The Brother of the Prophet Muhammad: Imam ‘Ali

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The text analyzes in details the political-religious place of Imam Ali in Islam, his spiritual relationship to the Prophet Muhammad and his contribution in establishing the Islamic State and the spread of the Faith of Islam; it discusses him as a Caliph and as a statesman, and also what was said about his policy and statesmanship and the causes which led to the accumulations of the difficulties which prevented him from reaching a peaceful and more lasting rule during the days of his caliphate. Finally the book discusses the caliphate as a religious-political system and the kind of caliphate which is consonant with the nature of the Islamic message.

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The Brother of the Prophet Muhammad: Imam ‘Ali Author: Imam Mohamad Jawad Chirri Publisher: Islamic Center of America (September 1, 1982) ISBN-10: 0942778006 ISBN-13: 978-0942778007
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Distinguished Benefactors

Thanks are due to the following contributors who were mainly responsible for defraying the initial expense of publishing this book and the author's newly published Arabic book Ameer Al-Mumineen (The Leader of the Believers)

Mr. Muhammad James Agemy (Michigan City Indiana) Mr. Haidar Alawan (Cleveland Ohio) Mr. Abdullah Aossey (Cedar Rapids Iowa) Mr Muhammad M. Cheikh (Toledo Ohio) Dr A. S. Hashim (Bethesda Maryland) Mr. Ibrahim Sharif Joseph (Toledo Ohio) Dr. ‘Ali Khezri (Okemos Michigan) Mr. Kamil Mansour (Carl Eastman) (Toms River N.J.) Dr. S. Mehellatti (Silver Spring Maryland) Mr. Harold Samhat (Troy Michigan) Mr. Nazim Yazbak (Michigan City Indiana)

Only unusually noble spirited men as those listed above would achieve what normally takes a whole community to accomplish.

Acknowledgments

My genuine thanks to the three following intellectuals: Mr. Hussein Hakim (Michigan City Indiana) Mr. William Leslie (Dearborn Heights Michigan) Dr. Abid Marayati (Toledo Ohio) I do not find adequate words to express my deep appreciation of their selfless and tremendous contributions in polishing sentences and correcting words in this book.

About The Author

Imam Mohamad Jawad Chirri is a native of Lebanon and a graduate of the distinguished religious institute of Najaf in Iraq. He is an Islamic theologian lecturer historian and author. He is the host of a weekly radio program called "Islam In Focus" broadcast by WNIC. From his published books are:

• Muslim Practice.

• Islamic Teaching.

Imam Hussein Leader of the Martyrs Inquiries About Islam (Thousands of American libraries acquired this book.) "Al-Khilafatu Fi Al-Dustour Al-Islami" (The Caliphate in The Islamic Constitution-Arabic.) "Ameer Al-Munineen" (The Leader of Believers-Arabic.)

Imam Chirri was invited by the Detroit Muslim Community to be their spiritual leader. He was instrumental in constructing the Islamic Center of Detroit one of the largest Islamic institutes in North America. He is currently the Director of this Center.

Imam Chirri's work was extended to West Africa. While on a lecture tour in 1958 he was able to induce the Lebanese community in Sierra Leone to build a children's hospital as a present to the natives of that country.

During a visit to the Middle East in 1959 the author dealt with an old Islamic problem and succeeded in finding its solution. For over a thousand years the Muslims were divided into Sunnites and Shi’ites (neither of the two sides was recognizing the soundness of the teachings of the other) in spite of the agreement of both Schools on all the teaching of the Holy Qur'an and the authentically reported hadiths of the Holy Prophet Muhammad.

The author met the late Sheikh Al-Azhar Sheikh Mahmood Shaltut on July 1 1959. He discussed with him the important issue. At the conclusion of the discussion Sheikh Shaltut acknowledged the soundness of the Islamic Shi’ite Jaafari School. The author requested him to declare equality between the Shi’ite Jaafari and Sunnite Schools. The Declaration was broadcast and published on July 7 1979. This Declaration was historical and the first of its kind since the separation of the two Schools.

The spirit of true Islamic brotherhood can prevail only by mutual understanding among the various Islamic Schools. It is with this in mind that the author presents this book The Brother of the Prophet Muhammad. Needless to say that the arguments among various Islamic Schools revolve mainly around the history of this great Imam. A true understanding of his position in Islam is bound to lead the Muslims to a more genuine brotherhood.

Introduction

Americans who know Islam and Muslims are relatively few and those who know the plurality of the Islamic Schools of Thought and that there are among the Muslims Sunnites and Shi’ites are fewer.

However the events of the Iranian Revolution which took place in 1978-79 put the news of the Muslims in general and the Shi’ite Muslims in particular on the front pages of the Western and Eastern press.

This is because the Shi’ite Muslims are the absolute majority among the Muslims in Iran. The American press spoke of the Shi’ites briefly and many times inaccurately. This reconfirmed my conviction for the need of an English book dealing with the Islamic Shi’ite School with some details based on serious research.

Since this is the School of Imam ‘Ali, son of Abu Talib, it would be appropriate to study this great Imam and his political-religious history; for this is the only means through which we can understand the foundation of this school.

To satisfy this need I wrote this book and called it The Brother of the Prophet Muhammad. This is a title which was given to Imam ‘Ali uniquely by the Holy Prophet Muhammad who "brothered" him from among all the Muslims. He never chose for himself any other man as a brother.

The title was the dearest to the heart of the Imam; for when he introduced himself publicly he used to mention his brotherhood to the Prophet after mentioning his servitude to the Almighty. And it was pleasing to the Holy Prophet to call ‘Ali "My brother.".

The Muslims agree that Imam ‘Ali had what no other person from among the Muslims had of distinctions. He is from among them the only person who was raised by the Messenger of God since the days of his childhood. He was brought up by him according to his ethical standards; then he chose him from among all men to be his brother.

The Muslim scholars Sunnites and Shi’ites agree that ‘Ali was the most knowledgeable in the Book of God (the Qur'an) and the teachings of His Prophet among all the companions. He was the richest source of wisdom and the most eloquent speaker the greatest defender of the faith the firmest in maintaining justice and the most selfless endeavorer in the way of God.

These qualities are the Islamic criteria of distinctions for the Holy Qur'an announces that God prefers the endeavors in His way to the inactive; that those who know and those who do not know are not equal and it announces that the noblest among people in the sight of God are their most righteous.

This makes it very clear that the Sunnites and the Shi’ites do not only agree on all Islamic principles stated in the Holy Qur'an or in the authentic hadiths of the Holy Prophet Muhammad but also agree on the religious and the scholarly place of the Imam ‘Ali in Islam. Therefore when the Sunnites and Shi’ites differ they do so only politically; for they differ on the political-religious aspects rather than the Imam ‘Ali's religious and scholarly place in Islam.

While they agree that ‘Ali was a righteous Caliph who came to power through a popular election they disagree on whether he was in addition to this a Caliph by the Prophet's selection. Those who do not believe that the Prophet appointed ‘Ali as his successor think that the theory of the Prophet's selection of the Imam ‘Ali is a theory of inheritance of rule through blood relationship.

Those who believe that the Prophet selected the Imam as his successor say that the belief in the selection of the Imam ‘Ali by the Prophet is the opposite of the belief in the inheritance of rule.

The Muslims also disagree on his political-religious role in the history of Islam as a statesman. While they agree on his adherence to the principle of absolute justice and his firmness in enforcement of the Islamic law in spirit and letter they disagree on the wisdom of such an inflexible attitude.

There is another important matter pertaining to his political-religious place in the Islamic history namely; his role in founding the Islamic State. This aspect was not mentioned clearly nor was it a subject of a serious discussion among the historians and scholars of history.

Since the Muslims agree on the religious-scholarly place of the Imam it would be superfluous to discuss those aspects of the Imam's life.

This book therefore does not review the history of the Imam in details nor does it speak of his knowledge his eloquence or his wisdom. Nor does it discuss his piety and immaterialistic attitude nor does it speak of his unusual performance. Its discussion centers on the political-religious place of the Imam in Islam his spiritual relationship to the Prophet Muhammad and his contribution in establishing the Islamic State and the spread of the Faith of Islam.

It discusses him as a Caliph and as a statesman. It discusses also what was said about his policy and statesmanship and the causes which led to the accumulations of the difficulties which prevented him from reaching a peaceful and more lasting rule during the days of his caliphate.

Finally the book discusses the caliphate as a religious-political system and the kind of caliphate which is consonant with the nature of the Islamic message. Therefore this book contains the following parts:

1. The Imam during the era of the Prophethood.

2. The Imam in the era of the Three Caliphs.

3. The Imam in his own era.

4. The Caliphate in the Islamic Law and the conclusion of the discussion.

I have endeavored to discover the relationship between the historical events which involved the life of the Imam and which took place during the fifty-three years since the commencement of the Prophethood to the end of the righteous Caliphate.

The reader may find that those events were connected with each other through strong ties. Thus they formed a chain of causes and effects the subsequent among them was the outcome of its precedent.

In narrating the events of that period I did not rely on only the sources from the respected books of history but I tried to add to that whenever it was possible what I found in the Authentics and other reliable books of hadith which recorded those events.

This is because many Muslim scholars rely upon hadiths more than they rely upon books of history especially when the hadiths are recorded in the known Authentics and the rest of the reliable books. I did not try to discuss the Imam as a man whose special relationship with his Lord distinguished him and enabled him to perform miracles and bring unusual events. I rather tried to discuss him as a man who is subject to rules of nature time and place who tried his utmost to serve sacred principles and tried to live by those principles and for those principles.

I hope that this book will contribute to better understanding and stronger brotherhood among the Muslims. Certainly the personality of the Imam and his history are inspiring and if the Muslims are ready to receive that inspiration it will lead them to unity.

What would be written of truth about the personality of a man who was chosen by the Prophet to be his brother would certainly be a potential for strengthening the spirit of brotherhood and love among all Muslims.

Mohamad Jawad Chirri

Part 1: The Imam During The Era Of The Prophethood

1. The House of the Prophet Muhammad

All Muslims glorify the Members of the House of the Holy Prophet Muhammad who are called Aal Muhammad or Ahlul Bayt Muhammad. This attitude is in accord with the instructions of the Holy Prophet who commanded Muslims to pray simultaneously for the members of his House whenever they pray for him. By so commanding them he actually required the Muslims to reserve a place for them next to his. The Holy Qur'an made it mandatory to offer prayers for Muhammad and to greet him:

"Certainly God and His Angels honor the Prophet (Muhammad) O believers pray (God to honor) him and greet him repeatedly." The Holy Qur'an Chapter 33 Verse 57.

Many companions asked the Prophet to teach them how to comply with this command. Many highly respected hadith recorders (including Al-Bukhari and Muslim) reported in their "Sahihs" (authentics) that Kaab Ibn Ujrah stated that the Prophet said:

"Say: God bestow honor on Muhammad and the members of the House of Muhammad as Thou bestowed honor on the members of the House of Abraham Thou Art praised and Glorious. God bless Muhammad and the members of the House of Muhammad as Thou had blessed the members of the House of Abraham. Certainly Thou Art Praised and Glorious."1

When instructing his followers on a religious matter the Messenger of God did not speak out of his human desire.

The Qur'an testifies that he only said what was revealed to him.:

"Nor does he (Muhammad) say (aught about religion) of (his own) desire. It is not but a revelation sent to him." The Holy Quran, Chapter 53, verse 4-5.

Is the Honor Due to the relationship?

It may appear that inclusion of the members of the House of Muhammad in prayers for him is due to their blood-relationship. If so it would not be in accord with the spirit of the Islamic teachings. To bestow on them such a unique honor because of their relationship to Muhammad is to advocate a family supremacy and is in conflict with the following principles:

1. All people in the eyes of God are equal for the Holy Qur'an declared:

"Surely the noblest among you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you."
The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 49 verse 13.

2. God does not penalize or reward a servant of His for the sins or good deeds of his parents or his close or distant relatives. From the Holy Qur'an:

"And beware a day on which no parent avails his child; nor will a child avail his parent." The Qur'an Chapter 31 verse 33.

3. God does not penalize nor reward a human being for what is beyond his ability and without his choice.

Being related or unrelated to the Prophet is not a matter of personal choice. None of us chose before our birth to be related or unrelated to a particular family nationality or race.

Therefore it would be very difficult for Muslims to believe that they should include Muhammad 's relatives in their prayers simply because they are his relatives.

It Is Due to Their Merits Not Their Inheritance

To dispel this apparent conflict it is important to know that the word "Aal Muhammad" which is repeatedly mentioned in the daily prayers does not include all his relatives.

Only a very small number of them are included. Had they all been included it would be a clannish or a tribal discrimination because many of them did not walk in the path of Muhammad and to place them above others is to advocate a clannish supremacy.

Kinship to the Prophet Muhammad does not mean acceptance by God; nor does it secure for his relatives a place in Paradise or insure them against Divine punishment. God according to Islamic teachings has created Paradise for whoever obeys Him and the place of punishment for whoever disobeys Him regardless of family affiliation nationality or race. The Holy Qur'an even contains a chapter defaming Abu Lahab who was an uncle of the Prophet Muhammad.

"Perish the two hands of the Father of Flame and perished he. His wealth and whatever he gained did not avail him.... " The Holy Qur'an Sura Lahab Chapter 111.

The truth is that the word Aal Muhammad means only the "chosen" relatives of Muhammad. These chosen individuals are not chosen nor honored because of their relationship to Muhammad but because of their virtues. They lived the true Islamic life followed the instructions of the Holy Qur'an and the Messenger and never parted with them in word or deed.

When God informs us in His Book that the noblest among His human creatures are the most righteous and His Messenger commands us to honor the members of his house when we honor him we infer that they are the most righteous after the Prophet.

Had they not been so they would not deserve such a unique honor and the Prophet would not have instructed us to honor them whenever we honor his name. To do otherwise would not be in accord with the Holy Qur'an. Thus by commanding us to pray for them whenever we pray for him the Prophet was actually informing us of their high merit being the most obedient to God and His Messenger.

The Record Attests to their merit

All Muslims agree that ‘Ali the Prophet's cousin whom the Prophet "brothered" and his wife Fatimah (the Lady of Light) the dearest child of the Messenger and their two children Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein are from the chosen members of the House of Muhammad and that they are included in our prayers for him. The high qualifications of the chosen relatives of Muhammad are the main reason for the very unique honor bestowed upon them.

Imam ‘Ali stood above all others after the Prophet. He was the strongest supporter of the Messenger of God. He never hesitated to give his life for the promotion of Islam.

The readers of history can easily know that Imam ‘Ali was the top defender of Islam and the most adherent to its rules.

Imam ‘Ali's attitude towards personal power and prestige was unique. Whenever he had to choose between adherence to his ideals and the pleasures of the earthly life he unhesitatingly chose the former. History testifies that he preferred to lose the leadership of the Muslim World rather than to accept a condition in which he did not believe.

He was offered this leadership contingent on his pledge to follow the Book of God the instructions of the Messenger and the traditions of the first two Caliphs in the absence of the Quranic and the Messenger's instructions. He replied:

"(I shall follow the Book of God and the instructions of His Messenger; and in the absence of specific teachings of the two sources) I shall endeavor to the best of my knowledge and ability."2

His knowledge was amazing in its depth and extensiveness.

His sermons lectures and the words contained in Nahjul-Balaghah (Path of Eloquence) testify to the authenticity of the reported statement of the Messenger:

"I am the city of knowledge and ‘Ali is its gate; so whoever wants to enter the city should come through the gate."3

The record of the other three distinguished members of the House of Muhammad Fatimah and her two children Al- Hassan and Al-Hussein shows that they were the most sincere servants of Islam.

The authentic hadiths spoke of their distinctions and qualifications as permanent allies of justice and truth. Zayd Ibn Arqam reported that the Messenger of God said to ‘Ali Fatimah Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein:

"I am at peace with whomever you are at peace; and I am at war with whomever you are at war."4

Abu Huraira reported that the Messenger of God said:

"Whoever loves Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein loves me; and whoever hates them hates me."5

Hubshi Ibn Janadah said that he heard the Messenger saying:

"‘Ali is from me and I am from ‘Ali and no one represents me but ‘Ali."6

The Messenger did not intend to distinguish ‘Ali simply because he was related to him. Al-Abbas (his uncle) and the rest of the Hashimites including Jaafar (the brother of ‘Ali) are all related to the Messenger. All of them would have been qualifed to represent him. But he said "No one represents me but ‘Ali.".

At one time Muawiya was criticizing ‘Ali in the presence of Saad Ibn Abu Waqass. Saad said to him: "I heard the Messenger of God saying to ‘Ali: 'You are to me like Aaron to Moses. But there shall be no Prophet (of God) after me.' "7

Thus the Messenger gave ‘Ali a position next to his own for the position of Aaron was next to that of Moses.

Al-Bukhari recorded in his Sahih that the Messenger said: "Fatimah is the leader of the women of Paradise."8

No one enters Paradise but through righteousness and whoever enters Paradise is noble in the sight of God. If Fatimah is the leader of the women of Paradise she must be the most righteous and the noblest woman in God's view.

Al-Hakim recorded in his Mustadrak that Abu Dharr (a famous companion of Muhammad whose truthfulness is known to the Muslims) said that the Messenger said: "The example of the members of my House is like that of Noah's ark. Whoever embarked on it was safe and whoever failed to embark was drowned.... "9

The Messenger of God commanded the Muslims to follow his chosen relatives. Therefore the relatives of Muhammad are considered to be the party of truth distinguished because of their merit and work as they rank among the most righteous servants of God.

Why were they so meritorious?

Why did the members of the House of Muhammad surpass other Arabs or non-Arabs in righteousness?

Precedents in History

To understand the reason we ought to remember that what took place in the House of Muhammad was not unprecedented in the history of Prophethood. There are many similar precedents. The Almighty God made Aaron a partner to his brother Moses in his heavenly mission. He did not bestow this honor on any other person from the Israelites. This was due to the high qualification of Aaron and in response to the prayer of Moses as mentioned in the Holy Qur'an:

"He (Moses) said: My Lord Open my mind and loosen a knot from my tongue; that they may understand my word. Appoint for me a minister from my folk Aaron my brother. Confirm my strength by him and let him share my task..." Holy Qur'an Chapter 20 verses 25-32.

The Prophet Abraham prayed to the Lord to make some of his offsprings imams of the people. God responded to his prayer and promised to make imams from his good offsprings without allowing any of their wrong doers reach that high rank. From the Holy Qur'an:

"And We gave (Abraham) Isaac and Jacob and We made recipients of Prophethood and revelation from among his progeny and We granted him his reward in this life and he was in the Hereafter of the company of the righteous." The Holy Qur'an Chapter 29 verse 27.

God also has chosen along with the relatives of Abraham the relatives of Imran and preferred them above others.

"God chose Adam and Noah the family of Abraham and the family of Imran above all people. Offsprings related to each other and God hears and knows all things." The Qur'an Chapter 3 verses 33 and 34.

Zakaria prayed to the Almighty to grant him a righteous child. God answered his prayer and the angels gave him good tidings:

"There did Zakaria pray to his Lord saying: O my Lord grant unto me from Thee a progeny that is pure; for Thou Art He that hears prayer."

"While he was standing in prayer in chamber the angels called unto him: God doth give thee glad tidings of Yahya (John) witnessing the truth of a word from God and (besides) noble chaste and a Prophet of the (goodly) company of the righteous." The Qur'an Chapter 3 verses 38 and 39.

According to these verses the Prophethood which preceded that of Muhammad took the same course. From among the offspring and kinsmen of these Messengers there were chosen persons who reached the highest degree of piety and therefore deserved to be commissioned by God.

Why Did God Give Those Prophets Such Distinguished Children and Relatives?

The Almighty God created persons among the kinsmen and offspring of these Messengers in response to their prayers or as a reward to them for their endeavors in spreading the Message of God.

Like other prophets Muhammad was given unusual relatives and offspring as a reward for his endeavor in the service of God and in response to his prayers.

He commanded us to say: "God honor Muhammad and the members of his House " and he prayed for the purity of these members on various occasions.

Al-Hakim reported that the Prophet covered ‘Ali Fatimah Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein with a garment and prayed saying:

"God these are my family. I ask Thee to honor Mohommad and the family of Muhammad." In response to his prayer the following revelation came: "God wants only to keep abomination away from you and make you members of the family of Muhammad spotless."10

Thus it was not unusual to have in the kinsmen and offspring of Muhammad distinguished men and women of the highest degree of righteousness. On the contrary if such persons did not exist among the relatives of the Prophet it would have been very unusual.

God honored Abraham Moses Zakaria and other Prophets by creating in their progeny and relatives distinguished persons preferring them above other people. Why should He not honor His final and most important Prophet by creating in his offspring and relatives some people with highest distinction?

The Prophet's Reward

The Holy Qur'an makes it explicity clear that the love of relatives of Muhammad is an Islamic duty. God commanded Muhammad to ask the Muslims to reward him for his fulfillment of the heavenly mission by loving his close kins.

