In the name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Most Merciful
Friday Sermon 1/3/2019
From where do we take our knowledge and who are we prohibited from believing?
In the previous weeks we have discussed who we are prohibited from taking our religious knowledge from, or putting faith into, in our political decisions.
1) Sermon 19 of Nahj al-Balaghah recounts when Ash’ath ibn Qays objected to a decisions of Imam ‘Ali (a), claiming it was not in his interest. The Imam (a) then recounted his traits in that he was unqualified, had a history of putting the Muslims in risk and that had been charged with crimes before. He was therefore not in a position to be listened to by the Ummah on its affairs.
2) Surah al-Hajj has a number of verses categorising three groups of people who must not influence:
i. Those without knowledge and whom themselves follow every rebellious satan
ii. Those without knowledge and whom themselves are not guided nor resort to the Qur’an
iii. Those who play both sides, having one foot in each camp
In this weeks sermon we will see a verse which makes two important points:
1) When a claim is made, the greater the degree of claim, the greater the need of evidence to match it
2) There are some who, having been proven as liars, we are not permitted to take testimony from ever again
وَالَّذِينَ يَرْمُونَ الْمُحْصَنَاتِ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَأْتُوا بِأَرْبَعَةِ شُهَدَاءَ فَاجْلِدُوهُمْ ثَمَانِينَ جَلْدَةً وَلَا تَقْبَلُوا لَهُمْ شَهَادَةً أَبَدًا وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ
“And those who accuse free women then do not bring four witnesses, flog them, (giving) eighty stripes, and do not admit any evidence from them ever; and these it is that are the transgressors” (24:4)
This verse first teaches us that accusing a woman of indecency is such a weighty issue, it requires four witnesses to testify the same as evidence. In our context, when politicians make large claims, there needs equal evidence. Second, when we see persistent liars, they have used up the currency of trust and not permitted to make claims ever again. Those politicians that have constantly been wrong or peddled falsities, no matter their claims going forward, should not be listened to.
As there are multiple claims made, it requires the interrogation of each claim and claimant in order to clearly view the truth. Only by putting these claims side by side can we begin to distinguish between them. This is something Imam Ali (a) taught us.
When the Holy Prophet (s) migrated, he left behind Imam Ali (a) as his representative. Handhalah Ibn Abi Sufiyaan instructed U’mair Ibn Waail to make a false claim and go to Ali and tell him:
“I had placed one hundred mithqaal of gold with the Holy Prophet (s). Hand my property back to me.”
Handhalah added that if Ali asked for witnesses Abu Jahl, I’krimah, U’qbah, Abu Sufiyaan and Handhalah would testify. The Imam (a) asked him to bring his witnesses near the Ka’bah. When all of them had arrived, he began questioning each one, individually and separately, about the items being held in trust.
“What time was it when you had placed your possession with Muhammad (s)?” he questioned U’mair first.
“It was morning when I gave him the gold and he handed it over to his servant,” replied U’mair.
H. Ali (a.s.) asked Abu Jahl the same question.
He replied, “I have no idea.”
When Abu Sufiyaan was questioned, he responded, “It was at sunset and he had placed it in his sleeves.”
When Handhalah was questioned, he gave the answer,“He took possession of the gold at the time of Dhuhr and placed it in front of him.”
When U’qbah was questioned, he replied, “It was A’sr when the Prophet took the possession in his own hands and carried it to his house.”
And finally, when the Imam (a.s.) questioned I’krimah, he answered, “It was bright and early in the morning when Muhammad (s.a.w.) took possession of it and sent it to the house of Fatimah (a.s.).”
The Imam (a.s.) then informed them of their conflicting statements and their deception thus became apparent.
Then, turning to U’mair, he asked him, “Why was it that while you lied, you appeared uneasy and your face had gone pale?”
U’mair replied, “By the Lord of the Ka’bah! I had not placed anything in trust with Muhammad (s.a.w.). It was a deception Handhalah had bribed me into. This necklace here, belonging to Hind, with her name inscribed on it, is one of the things presented to me as a bribe.”
This gives to us various principles of navigating the veracity and truthfulness of those who make claims or expect us to follow them.