28. The succession.
It should be known that we have been discussing the imamate and mentioned the fact that it is part of the religious law because it serves the (public) interest. (We have stated) that its real meaning is the supervision of the interests of the (Muslim) nation in both their worldly and their religious affairs.327 (The caliph) is the guardian and trustee of (the Muslims). He looks after their (affairs) as long as he lives. It follows that he should also look after their (affairs) after his death, and, therefore, should appoint someone to take charge of their affairs as he had done (while alive), whom they can trust to look after them as they had trusted him then.
(Such appointment of a successor) is recognized as part of the religious law through the consensus of the (Muslim) nation, (which says) that it is permissible and binding when it occurs. Thus, Abu Bakr appointed 'Umar as his successor in the presence of the men around Muhammad. They considered (this appointment) permissible and considered themselves obliged by it to render obedience to 'Umar. Likewise, 'Umar appointed six persons, the remnant of the ten (men to whom Paradise had been guaranteed),328 to be members of (an electoral) council (shura), and he put it up to them to make the choice for the Muslims. Each one deferred to (the judgment) of the next man, until it was the turn of 'Abd-arRahman b. 'Awf. He applied his independent judgment and discussed the matter with the Muslims. He found that they agreed upon 'Uthman and 'Ali. He (himself) preferred 'Uthman as the person to receive the oath of allegiance, because ('Uthman) agreed with him concerning the obligation to follow the example of the two shaykhs (Abu Bakr and 'Umar) in every case, without making use of his independent judgment. Thus, 'Uthman was confirmed, and it was considered necessary to obey him. A great number of the men around Muhammad were present on the first and on the second (occasion). 329 None of them expressed the slightest disapproval. This shows that they were agreed upon the correctness of the procedure and recognized its legality. It is recognized that consensus constitutes proof.
No suspicion of the imam is justified in this connection, even if he appoints his father or his son his successor. He is trusted to look after the affairs of the Muslims as long as he lives. He is all the more responsible for not tolerating while he is (alive the possibility that there might arise evil) developments after his death. This is against those who say that (the imam) is suspect with regard to (the appointment of) his son or father, and also against those who consider him suspect with regard to (appointment of) his son only, not his father. In fact, he could hardly be suspected in this respect in any way. Especially if there exists some reason for (the appointment of a successor), such as desire to promote the (public) interest or fear that some harm might arise (if no successor were appointed), suspicion of the imam is out of the question.
This, for instance, was the case with Mu'awiyah's appointment of his son Yazid.330 The action met with agreement of the people, and, therefore, is in itself an argument for the problem under discussion (namely, that the imam is not suspect with regard to whomever he might appoint). But Mu'awiyah himself preferred his son Yazid to any other successor, because he was concerned with the (public) interest of preserving unity and harmony among the people, (and realized that he could achieve this purpose only by appointing Yazid), since the men who possessed executive authority, that is, the Umayyads, agreed at that time upon Yazid. The Umayyads were then agreeable to no one except (Yazid). The Umayyads constituted the core (group) of the Quraysh and of all the Muslims, and possessed superiority (Mu'awiyah,) therefore, preferred (Yazid) to anyone else who might have been considered more suited for the caliphate. He passed over the superior person in favor of the inferior one, 331 because he desired to preserve agreement and harmony, which is the more important thing in the opinion of the Lawgiver (Muhammad). No other motive could be expected of Mu'awiyah. His probity and the fact that he was one of the men around Muhammad preclude any other explanation. The presence of the men around Muhammad on that occasion and their silence are the best argument against doubt in this matter. They were not persons to tolerate the slightest negligence in matters of the truth, nor was Mu'awiyah one of those who are too proud to accept the truth. They were all above that, and their probity precludes it. The fact that 'Abdallah b. 'Umar avoided the issue must be ascribed to his general avoidance of participation in any business, whether permissible or forbidden. He is well known for this (kind of attitude). Ibn az-Zubayr was the only one left to oppose (Mu'awiyah's) appointment, upon which the great mass had agreed. Small minorities of persons holding divergent opinions, it is well known, (are treated by jurists as not authoritative).
