Volume 4, Book 52, Number 67 :
Narrated by ‘Ikrima
That Ibn ‘Abbas (radiallaahu `anhu) told him and ‘Ali bin ‘Abdullah to go to Abu Said (radiallaahu `anhu) and listen to some of his narrations; So they both went (and saw) Abu Said (radiallaahu `anhu) and his brother irrigating a garden belonging to them. When he saw them, he came up to them and sat down with his legs drawn up and wrapped in his garment and said, “(During the construction of the mosque of the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam)) we carried the adobe of the mosque, one brick at a time while ‘Ammar (radiallaahu `anhu) used to carry two at a time. The Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) passed by ‘Ammar (radiallaahu `anhu) and removed the dust off his head and said, “May Allah be merciful to ‘Ammar. He will be killed by a rebellious aggressive group. ‘Ammar will invite them to (obey) Allah and they will invite him to the (Hell) fire.”
This post will focus on the story of the death of `Ammar (radiallaahu `anhu) instead of his life. Here’s a brief account of the Battle of Siffin (657 CE):
Muʿāwiyah, governor of Syria, refused to recognize ʿAlī as the new caliph before justice for the murder of his kinsman, the third caliph, ʿUthmān, was done; for his part, ʿAlī relied on the support of individuals who had been implicated in ʿUthmān’s murder and was therefore reluctant to prosecute them. ʿAlī gathered support in Kūfah, where he had established his centre, and invaded Syria. The two armies met along the Euphrates River at Ṣiffīn (near the Syrian-Iraqi border), where they engaged in an indecisive succession of skirmishes, truces, and battles, culminating in the legendary appearance of Muʿāwiyah’s troops with copies of the Qurʾān impaled on their lances—supposedly a sign to let God’s word decide the conflict. ʿAlī agreed to bring the matter to arbitration on the basis of the Qurʾān and delegated Abū Mūsā al-Ashʿarī as his representative, while Muʿāwiyah sent ʿAmr ibn al-ʿĀṣ. By agreeing to arbitration, ʿAlī conceded to deal with Muʿāwiyah on equal terms, thus permitting him to challenge ʿAlī’s claim as leader of the Muslim community. This concession aroused the anger of a large group of ʿAlī’s followers, who protested that “judgment belongs to God alone” (Qurʾān 6:57) and believed that arbitration would be a repudiation of the Qurʾānic dictum “If one party rebels against the other, fight against that which rebels” (49:9). A small number of these pietists withdrew (kharajū) to the village of Ḥarūrāʾ and so became known as Khārijites (Arabic: Khawārij).
Accounts of what precisely transpired at the arbitration vary. [Britannica]
It was in this battle that `Ammar (radiallaahu `anhu) was martyred. He was in the army of `Ali (radiallaahu `anhu) so it’s obvious which side killed him.
Coming to the hadith narrated above which says in the end: “May Allah be merciful to ‘Ammar. He will be killed by a rebellious aggressive group. ‘Ammar will invite them to (obey) Allah and they will invite him to the (Hell) fire.”
It’s important to know that there are other versions of this hadith available as well, having words less direct than these. For example:
- Abu Huraira narrated that the Messenger of Allah said: “Rejoice Ammar, the transgressing party shall kill you.”
(Sunan Thirmidhi : Hadith Number 3800)
- Allah’s messenger (PBUH) said to Ammar: “A group of rebels would kill you.”
(Sahih Muslim, English version, v4, chapter MCCV, Tradition #6968)
- Umm Salama narrated that Allah’s messenger (may peace be upon him) said: “A band of rebels would kill Ammar.”
(Sahih Muslim, English version, v4, chapter MCCV, Tradition #6970)
It’s safe to say that according to the hadith mentioned above, `Ammar (radiallaahu `anhu) made the right choice siding with `Ali (radiallaahu `anhu) since he was the caliph at that time and his obedience was waajib on all Muslims. But the question arises, what about those who sided with Mu`awiyah (radiallaahu `anhu)? He himself was a companion of the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) and many of the companions were on his side too. So what do we say about them? Were they calling `Ammar (radiallaahu `anhu) towards Hellfire?
The answer to that according to scholars is that they were doing the right thing in their opinion. It was a complex matter and everyone had their own views. They were mujtahids (those who do Ijtihad) so there’s no blame upon them because:
Amr ibn Al-As reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “If a judge makes a ruling, striving to apply his reasoning (ijtihad) and he is correct, then he will have two rewards. If a judge makes a ruling, striving to apply his reasoning and he is mistaken, then he will have one reward.” [Sahih Bukhari 6919, Sahih Muslim 1716]
And Allah has elevated the status of Sahabah in the Quran by saying He’s pleased with them and promising them Paradise. Who then are we to talk bad about any one of them?
“And the foremost to embrace Islam of the Muhaajiroon and the Ansaar and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allaah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success.” [al-Tawbah 9:100]
I’d like to end with these words of ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood (may Allaah be pleased with him):
“Whoever among you wishes to follow (someone), let him follow one who has died, for the one who is still alive is not safe from fitnah. The companions of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) were the best of this ummah, the most righteous of heart and the deepest in knowledge and the most straightforward, people whom Allaah chose to accompany His Prophet and establish His religion. So acknowledge their virtue and follow in their footsteps, and adhere as much as you can to their morals and religion, for they were following right guidance.
Narrated by Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr in al-Jaami’, no. 1810.
May Allah forgive us our sins, remove doubts and ill feelings from our hearts concerning his slaves, may He make us love those whom He loves, and hate those whom He hates. May He guide us to the truth always, and enter us into Jannat-ul-Firdaws.