Chapter 14: The Standard of Imam ‘Ali
The period of ‘Ali was the period of ‘Ammar and, in fact, of everyone, because it was undoubtedly the period of justice, freedom, equality and the domination of Islam. In the circumstances it should not be expected that in such a period ‘Ammar should have remained obscure, idle and quiet. And again, keeping in view the fact that in the eyes of the Muslims, ‘Ammar was recognized to be the symbol of guidance, it is evident that in such an atmosphere and situation his activity, zeal, virtuous part and good reputation should have been utilized. Hence, in this historical period of theirs which was replete with various campaigns and battles all the Muslims had fixed their eyes on ‘Ammar for the solution of their problems. That is, in whatever row they saw ‘Ammar, they were satisfied that, that row was on the side of truth.
In short, the people distinguished goodness from evil and truth from falsehood through ‘Ammar.
The people were entitled to hold the view which they did about ‘Ammar and did not exaggerate or went beyond the bounds, because ‘Ammar was like a crescent which had risen from the horizon of Islam and had been striving for the last forty five years as a mujahid (warrior). He had witnessed the greatest perils and troubles which Islam had to face. He saw around him anxiety and agitation of mind as well as avarice and greed. He remained steadfast with perfectly solid faith, firm views and constant thinking, when most of his companions had become shaky and had become apostates. In the circumstances it is not surprising that out of all those different people such a weak and at the same time an active person should attain such honour, greatness, dignity and importance.
Imam as-Sadiq said to one of his companions: "Some people imagine: that until ‘Ali drew his sword he was not an Imam. If that be so it must be admitted that ‘Ammar (notwithstanding the fact that he had always been a sincere companion and follower of ‘Ali) was a loser.”
The point is that if ‘Ammar and his steadfastness in following ‘Ali did not accord with the established rule, the logic of Imam as-Sadiq would not have introduced him as the proof and sign of the Imamate of ‘Ali before his (‘Ali's) drawing the sword, and would not have treated his oath of allegiance a proof of the correctness of Shi 'a faith during the difficult situation for Imamate when ‘Ali was confined in his house.
From another point of view if amongst the Muslim sects this verdict had been peculiar to the Shi'a, only this logic would not have been firm, because so long as an argument is not supported by friends as well as foes it is not convincing. The fact is that this statement of Imam as-Sadiq, which was made more than a hundred years after the martyrdom of ‘Ammar, by way of proof, was a reflection of the views of all the Muslims about ‘Ammar during his own age, and during that time different sects, and ways of discussion and debate, which had appeared during the period of Imam as-Sadiq did not exist.
We shall however, discuss the depth of this view and the impression made by it on the enemies of ‘Ammar. In any case if we want to know about the piety of ‘Ammar this very testimony of Imam as-Sadiq which is the result of his reasoning should suffice.
The point which deserves attention in this discussion is that now we have before us the personality of ‘Ammar, the same personality which was recognized as the criterion of human values and example of virtuous concepts.
When we keep in view the fact that his right behaviour and conduct in the path of humanity elevated him to the summit of dignity and excellence, for which the flesh, blood, lineage and relationship are not needed so that he might have become honourable and dignified by these means. The fact is that those people, who had much nobler flesh and blood and much better origin as compared with him, praised his spiritual merits, dignity and rank.
For this very reason it may be said that it was necessary that as opposed to the period of ‘Uthman, which was the period of his weakness and limitation, this valuable element (‘Ammar) should have become active as soon as he found an opportunity and should have made his voice reach everywhere and eventually manifested his character.
During the rule of ‘Uthman the contention was initiated by ‘Ammar. He rose and revolted and declined to take oath of allegiance to that man. And ‘Uthman also during his rule took the initiative to forsake common practices and violate Islamic regulations which is proved by the fact that he supported Ubaydullah bin ‘Umar, who had killed Hurmuzin without any fault of his, and did not enforce the Islamic penal law against him.
From that day onwards ‘Ammar commenced his campaign and contention and approached ‘Ali and said: "O proclaimer of Islam! Get up and make a call! Virtue is dead and vice is alive. Pollution and indecency have taken the place of goodness and honesty!”
He also used to say: "I swear by Allah that if I had supporters I would have risen to oppose these people and I again swear by Allah that if one man steps forward to combat I shall be the second one".
Anyhow the jihad, steadfastness and self-sacrifice of ‘Ammar did not produce any result other than that he was recognized as one of the pivots of the Alavid period and this was a reality which was basically expected of him. Furthermore, during these days ‘Ammar was not the man who should have sat in a corner observing a long silence and become secluded like the ascetics, who sign and say "May Allah save us from the mischief!" Now ‘Ammar had become a perfectly different man. He had become vociferous and began his activities with comprehensive lectures and detailed discussions and debates. He went on speaking ceaselessly with great zeal and enthusiasm and made his voice reach everywhere.
