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The Successful Group

 

By Dr. Antar Ibn-Stanford

 

There are at least three keys to the successful survival of a Muslim entity when confronted by an enemy among the kuffar.  First, they must follow and support the truth obtained through conducting investigations and shura.  Second, they must engage in shura amongst themselves and not be divided after a decision is reached. Finally, they must have good relations with the Muslims around them.  They should consult with them if their help is needed and do their best to convince them not to take their common enemies as protectors or supporters.  It is not sufficient to expect other Muslims to support you solely based on the righteousness of your cause—especially Muslims of today.  Our short-comings must be acknowledged and taken into account. 

 

No group can achieve success or be regarded as being successful unless it adheres to the truth.  It should have some of the following characteristics.  The group should be standing up for the dictates of Allah (qa’imah ‘ala amri llah); adhering to the dictates of Allah (qa’imah bi amri llah); triumphantly following the truth (thahirin ‘ala l-haqq); supporting the truth (mu’awinin ‘ala l-haqq) and overcoming falsehood and false arguments with knowledge and actions which firmly establish them on the truth.  The group may consist of courageous fighters, jurists, hadith scholars, ascetics, those who insist that people do what’s right and forbid people to do what’s reprehensible, and other types of Muslims who do good.  The following hadith and commentary are the source of the above-mentioned position:

 

Al-Bukhari on the authority of Mu’awwiyah reported that the Prophet (S) said: “This nation will never cease standing up for the dictates of Allah (qa’imah ‘ala amri llah).  Whoever opposes them will not harm them—from now until the coming of Allah’s command.”  Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani comments that for whomever Allah opens up the knowledge of the deen, a class of them will be present extending to the coming of Allah’s command.  He mentions that al-Bukhari says that this group consists of the scholars.  Ahmad bn Hanbal is quoted as saying: “If they aren’t the hadith scholars, I don’t know who they are.”  Al-Qadi al-Eyad clarified that Ahmad was referring to the ahl as-sunnah wa l-jama’ah who follow the hadith scholars.  He quotes an-Nawawi as saying: “It is possible that this group consists of different types of believers.  Among them are courageous fighters, jurists, hadith scholars, ascetics, those who insist that people do what’s right and forbid people to do what’s reprehensible, and other types of people who do good.  It is not necessary that they be gathered together in one place.  Rather, they could be separated.”   (See Fath al-Bari, Kitab al-Ilm, Bab 71 Man Yurid Allah bihi Khayr Yufaqqihhu fi d-Din).

 

In another wording of this hadith, al-Bukhari recorded on the authority of al-Mughirah bn Su’bah that the Prophet (S) said: “People from my nation will not cease being victorious from now until the coming of Allah’s command.  They are the  victorious.”  (See Fath al-Bari, Kitab al-Manaqib, Bab 25 Su’al al-Mushrikin an Yu’rihim an-Nabi (S) Ayah).

 

Al-Bukhari also recorded on the authority of Mu’awiyah that he heard the Prophet (S) say: “Among my nation are those who will not cease adhering to the dictates of Allah (qa’imah bi amri llah).  Whoever regards them to be liars and those who oppose them do not harm them from now until the coming of Allah’s command.”  Mu’adh regarded those who were fighting in Syria to be the people that this hadith was referring to during his time.  (See Fath al-Bari, Kitab al-Manaqib, Bab 25 Su’al al-Mushrikin an Yu’rihim an-Nabi (S) Ayah).

 

Al-Bukhari used a hadith as the title a chapter under the book titled, “Adhering to the Book and Sunnah.”  He called it, “The Chapter of the Statement of the Prophet (S) that a group of my nation will not cease triumphantly following the truth (thahirin ‘ala l-haqq) while fighting.  They are the scholars.”  Ibn Hajar explains that they will be victorious against those who oppose them.  It could also mean that they are not hidden, but well known.  The first meaning is preferable.  He cites a transmission from Muslim from Jabir bin Samurah: “This deen will never cease standing without a band from my nation fighting in support of the dictates of Allah and overcoming their enemy.  Whoever opposes them will not harm them from now until the coming of the Hour.”     (See Fath al-Bari, Kitab al-I’tisam bil-Kitab was-Sunnah).

 

In his review of al-Mughirah bn Su’bah’s statement that the Prophet (S) said: “People from my nation will not cease being victorious extending to the coming of Allah’s command.  They are the victorious,” Abu Muhammad Mahmud bn Ahmad informs us that the Hanabilah cite this hadith and those like it as proof that a mujtahid (jurist capable of extracting rulings) will exist until the end of life on earth.    (See Umdah al-Qari, Kitab al-Manaqib, Bab Su’al al-Mushrikin an Yu’rihim an-Nabi (S) Ayah).

