Hadith / Islamic Themes / الفتاوى العطائية (al-Fatawa al-'Ata'iyya)

The Victorious Group – Ta’ifa Zahira

 shaykh `Ata’ ibn Khalil

IN THE NAME OF ALLAH THE LORD OF MERCY AND THE GIVER OF MERCY

THE MEANING OF TA’IFA ZAHIRA

[‘THE VICTORIOUS PARTY’]

Question:

There are many authenticated hadiths regarding the ta’ifa zahira. What are the explanations of these hadiths? Do these hadiths apply to the scholars of Usul or Hadith as suggested by some? Sometimes we hear people say this or that party or group is the ta’ifa zahira. How can we be clear about this? May Allah bless you.

Answer:

The Answer to your question has two parts: The first part: the explanation of the hadith of the ta’ifa zahira. The second part: How do we deal with these hadiths?

With regard to the first aspect, there are many ahadith regarding the ta’ifa zahira such as the following:

  1. What Bukhari has narrated from al-Mughira b. Shu`ba who said that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “There will always be a party amongst my Umma that will be victorious and Allah will cause them to be victorious.”[1]
  2. What Muslim narrates from Thawban who said the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “There will always be a party amongst my Umma that is victorious upon the Truth, abandoning them will not harm them, until the order of Allah is given and they will be in that state.[2]
  3. What Muslim narrates form Jabir ibn `Abd Allah who said that: I heard the Prophet (saw) say: “There will always be a party, victorious in fighting for the Truth until the Day of Resurrection. Then `Isa ibn Maryam (as) will descend and he will be asked by their leader to lead the prayer, but he will reply, ‘No, your leader has to be from you and this is the blessing of Allah for this umma’[3]
  4. What Muslim also narrated that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “There will always be a group (al-`isaba) that will be triumphant upon the Truth and will prevail on those who oppose them until the Day of Judgment.[4]
  5. What Muslim also narrates from `Uqba b. `Amir who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) saying: “There will always be a group in my Umma that will fight according to the order of Allah, victorious over their enemies and there will be no harm on them from their detractors until the hour comes and they will be triumphant.[5]
  6. What Muslim also narrates via Mu`awiya who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say: “There will always be a party from my Umma that will be steadfast on the order of Allah; they will not be harmed by those who oppose them or abandon them, until the order of Allah comes and they will be triumphant over humankind.[6]
  7. What Tirmidhi relates from Thawban that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “There will always be a party from my Umma that prevails upon the Truth; they will not be harmed by those who abandoned them until the order of Allah comes.[7]
  8. What Abu Dawud narrates form `Imran b. Husayn who said: The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “There will always be a party from my Umma that will fight on the Truth, victorious over those who oppose them and the last of them will fight the Dajjal.[8]
  9. What Ahmad narrates form Jabir ibn `Abd Allah who said that: I heard the Messenger of Allah say: “There will always be a party from my Umma that will fight upon Truth until the Day of Judgment…
  10. What Ahmad mentions that the Messenger of Allah said: “There will always be a party from my Umma triumphant upon the Truth, victorious over their enemies; there will be no harm from those who oppose them and they will not be harmed until the order of Allah comes and they will be like that [victorious]. They asked, Messenger of Allah! Where are they?’ He replied, “In Bayt al-Maqdis and the precincts of Bayt al-Maqdis’…”
  11. What al-Tabarani mentions in [al-Mu`jam] al-Kabir:[9]There will always be a party from my Umma triumphant on the truth and victorious over those who fight them and no harm will come to them from those who oppose them, until the order of Allah comes and they are so. They asked: ‘Messenger of Allah, where are they?’ He replied, ‘In Bayt al-Maqdis’…

From Fath al-Bari:[10] The hadith of Abu Umama in Ahmad’s [Musnad][11] that it is Bayt al-Maqdis and ascribed the house to al-Maqdis and through al-Tabarani from al-Nahdi with a similar narration. And in the hadith of Abu Hurayra narrated by al-Tabarani in [al-Mu`jam] al-Awsat [#47] that: They will fight at the doors of Damascus and its surroundings, and at the gates of Bayt al-Maqdis and its surroundings, they will not be harmed by those who abandon them and they will be victorious until the Day of Judgment.