After Mu'awiyah, caliphs who were used to choose the truth and to act in accordance with it, acted similarly. Such caliphs included the Umayyads 'Abd-al-Malik and Sulayman and the 'Abbasids as-Saffah, al-Mansur, al-Mahdi, and arRashid, and others like them whose probity, and whose care and concern for the Muslims are well known. They cannot be blamed because they gave preference to their own sons and brothers, in that respect departing from the Sunnah of the first four caliphs. Their situation was different from that of the (four) caliphs, who lived in a time when royal authority as such did not yet exist, and the (sole) restraining influence was religious. Thus, everybody had his restraining influence in himself. Consequently, they appointed the person who was acceptable to Islam, and preferred him over all others. They trusted everybody who aspired to (the caliphate) to have his own restraining influence.
After them, from Mu'awiyah on, the group feeling (of the Arabs) approached its final goal, royal authority. The restraining influence of religion had weakened. The restraining influence of government and group was needed. If, under those circumstances, someone not acceptable to the group had been appointed as successor (to the caliphate), such an appointment would have been rejected by it. The (chances of the appointee) would have been quickly demolished, and the community would have been split and torn by dissension.
Someone asked 'Ali: "Why do the people disagree concerning you, and why did they not disagree concerning Abu Bakr and 'Umar?" 'Ali replied: "Because Abu Bakr and 'Umar were in charge of men like me, and I today am in charge of men like you." 331a He referred to the restraining influence of Islam.
When al-Ma'mun appointed 'Ali b. Mitsa b. Ja'far asSadiq his successor and called him ar-Rida, the 'Abbasids greatly disapproved of the action. They declared invalid the oath of allegiance that had been rendered to al-Ma'mun, and took the oath of allegiance to his uncle Ibrahim b, al-Mahdi. There was so much trouble, dissension, and interruption of communications, and there were so many rebels and seceders, that the state almost collapsed,332 Eventually, al-Ma'mlin went from Khurasan to Baghdad and brought matters back to their former conditions.
Such (differences as the one just cited between caliphate and royal authority) must be taken into consideration in connection with (the problem of) succession. Times differ according to differences in affairs, tribes, and group feelings, which come into being during those (times). Differences in this respect produce, differences in (public) interests, and each (public interest) has its own particular laws. This is a kindness shown by God to His servants.
However, Islam does not consider preservation of (the ruler's) inheritance for his children the proper purpose in appointing a successor. The (succession to the rule) is something that comes from God who distinguishes by it whomsoever He wishes.
It is necessary in (appointing a successor) to be as wellintentioned as possible. Otherwise, there is danger that one may trifle with religious institutions.
God's is the kingdom (royal authority).333 He gives it to those of His servants to whom He wants to give it.
There are some matters in this connection which need explanation.
First: There is the wickedness Yazid displayed when he was caliph. One should beware of thinking that Mu'awiyah could have known about it. Mu'awiyah's probity and virtue were too great. While he lived, he censured Yazid for listening to music and forbade him to do it, and (listening to music) is a lesser sin than (Yazid's later wickedness) and is judged differently by the different schools.
When Yazid's well-known wickedness showed itself, the men around Muhammad disagreed about what to do with him. Some were of the opinion that they should revolt against him and declare the oath of allegiance that had been rendered to him invalid on account of (his wickedness). This was the attitude taken by al-Husayn, 'Abdallah b. az-Zubayr, and others. Others rejected that (course of action), because it threatened to stir up a revolt and to cause much bloodshed. In addition, (they knew that) they would be too weak to achieve success. Yazid's strength at that time lay in the Umayyad group feeling and in the Qurashite majority who exercised all executive authority. It was they who controlled the group feeling of all the Mudar. Thus, they possessed greater strength than anyone else, and no resistance to them was possible. Therefore, (the above-mentioned persons knew that they) were not in a position to do anything against Yazid. They prayed that he might find guidance or that they might be relieved of him. This was the course the majority of the Muslims followed. Both parties (of the opposition to Yazid) used their independent judgment. Neither of them may be considered at fault. It is well known that all their intentions were determined by piety and championship of the truth. May God enable us to follow their model.