 

Abu Muhammad Mahmud bn Ahmad also explains that “a group of my nation will not cease triumphantly following the truth (thahirin ‘ala l-haqq)” means that “a group of my nation will not cease supporting the truth (mu’awinin ‘ala l-haqq).”  (See Umdah al-Qari, Kitab al-I’tisam bil-Kitab was-Sunnah).

 

An-Nawawi’s commentary on these hadith serves as the source for a number of commentaries from scholars coming after him.  An-Nawawi states that al-Bukhari says that this group is the scholars.  Ahmad bn Hanbal is quoted as saying: “If they aren’t the hadith scholars, I don’t know who they are.”  Al-Qadi al-Eyad clarified that Ahmad was referring to the ahl as-sunnah wa l-jama’ah who follow the hadith scholars.  He quotes an-Nawawi as saying: “It is possible that this group consists of different types of believers.  Among them are courageous fighters, jurists, hadith scholars, ascetics, those who insist that people do what’s right and forbid people to do what’s reprehensible, and other types of people who do good things.  It is not necessary that they be gathered together.  Rather, they could be separated in parts of the world.”  An-Nawawi concludes that this hadith is a proof for using consensus (ijma’) in a legal argument because the hadith, “My nation will not form a consensus on an error,” is weak.  (See Sharh an-Nawawi, Kitab al-Imarah, Bab 52/53 His Statement, “A group from my nation will never cease being victorious in supporting the truth and those who oppose them will not harm them.”)

 

At-Tirmidhi recorded on the authority of Thawban that the Messenger of Allah said: “Indeed, I fear leaders who mislead being over my nation.  However, there will always be a group from my nation triumphantly following the truth.  They will not be harmed by those who forsake them from now until the command of Allah ending this life.”  It is said to be sahih.  (See Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Kitab al-Fitan, Bab 43, Ma Ja’a fi l-A’immah al-Mudillin, Number 2265).  In his commentary on this hadith,  Mubarakfuri points out that these leaders mislead by inviting people to engage in backsliding and immoral activities.  However, a group will overcome falsehood and false arguments with knowledge and actions which firmly establish them on the truth.  (See Tuhfah al-Ahwadhi, Kitab al-Fitan, Bab 49, Ma Ja’a fi l-A’immah al-Mudillin). 

 

Abu Dawud recorded something similar on the authority of Imran bn Husayn who said that the Messenger of Allah (S) said: “A group from my nation will not stop fighting in support of the truth and being victorious against whomever is hostile towards them.  They will continue until the last of them fight the masih dajjal.  (See Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitab al-Jihad, Bab 4 Fi Dawam al-Jihad, Number 2485).  Muhammad Ashraf offers some clarifications in his commentary.  He explains that the group supports the truth by grasping it and manifesting it.  The last of this group will be the Mahdi and Eesa (ahs) and their followers.  He adds that an-Nawawi states that al-Bukhari says that this group is the scholars.  Ahmad bn Hanbal is quoted as saying: “If they aren’t the hadith scholars, I don’t know who they are.”  Al-Qadi al-Eyad clarified that Ahmad was referring to the ahl as-sunnah wa l-jama’ah who follow the hadith scholars.  He quotes an-Nawawi as saying: “It is possible that this group consists of different types of believers.  Among them are courageous fighters, jurists, hadith scholars, ascetics, those who insist that people do what’s right and forbid people to do what’s reprehensible, and other types of people who do good.  It is not necessary that they be gathered together.  Rather, they could be separated in parts of the world.”  An-Nawawi concludes that this hadith is a proof for using consensus (ijma’) in a legal argument because the hadith, “My nation will not form a consensus on an error,” is weak. (See Awn al-Ma’bud, Kitab al-Jihad, Bab 85 Fi Dawam al-Jihad).

 

Abdurrahman al-Mubarakfuri comments on the transmission of Muslim from Jabir bin Samurah that the Messenger of Allah (S) said: “This deen will never cease standing without a band from my nation fighting in support of the dictates of Allah and overcoming their enemy.  Whoever opposes them will not harm them—from now and until the coming of the Hour.”   He says that it means that somewhere on the surface of the earth some group will be engaged in jihad until the hour is near.  He adds that at-Tayyibi states that they will overcome their enemy by defeating the enemies of the deen in battle.  This deen will not cease standing because of the fighting of this group.  This band was a group of troops who were victorious in Syria during the time when Muslims entered Syria.  (See Mirqah al-Mafatih, Kitab al-Jihad).

 

Abu Ja’far at-Tabari’s explanation of ”and consult with them concerning their affairs,” (al-Qur’an 3:159) mentions the connection between consultation and following the truth.  First he says that al-Hasan relates that “a people never consult without being guided to the most sensible decision concerning their affairs.”  Then he adds that, “the ummah of the Prophet (S), when they engage in consulting each other, seeking to follow his actions in that activity, namely, based on befriending and being a brother of the truth, all of them wanting what is correct, not leaning or being inclined towards personal desires, nor deviating from guidance, Allah shows them the right way and grants them success.”