And from Kanz al-`Ummal of [Muttaqi] al-Hindi[12]: “There will always be a party from my Umma that will fight at the gates of Damascus and its surroundings and at Bayt al-Maqdis and its surroundings. They will not be harmed by those who abandon them and they will be victorious on the Truth until the final Hour arrives.[13]

After careful study of these hadiths and combining their contents all together, the following appears evident from them:

[a] It refers to some of the Muslims and not all of the Muslims. This is because the word ta’ifa linguistically means ‘a part’ or ‘portion’ of something (al-qit`a min al-shay’). So every qit`a (portion) of something is considered its ta’ifa (part). It has come in the Qamus [al-Muhit]: ‘The ta’ifa of something is called its qit`a.[14]

[b] That this party remains on the Truth (al-haqq) which is Islam. Hence the hadith stating: “…remaining on the commands and orders of Allah” (qa’ima bi-amr Allah).

[c] That this party engages in fighting for Allah’s sake and in His path as the hadith states: “…they fight on the Truth” and “…they fight according to the orders of Allah”.

[d] That this party possesses power (dhat quwwa) and strength (shawka) as it fights the armies of the enemy overpowering it and completely defeating it as the hadith states: “…they fight according to the orders of Allah and defeat their enemies.”

[e] That this party will “…fight at the doors of Damascus and its surroundings as well as Bayt al-Maqdis and its surroundings” and so they will fight their enemies and be victorious over them in various places in al-Sham and its surroundings.

All these descriptions indicate that this ta’ifa is firmly upon Islam, fights in the path of Allah and possesses sufficient power and strength to completely and manifestly defeat its enemy armies. The enemy in these instances are armies and states and so the ta’ifa that defeats its enemies will have to be a strong Muslim army within an Islamic State under the leadership of either a khalifa or a general of the army who leads the fighting and completely and manifestly defeats the enemy attaining victory. Or it may be that this party launches itself from al-Sham[15] and the surrounding areas, then actually establishes a state and an army and then completely and manifestly defeats the enemy attaining victory over them. Hence, it may be that this ta’ifa is part of the state and the army and is victorious over its enemy completely and manifestly defeating it or it is a ta’ifa that works to establish a state with its army and then is victorious over its enemy completely and manifestly defeating it.

My view is that all these hadiths apply to what happened in the time of the Messenger of Allah (saw) and his noble companions in how they fought their enemies and conquered and defeated them. My view is also that it applies to the early period of Islam, all subsequent khulafa’ and the generals of the armies under the Islamic state, as well as Salah al-Din and his victory over the Crusaders and the Qats and Berber armies who defeated the Tartars.

It is also my view that it applies to us as well because we are working to re-establish the Islamic state – the khilafa rashida – that will fight the disbelieving enemies and will be victorious over them completely and manifestly remove the Jewish entity as well as liberate Rome once again as informed by the Messenger of Allah (saw). This is what I think and the view I consider strongest.

However, these hadiths cannot refer to a ta’ifa where there is no Islamic state or no army within an Islamic state because without a state or army, the party will not be able to overpower its enemy completely and manifestly. This party will also be unable to remove the Jewish entity, nor overpower America and Britain completely and manifestly without an Islamic state or an army within an Islamic state.

Therefore, it cannot refer to any ta’ifa fighting the enemy armies where there is no Islamic state or no army within an Islamic state because the description of the ta’ifa zahira is not that they merely fight (al-qital) but that they fight and achieve victory over the enemy and this is not possible without a state or state army. It also cannot refer to any ta’ifa not working to re-establish the Islamic State – i.e. the Khilafa – because if they are not doing that then they would not be able to realise that which will enable them to conquer and defeat their enemies whether as a state or as an army. Fighting the enemy and victory over them– regardless of whether it is or – is a fundamental characteristic of this ta’ifa.

Furthermore, these hadiths cannot be referring to scholars of Hadith or Usul unless they are engaged in the work to re-establish an Islamic State that fights, clearly overpowers, defeats and is victorious over its enemies.

