As the Khawarij rebelled against Sayiduna Ali , murdered his companions and relatives (and even eventually him), and inflicted all sorts of havoc on the Ummah during his reign, his followers who were bewildered by these people that read Quran and appeared so religious yet acted so ungodly asked him if they were disbelievers or hypocrites (in the major sense of the word that entails disbelief). Ali who had suffered at the hands of the Khawarij more than his followers responded by saying, “rather they are our brothers who have transgressed against us.” For Ali to still consider them his brothers despite all they had done to him was alone noble, but he went a step further saying that these people flee from disbelief ie. Their intentions may actually be sincere despite the abhorrence of their actions. So the person who had the softest approach towards the Khawarij from the companions was actually their most prominent target. That was due to the softness of his heart and his commitment to a mission that demanded mercy even while upholding the noble call of Islam and standard of justice. To Ali , they were still his brothers even if they were failing to be brotherly.
In an age of separation, where not swords or arrows but taunts and tweets, have the potential to cause permanent rifts, this gives us a lot to ponder upon. It is so easy to hit the block or ban button and move on from a rift even if you are completely justified in doing so because your brother or sister may have failed to be brotherly or sisterly to you. But as you move to do that next time, I implore you to remember Ali . The transgression of the person against you is not of the greatness of the transgression of the Khawarij against Ali , and none of us have the greatness of the honor of Ali (ra) that was assaulted by the Khawarij that would make us more worthy of responding with contravention.
The next time you have a heated discussion with someone online with valid arguments on both sides, I implore you to remember Imam Al Shafiرحمه اللهwho after a passionate debate with one of his contemporaries followed him outside and held his hand saying, “can’t we be brothers even if we disagree?” None of us have more convincing arguments than Al Shafi رحمه الله , nor his brilliance or status, yet he humbled himself to ensure that what remained after the debate was not just the conclusion of the argument, but the continuity of the brotherhood. It is for this reason that Al Shafi رحمه الله sought both when he said that before any debate he would pray that Allah put the truth on the tongue of his opponent so that the truth would remain without his ego being stroked or his brother being humiliated.
Social media squabbles aren’t worth real life separation. And they certainly aren’t worth separation from the Divine.
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ ،أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ:
” تُفْتَحُ أَبْوَابُ الْجَنَّةِ يَوْمَ الِاثْنَيْنِ، وَيَوْمَ الْخَمِيسِ، فَيُغْفَرُ لِكُلِّ عَبْدٍ لَا يُشْرِكُ بِاللَّهِ شَيْئًا، إِلَّا رَجُلًا كَانَتْ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَ أَخِيهِ شَحْنَاءُ، فَيُقَالُ: (1) أَنْظِرُوا (2) هَذَيْنِ حَتَّى يَصْطَلِحَا، أَنْظِرُوا هَذَيْنِ حَتَّى يَصْطَلِحَا، أَنْظِرُوا هَذَيْنِ حَتَّى يَصْطَلِحَا”
رواه مسلم (وكذلك مالك وأبو داود)
As I write this on a Sunday, I remind the reader of Monday based on the hadith: He said:”The doors of Heaven are opened every Monday and Thursday, and Allah pardons in these days every individual servant who associate no partner with Him, except those who have enmity between them; Allah Says: ‘Delay them until they reconcile with each other’.”
May the doors of the Heavens not be shut to us or our brothers/sisters due to the fires we either create or fuel out of our lowly selves.
Oh Allah, clear our hearts from enmity, give us the ability to forgive, and pardon us for we have wronged ourselves.
Imam Omar Suleiman is the President of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research and a professor of Islamic Studies at Southern Methodist University. He’s also the resident scholar of the Valley Ranch Islamic Center, and Co-Chair of Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square, a multi-faith alliance for peace and justice.