 

Two verses should suffice to support the view that not being divided amongst yourselves is a requirement for success.   First, al-Qurtubi’s commentary on “and consult with them concerning their affairs,” (Qur’an 3:159) explains that one of the purposes of consultation is to eliminate disagreements.  He writes, “consultation is built on differences of opinion.  The one seeking consultation examines those differences and views the closest of the statements to the Scripture and the sunnah, if possible.  Then when Allah, the Exalted, guides him to what He wills of it, he accepts it resolutely and carries it out relying on Him.”  

 

Allah, the Exalted, also instructs Muslims in the Qur’an 8:46, “And obey Allah and His Messenger and do not differ so that you fall into despair and your wind (power and turn of fortune) leaves you.  Be persistent and persevere for Allah is with those who are persistent and persevere.”   Ibn Katheer states that in this verse Allah, the Exalted, is telling us not to differ on our common concerns because differing causes people “to slacken up, become feeble, loose courage, despair and loose strength and their edge or sharpness.”

 

In his discussion of consultation ash-Shawkani mentions that one of the reasons for the existence of an amir is to keep differences of opinion from destroying the group by being a consensus builder.  Once he follows the necessary process to reach a decision, then the group is united behind his decision (Nayl al-Awtar, 9:157).

 

Finally, they must have good relations with the Muslims around them. A study of the shura (mashurah) which the Prophet (S) and the rightly guided caliphs (R) conducted yields the role and identity of advisors to the leadership.  In his tafsir on Q. 42:38, ". . . whose affairs are conducted with mutual consultation (amruhum shura baynahum)," Muhammad bn Abdullah bn al-Arabi (d. 543/1148), a Maliki jurist, defines shura as "the gathering together on an affair so that each participant may seek the consul of his companion and extract his opinion" (Ahkam al-Qur’an, 1:297).  General principles of shura can be drawn from such a study.  A principle that is relevant to the issue being discussed is that they conducted shura with whichever leader or expert on the matter at hand was needed to achieve their objective.  The shura that took place before battles, such as, the Battle of Badr (see The Sealed Nectar, pp. 213-4), the Battle of Uhud (see The Sealed Nectar, pp. 246-8), and the Battle of Khanduq (see The Sealed Nectar, pp. 311-2) are examples.  Consultation with neighboring countries or groups is needed to maintain regional stability or harmony between groups.

 

It is not sufficient to expect other Muslims to support you solely based on the righteousness of your cause—especially Muslims of today.  Our short-comings must be acknowledged and taken into account.  The Prophet (S) was commended by Allah, the Exalted, for not being harsh towards those Muslims who disobeyed his orders—and thereby disobeyed Allah--during the Battle of Uhud, though he had justification.  Allah, the Exalted, says in the Qur’an 3:159, “Had you been harsh and hard-hearted, they would have abandoned you.”  Ibn Katheer indicates in his commentary that the violation of orders was sinful and the best way to deal with it was to overlook it, pardon it and bring them closer to him.  Al-Qurtubi states that this was the best way for the Prophet (S) to overcome their shyness and fear (due to guilt) of being near him.   The point related to this verse is that Muslims should not be surprised when other Muslims disobey Allah, the Exalted, at their expense.  This is to be expected and all available steps should be taken to try to prevent it or alleviate the fallout.      

 

Successful Muslim entities should consult with other Muslims outside their ranks to attempt to convince them not to take their common enemies as protectors or supporters and not to side with them against Muslims.  If they fail to convince them, then they may leave the door open for failures when confronting the kuffar.  The following hadith indicates that Muslim entities are only subject to defeat when other Muslims oppose them.  

 

Thauban reported that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said:

Allah drew the ends of the world near one another for my sake. And I have seen its eastern and western ends. And the dominion of my Ummah would reach those ends which have been drawn near me and I have been granted the red and the white treasure and I begged my Lord for my Ummah that it should not be destroyed because of famine, nor be dominated by an enemy who is not amongst them to take their lives and destroy them root and branch, and my Lord said: Muhammad, whenever I make a decision, there is none to change it. I grant you for your Ummah that it would not be destroyed by famine and it would not be dominated by an enemy who would not be amongst it and would take their lives and destroy them root and branch even if all the people from the different parts of the world join hands together (for this purpose), but it would be from amongst them, viz. your Ummah, that some people would kill the others or imprison the others.

(See Sahih Muslim (5) Chapter: (Parts of) This Ummah Will Destroy One Another.)

 

 

 

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Comment by Bilal Mahmud المكافح المخلص on May 1, 2019 at 2:36am

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