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In-Fighting Among the Companions (Sahaba) – Sa’ad Al-Faqih


[Dr. Sa’ad Al-Faqih] Another question. It says, the Sahaba (Companions) were the best of nations, as attested to by the Quran, of course, ((You are the best of the nations raised up for (the benefit of) men)) So, how can Allah’s laws allow infighting among those that were the best of nations? They fought each other during the time of the Companions, not after the time of the Companions. This is a valid question, and it has to be addressed. The answer is that you don’t need to fetch far. Even during the Prophet’s lifetime, the Companions had problems in Uhud, and they had problems in Hunain, which were reaffirmed in the Quran, and the Quran chastised them on that and explained the reason for it. Regarding what happened in Uhud, it said: ((And certainly Allah made good to you His promise when you slew them by His permission, until when you became weak-hearted and disputed about the affair and disobeyed after He had shown you that which you loved; of you were some who desired this world and of you were some who desired the hereafter; then He turned you away from them that He might try you; and He has certainly pardoned you, and Allah is Gracious to the believers.))

This chastisement for what happened to them when they became interested in the spoils of war and they disobeyed the orders of the Prophet (pbuh), and they climbed down the Mount of the Archers at Uhud. A person can hail from the best of nations and still has shortcomings for which he deserves divine punishment to the extent of those shortcomings. At Hunain, Allah says, ((Certainly Allah helped you in many battlefields and on the day of Hunain, when your great numbers made you vain, but they availed you nothing and the earth became strait to you notwithstanding its spaciousness, then you turned back retreating.)) The Companions, who were with the Prophet (pbuh) and under his leadership, they were impressed by their numbers and these numbers were to no avail. They fled away. ((then you turned back retreating.)) ((Then Allah sent down His tranquillity upon His Messenger and upon the believers, and sent down hosts which you did not see, and chastised those who disbelieved, and that is the reward of the unbelievers.))

By the steadfastness of the Prophet (pbuh) and the few that were with him, Allah bestowed his blessings and turned the battle in their favor. So, even during the Prophet’s lifetime there were wrongdoings that led to these results. So, the Companions are not we’re not going to say that they were above but they were not far removed from Allah’s laws. The laws apply to them just like they apply to others. But, how did they in-fight? Why not? If the causes for in-fighting are there, even if the people are of the highest levels except in the case of someone who is infallible, someone who received divine revelations, in that case, there is no room for clash of opinions, nor is there room for them to engage in cheating others. He received divine revelations. There are the prophets, and it’s impossible for them to engage in in-fighting, and to even have differences among them, because both of them would receiving divine revelations.

However, the ordinary man who is liable to differences in understanding and who is liable to differ in judging what is best, it is quite possible for this difference to reach a point of armed conflict. However, notice that Allah has determined, as part of his laws, that in-fighting would occur among the Companions, so that we would learn from them, that whenever people engage in armed conflict, the issue should be limited to that aspect, that the conflict should be political in nature, and not ideological. The Companions did not excommunicate each other, and they did not consider each other innovators. They did not consider them Khawarij. They did not consider them as engaging in other types of innovations. Also, both sides agreed on considering the Khawarij as Khawarij. By the way, there were no Companions within the ranks of the Khawarij. Even those that claimed that so-and-so were among them, these names that were thought to be among the Khawarij were found to be untrue. Out of the blessings of the Prophet’s (pbuh) education there were no Companions among the Khawarij.

The fact of in-fighting among the Companions does not go against Allah’s laws. Quite the contrary, Allah determined it so that we can learn from these people who were aided by Allah and were raised according to the Prophetic ways so that we can learn how to deal with those that raise up arms against us if they are Muslims, and that we differentiate between takfir (excommunication) and tabdee’ (considering others as innovators) and political differences. Political differences are one thing and takfir and tabdee’ are another thing. Imagine, in the heat of the battle, Mu’awiyah was writing to Ali and asking him about Islamic legal rulings, and Ali would send back his fatwa (legal opinion), while both of them are in the midst of battle. This is how the Companions were, and this is the answer to that question.

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