As for what is found in the Sahih of al-Bukhari, ‘Section: On the Prophet’s Saying: There Will Remain a Ta’ifa form My Umma that Will Remain on the Truth and Fight in the Way of Allah and they are the People of Knowledge’, the phrase ‘and they are the people of knowledge’ is the author’s addition and words and not the words of the Messenger of Allah (saw). The explanation and clarification of this section has been given by [Ibn Hajar] al-`Asqalani in his commentary Fath al-Bari where he states: “and his saying ‘and they are the people of knowledge’, is the words of the author (min kalam al-musannif)…”[16]

It should be noted that any party fighting the enemy sincerely, will obtain reward even if they are unable to defeat the enemy, overpower them or be victorious over them and even if the fighting is sincerely by individuals against the enemy. And if there is any party engaged in an act of good (khayr), there is reward in it for them, even if it is the work of an individual. And any party engaged in the pursuit of Islamic knowledge, whether it is Usul or Hadith, there is reward in it even if it is the work of an individual in these matters.

However, this is not the discussion here; it is rather the description of whether this or that party as ‘Victorious’. In order to describe a group as the ta’ifa zahira it is necessary to collate what is mentioned in the ahadith of the Messenger of Allah and the interpretation of these ahadith, after gathering them and carefully reflecting upon them, is what I mentioned earlier. And it is what I have outweighed and consider being the right understanding.

As for the phrase ‘there will always be’ (la yazalu), it does not mean it will not be interrupted; but it means that there will be victory and dominance over the enemy in successive periods until the Day of Resurrection. In other words, victory over the enemy is not once and then the enemy returns to defeat us forever, rather our victory will be in successive periods until the Day of Resurrection. This is what happened when we were victorious over the non-believers and we were victorious over them in the early days of Islam, then we defeated and won and {these were the days that we were given by turns [by Allah] – Al `Imran: 3:140} and then came the Crusaders[17] and they were defeated, and then came the Tartars and they were defeated, and then we were weak and then we returned and we opened up Constantinople and it became ‘Istanbul’ … and it will be for the Khilafa that when it returns, by the permission of Allah, it will eliminate the Jewish Entity which occupies Palestine and it will open Rome, by the permission of Allah. This described party will remain upon the Truth until the last of them fights the Dajjal.

It is worth noting that in the hadith of the descent of `Isa before the Day of Resurrection, he will find a state and a leader (amir), and thereafter there will be a manifest victory over the enemy.

Thus, the phrase ‘there will always be’ does not mean without interruption but means that the world will not be without periods of victory by the Muslims against the enemy, manifestly and clearly, until the Day of Resurrection. This is like the saying of the Messenger of Allah (saw) as narrated by al-Bukhari: “The affair of this Umma will be until the Last Hour”.[18] This does not mean that the affairs of the Umma will always remain stable and permanent without interruption because at various periods in the past it was interrupted, especially after the destruction of the Khilafa. What it means rather is that this world would never have a period devoid of the affairs of this Umma being established until the Day of Resurrection. Her affairs at times will never deviate and at other times will never return to be permanent and straight; her Khilafa will not depart at times but at others it will not return. Every time she deviates, she will return back to her affairs until the Day of Resurrection.

This is the first part of the answer, and is what I incline towards in this issue, but I do not rule out that there are other interpretations but I believe this to be correct.

 [part 2]

As for the second part regarding dealing with these ahadith, they must be appropriated in a practical manner just as the Companions and the Tabi`un did with the ahadith of the Messenger of Allah which promised and informed of matters which bore good for the Muslims. So, when they heard or read these hadith of the Messenger of Allah about the Opening of Constantinople or Rome, everyone of them was eager that the fulfilling of this promise was by their hand, until it pleased Allah to bestow his mercy and bounty (fadl) upon Muhammad al-Fatih (‘The Conqueror’) with the ‘First Opening’ which became ‘Istanbul’. So, when they heard the hadith they agreed to work hard to achieve its realization at their hands and they achieved the good that Allah described of the Opener: “Blessed is its leader and blessed is its army.”[19] Many Khulafa’ sent armies to open Constantinople, and many of the Companions even the elderly such as Abu Ayyub [al-Ansari] were involved in these armies to realise this great bounty.

Such is the case of the hadith about the ‘Victorious Party’. The Messenger of Allah informed us about its descriptions and explained its excellence. It will fight the enemies and be victorious over them and manifestly overpower them. However, this will not occur except with an Islamic State and a Muslim army which will defeat the non-believing states and their armies. Therefore, we must persist in assistance and increase our effort and struggle on the path to establish the Islamic state, the rightly guided Khilafa, so we can be of its army and fight the enemy, vanquish them, we be victorious over them clearly and manifestly. So, we hope from Allah (glory be to Him!) that we are from that party which the Messenger of Allah mentioned in his noble ahadith.