Second: There is the matter of the appointment of a successor by the Prophet. The Shi'ah claim that Muhammad appointed 'Ali his heir. This is not correct. No leading transmitter of traditions has reported such a thing. It is stated in (the sound tradition of) the Sahih that Muhammad asked for ink and paper in order to write his will, and that 'Umar prevented it.334 This clearly shows that (the appointment of 'Ali as successor) did not take place.
There also is the following statement by 'Umar, made after he had been stabbed and when he was asked about appointing a successor: "Were I to appoint a successor, it would be because someone who is better than I appointed a successor"-meaning Abu Bakr-"and were I not to appoint a successor, it would be because someone who is better than I did not" -meaning the Prophet.335 And the men around Muhammad were present and agreed with him that the Prophet 336 had not appointed a successor.
There is also the statement of 'Ali to al-'Abbas. Al'Abbas invited 'All to go in to the Prophet (with him), and they both were to ask the Prophet how they stood with regard to being appointed as his successor. 'All, however, refused and said: "If he keeps us from (the caliphate), we cannot hope ever to get it." 337 This shows that 'All knew that Muhammad had not made a will and had not appointed anyone his successor.
The doubt of the Imamiyah in this matter is caused by the fact that they assume the imamate to be one of the pillars of the faith.338 This is not so. It is one of the general (public) interests. The people are delegated to take care of it. If it were one of the pillars of the faith, it would be something like prayer, and (Muhammad) would have appointed a representative (caliph), exactly as he appointed Abu Bakr to represent him at prayer. (Had he done so,) it would have become generally known, as was the case with the matter of prayer. That the men around Muhammad considered the caliphate as something analogous to prayer and on the strength of that attitude argued in favor of Abu Bakr's caliphate, saying, "The Messenger of God found him acceptable for our religion. So, why should we not accept him for our worldly affairs?" 339 is merely another proof of the fact that no appointment of an heir had taken place. It also shows that the question of the imamate and succession to it was not as important then as it is today. Group feeling, which determines unity and disunity in the customary course of affairs, was not of the same significance then (as it was later on). (At that time,) Islam was winning the hearts of the people and causing them to be willing to die for it in a way that disrupted the customary course of affairs. That happened because people observed with their own eyes the presence of angels to help them, the repeated appearance of heavenly messages among them, and the constant (Qur'anic) recitation of divine pronouncements to them in connection with every happening. Thus, it was not necessary to pay any attention to group feeling. Men generally had the coloring of submissiveness and obedience. They were thoroughly frightened and perturbed by a sequence of extraordinary miracles and other divine happenings, and by frequent visitations of angels.340 Such questions as that of the caliphate, of royal authority, succession, group feeling, and other such matters, were submerged in this turmoil the way it happened.
These helpful (circumstances) passed with the disappearance of miracles and the death of the generations that had witnessed them with their own eyes. The coloring mentioned changed little by little. The impression the wonders had made passed, and affairs took again their ordinary course. The influence of group feeling and of the ordinary course of affairs manifested itself in the resulting good and bad institutions. The (questions of) caliphate and royal authority and that of the succession to both became very important affairs in the opinion of the people. It had not been this way before. It should be noted how unimportant the caliphate was in the time of the Prophet, (so unimportant that) he did not appoint a successor to it. Its importance then increased somewhat during the time of the (early) caliphs because there arose certain needs in connection with military protection, the holy war, the apostasy (of Arab tribes after Muhammad's death), and the conquests. The (first caliphs) could decide whether they would (appoint successors) or not. We mentioned this on the authority of 'Umar. Subsequently, as at the present time, the matter has become most important in connection with harmony in (military) protection and the administration of public interests. Group feeling has come to play a role in it. (Group feeling is) the secret divine (factor that) restrains people from splitting up and abandoning each other. It is the source of unity and agreement, and the guarantor of the intentions and laws of Islam. When this is understood, God's wise plans with regard to His creation and His creatures will become clear.341
Third: There are the wars that took place in Islam among the men around Muhammad and the men of the second generation. It should be known that their differences concerned religious matters only, and arose from independent interpretation of proper arguments and considered insights. Differences may well arise among people who use independent judgment. Now, we may say that in the case of problems that are open to independent judgment, the truth can lie only on one side, and that he who does not hit upon it is in error. But, since it has not been clearly indicated by general consensus on which side (the truth lies), every side may be assumed to be right. The side that is in error is not clearly indicated, either. To declare all sides to be at fault is not acceptable according to the general consensus. Again, we may say that all sides have the true answer and that "everybody who uses independent judgment is right." 342 Then, it is all the more necessary to deny that any one side was in error or ought to be considered at fault.
