Shaykh Muhammad b. Salih al-Uthaymin
Ibn Mas‘ūd related that on the day of Ḥunayn, Allah’s Messenger favored some people [over others] in the distribution [of the spoils]. He gave to al-Aqra‘ b. Ḥābis one-hundred camels, to ‘Uyaynah bin Ḥiṣn, he gave a similar amount, and he gave to the other notables from the ‘Arabs, favoring them with the distribution [of spoils] on that day. A man said, “By Allah, there is no justice in this distribution, and he [the Prophet] does not intend the Face of Allah by it.” I said, “By Allah, I will inform Allah’s Messenger [of what you said],” so I went to the Prophet and informed him of what had been said. His face changed until it was like al-ṣirf and he said, “Who can be just when Allah and His Messenger are not just?” Afterwards, he said, “May Allah have mercy on Mūsa, he was harmed with more than this, but he was patient.” So I said, “There is no harm if I do not bring him any such information [again].” It is agreed upon. His saying, “Like al-ṣirf,” is with kasrah below the letter ṣād (ṣ), which means a reddish hue.
The author relates this ḥadīth by way of ‘Abdullah b. Mas‘ūd, who said that on the day of Ḥunayn, which is a reference to the Battle of Ṭā’if, which took place after the conquest of Makkah. The Messenger fought against the inhabitants and acquired an abundant amount of spoils which included camels, sheep, dirhams, and dīnārs. The Prophet halted at al-Ji‘rrānah, which it situated at the boundary of the Ḥaram (Holy Sanctuary) toward the direction of Ṭā’if. The Prophet camped there and began to distribute the spoils, giving a portion of it to those whose hearts inclined [towards Islam], referring to the leaders of the clans, encouraging them to accept Islam.
The Prophet gave to these people many things, and to one of them he gave a hundred camels. A man, who was present, said, “By Allah, there is no justice in this distribution, and he does not intend the Face of Allah by it.” We seek refuge from Allah [from such statements]. The man said this concerning the distribution that Allah’s Messenger was making; the love for this world and Satan leads people to destruction, so we ask Allah for safety. This statement is a statement of disbelief as it ascribes injustice to Allah and His Messenger, and that he did not intend the pleasure of Allah by it. There is no doubt that the Prophet did in fact intend the pleasure of Allah, because he wanted to draw the leaders of the clans and tribes closer, which would strengthen Islam. This is because if the leaders become inclined to Islam and strengthen their faith, it would result in a great amount of goodness, because other clans and tribes would begin to follow their example, and thereby becomeing a further cause for strengthening Islam. However, as for ignorance, refuge is sought with Allah, it destroys a person.
When ‘Abdullah b. Mas‘ūd overheard this wicked statement, he brought it to the attention of the Prophet, and the latter’s face turned red like ṣirf, due to its deep redness and alteration. The Prophet said,“Who can be just when Allah and His Messenger are not just?” The Prophet spoke the truth, because if the division done by Allah or His Messenger is not just, then whose can be?
Afterwards, the Prophet said, “May Allah have mercy on Mūsa, he was harmed with more than this, but he was patient,” which offers proof that the Prophets were harmed [by their respective people] but they remained patient. This statement was uttered against the Prophet eight years after the migration [to Madinah], meaning, it was not said in the beginning of his call, but after Allah had given him power [over his people], after the recognition of his truthfulness, and after Allah made the signs of his prophethood manifest in the universe and in their own selves. Even with all that, it was still said, “By Allah, there is no justice in this distribution, and he does not intend the Face of Allah by it.”
If this can be uttered by a Companion of the Prophet, then do not be surprised when common people describe a certain scholar with faults, saying, “He has this or that problem,” as it is Satan who incites these people to insult the scholars. When they defame the scholars, people begin to lose respect for those scholars’ words, thereby leaving none to guide them with Allah’s Book. Who is it that will guide the people with Allah’s Book when they have no confidence in the scholars and their words? It is Satan and his party who will become their guide.
Backbiting the scholars is more severe than backbiting a common person. This is because backbiting a person is considered a personal backbiting, and even though it is a harm, its harm is only on the backbiter and the one who has been backbitten. However, backbiting the scholars is a harm that affects the entire Islamic religion, since the scholars are the flag bearers of the religion and if people lose confidence in what they say, then the flag of Islam will fall, and the resulting harm will affect the entire Islamic community. If the flesh of the people who are backbitten is considered as carrion, then the flesh of the scholars is considered as poisoned carrion, due of the tremendous harm that results from it. So do not be surprised when you hear someone insulting the scholars, as this was done to Allah’s Messenger, but be patient while anticipating a reward from Allah, and know that the [righteous] end is for those who are conscious of Allah (taqwā).
Similar to this are those who verbally insult and disgrace a friend or a family member who makes a single mistake. In such case, the person being abused must remain patient and know that the Prophets were also verbally abused, harmed, and belied. They were labeled as being possessed, poets, soothsayers, and sorcerers. Allah says, “But with patience they bore the denial, and they were hurt until Our help reached them.” (Q, 6:34)
This ḥadīth offers proof for the leader to give to whomever he believes will be a benefit to Islam, even if he gives him more than others. However, this should not be based on personal interest, whereby he gives to the one he has affection toward and withholds from the one he dislikes. Therefore, the leader has the option to give more to some over others if he believes that doing so will be of benefit to Islam, but [he must remember] that he will be responsible for his decision in front of Allah. It is therefore unlawful for anyone to oppose him in his decision, and whoever does will only oppresse himself.
This ḥadīth also offers evidence for the fact that the Prophet derived lessons from the [lives of the] previous Messengers, which [is evident from] the statement, “May Allah have mercy on Mūsā, he was harmed with more than this, but he was patient.” Allah also says, “In their narratives is indeed a lesson for people of understanding.” (Q, 12:111) Also, “They are those whom Allah had guided. So follow their guidance.” (Q, 6:90)
Therefore, Allah commanded His Prophet to adhere to the guidance of the previous Prophets, and so it is also necessary for us to adhere to the way of the Prophets in being patient when a harm afflicts us, anticipating the reward from Allah. It is known that along with this anticipation [of reward], [patience] will raise us in rank and atone for our sins.