The source of change and transition on this occasion is quite clear and if any person wishes to analyse the matters in this connection and to make a thorough study of the conditions of those days it will be quite easy for him to assess the position because the crescent of the Alavi State appeared in a disturbed, convulsive and foggy horizon and at the time of the appearance of this crescent troubles arose and divided the people into factions and groups and made the parties covetous, and darkened the thoughts in their entirety.
The effects and results of these convulsions, agitation and encounters affected ‘Ammar more than anyone else, for he was more worthy of being impressed by them.
As a result of this ‘Ammar was obliged to manifest his personality from the viewpoint of his obligation to invite and propagate Islam. And it is evident that while encountering such uproar a personality like him needs means and implements other than silence and muteness. Further more, this was not the first occasion when he had broken his silence and burst out, because he had been vociferous from the very early days of the rule of ‘Uthman and even if his tune and accent had changed due to the positive and negative aspects of the matter it must be admitted that the essence of his personality had been one and the same and he always sought help from this inherent essence for his missionary work.
In the light of the praise which the Holy Prophet (S) bestowed on ‘Ammar and as a result of the perseverance and stead-fastness which he showed on all occasions he had reached the summit of dignity, and had found his place at the pinnacle of confidence, reliance and honour. However, ‘Ammar calculated that staying at this status and continuance at this high summit of dignity, honour and greatness was not possible without sincerity, propagation of Islam, inviting people to it, and self-sacrifice for the sake of ‘Ali. He also felt that spending a long period replete with pain and hardships for the acquisition of all this dignity, honour and virtue had been a preamble to that he should play his role in this real period, the period of Alavi rule.
The Prophet (S) had told ‘Ammar things about his future as well as that of others and had also fixed his and others duties.
All that the Prophet (S) had predicted about ‘Ammar had happened except his martyrdom at the hands of a rebellious group. Now ‘Ammar was awaiting this very prophecy of the Prophet. Of course, after having passed ninety years of his age what else could he think of and what other thing could he desire to have?
Now dreadful disturbances had taken place and ‘Ammar had been recognized by the people as the sign of truth and the mark of guidance and now truth in the eyes of ‘Ammar meant ‘Ali.
"From today onwards there is no occasion for silence; dissimulation and caution." He said these words to himself and later these very concepts flowed on his tongue in the shape of words like a torrent with sweet and agreeable statements uttered in a vehement tone. He now got up to pursue his campaign with his hands and tongue, and took the initiative in action.
After the assassination of ‘Uthman his opponents who belonged to the tribe of Quraysh once again became his supporters and advocates And possibly the condition and position of the Mother of the Faithful A’isha in this tragedy was the manifestation of the most complete and perfect self-contradiction and strange distortion which the covetous Quraysh openly told about the murderers of ‘Uthman in these words: "A’isha has been the cause of the assassination of ‘Uthman by her strong incitement and continuous and extensive efforts and was anxious that in future the reins of government should go to the tribe of Taym through her cousin Talha.
Talha, Zubayr and Sa'd bin Abi Waqqas killed ‘Uthman by means of the money spent by them and their under hand plots.
Mu'awiya and the Umayyad party were treated to be the murderers of ‘Uthman, because they left him alone and did not come to his help.
Marwan and the descendants of Hakam and their friends, belonging to the tribe of Abi Mu'it killed ‘Uthman as a result of their selfish motives.
In spite of all this, however, when ‘Ali was elected as Caliph with the consensus of the Muslims these very groups changed their attitude and suddenly the same ‘Uthman who was an oppressor and an unbeliever yesterday became an oppressed martyr today!
The sad and doleful thing which one observes among these events is that a group of capricious, cowardly and impudent persons who were not ashamed of anything, and the covetous and greedy people who indulged in flattery and baseness, drove them to every direction, and joined hands and formed a group. This association and alliance and preparation of a mischievous programme created intricacies and difficulties not only in the city of Madina but in the capitals of all Islamic territories.
Talha, Zubayr and Sa'd broke their allegiance to the Caliph of the time, and a small group of people in Madina followed them. Then revolt broke out in all the Islamic territories. Mu'awiya refused to pay allegiance to the Caliph of the time.
Abu Musa Ash'ari left himself and others without any responsibility, with a strange obstinacy and stagnation.
In short the spirit of fear, anxiety, caution, circumspection and irresponsibility penetrated everywhere and most of the people awaited the appearance of a bright horizon so that their responsibility might be determined.
As against these conditions, as we are aware, the followers of ‘Ali displayed a sort of noble activity coupled with magnanimity and greatness and looked at this dark horizon with a firm resolution and an unprecedented stead fastness. However, among all of them ‘Ammar was more free from care, more active, more zealous and more self sacrificing and none could match him in oratory .