The differences between the men around Muhammad and the men of the second generation were no more than differences in the independent interpretation of equivocal religious problems, and they have to be considered in this light. Differences of the sort that have arisen in Islam include those (1) between 'All on the one hand, and Mu'awiyah, as well as az-Zubayr, Talhah, and 'A'ishah on the other, (2) between al-Husayn and Yazid, and (3) between Ibn az-Zubayr and 'Abd-al-Malik.
(1) As for the case of 'Ali, (the following may be said:) When 'Uthman was killed, the (important Muslims) were dispersed over the various cities. Thus, they were not present when the oath of allegiance was rendered to 'Ali. Of those who were present, some rendered the oath of allegiance to him. Others, however, waited until the people should come together and agree upon an imam. Among those who waited were, for instance, Sa'd (b. Abi Waggas), Sa'id (b. Zayd), ('Abdallah) b. 'Umar, Usamah b. Zayd, al-Mughirah b. Shu'bah,'Abdallah b. Salim, Qudamah b. Maz'un, Abu Sa'id (Sa'd b. Malik) al-Khudri, Ka'b b. 'Ujrah, Ka'b b. Malik, an-Nu'man b. Bashir, Hassan b. Thabit, Maslamah b. Makhlad,343 Fudalah b. 'Ubayd, and other important personalities from among the men around Muhammad. Those who were in the various cities also refrained from rendering the oath of allegiance to 'Ali and were in favor of seeking revenge for 'Uthman, and so they left matters in a state of anarchy. Eventually, the Muslims formed an (electoral) council (shard) to determine whom they should appoint. They suspected 'Ali of negligence when he kept silent and did not help 'Uthman against his murderers, but they did not suspect him of having actually conspired against 'Uthman. That would be unthinkable. When Mu'awiyah openly reproached 'Ali, his accusation was directed exclusively against his keeping silent.
Later on, they had differences. 'Ali was of the opinion that the oath of allegiance that had been rendered to him was binding and obligatory upon those who had not yet rendered it, because the people had agreed upon (rendering the oath) in Medina, the residence of the Prophet and the home of the men around Muhammad. He thought of postponing 'Uthman's revenge until unity was established among the people and the whole thing was well organized. Then it would be feasible. Others were of the opinion that the oath of allegiance rendered to 'All was not binding, because the men around Muhammad who controlled the executive power were dispersed all over the world and only a few had been present (when the oath to 'All was rendered). (They thought that) an oath of allegiance requires the agreement of all the men who control the executive power and that there was no obligation to confirm a person who had received it from others or merely from a minority of those men. (Thus, they thought that) the Muslims were at the time in a state of anarchy and should first seek revenge for 'Uthman and then agree upon an imam. This opinion was held by Mu'awiyah, by 'Amr b. al-'As, by the Mother of the Muslims, 'A'ishah, by az-Zubayr and his son 'Abdallah, by Talhah and his son Muhammad, by Sa'd, by Sa'id, by an-Nu'man b. Bashir, by Mu'awiyah b. Hudayj, and by others among the men around Muhammad who followed the opinion of those mentioned and who hesitated, as we have mentioned, to render the oath of allegiance to 'Ali in Medina.