Then there is of the matter of utmost importance which is that the issue is not that we say this or that party is the ‘Victorious Party’, rather the issue is that whoever loves to be of the tai’fa zahira he should work to attain what was conveyed of its description and so he works to establish an Islamic state and an Islamic army that fights the non-believing enemies such as America, Britain and the Jewish Entity, etc and overpowers them, is victorious over them and dominates them. And this is what indicates to him that he is part of the tai’fa zahira. So the one who intends to be of the tai’fa zahira, let him work with whatever he has, by the permission of Allah, to realise what was described of it, namely of overwhelming the enemies, achieving victory and dominance over them.

We ask Allah (glory be to Him!) that we are of the tai’fa zahira and that we witness the Islamic state, the rightly guided Khilafa, and we are from soldiers of Islam who defeat the enemy, overwhelm them and are victorious and triumphant over them.

And Allah alone is the True Helper of whoever helps him. He is the Most Powerful, the Mighty.

7th Ramadan 1425

21/10/2004

 

[translated by s. z. chowdhury)
 

[1] Bukhari, Sahih (#3640-3641).

[2] Muslim, Sahih (#1920 and 1037).

[3] Muslim, Sahih (#1922-1923).

[4] Muslim, Sahih (#1037) and Abu Ya`la, Musnad (#6417).

[5] Muslim, Sahih (1924).

[6] Bukhari, Sahih (#3640-3641).

[7] Tirmidhi, Sunan (#2229).

[8] Abu Dawud, Sunan (#2484) and Ahmad, Musnad (#19851).

[9] al-Tabarani, al-Mu`jam al-Kabir, 20:317 (#754).

[10] Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, Fath al-Bari, 13:308. For a small introduction on the Fath al-Bari, see A. H. Murad, “Fath al-Bari: Commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari”, Sunnah.org, accessed 2010, http://www.sunnah.org/history/Scholars/fath_al_bari.htm

[11] Ahmad, Musnad (#22320).

[12] al-Hindi, Kanz al-`Ummal and Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, al-Matalib al-`Aliya, 5:69. For more on the authenticity of the Kanz al-`Ummal work, see  “Brief Description of the Kanzu’l-`Ummal”, Baytul Hikma, accessed 2010 http://baytulhikma.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/brief_description_of_the_kanz_ul-ummal.pdf

[13] Cf. al-Haythami, Majma` al-Zawa’id, 10:63 and Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, Fada’il al-Sham, 3:210.

[14] See s.v. E. W. Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, Bk.1, p.1893. For Qur’anic references of the word, see Q. 3:69, 3:72, 3:122, 3:154, 3:154, 4:81, 4:102, 4:102, 4:113, 6:156, 7:87, 7:87, 8:7, 9:66, 9:66, 9:83, 9:122, 24:2, 28:4, 33:13, 49:9, 61:14, 61:14 and 73:20.

[15] G. F. Haddad writes:

It is originally written and pronounced al-Sha’m and means ‘the North’ with relation to the Hijaz, covering the lands of present-day Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, and Jordan from the Euphrates to Sinai. Ibn Hibban [al-Sahih, 16:293] said: “Al-Sham begins at Balis [East of Aleppo] and ends at `Arish Misr [at the border of Egypt].” The lexical and geographical inclusion of al-Qudus (Jerusalem) in al-Sham in the language of the Arabs is established by the narration of Salman al-Farisi’s question to the Christians of Persia: ‘Where is the origin of this religion?’ They replied: ‘In al-Sham’ [Ibn `Abd al-Salam, Targhib Ahl al-Islam, p. 21] In modern usage al-Sham often means old Damascus. The Arabic term for the latter is Dimashq, which is cited in the authentic hadith [al-Tabarani in al-Mu`jam al-Kabir, 7:53 #6358 with a sound isnad as indicated by al-Haythami in Majma` al-Zawa’id, 10:60]. See “Merits of al-Sham al-Sharif” at http://www.livingislam.org/mshsh_e.html

[16] al-`Asqalani, Fath al-Bari, 13:307.

[17] For the Crusaders, see C. Hillenbrand, The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives, pp.1-31.

[18] Bukhari, Sahih (#7312).

[19] Ibn `Abd al-Barr, al-Isti`ab, 1:250.

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