"That is (the bounty) whereof God gives glad tidings to His servants who believe and do righteous deeds. Say: No reward do I ask of you for this except the love of (my) near kins. And if any one earns good deeds We shall give him an increase of good in respect thereof God is Oft-Forgiving. Most ready to appreciate (service)." The Holy Qur'an Chapter 42 verse 23.

God is telling Muhammad to inform all Muslims that the only reward he wants for fulfilling his Heavenly mission is that the Muslims love his relatives.

This is only because those members are the most obedient to God and his most beloved servants among the Muslims.

By commanding His Messenger to do so He actually commanded the Muslims to glorify the chosen relatives of Muhammad place their confidence in them and walk in their path.

In compliance with this heavenly command the Holy Prophet asked all his followers to love them. He stated that he is at peace with whomever they are at peace and that he is at war with whomever they are at war. He considered them to be similar to the ark of Noah. Whoever embarked on it was safe and whoever failed to be on it was drowned.

The House of Muhammad can be a means of unity to the Muslims. This unity can be realized when Muslims take the attitude which God and His Messenger wanted them to take toward these people. It would be erroneous for the Muslims to separate Muhammad from the Members of his House while he himself wanted to be united with them. This is clearly evident by his instruction that his followers couple his name with his chosen relatives whenever they pray for him whether within or outside their daily prayers.

  • 1. Of these hadith-recorders are the following:

    A. Al-Bukhari, "Sahih Al-Bukhari" (Authentic of Al-Bukhari) Part 6 p. 101 (in the Book of the interpretation of the Holy Qur'an)

    B. Muslim Sahih Muslim Part 4 (in the Prayer on the Prophet after the declaration of the Faith p. 136.

    C. Muhammad Ibn Majah Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 1, hadith No.904.

    D. Al-Tirmidhi, hadith No. 483, Part No. 1. Other hadiths are reported by Abu-Sa-eed Abu Masud Talhah and Ibn Masud. All Acoord with the above-mentioned hadith of Kaab Ibn Ujrah.

  • 2. Ibn-Athir, Al-Kamil (the complete history Part 3 p. 35.
  • 3. Al-Hakim, Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p.26.
  • 4. Ibn Majah, Sunan Ibn Majah hadith No.145.
  • 5. Ibid. hadith No.143.
  • 6. Ibid. hadith No.119.
  • 7. Ibn Majah hadith No.121.
  • 8. Al-Bukhari Sahih Al-Bukhari Part 5 (Chapter of distinction of relatives of the Messenger) p. 25.
  • 9. Al-Hakim Sahih Al-Musradrak Part 3 p.151.
  • 10. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p. 148.

2. Members of the House of Muhammad

Relying on the tacit agreement among the Muslims we assumed the Imam ‘Ali his wife Fatimah and their two children Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein are members of the blessed House of Muhammad. The most reliable evidence in this matter is the reported words of the Prophet Muhammad himself where he spoke of Ahlul Bayt, Muhammad or his Itrah. The reported words of the Messenger on this subject can be classified into two types:

1. The hadiths which contained descriptions that distinguish the House of Muhammad from others who would be excluded by the same descriptions.

2. The hadiths which specify these members.

Descriptive Hadiths

From the first type are the following: Jaber Ibn Abdullah a famous companion reported that the Messenger of God said:

"O people I have left for you that which if you follow you will never go astray: the Book of God and the members of my House who are my "Itrah" (close relative and progeny)."1

Zayd Ibn Arqam a well known companion ot Muhammad reported that the Messenger of God said:

"I have left for you that which if you hold fast you shall not go astray after me: The Book of God a rope extended between Heaven and Earth and the members of my House who are my Itrah. Certainly both (the Book of God and the members of my House) shall not part from each other until they join me on the Day of Judgement. Beware how you will treat both of them after me."2

Zaid Ibn Thabit reported that the Messenger of God said: "I am leaving among you two successors: The Book of God a rope extended between the Heaven and the earth and the members of my House who are my Itrah). Certainly they (the Book and the Itrah) will not part from each other until the Day of Judgement."3

Zayd Ibn Arqam again reported that the Messenger of God said on the day of Ghadir Khum:

"I am about to be summoned by God and I shall respond. Certainly I have left for you the two most valuable legacies. One of them is bigger than the other: The Book of God and my "Itrah" members of my House. Beware how you will treat both of them after me. They will not part from each other until the Day of Judgement.”

Then he said:

"Certainly God is my 'Mawla' (Guardian) and I am the Mawla of every believer."

Then he held ‘Ali's hand and said:

'Whoever I am his Mawla this is his Mawla.' God love whoever loves him and cast out of Thy favor whoever antagonizes him." 4

Accordingly the members of the House of the Messenger are the ones who possess the following qualifications:

1. To be of Muhammad’s ltrah. Man's Itrah is his close relatives (by birth) and his progeny. By this definition the wives of the Prophet and his companions from the non-Hashimites are excluded.

2. Righteousness of the Highest Degree. The members of the House of the Prophet have been described in these hadiths as true allies of the Qur'an who will never part from it. Thus unpious men and women would be disqualified for the membership whether they are Hashimites or non-Hashimites.

3. To Possess the Highest Degree of Knowledge in the Contents of the Holy Qur'an and the Teachings of the Messenger. Those who have limited knowledge in religion are excluded even if they are closely related to Muhammad.

They are bound by their very lack of knowledge to fall intentionally or unintentionally into disagreement with all Qur'an. The members of the blessed House according to the hadiths are secured against disagreement with the Book of God. Such a security cannot exist without a profound knowledge in the Qur'an and all the Islamic teachings.

4. To Be in Agreement with Each Other. When there are persons or groups contradicting one another some of them will be wrong and in disagreement with the Qur'an.

Since all members of the House are in agreement with the Holy Qur'an they must be in full agreement with each other.

5. To Possess Certitude in all Religious Knowledge.

By this the Islamic scholars whom we call "Mujtahids" who are capable of conducting religious research and forming their own opinions are excluded even if they are Hashimites (related to the Prophet).

To understand this clearly a few points ought to be mentioned: When we try to know the Islamic rules of our devotional or non-devotional actions our main evidences come from the Qur'an or from the hadiths of the Prophet.

When we find clear and specific instructions in the Qur'an about a certain matter our knowledge reaches the degree of certitude whether we are Islamic scholars or laymen. When we do not have a clear Qur'anic instruction we solicit that from the hadiths of the Messenger. Some of the hadiths are clear in their indication and reported by numerous companions. Again our knowledge through this type of hadith attains certitude.

The difficulty is that hadiths of this type are not numerous and the majority of them are reported by one or two or a very few companions. Through such hadiths our knowledge concerning the rules which we try to know never reaches the level of certainty because the conveying companion did not report it to us directly because he is not living in our time nor did he record it in a book.

A person received a hadith from a companion. He in turn reported it to another and so on. Later the hadiths were recorded in a book after they passed through many hands. Thus our knowledge through this type of hadith would be at best conjectural.

There are other places at which instructions of the Messenger have been reported unclearly or in two opposite ways. The conclusion can be drawn in such cases only by professional scholars or "mujtahids."

The conclusion reached and the opinions formed by the scholars in any of the above mentioned cases are mostly conjectural. They do not usually reach the height of certainty nor do they certainly agree with the Book of God.

The probability of disagreement with it is very high considering only one of the opinions in each case. If we consider two opposite opinions of two scholars we would be certain that one of them is in disagreement with the Holy Qur'an because the two opinions contradict one another and the Qur'an cannot agree with two contradictory views.

From this it becomes clear that the Mujtahids whether Hashimites or non-Hashimites are not included in the particular membership of the House of Muhammad. This is because the knowledge of Mujtahids is mostly conjectural and in many cases does not agree with actual teaching of the Qur'an while the knowledge of the members of the House is securely in agreement with the Book of God.

This is because the aforementioned hadiths clearly indicate that the knowledge of the members of the House of Muhammad is knowledge of certainty rather than a knowledge of conjecture; otherwise they would have parted in many cases with the Holy Qur'an.

By this we ought to consider a mujtahid such as Adbullah Ibn Abbas (a cousin of the Prophet) out of the circle of the House in spite of his extensive knowledge in religion and his close relation to the Holy Prophet. The rest of the companions who were not closely related to Muhammad nor reached the degree of knowledge of Ibn Abbas are obviously excluded.

How Could It Be Possible for the Members of the House of Muhammad to Obtain a Knowledge of Certainty in All the Islamic Teachings?" Possession of certainty in religious teachings was very possible at the time of the Messenger.

It is very logical to assume that the Prophet taught a disciple of his such as ‘Ali all the contents of the Holy Qur'an and informed him of all the Islamic laws which may number a few thousands. It is fair to assume that such a close disciple taught some of his disciples all that he received from the Prophet. These assumptions are supported by certain facts:

‘Ali was with the Prophet from the time of his childhood until the time of the death of the Prophet. He was his trusted disciple and close associate. He was his keen-minded student who attended his public as well as his private teaching.

Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein (the grandsons of Muhammad and the sons of ‘Ali) lived with their father many years. They were his close associates. They were his most brilliant disciples and the purest Muslims who resembled their teacher and his teacher. Thus we can say that the certainty of knowledge pertaining to the Holy Qur'an and the instructions of the Prophet was available and possible to some of the disciples of Muhammad.

The Specific Hadiths

Several hadiths of the Prophet named the members of the house of Muhammad. Muslim recorded in his Sahih the following:

"When the (following) verse came down (at the time of a debate between the Messenger and Christians from Najran): 'If anyone disputes in this matter with thee now after full knowledge has come to thee say: Let us summon our sons and your sons our women and your women ourselves and yourselves; then let us earnestly pray and invoke the curse of God on those who lie.' The Messenger of God called ‘Ali Fatimah Hassan and Hussein and said: God these are the mem- bers of my family."5

Al-Tirmidhi Ibn Manthoor Al-Hakim Ibn Mardawaih and Al-Bayhaqi in his Sunan all recorded the report of Om-Salemah wife of the Prophet in which she said:

"In my own house the (Quranic) verse (from chapter 33): 'Certainly God wants to keep away all abomination from you members of the House (of Muhammad) to make you pure and spotless." ‘Ali Fatimah Al- Hassan and Al-Hussein were at my house. The Messenger of God covered them with a garment then said: "These are the members of my House. God keep away abomination from them and make them pure and spotless."6

Muslim in his Sahih recorded that Ayesha Said: "The Messenger of God came out wearing a wide cloak made of black hair. Fatimah Hassan Hussein and ‘Ali came successively then he covered them with his cloak and said:

'Certainly God wants to keep all abominations away from you ye members of the House of Muhammad and make you pure spotless."7

The two following hadiths are recorded in Al-Durr Al-Manthur by Al-Suyuti (his commentary on the Qur'an)

"Abu Al-Hamra (one of the companions of the Messenger) reported that the Messenger of God continued eight months in Medina coming to the door of ‘Ali at every morning prayer putting his two hands on the two sides of the door and exclaiming: Assalat Assalat (prayer prayer). Certainly God only wants to keep away all abominations from you ye members of the House of Muhammad and to make you pure and spotless."8

Ibn Abbas reported:

"We have witnessed the Messenger of God for nine months coming every day to the door of ‘Ali son of Abu Talib at the time of each prayer and saying: Assalamu Aleikum Wa-Rahmatullah Ahlul Bayt (peace and mercy of God be upon you ye members of the House of Muhammad). Certainly God wants only to keep away all abominations from you members of the House and to make you pure and spotless."9

These hadiths cleary indicate that each one of the four is a member of the House of Muhammad. They also exclude all other individuals who were living at the time of Muhammad the Hashimites as well as the non-Hashimites from the Arabs and non-Arabs.

Members Born After the Prophet Muhammad

This restrictive statement however does not exclude all Hashimites who were born after the time of Muhammad. The first group of hadiths we advanced indicate that members of the House are to continue after his death and through numerous centuries because the members according to the hadiths shall exist as long as the Qur'an exists.

By commanding the Muslims to follow the Book of God and the members of his House and by declaring that ‘Ali Fatimah Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein are the members of his House the Holy Prophet actually placed ‘Ali and his two sons at the seat of leadership of the nation.

Thus the two sons did not need to be appointed by their father and Al-Hussein did not need to be appointed by his brother Al-Hassan.

  • 1. Al-Tirmidhi Sunan Al-Tirmidhi Part 5 p.328 (hadith No. 3874)
  • 2. Al-Tirmidhi Sunan Al-Tirmidhi Part 5 p. 329 (hadith No. 3876)
  • 3. Imam Ahmad reported it in his Musnad by two authentic ways Part 5 p.181.
  • 4. Al-Hakim in his Sahih Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p.109.
  • 5. Muslim Sahih Muslim Part 15 p. 176.
  • 6. Al-Tirmidhi Sunan Al-Tirmidhi Part 5 p. 328 (hadith No. 3875)
  • 7. Muslim Sahih Muslim Part 15 p. 194.
  • 8. Al-Suyuti Al-Durr Al-Manthoor Part 5 p.198 (Conveyed by Sayed Taqi Al-Hakeem Al-Ossol Al-Ammah for Al-Fiqh Al-Muqaram pp.155-156).
  • 9. Al-Suyuti Al-Durr Al-Manthoor Part 5 p.198 (Conveyed by Sayed Taqi Al-Hakeem Al-Ossol Al-Ammah for Al-Fiqh Al-Muqaram pp.155-156).

3. The Indispensable People

When we review in retrospect the important events involving the history of a nation we find that those events and their early evolutions were not dependent on most of the individuals and small groups who lived in those particular times. The presence or the absence of this soldier or that farmer or worker or merchant or politician did not affect those events.

Every individual except a very few was dispensable or it was possible to replace any of them with another person who could have performed a similar role.

There are of course some small groups and some individuals who perform important roles which other people cannot or do not want to perform. These small groups and a few individuals would be indispensable and the big events therefore would be connected strongly to these groups and individuals.

The presence of any of the small-role performers (and these are the overwhelming majority in every nation) in relation to the important event ought to be called incidental and dispensable. We say that the presence of such people or small group is incidental and dispensable in relation to an important event because that event could have been realized with or without such persons or group for everyone of them is easily replaceable.

As we look retrospectively at the onset of the faith of Islam and its gradual spread during the time of the Holy Prophet we find that Islam was strongly connected with the presence of a small number of individuals and groups.

It is needless to speak about the connection of the faith of Islam with the presence of the Messenger for he is the one who received the revelation carried the message and faced what no other person faced. He is the only man whose qualities qualified him to receive the revelation.

As the faith of Islam was dependent on the person of the Holy Messenger in its commencement and continuity during the period of the Prophethood we find that the continuity of Islam during that period was connected strongly and positively with three small groups who protected the life of the Messenger and offered great sacrifices in his defense.

The Hashimites

The first of these small groups was the clan of Hashim.

This clan had offered what no other Meccan clan offered during the years the Holy Prophet spent between the beginning of his Prophethood and the beginning of his Hijra.

This group was privileged with the honor of defending the Holy Prophet during those years. No other Meccan clan shared this honor. The rest of the clans had chosen to take a hostile attitude towards the prophet his message and his clan. That hostile attitude threatened the Messenger and the members of his clan constantly with serious dangers.

Thus it would be justifiable to say that the presence of the rest of the Meccan clans in relation to the development of the message during that period was not only incidental but also a negative force for those clans did not offer as groups any assistance to the Messenger; in fact they impeded progress.

Some men and women related to these Meccan clans had believed in the Messenger and offered some sacrifices for him and his message but they did that as individuals.

The groups to which those persons belonged had taken hostile attitudes towards the Messenger and persecuted those individuals because they deviated from their hostile line.

Had Umayyad Makhzoom Zuhra Jumah and the rest of the Meccan clans been absent the Holy Prophet and his message could have been freed from many dangers. The Imam ‘Ali in one of his messages directed to Muawiya mentioned the following:

"Our people (the Meccan clans) wanted to kill our Prophet and annihilate our clan. They plotted and committed atrocities against us. They prevented us from the water and clothed us with fear. They forced us to live at a rugged mountain and started the fire of war against us and the Almighty decided for us to defend His religion and fight for His sacred cause.

Our believer was seeking the Divine reward and our unbeliever was trying to protect his honor. The rest of the Qureshite Muslims were free of what was surrounding us either through an alliance which protected them or through a relationship to a clan which was ready to defend them. Thus they were in a security against murder.

"Whenever the war became bloody and the companions were unwilling to fight the Messenger put the members of his House in the front protecting his companions through them from the heat of the swords and spears."1

The Ousites and the Khazrajites

The other two small groups with whom the continuity of the faith of Islam was positively connected at another stage of the development of the Islamic movement were the two tribes of Al-Khzraj and Al-Ous. The two tribes were privileged from among the non-Meccan Arab tribes by honor of their defense of the Holy Messenger and his message after the Hijrah. Had other tribes wanted to share with the two tribes this honor they could have acquired it; unfortunately they chose to oppose the Messenger instead of assisting him.

Thus the continuity of the faith of Islam was connected to these three small groups. The presence of the rest of the tribes and clans was dispensable and less than incidental in relation to the faith of Islam in that period. For the presence of those clans and tribes had a negative effect and was fraught with dangers which threatened the life of the Messenger and his message.

Abu Talib

As we find these three small groups connected strongly with the message of Islam the history of this faith presents to us two men whose existence was indispensable and necessary during the period of Prophethood.

One of these two men was Abu Talib uncle of the Messenger his guardian during the days of his childhood and his main defender after the commencement of his Prophethood. The protection by this hero of his nephew and his defense against the threats of the Qureshites (the non-Hashimite Meccan clans) was a main factor in the continuity of life of the Messenger and his message.

The Meccan clans were burning with hatred towards the Messenger and anxious to shed his blood. What prevented them from that was the presence of Abu Talib the chief of Mecca who led the Hashimites and made out of them and himself an unbreakable fortress around the Messenger.

The readers of the Islamic history know how the Qureshite clans delivered to Abu Talib an ultimatum to stop his nephew from defaming their fathers and belittling their gods and ridiculing their minds; otherwise they would confront him and Muhammad on a battlefield until one of the two parties perished.

Abu Talib did not have any doubt that his acceptance of the Qureshite challenge meant his death and the annihilation of his clan; yet he did not pressure his nephew to stop his campaign. He only informed him of the Qureshite ultimatum and then he told him kindly:

"Save me and yourself my nephew and burden me not with what I cannot bear.”

When the Messenger rejected their ultimatum declaring to his uncle that he would not exchange his message with the possession of the whole universe Abu

Talib immediately reversed his attitude and decided to go along with the Messenger to the end. He called him after he turned his back: "Come back my nephew.”

When the Messenger came back the great uncle said to him: "My nephew go on. Say whatever you like I shall never let you down at any time."2 Abu Talib fulfilled this huge promise with distinction.

When a Meccan threw some dirt on the Messenger while he was prostrating Abu Talib went on brandishing his sword and holding the hand of his nephew until he came to the sacred Mosque. A group of the enemies were sitting there and when some of them tried to stand for Abu Talib he said to them: "By the One in Whom Muhammad believes if anyone from you stands up I will hit him with my sword." Then he went on putting dirt on their faces and beards.3

The Qureshite clans formed a strong alliance against Abu Talib and his clan and resorted to the weapon of starvation instead of confrontation. They knew that the Hashimites would fight if fought; and that they could not be annihilated without costing their adversaries great losses.

Thus the Meccan clans imposed an economical and social embargo against the Hashimites. This continued for three years during which time the Hashimites were forced to live at a rugged mountain called "Shi-ab Abu Talib." The Hashimites during that period were forced sometimes to eat leaves of trees to alleviate the pains of hunger.

During that period the main concern of the old hero was to protect the life of the Messenger. Abu Talib during those years often made some members of his own family (especially his son ‘Ali) lie at the bed of the Holy Prophet protecting him by his dearest son from danger of assassination.

Islam of Abu Talib

A number of historians and hadith-recorders reported that Abu Talib died while he was a pagan. Some of them reported that the verse "It is not permissible to the Prophet and the believers to ask God to forgive the pagans even if they were akin to them after it became clear to them that those pagans are from the people of Hell " was revealed in relation to Abu Talib for the Prophet wanted to ask God to forgive him and the Almighty prohibited him from doing that.

Such statements were fabricated as a part of the smear campaign which the Umayyads and their allies waged against Imam ‘Ali. They tried by fabricating these hadiths to prove to the masses of the people that Abu Sufyan father of Muawiya was better than Abu Talib father of ‘Ali claiming that Abu Sufyan died while he was a Muslim and Abu Talib died while he was a pagan.

The recorders of the hadiths and the historians took these hadiths without paying attention to the evidence of their forgery. They did not try to examine these hadiths yet the date of the revelation of the above mentioned verse testifies that it was not revealed about a matter pertaining to Abu Talib.

The verse is a part of the chapter of Bara’ah (number 9). This chapter is totally Medinite with the exception of the last two verses (129 and 130). The verse which is the subject of our discussion is the 114th. The chapter of Bara-ah was revealed during the ninth year after the Hijrah. The Prophet ordered Abu Bakr to announce the first part of it during the days of pilgrimage of that year when he sent him as an "Amir Al-Hajj" (commander of the pilgrimage).

