Picking Sides (Hadith No. 3110)
Continuing where we left off from Kitaab-ul-Manaaqib [Book of Virtues and Merits of the Prophet (pbuh) and his Companions] of Sahih al-Bukhari (Volume 4, Book 56, Hadith No. 710).
(4) Chapter: The descent of Yemenites from Isma’il (Ishmael)
Volume 4, Book 56, Number 710:
Narrated by Salama (radiallaahu `anhu)
Allah’s Apostle (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) passed by some people from the tribe of Aslam practicing archery. He said, “O children of Ishmael! Throw (arrows), for your father was an archer. I am on the side of Bani so-and-so,” meaning one of the two teams. The other team stopped throwing, whereupon the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) said, “What has happened to them?” They replied, “How shall we throw while you are with Bani so-and-so?” He said, “Throw for I am with all of you.”
Once the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) picked a side, how could the other team continue to compete? They knew they would surely lose for the other side had major advantage over them. Also, I think, they might have felt left out.. like how children feel when parents prefer one child over the other. So to quickly put an end to the matter, the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) opted out of choosing sides altogether and said, “I’m with all of you”. No arguments. Very wise.
There’s a lesson here for all of us. There’s always someone who looks up to us, whether it’s our children, younger siblings, friends, colleagues, subordinates or anyone else in our lives who favors our attentions. Sometimes there are situations where picking sides might lead to unpleasant circumstances so at that time, following this example of the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) would be the way to go. :)
Note, staying neutral isn’t always recommended. Wisdom requires acting/reacting according to time, place and circumstance.