortening the prayer while on a journey] in the company of the Holy Prophetsa. And later, along with Hazrat Abu Bakrra and Hazrat Umarra also, he had offered two rak‘aat there. He said, therefore, he would prefer two rak‘aat over four. But when the time came to offer prayer, he too offered four rak‘aat instead of two.

People questioned him on this, that he had differed over it with Hazrat Uthmanra, yet he eventually followed in his footsteps. They asked what the reason was behind the discrepancy in his precept and practice. In reply, he said:

“Disagreeing [with the Khalifa] is an evil act. The fact of the matter is that Hazrat Uthmanra had constructed a house there. That is why he deemed that the rule of shortening a prayer for a traveller did not apply to him and offered the complete prayer instead of the shortened one.” (Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitab al-Manasik, Bab Salat bi-Mina)

One should avoid discord

Hazrat Abdullahra bin Umar was very mindful of following the practice of the Holy Prophetsa. When he offered prayer by himself at Mina, he would shorten it, but when he offered prayer behind an imam at Mina, he would offer [the full] four rak‘aat. He would say, “One should avoid discord.” (Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Salat-ul-Musafirain wa Qasriha, Bab Qasr-is-Salati bi-Mina)

Preparedness to attack for the sake of the imam of the time

Once, Hazrat Abu Bakrra became severely cross with someone. A companion, who was seated close by, said, “O Leader of the Faithful! I will behead him if you say so.” Once Hazrat Abu Bakr’sra anger had subsided, he asked him, “Would you really have slain him if I had said so?” He replied in the affirmative. (Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitab al-Hudud, Bab al-Hukmu fi man Sabban-Nabiyya)

It should be remembered that this incident is in line with the social customs of that time. It is being recorded here to show that the pleasure of the amirul momineen [leader of the faithful] was so significant for the Companionsra that they would consider it’s violator to be worthy of being beheaded.

Nevertheless, history fails to prove that such a disagreeing person had ever been punished. But this incident reveals the spirit the Companionsra had for their leader.

These few accounts have been reproduced here to show that the earlier bearers of faith, in matters of faith, leaving aside all their learning and excellence, would humbly surrender to the views of the Khulafa and the authorities without any complaint, grumble or dispute.

In fact, in the absence of this spirit, once the door to dissent with Khulafa is opened, the objective of Khilafat and the establishment of faith can never be accomplished. It is very regrettable that some so-called divines, due to their personal rivalry and aversion, consider it in line with freedom of conscience, Islamic equality and the highest merit to instantly raise an objection in the case of some differences with the Khalifa of the time.

In supporting their differences, they present examples of a couple of people of superficial knowledge who, without any hesitation, had deemed it necessary to express their differences with the Khalifa of the time in a public gathering. They do not reflect that those men enjoyed no distinction at all in religious matters.

In comparison to this, the examples we have presented are of illustrious Companionsra, who had a very high standing in matters of faith. Therefore, we can benefit by emulating only their practice.

Besides this, the alacrity and devotion with which the Companionsra complied with the commands of the Holy Prophetsa, his Khulafa and other authorities is exemplary. But we have not produced them here; you will find those accounts under other headings.

Obedience to those in authority

After the demise of the Holy Prophetsa, while the Muslim forces were occupied in meting out punishments to rebellious apostates, Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid fought against an imposter, Sajah bint Al-Harth. During the battle, Malik bin Nuwerah was killed at the command of Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid. This was an insignificant incident of the battlefield, but some Muslims deemed Malik to be a believer as they had heard the call for prayer from his village. Therefore, they thought that his murder was not permissible.

A companion, Abu Qatadahra, was among the troops of Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid. He too held the same opinion, that Malik was a Muslim and his murder was impermissible. He was so displeased that as a token of his displeasure, he separated himself from the Muslim forces and without permission, left for Medina.

In Medina, he complained against Hazrat Khalidra that he killed the Muslims. Some senior companions too, including Hazrat Umarra, seconded Abu Qatadah’sra view and desired for retaliation against Khalidra bin Walid for the murder of a Muslim. Hazrat Abu Bakrra listened to all the circumstances and commented that irrespective of whether Khalidra had committed the crime or not, Abu Qatadahra certainly had. He had forsaken the Muslim army without the permission of the commander. Thus, Hazrat Abu Bakrra ordered him to return instantly and joining the Muslim force, obey all his commands without any complaint. Thus, he was made to go back. (Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 3, p. 273, Zikr al-Batah wa Khabruhu)

This incident shows the importance of obedience to the authority. Though differences with the authority may occur, but no one is allowed to evade from their obedience. Regrettably, the Muslims, in the first place, do not have an amir, which is one of the root causes of their decline. Even if they choose one to be their amir, it is difficult for them to obey him.

Ahmadis, on the other hand, are linked together in a system with the grace of God and are subordinate to an amir to whom they are bound to obey. This is such a bounty for which no amount of gratitude will suffice. This bounty can be benefited only by obeying the authority without complaining.

(Translated by Shahid Mahmood Ahmad, Missionary in Ghana, from the original Urdu, Muslim Nau-jawanon kay Sunehri Karnamey)

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