Download PDF: [S] The non-Arabs will be over the Arabs
It is reported that Imam Mohammed bin Muslim – may Allah be pleased with him – who passed away in 124 A.H. and who is commonly known as “Ibn Shihaab” or “Imam Zuhri” was indeed one of the most eminent Muhaddith of his era. He was in fact the teacher of great Awliyah and scholars such as Hadrat Sayyiduna Imam Malik – may Allah be pleased with him, Imam Qatadah – may Allah be pleased with him, etc.
Besides having such immense knowledge, Imam Zuhri – may Allah be pleased with him – was also noted for being one of the bravest Muslims of his time and was never afraid to speak the truth no matter who was standing in front of him. One day the Khalifah in Damascus, Abdul Malik bin Marwan, called him to his court. Bear in mind that this Khalifah was also a great patron of learning and he himself was very learned also. The Khalifah was that he was a great supporter of the Arab nation as well. In general, he used to look down on non-Arab servants.
The following conversation between the Khalifah and Imam Zuhri – may Allah be pleased with him – is also quite interesting.
Abdul Malik: Tell me Imam Zuhri, where are you returning from?
Imam Zuhri: From Mecca Shareef.
Abdul Malik: At this time, who is the religious authority or leader in Mecca Shareef?
Iman Zuhri: It is Imam Ataa bin Rabaa, the great Muhaddith.
Abdul Malik: Is he an Arab or non-Arab?
Imam Zuhri: He was once a slave and is a non-Arab. An Arab had purchased him and then freed him.
Abdul Malik: If this is the case, how did the eminent people of Mecca Shareef make this person their religious leader and authority?
Imam Zuhri: The reason is that he is extremely pious and religious and he is the most learned in the field of Ahadith among everyone in Mecca Shareef.
Abdul Malik: There is no doubt in this. The one who is the most able should be justifiably made a leader. Fine, who is the religious authority in Yemen?
Imam Zuhri: It is the famous Muhaddith, Imam Ta’us bin Kaysaan.
Abdul Malik: Who is this? Is he an Arab or a non-Arab slave?
Imam Zuhri: He is also a non-Arab and was once a slave.
Abdul Malik: What is his secret?
Imam Zuhri: He is also pious and an authority in Ahadith and possesses the same qualities through which Imam Ataa bin Rabaa also achieved such prominence in Mecca Shareef.
Abdul Malik: Yes, such people should be the leaders of their nation. Explain to me about Egypt, what is happening there and who is the religious authority there.
Imam Zuhri: It is the famous Muhaddith, Yazeed bin Habeeb.
Abdul Malik: What did the Egyptians make him their leader and who is he?”
Imam Zuhri: The same reason why the people of Yemen and Mecca Shareef chose their religious leader.
Abdul Malik: Who is the Imam in Syria?
Imam Zuhri: The famous Muhaddith, Imam Makhul.
Abdul Malik: Who is this person?
Imam Zuhri: This is also a non-Arab who was freed by a female from the Bani Hazeel tribe.
Abdul Malik: Who is the religious authority in Jazeerah?
Imam Zuhri: It is the famous Muhaddith, Imam Maymun bin Mehran.
Abdul Malik: Who is this person?
Imam Zuhri: He was also once a slave.
Abdul Malik: Tell me Imam Zuhri, who is the religious leader in the blessed Haram in Madina Shareef? There is no doubt that in a place like this, surely the religious authority would be an Arab.
Imam Zuhri: No, even in this blessed city, the religious authority is Imam Duhaak bin Mazahim who was also once a slave.
Abdul Malik: What is happening in Basrah? Surely the religious authority must be in the hands of an Arab.
Imam Zuhri: The religious authority in Basrah is Imam Hasan Basri whose family were also once slaves.
Abdul Malik: How unfortunate (speaking as an Arab)! What is happening in Kufah and who do these people follow?
Imam Zuhri: The religious authority in Kufah is Imam Ebrahim Nakh’i.
Abdul Malik: Tell me about him.
Imam Zuhri: This is an Arab.
Abdul Malik: Imam Zuhri, you have certainly opened my eyes. I can see that very soon, it is the non-Arab who dominate the positions on the Mimbar and will be the leaders while the eminent sons of the Arabs will sit below them. Such a great revolution has taken place.
Imam Zuhri: O Ameerul Mo’mineen! Why should one be shocked, surprised and saddened at something like this? Islamic education is the religion of Allah. Those who serve Islam and those who serve Islamic education, they will certainly achieve a most lofty position and status and those who waste this gift, they will be placed in lower positions. (Tafseer Ruhul Bayaan)
This incident also proves to us that the ‘Ulama should have no fear in front of anyone. They should never be afraid of speaking the truth. The Holy Prophet – may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him – has stated that to speak the truth in front of an oppressive ruler is the greatest form of Jihad. This is the reason that the eminent ‘Ulama of Awliyah of the past used to speak the truth whether they were standing under the shadow of a sword or whether they were standing under a garland of flower.