However, the men of the second period after them agreed that the oath of allegiance rendered to 'All had been binding and obligatory upon all Muslims. They considered ('Ali's) opinion the correct one and clearly indicated that the error was on Mu'awiyah's side and on that of those who were of his opinion, especially Talhah and az-Zubayr, who broke with 'Ali after having rendered the oath of allegiance to him, as has been reported. Still, it was not considered acceptable to declare both parties at fault, for such a thing is not done in cases of independent judgment. It is well known that such became the general consensus among the men of the second period as to one of the two opinions held by the men of the first period. 'Ali (himself), when asked about those who had died in the Battle of the Camel and the Battle of Siffin, replied: "By God, all of them who die with pure heart will be admitted by God to paradise." He referred to both parties. This remark was reported by at-Tabari and by others.344
The probity of none of these men should be doubted. No aspersion should be cast on them in this connection. It is well known who they were. Their words and deeds are models to be followed. Their probity is perfect, in the view of orthodox Muslim opinion. The only exception would be a statement by the Mu'tazilah with regard to those who fought 'Ali,345 but no true believer pays attention to this statement or stoops to consider it seriously. He who looks at the matter impartially will find excusable, not only the differences among all the people (the Muslims) with regard to the affair of 'Uthman, but also all the subsequent differences among the men around Muhammad. He will realize that (these quarrels) were temptations inflicted by God upon the Muslim nation, while He vanquished the enemies of the Muslims and made the Muslims rulers of the lands and country of their enemies, and while they established cities in the border territories, in al-Basrah and al-Kufah (the 'Iraq), in Syria, and in Egypt.
Most of the Arabs who settled in those cities were uncivilized. They had made little use of the Prophet's company and had not been improved by his way of life and manners, nor had they been trained in his qualities of character. Moreover, they had been uncivilized in pre-Islamic times, had been possessed by group feeling and overbearing pride, and had been remote from the soothing influence of the faith. When the (Muslim) dynasty came to be powerful, (these Arabs) were dominated by (Meccan) emigrants and (Medinese) Ansar, belonging to the Quraysh, the Kinanah, the Thaqif, the Hudhayl, and the inhabitants of the Hijaz and Yathrib (Medina), who had been first to adopt the faith of Islam. They were scornful and disliked the situation. They saw that they themselves possessed the older pedigree and the greater numerical strength, and that they had beaten the Persians and Byzantines. They belonged to such tribes as the Bakr b. Wa'il, the 'Abd-al-Qays b. Rabi'ah, the Kindah and the Azd of the Yemen, the Tamim and the Qays of the Mudar, among others. They grew scornful of the Quraysh and overbearing against them. They weakened in their obedience to them. They gave as the reason for their (attitude) the unjust treatment they received from them. They sought protection against them. They accused them (the Quraysh, etc.) of being too weak for military expeditions and of being unfair in distributing (the booty).
These complaints spread and reached the Medinese with their well-known attitude. They considered the matter important and informed 'Uthman about it. He sent to the cities to get reliable information. He sent ('Abdallah) b. 'Umar, Muhammad b. Maslamah, Usamah b. Zayd, and others. They noticed nothing in the (conduct of the) amirs (of the cities) that might call for disapproval, and found no fault with them. They reported the situation (to 'Uthman) as they saw it. But the accusations on the part of the inhabitants of the cities did not stop. The slanderous stories and rumors grew continually. Al-Walid b. 'Uqbah, the governor of alKufah, was accused of drinking wine. A large number of Kufians testified against him, and 'Uthman punished him (as required by the religious law) and deposed him. Then, some of the people of those cities came to Medina to ask for the removal of the governors. They complained to 'All, 'A'ishah, az-Zubayr, and Talhah. 'Uthman deposed some of the governors, but the people still continued their criticisms. Then, Sa'id b. al-'As, the governor of al-Kufah, went on a mission (to 'Uthman). When he returned, he was intercepted by (the Kufians) on the road and sent back deposed. Then differences broke out between 'Uthman and the men around Muhammad who were with him in Medina. They resented his refusal to depose (his officials), but he did not want to (depose them) except for cause.
They then shifted their disapproval to other actions of ('Uthman's). He followed his own independent judgment, and they did the same. Then, a mob banded together and went to Medina, ostensibly in order to obtain redress of their grievances from 'Uthman. In fact, they thought of killing him. There were people from al-Basrah, al-Kufah, and Egypt among them. `Ali, 'A'ishah, az-Zubayr, Talhah, and others took their side, attempting to quiet things down and to get 'Uthman to accept their view of the situation. He deposed the governor of Egypt, and the people who had come to Medina left, but then, after having gone only a short distance, they came back. They had been deceived, they believed, by a forged letter which they had found in the hand of a messenger who was carrying it to the governor of Egypt. (The letter stated) that they were to be killed (upon their return to Egypt). 'Uthman swore that (the letter was not genuine), but they said: "Let us have your secretary Marwan." Marwin, too, swore (that he had not written the letter). Then 'Uthman said: "No more evidence is needed." Thereupon, however, they besieged 'Uthman in his house. They fell upon him in the night when (his defenders) were not careful, and killed him. That opened the door to the (ensuing) trouble.
