PILLARS OF UNITY
By Hafiz Dr. Nafeesuddin Siddiqui, M.A., LL.B, Ph.D.
(1) HAZRAT ABU BAKR SIDDIQUE (R.A.)
He was the first amongst the adults to join the Faith, and continued to hold the first position throughout his life. It is the house of Siddique which has the singular distinction of Companionship of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) for four generations from father to the grandson of Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique.
Apart from the numerous services to the Holy Prophet by Hazrat Abut Bakr Siddique and his family, his one outstanding concern had been to set free as many slaves as possible. He spent almost all his fortune in paying ransom of slaves, most of whom were poor and weak; so much so that his father, Abu Kahafa (R.A.) once questioned the wisdom of his throwing away hard earned money on ransom of people who could be of little service to him. Hazrat Abu Bakr replied that he did it for the pleasure of Allaah and not for reaping any worldly benefits. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) himself has spoken very highly of the generosity of Hazrat Abu Bakr and of his services for the Faith. The Holy Prophet publicly acknowledged that he was most benefitted by the financial and other help from Hazrat Abu Bakr. It was a unique honour for Hazrat Abu Bakr to be the only companion of the Holy Prophet at the time of migration from Mecca to Medina. The she-camel for the Prophet's journey had been reared by Hazrat Abu Bakr for the purpose in anticipation.
Hazrat Abu Bakr was a wise counsellor, a brave soldier, and a cool headed administrator. According to Hazrat Umar (R.A.), Hazrat Abu Bakr never cared for the world nor could it ever entice him. He was the true successor of the Holy Prophet and the first of the rightly guided Caliphs. By dint of his faith and determination he resolutely stood by the teachings of the Qur'aan and the Sunnah when the Holy Prophet was no more. His period of Caliphate was a true replica of the days of the Holy Prophet.
The one instance in point is his heroic stand against those who had refused to pay Zakaat and those who had counseled him to consider a compromise. Despite his age and frail health, he had the courage to declare that he will fight all alone if need be, all those who wanted to deviate from the path of the Prophet even to the slightest degree. Discarding off-hand counsels based on expediency or strategy, he stuck to and followed in letter and spirit, all that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) had given instructions for. It was this meticulous and scrupulous adherence to the pattern and plans of the prophetic work which enabled the believers wherever and whoever they were to survive the shock of the physical absence of the Holy Prophet from their midst and to remain ONE and to present a united front as before in peace and war.
The Muslim Ummah (nation) has every reason to feel grateful to Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique and has many lessons to learn from his exemplary life. How he remained firm and steadfast in the hour of his grief at the sad demise of the Holy Prophet which had stunned stalwarts like Hazrat Umar is remarkable and his self control, sense of duty and complete submission to the will of Allaah are worthy of emulation. Equally notable is his courage of conviction which, despite his old age, tender heart and poor physique, enabled him to take a resolute stand against defaulters and doubters. How fearless was he when he declared his determination to fight alone, if need be, and not to give away on any account the principles of the Qur'aan and the Sunnah, come what may! It was his genuine devotion to the Holy Prophet and his Message that made the Muslims rally round him whole heartedly. His is an inspiring personality even to those who do not believe in him. We can learn from him how to overcome the internal and external obstacles in the way to genuine belief in the practice of our faith.
(2) HAZRAT UMER IBN AL-KHATTAAB (R.A.).
He was the successor of Hazrat Abu Bakr and the second of the first four Caliphs. He was a great soldier, a just administrator and a far-sighted reformer. He had a divine gift of interpreting the Holy Qur'aan and of deducing therefrom religious principles and precepts for the good of Muslims. He was quick in his decisions and firm in his actions. On a number of occasions the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) received revelation in support of the advice tendered by Hazrat Umer. He was known for his strong will and swift justice, and was responsible for manifold expansion of the territories under the flag of Islam.
Hazrat Umer's two outstanding qualities were his undaunted courage and unbounded vision which he put to maximum use in the service of the faith. The Holy Prophet had realised the great merits Umer possessed and had prayed to God that he should come into the fold of Islam. Despite his strength and wisdom. Hazrat Umer was extremely simple and unassuming in his demeanor. The lessons to be learnt from his glorious life are many but one which is of the greatest value to us is to be fearless in the pursuit of the righteous cause with utmost fear of Allaah.
(3) HAZRAT 'USMAN BIN 'AFFAAN (R.A.)
