Ibn Abbas’s debate with the khawaarij
The following is a small extract from a short treatise by Shaykh Abdul Muhsin al-Abaad (May Allah preserve him):
And from the flawed understandings of the religion is what happened to the Khawaarij that revolted and fought against Ali (May Allah be pleased with him). Indeed they understood the texts of the Sharee’ah in a way that was incorrect and contrary to the understanding of the Sahaabah (May Allah be pleased with them).
And for that reason, when Ibn Abbaas (May Allah be pleased with him and his Father) debated with them and clarified for them the correct understanding of the texts, some returned to the truth (and abandoned the Khawaarij) and the ones who did not return to the truth, remained on deviance.
The story of Ibn Abbaas’s (May Allah be pleased with him and his Father) debate against them is in the Mustadrik of Hakam (2/150-152) in an authentic chain and upon the conditions of acceptance of Imam Muslim. In it is the statement of Ibn Abbaas:
“I come to you from the Companions of the Prophet (Peace and Blessings be upon him) from amongst the Muhajireen and Ansaar to inform you of what they say. They were present when the Qur’aan was revealed, and they are more knowledgeable about the revelation than you are and were present at its descending, and not a single one of you is from them.”
So some of them said: Do not dispute with a person from the Quraish because Allah says:
“But they are a quarrelsome people.”
Ibn Abbaas (May Allah be pleased with him and his Father) said:
“I never saw a people striving harder in doing deeds. Their faces were marked with lines from abstaining from sleep. It was as if their hands and knees praised them.”
So those who were present proceeded, and some of them said, “By Allah we will speak to him and debate what he says.”
I asked: Why do you have resentment against the cousin of the Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings be upon him) his in-laws, the Muhajireen and Ansaar?
They said: (because of) Three things.
I asked: What are they?
They said: As for the first one it is that he made men arbitrators in the matters of Allah. And Allah said: Verily! The decision rests only with Allah.
[Soorah Yusuf, ayah 67]
I said: This is one.
And they said: As for the other, it is that he fought and did not take captives or booty of war. If the ones being fought are disbelievers, then indeed it is permissible to take them captive and take the booty of war, and if they were believers it would not be permissible to fight them.
I said: That’s two, so what is the third one?
They said: He wiped out the title of ‘Amir al-Mu’mineen’ for himself, so he is the Amir of the disbelievers.
I said: Do you have anything others than these?
They said: This suffices us.
So I said to them: If I read of the Qur’aan and Sunnah that which refutes these claims, will you be pleased?
They said: Yes.
So I said: As for your statement: ‘A man has arbitrated in the matter of Allah’, I will read to you what has given the power of arbitration to men concerning a killed rabbit and the likes of that which is hunted which price is worth a quarter of a dirham. Allah says:
“O you who believe! Kill not game while you are in a state of Ihram (for Hajj or ‘Umrah), and whosoever of you kills it intentionally, the penalty is an offering, brought to the Ka’bah, of an eatable animal (i.e. sheep, goat, cow, etc.) equivalent to the one he killed, as adjudged by two just men among you.”
[Soorah Maidah, ayah 95]
I ask you by Allah, is the arbitration of men concerning a rabbit and its like of hunted animals better than their arbitration regarding bloodshed and reconciliation between themselves? And you are aware that if Allah wished he would have decided the matters himself and not left it to men. And concerning a woman and her husband Allah says:
“If you fear separation between them, appoint an arbitrator from his family and from her family; if they both wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation.”
[Soorah Nis’aa, ayah 35]
So Allah has made the judgement of men a reliable Sunnah. Have I convinced you on this?
They replied: Yes
I said to them: Regarding your saying ‘You fought them, but did not seize their booty nor capture them,’ Can you capture your Mother ‘Aisha then make permissible concerning her what is permissibility concerning other female slaves.
If you say that she can be captured and treated like any of the other female slaves, you have surely committed disbelief, because she is your mother. If you say that ‘she is not our mother’ than you have also committed disbelief, for Allah says:
“The Prophet is closer to the believers than their own selves, and his wives are their (believers’) mothers (as regards respect and marriage).”
[Soorah Ahzab, ayah 6]
You are thus hovering between two deviations. Whichever one you go towards, you go towards misguidance.
So some of them (the people Ibn Abbaas was debating with) began to look at each other.
I asked: Have I convinced you?
They replied: Yes.
I said to them: And as for your statement that he wiped out the title of ‘Amir al-Mu’mineen’ for himself, I will show and bring you proof by one whom you are pleased with.
I heard on the Day of Hudaybiyyah, when the treaty was being drafted by Suhail bin Amr and Abu Sufyan bin Harb, the Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings be upon him) say to the Amir ul Mu’mineen: “Write O’ ‘Ali: ‘This is what has been agreed upon by Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah’.” The Mushrikeen objected to this saying: “No, By Allah, if we believed that you were the Messenger of Allah, we would not have fought you.” Upon this, the Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings be upon him) said: “O’ Allah you know that I am the Messenger of Allah. Write O’ Ali, ‘This is what has been agreed upon by Muhammad bin Abdullah.’” For I swear by Allah that the Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings be upon him) is better than Ali, and erasing his title did not remove his prophet hood.
Abdullah ibn Abbaas (May Allah be Pleased with him and his Father) said:
“So (after this), two thousand of them (the Khawaarij) returned to the truth and the rest of them were killed upon falsehood.”
And in this story two thousand of the Khawaarij turned away from their falsehood due to the clarity they received from Ibn Abbaas (May Allah be Pleased with him and his Father) and in this is an evidence that there is safety from evil and tribulations in referring to the people of knowledge as Allah said: So ask the people of knowledge if you do not know.
[Soorah al-Anbiya, ayah 7]