THE RATIONAL MAN is careful to uphold the positions of Allah even when it angers people. For he who takes the side of another at the price of the rights of the Creator, Allah turns the heart of the one he sought to please against him and makes that person despise him.
Al-Ma’mûn [the third-century Abbasid caliph] once said to his retinue: “Do not disobey Allah by obeying me, lest Allah set me upon you.” Now, Al-Ma’mûn decreed the execution of his brother Al-Amîn. Yet >âhir ibn Al-Ḥusayn was excessive in carrying this out, for he dismembered him and put his head upon a shaft for public display. Even though Al-Ma’mûn had ordered the execution, the traces of this excess remained in hiss heart, such that Al- Ma’mûn became unable to look upon >âhir.
One day, >âhir entered upon Al-Ma’mûn at court. Al-Ma’mûn saw him and wept. >âhir said to him: “Why weep thou thus, may Allah never let your eyes weep [in sadness]. For, indeed, the people of all the lands have hailed you as rightful ruler?”
Al-Ma’mûn replied: “I weep for a reason whose mention is humiliation, whose secreting is grief, and which will leave none without sorrow.”
>âhir then exited the court, and giving two-hundred thousand dirhams to a servant of Al-Ma’mûn named Ḥusayn, he bade him find out why Al-Ma’mûn wept when he saw him. When Al-Ma’mûn ate the mid-morning meal (al-ghada) he said: “O Ḥusayn! Give me water!”
“No, by Allah!” said Ḥusayn, “I will not give you your water until you tell me why you wept when >âhir entered your presence.”
“O Ḥusayn! How is it that you have cared so dearly about this, such that you beseech me for its sake?”
“It is owing to my distress at seeing you cry,” Ḥusayn said.
“O Ḥusayn! If what I tell you ever leaves your lips, I will put you to death.”
“O my master! When have I ever divulged any secret of yours?”
“I remembered my brother Muhammad Al-Amîn and the humiliation that befell him. My recurring remembrance of it has enraged me. I seek relief from it in my flowing tears. Thus harm shall befall >âhir from me.”
When Ḥusayn informed >âhir of this, the latter rode to A ḥmad ibn Abî Khâlid and said to him: “Indeed, a good deed is never wasted with me. So hide me from the eye of Al-Ma’mûn.”
“I shall,” he said.
So Abû Khâlid entered upon Al-Ma’mûn and said: “I slept not last night.” “Why could you not sleep?” Al-Ma’mûn asked.
“Because you gave Ghassân ibn ʿAbbâs rule over Central Asia, and I fear that the Turkic people will attack him and overrun him.”
“Who, then, do you see fit for this position?” said Al-Ma’mûn.
“>âhir ibn al-Husain,” said Abû Khâlid.
So Al-Ma’mûn agreed and >âhir left for Central Asia.
There, >âhir remained the ruler for a time. Eventually, he stopped making duʿa’ for Al-Ma’mûn on the minbar (pulpit) during the Friday Salah. The man responsible for reporting back to Al-Ma’mûn informed >âhir: “You did not pray for Amîr Al-Mu’minîn (the Commander of the Believers).” >âhir replied: “I forgot. So do not report it.”
In the following khuṭba, however, and the one after that >âhir again failed to pray for Al-Ma’mûn. So the man told Tahir: “I must report this now, for if I do not, the merchants who travel between Central Asia (Khurâsân) and Iraq will inform him.”
When the news of this reached Al-Ma’mûn, he summoned Ahmad ibn Abî Khâlid and said: “It has not gone unnoticed that you have deceived me about >âhir, and I have made a covenant to Allah that if you do not bring him before me, your punishment will be miserable.”
Thus Ahmad ibn Abî Khâlid departed in search of >âhir, reproaching himself along the way until he reached the province of Al-Ray whereupon he received the news of >âhir’s passing. So much for the one who supports others against the rights of Allah.
* * * * *
THE OPPOSITE OF person who defends others against the prescriptions of Allah is one who is careful to take the side of truth and what is right, for the sincere believer who is angered by such a person will ultimately be pleased with him.
Thus the Wazeîr (minister) Al-Walîd ibn Ḥabirah told me personally how he reached that rank. He said that Al-Mustanjid-billâh once wrote him while Al-Mustanjid was the walîy al-ʿahd (caliphal heir). Al-Mustanjid requested that the contents of the letter be hidden from his father (the Caliph). When the letter reached Al-Walîd, and he was informed before reading it that he was to conceal it from the Caliph, Al-Walîd said: “By Allah! I will not read it.”
When Al-Mustanjid became caliph, and Al-Walîd entered his court he said: “The greatest evidence of my truthfulness and my sincerity is that I was loyal to your father when he was Khalîfah. You requested me to collude with you, and I refused.”
Al-Mustanjid replied: “You have spoken the truth. I deem you to be my [best choice of] Wazîr.”
Similarly, when the Sultan asked the jurists if it was permissible for him to have the title Mâlik Al-Mulûk (King of Kings) all the jurists deemed it permissible, save Al-Mawardî, who adjudged it forbidden. Thus his station was elevated in the eyes of the Sultan.
History is filled with such scenarios.
Let one’s intentions, then, be sincerely for Allah, even if it comes at the cost of the disapproval of people, or people shall surely go back to Allah and stand before Him in a state of complete humility and meekness.
Moreover, let none displease the Creator, for most surely people will despise him in the end for it, and thus shall he lose his prospects both for this life and the next.