Then he sent ‘Ali to take that part from him and announce it because God commanded him that no one should deliver the revelation other than himself or a man from the members of his House. The chapter speaks of events that took place during the campaign of Tabouk which was during "Rajab" of the ninth year.

Since this chapter contains the above mentioned verse the verse could not mean Abu Talib. because he died in Mecca at least two years before the Hijrah.

Asking God to forgive a deceased usually takes place at the time of a funeral prayer. The wording of the verse indicates that for it says: "It is not permissible to the Prophet and the believers to ask God to forgive the pagans." This indicates that the Prophet was with other believers (in a congregational prayer) when he asked forgiveness for the pagans.

As a matter of tact the funeral prayer was not instituted before the Hijrah. The first prayer offered by the Messenger for a deceased was his prayer for Al-Bura Ibn Maarour from Medina.

It is likely that the verse was revealed after the Prophet offered a funeral prayer for one of the hypocrites who used to pretend Islam and conceal paganism. It is very likely that the verse was revealed when the Holy Prophet offered a funeral prayer for Abdullah Ibn Abu Salool who died during the ninth year and who was well noted in his hypocrisy his hatred to the Messenger and his adversity to the faith of Islam.

About him and his followers the chapter of Al-Munafiqoon ( the Hypocrites) was revealed before that time. Had the historians and hadith-recorders (who inadvertently mentioned the fabricated hadiths about Abu Talib's paganism) thought with some depth and logic they would not have committed this terrible historical error.

To say that Abu Talib was a pagan is to say that he was a believer in the divinity of idols. But this belief cannot co-exist with his belief in the truthfulness of Muhammad who denounced idols and considered their deification and worship a defiance to the Creator.

For Abu Talib to believe in the divinity of idols he either had to believe that Muhammad was deliberately misinforming people about God or that he was hallucinating. If Abu Talib were pagan and in spite of that he offered so much sacrifice for the sake of Muhammad he must have been insane or an unusual fool. Had he believed that his nephew was unbalanced or a conscious misinformant about God Abu Talib should have confined Muhammad and become his strong opponent rather than his formidable protector for the mission of Muhammad was expected to bring destruction and death to Abu Talib and his clan.

Abu Talib tied his fate to the fate of his nephew. He was unconcerned with what might happen to him and to his clan. He witnessed the dangers surrounding him and his clan and the difficulties that were accumulating around him because of his protection of his nephew. In spite of all what happened to him and to the members of his clan history does not record any harsh word on the part of Abu Talib to his nephew. On the contrary he offered himself and the members of his clan as redemption to his nephew.

He treated him better than any compassionate father treated his most beloved son. He told him: "Nephew continue your mission and say whatever you desire to say. By God I shall never leave you to any danger." Abu Talib was a man of great faith and strong belief in the truthfulness of Muhammad.

He lived with that mission about eleven years and the difficulties for Muhammad and for him increased in size by the passage of time. He was a man of unusual faith in the truthfulness of Islam. History witnessed distinguished companions running away when the danger grew. But Abu Talib did not run away nor did he lose his determination. He continued his sacrifice for the Prophet for the duration of his life.

This should give credence to what Al-Tabersi recorded through his channel to the Imam Jaafar Al-Ssadiq:

"While the Imam ‘Ali was sitting at the 'Ruhbah' in Kufa " surrounded by a group a man stood up and said: "Commander of the Believers you are in this great position at which God has placed you while your father is suffering in hell."

The Imam replied saying: "Be silent. May God disfigure your mouth. By the One Who sent Muhammad with the truth if my father intercedes for every sinner on the face of the earth God would accept his intercession."4

He concealed his faith and God rewarded him twice.He concealed his faith only to protect Muhammad. Had he revealed his belief in Islam the relation between him and the rest of the Qureshites would have been severed.

He wanted to maintain the dialogue between him and the Qureshites and not let it be discontinued for this could have led to an armed conflict in a decisive battle which might have led to the destruction of his clan. By this the Hashimite wall around Muhammad would fall and the Meccan pagans could reach him.

In spite of concealing his faith Abu Talib on more than one occasion made his belief in Islam clearly known.

While on his deathbed he said to the Hashimites: "I command you to be good to Muhammad. He is the most trustworthy of Quraish and the ever-truthful of the Arabs. He brought a message which is accepted by the heart and denied by the tongue for fear of hostility.

By God whoever walks in the path of Muhammad shall be on the right road and whoever follows his guidance shall have the happy future. Had there been a balance in my years I would have shielded him against dangers and defended him against adversaries.

"And you the Hashimites respond to Muhammad's invitation and believe him. You will succeed and be well-guided. Assist Muhammad; certainly he is the guide to the straight path."5

We All Are Indebted to Him

All Muslims are indebted to Abu Talib for the continuity of the Islamic Message is a result of the continuation of the life of the Messenger until God completed His message to mankind. The protection of Abu Talib to the Messenger was the main physical deterrent to the Qureshites.

I once made this statement in an Islamic seminar and the following question was raised: If God is the One Who wanted the message of Islam to continue and to spread was not He able to preserve it and spread it without Abu Talib and his protection to the Messenger?

In my reply I stated the following: Muslims believe that God was able to preserve the life of the Messenger and He was able to make all the children of Adam Muslims and believers in God His oneness and in the Day of Judgement. He could have made them obedient to all Heavenly laws. He was able to make all the Qureshite clans obedient to Muhammad. He was able also to make all people obedient to His command without creating Muhammad.

Yet in spite of our belief in all this we know that God did not do that. He did not make all people believers. He did not interfere directly to change their thinking and their belief. He rather left for them their freedom to choose. This means that God did not want to run the events of the world miraculously and through Divine intervention.

He rather wanted to run the affairs of the world in accordance with the natural means and courses. Therefore He sent revelations down to a human being named Muhammad and spread Islam through that person.

The Almighty did not choose to force the Qureshites to believe or disbelieve. The majority of the Qureshites chose to oppose Muhammad and Abu Talib chose to believe in his message and to defend him by all of what he had of men and means. This protection of Abu Talib to the Messenger was an important factor in preserving the life of the Messenger and the continuation of his mission until Abu Talib departed from this world.

To attribute paganism to a man such as Abu Talib who was so benevolent to all Muslims by guarding the life of the Messenger for about eleven years is one of the worst forms of ungratefulness. It is a reward of great favor by the worst insult.

Abu Talib was the first of two great men with whom the continuity of the faith of Islam was strongly connected and their presence in relation to the continuity of the faith of Islam was not incidental.

Imam ‘Ali

The other man with whom the continuity of the faith of Islam during the days of the Messenger was strongly connected is the son of Abu Talib ‘Ali who carried the same mission after his father's death but on a larger scale.

Numerous companions made great efforts for the sake of Islam and rendered to the Prophet of Islam assistance worthy of appreciation. It is sufficient to mention the three Caliphs: Abu Bakr ‘Umar and Uthman along with the numerous Meccan companions such as Al-Zubayr Talhah Abdul-Rahman Ibn Ouf Abu Obeidah Ibn Al-Jarrah Saad Ibn Abu Waqass Al-Miqdad Ibn Al-Aswad Abdullah Ibn Masud and Ammar Ibn Yasir.

Add to these people from the Medinites men such as Abu Dujana Qais Ibn Saad his father Saad Ibn Abadah Saad Ibn Maath and others from other communities such as Abu Dharr Salman Al-Farisi and hundreds of companions other than these. All these men endeavored in the way of God by sacrificing some of their wealth or their life or both.

If we review the period of the Prophethood and the roles which these righteous companions performed we find them indispensable as a group. Yet each one of them as an individual was replaceable by another companion to perform a role similar to his.

It was possible to replace Abu Bakr by ‘Umar to perform a role in a manner similar to his. It was possible to replace Abu Bakr ‘Umar and Uthman by Abu Obeidah Ibn Al-Jarrah Talhah and Al-Zubayr. It was possible to replace Saad Ibn Abadah by Saad Ibn Maath or by his son Qais Ibn Saad Ibn Abadah or to replace Abu Dharr by Salman or Ammar Ibn Yasir or Al-Miqdad Ibn Al-Aswad.
The roles of these companions were close or similar.

Had ‘Umar been the companion of the Messenger in the Cave at the night of the Hijrah instead of Abu Bakr Islam would not have lost by the exchange. But ‘Ali's role in guarding the life of the Messenger could not have been performed but by ‘Ali. It was easy for ‘Ali to perform the role of any other companion during the time of the Messenger but it was not easy for any other companion to perform ‘Ali's role.

It was easy for ‘Ali to be the companion of the Messenger in the Cave of Thour at the night of the Hijrah. But it was not easy for Abu Bakr or any other companion to lie on the bed of the Messenger redeeming the Messenger by his life resigning to receive the Qureshite attack which was expected to come from ten warriors supported by the rest of the Meccan pagans.

It was not possible for any of the companions of the Messenger to perform the role of ‘Ali at Badr where he destroyed nearly 50 percent of the Qureshites who perished at that battle. Thus he tipped the scale through his personal efforts in favor of the small Islamic army when the faith of Islam was at stake.

It was not possible for any companion to perform ‘Ali's role at Uhud when the companions ran away climbing the mountain not turning their faces to the Messenger while the Messenger was calling upon them to come to him. The Messenger was singled out to face thousands of pagans. No one remained with him except ‘Ali to confront the regiments which were seeking the life of the Messenger.

‘Ali faced them one after another and forced many of them to retreat until a few of the companions came back to defend their Prophet. Had ‘Ali run away as the others did and the pagans reached the Messenger the direction of the history could have been changed if the Almighty did not protect Islam and His Messenger by a very unusual miracle.

These are only a few of many events which prove clearly that ‘Ali's endeavor was a very substantial factor in bringing about the victory of the Faith of Islam and the defeat of its enemies. This proves that ‘Ali was the protective shield of the Messenger against the numerous dangers which surrounded his precious life. This means that ‘Ali had two important exclusive honors:

1. The continuity of Islam which was dependent on the life of the Messenger and his triumph during that period was strongly connected with ‘Ali's presence and endeavor.

2. The strong connection between the birth of the Islamic State and his presence. It was impossible for the Muslim State to be established if the enemies of Islam were to be victorious and able to destroy the new power.

Since the endeavors of ‘Ali had a clear effect in tipping the scale in favor of the new power at the decisive battles between the Messenger and his enemies it would be very true to consider the endeavor of ‘Ali one of the most important factors in the birth of the Islamic State.

How true the word of ‘Umar was when he said to a man accusing ‘Ali with conceit: "By God the pillar of Islam could not have been established without the sword of ‘Ali."

Unique Bravery Supported With Unique Sincerity

‘Ali's unusual bravery and physical strength alone could not make out of him a protective shield for the Messenger nor could they tie the continuity of Islam and the birth of the Islamic State to his existence. What made him so transcendent was his unusual sincerity to the Heavenly principles and his deep insight by which he discovered the unknown truths and through which his bravery and physical strength were directed to the service of the truth.

History witnessed many men equipped with physical strength and bravery. But the lack of knowledge of the truth or the absence of sincerity toward the truth made them spend what they were given of power in supporting falsehood and combating the truth; or made them self-worshippers spending all their energy for obtaining a false glory or cheap material.

Unlike these ‘Ali was an example of a different type of men whose knowledge made them directly witness the truth and enjoy sacrifices which other people found unbearable. He accompanied this world bodily while his soul was connected to the higher world. He and the ones whom he exemplified are the ones whom God had chosen to be the rulers on this earth!.

His Birth and Childhood

The strong tie between ‘Ali's endeavor and the birth of the Islamic State was not a product of chance. It was rather the product of spiritual evolution started at an early stage of his life. ‘Ali was being prepared for the unique honor since the days of his childhood.

He had the exclusive honor of having the strong ties to the great Messenger who took him to himself during the days of his childhood as a member of his own family. He directed the child's clear mind and illuminated nature towards the truth. He saturated him from the strength of his faith knowledge wisdom and purity.

At the hands of that teacher ‘Ali grew and his qualities developed. He became a mirror reflecting the lights of the Prophet.

"Abu Talib's wife Fatima the daughter of Asad (the lady whom the Messenger used to consider his second mother) gave birth to ‘Ali at the Kaaba. Thus he was the first human to be born inside the Ancient and Sacred House of God. His birth was thirty years after the birth of the Prophet and twenty three years before the Hijrah. His mother named him Haidrah (lion) or Asad. His father named him ‘Ali (high). The two names were appropriate for he was destined to be the lion of God and His Messenger as he was the highest person after the Messenger who "brothered" him among all Muslims.

"The capability of Abu Talib as a provider was below the need of his family especially with famine by which the Meccans were plagued at that period. The Prophet suggested to his uncle Al-Abbas that both of them try to lighten the burden of Abu Talib by taking some of his children. Abu Talib honored their request. Abbas took Jaafar and the Prophet took ‘Ali and kept him with him until the day of the commencement of his Prophethood."6

The Messenger and Al-Abbas were well-to-do and they were able to offer Abu Talib what he needed of food during that hard period and leave ‘Ali and Jaafar with their parents. But the Messenger chose that he and his uncle take the two children to them.

It seems that the Messenger seized upon the opportunity of the famine. He took ‘Ali to him trying to provide him through his upbringing with his spiritual food along with his bodily food preparing him to the great future which was awaiting him.

It appears that he was willing to do so even if Quraish did not have the famine. ‘Ali was the most valuable companion of the Messenger.

The Messenger himself informed us that his relationship to ‘Ali was not incidental. He told him: "‘Ali people are from various trees but you and I are from one tree."7

Of course the Messenger did not mean by this statement that ‘Ali was his relative and first cousin and that their grandfather was Abdul Mutalib because that is not important information. These facts are common place to people. Furthermore Al-Abbas and Al-Hamzah were children of Abdul Mutalib and Jaafar and Aqeel were brothers of ‘Ali. Their relationship to the Prophet is like that of ‘Ali to him exactly.

What the Messenger meant is that ‘Ali's soul resembles the soul of the Holy Prophet and that he was strongly connected to him as an extension of his personality. Thus he was from the Messenger of God as he spoke of himself: "And I am from the Messenger of God as one of two trees originated from one root and as the lower arm extending from the upper one."8

It seems that the Messenger took ‘Ali to himself while ‘Ali was still a small child for ‘Ali himself stated the following: "And you have known my place from the Messenger of God with the close relationship and the special position. He seated me on his lap while I was a small child embracing me making me join him in his bed touching his holy body and smelling the sweetness of his fragrance. He used to chew the food and put it in my mouth."9

The Prophet lived before the days of Prophethood as a world by himself. He lived in a society in which ignorance and idol-worshiping were prevalent sanctifying superstition and legalizing the unethical conduct.

Yet he was able to think of what the minds of the people of his society were unable to discern. The purity of his nature enabled him to see and hear what people could not see or hear. He lived in the midst of his society as an island of knowledge wisdom and civilization surrounded by an ocean of barbarism and ignorance.

‘Ali was destined to be a part of that independent world and to live in the atmosphere of that island without being affected by the surrounding society. He grew up as a light derived from the light of Muhammad.

His illuminated nature and keen mind enabled him to follow the steps of the Prophet living up to his principles and ideals. The Imam spoke of his growth under the direction of the Prophet Muhammad and the influence of his attachment to him in forming his high characters:

"And he (the Messenger of God) never found an untruth in my words or any wrong in my deeds. God had attached to him (Muhammad) from the time of his weaning the greatest of His angels to walk him through the path of virtue and to teach him the highest ethics of the world... and I was following him as a baby following his mother. He used to raise for me every day a banner of his ethics and command me to follow it.

"He used to seclude himself every year in Hira and I was with him while no one else could see him. And during the early period of Islam there was only one house sheltering the Messenger of God Khadijah and myself as their third seeing the light of revelation and smelling the fragrance of the prophethood."10

By that time ‘Ali arrived in his spiritual ascendance to a degree by which he became able to hear and see what the Messenger was hearing and seeing at the days of the commencement of his Prophethood. He (‘Ali) said that at an occasion which took place during the first few days from the commencement of his Prophethood the Prophet told him:

"... Certainly you hear what I hear and you see what I see but you are not a Prophet. You are a minister and you are on a good path." As ‘Ali had covered so much distance in his spiritual development before passing ten years of age it was only natural for him to add to his special position with the Prophet the other exclusive honor of being the first of the believers in the Prophethood of Muhammad and the fastest in response to his call.

  • 1. Al-Sharif Al-Radhi Muhammad Ibn Al-Hussein Nahjul Balaghah collection of words of the Imam ‘Ali Part 3 pp. 8-9.
  • 2. Ibn Hisham Biography of the Prophet Part 1 p. 266.
  • 3. Khalid Muhammad Khalid Fee Rihab ‘Ali.
  • 4. Al-Tabersi Al-Ihtijaj Part 1 p. 341.
  • 5. Khalid Muhammad Khalid Fee Rihab ‘Ali.
  • 6. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak Part 3 pp. 5-6 and so in Ibn Hisham Biography of the Prophet Part 1 p.246.
  • 7. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak Part 2 p. 241.
  • 8. Nahjul-Balaghah Part 3 p. 73.
  • 9. Nahjul-Balaghah Part 2 p. 157.
  • 10. Nahjul-Balaghah Part 2 p. 15.

4. The First Muslims

‘Ali's mental capability and the integration of his life with the life of the Messenger enabled him to think as a philosopher while he was ten years old. He was able to arrive at a logical conclusion. The overwhelming majority of the Meccans had for thirteen years refused to open their eyes to the light of Islam and prevented the Messenger of God from reaching their ears.

They could not free their minds because they took the attitude of: "We have found our fathers on a road and we are following their footsteps." The inclination to walk in the path of the ancestor was and still is the main guarantee against the change of religion. This inclination stood and is still standing as a barrier between great thinkers of Western Society and the acceptance of the Islamic teaching. But ‘Ali at the tenth year of his age took the logical attitude.

While Muhammad and Khadijah were praying ‘Ali entered their room. He stood until the Prophet finished his prayer. "To whom do you prostrate?" ‘Ali asked. "We prostrate to God the One Who commissioned me as a Prophet and commanded me to invite people to Him " the Prophet replied.

The Messenger recited verses from the Holy Qur'an then invited his cousin to embrace Islam. ‘Ali was fascinated. He asked the Prophet to give him time to consult his father. He spent his night excitedly and on the following day he came to declare his Islam.

He embraced the new faith without taking the advice of his father Abu Talib reasoning: "God had created me without consulting Abu Talib. Why should I need his counsel to worship God?"1

It is a short statement but it announces a great deal of independent thinking capability of forming opinion and depth in faith. It is a logic which is not marred by contradiction. ‘Ali loved his father and believed that a child owes his father a genuine obedience. But he knew that the obedience of the father is not absolute. It has its own limitation.

His counsel ought to be sought only when the matter is not clear. When truth becomes evident consultation becomes useless. To ‘Ali the truth of Muhammad was as clear as the daylight. And it had become the duty of ‘Ali to respond to Muhammad’s call and to respond to it immediately.

The message is new and he does not know what the attitude of his father will be toward the new faith. Abu Talib may believe in what his small child believed in.

Should this be the case it would please the father to see his son preceding him in accepting the truth. But Abu Talib may hesitate to accept the new faith and ‘Ali cannot delay his response to the call of His Lord. The Creator of Abu Talib and of his son has much more right than Abu Talib to be obeyed.

It is well known that ‘Ali was the first Muslim. lbn Hisham recorded that ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib was the first male to believe in the Messenger of God and that he prayed with him while he was 10 years old.2 It is reported that when the time of prayer came the Messenger used to go outside Mecca accompanying ‘Ali to offer their prayer then come back in the evening.

It is reported that Anas Ibn Malik said: "The Messenger was commissioned on Monday and ‘Ali believed in him on Tuesday."3

Muhammad lbn Majah in his Sunan and Al-Hakim in his Mustadrak reported that ‘Ali said: "I am the servant of God and the brother of His Messenger and I am the greatest believer in his Prophethood. No one says this after me but a liar. I prayed seven years before the rest of the people."4

Al-Hakim reported that Salman Al-Farisi said that the Messenger of God said: "The first one of you to drink from the Basin on the Day of Judgement is your first Muslim ‘Ali son of Abu Talib."5

Imam Ahmad Ibn Hunbul recorded that Maaqal Ibn Yasar said that the Messenger of God said to his daughter Fatima: "Would it not please you that I have married you to the first Muslim in my nation their most knowledgeable and their wisest?"6

How Valuable Was His Islam?

Those who argue about his being the first Muslim are not numerous. But there are those who argue about the value of his early adoption of the new faith compared to the conversion of other prominent companions whose Islam was preceded by that of ‘Ali. ‘Ali was still a child in the tenth year of his age they argue.

It would not be expected from such a child to think like a man and base his opinion on logic and wisdom in choosing between alternatives he faces. He rather is expected to adopt Islam not because of a sound thinking but because of his attachment to the Holy Prophet for he was brought up by the Prophet as a member of his family.

Had ‘Ali been an ordinary child this argument would be sound. But ‘Ali was not an ordinary child during his childhood nor was he an ordinary man during his manhood. All evidences show that he was one of the genius types of individuals who reached the maturity in their early years and surpassed the average men in understanding the truth and high ideals.

