Chapter 3: Avoiding the unclear banners and the danger of getting killed in anger for your group and not for the sake of truth.


The Third Hadith:

Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said “Whoever fights under an unclear banner, being angry for a group, or calling to a group, or giving victory to a group, and gets killed, then his killing is Jaahiliyah (he dies in pre-Islamic state of ignorance)”.

Narrated by Muslim, Ahmed, Al Nisa’i and others .

Clarifying the meaning of some words:

The banner: It is the flag; and what is meant here is not the real flag that is raised over the heads of the soldiers, rather it is the purpose for which that banner has been set up, and what the people gathered and assisted each other to fight for. And because of this the banner has been described as unclear, while the flag would not be described as such.

Al-Sanadi -may Allah have mercy upon him, says : “His saying “under an unclear banner” refers to a group gathered for an unknown matter that one does not know as to whether it is truth or falsehood”.

Grammatical Analysis: U’mmiyyah/E’mmiyyah’ عمية (unclear banner) is in the same pattern as the word “Fi’liyyah” (in the Arabic grammatical rule). Imam Nawawi – may Allah have mercy on him – says : “It is with the ‘Dhamma’ (i.e. that makes ‘U’ in U’mmiyyah) or ‘Kasra’ (i.e. that makes ‘E’ in E’mmiyyah) for the letter A’in (ع) (which is the first letter in the word, hence pronounced as either Ummiyyah or Emmiyyah), “Kasra” with ‘Shaddah’ (stress) on the letter Meem (م) (which is the second letter in the word which is the letter ‘M’ doubled in U/Emmiyyah), Shaddah also on the letter Yaa (ي) (which is the third letter in the word which makes the letter ‘Y’ to be doubled in U/Emmiyyah). They said: It is a blind cause whose purpose is not clear. Imam Ahmed Bin Hanbal said this alongwith the majority. Is-haq bin Rahooya said that this is like the people fighting for tribalism”.

Al-Usbah (the group or tribe): Al Zamakhshari said: “The U’sbah – they are cousins and whoever does not have an obligatory fixed share in the inheritance, but rather only takes what remains after the obligatory shares are set aside. They are the ‘U’sbah’.

What is meant here is the relatives of the man and his community for whose sake he gets angry and who get angry for him, he seeks protection with them and supports them whether they are right or wrong. And in some of the Hadith narrations it is mentioned as “he promotes partisanship towards his community”…etc. Abul Faraj Ibn Al Jawzi, may Allah have mercy on him, said “Asabiyyah (partisanship) is to support the community in their desires even if they have gone against the Shariah”.

Some benefits from the Hadeeth

Firstly: It is obligatory that one’s fighting must be with knowledge and insight, and not by being blind and for the sake of desires.

Second: One must differentiate between a legitimate battle which promotes only the truth, and other battles which are fought for the sake of desires.

Thirdly: The banner is judged based on the reason it has been raised, and not just the forms, shapes and designs.

Fourth: The prohibition of going forward and fighting in a war which isn’t being fought to support the truth.

Fifth: That loyalty is based on the brotherhood of faith, and not based on partisanship.

Sixth: A Muslim believer may fall into some ignorant actions and die upon it without it taking him out of Iman (Faith).

Seventh: A war being permissible does not mean that the one who is killed in that war is a martyr, for there is a possibility that what motivated him was only anger for the community or partisanship towards them, and not for supporting the truth.

Eighth: Warning against absolute partisanship towards anything other than the truth be it towards a tribe, a community, a leader, a scholar, a faction, a name, a Madhab (school of thought), an opinion, a country and anything other than that.

Sheikh ul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah have mercy upon him, has said: Whoever shows partisanship towards the people of his town, Madhab, path, relatives and friends against the others, he has a portion of Jaahiliyya (state of ignorance) within him until they (the believers) become as Allah has ordered them to be, and that is by holding firm to the rope of Allah, His book and the Sunna of His prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

Ninth: The great seriousness of the matter of the intention in fighting.

Tenth: The importance of devotion to the truth and being free of desires and misguidance.

Eleventh: Holding onto the clear and evident matters and avoiding the unclear and unspecific matters to safeguard religion and honour.


First: Some of the (names of) this section by the Imams may Allah have mercy on them : Muslim put it under (Section : Obligation of staying with the Muslim community when tribulations occur and in all cases, and the prohibition of disobeying the leader and splitting from the group). And what is mentioned in the above section is part of a Hadith, the first part of it is the statement of Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him: “Whoever disobeys the leader and splits from the Jama’ah (Muslim community) and then dies, he dies in Jaahiliya (state of pre-Islamic ignorance).”

And Al Bayhaqi mentioned it under: (Section: Encouragement to stick to the Muslim community and being severe against whoever takes his hand away from obedience).

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