What are the reasons for the wars among Ashara al-Mubashshara (Companions)?

The Details of the Question
What are the reasons for the wars among Ashara al-Mubashshara (Companions)?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The murderer of Hz. Uthman was al-Ghafiqi, a Yemeni Jew. With the martyrdom of Hz. Uthman, Ibn Saba made a great achievement in his cause. The seeds of mischief started to yield fruit. This saddening incident prevented Muslims from spreading the religion of Islam to other countries. The period of conquests and proclamation ended; a period of stagnation and conflicts started.

After this stage, Ibn Saba prepared a new plan in order to make Hashimis confront Umayyads. Hz. Uthman was an Umayyad and Hz. Ali was a Hashimi. He agitated Umayyads by spreading a rumor that Hz. Ali had Hz Uthman killed and that he wanted to be the caliph after Hz. Uthman. On the one hand, Ibn Saba spread this ugly slander against Hz. Ali and on other hand, he worked openly to make Hz. Ali the caliph; thus, he wanted the people to believe in this slander.  

To this end, he chose a group of delegates headed by Ibn Maymun, a Jewish who came from Egypt with a caravan, and sent him to Hz. Ali. The delegates said to Hz. Ali,

"As you know, this ummah has been left without a leader. You are the one that deserves to be the caliph the most. We want you to undertake this duty."

Hz. Ali rejected this offer and dismissed them.

When Hz. Ali gave this answer, he sent a group of delegates from Kufa to Hz. Zubayr and a group of delegates from Basra to Hz. Talha. Hz. Zubayr and Hz. Talha rejected their offer of caliphate like Hz. Ali and dismissed them.

When Ibn Saba could not get what he wanted from them, gave Ghafiqi, the Jew who controlled and led the rebels, the following order:

"Gather the people of Madinah in the mosque and tell them to choose a caliph at once. Otherwise, threaten them with your swords."

Upon this order, the rebels under the command of Ghafiqi gathered the people ofMadinah in the mosque and said to them, 

"Choose yourselves a leader as soon as possible. If you do not do it now, we will put all of you including Ali, Zubayr and Talha to sword."

After hearing this threat, the people of Madinah went into the presence of Hz. Ali and asked him to accept the duty of caliphate. Hz. Ali had to accept the duty of caliphate though he did not want it due to the chaotic state.

After a while, Hz. Talha and Hz. Zubayr went to Hz. Ali and asked him to act in accordance with the Book and punish the murderers of Hz. Uthman. Hz. Ali said to them,

"You are right but the state has not suppressed the rebels fully yet. Therefore, it is necessary to wait for the state to control the situation."

Hz. Ali wanted the criminals to be determined one by one, to be questioned and to be punished. Hz. Aisha, Hz. Zubayr and Hz. Talha held the following view:  

"Mischief got bigger; it targeted the state; the caliph was martyred. The issue is not the issue of finding the murderer of Hz. Uthman only. It is necessary to kill the majority of those who took part in this movement of mischief. Therefore, the rebels should be punished at once."

Acting upon the verse of the Quran “No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another”, Hz. Ali did not agree with them saying, "No one can be held responsible for the mistake of another person".

After finding out Hz. Ali's view, Hz. Zubayr and Hz. Talha met Hz. Aisha in Makkah and decided to go to Basra in order to find soldiers to suppress the rebels.

When Hz. Ali heard that Hz. Aisha, Hz. Talha and Hz. Zubayr went to Basra, he moved toward Basra with his army so that there will not be a breakdown and division in the unity of the state and settled in Dhiqar. Hz.Ali sent an envoy called Qa’qa’ to Hz. Aisha, Hz. Talha and Hz. Zubayr and told him to tell them about the evil of discord and the importance of unity that that everything would be settled better with peace. Upon this order, he went to Hz. Aisha, Hz. Talha and Hz. Zubayr and told them about Hz. Ali's views; he said that the cure for this problem was calmness, that all kinds of measures could be taken after people calmed down and that mischief and conflict would occur otherwise, which would bring about big problems for Muslims. They said, "If Ali holds this view, there is no disagreement between him and us."

Both parties were pleased of this unity. Thus, a state of calmness occurred. Everybody went to their tents feeling in safety and peace. 

Ibn Saba, the munafiq, who was very disturbed by this peace, gathered his followers and said to them,

"We definitely need to do something to start war and to make Muslims fight one another. If we cannot do it, all of our efforts will be fruitless; we will not be able to reach our target."

They prepared a new plan to start war. In accordance with this plan to be applied toward the morning, Ibn Saba placed his men around the tents of Hz. Ali, Hz. Zubayr and Hz. Talha. Then, they attacked the tents of both parties. When Hz. Zubayr and Hz. Talha woke up with the noise, they asked, "What is the matter? What is happening?" Ibn Saba’s men said, "Hz. Ali's men (the people of Kufa) attacked us at midnight."

Thereupon, Hz. Talha and Hz. Zubayr said, "It is understood that Hz. Ali was not sincere when he said he wanted peace." On the other hand, when Hz. Ali heard the noise, he asked, "What is happening?" Ibn Saba’s men said, "The other party attacked us at midnight and we repelled the attack." Hz. Ali said,"It is understood that Talha and Zubayr do not agree with us about peace." Thus, the Incidence of Camel, which claimed the lives of ten thousand people, took place. Hz. Talha and Zubayr were martyred. Thus, after the murder of Hz. Uthman, Ibn Saba realized an important stage of his target.