He is the third Caliph and is noted for his devotion to the Qur'aan so much so that he suffered martyrdom with the Book open before him: he kept on reciting it till his last moments. He is also credited with the distribution of copies of the Holy Qur'aan to all parts of the dominions of Islam. The far-sighted act of devotion on his part has ensured for all times the linguistic uniformity of the Arabic text of the Qur'aan by preserving it in the exact manner, complete with spellings, punctuation and dia-critical marks, as obtaining in the days of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.). He earned the title of 'Ghani' (a philanthropist) from the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) for his generous financial help to ensure basic amenities of life for the men of Faith. He was also known as Zun-Nu-rain (one endowed with two lights) because he was given the hand of two of the daughters of the Holy Prophet, one after the other, that is, the second after the demise of the first. The distinguishing quality of Hazrat Usman was his extreme modesty.
The lesson to be drawn from his noble example is that there is no limit to the good one can do or his fellow beings, provided one does not care to whom the credit goes. This in fact is the essence of Islamic philosophy and every apostle that came down lived up to this ideal: They expected their reward from Allaah alone.
(4) HAZRAT ALI IBN-I-ABI TALIB (R.A.)
He was the first amongst teenagers to accept Islam. He is unsurpassed in his heroism and knowledge of Qur'aan. Besides being a cousin of the Holy Prophet, Hazrat Ali was also his (the Prophet's) son-in-law. He was the bravest of warriors and wielded his sword with proverbial prowess. Hazrat Ali used to fast on hottest days. He and his wife, Hazrat Fatima (R.A.), used to go without food for days but never would they turn away a beggar. They would give all help to the needy. His mission in life was to keep peace. He gladly changed positions with the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) risking his life on the night of the Prophet's migration from Mecca to Medina. The Prophet's house was besieged at that night on all sides by swordsmen who broke into it the next morning to find Ali in place of the Holy Prophet.
Hazrat Ali gives us the greatest of lessons in cooperation, conciliation and cohesion in the best interests of the Ummah. He continued to serve the faith and the faithful with the same zeal and enthusiasm throughout his life as he had done during the life time of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.)
The four Caliphs joined hands and worked together to exert their utmost to act according to the prophetic traditions in all respects. They helped each other without reservation and held together the great mass of Muslim Ummah which was swelling every day to surprising proportions. The most important lesson that we get from the work and the ways of the four Caliphs is how to ensure unity in the Muslim ranks. This was the cause dearest to them. Its secret lay in the un-reserved and unqualified obedience to Allaah and His Prophet (S.A.W.). All of them carried out strictly the command in the Qur'aan for remaining united -
"And hold fast, all together, by the Rope which God (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude God's favour on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the Pit of Fire, and He saved you from it …(3:103)
The Caliphs fulfilled to the utmost the promise made to the Holy Prophet at the time of his last Hajj for upholding the Book and the Sunnah in all circumstances. The Muslim Ummah owes a great debt of gratitude to each and every one of the four Caliphs. The time has come for us Muslims to renew the pledge of loyalty to Allaah and His Prophet and for trying our best to come close to each other. A beginning has to be made with one's household by removing the cause(s) for misunderstanding and conflict through forgiveness and then enlarging the circle by and by to one's relatives, neighbours, colleagues and acquaintances. A wave of goodwill and mutual love will start sweeping their hearts and minds and then God's love will descend upon them to lead them to acts of kindness, charity and benevolence.
For many centuries the Ummah has been divided against itself and has reaped a harvest of bitter fruits all along. The Holy Qur'aan invites us again and again to learn a lesson from the fate which befell the people before us because of their acts of disobedience and defiance. To strive for unity and remain united is the call of the hour. Let us hearken to it. We need only follow the Book and the Sunnah. The noble Caliphs and other companions have made it easy for us. We should cultivate in our hearts true love for them to be able to follow them. Being conscious of our predicaments, we must try the remedies that are with us. It is, to say the least, a matter of great surprise that despite the severest upsets and the ugliest consequences, we have not yet thought seriously to mobilize national feeling in favour of Unity. In all countries of the world, Muslims should sink their differences and present a united front. For this they have to have complete faith in themselves and in what they have by way of guidance from Allaah and the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) Secondly, they have to keep their eyes and ears open to prevent unwarranted interference and guard against enemy designs. The Muslim world needs to get rid of the extraneous matter that has got settled on it through centuries of foreign domination, political and intellectual, to rediscover the meaning and value of Islam, and the glorious future that awaits it. We pray that the steps taken recently in this direction will lead it towards unity of purpose and actions.
(Courtesy: Yaqeen International)