Had ‘Ali been motivated by his attachment to the Holy Prophet he would not have asked the Prophet to give him time to consult his father. The Prophet was his guardian and teacher and ‘Ali was ready to follow his ethical instructions.

The Prophet used to raise for him every day a banner of his ethics and ‘Ali used to follow him as a child follows his mother. He did not ask the Prophet to give him time to consult his father or to think by himself whether he will follow any of his ethical teachings. Yet when he offered him a new religion he asked the Prophet to give him time to consult his father.

He spent his night thinking and when the truth became clear to him he decided not to consult his father after all and immediately accepted the invitation of the Holy Prophet. He came to the Messenger declaring his Islam and uttering his wise words which neither the ordinary children nor the ordinary men can think of.

The invitation of the Messenger to ‘Ali by itself tells us that the Messenger did not consider him an ordinary child.

We did not find in history that the Messenger ever invited any of the children except the Imam ‘Ali. He used to invite only men and women expecting their children to follow them because children cannot think for themselves or distinguish between right and wrong. He privileged ‘Ali by inviting him to adopt the new faith while he was ten years old.

In fact he bestowed on him two exclusive honors: He was the only child whom he invited to the faith and above all he invited him before he invited any of the men.

I would like to say that casting doubt on the importance of ‘Ali's adoption of the faith because of his young age does not accord with our belief in the wisdom of the Messenger and soundness of his opinion. The event which we shall consider in the following chapter indicates that the opinion of the Messenger about ‘Ali does not agree with the opinion of those who argue to the contrary.

Al-Jahith and other scholars tried to belittle the value of the Islam of ‘Ali because of his young age. They ignored the fact that the Holy Prophet took him as his minister and brother while ‘Ali did not exceed the thirteenth year of his age. This took place at the conference which he held with his close relatives at his house in Mecca. He not only bestowed on him these honors but also told the attending men to obey him.

  • 1. Dr. Muhammad Hussein Haikal Hayat Muhammad (Life of Muhammad) p. 138.
  • 2. Ibn Hisham Al-Searat (Biography of the Prophet) Part 1 p.245.
  • 3. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p. 112.
  • 4. Ibn Majah Sunan Ibn Majah Part 1 p.44 (hadith 120)
  • 5. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p. 112
  • 6. Imam Ahmad Al-Musnad Part 3 p. 136.

5. Brother and Minister

During the first three years of the Prophethood the Prophet did not call people publicly to the new faith. The message remained an unannounced conversation for its announcement would necessarily lead to a confrontation with the clans of Mecca. The Prophet knew that the Meccan clans and the Masses of Arabia would not hesitate to use any violent means against him if he demanded from them to change their religion.

Yet this confrontation was inevitable and expected to be fraught with danger. The message was not revealed in order to be kept secret. It came down to reform mankind and to change the beliefs of the people and the ways of their lives. This could not be realized except by calling to them loudly warning them openly and informing them about the message.

For a new religious message or a new ideology to succeed the man of the message and his followers have to have freedom of speech and practice. Average individuals do not have the courage to embrace a new ideology when its embracement causes them to confront a society that does not sanctify the individual's freedom.

Such a society by its nature is inclined to violence and there are not many individuals who are ready to suffer the loss of position wealth and life for ideals. Just to make the spread of the new ideology feasible in such a society the freedom of speech and practice must be protected and secured for the potential converts.

Otherwise they would be too terrified to change their religion. This means that the new ideology will have only a limited success if any. Only the heroes of an unusual courage would rise above fear and these are not many.

As to the man of the message the chance of his success is very slim when his life and relative freedom are not protected though he may be a big hero. His rise above fear does not secure success in a violent society. His death by assassination or other means before establishing his religion will bring his whole mission to an end.

Thus the first requirement for the success of a new religion in a non-democratic society is a protective shield around the life of the man of the message and his relative freedom. He needs strong supporters who will be ready to give their lives for protecting their leader and his message.

If such people are not available it would be necessary to have at least one supporter of an unusual quality who is similar to the Messenger in sincerity courage and strength.

Such a person would be expected to be found among the relatives of the man of the message since the relatives are expected to be more sympathetic to him than others.

The Holy Qur'an informs us that when Moses received the Command of God: "Go to Pharaoh certainly he has exceeded the limit

“He asked his Lord to strengthen him through a minister from his own family! "He (Moses) said: O my Lord expand my breast. Ease my task for me and remove the impediment from my speech. So they may understand what I say. And give me a minister from my family Aaron my brother. Add to my strength through him and make him share my task." The Holy Quran Chapter 20 verses 25-32.

Muhammad is the final of the prophets. His message is the conclusion of all heavenly messages. His message therefore must succeed and stay forever.God runs the affairs of the world usually according to the law of cause and effect and through natural courses.

Therefore He did not order His Messenger Muhammad to face the whole society at once with the invitation to Islam because this might lead to the failure of the mission rather than to its success. Wanting him to go gradually in his invitation He issued to him a command (after three years from the beginning of his Prophethood) to begin with his close relatives. From the Holy Qur'an:

"And warn thy nearest kinsmen. And lower thy wing to the believers who follow thee." The Holy Quran Chapter 26 verses 214-215.

When this command came down the Messenger of God invited the descendents of Abdul-Muttalib (they were forty men) to a banquet which contained little amounts of food and milk. They ate and drank until they became full.

Then the Messenger spoke saying: "O children of Abdul-Muttalib by God I do not know any young man from among the Arabs who has ever brought to his people better than I brought to you. I brought to you the goodness of this world and of the Hereafter and God has commanded me to invite you to it. Who is among you willing to be my minister in this mission and he will be my brother my executor and my successor in you?"

None of them responded but ‘Ali who was the youngest among them. He stood up and said: "Messenger of God I will be your minister in this mission."

The Prophet repeated his invitation but none responded except ‘Ali who repeated his words. The Prophet put his hand on the neck of ‘Ali and said:

"This is my brother my executor and my successor in you. Listen to him and obey him."

They laughed saying to Abu Talib: "He ordered you to listen to your son and to obey him."1 Thus the Messenger of God inivited his close relatives to embrace Islam but his main purpose was to find among them a person who would assist him in spreading the message.

Embracing Islam is very important but more important is to find among the converts a person who will be willing to pay a high price for its success. And how many millions of Muslims of today are unwilling to pay the least for Islam!

Conflicting Hadiths

The two sheikhs: Al-Bukhari and Muslim did not mention this important event though it was reported by many historians and hadith-recorders. Muslim and other hadith-recorders reported an event that took place after this event.

They reported the appearance of the Messenger on Al-Safa and his call to the Qureshite clans (the Meccans) and his invitation to them to believe in the new faith. Muslim and these reporters mentioned this late event and tied it with the verse of the warning of the closest relative of the Holy Prophet. Muslim recorded that Abu Huriarah reported the following:

When this verse was revealed: "And warn thy closest relatives " the Messenger of God called the Qureshites and they came together. He addressed them in general and in particular. He said: "O children of Kaab Ibn Lu-ay save yourselves from Hell. O children of Murrah Ibn Kaab save yourselves from Hell. O children of Hashim save yourselves from Hell. O Fatima save yourself from Hell. For I do not possess any protection for you from God except that you have relations to me which I would like to observe."2

It is amazing that God commanded His Messenger to warn the closest of his relatives who were the children of Abdul-Muttalib but the Prophet called upon the children of Kaab Ibn Lu-ay and the children of Murrah Ibn Kaab who are from the remotest of his relatives. It is inconceivable that the Messenger of God disobeys what his Lord commanded him to do.

And what is more amazing is that the messenger called upon his daughter (Fatima) publicly to save herself from Hell yet she was the purest Muslim girl whose father and mother were the purest parents.

Fatima at the time of the revelation of the above verse was according to the historians either two years or eight years old.3 It would be illogical that the Prophet addresses himself to a two year old child or that he put a pure Muslim girl (who was still a minor not exceeding eight years of age) on the same level with the pagans of Banu Kaab and Banu Murrah.

And more curious is the hadith of Ayeshah which Muslim recorded in his Sahih as follows: "When the verse of warning was revealed the Messenger of God said: 'O Fatima daughter of Muhammad Safia daughter of Abdul-Muttalib I have nothing in my power to protect you against God. Ask me from my wealth whatever you want.' "4

This hadith does not agree with the previous one. For this hadith reported that the Holy Prophet addressed himself to the children of Abdul-Muttalib alone while the other hadith reported that the Holy Prophet publicly addressed himself mostly to other than the Prophet's clan And most curious in this hadith is that the Messenger addressed himself publicly while on the Safa mainly to his youngest daughter Fatima while she was living with him where he sees her every hour. It is also curious that the address which he directed to her and to the other members of the children of Abdul-Muttalib did not contain any message such as calling upon them to worship God or to avoid idol-worshipping.

Furthermore Ayeshah was not born at the time of the event. The Messenger died when she was still eighteen years old.5 And this event took place ten years before the Hijrah (twenty years before his death). Abu Hurairah also was not an eye-witness to the event because he saw the Messenger for the first time when the Messenger was coming back from Khaibar. (In the 7th year after the Hijrah).6

And more curious than all is that Al-Zamkh-Shari reported that Ayeshah daughter of Abu Bakr and Hafsa daughter of ‘Umar were among the ones whom the Holy Prophet addressed after the revelation of this verse of warning (which was revealed before the birth of Ayeshah).7 This clearly indicates that recorders or the reporters of these hadiths were seriously confused. They overlooked the fact that the verse commands the Prophet to warn his closest relatives who were the children of Abdul-Muttalib and that the Holy Prophet is not expected to disobey the order of God. What these hadiths reported is opposed to the verse itself and whatever disagrees with the Holy Qur'an has to be disregarded.

The event which the historians and many hadith re-corders reported of holding a conference with his immediate relatives is the only logical course which the Holy Prophet was expected to follow after the revelation of the verse.

The Offered Reward

The Prophet was about to come to a confrontation with the idol-worshipers. Therefore he needed a minister who had his courage sincerity and firmness. Forty men from the children of Abdul-Muttalib would be an important asset for Islam if they adopted it. But if they were ordinary people they would not be able to face the masses of Mecca and Arabia.

God will soon command His Messenger to extend his invitation to all of the Arabs then to other nations as well and they will violently resist the invitation for years to come.

Forty average persons will be terrified by the hostiles of Mecca and Arabia; yet one man of high courage will be able to face whatever the Messenger will face.

For this the Prophet spoke to them about this important goal after a very short introduction saying:

"Who is among you willing to be my minister in this mission? (Whoever is willing to be so) will be my brother executor and successor."

How Could the Prophet Make Such a Promise? Suppose all or most of them had accepted Islam at the meeting and promised him their assistance. What could he do? It may be conceivable that all of them would become his brothers but it is very hard to conceive that all of them would be his executors. And if this is probable it is not conceivable that everyone of them would be his successor.

With a little analysis one may know the answer.

The Messenger was well aware that the majority of them would not have the courage to pledge to him a genuine support of Islam. For such a pledge would put them face to face with the whole society and draw them into a war which might end with the loss of their lives. A true assistant of the Messenger must be an unusual person and the majority of the attendants were just average people.

What happened at the meeting clearly substantiates the truth of what the Prophet expected. None of them was willing nor had the daring spirit to pledge to him assistance except one person and the following years proved that he was the man for the job.

Why These Specific Rewards? The Prophet evidently wanted to follow the footsteps of Moses. Moses asked his Lord to give him a minister from his own family and here the Prophet Muhammad gathered his close relatives seeking from among them a minister. The minister of Moses was his brother Aaron.

The Prophet Muhammad did not have a brother because he was the only child of his parents Abdullah and Aminah. To follow the course of Moses he wanted to make his minister also his brother.

The same applies to the position of successor. Aaron was the successor of Moses among his people when Moses went to the mountain to hear the words of his Lord and secluded himself for forty nights. Before going to the mountain he said to Aaron according to the Holy Qur'an:

"Be my successor among my people and do good and follow not the path of mischief makers." The Holy Quran Chapter 7 verse 142.

What the Prophet said to ‘Ali many years after this event supports this understanding and confirms its soundness. Leaving him in Medina when he took his long journey to Tabouk he said to him:

"‘Ali will it not satisfy you to be to me like Aaron to Moses except that there will be no prophet after me?"8

Giving ‘Ali all the ranks of Aaron with the exception of the Prophethood means that ‘Ali was like Aaron in the rest of the ranks: The ministry the brotherhood and the succession. The statement of the Prophet at the above mentioned conference and this statement are consistent with each other and they aim at one purpose.

Why Such a Big Reward for a Ministry?

It may be said: Why should the Holy Prophet give ‘Ali such a big reward for his ministry? Is not the rank of assistant (or minister) to the Prophet a high reward by itself? The answer is that the ministry of ‘Ali is not a reward from the Prophet as much as it is a gift from ‘Ali. This ministry or assistance is a tremendous sacrifice on the part of the minister. To make this clear I would like to say that there are two types of ministry:

1. A Ministry of Administrating the Affairs of an established state. The man of such a ministry is a counselor to the head of the state by authorization from his superior or from the congress or from the people.

2. A Ministry of Founding and Establishing a State.

The minister here would be the assistant of his superior in bringing into being a state which did not exist yet or in spreading a new faith which is not yet known to the people. The mission of a minister of this kind is to carry with his superior the tremendous responsibility of establishing a faith and a state and to face with him all dangers. He would be his protective shield constantly ready to sacrifice himself for the safety of his superior.

A ministry of the first kind is a gift from the head of the state to his minister and a great honor bestowed on him by elevating him to a high office.

The ministry of the second kind is not a gift from the superior as much as it is a gift from the minister. It is a tremendous sacrifice which the minister offers continuously for the protection of his superior and for making his mission a success. A minister of this kind faces with his superior dangers and difficulties which could not be faced hy a human multitude.

The minister whom the Holy Prophet was seeking from among the members of his clan was from the second rather than from the first kind. There was no established state nor was there yet any Muslim community.

The Messenger of God was not (and even after the Islamic State was established) in need of a counselor to advise him how to spread the message or to found a state. He was in need of a person of unusual sincerity and heroism with an absolute obedience to God and His Messenger.

A person that deserves to be the brother of the Messenger of God and his successor after his absence from this world must have a soul that is virtuous enough to be an extension of the soul of the Prophet himself. He must resemble him to a high degree in knowledge wisdom and rise above self interest. In other words he must be a replica of the great Prophet.

Yes the Messenger of God was not in need of a person who advises him about the wise course he should take. The Messenger was the most intelligent and the wisest. He only was in need of a minister who would assist him by his big action sacrifices and heroic work. That minister would be the recipient of his knowledge and when the need arises he will be able to represent the Messenger and sit on his chair after him.

The Prophet Wanted to Have No Excuses

One should not doubt for a minute that the Messenger of God was aware of who will be his minister before he spoke to the members of his clan. He knew that there was none among the group that had the quality of the needed minister but ‘Ali.

However the Messenger would not choose ‘Ali to the high offices without leaving no excuse for the rest of his relatives. He would not let the coming generations say that if he had asked someone other than ‘Ali he would have found many qualified persons. He would not let us wonder whether the Messenger had a favoritism towards ‘Ali and distinguished him without a clear reason. It was necessary to give the rest of the members of his clan the opportunity to make them show their attitude and to make the merit of ‘Ali evident.

The Outcome of the Conference of the House of The Prophet

The conference to which the Messenger called the children of Abdul-Muttalib produced a unique pact; history

has never witnessed its like nor has it witnessed its equal in nobility and high aim. It is a covenant between the final Prophet of God the Conveyor of the Message of the Heaven and his minister ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib who at the time of the covenant was not above the thirteenth year of his age.

The substance of the covenant was two items:

1. A pledge on the part of ‘Ali to the Prophet to be his minister in fulfilling his great mission.

2. A promise by the Holy Prophet put in a form of a declaration in which he told the members of his clan while his hand was on ‘Ali's head: "This is my brother my executor and my successor in you. Listen to him and obey him."

It is worthy to note that the Messenger fulfilled his promise immediately at the conference. He did not wait for ‘Ali to fulfill his pledge. The Prophet put his promise in a form of an immediate reward to his minister. He declared while he was still at the conference that ‘Ali was his brother and made him his executor and successor.

He did not wait for ‘Ali to fulfill his pledge because he knew that ‘Ali's word carried its full meaning and that his word and his deed were united and never would contradict each other. ‘Ali put himself at the disposal of the Messenger from the minute he uttered his pledge. Several years elapsed before the Holy Prophet needed ‘Ali's immediate assistance.

‘Ali's father was still alive and strong guarding the life of the Messenger; and the believers were not yet permitted by God to fight their adversaries. Also the danger against the Holy Prophet had not reached its peak.

The dangerous hour came ten years after the conference and after Abu Talib departed from this world. The Meccan chiefs in their "Nadwa" (club) conferred and decided to bring to an end the life of the Messenger by assassination.

The Prophet called upon his minister to start fulfilling his pledge. Thus the night of redemption came and ‘Ali was the redeemer of the Messenger and his Trustee.

‘Ali pronounced his word while he knew the magnitude of the mission in which he pledged to assist the Prophet.

He was fully aware that due to its magnitude the mission seemed to be impossible. The mission aimed at changing the beliefs of the society and its ways of life.

It aimed at making the society embrace Heavenly principles that do not agree with its nature. ‘Ali knew that it would be opposed by all forces in society. He knew that the success of this mission could not be achieved unless it prevailed against all adversary forces and that this required the establishment of an Islamic state based on the foundation of the newly revealed principles. Such a state would protect those principles and the freedom of their followers.

Such a mission cannot be accomplished even by a whole nation regardless of what it may muster of forces. This mission is what the Messenger was determined to achieve and it is the mission which ‘Ali promised to support by his assistance and by facing all what the Prophet will face in its achievement.

As the conference yielded this result it was expected that ‘Ali will fulfill his huge pledge as it was expected that the Holy Prophet will declare in the future to all Muslims what he had declared to his immediate relatives concerning ‘Ali.

We shall see in the following pages that ‘Ali fulfilled what he pledged to the Messenger and that the Messenger after the birth of the Islamic State had declared to the Muslims what he declared to the forty men from the children of Abdul-Muttalib.

  • 1. This hadith is recorded by the following authors:

    A. Ibn Al-Athir Al Kamil Part 2 p. 22.

    B. Al-Tabari History of Nations Messengers and Kings Part 2 p. 217.

    C. Abu Al-Fida in his History Part 1 p. 116.

    D. Imam Ahmad Al-Musnad Part 1 pp. 111-119.

    E. Ibn Ishaq Al-Bayhaqi in Al-Dalail (Al-Muttaqi Al-Hindi Muntakhab Kansul-Ummal in the margin of Musnad Ahmad Part 5 pp. 41-42 printed in Beirut by Sader)

  • 2. Muslim Sahih Muslim Part 3 pp. 79-80.
  • 3. Al-Hakim in his Mustadrak Part 3 p. 61 reported that she was born 41 years after the birth of her father.
  • 4. Muslim in his Sahih Part 3 pp. 79-80.
  • 5. Ibn Sa’d Al-Tabaqat Part 8 p. 61.
  • 6. Al-Tabaqat Part 4 p. 327.
  • 7. ‘Ali Ibn Burhanuddeen Al-Halabi Al-Seerat Al-Halayah (Bio- graphy of the Prophet) Part 1 p. 321.
  • 8. Muslim in his Sahih Part 15 p. 175; Al-Bukhari reported it in his Sahih Part 5.

6. The Redeemer

The rapid increase of the number of Muslims in Medina heartened the Medinites and encouraged them to invite the Prophet to move to their city pledging to defend him with all their power. Upon this pledge the Holy Prophet accepted their invitation. The Meccan pagans knew about what took place.

They conferred secretly and reached the conclusion that the death of Muhammad was the only means to stop the spread of Islam. From each clan in Mecca a strong and courageous man was selected to attack Muhammad at an appointed night. Thus all the Meccan clans would be participants in his murder.

The Almighty revealed to His Messenger the news of the conspiracy and ordered him to depart from Mecca at the appointed night. His departure while under their surveillance was expected to put him face to face with danger.

Like other Meccan houses the house of the Prophet was not sight proof. An outsider could see its inside. The bed of Muhammad therefore should not be unoccupied; otherwise the enemies would discover his departure and block the roads and search the houses to find him. But whoever occupied Muhammad’s bed at that night should be ready to die for the attack was surely coming.

The Messenger revealed to ‘Ali the news of the conspiracy and asked him to lie on his bed. As expected ‘Ali neither declined the dangerous invitation nor did he think of his own fate. He only thought of one important thing: The fate of the Prophet. "Messenger of God " he asked:

"Will you be safe?" When the Prophet replied in the affirmative ‘Ali went down to the earth prostrating thanking God for the safety of His Messenger.

The Holy Prophet commissioned ‘Ali with another mission: He asked him to deliver to the Meccans in the following days their trusts which were in the possession of the Prophet. The Messenger was the trustee of the Meccans friends arid enemies alike. He was to them the Trustworthy.

No one should deliver those trusts on behalf of the Prophet other than his trustee and representative ‘Ali.