‘Ammar was informed that A’isha had left Makkah for Madina to avenge ‘Uthman's murder, but when the news of ‘Ali having assumed the Caliphate reached her, she abandoned her former decision.
On receiving this information ‘Ammar sent someone to A’isha. He reminded her of Allah and His Prophet (S) and also made a mention of her good fame and said: "It is not worthy of the Mother of the Faithful that she should forget what her attitude towards ‘Uthman was yesterday. She should remember that she used to say: ‘Kill Na'thal’. 1
It is also not worthy of the status of the Mother of the Faithful that she should forget the opinion already formed by her about ‘Ali. It is not also worthy of her to involve herself in such controversial affairs and in the field of politic, become a tool in the hands of those who have nefarious objects and evil intentions, and are opportunists and adventurous.” Unfortunately, however, the Mother of the Faithful, to whom his message was communicated, did not pay any heed to it. She remained with Talha and Zubayr till the day of the Battle of the Camel.
‘Ammar also observed that Mughira bin Sho'ba came to the Commander of the Faithful and made suggestions to him, and had some hopes and wishes while paying these visits. ‘Ammar understood his satanic politics and was also well aware of his deceitful life and hypocritical relations. He, therefore, watched carefully every step taken by this licentious person and in view of the fact that the position of a missionary of truth demanded that he should work for the mobilization of truth he did not refrain from inviting to his side even this obstinate person, so that he might also possibly join the camp of ‘Ali.
However, as Mughira had developed hostility against ‘Ali, he evaded agreeing to do so and preferred joining the camp of the Mother of the Faithful A’isha so that he might get the reward for the hostility against ‘Ali from her. Moreover, Mughira's being a member of the Umayyad party also did not allow him to become a follower of ‘Ali.
Above all Mughira was not, intrinsically a person who might have taken a decision and undertaken a task in such an agitated and convulsive atmosphere unless his material benefit was ensured. Hence, keeping all these matters in view, he said to ‘Ammar with a glib and soft tongue: "I need time till this dark horizon becomes bright and the moon appears. At that time I will take my step clear-sightedly in the light.”
Although this was the most explicit reply which was compatible with the condition and position of Mughira in all respects and represented his way of thinking. However as a missionary of truth always pursues his object with insistence ‘Ammar said to Mughira emphatically: "O Mughira! I seek refuge in Allah! Do you want to remain blind and sit in a corner like the blind when your inner eye has already been opened? Just reflect about your condition and see what you are seeing and what you are doing. I tell you that I am one who will not take a step except in the foremost row.”
When ‘Ammar said 'I' he did not utter this word in the capacity of the speaker but in the capacity of a sign of guidance and a symbol of exhortation.
‘Ammar drove Mughira into a corner, putting forward arguments continuously and making him dumbfounded. Mughira was looking this way and that way like a prey which wants to slip away from the hand of the hunter.
‘Ali was hearing the conversation of ‘Ammar and Mughira and fully realized that the discussion was futile and useless. He, therefore, said to ‘Ammar: "Leave Mughira alone. He wants only that much from the religion which guarantees his world (i.e. worldly gains). He purposely makes things dubious for himself and his idea is that these doubts should cover his lapses and serve as an excuse for his deviations.”
‘Ammar was not surprised at the deviation and aloof ness of Abdullah bin ‘Umar. He, therefore, obtained permission from the Commander of the Faithful to go and discuss the matters with him as well and to invite him to support the truth.
After having obtained the requisite permission in the name of Islam ‘Ammar went to Abdullah so as to remove the doubts which had become the cause of his deviation and aloofness, and to guide him with logical argument.
Immediately after his arrival at the residence of Abdullah, ‘Ammar initiated discussions with him and said: "O Abu Abdur Rahman! As you are aware the Muhajirs and the Ansar have taken the oath of allegiance to ‘Ali. If we prefer ‘Ali to you, you should not be annoyed, and if we prefer you to ‘Ali, you should not be pleased. Indeed, as regards your acknowledging that a sword should be drawn against one who offers prayers, it is an established fact.
I also held this belief before the ruler ship of ‘Ali and still hold the same view and you know that a murderer should be killed and an adulterer should be stoned to death. And then you know that ‘Ali has not killed any person who offered prayers.”
Abdullah understood what ‘Ammar wanted to say and also realized that ‘Ammar's reasoning was binding and according to Abdullah's past record he had taken oath of allegiance to one who had killed those who offered prayers and had also taken oath of allegiance to one who had forgiven an adulterer. However, as Abdullah was a person who was involved in deviation and crookedness like the Khawarij and had a special sense of love for renown coupled with the weakness of an ascetic, he contented himself with giving only the following reply to ‘Ammar: "I believe in the rightfulness of ‘Ali and can say at least this much with confidence that on the day of Shura (meeting of the consultative council) injustice was done to him as he was deprived of his right at the point of the sword.”
