Irresponsible Attitudes of the Companions 3

It was also he ordered that in the call to prayer (adhan) at dawn the phrase, "prayer is better than sleep" (as 'salatu khayrun mina 'n-nawm) should be recited.(1)

According to the Sunan of al-Tirmidhi someone from Syria once asked 'Abdullah b. 'Umar about the mut'ah pilgrimage. He replied that it was permissible. When the man remarked that Abdullah's father had prohibited it, he answered, "If my father has forbidden something which the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and his family, permitted, should we abandon the Sunnah of the Prophet and follow my father?"(2)

Ibn Kathir similarly records in his history: "Abdullah b. 'Umar was told that his father had prohibited the mut'ah pilgrimage. He said in reply: 'I fear that a stone will fall on you from the heavens. Are we to follow the Sunnah of the Prophet or the Sunnah of 'Umar b. al-Khattab?'"(3)

During the time of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and his family, as well as the caliphate of Abu Bakr and the first three years of the caliphate of 'Umar, if anyone were to divorce his wife three times on a single occasion, it counted as a single repudiation, and was not therefore final. However, 'Umar said: "If such a repudiation is made, I will count it as a threefold (and therefore final) repudiation."(4)

The Shi'ah believe that such a repudiation (talaq) counts only as a single repudiation, and Shaykh Mahmud al-Shaltut, erstwhile rector of the Azhar, regarded Shi'i jurisprudence (fiqh) superior in this respect as well as many others.(5)

No one has the right to tamper with revealed ordinances, for they are divine and immutable, not even the Prophet himself. The Qur'an says: Were Muhammad to attribute lies to Us, with Our powerful hand We would seize him and cut his jugular vein.(6) However, we see that unfortunately some of the Companions awarded themselves the right of exercising independent judgement (ijtihad) with respect to certain ordinances, changing and modifying divine law in accordance with their own notions.

The second caliph introduced class differences into Islamic society during the time of his rule, increasing racial tensions between the Arabs and the Persians.(7) He established a discriminatory system of distributing public monies, awarding more to those who accepted Islam early on than to those who embraced it later; more to Qurayshite Migrants than to non-Qurayshite Migrants; more to the Migrants than to the Helpers; more to the Arabs than to the non-Arabs; and more to masters than to their clients.(8)

Toward the end of his life 'Umar himself came to recognize the negative effects of his policy and he said: "If I remain alive this year, I will establish equality in Islamic society and abolish discrimination. I will act in the way the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him and his family, and Abu Bakr both acted."(9) The foregoing indicates the arbitrary attitude that some of the Companions assumed with respect to the commands of the Prophet. In certain cases where those commands did not correspond to their personal inclinations, they tried either to avoid implementing them or to change them completely.

The fact that they ignored the unmistakably authoritative utterances of the Prophet on the day of Ghadir Khumm or that they behaved similarly with respect to other matters after his death, should not be regarded as either surprising or unprecedented, for they had already given an indication of their attitudes during his lifetime.

In addition, it should not be forgotten that in every society most people tend to remain indifferent to political and social matters, choosing to follow their leaders and those who seize the initiative. This is a clear and undeniable fact.

However, there were respectable and independent minded people who did not change their position after the death of the Prophet. They did not approve of the election that took place at the Saqifah, and they separated themselves from the majority in protest against the introduction of the consultative concept into Islamic government. Although they were more or less compelled to remain silent, they remained loyal to 'Ali b. Abi Talib, peace be upon him, as leader.

Among the outstanding personalities belonging to this group were Salman al-Farisi, Abu Dharr al-Ghifari, Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, Khuzaymah b. Thabit, Miqdad b. al-Aswad, al-Kindi, 'Ammar b. yasir, Ubayy b. Ka'b, Khalid b. Sa'id, Bilal, Qays b. Sa'd, Aban, Buraydah al-Ashami, Abu 'l-Haytham b. al-Tayyihan, as well as many others whose names are recorded in Islamic history. Some scholars have listed two hundred and fifty Companions of the Prophet, complete with names and descriptions, as belonging to this class.(10)

al-Ya'qubi mentions in his history Abu Dharr al-Ghifari, Salman al-Farisi, Miqdad b. al-Aswad, Khalid b. Sa'id, Zubayr, 'Abbas, Bara' b. Azib, Ubayy b. Ka'b, and Fadh b. al-'Abbas as being among those who remained loyal to the cause of 'Ali, peace be upon him.(11) Qays b. Sa'd even went so far as to argue with his father over the question of the caliphate and he swore never to speak to him again because of this views.(12)

These are some of the earliest Shi'is; they supported 'Ali's right to the leadership because of the clear injunctions in the Qur'an and the Sunnah. They remained unswerving in their views until the end. During the period of the first three caliphs the number of Shi'is in fact rose, all of them being outstanding and virtuous personalities, their names being linked to piety and purity in the books of history and biography where they are mentioned.

Among them were men such as Muhammad b. Abi Bakr, Sa'sa'ah b. Suhan, Zayd b. Suhan, Hisham b.'Utbah, Abdullah b. Budayl al-Khuza'i, Maytham al-Tammar,' Adiyy b. Hatim, Hujr b. Adiyy, Asbagh b. Nubatah, al-Harith al-A'war al-Hamdani, Amr b. al-Humq al-Khaza'i, Malik al-Ashtar, and Abdullah b. Hashim.



1. Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Vol. III, p. 408; Muslim, al-Sahih, Vol. III, p. 183; al-Halabi, al-Sirah, Vol. II, p. 105; Ibn Kathir, Vol. III, p.23.

2. al-Tirmidhi, Jami' al-Sahih, Vol. IV, p.38.

3. Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah, Vol. V, p. 141.

4. Muslim, al-Sahih, Vol. IV, pp. 183-4.

5. Risalat al-Islam, Vol. XI, no, 1.

6. The Quran 69:44

7. al-Ya'qubi, al-Tarikh, Vol. II, p. 107.

8. Ibn Abi 'l-Hadid, Sharh, Vol. VIII, p. 11; Ibn Sa'd, al-Tabaqat, Vol. III, pp. 296-7.

9. Taha Husayn, al-Fitnat al-Kubra, Vol. I, p. 108.

10. al-Sayyid Sharaf al-Din, Fusul al-Muhimmah, pp. 177-92.

11. al-Ya'qubi, al-Tarikh, Vol. II, p. 103.

12. Ibn Abi 'l-Hadid, Sharh, Vol. II, p. 18.