And Once Again Abu-Dhar
Dr. Ali Shariati
The Way of God in the language of Islam, not Muslims, means the way of the people. Why? Because in all verses which speak of social issues and of social positioning (not ideological positioning), Allab and the masses or people (nas) are in the same front. The God of Islam has no particular vow, sacrifice, incense or frankincense for Himself. That which is for the masses and for society (not that which is for an individual) becomes particular to God and for God. "If you lend God a good loan ... (64:17) means, "If you give the people a good loan ..." Mal Allah, bayt Allah and lilah are all objectively realized in society, the property of the people, the house of the people ("The first House established for the people was that at blessed Bekka [Makkah]." (3:96), that is the Ka'bah and for the people, because the people are of the family of God. Those who do not see things this way and for whom it is difficult to accept such a belief, are under the influence of a Divine world view and descriptive forms which other religions have offered of their deity. The struggle begins.
Abu Dharr is in the position of a close and intimate Companion of the Prophet, with the license which the Prophet himself gave him: "A person who so learned knowledge that his breast was overflowing with it." "The blue sky never cast a shadow upon—and the dark earth never saw, a more truthful man than Abu Dharr." "The modesty and piety of Abu Dharr resembles that of Jesus, son of Mary." "Abu Dharr is more famous in the heavens, than the earth."
"Abu Dharr, upon this earth, in this society, walks alone, dies alone and, in the wilderness of Judgment Day, when the cemeteries arise, and group by group, the corpses arise, Abu Dharr will be resurrected in a corner of the wilderness, alone, and will join the scene!"
He would sit in a mosque and, one after another, would recite verses for the people which were abandoned in practice; issues from the Quran or the customs of the Prophet which are no longer relevant and whose relevancy brings about difficulties and headaches.
The discussion of the day, in the age of 'Uthman, is the compilation of the Quran, the arrangement of the Quran, the correcting of the hand-written copies of the Quran, the preparation of one main, correct copy of the Quran and unending discussions of recitation, orthigraphy, placing vowels and diacritical points, reading and chanting and conflicts, disturbances, sensitivities, objections and acceptances ..., Abu Dharr brought up the discussion of 'treasuring up' (kinz) from the Quran. Moment after moment, he recited the verse of kinz and the first part of the same verse: "O believers, many of the rabbis and monks indeed consume the goods of the people in vanity and bar God's Way." (9:34)
Taking this front caused disturbances. The caliph himself was occupied with gathering and compiling the Quran; those committed to the Quran were grateful to him.
The remembrance of the Quran would bring a blessed memory of the caliphate. And the Quran of Abu Dharr, resulting in pessimism, harshness, criticism, stimulation, attack and condemnation of the caliphate, caused the voice of the caliph's system to object.
"Abu Dharr! Does the Quran only have this verse of 'the clergymen consuming the property of the people' and this verse of 'treasuring up'? "
And Abu Dharr knew that every age has its anguish and every generation, a slogan. Whosoever recognizes that the Quran is not just 'a sacred thing', but that it is a light and a guidance, must rely upon the verses of the day [the verses relevant to the people of a particular time]. AbuDharr answered, "How strange! Does the caliph forbid me to recite the Quran?"
Now, revelation, belief in monotheism, idol worship, resurrection, survival of the spirit and the prophethood of Muhammad, are no longer relevant because these issues have all been solved; today's issue is contradiction and class discrimination, so after this verse, which was a verse of the day, he began to recall the customs of the Prophet, to speak about the words of the Prophet and that, again, based upon what was relevant to society:
Months passed and no smoke arose from the home of the Holy Prophet." "The food most often in the house of the Prophet of God was water and dates." "Half of the floor of the Prophet's house was carpeted with sand." "He tested himself with hunger by often tying a stone around his stomach so he could bear the causticity of hunger." "His clothes and his food and his house gave solace to we Saffah Companions of the mosque. We had no family or home, and, most often, hungry, every night a group of us would eat with him. When he had cooked food in his home, he would invite us to eat with him and this food was sabus, a dough cooked from barley flour and dates." "He would say, 'No money was hoarded except that it becomes a fire for its owner.' The wives of the Prophet of God would often moan and complain of the hard ship and hunger. He contracted with them, 'Either desire this world and divorce or me and poverty.' "The Prophet of God's beloved daughter worked and suffered hunger, yet he did not accept the request of'Ali and his daughter, who were the most beloved creatures of God, in his opinion, to give them a servant.
He cried for Zahra's [Fatimah's] poverty but he did not give her one dinar help."
It is clear that rapidly, question, question, question in thoughts: Then why is the caliph 'Uthman wearing a fur coat? Why is the colorful spread in the caliph's palace filled with the most delectable foods? Then why was the legacy of Abd al-Rahman 'Awf, who was the head of the Council to elect the caliph and who made 'Uthman caliph, when piled on top of each other, like a mountain which hid the caliph, who was upon the pulpit, from the people, who were sitting on the ground.
