Time of Fitnah

Q 1: Is this the time referred to in the Hadith in which one of the Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet) asked the Messenger (peace be upon him) saying: “What should I do when Fitnah (trial, sedition) and division increase?” He (peace be upon him) replied, “Detach yourself from the people, and sit in your house”? In the Sahih (Book of Authentic Hadith), Kitab Al-Fitan (Book on Trials), under the Chapter (What will happen if there is no Caliph), there is a Hadith that signifies that the Prophet (peace be upon him) told the people to detach themselves from others when calamities strike, and he said, “Even if you have to bite (eat) the root of a tree.” Please explain this Hadith and the scholars’ opinions on it.

A: In the Two Sahih (authentic) Books of Hadith (i.e. Al-Bukhari and Muslim) and elsewhere, with the following wording from Al-Bukhari, it is reported on the authority of Abu Idris Al-Khawlany that he heard Hudhayfah ibn Al-Yaman say: “People used to ask the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) about the good, but I used to ask him about the evil lest it should afflict me. Once I said, “O Messenger of Allah! We were living in ignorance and evil, then Allah bestowed upon us this goodness (i.e. Islam), so will there be evil after this goodness?” He said, “Yes”. I said, “Will there be goodness after that evil?” He said, “Yes, but in it there will be Dakhan (blemish, impurity).” I said, “What will its Dakhan be?” He said, “A people following a way other than my way (Sunnah) and calling to a guidance other than my guidance; you will approve of some of their actions and disapprove of others.” I said, “Will there be evil after that goodness?” He said, “Yes, callers on the doors of Hellfire; whoever accepts their invitation to it they will throw into it.” I said, “O Messenger of Allah! Describe them to us.” He said, “They are from our own people, speaking our language.” I said, “O Messenger of Allah! What do you command me to do if this happens in my time?” He said, “Adhere to the Jama‘ah (main body or group) of Muslims and their Imam (leader).” I said, “What if there was not a main group for them or a leader? He said, “Then detach yourself from all these sects, even if you have to bite (eat) the root of a tree until death comes to you while you are in that state.” (Part No. 4; Page No. 413) The time does not refer to this particular period we are living in; in fact, it is general and refers to any time and place, from the time of the Fitnah and rebellion against `Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) at the time of the Sahabah (may Allaah be pleased with them all), onwards.The meaning of withdrawal from people at the time of division is mentioned by Al-Hafizh Ibn Hajar (may Allah be merciful to him) in "Al-Fath", where he quoted Al-Tabary who said, “When the people do not have an Imam and split into sects, do not follow any of these groups. Detach yourselves from all of them if you can, lest one fall into evil. And when one finds a group truly following the Straight Path, you should join them, help increase their numbers, and cooperate with them in truth, because in that case this group constitutes the Jama‘ah of the Muslims for that person in that place.” May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.