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The eldest one should speak

In The Name of Allah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.

Sahl Bin Abu Hathma and Rafi’ Bin Khadij reported that Abdullah Bin Sahl Bin Zaid and Muhayyisa Bin Mas’ud Bin Zaid went out and as they reached Khaibar they were separated. Then Muhayyisa found Abdullah Bin Sahl having been killed. He buried him, and then came to Allah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him]. They were Huwayyisa Bin Mas’ud and ‘Abdur Rahman Bin Sahl, and he (the latter one) was the youngest of the people (those three who had come to seek an interview with the Prophet) began to talk before his Companions (had spoken). Thereupon Allah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] said, “The eldest one (eldest in regard to age should speak)”. So, he kept quiet, and his companions (Muhayyisa and Huwayyisa) began to speak, and he (Abdur-Rahmaan) spoke along with them and they narrated to Allah’s Messenger the murder of Abdullah Bin Sahl. Thereupon he said to them, “Are you prepared to take fifty oaths so that you may be entitled (to blood-wit) of your companion (or your man who has murdered)?” They said, “How can we take an oath on a matter which we have not witnessed?” He (the Prophet) said, “Then the Jews will exonerate themselves by fifty oaths”. They said, “How can we accept the oaths of people who are unbelievers?” When Allah’s Messenger saw that, he himself paid his blood-wit. [Sahih Muslim 1669]

After three ahaadeeth were quoted – including the above one regarding the murder of Abdullah Bin Sahl, Imam Abdul Azeez Bin Baaz [may Allah have mercy upon him] stated, “These three ahaadeeth are the same as those before them, in clarification of giving precedence to people of virtue, knowledge, and those of old age over those younger than them, giving concern to the affair by placing them in their deserved position in which Allah has placed them, as has preceded in the statement of the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him], “The one who is well grounded in Allah’s Book and is distinguished among them in recitation should act as Imam for the people, and if they are equally versed in reciting it, then the one who has most knowledge regarding Sunnah; if they are equal regarding the Sunnah, then the earliest one to emigrate; If they emigrated at the same time, then the oldest one in age. No man must lead another in prayer in latter’s house or where (the latter) has authority, or sit in his place of honour in his house, except that he gives you permission or with his permission”. (1) [Paraphrased]

Imam Muhammad Ibn Saalih Al-Uthaymeen [may Allah have mercy upon him] said, “The apparent context of the hadith is that the three came to Allah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] to relate the news, so Muhayyisa wanted to speak because he was the one who had the story and knew about it, and Abdur Rahman Bin Sahl did not speak because he was not present, or because he was the youngest of the people, or because the intent was to mention the case without making a claim; otherwise who would have had more right to speak? It would have been Abdur Rahman Bin Sahl, Abdullah’s brother because he is his heir. Muhayyisa and Huwayyisa are cousins ​​of the murdered, but why did Muhayyisa want to speak even though he was lesser than a brother in relationship? That is because he had the story and knew about it. And why did Abdur Rahmaan not speak? It was either because of his young age or because he was sufficed with the statement of Muhayyisa due to him being the witness of the incident or because the intent was to mention the case and not the claim, otherwise if the intent was the claim, then Abdur Rahmaan Bin Sahl would have been the most entitled to speak, then Huwayyisa and then Muhayyisa”. (2)[Paraphrased]

The Messenger [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] said: “He is not one of us who is not merciful to our young, nor respects the rights of our elders, nor enjoins good, nor forbids evil”. (3)

Al-Allaamah Rabee Bin Haadi Al-Mad’khali [may Allah have mercy upon him] said: Good manners is a necessity in the path of seeking knowledge, and (when dealing with) scholars and elders. It was said to king Abdul Azeez [may have mercy upon him], “How do you view the people?” He said, “The people in my view are three types: a man who is older than me, so he is placed in my father’s position; a man who is in my age group, so he is placed in my brother’s position, and a man who is younger than me, so he is like my son’. Therefore, a Muslim behaves towards his brothers in this manner- he places the people in these different categories. The student of knowledge should respect the elders, honour his contemporaries and show mercy to those below his age. The one who is old in age is like his father, the one in his age group is like his brother and the one below him in age is like his son”. (4)

[Ref1: ]

[Ref 2: ]

[Ref 3:Sunan at-Tirmidhee 1921]

[Ref 4:An Excerpt from Marhaban Yaa Taalibal Ilm’ page 123]

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