During Hajj, both the noble Companions Abu Bakr and Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) used to pray Two Rakah in Mina. However Uthman (R), when he was the Caliph, said he will pray 4 Raka’ah. Ibn Mas’ud (R) disagreed and stated that two people better than Uthman prayed 2 (referring to Abu Bakr and Umar) . Yet, when the prayer was about to commence, Ibn Mas’ud (R) joined the rows and prayed…
Later people asked him whether he changed his opinion etc.. His reply was “Al Khilafu Sharr” meaning “Dissent or Discord is evil”.
Al-Zuhri (r) explained that Uthman (R) had prayed four rakaat Mina instead of two because in that particular year many bedouins had come in great numbers and he wished to teach them that the prayer consisted of four units.
This incident has been related by Abu Dawud.
Whats the point of mentioning this?
Firstly: The manner of two great Mujtahids differing in a respectable manner.
Secondly: The beautiful way in which Ibn Mas’ud applied Fiqhul Awlawiyyat and Maqaasid. Unity, one of the objectives of Shariah and indeed Hajj, was much more important to him then the specific ruling in which he differed, thus he gave this more priority.
Thirdly: The deep understanding of Uthman, and again his manner of prioritizing. He knew that 2 was to be prayed, yet the potential for that to be a cause for confusion amongst the bedouins was too great, thus he went against the norm and prayed four units.
What also seems to me is that we see two maxims being used here:
- “Actions are by the end results” – Hence, he prayed four even though 2 was better, as that would lead to a possible greater harm.
- “Averting Harm is better than gaining benefit” – Again, praying 2 was better yet he chose 4 to avoid confusion.
It also shows the bold and courage nature of Uthman. He chose to act, apparently, in contradiction to Abu Bakr and Umar, because he foresaw something that he felt were different (Fatwa changing with place and time possible working here!). On the same note, Mutawakkil Ala Allah, one of the Abbaside Caliphs, asked the people sitting next to him ” Do you know the first matter for which the Muslims blamed Uthman? (He was affected by the Shi’ah by the way) So one of them said “Yes, of Amir of the Believers. When the Prophet (P) passed away, Abu Bakr stood on the minbar one step below the step of the Prophet. Similarly when Umar became Caliph, he stood one step below the step of Abu Bakr. When Uthman became caliph he climbed right to the step of the Prophet (P) so the Muslims rebuked him for that and they wanted him to stand on the step below Umar”. So Ubadah (another person present) Said “Oh Commander of the Believers! No one has done a greater favour upon you than Uthman!” So Mutawkkil exclaimed “How is that? Curse unto you!” So Ubadah replied “Because he went to the top of the Mimbar (The place where the Prophet stood), for if every time a Caliph stood below the station of the caliph that preceeded him, you would have addressed us from below the well!
Fourthly: This is a good evidence against those who stipulate such and such conditions for the muqallid of one madhab to pray behind the muqallid of another madhab, as in this athar, ibn Masud (R) followed Uthman Mutlaqan, for the “greater unity” even though he was a mujtahid, then what about Muqalideen whose madhab is that of their muftis?