All the (persons involved in the affair of 'Uthman) can be excused in connection with the occurrence. All of them were concerned with Islam and were not neglectful with regard to any aspect connected with the Muslim religion. After the event, they considered the matter and applied their independent judgment. God observes their circumstances. He knows these men. We can only think the best of them. What we know about their conditions, as well as the statements of the Speaker of the Truth (Muhammad praising those men), require us to do so.
(2) As to (the case of) al-Husayn, (the following may be said:) When the great mass of Yazid's contemporaries saw his wickedness, the Shi'ah in al-Kufah invited al-Husayn to come to them, saying that they would take his side. AlHusayn was of the opinion that a revolt against Yazid was clearly indicated as a duty, because of his wickedness. (That duty, he felt,) was especially incumbent upon those who had the power to execute it. He felt that he had (that power) in view of his qualifications and strength. His qualifications were as good as he thought, and better. But, regrettably enough, he was mistaken with regard to his strength. The group feeling of the Mudar was in the Quraysh, that of the Quraysh in `Abd-Manaf, and that of 'Abd-Manaf in the Umayyads. The Quraysh and all the others conceded this fact and were not ignorant of it. At the beginning of Islam, it had been forgotten. People were diverted by fearful wonders and by the Revelation, and by frequent visitations of angels in aid of the Muslims.346 Thus, they had neglected their customary affairs, and the group feeling and aspirations of pre-Islamic times had disappeared and were forgotten. Only the natural group feeling, serving the purpose of military protection and defense, had remained and was used to advantage in the establishment of Islam and the fight against the polytheists. The religion became well established in (this situation). The customary course of affairs was inoperative, until prophecy and the terrifying wonders stopped. Then, the customary course of affairs resumed to some degree. Group feeling reverted to its former status and came back to those to whom it had formerly belonged. In consequence of their previous state of obedience, the Mudar became more obedient to the Umayyads than to others.
Thus, al-Husayn's error has become clear. It was, however, an error with respect to a worldly matter, where an error does not do any harm. 347 From the point of view of the religious law, he did not err, because here everything depended on what he thought, which was that he had the power to (revolt against Yazid). Ibn 'Abbas, Ibn az-Zubayr, Ibn 'Umar, (al-Husayn's) brother Ibn al-Hanafiyah, and others, criticized (al-Husayn) because of his trip to al-Kufah. They realized his mistake, but he did not desist from the enterprise he had begun, because God wanted it to be so.
The men around Muhammad other than al-Husayn, in the Hijaz and with Yazid in Syria and in the 'Iraq, and their followers, were of the opinion that a revolt against Yazid, even though he was wicked, would not be permissible, because such a revolt would result in trouble and bloodshed. They refrained from it and did not follow al-Husayn (in his opinion), but they also did not disapprove of him and did not consider him at fault. For he had independent judgment, being the model of all who ever had independent judgment. One should not fall into the error of declaring these people to be at fault because they opposed al-Husayn and did not come to his aid. They constituted the majority of the men around Muhammad. They were with Yazid, and they were of the opinion that they should not revolt against him. AlHusayn, fighting at Kerbela', asked them to attest to his excellence and the correctness of his position. He said: "Ask Jabir b. 'Abdallah, Abu Sa'id (al-Khudri), Anas b. Malik, Sahl b. Sa'd, Zayd b. Arqam, and others." 348 Thus, he did not disapprove of their not coming to his help. He did not interfere in this matter, because he knew that they were acting according to their own independent judgment. For his part, he also acted according to independent judgment.