His gold bullion was broken with an axe to divide up the inheritance. Then why does Zubayr, who was a member of the caliphate council, have a thousand slaves who work for him and they daily give him their wages? Then why does Mu'awiyah, a family member [of the caliph] and the governor of the caliphate in Damascus, build a Green Palace? Why are those who are around him, whoever confirms him, flatterers, poets, 'ulama' and Companions, given fairy-tale gifts? And, then, why does 'Uthman, who promised to follow the Book of God and the Traditions of the Prophet, and the Shaykans [Abu Bakr and 'Umar] method, only follow the traditions of the Caesars and Kings? Then, why? Then, why?
Day by day, aristocracy, exploitation, extravagance, poverty, distance and social and class breaks or cracks became more and the propagation of AbuDharr grew more extensive causing the abased and the exploited to become more agitated. The hungry learned from Abu Dharr that their poverty was not God's Will, written upon the foreheads and the rule of fate and destiny of heaven; the cause is only kinz (hoarding of capital).
What must be done?
With the austere and pious Abu Dharr, nothing!
Neither does he 'have' to threaten him: 'We will take it! ' nor does he 'want' to tempt him: 'We give! ' And his wife is Umm Dharr; she is also one of the Companions of the Holy Prophet. She helps her husband to bear the hardships, asceticism and poverty which a struggling and responsible human being must bear, because during that age when there was Islam, a woman was not yet, 'the weak one'.
Danger sharpened its teeth in the depths of Madinah. The abased, who submitted to the sacred visages of the Emigrants and the Elder Companions of the Prophet, who now rule, and bore their own anguish and the others' deviation, had become bold. 'Uthman sensed the danger. What to do? Madinah still remembers the Prophet—and the people know Abu Dharr.
He exiled him to Damascus, to Mu'awiyah. From the beginning, the people of Damascus learned Islam from the Bani 'Umayyid. Mu'awiyah has more free rein over Abu Dharr. In Damascus, Mu'awiyah had, by imitating the Romans,built a more aristocratic life than 'Uthman. Discrimination, impurity, oppression and violation of the Islamic system was more evident and more brazen. It was at this time that, with the help of the Roman and Iranian architects, Mu'awiyah was building the 'Green Palace'. This was the first monarchial palace, pompous and beautiful. Mu'awiyah had so set his heart on completing it that he would, most often, be present to supervise his orkers and masons and Abu Dharr would also appear everyday and would cry out: "O Mu'awiyah, if you build this palace with your own money, it is extravagance and if it is with the people's money, it is treason!" And he who was a mature and patient politician would bear it as he thought as to find a solution.
One day, Mu'awiyah invited Abu Dharr to his home. He went beyond the limits of respect and kindness, but Abu Dharr did not reduce his harsh visage or his angry tone in the least bit and, finally, the situation reached the point of threats:
And Abu Dharr, in his response:
The propaganda of Abu Dharr spread. The people of Damascus, who were beginning to think that Islam is the Roman regime which was ruling over them, little by little were finding the real visage of Islam. The uproar of the seeking of justice and freedom alongside religious faith was arising in hearts and the abased, who had been accepting the justification of poverty and abasement through rdigion, for the first time, were learning from Abu Dharr that, "Whenever poverty enters through a door, religion leaves by another."
The mosque was still the home of God, the people and Abu Dharrs and the base of struggle. Mu'awiyah had no control over it. It was after the death of 'Ali that mosques were emptied of God and the family of God, the people, and became the base for the caliphate and a trap used by dergymen of the caliphate! The abased surrounded him with great ardency and hope. He spoke of the truths which were intermingled with right; an Islam which was accompanied by justice; a God Who also thought about bread for the people and Who was teaching the people. In place of narcosis, he stimulated them and threatened the uncompleted Green Palace's destruction.
Mu'awiyah sent Abu Dharr to the jihad in
Cyprus. If he was victorious, it could be an honor and victory for
Muawiyah and a respect which would be an 'honor' for Islam! and if Abu
Dharr were killed, Mu'awiyah would be relieved of any of his harm
without his hands being polluted in his blood. Because of [these kinds
of misuses of jihad], Shi'ism later issued an edict, "Jihad", without
the leader ship of the real and just Imam is prohibited." But Abu Dharr
returned healthy and, without hesitation, went from the front to the
mosque and began his work! Mu'awiyah knew Abu Dharr, knew the extent to
which he thought about the freedom of slaves and satiating the hungry.
He assigned a slave, "Take this bag of gold to Abu Dharr and if you
succeed in having him take it, you are free ! " The slave went to Abu
Dharr. Abu Dharr refused and the slave insisted, cried and begged and
the answer of Abu Dharr was only, "No! " Finally he said, "O Abu Dharr,
may God bless you. Take this money because my freedom is in giving this
money to you." Abu Dharr, without hesitation, said, "Yea. But my
enslavement is in taking this money from you!"