Incidentally he criticized his father (‘Umar) and hinting at the fact that his father was inimical towards ‘Ali secretly and openly, exonerated himself and said nothing else.
‘Ammar also contented himself with invitation and preaching to this extent only. Beyond that he had nothing to do. He then left Abdullah's house and treated him as excused.
‘Ammar was also told that the son of Abi Waqqas was making excuses and going back on his promises. He, therefore, went to him but realized that Sa'd was a low spirited man with a disturbed and confused intellect. Hence, he abandoned him to his illness and suffering and did not have any discussion with him.
‘Ammar learned that like other pleasure-seeking and voluptuous persons who falter in the path of truth and hold themselves aloof from godliness, Muhammad bin Muslima Ansari was entangled in a mental problem and was in a state of doubt and uncertainty .He, therefore, hurried up to Muhammad to relieve him of his perplexity. Muhammad said: "O pious Abul Yaqzan, you are welcome. I regret I have not seen you for so long a time! I swear by Allah that if the report which I happen to have with me had not emanated from the Holy Prophet. I would have taken oath of allegiance to ‘Ali even if all the people had been opposed to him.” While saying this Muhammad kept looking intently upon ‘Ammar's face to find out the impression made by his words on him. Then he added: "What can I do in the matter when the Holy Prophet (S) has already expressed his views on the subject?"
‘Ammar said: "O Muhammad! Speak clearly and explicitly. If what you say is correct I shall be with you and I swear by Allah that I shall not go against truth in any circumstances and if I realize that you are right I shall surrender.”
Muhammad said: "The Holy Prophet (S) has ordered us that when we see that the Muslims have begun killing those who offer prayers, we should remain aloof and neutral.”
‘Ammar said: "Did you hear these words from the Holy Prophet?"
Muhammad replied: "Yes. I heard these words from him with my own ears.”
‘Ammar said: "I don't accuse you. However, if it is proved that the Prophet (S) said this, it needs correct interpretation. You have said that the Prophet (S) was pleased to remark that whenever you see the Muslims killing one another… ...I must tell you that it is not at all possible that two Muslims may draw swords to kill each other. And if you see at any time that two Muslims are drawing swords against each other you should know for certain that one of them is not a Muslim. In that case it is your duty to side with the Muslim who is right. And if the Holy Prophet (S) mentioned those who offer prayers you will be one of the two witnesses. Do you mean to say that the Holy Prophet (S) said anything on the subject after the sermon of the farewell Haj? Did he say anything besides this: ‘Your blood and your property are unlawful for one another except when someone may create an accident...’ O Muhammad! In that case do you want to say that we should not fight against those who create mischief?"
The son of Muslima surrendered before this logical argument and elaborates jurisprudence, especially because this very strong logic made him understand the difference between a true Muslim and a hypocritical worshipper, and he was obliged to give a judgement that it was necessary to kill those who created mischief and had risen against the sacred Islamic principles.
Eventually Muhammad contented himself with discussion and debate to this extent only and said: "O godly man! Put an end to the matter now.”
The son of Muslima was afraid that after removing his doubt ‘Ammar would also solve his mental problem. And this problem which could not be solved had arisen from the fact that ‘Ali had killed one of Muhammad's brothers in the Battle of Khayber.
Among the supporters of ‘Ali, ‘Ammar was the person, whose outward movement was slower than that of others, but in fact its enthusiasm and activity were much greater than those of others.
At the same time he was the person who endeavoured more than others for the advancement of truth on all occasions and kept an eye on all the developments which took place in those days. And on the whole he excelled all others so far as capability, merit, intellectual power, correctness of views and knowledge were concerned.
During the four months since the oath of allegiance was taken to ‘Ali (i.e. before ‘Ali's departure to Basra to meet those who had been guilty of breach of promise) ‘Ammar was occupied in Madina, in inviting one, strengthening another to remain constant, and putting still another in his proper place.
Anyhow, when ‘Ali became aware of the proceeding of A’isha, Talha and Zubayr to Basra he decided to stop them so that mischief could be avoided. He left for Basra with this purpose, and nine hundred companions consisting of the Muhajirs and the Ansar also proceeded with him.
‘Ammar was the chief of this army and a large number of Muslims had also proceeded with him. When the army reached Rabaza it became known that A’isha, Talha and Zubayr had already proceeded towards Basra and no time was left to overtake them. ‘Ali, therefore, sent his nephew Muhammad bin Ja'far and Muhammad bin Abu Bakr to Kufa along with a letter addressed to Abu Musa, the governor of that city, wherein he directed that Abu Musa should equip the people and send them to Basra to meet him (‘Ali) there.
