The basic reality we must all accept in theory, in reality and in practice is that only the Prophet of Allah is infallible, no other person, be he a Sheikh, a Sultan, or a subject (citizens) – is free from errors or mistakes. Though, we may overlook their errors for being human, we must never use it as a justification or that Islam condones the errors.
For instance, Sayyidina Uthman dismissed one of his governors, of course, a Sahabah. The governor was accused of drinking alcohol and the Caliph Uthman carried out the legal punishment (Hadd) on him. He subsequently dismissed the governor as a result of people’s allegations as well as their testimonies against him. Some other governors and administrators were similarly dismissed by Caliph Umar for one complaint or the other(during his time).
We must therefore not use the mistakes committed in the historic past as indicating its permissibility by Islam. We learn from history, we do not repeat the mistakes.
Undoubtedly, Qur’an and Sunnah are the only infallible sources of reference in Islam, except the Shiites who have the doctrine of infallible Imam.
Allah and His Prophet did not say the companions were infallible, we are only instructed to refrain from denigrating them. We are not to take their errors as symbolising Islam or take their mistakes as continuous practice for generation to come.
A companion, Abu Zahr Al Gifaari criticised some policies of Caliph Uthman and this will not diminish their status as companions. Also, Muawiyah unilaterally introduced an alien policy of choosing his son as a successor but this aberration must not be justified by later generations, since the practice was (and still) contrary to the guidance of the Prophet.
All the errors committed in the past should never be justified, it was not Islam then and will never be Islam till eternity.
I do marvel at the hypocrisy of those who often hide under the statement of Imam Ahmad on absolute obedience to the ruler but who will never give consideration to the position of the same Imam Ahmad who seriously warned against working for a Sultan or government under whatever guise – either as a judge or an advisor.
He even warned against going to their door steps, just as he rejected Ahadith that were narrated by scholars of the Sultan. In fact, Imam Ahmad was reported to have rejected gifts from his biological son who was an employee of the Sultan.
From my personal research, I have come to the conclusion that deviancy or act of deviation, arising from extremism (Al Guluw) – remains the major disease bedeviling the Ummah in this age.
The origin of Al Guluw and emergence of Sects
Al Guluw is not exclusive to any group or a particular generation of Muslims. Without doubt, every Islamic tendencies has its origin from and traceable to the Sahabah but the excessiveness of these groups in articulating and defending their own errors while condemning others (considered as adversaries) drove them to become a Firqa (sect).
While Guluw in the defence of Ummayad drove some scholars to become Nasibi, Murjia, etc, Guluw in vilification of Muawiyah drove others to become Rafidites, Khawarij, etc
While those who remained neutral were tagged by Shiites as Nasibi, and the Nasibi in turn named their accusers Rafidha.
That is why it will be seen in every sect, a semblance of truth mixed with errors, but their excessiveness drove them to deviancy or deviations.
For example, someone who started well as Ahlul Sunnah and upholding the noble practices of authentic Sunnah may end up having the Murjia’ inclination or tendencies by unnecessarily trying to defend and justify the despotism of a monarch.
There are pious predecessors (Salaf) who are renowned Sufi Sheikhs. They were praised and revered by Imam Ahmad bn Hanbal, but the excessiveness (Guluw) of the later generations drove them into error of Batiniyah (exploring the knowledge of the hidden), Wahdatul wujud (Pantheism), Tanasukh Al Arwaah (following up of the souls after death) and reprehensive innovations in acts of worship.
Some party (Shiites) of Sayyidina Ali later drifted into excessiveness in adoring Ali until they became Rafidha Sect. Although there are Ahadith where the Prophet spoke glowingly of Ahlul Bait (the Prophet’s household), yet, it is reprehensible to denigrate and relegate the status of other revered companions; or rain curses on them just to elevate the Ahlul Bait.
In as much as there are ahadith with varying narrations where the Prophet said he left behind the Qur’an and the Sunnah, some other narrations added Ahl Bait (my household)
ﺗﺮﻛﺖُ ﻓﻴﻜﻢ ﻣﺎ ﺇﻥْ ﺃﺧﺬﺗُﻢ ﺑﻪ ﻟﻦ ﺗﻀﻠُّﻮﺍ : ﻛﺘﺎﺏَ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ، ﺳﺒﺒُﻪ ﺑﻴﺪﻩ ﻭﺳﺒﺒُﻪ ﺑﺄﻳﺪﻳﻜﻢ، ﻭﺃﻫﻞَ ﺑَﻴﺘﻲ
Hence, the existence of moderate Shiites among the companions. We do find narrators of Ahadith with Shiites origin in Sahih Bukhari and Muslim. There are also scholars like Imam Shawkani, and Sana’ani – the author of Subulu-s-Salaam سبل السلام who were moderate Zaidiyah Shittes, but the majority of Shiites drifted into extremism of adoring Ahlul Bait and began to abuse the noble companions. They turn their heroes into deities and considered them infallible. The extremism and excessiveness of the Shiites drove them to introduce repugnant innovations.
In this age, the greatest affliction of the Ummah is neither ignorance nor lack of love or Brotherhood. It is neither the dearth of intellect nor non-availability of resources. It is rather Al Guluw! It is for this reason that the very group which considers itself to be Firqatul Najiyah (The Saved Sect) take to unprecedented rancour and in-fighting (among themselves) – accusing one another of deviancy.
Sh. Rabiu Madkhali had accused Halabi of deviancy, just as Sh. Ali Halabi also accused him of being a Murjia.
The extremism of the first set of Khawarij in excessive literalism drove them into deviancy, just as the various factions of Khawarij equally accused others of deviancy.
Interestingly, some of those who claimed to be the de facto Ahlul Sunnah or Salafiyah are today being inflicted with the Khawarij virus due to their excessive literalism which was the genesis of Khawarij ab initio.
Even the Hanbaliyah who always claim to be the authentic Ahlus Sunnah and would accuse the Malikiyah, Shafi’yah and Hanafiyah are also engulfed in accusing one another of deviancy due to Guluw.
In spite of Sheikh Ibn Taemiyah’s laudable effort in entrenching Taoheed and condemning all vestiges of Shrik, some of his followers sought for blessings (Tabaruk) with his corpse and drank the water used in washing him, as recorded by Ibn Katheer, all due to Guluw.
Sheikh Al Albaanee in his own effort castigated blind followers of the great Imams like Abu Haneefah, Malik, Shafii, Hanbal for excessive Taqlid (blind followership); but unfortunately his own students were engulfed in the same extremism (Guluw), considering his judgment of religious matters as final.
Every group in its self appraisal exclusively considers its adherents as the Firqatul Najiyah (Saved Sect), but what we must all realise is that safety from Hell is determined by, and solely based on individual’s adherence to the teachings of the Deen, devoid of either Guluw (excessiveness/extremism) or lethargy
ﻭَﻛُﻠُّﻬُﻢْ ﺀَﺍﺗِﻴﻪِ ﻳَﻮْﻡَ ﭐﻟْﻘِﻴَٰﻤَﺔِ ﻓَﺮْﺩًﺍ.
“And every one of them will come to Him on the day of resurrection alone.”
What those who condemn others or take people out of the religion because they consider themselves as the Saved Sect should know is that we only come together to assist one another in righteous and steadfastness and not to give Certificate of Al Jannah or to pass Verdict of Hell on others. Qur’an 5:3.
Let’s all beware of the Prophet’s warning and advise:
“O people, beware of extremism in religion for those who came before you were only destroyed because of extremism in religion.”
– Ibn Taofeeq Abdul Azeez is a Nigerian-born Middle East scholar. He writes for Muslim News Nigeria
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