The recorders of the hadith reported that the Messenger commissioned ‘Ali with a third mission that night. Al-Hakim reported that ‘Ali said that the Messenger accompanied him to the Kaaba (on the night of the Hijrah) to try to destroy Quraish's biggest idol.

The Messenger mounted the shoulders of ‘Ali in order to reach the roof of the Kaaba but he found some weakness in ‘Ali. He went down and told ‘Ali to mount his shoulders and he did. And the Messenger rose up. ‘Ali felt that if he wanted to reach Heaven he could. ‘Ali went up to the roof of the Kaaba.

He shook the largest idol which was made of copper being bound to the roof. When he took hold of the idol the Prophet told him to throw it down. He did and the idol was broken.1

It seemed that this mission was completed before the conspirators surrounded the house of the Prophet and that the Prophet and ‘Ali came back to the house after fulfilling this mission; then the Prophet left when the enemies were surrounding his house. ‘Ali remained to fulfill the other two great missions: Occupying the bed of the Messenger and delivering to the Meccans their trusts.

Ibn Al-Athir in his history (Al-Kamil) reported that Gabriel came to the Prophet and told him not to lie on his bed that night and that the Prophet ordered ‘Ali to lie on his bed. He also commissioned him to deliver what was in his possession of the trusts to the Meccans and informed him that the enemies would not harm him.

The Prophet took a handful of soil and threw it on the heads of the enemies who were surrounding his house and left unnoticed reciting the chapter of Yasine. Seeing the bed of the Prophet occupied the enemies believed that Muhammad was sleeping on his bed. They waited until morning and when ‘Ali rose from the bed they recognized him. "Where is Muhammad ?" they asked. "I do not know "

‘Ali replied. "You ordered him to leave and he left." They beat ‘Ali up brought him to the Mosque detained him for one hour then freed him. 2

It is also reported that when the dawn drew nigh they dashed into the house and were surprised to find that the occupier of the bed was ‘Ali rather than Muhammad. ‘Ali stood up and they asked him: "Where is Muhammad?"

He denied any knowledge about his whereabouts. Violence erupted and ‘Ali pressed the hand of their leader making the sword of the man fall from his hand. Seizing upon the sword he was able to drive them out.

The chiefs of Mecca realized that their conspiracy was abortive. The Meccans in groups went in every direction trying to find Muhammad. One group led by a tracker took the right direction until they approached the Cave of Thour.

Hearing the rumble of their feet Abu Bakr who was hiding with the prophet was extremely frightened and sweating. As they came to the mouth of the Cave Abu Bakr whispered in the ear of the Prophet: "If one of them looks under his feet he will see us." The Prophet calmly replied: "Be not afraid God is with us."

The Almighty protected His Prophet from his enemies and the historical Hijrah by which the faith of Islam and the Muslims were transferred from a state of weakness to a state of dignity and strength commenced.

The Magnitude of The Mission

Let us try to evaluate ‘Ali's sacrifice and the magnitude of his mission. When the Prophet accepted the invitation of the Muslims of Medina the Muslims in Mecca numbered about 150. The Prophet permitted or rather urged these Muslims to migrate to Medina. He did that in spite of his awareness of the new danger which resulted from his covenant with the Medinites. He knew that the Meccans would not let him depart from their city safely.

He could have kept a number of prominent Muslims around him to shield him against the imminent danger. He could also commission any one of them to occupy his bed at such a time. But he did not do that; instead he urged them to leave Mecca ahead of him and kept ‘Ali for the hard task. He chose ‘Ali because he knew that an occupant of his bed that night must have the following qualities:

1. His love to God His Messenger and His religion should be stronger than his love to himself.

2. He must be endowed with a courageous spirit that would enable him to face death for the Divine cause with satisfaction.

3. He should have an indomitable spirit with which he would not be frightened by his aloneness while facing the violent wrath of the Meccan community because he foiled their plot against the Prophet. In addition to this he had to be patient enough to withhold all information about the Prophet regardless of what he might face of torture.

It was extremely difficult if not impossible to find a person other than ‘Ali ready to perform such a role and do it so calmly without fear.

Here we may understand the meaning of the ministry and assistance which ‘Ali promised the Prophet ten years before the time of this event.

Significance of the Delivery of the Trusts

It is worthy to note that the Prophet commissioned ‘Ali with the delivery of the trusts to the Meccans. This clearly put in action what he promised ‘Ali of executorship. The Messenger could have commissioned someone other than ‘Ali to deliver the trusts. ‘Ali's survival was highly in doubt because of his dangerous mission.

The rest of the Muslims were in no danger; thus the Prophet would be expected to commission Abu Bakr or another companion with the delivery of the trusts rather than ‘Ali. Yet he chose ‘Ali in spite of the dangers with which he was surrounded.

A Miraculous Prophecy

Choosing ‘Ali to deliver the trusts proves that ‘Ali was the only person representing the Prophet. Deputizing ‘Ali by itself was a unique prophecy. God revealed to Muhammad that ‘Ali would pass the crisis safely and that he would be in a position to deliver the trusts. Had the Prophet not been certain that ‘Ali would survive the crisis he would have commissioned someone other than ‘Ali with the trusts.

Their delivery was a duty whose imperativeness compelled the Prophet to choose the surest way in delivering them. Thus it was the duty of the Messenger to choose for such a mission a person who was expected to survive rather than a person who was expected to die.

Value Undiminished

The reader may think that ‘Ali was certain of his survival and his certainty came from information of the Holy Prophet and from his being commissioned by him to deliver the trusts for this indicates that the Prophet was sure of ‘Ali's survival. If this were the case the event would lose its importance for the occupant of the bed of the Prophet would not be harmed regardless of the magnitude of the danger.

The fact is that the Messenger of God commissioned ‘Ali with the delivery of the trusts after he accepted the mission of redemption without hesitation or concern with what would happen to him during that night. It was equal to ‘Ali to stay alive or to die as long as the Prophet was safe. ‘Ali was the one who used to seek martyrdom as an ultimate goal. He believed that martyrdom is the great gain and the highest form of victory.

We know the truth of this when we read what is recorded in Nahjul-Balaghah where he speaks about the revelation of the following verse: "Do men think that they will be left alone saying: 'We believe ' without being tested?".

The Imam tells us that when this verse was revealed he reminded the Prophet of a statement he made when the Imam was saddened because he did not obtain martyrdom which many other Muslims obtained at the Battle of Uhud.

The Prophet told him at that time: "Be cheerful martyrdom is coming to you." The Prophet confirmed his previous statement saying: "That will be so. How will your patience be at that time?" The Imam retorted: "Messenger of God this will not be a place of patience. It will be a place of cheerfulness and thanks."3

The Almighty informed the Messenger when he was migrating to Medina that he would come back to Mecca: "Certainly the one who commanded you to deliver the message of the Holy Qur'an will bring you back...."

This revelation was a promise from God to His Prophet to make him survive all difficulties until he returns him to Mecca regardless of any battles he attends. Thus the Prophet had attended numerous battles while he was certain of his safety. This did not diminish the value of his endeavor for he was determined to do that even if he were not promised with a Divine protection.

This is true also concerning ‘Ali. His belief in his survival until he delivered the trusts does not diminish the magni tude of his sacrifice because he was ready to make that sacrifice and to redeem the Prophet whether he was informed of his survival or his martyrdom The history of ‘Ali after the Hijrah substantiates this conclusion.

The Prophet did not inform ‘Ali that he would survive the battle of Uhud but that did not prevent him from staying with the Messenger protecting him by himself and combating the regiments one after another and forcing them to retreat after all companions ran away.

The Almighty protected His Messenger from the Qureshite conspirators and enabled him to arrive in Medina safely where he found strength and support. But Quraish was not expected to adopt a peaceful attitude or to sleep while Muhammad was alive.

To them his very existence was a tremendous danger threatening their religion and influence. They expected his power to grow by the passage of time and that he would come back accompanying an army that Quraish could not face.

Certainly the survival of the Messenger made the Qureshites more eager and determined to kill him and more violent in combating him. They were expected to wage a long war against him and his followers.

They were ready to use whatever they had of power and influence to fight him and to stir up the pagans and non-pagan tribes against him. They wanted to succeed in accomplishing by confrontation what they could not accomplish through attempts of assassination.

‘Ali's redemption of the Holy Prophet at the night of the Hijrah was a fulfillment of the pledge which he made at the conference of the House where he promised the Holy Prophet to be his minister. The events which followed the Hijrah demanded from ‘Ali assistance to the Prophet much more and greater in size and magnitude year after year until the victory of the Heavenly message was realized.

The Faith of Islam could not have continued and spread unless the followers of Islam were liberated from fear and enabled to enjoy religious freedom. This could not be realized unless a powerful state based on the principles of the new faith is established. Such a state could not be established unless the evil forces which were threatening the faith are defeated.

We shall see in the following pages that ‘Ali was that unique minister who was great enough to assist the Prophet to achieve these goals.

Thus ‘Ali earned the two honors of being the Redeemer of the Final of the Prophets and the honor of being the executor of the Prophet (in action) whom he deputized to deliver to the Meccans what was in his possession of their trusts. Both honors were unique.

When his two missions were so successfully fulfilled ‘Ali set out towards Medina. As he arrived to Qoba he found the Holy Prophet waiting for him to enter with him the city which was destined to be the capital of Islam.

  • 1. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p. 5.
  • 2. Ibn Al-Athir in his history Al-Kamil Part 2 p.72.
  • 3. Nahjul Balaghah Part 2 p.5.

7. ’Ali's Role in Building the Islamic State

Self-determination is an inalienable right of every nation and every nation therefore has the right to establish a state and institute a national government.

Such a state has the right to unite all its people under one banner unless legitimate governments for sections of one nation had been already established. These rights are natural and no power has the right to prevent a nation or a people of a country from exercising them.

The Arab nation at the time of the Messenger was no exception. It had the right to establish a state and institute a government. This was not only a right but also the duty of the Arab nation. Yet due to unusual circumstances the Arab people in Hijaz Najd and Tuhama were living without government of any kind. There was no power to stop a public offender and enable people to live in peace and security for their wealth lives and honors.

The Arab tribes were reciprocating hostilities. No honor blood or property of a tribe was sacred to other tribes. Anarchy to them was a matter of course and no change was necessary; and if anyone thought of a change he did not have the means to realize it.

The rest of the Arab people in Yemen Syria and Iraq were ruled by foreign powers who did not have the right to rule them.

It was a duty of any new government to try to liberate these people from foreign domination and unite them with the rest of the Arabs regardless of any religious principles.

But there was no one to fulfill this duty or exercise these rights.

The Almighty wanted to deliver the Arabs and other nations and liberate them from their social political and religious anarchies. He sent Muhammad to lead mankind to the right road and wanted the Arab nation to be the starting point. Probably the Arabs were the most needy for such a guidance and should they be guided by a heavenly leader they would be well qualified to carry His message to other nations.

The Messenger tried to deliver His message and to establish a state. The forces of anarchy from pagans and non-pagans tried with all their means to prevent him from fulfilling his mission waging against him a relentless war.

It was impossible for him to fulfill his mission without accepting their challenge and meeting them at the battle field and defeating them completely.

It was the right as well as the duty of the Holy Prophet to defeat the adversary forces in order to establish a new state from a new and ideal kind.

The Islamic State which he was trying to establish was not a subduing force which ruled people against their own will and imposed itself above them. The Messenger wanted to found a state and a government in which the ruler and the ruled are equal and brothers to each other.

A strong individual or group in this state would not be respected for strength nor would the weak be deprived of his right because of his weakness. The government the Prophet wanted to establish was projected to direct mankind to the Creator of the Universe and make the nations as well as the individuals realize that He is their True Ruler.

Thus they would obey His command and obtain the projected worldly and spiritual happiness in His obedience. The Projected government would develop as a spontaneous outcome of their adherence to a set of principles which elevated people to make them live spiritually above their own human level.

Thesis Versus Antithesis

The anarchic and evil forces of Mecca and other Arab communities did not only deny Muhammad the right to establish a state and a government but also tried to prevent him and his followers from exercising their religious devotion. They denied him and his tollowers the right to live as long as they believed in One God.

These forces drove Muhammad and his followers out of their homes and properties. They wanted to shed his blood and the blood of his followers. Had these forces done nothing other than preventing him from establishing a state he would have had the right to combat them and defeat them for the continuation of their power meant the continuation of injustice towards the weak and the absence of security in society; above all that the Almighty would not be worshiped and His Oneness would not be acknowledged.

The adverse elements were the opposite barriers the removal of which was a necessary requirement for establishing the projected state. It was impossible to bring such a state into existence without destroying its opposite.

Thus the Heavenly state was destined to be born on the battlefield when the founder of the state and his followers were accepting the challenges of the evil forces one after another. Had these forces been able to prevail on the battlefield the Islamic state could not have been born or continued to exist.

Quality Versus Quantity

Muslims at the beginning of the Hijrah were a very small minority compared to the rest of the Arab forces which stood against them. They were overwhelmingly outnumbered and poorly equipped.

For the Faith of Islam to triumph and establish a state it had to have one of the two following methods:

1. A Divine intervention through which the evil forces would be miraculously destroyed. God is able to do that and nothing is beyond His power. Whenever He wants to do anything He only says: "Be and it is." However it is evident that this was not to happen.

The Almighty runs the events of the world through the natural courses. He tests the believers and they do not pass the test unless they try to fulfill what He commands them to do offering in His way what they possess of resourcefulness and power.

2. The other way by which the small Islamic minority could obtain victory was to have a superior quality which enabled it to prevail against opponents with quantitative superiority. This is what took place.

The Unique Hero

Here we find ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib next to the Messenger.

He proved to be a unique hero and a giant; mankind had never witnessed his equal in the history of "Jihad." The reader may remember that the Messenger of God gathered his close relatives after the commencement of his Prophethood seeking from among them a minister to assist him in his difficult mission.

None of the Hashimites other than ‘Ali responded to his call. "Prophet of God " he said "I shall be your minister." The Prophet upon hearing this told the Hashimites: "This (‘Ali) is my brother executor and successor.".

This event took place ten years before the Hijrah when ‘Ali was thirteen years old. During the ten years which followed the event ‘Ali's manhood reached its unequalled strength. This became crystal clear at the night of Hijrah when he lay on the bed of the Messenger giving the highest example in the history of Islamic redemption.

This manhood was destined to be transformed into a unique heroism when the Messenger and his followers accepted the challenge of their enemies and went on defending their sacred freedom trying to bring about the birth of the Islamic State which was conceived to carry the torch of guidance for mankind.

No one other than the Messenger expected the word "Wazeeruk" (your minister) which ‘Ali uttered at the historical conference to be so full of its meaning and flowing with so much of heroism. The Messenger was the only one who expected from ‘Ali all his future record.

The Messenger was the architect and the founder of the Islamic State. His minister ‘Ali was the eliminator of the obstructive forces which stood in the way of its establishment for he was the hero and the bearer of the banner of the Messenger in every decisive battle.1

The Messenger made him the commander-in-chief of every expedition he attended. He never placed him under any command other than his. Whenever he carried the banner of the Messenger he came back with an impressive victory and history. His leadership was unique in style. He was not a commander who was defended by his soldiers.

He was rather the leader who stood in the front line literally leading his soldiers. On more than one occasion his soldiers took refuge in him and he was their protector at more than one battle. On occasions the bulk of the companions ran away leaving the Messenger alone and ‘Ali stood along with him compensating him through his heroic performance for what the Prophet missed of their defensive actions.

‘Ali attended eighteen battles with the Messenger. In addition he led numerous expeditions. It suffices to mention briefly his indispensable contributions in four decisive battles: Badr Uhud the Moat and Kheibar. These four battles were truly the battles of destiny for Islam and Muslims. The future of Islam was dependent upon their outcomes.

  • 1. Ibn Sa’d in his Al-Tabaqat Part 3 p. 25.
    Al-Hakim also reported that in his Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p.111.

8. At Badr

The Battle of Badr was the most important among the Islamic Battles of Destiny. For the first time the followers of the new faith were put into a serious test. Had victory been the lot of the pagan army while the Islamic forces were still at the beginning of their developments the faith of Islam could have come to an end.

No one was as aware of the importance of the outcome of the Battle as the Holy Prophet. We might read the depth of his anxiety in his prayer before the beginning of the Battle when he stood up supplicating his Lord: "God this is Quraish. It has come with all its arrogance and boastfulness trying to discredit Thy Apostle. God I ask Thee to humiliate them tomorrow. God if this Muslim band will perish today Thou shall not be worshiped!"1

At this battle in which the pagan army consisted of 950 fighters and the Muslims did not exceed 314 (including the Messenger) the Islamic defense was a combination of three elements resembling three defensive lines:

1. The personality of the Messenger his leadership and his unequalled firmness. He was to the Muslims the final refuge at Badr and at every battle he attended.

2. The Hashimites (the clan of the Prophet) led by ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib who entered this Battle relatively obsecure and came out of it with unequaled military fame.

His military performances became the popular subject of the Arab caravans' conversations throughout the Arabic Peninsula.

3. The hundreds of companions of the Messenger whose hearts were filled with faith and readiness for sacrifice. Many of them viewed martyrdom to be a gain equal to life and victory. These good companions were the army of Islam its first line of defense and the thick wall behind which the Messenger used to stand. They were defenders and they were attackers.

As to the clan of the Messenger they were the ones whom he used to call before any one else to offer the heavy sacrifice. They used to stand in the first line of defense opening for the army the way through their thrusts in the lines of the enemies. When the general offensives began and every companion present participated the clan of the Messenger were the most damaging to the enemies. They were so at Badr and at the following battles.

The battle began when Utbah Ibn Rabi-ah his son Al-Walid and his brother Sheibah (all from Umayyad) stood in front of their pagan army and asked the Prophet to send to them their equals for a duel. Hundreds of companions were around him and many of them were expecting to be called upon by the Prophet but he chose to start with his own family.

The load was heavy and the heavy load could be carried only by the people to whom it belonged. He called upon ‘Ali Al-Hamzah and Obeidah Ibn Al-Harith (all from the clan of the Prophet) to face the three warriors.

‘Ali destroyed Al-Walid and Al-Hamzah killed Utbah; then they both assisted Obeidah against his opponent Sheibah. Sheibah died immediately and Obeidah was the first martyr at this battle. He died after he lost his leg.

When the general offensive began hundreds of companions participated in the battle. They offered sacrifices and pleased their Lord. But the members of the House of the Messenger distinguished themselves. ‘Ali's endeavor was unique at this battle.

When Hanthala Ibn Abu Sufyan faced him ‘Ali liquified his eyes with one blow from his sword. He annihilated Al-Aws Ibn Sa-eed and met Tuaima Ibn Uday and transfixed him with his spear saying: "You shall not dispute with us in God after today.”

The Messenger took a handful of gravel when the battle was extremely heated. He threw it at the faces of the pagans saying: "May your faces be disfigured. God terrify their hearts and invalidate their feet." The pagans ran away turning their faces to no one. The Muslims went on killing them and taking prisoners.

Seventy pagans met their death and the Muslims took from them seventy prisoners. History preserved in its records only fifty of the names out of the seventy pagan losses. Twenty2 or twenty-two3 of them died at ‘Ali's hands.

This battle laid the foundation of the Islamic State and made out of the Muslims a force to be reckoned with by the dwellers of the Arabic Peninsula.

However we should not overlook the fact that it took three hundred and twelve companions to achieve sixty percent of the outcome of the battle while ‘Ali alone achieved at least forty percent of it. It is not an exaggeration to say that his endeavor was a very substantial factor in bringing the battle to its victorious conclusion. Should we subtract his forty percent the outcome of the battle might have changed. On the other hand if we subtract any other single companion in that battle the outcome of the battle would not have changed.

  • 1. Ibn Hisham Biography of the Prophet Part 2 p. 621.
  • 2. Ibn Hisham Biography of the Prophet pp. 708-713.
  • 3. Al-Waqidi Al-Maghazi (Oxford printing) Part 1 p. 152.

9. At Uhud

The Qureshites came out from the Battle of Badr with an astonishing result which tney did not expect. They were confident of their capability to annihilate the Muslims easily. For the Qureshites were more numerous and with a bigger reserve and more logistics.

Yet they suddenly found themselves losing seventy of their warriors and leaders along with seventy captives in a one-day battle. And above all the resounding defeat which they received was at the hand of a group whom they used to belittle. The Qureshites were unwilling to admit a final defeat.

They lost a battle but they believed that they would never lose the war. All they needed was to mobilize forces to which the Muslims would not be able to stand. The burning hatred in the hearts of Qureshites and their desire to wash away the shame of the defeat at Badr and their eagerness to avenge their lost leaders added to their physical superiority a tremendous psychological strength.

The Qureshites mobilized for the battle of avenge three thousand fighters compared to nine hundred and fifty fighters at the Battle of Badr. This army was financed and its logistics were secured through the gross income of the commercial caravan which was allotted to the battle of avenge.

Thus the community of Quraish one year after the Battle of Badr marched towards Medina to annihilate the Muslims their religion and their Prophet. The Meccan army arrived at the area of Uhud which is five miles away from Medina. There the expected battle took place.