However, when the said two persons arrived in Kufa they realized that the agent of the Commander of the Faithful in Kufa, or, in more appropriate words, the agent of Ashtar2 was an enemy whose hostility ought to have been avoided. It was so, because Abu Musa was asking the people to refrain from rising or taking any action and was fabricating traditions and inviting the people by this means to neutrality, fear and seclusion. This state of affairs became the cause of the two Muhammads quarrelling seriously with Abu Musa, and harsh words were exchanged between them.
The Commander of the Faithful then sent Abdullah bin Abbas and Muhammad bin Abu Bakr to Abu Musa along with a strongly worded letter by means of which he dismissed him and ordered him to hand over the government of Kufa to these two persons. And when some days passed and no news was received from Kufa the Commander of the faithful became anxious lest some disturbance should have taken place there! ‘Ali then proceeded from Rabaza to Zi Qar and reached near Kufa.
He once again confirmed the orders regarding dismissal of Abu Musa through Hasan (his son) and ‘Ammar (his minister) and also sent along with them some competent and distinguished persons like Qays bin Sa'd and Zayd bin Sohan so that if possibly Abu Musa declined to carry out the orders Ibn Abbas and Muhammad bin Abu Bakr might persuade him to comply with the same.
In these circumstances, however, Abu Musa's resistance increased with the arrival in Kufa of the last delegates of the Commander of the Faithful and he showed obstinacy to Ibn Abbas and his companions. And when the new delegates of the Commander of the Faithful communicated the orders to the people Abu Musa mounted the pulpit, reproached the people and invited them to deliberate and reflect! He fabricated traditions attributing them to the Holy Prophet (S) and asked the two parties to refrain from fighting!
‘Ali had friends as well as some enemies in Kufa. However, Kufa has a strange characteristic in regard to friendship and hostility, because friendship and hostility of its people is without any base or foundation. In other words the standard of social relations in this city is certainly the special likings, and the people are subordinate to the atmosphere of the events.
During those days the atmosphere of Kufa required that the people should tread the path of procrastination, hesitation, and selfishness, and did not demand seriousness of action, and Ibn Abbas too had not been ordered to take any severe action. He was not, therefore, harsh with Abu Musa and did not also prevent him from mounting the pulpit. In the circumstances it was natural that so long as the government house and the pulpit were under the control of Abu Musa these characteristics of procrastination, hesitation, and selfishness and egotism were quite in keeping with the taste of the people of Kufa.
At this juncture Hasan bin ‘Ali arrived in Kufa accompanied by ‘Ammar. And as you are aware ‘Ammar was the Governor of Kufa of yesterday and a friend of the people of this city. He had ruled there for quite a long time during the reign of Caliph ‘Umar and acquired successes which resulted in his removal from office!
The nature of the people of Kufa is like that of naughty and wicked students who welcome their teacher in the beginning and show him regard till they understand his personality. As soon as they realize that the teacher is a gentle, simple-hearted and good mannered, they begin teasing and annoying him. However, if they find that he is a stout-hearted and severe man, they try to win his heart and to take precedence of one another in obeying him.
The relations of the people of Kufa with their rulers were similar to this and they knew the features of ‘Ammar.
Before this time ‘Ammar too had tested the people very well. However, Hasan bin ‘Ali who had arrived there for the first time was not acquainted with the people. Only the people knew that he was the son of the Imam, the grandson of their Holy Prophet (S) and the chief of the young men of Paradise. In the circumstances the people looked at him with curiosity and appointed spies and reporters on him.
The attractive personality, dignity, and fascinating speech of Hasan drew the attention of the people towards him and when he addressed a public gathering for the first time all were stunned by his superiority .Before he began speaking, the people felt that he was a unique person and as soon as he commenced his speech and spoke a few sentences the people said:
“Allah knows better where He places His Message.” (Surah al An'am, 6:124)
When Hasan son of the Commander of the Faithful sat down after delivering his speech, ‘Ammar walked up with his hand on the belt of his sword and began speaking. In his address he explained to the audience the principles of the religion, the elements of Islam and the value of its campaigns. During the course of his speech he also explained all the qualities and distinctions and the status of ‘Ali in accordance with Islamic standards and said: "At present the people are faced with two difficulties viz. opposition to the religion or respect for the Mother of the Faithful, and now they are to be tested". He then solved this difficulty in the shape of an explicit legal problem and based his judgement on giving priority to more important over important i.e. preferring religion to the respect for the Mother of the Faithful and emphasized that in any case safety of the religion enjoyed priority over the respect for the Mother of the Faithful.
Notwithstanding the fact that Talha and Zubayr were the companions of the Holy Prophet, ‘Ammar did not attach much importance to them, because they had broken the oath of allegiance and had risen to the detriment of Islam and the security of the State. He then invited the people to receive and meet ‘Ali and said: "If you are not prepared to assist him you should at least discuss the matter with him so that the reality may become known to you. If, as a result of this, some people agree with him they will assist him and if they are opposed to him they will reproach him.”
