IN PART 1 we were reminded that the Companions l of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ were more deeply knowledgeable of the Quran and the ways of the Prophet than were any succeeding generations. We continue with the lessons for our Daʿwa from the Companions.
Because the Khawârij were given to reckless whim (ahwâ’) in their judgment and actions, they had a tendency to take the proof-texts of Revelation out of context and in so doing render the Quran into disjointed bits. For this reason, they conceived Allah’s statement—judgment belongs to none but Allah—in isolation from His statement in another verse of the Quran—as two just men from among you shall so judge [Sûrat Al-Mâ’idah, 5:95]. This misguided approach to understanding the Quran caused the Khawârij, as Ibn ʿAbbâs rightly stated, to “believe in the verses of the Quran that were clearly decisive in their meaning (mu ḥkam) and err when they came to its ambiguous (mutashâbih) ones.”
My point is twofold. In debating the Khawârij and appealing to them to hearken to the Sunnah, the Companion Ibn ʿAbbâs g employed clear authoritative evidences. Yet he was also lenient, quick-witted, and made sure his opponents got his points and arguments, for he used to repeat, after each rejoinder he made, the following question: Did I answer this objection of yours? As a result of Ibn ʿAbbâs’s systematic, disciplined, and learned approach, 20,000 of the Khawârij’s ranks renounced their misguided beliefs and reverted to the Islam of the Sunnah, immediately after this specific debate.
Also noteworthy, in a speech he once delivered at Mina, the Companion Ibn ʿAbbâs recited and interpreted Sûrat Al-Nûr from beginning to end. Ibn ʿAbbâs’ expository remarks on Sûrat Al-Nûr were so insightful, so beautiful that one who had heard him said:
Had the [Christians of Byzantium] heard him that day, they would have converted to Islam on the spot. (Al-Siyar, Imam Dhahabî, 3:351).
By Way of the Prophet: Ibn Mas‘ud and Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah
The Companion ʿAbdullah ibn Masʿûd also confronted the attitude of these Khawârij outliers. He argued from the basis of the Sunnah and the practice of the Ṣa ḥâbah. He said to them:
Here are the Companions of your Prophet ﷺ still alive. And here are the clothes and personal effects of your Prophet ﷺ not yet worn out! By Allah! Either you lay claim to a religion superior to the Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ, or you are opening a gate of misguidance. (Al-Dârimî, 1:79).
Here is an additional example.
It is reported that Yazîd Al-Faqîr, a man from the generation of the Tâbiʿîn, inclined toward the belief of the Khawârij that perpetrators of enormities (kabâ’ir) would burn for eternity in Hellfire in the Hereafter. One day he heard the Companion Jâbir ibn ʿAbdullâh g mention the ḥadîth on the jahannamiyyûn, that is, the sinful Muslims of sound ʿaqîdah who would enter Hellfire for a time and later be removed from it.
Yazîd remarked: “O Companion of the Prophet! How you talk! Has Allah not said in His Book:
Our Lord! Indeed, whoever You commit to the Fire of Hell, truly you have disgraced him? [Sûrat Âl ʿImrân, 3:192]
“Do you recite the Quran?” said Jâbir.
“Yes,” said Yazîd.
“Did you come in your reading of the Quran upon the Maqâm of Muhammad ﷺ?” (the Lofty Station of Praise to which Allah promised to raise Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in the Hereafter, see Sûrat Al-Isrâ’, 17:79)
“Yes,” said Yazîd.
“It is by this Maqâm that Allah will pull out whomever He wills from Hellfire. So yes, some people will be brought out of the Fire after spending some time in it.” (Muslim)
How profound the religious understanding (fiqh) of the Companion Jâbir! He argued from the Prophetic Sunnah—which explains the Quran and points out its Revealer’s intent—to answer the Khawârij’s empty objections occasioned by their superficial understanding of the Quran and their ignorance of the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ. After receiving the light of prophetic guidance through Jâbir, Yazîd Al-Faqîr and all of his associates, with the exception of one recalcitrant peer, snapped free from the clutches of a doubt conjured in their hearts, among other erroneous notions, by the heretical sect of the Khawârij.
This encounter between Jâbir and Yazîd Al-Faqîr brings to mind another instructive statement that Jâbir made on the occasion of Ḥajjat Al-Wadâʿ(the Prophet’s Farewell Pilgrimage). He said:
The Prophet is alive receiving the Quran among us, and he knows its proper interpretation. Therefore, whatever he does, we do. (Muslim).
The Prophet ﷺ—as the Ṣa ḥâbah well knew—is the foremost authority on the interpretation of the Quran, be that in the realm of ʿaqîdah or in the sphere of Sharîʿah. This is a profoundly important precept (a ṣl) in Islam. Unfortunately, it was lost on the Khawârij, as it has been, and is, on all their like, classic or modern, such are those who would argue—and wrongly so—from the Quran [alone] while turning away from the Sunnah which expounds it.
The attitude of the Prophet’s Companions, such as Jâbir Ibn ʿAbbâs, Ibn Masʿûd, and so on, was also the selfsame attitude of the early generations of Muslims that succeeded and staunchly adhered to the ways of the Ṣa ḥâbah. Those were the truly blessed dâʿîs who spread goodness and guidance to deluded hearts wherever they directed their steps.
Yûsuf ibn A ṣbâṭ said:
My father was a qadarî (a denier of Divine Predestination, or ‘qadar’) and my maternal uncles were rawâfiḍ (a sect of fanatical Shîʿah), but Allah has extricated me from their falsehoods through the blessed guidance of Sufyân Al-Thawrî” (a prominent scholar from the Tâbiʿî generation (‘Successors’ to the Companions) born in Kufa) (Al-Laʿlakaʿî, 1:60).
There is also Mûsâ ibn Hizâm. He initially adhered to the doctrine of irjâʿ (the deviant dogma that works (ʿaml) are not part of faith (imân)). But Allah willed good for him by enabling him to meet and listen to Imâm A ḥmad ibn Ḥanbal. He thus became a devout believer in, and advocate of, the Sunnah, and he remained so to the last day of his life, a sworn foe of its detractors. (Tahdhîb Al-Tahdhîb, Ibn Ḥajar, 10:341).
Those who would call to Allah upon the pattern of the rightly guided of the early, blessed generations should base their daʿwah approaches and practices on the guidance of the Twin Divine Revelations, the Quran and the Sunnah:
Say [to them]: Indeed, I only forewarn you with [Allah’s] Revelation. [Sûrat Al-Anbiyâ’, 21:45]
For in these two Heavenly sources inhere the healing answers to the host of disturbing questions that are bound to arise at points along the daʿwah path.
These sources possess the utmost esteem and acclaim of Muslims. They wield, moreover, the greatest influence on people and are the most beneficial to them. How needful we are of the guidance of the Quran and the Sunnah! This is especially so in these harrowing times of ours, when, sadly, so many of our dâʿîs are swayed by all manner of individual taste, subjective opinion, private impression, and a raft of other personal predilections—and all without a solid Scriptural basis.