The Holy Prophet went on deploying his forces placing them in strategic positions. He placed fifty marksmen at the slope of the Mount of Uhud directing them to protect the back of the Muslims against the pagan cavalry (which was led by Khalid Ibn Al-Walid). He commanded them not to leave their position whether the Muslims defeated the pagans or the pagans defeated the Muslims.

The Elements of the Islamic Defense

In this second battle of destiny for the Muslims the Islamic defense consisted of the same three important elements which played their roles at the Battle of Badr:

1. The ideal leadership of the Messenger and his firmness.

2. The members of the House of the Holy Prophet and their heroism.

3. An Islamic army consisting of seven hundred companions the hearts of many of them were filled with faith and readiness for sacrifice.

The start of the Battle of Uhud followed the method of the beginning of the Battle of Badr. Talhah Ibn Abu Talhah (from Banu Abdul-Dar clan) the bearer of the banner of the pagans challenged the Muslims saying:

"Are there any duelers?" The respondent to his call was the same respondent of the Battle of Badr. ‘Ali came to him and when they faced each other between the two hosts ‘Ali swiftly dealt him a blow by his sword through which his head was split. The Holy Prophet was pleased.

He exclaimed: "Allahu Akbar" (God Is Great) and so did the Muslims for the biggest hero of the pagan army had died.

Abu Saad Ibn Abu Talhah (brother of Talhah) carried the banner and challenged the Muslims saying: "Companions of Muhammad you allege that your dead go to Paradise and our dead go to Hell. By 'Al-Lat ' you lie. If you were so confident some of you could have faced me. Let one of you come to fight me."1

‘Ali came to him and Abu Saad was not luckier than his brother Talhah. The men of Abdul-Dar continued replacing the bearers of their banner with their men and the

Muslims continued annihilating them. ‘Ali destroyed Artat Ibn Sharhabeel Shureih Ibn Qaridh and their servant Sawab.

Historians reported that Al-Hamzah killed Uthman Ibn Abu Talhah. Assim Ibn Thabit shot by his arrows Musafi and Al-Harith two sons of Talhah Al-Zubayr killed their brother Kilab and Talhah Ibn Ubaydullah killed their other brother Al-Jallas.

‘Ali and the Banner Bearers

However Ibn Al-Athir reported that ‘Ali alone destroyed all the standard bearers at the Battle of Uhud and said that Abu Rafi reported that.2 And so did Al-Tabari.

The death of the bearers of the banner heightened the morale of the Muslims and shook the hearts of the pagans.

Following the death of the banner bearers the Muslims undertook a general offensive led by ‘Ali Al-Hamzah Abu Dujanh and others. The Islamic offensive terrified the pagan army but the Muslims lost during this operation a giant hero Al-Hamzah Lion of God and uncle of the Messenger of God. Wahshi an Abbysinian transfixed him with his dart while he was fighting.

However the pagans were forced to flee and leave their camps. The Muslims entered the pagan camps and went on collecting what they found of equipment and material without meeting any resistance from the pagans.

Defeat After Victory

This scene watered the mouths of the fifty marksmen whom the Prophet placed at the slope of the Mount of Uhud to protect the back of the Muslims against the pagan cavalry. The majority of these marksmen left their place and joined the collectors of the spoils. They did not heed the word of their leader Abdullah Ibn Jubeir who reminded them of the instructions of the Messenger which made it mandatory for them not to leave their place. Not more than ten of them heeded his words. Noticing the small number of the marksmen Khalid Ibn Al-Walid and his horsemen killed them then started a general offensive.

The fleeing pagans beheld their horsemen fighting and attacking. They came back to the battle while the Muslims were preoccupied collecting the spoils.

The Muslims were astonished and confused. They started to fight but they did not know whom they were fighting.

Many Muslims were killed by the Muslims themselves then they fled turning their backs and refusing to look behind while the Messenger was calling upon them to come back to the battle. The Holy Qur'an informs us of the situation of the Muslims in this terrifying hour:

"God certainly made good His promise unto you when you routed them by His leave until the moment when your courage failed you and ye disobeyed after He had showed that for which ye long. Among you are some that hanker after this world and some that desire the Hereafter. Then did he divert you from your foes in order to test you. But He forgave you: For God is full of grace to those who believe. Behold ye were climbing up (the high ground) without casting a side glance at anyone and the Apostle was calling you back. There did God give you one distress after another by way of requital to teach you not to grieve for what ye miss or for (the ill) that had befallen you. For God is well aware of all that ye do." The Holy Quran Chapter 3 verses 151-152.

Who Remained with the Prophet?

The companions fled away being concerned with their own safety. History recorded seven exceptional Meccans (‘Ali Abu Bakr Abdul-Rahman Ibn Ouf Saad Ibn Abu Waqass Talhah Ibn Obeidah Al-Zubayr Ibn Al-Awam Abu Obeidah Ibn Al-Jarrah); And Seven exceptional Medinites (Al-Hubab Ibn Al-Munthir Abu Dujanah Sahl Ibn Hunayf Assim Ibn Thabit Saad Ibn Mu-ath As-ad Ibn Hudheir or Saad Ibn Abadah and Muhammad Ibn Muslimah).

These men according to some historians remained with the Prophet when the other companions deserted him.3 From what we read in Al-Mustadrak by Al-Hakim we understand that ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib was the only defender who stayed with the Prophet for the duration of the battle. The other companions who were mentioned to be among those who remained with the Prophet were actually the first ones to come back to the Messenger of God after they left him. Al-Hakim recorded that Ibn Abbas said:

"‘Ali has four distinctions no one shares with him: He was the first male who prayed with the Messenger of God. He was the bearer of his banner in every battle and he was the one who stayed with him at the Battle on the day of Al-Mihras (the Battle of Uhud where there is gathered water called Al-Mihras) and he is the one who washed his blessed body and laid him in his tomb."4

Al-Hakim reported also that Saad Ibn Abu Waqass said: When people left the Messenger on the day of Uhud I went aside and said to myself I shall defend myself. Then Al-Miqdad told him: "Saad this is the Messenger."5

Al-Hakim reported also that Al-Zubayr said about the Battle of Uhud "And they exposed our back to the horsemen so we were attacked from behind and a man shouted: Muhammad has been killed. We retreated and the enemies pursued us."6

He also reported that Abu Bakr said: When people left the Messenger of God on the day of Uhud I was the first one to come back to the Messenger of God... then he mentioned in the hadith that Abu Obeidah Ibn Al-Jarrah followed him."7

The Prophet Participated

The Messenger stayed at the battlefield with full determination and firmness after the pagans came up to him. He himself fought vigorously. Saad Ibn Abu Waqaas reported that he witnessed a man whose face was covered and he did not know who he was. The pagans came towards him and Saad thought that they were going to overpower him.

But that man took a handful of gravel and threw it at their faces and they retreated... Finally Saad discovered that that man was the Prophet.8 He used his bow and expended all his arrow until his bow could not be used any longer.

When the Prophet was exposed to the enemies by the retreat of his army Obay Ibn Khalaf tried to attack him.

Some of his companions tried to bar Obay from reaching the Prophet but the. Prophet prevented them from doing that. He faced Obay with a blow which did not seem to be effective. But Obay said: "By God Muhammad has killed me...." He told me in Mecca: "I shall kill you. By God if he spits on me he kills me." Obay died in "Saraf" while returning to Mecca.

‘Ali's Endeavor

Al-Tabari reported that Abu Rafi said: The Messenger of God witnessed a group of pagans coming to him. He said to ‘Ali: Charge them. ‘Ali charged them and forced them to retreat and killed Amr Ibn Abdullah Al-Jumahi. The Prophet beheld another group coming and told ‘Ali to charge them and he did. He scattered them and killed Sheibah Ibn Malik one of the children of Amir Ibn Lu-ay.

Amazed by ‘Ali's sacrifice Gabriel said: "Messenger of God what a redeemer ‘Ali is!" The Prophet replied: "He is from me and I am from him." Gabriel said: "And I am from both of you."9 They heard at that time a voice saying:

"There is no youth (full of manhood) but ‘Ali and no sword comparable to Zulfiqar (‘Ali's sword)

A regiment arrived from Kinanah in which four of the children of Sufyan Ibn Oweif were present: Khalid Abu AI-Sha-atha Abu Al-Hamra and Ghurab. The Messenger of God said to ‘Ali: "Take care of this regiment." ‘Ali charged the regiment and it was about fifty horsemen. He fought them while he was on foot until he scattered them.

They gathered again and he charged them again. This was repeated several times until he killed the four children of Sufyan and added to them six more.... 10 Ibn Hisham reported that the Messenger fell into one of the pits which were excavated and covered up by Abu Amir who expected the Muslims to fall in them. The knee of the Messenger was cut. ‘Ali held the hand of the Messenger and pulled him up and Talhah Ibn Ubaydullah helped him until the Prophet stood up.11

Muslim in his "Sahih" (Authentic) reported that Sahl Ibn Saad said the following: "The face of the Messenger was cut and one of his teeth was broken and the protective dress of his head was broken. Fatima daughter of the Messenger was washing the blood and ‘Ali was pouring water he brought by his shield from Al-Mihras. Beholding that the water increased the flow of blood she burned a mat put some of its ashes on the wound and the blood stopped."12

The Conclusion

It would not be difficult for the reader to infer the following:

1. The Battle of Uhud was one of the battles on which the future of Islam depended.

2. The death of the bearers of the banners of the pagan army at the beginning of the battle had its important effect in raising the morale of the Muslims and breaking the morale of the pagans who were four times more numerous than the Muslims. The bearers of the banners in the eyes of the warriors in those days were the leaders of the army. Their death had a great effect on the morale of the army.

History recorded that Abu Sufyan said to Banu Abdul-Dar: "O Banu Abdul-Dar we recognize that you have more right than any other Meccan clan to carry the banner (because the Meccan tradition gives the clan of Abdul-Dar the right to carry the banner at war). We were defeated in Badr because of the banner. Hold your banner firmly and protect it or hand it to us." This infuriated the clan of Abdul-Dar. As they refused to surrender their right of carrying the banner

Abu Sufyan said: "Let another banner be added to it." They said: "Yes but the additional banner will be carried also by a man from Banu Abdul-Dar and nothing other than this will be accepted."

The Meccan pagans witnessed at the beginning of the battle their banner fallen ten times and their hearts fell with the banner ten times. They found to their astonishment that they are facing a tremendous power. ‘Ali was the one who destroyed the banner bearers or most of them.

This signalled the defeat of the Meccan army in the first round.

3. When the Muslims were defeated in the second round no one remained with the Prophet except ‘Ali and thirteen others of the companions of the Messenger. These thirteen were the first to come back to the Messenger after their flight. It is clear that ‘Ali's defense in that decisive hour was much more valuable than the defense of the thirteen companions put together.

The Messenger of God became the target of the pagan's attacks. Whenever a regiment aimed at the Prophet ‘Ali charged the regiment and forced it to retreat.

Thus we would not be erroneous if we say that ‘Ali in this decisive battle had the exclusive honor of being the main defender of the Messenger and his Message against the forces which no one other than ‘Ali could face successfully. The Battle of Badr laid the foundation of the Islamic state but the Battle of Uhud was about to destroy the foundation had not a small number of heroes headed by ‘Ali been present.

The pagans found that the Battle of Uhud ended in their favor. They defeated the army of the Prophet and the Muslims lost seventy companions among them the giant hero: Al-Hamzah uncle of the Messenger and Lion of God. But the pagan victory was not decisive.

Their target was Muhammad and Muhammad was still alive. He was the biggest danger to them. Therefore it was necessary for them to have another decisive battle in which they would realize the goal that they could not realize at the Battle of Uhud.

The Battle of Uhud took place during the third year after the Hijrah. Two years later the third decisive battle in which the pagans gathered their biggest task force took place.

  • 1. Dr. M. Haykal Life of Muhammad p. 289.
  • 2. Ibn Al-Athir. Al-Kamil. Part 3 p. 107.
  • 3. Al-Waqidi Al-Maghazi (conveyed by Ibn Abu Al-Hadid in his Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah Vol. 3 p. 388)
  • 4. Al-Hakim in his Al-Mustadrak, Part 3, p.111.
  • 5. Al-Hakim recorded it in Al-Mustadrak, Part 3, pp. 26-28.
  • 6. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak, Part 3, pp.27-28.
  • 7. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p.78.
  • 8. This is reported also by Ibn Hisham in his Biography of the Prophet Part 2 p.78.
  • 9. Sayed Muhsin Al-Ameen in his Aayan Al-Shi-ah Part 2 p. 195. Al-Fairoozbadi recorded this in his book: Fada-il Al- Khamsah Part 2 p.317 (conveying from Al-Tabari). And Ibn Al-Athir in his History Al-Kamil Part 2 p. 1O7 reported similar to this.
  • 10. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid in his Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah Vol. A p.372.
  • 11. Ibn Hisham Biography of the Prophet Part 2 p.80.
  • 12. Muslim in his Sahih Part 12 p. 148.

10. The Moat

The Qureshite community had one important dream: The destruction of Muhammad and his religion. Pagan tribes outside Mecca were sharing with them the same dream. Like the Meccans these tribes considered Muhammad a serious menace to their religion.

This belief brought these tribes and the Muslims into military confrontations in which the Muslims had the upper hand. These tribes therefore were like the Meccan community full of resentment and rancour towards Muhammad and his religion.

Non-Pagan Tribes

There were clashes between the Muslims and some of the people of scripture who were neighboring Medina caused by their breaching of covenants with the Holy Prophet. Tribes from among them such as Banu Al-NAthir and others were exiled by the Prophet.

A delegation from these people went to Mecca and other Arab communities during the fifth year after the Hijrah propogating war against the Prophet and attempting to mobilize the Arab forces for the proposed war.

They did not need much effort to persuade the Meccans to a military undertaking against the Prophet. Their response to the invitation was prompt and without hesitation they mobilized four thousand fighters. This army was supplemented with six thousands from Ghatafan Saleem and other tribes. Thus ten thousands strong marched towards Medina.

The Holy Prophet received the news of the imminent invasion a few days before their arrival at Medina. He consulted his companions and Salman Al-Farisi (the Persian) advised the Prophet to dig a moat around Medina to prevent the invaders from entering it. The Messenger commanded the Muslims (who were about three thousands) to implement the plan. The moat was dug within six days.

Witnessing the moat the invaders were surprised and realized that it had become difficult for them to enter Medina. Thus they found it necessary to besiege Medina instead of invading it directly. Banu Quraidhah a community from the followers of the Scripture joined the pagan army after its arrival.

This community had a covenant of peace with the Prophet. Their treacherous action was a frightening surprise to the Muslims. By breaching the covenant this community gave the pagan army additional forces and equipment. It became the duty of the Muslims to add to their defensive lines another line.

The Muslims in Horror

There were many hypocrites among the Muslims who circulated frightening rumors which added to the fear of the Muslims. The Holy Qur'an tells us of the psychological crisis with which the Muslims lived during that period:

"Behold! They came upon you from above you and from below you and when the eyes grew wild and the hearts gaped up to the throats and ye imagined various (vain) thoughts about God! In that situation the believers were tried: They were shaken with a mighty shock. And behold! The hypocrites and those in whose hearts there is a disease (even) say: God and His Apostle promised us nothing but delusion! Behold! A party among them said: O people of Yathrib (Medina) you cannot stand (the attack) therefore turn back! And a band of them ask for leave of the Prophet saying: Truly our houses are bare and exposed though they were not exposed; they intended nothing but to flee." The Holy Quran Chapter 33 verses 10-13.

The pagan army on the contrary was enjoying an extremely high morale. Victory to them was certain. Medina was under their siege and its inhabitants did not possess the courage to come out of it. Their confidence in victory and morale went higher when Banu Quraidhah joined them.

This made them change their strategy from the siege of Medina to a direct invasion.

Amr's Venture

Amr Ibn Abd Wodd accompanied by Dhirar Ibn Al-Khattab Akramah Ibn Abu Jahl and others sought and found a narrow place in the moat. Their horses leaped above the moat to the other side. Had this adventure succeeded many pagan fighters were expected to follow them and make it feasible for the whole army to pass through that narrow place for they could have spanned the two sides of the ditch by filling that narrow gap with soil.

The Muslims were in a state of shock and horror before the passage of these pagan soldiers to their side. The new danger which was presented by their passage made the morale of the Muslims much lower than before.

Men of Strong Faith

Though the hearts of most of the Muslims were filled with fear some of them were unshaken by the new danger.

It rather made their faith stronger in God His Messenger and the promised victory. These individuals were ready to sacrifice themselves and one of them certainly was determined to try to confine the danger then to remove it. The Holy Qur'an tells us of the morale of these believers.

"When the believers saw the confederate forces they said: This is what God and His Apostle had promised us. And God and His Apostle told us what is true. And it only added to their faith and their zeal in obedience.

"Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with God: Of them some have completed their vow (to the extreme) and some (still) wait; but they have never changed (their determination) in the least." The Holy Qur'an. Chapter 33 verse 23.

The Holy Qur'an does not inform us of the number of those believers whose faith was increased by the increase of the danger. These believers may have been scores or just a few. However faith sometimes remains only as a state of mind without being transformed into action. Some of the faith is active flowing with vitality and moving the faithful to face the danger and to rise to its level and above its level.

The number of these distinguished believers remained unknown.

‘Ali's Response

However history informed us of one of them because of his outstanding achievements at this battle in confining and removing the danger which shook the very foundation of the Islamic state. That man was no other than ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib.

Amr Ibn Wodd who crossed the moat was well known among the Arabs. He attended the battle boastfully making his place known to people. His very passage from one side to the other side of the moat accompanied only by a small number of fighters indicates that the man was extremely courageous. He was the only one from among the ten thousand fighters who tried to invade the Muslims directly and challenge them totally while he was with them on one side.

The passage of Amr and his companions presented to the Muslims a new and serious danger and a frightening surprise which they never expected. The door was about to be opened widely and hundreds and thousands were expected to follow. The surprise however did not frighten or astonish ‘Ali.

History informs us of ‘Ali's present-mindedness and fast response for he immediately moved to confine the danger then to remove it. Leading a small number of believers he went immediately to the point where the Islamic defense line was broken by the passage of Amr. He had his companions stand there preventing others from attempting to follow Amr.1 And after be confined the new danger he managed to remove it completely.

While mounting his horse Amr went around the area of Sal'a facing the Muslims and challenging them: "Is there any dueler?" He repeated this call but there was no response on the part of the companions.

This compelled ‘Ali to leave his place where he was deterring the pagan forces from following Amr by crossing the Moat. Responding to Amr's challenge he left that place temporarily to be defended by the few who were with him. He neared Amr and asked him to face him in a duel.

Amr arrogantly replied: "Why son of my brother (Amr was a friend of Abu Talib father of ‘Ali)? By God I would not like to kill you." ‘Ali replied: "But by God I would love to kill you." A short but extremely violent duel between the two heroes took place. ‘Ali killed Amr immediately and Amr's companions ran away trying to re-cross the moat from the Islamic side to the pagan side.

‘Ali exclaimed: "Allahu Akbar” (God is Great) and so did the Muslims. The death of Amr was the end of the new danger. Those who were with him ran away trying to save their skin; but most of them were killed before they could cross to the other side.

‘Ali made a great contribution in the defense of Islam at this battle during which the danger against the new Faith reached its peak.

At this battle the Muslims faced a greater danger than ever before. The elements of the Islamic defense were the same three elements which played their roles during the two battles of Badr and Uhud: The firmness of the Messenger and his ideal leadership: the heroism of ‘Ali; and the determination of the Islamic army.

A fourth element was added at this battle: The role of Salman Al-Farisi (the Persian) who counseled the Prophet to dig the moat around Medina.

The role of the Islamic army during the Battle of Uhud was smaller than its role during the Battle of Badr. And it was less important at the Battle of the Moat than it was at the Battle of Uhud for the Muslims during the Battle of the Moat did not even dare face the enemy. They only dug the moat around the city before the arrival of the pagan army then stood behind the moat until the end of the battle.

The roles of the first two defensive elements were similar to their roles at Badr and Uhud and probably bigger. The firmness of the Messenger his leadership his war strategy and his speed in digging the moat were most essential in making the Muslims pass the crisis safely. ‘Ali's role at this battle was outstanding in the history of the Islamic defense.

The magnltude of ‘Ali's contribution

It would not be logical to say that the Muslims were unable collectively to kill Amr who could not by himself prevail against thousands of Muslims. But this was not the cas. Amr was calling for a duel. A duel could only be between two persons. It was considered to be shameful for two men or more to have a duel with one man. Amr challenged all the Muslims to send one of them to have a duel with him. None of them was willing to face him except ‘Ali.

Nor would it be logical to say that Amr was the entire power of the pagan forces and that his death was a defeat for the whole confederate army. But it would be logical to affirm two important matters:

1. ‘Ali's initiative to block the passage point and prevent others from following Amr had stopped the danger and confined it. Had the passage point remained open a great number of the pagan soldiers would have followed Amr and their passage could have resulted in establishing a bridge between the two sides of the moat. Such a bridge would enable the whole army to cross.

