Muawiyah and Talbiya at Arafa
The narration used to suggest this is the following:
Saeed bin Jubair said: ‘We were with ibn Abbas in Arafa and he said to me: ‘Oh Saeed, why don’t I hear the people performing talbya?’ I replied: ‘They are afraid of Muawiya’. Then ibn Abbas went out from his cottage and said: ‘I respond to your call, Oh Allah I respond to your call, they abandon the Sunnah for their hate towards Ali (ra).
1. Sunan Nasai, Volume 5 page 253 Tradition 3019
2. Sahih Ibn Khuzaima, Volume 4 page 260 Tradition 2830
3. Mustadrak al-Hakim, Volume 1 pages 364-365
Before even refuting this allegation, those that don’t speak the Arabic language need to be aware that the term talbiya is the call that we find the pilgrims practicing during Hajj, in which they shout: Labayk Allahuma labaik, meaning: O’ my Lord, I’ve answered your call and I’m at your service.
Of course, the Shias use this tradition to suggest that Mu’awiyah not only abandoned the Sunnah, but that he was against dhikr as a whole. However, simply by critically examining this narration, we arrive at a completely different conclusion.
Firstly, there is nothing in the narration that suggests that Mu’awiyah was anti-dhikr or anti-Islam from this narration. Rather, the narration revolves around the time in which talbiya is to be made. According to Mu’awiyah, talbiya is made at Hajj, but not at Arafa in specific.
This is why we find Ibn Abi Shayba 3/356 including this hadith in a chapter that he titled: Takbir or talbiya, what is better during Arafa?
In this chapter, he included several narrations that suggest both views. One includes a narration from Ibn Umar saying that he prefers takbir. In a narration from Abu Ja’afar, we find him stopping talbiya on his way to Arafa.
In another chapter 3/248 he quotes that Al-Qasim bin Mohammad bin Abi Bakr and A’isha did not make talbiya when on their way to Arafa.
Another matter that should catch the reader’s attention is Ibn Abbas’ specific wording: “They abandon the Sunnah for their hate towards Ali.” Now, why would Ibn Abbas name Ali in particular? This suggests that talbiya was not as common at Arafa before Ali.
This is supported by a narration from Musanaf Ibn Abi Shayba 3/356, where in which talbiya was heard. Surprised, they asked, “Who is making talbiya on this day?!” When they found out that it was Ibn Mas’ud, they went silent. Ibn Mas’ud died during the time of Uthman, which suggests that he made talbiya before Ali’s time, and yet, the practice as not too common.
With this in mind, we can conclude that Mu’awiyah did not intentionally go against the sunnah, but rather, acted upon what he believed was the correct Hajj etiquette.
On the other hand, we find that the Umawi government, under Umar bin Abdulaziz, did the exact opposite of Mu’awiyah, as per Muwatta Malik #660. When he heard people making takbir, he sent his guards to call out to the people, “O’ people! Make talbiya (instead)!”
Regardless of which action is more correct, the purpose of this article was to not to analyze the correct position, but rather, to demonstrate that Mu’awiyah made ijtihad, as did others before him, and held the belief that the proper Hajj protocol was to make takbir instead of talbiya.
There are no evidences in the narration that remotely suggest that he purposefully went against the sunnah, or took this position to contradict Ali’s actions.