Democracy and steadfastness in proving the truth based on absolute freedom are quite evident from the speech of ‘Ammar, and similarly the power of conviction based on reasoning, before the rule of the sword, is also clearly perceptible and clear from it.
The fact is that the reflection of these realities is the manifestation of the spirit of ‘Ali. This shows the method of contention and the policy of his government and which also displays itself in his followers in this manner.
Of course ‘Ali was a man who opened as extensive a field for discussion before the people as possible, and gave them so much opportunity and liberty of action in this behalf, that even during the present times none of the most modern democratic societies can match it. There are people who find fault with him on this account and consider this policy to be a weak one, although this very thing is the peak of his politics.
Abu Musa who was aware of the broadmindedness and extensive noble sense of indulgence and leniency of ‘Ali refrained from sending his representatives to him. Hence, in that very assembly he stood up after ‘Ammar had spoken and expressed his views before the people, and advised them to remain secluded and neutral and spend their time quietly. He also put forward before the people arguments like display of Islamic brotherhood, respect for the blood of the Muslims and refraining from mischief, and said to them: "It is obligatory for the people to throw their arms on the ground.”
With his monotonous logic Abu Musa was firm in his opposition to ‘Ali. He prohibited the people incessantly from supporting ‘Ali and impressed upon them the respect due to the Mother of the Faithful and said: "All the people should remain neutral so that the person, who has kindled the fire of war, should himself be devoured by it.”
Abu Musa mostly supported his words with the verses of the Holy Qur'an, Hadith and general principles of Islamic Jurisprudence and the most important report which he relied upon was this that he said, I have heard the Prophet, who mentioned this trouble saying: “When this trouble arises it will be better for you to be asleep than be sitting; and if you are sitting it is better than that you should be standing. And if you are standing it is better than that you should be walking.”
‘Ammar stood up before Abu Musa sat down. He began arguing on the basis of the principles of jurisprudence and immediately attracted the attention of the people. He turned to Abu Musa and said: "Did you hear the Holy Prophet (S) saying this?" Abu Musa said: "Yes. I put this hand of mine in pledge.”
‘Ammar said: "If you have spoken the truth you alone are responsible and according to this argument you should confine yourself to your house and should not witness the trouble. However, what I heard from the Holy Prophet (S) was that he ordered ‘Ali to fight with Nakithin (those who broke the covenant) and he also told me the names of those persons. Furthermore, he ordered ‘Ali to fight against Qasitin (the deviated ones). If you desire I can produce witnesses who may testify that the Prophet (S) prohibited you and you only.”
At that moment, while he was standing firmly, he said to Abu Musa in a decisive and determined tone: "Give me that hand which you pledged falsely.”
Abu Musa extended his hand. After having expressed his views ‘Ammar held Abu Musa by the hand, pulled him down from the pulpit, and threw him among the people.
Then he turned to the people and said: "Abu Musa has asked you to remain neutral with regard to the two armies which have been mobilized and what he has said is not correct" He further added: "If people act upon the advice of Abu Musa, Allah will not be pleased with them, because He has said:
If two groups of the believers begin fighting with each other, you should reconcile them. However, if one group commits aggression it is incumbent upon you to fight against that rebellious group till it submit to the Command of Allah and then reconcile them in accordance with justice. (Surah al-Hujurat, 49:9)
The Almighty Allah has also said:
Fight against them till mischief is put down and the Divine Religion (Islam) becomes firm and secure. (Surah al-Baqara, 2: 19)
O people! Ponder carefully and say as to which of these Divine verses conforms to the false and deceitful suggestions of Abu Musa. Allah will not be pleased with you unless you stand up and enquire about the rebellious group and fight against the rebels till right returns to the appropriate authority, unity of purpose is established and trouble is eliminated.
O people! Ask Abu Musa as to who has created this trouble. Did the public not take oath of allegiance to ‘Ali and is this oath not binding upon all the Muslims? Did not Talha and Zubayr, who have deluded the Mother of the Faithful and are dissuading the people by her means from paying attention to truth and are, defrauding them, take oath of allegiance to ‘Ali? Are not these two persons committing breach of covenant? Has ‘Ali created trouble and started a quarrel that he should deserve to be removed from office? Is ‘Ali a man who should be put on trial on account of sin?
Ask Abu Musa these questions and also demand proof from him so that his fraud and deceit may be revealed to you. Then rise according to the Command of Allah to administer justice and to support your Imam and leader. May Allah bless you!
O people of Kufa! If previously news about us reached you from a far now you can see our condition from near. What I mean to say is that the murderers of ‘Uthman don't regret before the people what they have done and don't apologize. They don't also deny their act. Although I didn't participate in this act personally but I must say that I didn't hate this occurrence. Those who have killed ‘Uthman have made the Book of Allah the judge and arbiter between themselves and those who have raised a hue and cry in connection with the murder of ‘Uthman and have resorted to discussions and disputes. The Book of Allah contains orders regarding the life of those who are alive and the death of those who are dead, which should be acted upon: In this way those who are pursuing the path of dispute should desist from rebellion. A court should then be set up for the solution of the problem.