Question: How should Muslims view the disagreements that occurred among the Companions?

Answer: "Ismah (innocence)", that is, the attribute of being protected from sins with divine protection belongs to prophets only. Only prophets are without mistakes. Since the Companions do not have this attribute, it cannot be said that they are completely free of mistakes. However, when a Muslim makes a mistake, he does not exit Islam; similarly, when a Companion makes a mistake, he does not lose the honor of being a Companion. 

All mujtahids of the four true madhhabs hold the following view about the disagreements among the Companions:

"Each Companion is a mujtahid. It is their right before everyone else to make ijtihad related to the issues that are not clearly expressed in the Quran and hadiths. It is a definite rule of the science of fiqh that if a person is a mujtahid, he does not have to obey the ijtihad of another mujtahid. The disagreements, conflicts and battles that occurred among the Companions were due to ijtihad difference. Their wishes and desires have no share - God forbid - in these disagreements. For, they were purified from bad attributes like hatred, enmity and hostility thanks to listening to the talks of the Prophet. Their souls were free from such mean things and they became lofty."

Yes, each Companion is a mujtahid in Islam. As it is known, a person who makes an ijtihad gains two thawabs if he is right; he gains one thawab if he is wrong. The ijtihads of those distinguished people, who belonged to Islam with their lives and wealth and who had no other goal other than elevating and spreading Islam, aimed to elevate Islam. This love and determination was so high in them that they did not hesitate to express a view contrary to that of the Prophet (pbuh) at the Battle of Uhud. They clearly said, "We see the success of Islam in this." The Prophet (pbuh) had to act in accordance with the view of the Companions since the majority of the Companions made an ijtihad opposite to that of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). The incidents that occurred afterwards showed that the Prophet (pbuh) was right. Although the Quran was being sent down gradually at that time, Allah Almighty did not send down a verse to warn the Companions. He did not give them a warning; on the contrary, he ordered the Prophet (pbuh) to keep consulting them. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) did not blame them; he still loved them and continued asking their views. Only this incident is enough to show clearly that the Companions are valuable in the eye of Allah and His Messenger and that they had the right of ijtihad in the religion.   

Now let us think mercifully. Can we judge the Companions, who were not warned by Allah or the Messenger of Allah though they thought differently from the Prophet and made a different ijtihad, due to the disagreements among themselves? A person who has even very little conscience and foresight must not resort to this crime.

If a Muslim oversteps the limit and tries to judge that distinguished group, who shed their blood for Islam during the first years of Islam, and says that one of them was right and another one was wrong, he will not blemish those stars of guidance but will harm himself.

Besides, the people that he judges are the notables of the Companions. Some of them were given the glad tiding that they were the people of Paradise. The Quran and the Prophet (pbuh) praised those people whom he criticizes.

We should not forget this issue and should act very carefully about the disagreements among the Companions and avoid overstepping the limit. 

If the disagreement of the Companions had not been legitimate and reasonable in the eye of Allah Almighty, he would have sent down an order and prevented it. As a matter of fact, when the Companions talked loudly in the presence of the Prophet (pbuh), the following verse was sent down to warn them:

"O ye who believe! Raise not your voices above the voice of the Prophet, nor speak aloud to him in talk, as ye may speak aloud to one another lest your deeds become vain and ye perceive not." (al-Hujurat, 49/2)

The believers are ordered to avoid having bad thoughts about their believing brothers:

"Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother?" (al-Hujurat, 49/12)

Allah Almighty informs us in this verse that backbiting is a deed that is as disgusting as eating the flesh of a dead person and that does not fit a believer. You can understand the danger of the issue if the person who is backbitten is a Companion and especially one of the notables of the Companions.

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stated the following in a hadith:

"Backbiting eats up good deeds just as fire eats up wood."

Thus, he warns us severely.

It is necessary to listen to these facts in terms of our life in the hereafter and the future of Islam. Since a believer is prohibited from having bad thoughts about another believer, it is clearly understood how grave and dangerous it is to have bad thoughts about the Companions and the notables among them, who laid the foundations of Islam, who were the friends of the Prophet in daily life and wars and who were the means of the guidance of all of the Muslims of today. 

The safest way for clever people is to avoid speaking ill of them. It will be understood after thinking a little that people will not be sent to this world to analyze the problems among the Companions and to decide which party is right and which one is wrong. To have a view about this issue cannot be the purpose of the creation of a person. Man was not created to have an issue about it; he was created to worship Allah properly. That is, our religion calls us to fulfill or duties to worship Allah, not to analyze the disagreements among the Companions.

The great Companions, from the caliph to the ordinary ones lived with same sustenance and felt the same excitement. They worked openly and secretly, day and night, in the development, spread and elevation of Islam. They make jihad with their lives and blood and made unmatchable sacrifices. They opposed their tribe for the love of the Quran and the Prophet and they sacrificed their families, children, property and wealth. They preferred the Prophet to their own lives, children, family and parents. They shed their blood in order to lay the foundations of Islam.  

They became a means of the worldly and otherworldly happiness of all of the Muslims beginning from that day to the Day of Judgment. It is our duty in terms of justice and conscience to feel gratitude to them, to pray, praise and thank them.

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