Likewise, one should not fall into the error of declaring that his murder was justified because (it also) was the result of independent judgment, even if (one grants that) he (on his part) exercised the (correct) 349 independent judgment. This, then, would be a situation comparable to that of Shafi'ites and Malikites applying their legal punishment for drinking date liquor (nabhdh) 350 to Hanafites. It should be known that the matter is not so. The independent judgment of those men did not involve fighting against al-Husayn, even if it involved opposition to his revolt. Yazid and the men around him 351 were the only ones who (actually) fought against (al-Husayn). It should not be said that if Yazid was wicked and yet these (men around Muhammad) did not consider it permissible to revolt against him, his actions were in their opinion binding and right. It should be known that only those actions of the wicked are binding that are legal. The (authorities) consider it a condition of fighting evildoers that any such fighting be undertaken with a just ('adil) imam. This does not apply to the question under consideration. Thus, it was not permissible to fight against al-Husayn with Yazid or on Yazid's behalf. In matter of fact, (Yazid's fight against al-Husayn) was one of the actions that confirmed his wickedness. Al-Husayn, therefore, was a martyr who will receive his reward. He was right, and he exercised independent judgment. The men around Muhammad who were with Yazid 352 were also right, and they exercised independent judgment. Judge Abu Bakr b. al-'Arabi al-Maliki 353 erred when he made the following statement in his book alQawasim wa-l-'Awasim: "Al-Husayn was killed according to the law of his grandfather (Muhammad)." Ibn al-'Arabi fell into that error because he overlooked the condition of the "just ('adil) imam" which governs the fighting against sectarians.
(3) Ibn az-Zubayr felt about his revolt as al-Husayn had (about his). He was under the same impression (as alHusayn regarding his qualifications). But his error with regard to his power was greater (than that of al-Husayn). The Bane Asad were no match for the Umayyads in either pre-Islamic or Islamic times. It does not apply in the case of Ibn Zubayr, as it does in the case of Mu'awiyah against 'Ali, that the error is expressly indicated to lie on his opponent's side. In (the case of Mu'awiyah against 'Ali), the general consensus has decided the question for us.354 In (the case of Ibn az-Zubayr), we do not have (a general consensus). The fact that Yazid was in error was expressly indicated by the fact of Yazid's wickedness, but 'Abd-al-Malik, who had to deal with Ibn az-Zubayr, possessed greater probity than anybody else. It is sufficient proof of his probity that Malik used 'Abd-al-Malik's actions as proof,355 and that Ibn 'Abbas and Ibn 'Umar rendered the oath of allegiance to 'Abd-al-Malik and left Ibn az-Zubayr with whom they had been together in the IHijaz. Furthermore, many of the men around Muhammad were of the opinion that the oath of allegiance rendered to Ibn az-Zubayr was not binding, because the men who held the executive power were not present, as (they had been) when it was rendered to ('Abd-alMalik's father) Marwan. Ibn az-Zubayr held the opposite opinion. However, all of them were using independent judgment and were evidently motivated by the truth, even though it is not expressly indicated to have been on one side. Our discussion shows that the killing of Ibn az-Zubayr did not conflict with the basic principles and norms of jurisprudence. Nonetheless, he is a martyr and will receive his reward, because of his (good) intentions and the fact that he chose the truth.
This is the manner in which the actions of the ancient Muslims, the men around Muhammad and the men of the second generation, have to be judged. They were the best Muslims. If we permitted them to be the target of slander, who could claim probity! The Prophet said: "The best men are those of my generation, then those who follow them,"repeating the latter sentence two or three times-"Then, falsehood will spread." 356 Thus, he considered goodness, that is, probity, a quality peculiar to the first period and to the one that followed it.
One should beware of letting one's mind or tongue become used to criticizing any of (the ancient Muslims). One's heart should not be tempted by doubts concerning anything that happened in connection with them. One should be as truthful as possible in their behalf. They deserve it most. They never differed among themselves except for good reasons. They never killed or were killed except in a holy war, or in helping to make some truth victorious.
It should further be believed that their differences were a source of divine mercy for later Muslims, so that every (later Muslim) can take as his model the old Muslim of his choice and make him his imam, guide, and leader. If this is understood, God's wise plans with regard to His creation and creatures will become clear.