Now as regards Talha and Zubayr, they have broken their allegiance to their Imam and leader without his having created any mischief.
This is Hasan, son of the Prophet's daughter. All of you know him. He seeks your help and ‘Ali, the Commander of the Faithful ‘Ali will also be arriving soon accompanied by a number of the Muhajirs and the Ansar who fought in the Battle of Badr. Rise and make haste to assist him so that Allah may make you victorious.”
‘Ammar did not become quiet till he acquired mastery over the intellects and sentiments of the people and held the reins of their thinking and will in his own hands. In spite of this Abu Musa did not despair and began speaking again hoping to defeat ‘Ammar by means of conversation and discussion. However, as soon as he started his speech, Zayd bin Sohan broke the calmness of the assembly and said: "O Abdullah bin Qays! (Abu Musa's first name) Do you want to turn back the waves of the river Euphrates? Refrain from discussing a matter with which you are not conversant".
At this time Shith bin Rabi'i and some members of Taym tribe who were the supporters of Abu Musa were cross. Then Qays bin Sa'd and the judge Sharih spoke one after the other.
Thereafter voices were raised in support of ‘Ammar from all sides and a smaller number of persons supported Abu Musa. Consequently Abu Musa was obliged to leave the assembly and proceed to his official residence.
Abu Musa, who had abandoned speaking any more in the public gathering, went to his house and having placed a pulpit there continued his invitation in favour of the Mother of the Faithful A’isha and preventing the people from supporting and assisting ‘Ammar.
The persons present in the masjid encircled Hasan, ‘Ammar and their companions, In the meantime the news was received that Abu Musa had placed a pulpit in his palace and was busy addressing the people. Thereupon Hasan, ‘Ammar and their companions went to the palace.
During this conflict when the people had crowded and a new hue and cry had a risen someone said loudly: "Here comes Ashtar!" Ashtar came. On hearing the voice and becoming informed of his arrival the guardsmen of the palace went to Abu Musa and told him that Ashtar had arrived.
The person who had seen Ashtar said: "On hearing this news the colour of poor Abu Musa's face changed on account of acute anxiety, and the saliva in his mouth became dry, so much so that he gave himself up completely. At that moment he dismounted the pulpit in great fear, and his head fell down in such a way that the onlookers thought that he was crawling on the ground”.
‘Ali had sent Ashtar in order to suppress the disturbances, because he was receiving news regularly.
The moment Ashtar arrived and Abu Musa was dismounting the pulpit on account of his fear, Ashtar said to him loudly: "O donkey! Have you still not given up braying? When the Commander of the Faithful has issued orders regarding your dismissal what are you doing here? Get out. You have no longer any right to stay here even for a moment.”
Poor Abu Musa requested Ashtar for time to stay on in Kufa for one more night so that he might settle his affairs and then go away.
The vulgar and roguish people thought of availing themselves of the opportunity afforded by the dismissal of Abu Musa and planned to attack and plunder his property. However, Ashtar stopped them and said: "It is sufficient that you are driving him away from here.”
With the going away of Abu Musa the conditions in Kufa calmed down and order was restored.
Volunteers joined one another in the shape of military columns and a well-equipped army was formed whose rows marched in an organized manner under the standard of guidance and order.
‘Ammar was one of the standard-bearers of the Battle of the Camel. The day of the Battle of the Camel was interesting in one respect, and frightening and dreadful in another. In this battle ‘Ali selected ‘Ammar as the commander of the cavalry. ‘Ammar proceeded to organize a part of the army in accordance with the programme of the Alavi military technique and led the cavalry like a formidable thunderbolt with a special pride of faith which acquired strength from the Battle of Badr.
In this troop there could be found no man, who should be ready to fight with as much joy and mirth as ‘Ammar.
Breaches or weak point could often be seen in some parts of the military troop of ‘Ali but the front of ‘Ammar was more lofty and elevated than surging of the sea.
With the strength of constancy and steadfastness peculiar to him, ‘Ammar strengthened all sides of the organization related to his army and then gave orders for an attack. As a result of careful arrangement and the discipline maintained by him the army under his command gained complete victory over the opponents.
The army of the Mother of the Faithful possessed the strength of party spirit only and had not other support, whereas in the Army of ‘Ali a greater power was available in the shape of spirituality and godliness and ‘Ammar was one of the manifestations of these established realities. For was ‘Ammar not the same martyr who was to be killed at the hands of a rebellious group?
One of the wonderful points which deserve notice in connection with this battle is the following incident: At one of the critical moments of the battle, ‘Ali was occupying the seat of command and was issuing orders when sleep overtook him. And at that very moment both the wings of his army were attacked and the enemy made breaches in them.