One hour of negligence could have led to a decisive defeat of the Islamic army. This did not happen because ‘Ali was fast in his response to the new danger present minded calm and collective and ready to deal with the serious crisis.

2. The death of Amr proved to the pagan army that they were unable to pass the moat again and that what Amr could not accomplish could not be accomplished by others.

By this the pagan army had to face one of two alternatives: Withdrawal or continuation of the siege until the Muslims surrender or were forced to cross the moat and fight the pagans. The continuity of the siege of Medina was beyond the ability of the pagan army. It did not have the food supplies for ten thousand fighters and their horses and camels which could enable them to continue the siege for several months or weeks.

In addition a hurricane-like wind went on causing the pagan army many damages and making its life miserable. The hurricane was preceded by an argument between the pagans and their Jewish allies which made their co-operation in the battle highly difficult.

Thus there was only one alternative for the pagan army to take after the failure of Amr and his death: The withdrawal and that is what they did.

We ought not to forget an important matter! The death of Amr and most of his companions raised the morale of the Muslims. Their hope in continuity of life and in victory was revived. All this was a result of ‘Ali's endeavor and by this we can understand the meaning of the declaration of the Prophet. "The duel of ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib against Amr Ibn Abd Wodd at the Battle of the Moat outweighs the good deeds of my whole nation until the Day of Judgement."2

The Confederate Army withdrew and the Muslims passed the crisis safely. They regained their confidence concerning the future because of failure of the Confederate forces after their biggest mobilization. The Messenger said after their withdrawal: "After today we shall invade them and they will not invade us."3

  • 1. Ibn Hisham Biography of the Prophet Part 2 p. 224.
  • 2. Al-Mustadrak, Part 3, p. 32.
  • 3. Ibn Hisham in his Biography of the Prophet, Part 2, p. 254.

11. At Kheibar

Many non-pagan Arab tribes of the inhabitants of Hijaz refused to join the Faith of Islam. The faith itself prevented the Muslims from imposing it on the tribes because they were from the people of the scripture.

At the dawn of the Islamic State in the beginning of the Hijrah the Messenger signed a document by which he regulated the relationship between these tribes (around and in Medina) and the Muslims giving them rights equal to those of the Muslims. In that document the Holy Prophet wrote the following: "Whoever joins the signatories of this scripture would be entitled to our help and would not be subject to any injustice nor should the Muslims cooperate against them.

The children of Ouf are a community of believers. The people of the scripture are allowed to follow their religion as much as the Muslims are allowed to follow theirs and so are their allies except the one who commits injustice or sin, for he does not harm but himself. The people of the scripture from Banu-Al-Harith and Banu Al-Shateebah have rights equal to that of Banu Ouf.

"The people of the scripture shall spend on themselves and the Muslims shall spend on themselves. They shall help each other against anyone that wages war against the people of this document. The signatories of the document are entitled to mutual advice sincerity and assistance rather than fighting each other..."1

This document is truly the first of its kind in the history of religious freedom and a cornerstone in declaring the human rights which mankind strove for centuries to acquire.

I do not think any religious minority ever acquired such a security or rights under any government before the recent centuries.

This religious minority was expected to appreciate this generous attitude toward its faith. They should have taken such an attitude towards a religion that respects the message in which they believe and considers it heavenly with undiminished values. For the faith of Islam supports the messages of Jesus and Moses and completes them.

This religious minority had forecast to its pagan neighbors an anticipated Prophet who is mentioned in its book.

They used to threaten their pagan neighbors with the nearness of his advent and promise themselves to be of his followers. When the anticipated Prophet appeared and God showed them in him what they expected they took a hostile attitude towards him and rewarded his tolerance with breaching all covenants they signed with him.

This religious minority evidently was expecting the new Prophet to share with them their hostile attitude towards the Messiah and his followers. When they found the Holy Qur'an spoke of the holiness of Jesus his truthfulness and the purity of his mother they turned against the Messenger.

Probably they did not like something else in Islam. This faith prohibits usury and stands against exploitation and monopoly of the market. This frightened them because it was their way to charge high interests on their loans to their neighbors.

The anarchy which was prevalent in the Arabic Peninsula was a fertile land for them. They were able to move between the tribes seeding and growing hostilities between them. Establishing a strong government with definite rules and regulations would deprive them of benefits they were enjoying.

This religious minority chose to join the pagan camp in order to keep the Arab nation in a state of ignorance poverty and injustice where people lacked security of life honor and property.

Like pagans this minority did not like to see the Arab nation exercising its right of establishing a government unifying the Arab communities and directing them along with other nations to the Creator of the Universe.

This religious minority represented to the new Muslim State a menace equal to that of the pagan tribes. The reader may remember that a delegation from this religious minority was able to mobilize at the Battle of the Moat ten thousand fighters from Mecca and other communities through their war propaganda.

You may remember also that Banu Quraidhah (from this minority) broke their covenant with the Holy Prophet. They joined his enemies when they witnessed the pagan army having the upper hand at that battle maximizing the biggest crisis he ever faced.

The Messenger punished Banu Quraidhah severely after the withdrawal of the Confederate Army from around Medina. He made them pay dearly from their blood and wealth for their flagrant crimes.

However the bulk of this minority was settling in Kheibar and its numerous fortresses which were about eighty miles from Medina. This community represented a danger to the safety of the Islamic State and the time came to subdue these Kheiberites after the Messenger made his temporary truce with the pagan Meccans at Al-Hudeibeyah.

The Prophet Besieged Kheibar

When the Messenger came back from Al-Hudeibeyah he stayed in Medina only fifteen days. Turning his attention to this minority he marched towards Kheibar accompanied by only the sixteen hundred volunteers who attended Al- Hudeibeyah. After traveling three days he and his army camped around fortresses of Kheibar at night.

Leaving to their farms in the morning the Kheiberites were shocked to see the Muslim army. They recoiled back exclaiming: "Muhammad and the army.” It is worthy to note that this war was not religious. It did not aim at forcing the people of Kheibar to adopt the Islamic Faith. The Holy Prophet never forced any of the followers of the scripture to change his religion.

We have already mentioned that the document which was written by the Prophet during the first year of the Hijrah had secured to the religious minority inside and around Medina their religious freedom along with their civil rights if they abode by the contents of the document. Unfortunately they did not live up to the letter or spirit of that document.

They rather became a menace to the safety of the State and freedom of the Muslims. Thus the Messenger was duty-bound to try to subdue them.

The reader may remember that the elements of the Islamic defense in the previous three battles were three:

1. The ideal leadership of the Holy Prophet with all it possessed of unequaled firmness and wisdom along with his personality whose holiness commanded the obedience of every volunteer.

2. The heroic actions of the members of the House of the Prophet and.

3. The hundreds of sincere believers whose number was continuously on the increase.

You may remember that the Messenger lost a member of his clan Obeidah Ibn Al-Harith at the Battle of Badr then he lost his uncle Al-Hamzah at the Battle of Uhud. It is reported that the Messenger at the Battle of the Moat prayed to God to preserve ‘Ali for him after He took from him Obeidah at Badr and Al-Hamzah at Uhud.

‘Ali attended the previous three battles and was the hero of every one of them. He was the first and the foremost among the fighters in both defensive and offensive actions.

His actions in each of the three battles were essential factors in directing the course of the battle bringing the battle to a good end and extinguishing its flame.

‘Ali however was not able to be the first in leading the battle of Kheibar. For a health reason he was absent at the beginning of the battle and his absence caused a noticeable vacuum. The Messenger laid siege around Kheibar and the siege continued for weeks without bringing any result.

Skirmishes between the two sides took place one day after another. The Muslims did not have the upper hand in those skirmishes.

The Muslims' supplies were dwindling rapidly. Because of this the Muslims tried at the Battle of Kheibar to cook the meat of donkeys but the Messenger prevented them from eating the meat.

The Messenger gave the banner to Abu Bakr. He led the army towards the fortress of Na-im. The Kheibarites came out and fought the Muslims and the Muslims could not prevail against them and were forced to retreat. The Messenger on the following day gave the banner to ‘Umar and he was not luckier than Abu Bakr.

Indispensable Man

The Messenger found himself facing a very serious problem. The siege had already continued more than it should. The food supplies dwindled and became scarce.

The Islamic army so far was unable to subdue any of the fortresses. Should the Prophet continue his siege without result or should he lift the siege against the fortresses and go back to Medina? This would be a monumental failure.

If the reader were unable to evaluate the magnitude of ‘Ali's endeavor in the previous battles the Battle of Kheibar proves beyond a shadow of doubt that ‘Ali's presence was indispensable in bringing the decisive battles to their favorable conclusions.

‘Ali Is the Solution

The Holy Prophet was saddened to see that his general offensive in two consecutive days had failed. He decided therefore to bring a drastic solution to the problem and ‘Ali's leadership was the only solution. The two sheikhs Al-Bukhari and Muslim inform us in their two Sahihs (Authentics) of what took place. They recorded that Sahl Ibn Saad (a prominent companion) said:

"The Messenger of God said at Kheibar: I shall give this banner to a man through whom God will bring the victory. He loves God and His Messenger and God and His Messenger love him."

The companions spent the night asking each other: 'Who is the man whom the Holy Prophet meant?' They came in the morning to the Messenger and every one of them was hoping that he would be the man of the banner.

"Where is ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib?" the Prophet asked. "He is suffering from inflammation of his eyes” they said. The Prophet sent for him. When ‘Ali was brought to the Prophet he treated ‘Ali's eyes with his blessed saliva and prayed for him. ‘Ali's eyes were cured instantly as if they did not have any inflammation.

The Prophet gave ‘Ali the banner and ‘Ali asked: "Messenger of God shall I fight them until they become Muslims like us?" The Messenger said: "Go on until you reach their dwelling. Invite them to Islam and inform them of their duty towards God and Islam. By God if He leads one man through you to the right road it would be better for you than to own a precious wealth."2

The Unique Leadership

‘Ali went on carrying the banner and contrary to the conventional way he literally led the army. Salamah Ibn Al-Akwa said: "By God ‘Ali went out with the banner running and panting. We went following him until he planted the banner into a pile of stones near the fortress." A man from the fortress went up and asked ‘Ali: Who are You? And he replied: I am ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib. The man said: By what was revealed to Moses you have the upper hand (the name ‘Ali means high). As the Holy Prophet forecast the Almighty granted ‘Ali the victory. He conquered the enemy before he returned to the Prophet."3

Salama also said: "Marhab (the outstanding warrior of the Kheiberites) came out boasting and challenging. ‘Ali dealt him a blow with his sword splitting his head and victory was accomplished."4

Abu Rafi a companion of the Prophet said: "We went with ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib when the Messenger of God sent him with his banner. When he came near the fortress the dwellers of the fortress came out and he fought them. A man from them hit ‘Ali and made him lose his shield. ‘Ali took a door at the fortress and shielded himself with it. He kept it in his hand until the battle ended. I found myself with seven men trying to move that door but we could not."5

The retreating enemies took refuge in their fortress after a costly battle which did not last long after Marhab's death. They tried to defend themselves by entering into the fortress and locking its door after they lost the battle of confrontation. But this did not avail them. ‘Ali opened the gate and entered the fortress and his soldiers followed him.

How did he open the huge door? Did he or anyone of his soldiers climb above the wall and open the door from inside? Neither the historians nor the recorders of hadiths reported that the Muslims entered the fortress by climbing.

Had ‘Ali through an unusual power dislocated the door as some of the hadiths reported? This is possible and very likely. For another miracle was performed by the Messenger of God on that day in curing the two eyes of ‘Ali through the Messenger's blessed saliva. Dislocation of the door probably was an additional miracle which took place on that day. Probably the door which Abu Rafi informed us that ‘Ali used as a shield was the same door of the fortress.

As ‘Ali entered the fortress he brought the defensive capability of the people of the fortress to an end. They could not win a second battle of confrontation after they

lost the first one. The fortress fell at the hands of the Muslims before the rear of the army joined its front. Other fortresses followed the fortress of Na-im. They fell one after another until the area of Kheibar completely surrendered to the Muslim State.

Conclusion

The reader may easily come to the following conclusion:

1. The Battle of Kheibar was one of the important battles of destiny for the Muslims. It was preceded by two battles in which the Muslims were not in the best conditions. The Muslims were defeated at the Battle of Uhud and ran away from the battlefield except a few of them.

This was followed by the Battle of the Moat in which the Muslims were on the defensive. They were frightened and terrified except those whom the Almighty fortified. Their hearts went up to their throats. The battle ended and the Muslims did not dare face their enemies or cross from their side to the side of the enemies. They remained behind their Moat.

The Muslims at the Battle of Kheibar outnumbered their enemies. Should they fail to subdue them their failure was expected to show their weakness and entice many hostile tribes to attack the Muslims and the Kheiberites will be the nucleus of the future invading forces.

In addition the Muslims themselves because of their failure in Kheibar will lose their self-confidence and see that their victory against their numerous enemies is a remote possibility. On the other hand if the Muslims obtain victory against the Kheiberites the opposite will be the result.

Victory heightens their morale eliminates a dangerous enemy and makes the rest of the Arab tribes respect the Muslims and hesitate to attack them.

2. The Messenger was unhappy with the sequence of events of the battle. The siege around the fortresses continued for a long time. The food supplies dwindled. If the siege continued and the Muslims could not prevail against the enemies the Muslims would be forced to withdraw and lift the siege. This would be a disastrous failure. The Muslims upon the order of the Prophet therefore conducted two general offensives in two consecutive days under the leadership of Abu Bakr then ‘Umar.

As the Muslims were unable to conquer any of the fortresses in the two offensives the Messenger realized that the Muslims were facing an unusual dilemma. He wanted a drastic solution for that problem.

3. Because ‘Ali's leadership in the view of the Messenger was the only solution the Messenger had to perform a miracle in order to enable ‘Ali to fulfill his mission. ‘Ali was suffering from inflammation of his eyes and he would not be able to fulfill his difficult task unless his eyes were cured.

Had there been any other person capable of fulfilling the mission the Prophet would not have commissioned ‘Ali with it. ‘Ali was excused from the duty of Jihad because of his unusual condition but the situation was so grave and there was no one other than ‘Ali capable of facing the danger and prevailing against it.

Two Miracles

4. The cure of ‘Ali's eyes by the saliva of the Messenger was one of two miracles. The second miracle was the prophecy of the Messenger: He informed the Muslims that the one who would lead the army on the third day would be able with the help of God to conquer the fortresses. The Prophet as a human could not predict that God would open the fortresses at the hands of ‘Ali. It was possible for ‘Ali to be killed or seriously wounded and that would prevent him from continuing his campaign.

The Messenger did not utter his words in reliance on himself. He uttered them only in reliance on God's revelation. Only God knew what would happen to ‘Ali and that he would come back after God opened the fortress at his hands.

The whole army failed and was unable to conquer the fortress when ‘Ali was absent. The presence of ‘Ali alone was the key to victory. This would substantiate clearly that ‘Ali was the main contributor after the Prophet in founding the Muslim State for he was the implementer of the Prophet's strategy and the eliminator of his adversaries.

To the truth of this statement ‘Umar the Second Caliph attested when he said to the man who accused ‘Ali of being conceited: "A man such as ‘Ali has the right to be proud. By God the pillar of Islam could not be erected without ‘Ali's sword. He is the highest magistrate of this nation its earliest Muslim and its most honorable.".

The natural ministry

The Almighty strengthened His Messenger by his cousin ‘Ali who pledged to him ten years prior to the Hijrah to be his Minister in his great mission. Had ‘Ali not pledged to the Prophet at the clan's conference to be his "Wazeer" (minister) he would not have acted differently from what he did. The attachment of ‘Ali to the Messenger was natural requiring no pledge or pact.

He did not pledge to the Prophet his ministry and full assistance in order to gain the important ranks which the Messenger promised him. He gave his word because he believed that his assistance to the Messenger was the mission for which he was created. The love of God and His Messenger filled his heart and therefore he gave all his existence for their pleasure.

A Divine Choice

When the Messenger conferred on ‘Ali the ranks of brother executor and successor he was speaking by the order of God and God chooses for these ranks only the one who merits them.

The Holy Prophet on the other hand did not bestow upon ‘Ali all these honors because of his promised assistance but because ‘Ali was meritorious.

Had the mission of the Messenger been in no need of

‘Ali's endeavor and sacrifice the Messenger would not have chosen a brother or an executor or a caliph other than

him for ‘Ali was the most resemblant to the Messenger in ethics righteousness and knowledge. He was the first Mus lim and most obedient to God and His Messenger and therefore he was beloved by God and His Messenger. No shining evidence beyond the declaration of the Holy Prophet at Kheibar is needed: "I shall give the banner to a man through whom God will bring victory. He loves God and His Messenger and God and His Messenger love him." Al-Tirmidhi in his Sunan (one of the Six Authentics)6 and Al-Hakim in his Al-Mustadrak7 reported that the Prophet was presented with a grilled bird. He prayed and in his prayer he said: "God send me your most beloved from among your creatures to eat with me this bird." ‘Ali alone came and ate with him.

Because ‘Ali was the only qualified person to be the brother the executor and successor of the Holy Prophet the Prophet bestowed the three honors upon him before the beginning of his monumental sacrifices. This proves that he was the choice of the Prophet for the above honors regardless of the need of the message for his sacrifice.

When the Messenger conferred these ranks on ‘Ali the witnesses of the event did not exceed thirty or forty men.

All of them were from the clan of the Prophet. It was only a matter of course for him to declare to the rest of the Muslims what he declared to the members of his clan when the opportunity presented itself. The Messenger chose to do that gradually. He started by announcing his brotherhood to ‘Ali at the beginning of the Hijrah.

  • 1. Ibn Hisham Biography of Prophet Part 1 p. 503.
  • 2. Sahih Al-Bukhari Part 5 p. 171 and Muslim in his Sahih Part 15 pp. 178-179.
  • 3. Ibn Hisham Biography of the Prophet Part 2 p. 335..
  • 4. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak Part 3 pp.28-29.
  • 5. Ibn Hisham Biography of the Prophet Part 2 p.335.
  • 6. Al-Tirmidhi in his Sunan Part 5 p.300 (hadith No.3805)
  • 7. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak Part 3 pp.130-131.

12. Announced Brotherhood

The nucleus of the Islamic State started at the beginning of the Hijrah. The birth of this state was a unique prototype in the history of man. We do not know before Islam any state that was established on a brotherhood springing from the belief in the oneness of God and His universal justice which denies all clannish national and racial discrimination.

As a matter of fact it is difficult to find in history a clear example other than the early Islamic State in which a government was established as a spontaneous outcome of people's sharing spiritual and worldly ideals.

However this general brotherhood may remain an abstract idea if no tangible example of it is realized. The Messenger wanted to give the Muslims a tangible example through small brotherhoods a special relation between two Muslims in which each one becomes to the other a brother in God and treats the other as he treats his brother who was born from his parents.

The Holy Prophet issued and announced individual brotherhoods during the first year after the Hijrah but one was established ten years before the Hijrah. This was the one which he initiated between himself and ‘Ali at the conference which took place at the Prophet's house in Mecca.

It is recorded in Al-Seerat Al-Halabeyah that the Prophet issued a brotherhood between Abu Bakr and ‘Umar; between Abu Bakr and Kharijah Ibn Zayd; between ‘Umar and Atban Ibn Malik; between Abu Ruwaim Al-Khath-ami and Bilal; between Oseid Ibn Hudheir and Zayd Ibn Haritha; between Abu Obeidah and Saad Ibn Maath; between Abdul-Rahman Ibn Ouf and Saad Ibn Al-Rabi.

Then he held the hand of ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib saying: This is my brother. Thus the Messenger of God and ‘Ali became brothers.1

Ibn Hisham in his "Seerah" (Biography of the Prophet) reported the following: "The Prophet after the Hijrah said to the Muslims: Be brothers in God. Every two should be brothers.

Then he held ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib's hand and said: This is my brother. Thus the Messenger of God the leader of the Messengers the Imam of the righteous the one who has no equal among the servants of God (he) and ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib became brothers. Al-Hamzah Lion of God and of His Messenger and Zayd Ibn Haritha became brothers and Abu Bakr and Kharijah Ibn Zuhair became brothers. ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab and Atban Ibn Malik became brothers.... 2

This type of brotherhood may serve at least one of the two following purposes:

1. It substitutes the blood relationship with a spiritual relationship. When two persons are from two clans tribes or communities their brotherhood in principles and beliefs take the place of brotherhood by birth. This makes the two brothers in religion ready to co-operate in promotion of their religion. Both brothers become immune to hostility if some misunderstanding takes place between one of the two brothers and the relatives of the other.

The brotherhood between two persons from two tribes or clans makes each one of them a friend to the members of the clan or tribe of the other. Each one of the two brothers loves the other and each has relatives with whom he reciprocates love.

These relatives through this brotherhood become indirectly tied to the spiritual brother of their relative. Thus the religious brotherhood becomes an extension of the blood relationship and the blood relationship becomes an extension of the religious brotherhood.

2. When it is by the Prophet's selection this kind of brotherhood is an evidence of a mutual spiritual resemblance between the two brothers. The Prophet knew about his companions more than they knew about themselves.

