6. Religious propaganda cannot materialize without group feeling.



This 23 is because, as we have mentioned before, every mass (political) undertaking by necessity requires group feeling. This is indicated in the afore-mentioned 24 tradition: "God sent no prophet who did not enjoy the protection of his people." If this was the case with the prophets, who are among human beings those most likely to perform wonders, one would (expect it to apply) all the more so to others. One cannot expect them to be able to work the wonder of achieving superiority without group feeling.

It happened to the Sufi shaykh Ibn Qasi,25 the author of the Kitab Khal' an-na'layn on Sufism. He rose in revolt in Spain and made propaganda for the truth shortly before the time when the propaganda of the Mahdi (of the Almohads) started. His followers were called al-Murabitun26 (Ibn Qasi) had some success, because the Lamtunah (Almoravids) were preoccupied with their own difficulties with the Almohads. (But) there were no groups and tribes there to defend him. When the Almohads took over control of the Maghrib, he soon obeyed them and participated in their cause. He took the oath of allegiance to them at his stronghold, the fortress of Arcos (de la Frontera). He handed his frontier province over to them and became their first missionary in Spain. His revolt was called the revolt of the Murabitun.

To this chapter belong cases of revolutionaries from among the common people and of jurists who undertake to reform evil (practices). Many religious people who follow the ways of religion come to revolt against unjust amirs. They call for a change in, and prohibition of, evil (practices) and for good practices. They hope for a divine reward for what they do. They gain many followers and sympathizers among the great mass of the people, but they risk being killed, and most of them actually do perish in consequence of their activities as sinners and unrewarded, because God had not destined them for such (activities as they undertake). He commands such activities to be undertaken only where there-exists the power to bring them to a successful conclusion. Muhammad said: "Should one among you see evil activities, he should change them with his hand. If he cannot do that, he should change them with his tongue. And if he cannot do that, he should change them with his heart." 26a

Rulers and dynasties are strongly entrenched. Their foundations can be undermined and destroyed only through strong efforts backed by the group feeling of tribes and families, as we have mentioned before. Similarly, prophets in their religious propaganda depended on groups and families, though they were the ones who could have been supported by God with anything in existence, if He had wished, but in His wisdom 27 He permitted matters to take their customary course.

If someone who is on the right path were to attempt (religious reforms) in this way, (his) isolation would keep him from (gaining the support of) group feeling,28 and he would perish. If someone merely pretends to (achieve religious reforms) in order to gain (political) leadership, he deserves to be hampered by obstacles and to fall victim to perdition. (Religious reforms) are a divine matter that materializes only with God's pleasure and support, through sincere devotion for Him and in view of good intentions towards the Muslims. No Muslim, no person of insight, could doubt this (truth).

In Islam, the first person to start that sort of thing in Baghdad was a certain Khalid ad-Daryush.29 Tahir had revolted. Al-Amin was killed. Al-Ma'mun in Khurasin was slowed down in his advance toward the 'Iraq, and he appointed 'Ali b. Musa ar-Rida, a descendant of al-Husayn, successor to the throne. The 'Abbasids showed their disapproval (of that move). They banded together in order to revolt and to renounce obedience to al-Ma'mun and to choose some one else in his stead. Allegiance was sworn to Ibrahim b. al-Mahdi. Trouble broke out in Baghdad. The troublesome elements among the underworld and the soldiery were given a free hand against the decent citizens. They robbed the people and filled their pockets with loot, which they sold openly in the markets. The inhabitants turned for protection to the authorities, but these did not help them. The religious and good citizens, thereupon, united in order to stop the criminals and to put an end to their misdeeds. At that moment, a man named Khalid ad-Daryush appeared in Baghdad. He appealed to the people to obey the law. Many responded to his call. They fought the troublesome elements and defeated them. Khalid had them beaten and punished. After him, there appeared another man from among the populace of Baghdad,30 by name Abu Hatim Sahl b. Salamah al-Ansari. He hung a copy of the Qur'an around his neck, and appealed to the people to obey the law and to act in accordance with the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet. High and low, Hashimites and others, all followed him. He established himself in the palace of Tahir and took over the government office(s). He went about Baghdad, kept out all those who were frightening wayfarers, and put an end to the payment of protection money 31 to the underworld. When Khalid ad­Daryush said to him that he (Khalid) was not against the government, Sahl replied that he (for his part) was fighting all those who acted contrary to the Qur'an and the Sunnah, whoever they might be. This happened in the year 201 [817]. Ibrahim b. al-Mahdi sent an army against (Sahl). He was defeated and captured, and his power quickly dissolved. He barely escaped with his life.

Later on, many deluded individuals followed, that example. They took it upon themselves to establish the truth. They did not know that they would need group feeling for that. They did not realize how their enterprise must necessarily end and what they would come to. With respect to such people, it is necessary to adopt one of the following courses. One may either treat them, if they are insane, or one may punish them either by execution or beatings when they cause trouble, or one may ridicule them and treat them as buffoons. 32

Some of these people allied themselves with the Expected Fatimid.33 They pretended to be, either he himself, or one of his missionaries, despite their ignorance of everything concerning the Fatimid. Most men who adopt such ideas will be found to be, either deluded and crazy, or to be swindlers who, with the help of such claims, seek to obtain (political) leadership -which they crave and would be unable to obtain in the natural manner. They believe that such claims will be instrumental in bringing to them the fulfillment of their hopes. They do not consider the disaster that will overtake them in consequence. The trouble they create will speedily cause their death and bring their trickery to a bitter end.

At the beginning of this century, a man of Sufi leanings, by name at-Tuwayziri, appeared in as-Sus. He went to the Mosque of Massah 34 on the shore of the Mediterranean and pretended to be the Expected Fatimid. He was taking advantage of the common people's firm belief in predictions to the effect that the Fatimid was about to appear and that his mission would originate at that Mosque. A number of ordinary Berber groups were attracted to him like moths (to the flame).35 Their chiefs then feared that the revolt might spread. The leader of the Masmudah at that time, 'Umar as­Saksiwi,36 secretly sent someone to him, who killed him in his bed.

Also at the beginning of this century, a man known as al-'Abbas appeared among the Ghumarah. He made a similar claim. The lowest among the stupid and imbecile members of those tribes followed his blethering. He marched on Badis, one of the (Ghumarah) cities, and entered it by force. He was then killed, forty days after the start of his mission. He perished like those before him.37

There are many similar cases.38 The mistake (they all make) is that they disregard the significance of group feeling (for success) in such matters. If deceit is involved, it is better that such a person should not succeed and be made to pay for his crime. "That is the sinners' reward." 39