Why ‘Uthman selected Zayd ibn Thaabit over ibn Mas’ood

When the third Rightly-Guided Khaleefah ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affaan commissioned the writing of the official mushafs in the dialect of the Quraysh for the entire Ummah, he selected a group of people to carry out this task with Zayd ibn Thaabit at their head. There are a number of reports indicating that ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood was displeased with this choice. Some orientalists and missionaries use these reports to their attempts to impugn the reliability and preservation of the Qur’an. What follows are the words of two great scholars clearly addressing the nature of ibn Mas’ood’s concerns and the reasons for ‘Uthman’s decision.

The famous muhaddith, historian, and expert in qiraa’aat Imam Shams al-Deen al-Dhahabi mentioned some of these reports and then commented by explaining:

قلت : إنما شق على ابن مسعود ، لكون عثمان ما قدمه على كتابة المصحف ، وقدم في ذلك من يصلح أن يكون ولده ، وإنما عدل عنه عثمان لغيبته عنه بالكوفة ، ولأن زيدا كان يكتب الوحي لرسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – فهو إمام في الرسم ، وابن مسعود فإمام في الأداء ، ثم إن زيدا هو الذي ندبه الصديق لكتابة المصحف وجمع القرآن ، فهلا عتب على أبي بكر ؟ وقد ورد أن ابن مسعود رضي وتابع عثمان ولله الحمد . ـ

I say: The only reason why this upset ibn Mas’ood was because ‘Uthman had given precedence to someone other than him to write the official mushaf. Moreover, he had given that honor to someone who could have been his own son. But the only reasons why ‘Uthman didn’t select ibn Mas’ood was because he was far away in al-Kufah, and because Zayd used to write the revelation for Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ). So Zayd was an expert in writing, while ibn Mas’ood was an expert in reciting.  Continue reading

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Four things for you and Three things against you

Imam al-Qurtubi mentioned the following statement of the taabi’ and scholar of al-Shaam Makḥool[1] (d. 112 or 133AH) in his tafsir of surah al-Nisaa’ (4:147):

وقال مكحول: أربع من كن فيه كن له، وثلاث من كن فيه كن عليه، فالأربع اللاتي له: فالشكر والايمان والدعاء والاستغفار، قال الله تعالى: {ما يَفْعَلُ اللَّهُ بِعَذابِكُمْ إِنْ شَكَرْتُمْ وَآمَنْتُمْ} وقال الله تعالى: {وَما كانَ اللَّهُ لِيُعَذِّبَهُمْ وَأَنْتَ فِيهِمْ وَما كانَ اللَّهُ مُعَذِّبَهُمْ وَهُمْ يَسْتَغْفِرُونَ} وقال تعالى: {قُلْ ما يَعْبَؤُا بِكُمْ رَبِّي لَوْلا دُعاؤُكُمْ}. .ـ

There are four things that whoever has them has them in his favor, and there are three things that whoever has them has them against him.

The four things which are in his favor are: 1) gratitude, 2) eemaan, 3) supplication and 4) seeking forgiveness.

Allah said (1 & 2):

 مَا يَفْعَلُ اللَّهُ بِعَذَابِكُمْ إِنْ شَكَرْتُمْ وَآمَنْتُمْ

Why should Allah punish you if you have thanked (Him) and have believed in Him? [4:147].

And Allah said (4):

وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُعَذِّبَهُمْ وَأَنْتَ فِيهِمْ وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ مُعَذِّبَهُمْ وَهُمْ يَسْتَغْفِرُونَ

and Allah would not punish them while they seek forgiveness [8:33].

And He said (3): Continue reading

The sad story of ‘Imran ibn Hittaan

There was an interesting individual from the time of the Tabi’een, whose name was ‘Imran ibn Ḥiṭṭān. Both Imam al-Dhahabi and Imam Ibn Kathir mentioned his biography in their historical works.

Ibn Kathir, in his massive work of history, al-Bidayah w’al-Nihayah, summarized ibn Ḥiṭṭān’s biography by writing:

عمران بن حطان الخارجي، كان أولا من أهل السنة والجماعة فتزوج امرأة من الخوارج حسنة جميلة جدا فأحبها. وكان هو دميم الشكل، فأراد أن يردها إلى السنة فأبت فارتد معها إلى مذهبها

“‘Imran ibn Ḥiṭṭān al-Khaarijee. He was originally among Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah, but then he married a woman from the Khawaarij who was extremely beautiful, so he loved her. And he himself was ugly and misshapen. So he intended to return her to the sunnah, but she adamantly refused, so he apostatized with her to her way (i.e. became a Khaarijee after have been a scholar of Ahl al-Sunnah!).”

[al-Bidayah w’al-Nihayah 9/64]

Imam al-Dhahabi wrote about him saying: Continue reading

“Allah has distributed people’s actions just as he has distributed their sustenance”

Imam al-Dhahabi mentions in great biographical encyclopedia of the salaf, Siyaar ‘Alaam al-Nubala‘, when discussing Imam Maalik ibn Anas:

إن عبد الله العمري العابد كتب إلى مالك يحضه على الانفراد والعمل فكتب إليه مالك: إن الله قسم الأعمال كما قسم الأرزاق فرب رجل فتح له في الصلاة ولم يفتح له في الصوم وآخر فتح له في الصدقة ولم يفتح له في الصوم وآخر فتح له في الجهاد.
فنشر العلم من أفضل أعمال البر وقد رضيت بما فتح لي فيه وما أظن ما أنا فيه بدون ما أنت فيه وأرجو أن يكون كلانا على خير وبر.

Abdullah al-‘Umari the ‘aabid (devoted worshiper) once wrote to Maalik urging him to focus his efforts solely on performing acts of worship [i.e. that he ought to cut back on his efforts in teaching and spreading knowledge in order to focus more on ‘ibaadah]. So Maalik wrote back to him:

“Indeed Allah has distributed people’s actions (talents) just as He has distributed their sustenance. So perhaps He made salaat easy for someone whereas He did not make fasting easy for him. And for another He made giving sadaqah easy for them, and did not make fasting easy for them. And for another he made jihaad easy for them.
Thus spreading knowledge is one of the most virtuous righteous actions, and I am pleased with what Allah has made easy for me. And I do not think that what I am doing is of lesser value than what you are doing, and I hope that both of us are upon good and righteousness.”

[Siyaar ‘Alaam al-Nubala8/114]

See also: Ibn al-Qayyim on Patience