|Imam Al-Awza’i: A Word of Truth to a Tyrant Ruler|
فَاللّهُ خَيْرٌ حَافِظاً وَهُوَ أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِينَ
When ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Ali al-’Abbasi invaded Damascus, he killed 30,000 Muslims in just one moment. Then he entered his mules and horses into the central Umayyid mosque, seated the people and said to his ministers, ‘Is there anyone who still opposes me?’ They said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Do you think there’ll be anyone who will soon oppose me?’ They said, ‘If there’ll ever be such a person, then it’s likely to be al-Awza’i’ – Imam al-Awza’i was a Muhaddith (scholar of hadith) nicknamed Abu ‘Amr, he was a pious worshipper and from those whom al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated from.
He (Ibn ‘Ali) said, ‘Bring him.’ So the army went to al-Awza’i but he did not move from his place. They said, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Ali wants you.’ He said, ‘Hasbunallahu wa ni’mal wakil (Sufficient is Allah for us and He is the Best of Protectors). Wait for me a short while.’ He went to perform ghusl (ceremonial bathing) and put on his Akfan (shrouds) under his clothes, because he knew the matter meant clear death for him, killing and blood-shed. Then he said to himself, ‘O Awza’i, now the time has come for you to say the word of Truth. Do not fear the blame of the blamers in the Way of God.’ Then he entered to see the oppressive Ruler.
Imam al-Awza’i himself narrates the rest of what happened:
‘I entered and behold, the heads of the army were lined in two rows, with swords unsheathed. I walked underneath the swords until I reached him. He was sitting on silk and in his hand was a cane. His forehead was knit in anger but when I saw him, I swear by Allah besides whom there is none worthy of worship, he seemed like a fly to me… Sufficient is Allah for us and He is the Best of Protectors … I thought of no-one, not my family, not my wealth, not my wife; I only remembered the Throne of al-Rahman when it appears to Mankind on the Day of Judgment and Reckoning. Then he (Ibn ‘Ali) lifted his sight and only Allah knows the anger that was visible on him.
He said to me, ‘O Awza’i, what do you have to say about the blood which we shed?’
He said, ‘So-and-so narrated to me in the Hadith of Ibn Mas’ud that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said, ‘It is not permissible to shed the blood of a Muslim who testifies that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and testifies that I am the Messenger of Allah, except in three circumstances: A married one who commits adultery, the one who has killed another unlawfully and the one who apostates from his religion and departs from the congregation.’ [al-Bukhari, Muslim]
So if their killing was due to them being from these people, then you are correct. But if they are not from these people, then their blood hangs over your neck.’
He broke his cane and so I lifted my ‘Imamah, waiting for the swords to strike me. I saw the ministers gathering up their garments and lifting them up from the blood (which run along the floor). He (Ibn ‘Ali) said, ‘And what do you have to say about the wealth?’ I said, ‘If it is Halal, then fear the questioning, and if it is Haram, then fear the punishment!’
He said, ‘Take this pouch (which was filled with gold).’ I said, ‘I do not want wealth.’ One of the ministers winked at me (signaling that I should take it), because he was looking for any little reason to kill me.
I took the pouch and gave it out to the army until it became empty. Then I threw it and walked out saying, ‘Hasbunallahu wa ni’mal wakil (Sufficient is Allah for us and He is the Best of Protectors)…’ – we said it the day we walked in and the day we walked out.
فَانقَلَبُواْ بِنِعْمَةٍ مِّنَ اللّهِ وَفَضْلٍ لَّمْ يَمْسَسْهُمْ سُوءٌ وَاتَّبَعُواْ رِضْوَانَ اللّهِ وَاللّهُ ذُو فَضْلٍ عَظِيمٍ
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