Did Allah forgive the companions for fleeing from battles?
Tags: Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a), Holy Quran, Imam Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.), Sahaabah, Shawwal
The Muslim majority are constantly finding ways to defend the companions from blemishes. For this they mount vague defences like ‘Adalat-e-Sahabah’ i.e. the Companions can do no wrong. However, when very obvious wrongs like fleeing from battles (Uhud, Khaibar, Hunain,) is pointed out, they claim that although these were major sins, but Allah has forgiven them so we must also ignore them.
Either Adalat or sins – can’t have both
The Sahabah (companions) were prone to grave misdeeds, going by the apparent verses of the Holy Quran. Their fleeing from battles, apart from other misdeeds, is roundly condemned by Allah on many occasions. Bluntly put, they were just like other Muslims so arguments like special status of the Salaf and Adalat of Sahabah ring quite hollow.
The Muslims attempt to sanitize the companions by claiming they were forgiven for fleeing and other misdeeds.
Our point is when companions were forgiven then it proves they were not Adil, else why would they need forgiveness. And if they were in need of divine forgiveness just like others then how are they superior to Muslims of the past, present and future?
Is there forgiveness for fleeing?
The Muslims advance the verse of Surah Ale Imran: 155 to prove forgiveness:
‘(As for) those of you who turned back on the day when the two armies met, only the Shaitan sought to cause them to make a slip on account of some deeds they had done, and certainly Allah has pardoned them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Forbearing.’ (Surah Ale Imran: 155)
This verse refers to the Battle of Uhud. Even if we admit their argument that companions were forgiven for abandoning the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in Uhud, what about the other battles.
After Uhud, companions fled from Khaibar and Hunain. Where are the Quranic verses that promise them forgiveness for escaping from these battles?
Or is there one Quranic verse that assures companions forgiveness for escaping from all past and future battles.
Perhaps that explains why they chose to flee ever so brazenly!
It is widely reported that Umar Ibn Khattab confessed in a Friday sermon while narrating the Quranic verse – (As for) those of you who turned back on the day when the two armies met… Surah Aal Imran (3): 155
….when we were defeated in the Day of Uhud, I (Umar) fled until I climbed the mountain…
- Al-Durr al-Manthoor v 2 p 88 under Surah Aal Imran (3): 155
- Tafseer al-Tabari under Surah Aal Imran (3): 155, trad. 8,098
- Kanz al-Ummal trad. 4,291
Why did Umar have to confess when he was forgiven? It shows he was guilty, else who wants to remind others of one’s failures that too after assuming ‘caliphate’ on the pretext of superiority over Ansar and Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.). Umar knew till the time Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.), who never fled the battles, was in his midst, he – Umar – would never truly forget his past.
Why Prophet (s.a.w.a.) took the companions back
The Muslims presume that since the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) accepted the companions back it shows they were forgiven.
From the repeated misdeeds of the companions, it is clear that the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) did not take them back as an affirmation of their correct Islam or certainty of Paradise. He let them attend his assemblies out of a moral imperative, raised as he (s.a.w.a.) on the highest ethics (خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ).
Just like Allah allowed Iblis, Prophet Moosa (a.s.) allowed Samiri and Prophet Esa (a.s.) allowed Yahuda (Judas, the betrayer) in their assemblies.
How else can one explain the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) permitting clear hypocrites like Muawiyah in his assemblies, who, he (s.a.w.a.) knew, would create trouble for his successor Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.). This is also true for companions and wives like Talha, Zubair and Ayesha, who would go on to wage battle with Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.), according to the Prophet (s.a.w.a.).
Also, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was commanded to go by the apparent Islam of the companions. So although the companions committed many misdeeds and abandoned the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in many a battle, since they were apparently Muslims, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) accepted their excuse and took them back.
Why companions were driven away from the Pond
If indeed the companions were forgiven as the Muslims claim, then how do they explain reports like this:
While informing about the Day of Resurrection, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said: Some men from my people will be brought and taken to the left (towards the Fire). I will say: ‘O my Lord! My companions!’
It will be said: You do not know what evil they introduced after you…
- Sahih al-Bukhari while commenting on Surah Maidah (5) Chapter of ‘O Apostle! Proclaim (the Message) which has been sent down to you from Your Lord… (Verse 67). Also commenting on Surah Anbiya (21)
Variants of the tradition have been recorded by the Ahle Tasannun in:
- Sahih al-Bukhari ‘Book of invocations’, Chapter of ‘At the Pool’
- Ibn Maajah, ‘Book of Al-Manaasik’ Chapter on ‘The Speech on the Day of Sacrifice’, tradition 5,830.
- Musnad Ahmad vol 1 p. 453, vol. 3 p. 28, vol. 5 p. 48
- Sahih al-Muslim under the Chapter of Virtues of Companions
Surprisingly, this tradition has been recorded by Sahih al-Muslim under the Chapter of ‘Virtues of Companions’! If being driven to the Fire is from the virtues, only Allah knows what qualifies as evil!
Traditions like this prove that the companions and wives were not forgiven after all for their grievous misdeeds and sins.
If every fleeing and misdemeanour of the companions is forgiven then what is left for the Muslims to respect and honour in companionship of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.)? The Muslims of later ages who did not slip up in their Islam are decidedly superior even if they did not get the opportunity to spend time in the company of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.).