Hayyan bin Jahin came to inform ‘Ali of the impending danger and wondered to see that at that critical moment the Supreme Commander was feeling sleepy.
While relaxing the Supreme Commander was soliloquising and calling Allah to witness regarding his innocence with regard to that mischief (Battle of the Camel) and the one relating to ‘Uthman.
After uttering these words he girded his loins, entered the battlefield, attacked the enemy forces and strengthened the two wings of his army which had sustained injuries and then returned to his camp.
As he was feeling thirsty at the time of his return he asked for water. The sentinel posted at the seat of command did not give him water keeping in view his fatigue and thirst, and need to safeguard his health, but instead of it supplied him with some honey to suck.
While sucking the honey ‘Ali asked: "Nephew! Is this honey of yours from Ta 'if?”
The man who presented the honey says: "I wondered at the sensitiveness of the taste, presence of sense and concentration of the thoughts of the Commander who could distinguish between the honey of Ta 'if and other places when he had just then returned from the battlefield and was tired and thirsty!"
In reply to his expression of wonder the Commander of the Faithful said: "Son! Don't wonder. I swear by Allah that it has not happened so far that something should occupy the thoughts of your uncle or that he should be frightened of something"
Then he began fighting again and within a short time the army of 'the camel' retreated and the camel on whose saddle the standard had been hoisted fell down on the ground and the standard also fell down along with it. At that moment the adherents and sentinels of the camel also scattered and some relatives (of ‘Uthman) including Marwan bin Hakam and Amr bin ‘Uthman were taken prisoners.
The first person who reached by the side of the fallen camel was ‘Ali and after him ‘Ammar, Malik Ashtar, Muhammad bin Abi Bakr and some other brave men reached there.
At this moment the proclaimer of the Commander of the Faithful announced the end of the battle of Islam and said: "None is entitled to pursue a fugitive or to attack a wounded person or to tear a curtain.”
These announcements were not mere moral directions but were legal orders. They provided a correct view of the logic and conduct of ‘Ali and were a part of his plan in the matter of executive powers and organization of the State and protection of the higher interests of Islam and were expressed and acted upon with perfect gentleness and leniency and without subjecting the people to hardship or duress.
Unfortunately this intelligent viewpoint made the actual matter dubious for the people, because in spite of the expression of this view they did not understand the real limits of the matter. According to custom it was rumoured that: "The blood, property and women of the combatants are recognized to be lawful" and the people did not know the solution of this problem.
The ambiguous irrational and tingling voice of the people reached the ears of ‘Ammar and there was a strong probability that he knew the solution of the problem. And as we have heard and seen in connection with ‘Ammar's debate and discussion with Muhammad bin Muslima Ansari as to what extent he was conversant with the elements and principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, he could not also be accused of lack of knowledge in the present case. However, he wished that ‘Ali should solve this problem. He, therefore, approached ‘Ali and said: "O Commander of the Faithful! Accord permission that the persons who have been taken prisoners in the Battle of the Camel may be killed.”
The Commander of the Faithful replied: "I am not going to kill the people of the Qibla”.
As you are aware ‘Ammar knew the difference between a Muslim who had understood the elements of Islam and one who offered prayers but was faced with anxiety and agitation in connection with these elements, and possibly he did not show any kind sentiments and love for such worshippers till that moment. However, the point at issue was that he considered that law, about the correctness of which he had not doubt, to be sufficient for himself but in order that the position might become clear to others he considered it necessary that the requisite declaration should be made by the competent authority. However, there were persons whose knowledge of legal matters was lesser than that of ‘Ammar and who did not content themselves with the judgement.
It was for this reason that ‘Ali explained the philosophy of this order to them, but it was difficult for them to comprehend it and they could not analyse the matter. ‘Ali, therefore, acted leniently with them so that he might find a perceptible reality to serve as a means of giving them a convincing reply. Hence he said to them: "Draw lots and every one of you should take his share of the booty accordingly.”
When they got ready to divide the booty the Commander of the Faithful said to them: "Your mother A’isha has now become a prisoner. Who from amongst you is agreeable that she should fall to his share?"
All of them said: "We ask Allah to forgive us.”
‘Ali said: "I also seek His forgiveness.”
It was then that all of them realized the position.
- 1. Na'thal was an old Jew whose countenance and beard resembled those of ‘Uthman. For this reason the Mother of the Faithful Ayesha used to liken ‘Uthman to him. During the days when the conditions were disturbed owing to the people being unhappy with ‘Uthman's administration and ‘Uthman did not comply with the wishes of the Mother of the Faithful, she said to the people: "Kill Na'thal".
- 2. Abu Musa, the Governor of Kufa, is known as agent of Ashtar because Ashtar settled in Kufa and gave Abu Musa the governorship of Kufa and ‘Uthman supported him.