Hadith Without Context Is Meaningless: Abu Bakr’s “Apostasy” Wars

Discover The Truth

Kaleef K. Karim


1. Introduction
2. Main Causes of The “Apostasy” War
3. Muslims Or “Apostates”
4. Zakat, Tax And Prison
5. Conclusion

1. Introduction

The Ridda wars which was led by the first Caliph Abu Bakr Siddiq against the rebels in Arabia is often misquoted, and not presented in their true historical context.

Most often the following Hadith reports are quoted to prove that the first Caliph Abu Bakr fought these people as a result of them renouncing their former faith, Islam:

“It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: “When the Messenger of Allah [SAW] died, and Abu Bakr (became Khalifah) after him, and the ‘Arabs reverted to Kufr, ‘Umar said: ‘O Abu Bakr, how can you fight the people when the Messenger of Allah [SAW] said: I have been commanded to fight the people until they say La ilaha illallah, and whoever says La ilaha illallah, his…

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Categories: Islam

3 replies

  1. Not paying the Zakaat would be a sin. In the case of the Arab apostates the problem was that they denied that they have to pay it. Most of them did not renounce Islam as a religion but they denied the Islamic rule over them. This is apostasy.


    • That’s not even true. As Wael Hallaq eloquently explains, “Of the six major centers of uprising, four had a religious color, each led by a so- called prophet, prophetess or soothsayer: al-Aswad al-Ansī in Yemen, Musaylima in Yamāma, ulay Khuwaylid of the tribes of Banū Asad and Banū Ghaafān and Sajā of the tribe of Tamīm. The resistance in the two other centers — east and southeast of the Arabian peninsula — seems to have been caused by a refusal to submit to the political authority of Medina including the payment of taxes imposed upon them by the Prophet in 9 ⁄ 630. Following classical Islamic sources, much of modern scholarship tends to see all these wars and battles that took place within the boundaries of Arabia — before the conquests in Syria began — as falling into the category of the wars of apostasy. In point of fact, of all the centers of revolt only Najd qualifies, strictly speaking, for classification as a center of apostate rebellion. The Banū Hanīfa, led by Musaylima in Yamāma, had never been subject to Medinan domination nor did they sign any treaty either with Muhammad or with his successor Abū Bakr (11 ⁄ 632-13 ⁄ 634). It was only when the military commander Khālid b. al-Walīd (d. 21 ⁄ 642) defeated them in 12 ⁄ 633 that they came, for the first time, under Medinan domination. In other words, they never converted to Islam in the first place so that they cannot correctly be labeled as apostates. A similar situation existed in Umān, al-Barayn, al-Yaman, and a ramawt. There, Muhammad concluded treaties with military leaders — some of whom were Persian agents — who were quickly ousted by the local tribes. Thus, the tribes’ resistance to Medina did not presuppose a particular relationship in which they paid allegiance to the Muslim state. Again, their uprising does not constitute apostasy, properly speaking. The tribes of Najd, on the other hand, were their own masters and signed treaties with Muhammad, the terms of which required them to adopt Islam and to pay homage as well as taxes to Medina. Their revolt, thus, constituted a clear case of apostasy”


    • There were different cases. But it is important to note that refusing the rule of Islam in worldly affairs is apostasy.


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