Two companions may not be aware of their spiritual resemblance as much as he is. Thus when he makes two of them brothers their brotherhood should enhance their cooperation and develop in proportion to their sincerity towards their religion.

The Significance Of The Brotherhood

Looking at the brotherhood between the Messenger and ‘Ali before and after the Hijrah we find that their brotherhood does not serve the first purpose namely: Creation of a close relationship between two persons from two clans tribes or communities. The Messenger and ‘Ali were not from two cities or tribes or clans. They were first cousins.

The Messenger did not "brother" anyone before or after the Hijrah except ‘Ali. From this we can infer that the purpose of the brotherhood between the Messenger and ‘Ali was to announce their mutual spiritual resemblance.

The brotherhood between the Messenger and ‘Ali is a well known fact in the history of Islam. It was reported through many channels. This brotherhood was meaningful and highly important in the eyes of the Messenger.

Al-Hakim in his Al-Mustadrak reported in two ways that the Messenger of God said to ‘Ali: "You are my brother in this world and in the Hereafter."3

The Messenger came out while his face was glittering.

Abdul-Rahman Ibn Ouf asked him: What is the good news? The Messenger said: "A good tidings came to me from my Lord concerning my brother and cousin and my daughter. That God had married ‘Ali to Fatimah."4

Again he said to ‘Ali:

"You are my brother my companion and my associate in Paradise."5

He said to him on another occasion: "As to you ‘Ali you are my brother and the father of my children. You are from me and to me."6 At another time the Messenger told ‘Ali: "You are my brother and my minister you pay my debt and fulfill my promise...." 7

When Fatimah was moved to the house of her husband ‘Ali the Messenger said to Om Aiman: "Call for me my brother." She said (jokingly): He is your brother and you marry him your daughter?" He said: "Yes Om Aiman. She called ‘Ali for him and he came...."8

When the Messenger was on his deathbed he said: "Call for me my brother. They called ‘Ali and he came.

He said: "Come close to me " and ‘Ali did. The Prophet reclined on ‘Ali and kept speaking to him until his holy soul departed his body.9

These hadiths are only a few out of many others about the brotherhood of ‘Ali to the Messenger. They clearly indicate that the Messenger chose him as a brother because he was next to him in purity and character. ‘Ali should have been an unexpected choice. He was thirty years younger than the Prophet. Obviously he chose him because lie was the only one who deserved this unique honor.

The Son-In-Law Of The Prophet

The Prophet bestowed a unique honor upon ‘Ali by choosing ‘Ali to be his son-in-law. He married him to his daughter Fatima Al-Zahra (the Lady of light) for whom her father testified that she is the leader of the women of Paradise or the leader of the women of the believers.10 He also said: "Fatima is a portion of me whoever exasperates her exasperates me."11

Ayeshah wife of the Prophet also said about Fatima: "I have never seen a more resemblant to the Prophet in manner of speaking than Fatima daughter of the Messenger of God. Whenever she came to him he used to welcome her stand for her kiss her take her hand and seat her in his place."12

Ayeshah said also about Fatima: "I never witnessed a person truer than Fatimah after her father."13

Outstanding companions wooed the hand of Fatima but the Prophet rejected them saying: "I am waiting for a Directive concerning her." (He meant that he was waiting for an order from God.) When ‘Ali wooed her hand the Prophet welcomed him and ‘Ali married her in the first year after the Hijrah. She was moved to him in the following year after the Battle of Badr.

This marriage was destined to be unique in its consequences. Of its fruits were the two gems of this nation: Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein about whom the Holy Prophet said: "An Angel came from Heaven to give me the good tidings:

That Fatima is the leader of the women of Paradise and that Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein are the leaders of the youth of Paradise."14
By their birth the most honorable family was formed.

For this family the Messenger ordered the Muslims to pray whenever they pray for him. This is the family whose members the Muslims are urged to follow.

The Divinely Commended Family

In all of what the Holy Prophet spoke about ‘Ali and the members of his family he was speaking with a Divine authority and in reliance on the order of God and His revelation.

The Almighty revealed eighteen consecutive verses about the sacrifices of this family its love of God and the place of its members in Paradise.

Al-Wahidi in his book Al-Baseet; Imam Razi in his extensive commentary on the Holy Qur'an; Al-Zamakh-Shari in his Kashaf and Nizamul-Deen Al-Nisayburi in his commentary "Gara-Ibul Qur'an15 and Al-Shiblenji in his book Noorul-Abssan16 recorded that Ibn Abba said that: Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein became ill. ‘Ali and Fatima vowed to God the fast of three days of thanks if their two sons would be cured. The two sons also followed them in their vows and so did their maid Fiddah. The two children were cured and the family fasted three consecutive days.

There was no food for the family in the three days except small amounts of barley bread. When the time of breaking the fast came (in the evening) a needy person came to their door seeking food. The family gave him all they had. On the following evening an orphan came asking for food and the family did what it had done the first night.

On the third evening a captive came asking for food. The family did what it had done the first two days. About this event the Almighty revealed the chapter of "Time" or "Man" in which we find the following verses:

"The righteous shall drink of a cup whereof the mix- ture is Kafur a spring wherefrom the servants of God drink making it gush for them abundantly. They fulfill the vow and fear a day where the evil is wide-spreading. And feed with food for the needy wretch the orphan and the captive for love of God. (saying): We feed you for the sake of God only: We look for no reward nor thanks from you: we fear from our Lord a day of frowning and of fate. Therefore God has ward- ed off from them the evil of that day and has made them find brightness and joy. And has awarded them for all that they endured a Paradise and a silk attire...." The Qur'an Chapter 76 verses 5-12.

It is worthy to note that no hadith ever mentioned that the members of this family said aloud to those whom they gave their food: "We feed you for the sake of God looking for no reward nor thanks from you." These words were in their hearts not on their tongues but God stated openly in His Book what they kept secretly in their hearts.

A Unique Testimony

The Holy Qur'an does not contain any testimony of this kind pertaining to any other Muslim family. This is because no other family offered what this family offered of sacrifices.

We know of no other family that was so unselfish that all its members gave to others for the love of God their necessary food for three consecutive days.

This family however was expected to surpass all other families in sacrifices. For ‘Ali was the brother of the Messenger: his wife was the daughter of the Messenger; and their two children by the testimony of the verse of "Mubahalah " are called sons of the Messenger.

The members of this family were the ones whom the Messenger brought with him when the Almighty God commanded him to invite the Christian delegation of Najran for "Mubahalah" (prayer by two opposite parties ask- ing God to punish their wrong side).

Presenting them on that occasion was a shining evidence that they were the highest among the Muslims in righteousness and presenting ‘Ali particularly showed that the relation between the Messenger and ‘Ali had passed the boundary of brotherhood and reached the degree of unity.

  • 1. ‘Ali Ibn Burhanudeen Al-Halabi Biography of the Prophet Part 2 p.97.
  • 2. Ibn Hisham Part 1 p.505.
  • 3. Al-Hakim in his Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p. 14 Sharaful-Deen Al-Murajaat p. 130.
  • 4. Ibn Hajar Assawa-iq Al-Muhriqah p. 403 (conveyed by Sharaful Deen Al-Murajaat p. 130.
  • 5. Al-Muttaqi Al-Hindi Kanzul-Ummal hadith No. 6105.
  • 6. Al-Hakim in his Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p. 217.
  • 7. Al-Tabarani in his Big Majmaa of hadith (conveyed by Al- Muttaqi Al-Hindi in his Muntakhab (Selected) of Kanzul- Ummal published on the margins of Imam Ahmad's Musnad Part 5 p. 32.
  • 8. Al-Hakim in his Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p. 159.
  • 9. Ibn Sa’d Al-Tabaqat Part 2 p. 263.
  • 10. Al-Bukhari reported it through his channel to ‘Aisha in his Sahih in the section of the Beginning of the Creation in the chapter of the Evidences of the Prophethood Part 5 p. 25.
  • 11. Al-Bukhari in his Sahih Chapter of Virtues of the Relatives of the Messenger and Virtues of Fatimah.
  • 12. Al-Hakim in his Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p.154.
  • 13. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p. 160.
  • 14. Al-Tirmidhi in his Sunan (of the 6 Authentics) Part 2 p. 306.
  • 15. Nizamuddeen Al-Nisaboori in his Gharai-Ibul-Qur'an printed on the Margin of Al-Tabari's Commentaries on the Qur'an Part 29 pp. 112-113.
  • 16. Sayed Al-Shiblenji Noorul-Absar pp. 112-114.

13.’Ali's Place from the Prophet in the Qur'an

During the ninth year after the Hijrah a Christian delegation from Nijran Yemen came to Medina to inquire about Islam and debate with the Prophet about religion.

There was a dialogue between the Messenger and the delegation in which the Messenger stated the positive position of Islam towards the teachings of the Messiah. The delegation chose to stay on their negative position towards Islam. A revelation came to the Prophet commanding him to invite the delegation to a prayer to be offered by both sides asking the Almighty to bring down His punishment on the wrong side of the two parties.

From the Holy Qur'an:

"And whoso disputes with thee concerning him (Jesus) after the knowledge which has come unto thee say (unto them): Come! We will summon our sons and your sons and our women and your women and ourselves and yourselves. Then we will pray humbly (to our Lord) invoking the curse from God upon those who lie." The Holy Quran Chapter 3 verse 62.

The Messenger in compliance with the revealed command invited the Christian delegation for the prayer. Al-Nisayburi in his commentary on the Holy Qur'an entitled: "Ghara-ib Bul-Qur'an and Aja-Ibul-Furqan " recorded the following:

"The Messenger told the Christian delegation: God has commanded me to call upon you to share with me a prayer for punishment. They said "Abu Al-Qasim" (the Prophet's code name) we shall think of the matter then we will come to you."

They had a conference headed by their counselor Al-Aquib. When they asked him his advice he said: "By God you have known that Muhammad is a Messenger of God. He told you the exact truth about your man the Messiah. By God whenever people challenge a prophet and share with him a prayer for punishment their grown-ups will not last and their small ones will not grow. It will be your annihilation if you accept his challenge. If you insist on keeping your religion make peace between you and the man and go back to your country.

"When the Christian delegation came back to the Messenger they found him on his way to the proposed prayer wearing a garment made of black hair carrying Al-Hussein on his arm and leading Al-Hassan by his hand with Fatima walking behind him and ‘Ali walking behind her.

The Prophet said to the four members of his family: "When I pray say: 'Amen.'" Looking at the Prophet and his family the priest of the delegation said to his group: "Christians I see faces whose prayer will be answered even for removal of a mountain.

Accept not their challenge. If you do you will perish and the Christians will not live on this earth." The delegation heeded the warning of their priest and said to the Prophet: "Abu Al-Qasim." we have decided not to make prayer of "Mubahalah" with you.1

Al-Tabari in his commentary on the Holy Qur'an reported many hadiths through various channels that the Messenger accompanied ‘Ali Fatima Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein in the event of "Mubahalah"2

Muslim in his Sahih recorded that Saad Ibn Abu Waqass reported that after the revelation of the following verse: "And whoso disputes with thee concerning him (Jesus) after the knowledge which had come to thee say (unto them): Come! We will summon our sons and your sons and our women and your women and ourselves and yourselves...." The Messenger of God invited ‘Ali Fatima Hassan and Hussein then he said: "God these are the members of my family."3

Why was all included?

The Almighty commanded His Messenger to say to the delegation of Najran: "Come! We will summon our sons and your sons our women and your women; and ourselves and yourselves...." In compliance with this command the Prophet brought with him Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein because they were the sons of his daughter Fatima and for this they are his sons. He brought Fatima with him because she represents the women from the members of his House.

But why did he bring with him ‘Ali who was neither from the sons nor from the women? ‘Ali has no place in the verse unless he is included in the word "ourselves." Bringing ‘Ali with him indicates that the Messenger of God considered ‘Ali an extension of his personality. By considering him so he elevated him above all the Muslims.

The Messenger said on many occasions: "‘Ali is from me and I am from him."

Hubshi Ibn Janadah reported that he heard the Messenger of God saying: "‘Ali is from me and I am from him and no one represents me but ‘Ali."4

A dialogue between the Imam ‘Ali Al-Ridha and Al-Ma-Moon (a prominent Abbaside caliph) went as follows: Al-Ma-Moon: "What is the evidence on the caliphate of your grandfather (‘Ali)?".

The Imam Al-Ridha: The evidence is the word of God "and ourselves and yourselves." The Imam meant that by bringing the Imam with him in the event of "Mubahalah " the Messenger made him an extension of himself; and whoever is an extension of the personality of the Messenger would be the Imam of the Muslims.

Al-Ma-Moon: This would be true if there is not "our women and your women.".

Al-Ma-Moon meant that it is possible that there were among the Muslims other men who were like ‘Ali in being an extension of the personality of the Holy Prophet but he did not want to bring all of them. He chose to bring one of them ‘Ali as a representative of his equals.

The evidence of this is the word "Our women " since this word includes all women who are related to the Holy Prophet by birth or marriage. But the Messenger brought only one of them Fatima who is related to him by birth as a representative of the women who are related to him.

The Imam Al-Ridah: This would be true if there were not the words: "And our sons and your sons." He meant that Fatima was brought as the unequaled woman rather than a representative of her equals in the family of the Prophet. Had other women been equal to Fatima the Holy Prophet would have brought them with her.

For he brought Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein together because they were equal to each other and did not bring one of them as a representative of his sons. Therefore presenting ‘Ali on this occasion is an evidence that ‘Ali is the only one whom the Prophet considered to be an extension of his personality.

It is reported that Amr Ibn Al-Aws asked the Prophet: "Who is the most beloved to you from men?" The Messen ger said: Abu Bakr. Then he asked him: "Who is next?"

And the Messenger said: ‘Umar. Ibn Al-Aws said: "Then where is the place of ‘Ali?" The Prophet turned his face to the people around him saying: "This man is asking about the self."5

I have mentioned in the last chapter that the Messenger's declaration after the Hijrah was not a fulfillment of a promise he made to ‘Ali before the Hijrah for he fulfilled his promise to ‘Ali by "brothering" him on the day of the conference which took place at his house. Furthermore he did not promise ‘Ali with such a declaration to be made in the future.

The Holy Prophet announced that to the Muslims voluntarily because ‘Ali deserved the unique honor and because its announcement might prepare the Muslims psychologically for the leadership of ‘Ali in the future. He wanted to show the nation the guiding Minaret which the nation would need after the Prophet.

As the Messenger announced to the Muslims the unique honor which he bestowed upon ‘Ali by "brothering" him he was expected to announce publicly the other two high honors which he conferred on him: of being his executor and successor.

For what the nation needed more than anything else was the good leadership to which it might resort after the Messenger. Such a leadership is what could secure the continuity of the Islamic Message in its purity.

It could also secure the nation against deviation from the right road in its long future.

The Messenger chose to announce this leadership during the tenth year after the Hijrah when he was performing his valedictory pilgrimage. He declared to the thousands of pilgrims that ‘Ali had the right to administer the affairs of the Muslims as much as the Prophet had. This meant that the Prophet had declared that ‘Ali was to be his successor.

It also implied executorship for whomever the Prophet appointed to administer the affairs of the Muslims would be his executor also.

  • 1. You find it in Al-Nisaboori's Commentaries on the Qur'an printed on the margin of Al-Tabari's Commentaries Part 2 pp. 192-193.
  • 2. Al-Tabari in his Commentaries on the Qur'an Part 2 pp. 192- 193.
  • 3. Muslim in his Sahih Part 15 p. 176.
  • 4. Ibn Majah in his Sahih (hadith No. 143)
  • 5. Almuttaqi Al-Hindi, Kanzul-Ummal, Part 15 (virtues of ‘Ali), p. 125 (hadith No. 361)

14. The Mawla of the Muslims

The tenth year after the Hijrah was full of important events. Two of those events were outstanding and pointed to the Messenger's belief in the nearness of his death and that he was about to be summoned by God and that he would respond.

The Messenger announced to the inhabitants of the Arabic Peninsula that he would perform the duty of pilgrimage. He urged them to accompany him during the days of his journey to learn from him the manner of its performance; and being concerned with the future of the Muslims he wanted to recommend to them what a Prophet recommends to his followers to do in the future for he thought that they would not see him in a future year.

Tens of thousands of pilgrims hastened to join the Holy Prophet. He went on leading them in their "Ihram " circumnavigating the Kaaba praying walking between Safa and Marwa; and at the sojourn at Arafat and at the time of their sacrifices.

They followed him and did what he ordered them to do. He addressed them while they were on Arafat and his Message was most impressive. He announced to them at the beginning of his sermon the nearness of his death when he said after he prayed to the Almighty: "O people listen to my words for I do not know if I will meet you after my present year at this place at any time....".

Then he spoke to them about the sanctity of the human blood and Muslim's properties saying:

"O people certainly your lives and properties are as sacred to you as your present day and your present month until you meet your Lord. And you shall meet your Lord and He will ask you about your deeds and I have delivered the Message."1

The Holy Messenger went on urging people to discharge their trusts and declaring that every usury is prohibited. Islam prohibits retaliation for blood that was shed during the pre-Islamic days. He also reaffirmed the right of women and re-emphasized Islamic brotherhood.

The main concern of the Messenger was the future of his nation. As he was fully aware of the crises which the nation would go through he was expected not to leave the nation without a minaret of guidance through which people could pass the future crises safely. The Prophet therefore declared to the Muslims what he considered to be a security against deviation from the right road if they chose to have that security.

Al-Tirmidhi in his Sahih reported through his channel to Jabir Ibn Abdullah Al-Ansari that he said: "I have seen the Messenger of God in his pilgrimage on the day of Arafat while he was riding his female camel (Al-Qusswa) delivering a sermon and I heard him saying: O people I have left among you that which if you uphold you will never go astray: The Book of God and the members of my House."2

By these words the Messenger announced to his nation that he left for it what would be a security against deviation from the right road if the nation would take what he left for it. That security is composed of two harmonious elements:

One of them is the revelation of God which is recorded in the Holy Qur'an and the second is the members of the House of the Prophet who have the knowledge of the interpretation of the Holy Qur'an and the teaching of the Holy Prophet.

It is worthy to note that masses of the Muslims do not know these reported words of the Holy Prophet yet these words were reported by about twenty companions. What the Muslim masses know is what Ibn Hisham recorded in his Biography of the Prophet that the Prophet said in his sermon on Arafat:

"I have left among you what if you fortify yourselves with you will never go astray: The Book of God a clear order and teaching of His Messenger." Furthermore these Muslims think that there is a contradiction between the first and the second hadiths.

It should be known that the reporters of what Ibn Hisham recorded are not known. Their names are not recorded in the hadith; therefore it should not be considered authentic. It should be noted also that Al-Bukhari and Muslim did not record in their report of the sermon of the Prophet on the day of Arafat the word "Sunnat Nabyeh" (the teaching of His Prophet). The two sheikhs mentioned only the Book of God.3

Furthermore the Book of God is well known to the Muslims and it was recorded during the days of the Messenger. The "Sunnah" (teachings of the Prophet) on the other hand was not recorded during the days of the Prophet and what was written of the hadiths decades after him is not completely a place of agreement among the Muslims.

There are many contradictory hadiths contained in the books which we call Sahihs. It is recorded for example in some of the Sahihs that Abdul-Rahman Ibn Abu Omeirah reported that the Prophet prayed for Muawiya saying: "God make him well-guided and make him lead people to the right road." It is also reported in a Sahih that the Messenger said to Ammar Ibn Yasir: "Ammar be cheerful the aggressor party will kill you.".

Yet the party that killed Ammar was the party of Muawiya. When Muawiya is the head of the aggressors he would not be well-guided nor could people be led through him to the right road.

A hadith commending a man such as Muawiya cannot be a security against deviation. It would be rather a cause of confusion. A man that waged against ‘Ali the Imam of the truth and the brother of the Prophet a war in which tens of thousands of Muslims were killed cannot be a guide to the right road.

To make what Ibn Hisham reported logically acceptable we have to understand from the word "Sunnah " the statement of the Prophet and his actions which are known to have come from him. These represent a security against deviation if we follow them.

But that which is known of his statements and actions are very little because most of the hadiths were not reported by numerous reporters in every link of its chain of narration; they were rather reported by one or two or a few reporters. Many of these hadiths contradict each other. Therefore we cannot acquire certainty through those hadiths about what the Messenger said or did.

There is only one logical way through which we can be certain of Sunnah of the Prophet: The Prophet himself could inform us of a reliable source through which we know exactly what he said and did.

The first hadith which was reported by more than twenty companions informs us of that reliable source namely: the members of the House of the Prophet who knew the interpretation of the Book of God and the instructions of the Messenger completely. By this the hadiths of Al-Termathy and Ibn Hisham would be agreeing with each other and explaining one another.

‘Ali possessed the knowledge of the Qur'an and the words and the deeds of the Prophet and their interpretations. The Muslims could have avoided deviations if they were to follow his interpretation and assist him in communicating his knowledge to the nation.

However the other outstanding event which took place during the last year of the life of the Messenger has made this matter crystal clear. The event was fully expressive concerning the elements of security against deviation.

That outstanding event was the Messenger's Declaration at Ghadir Khum. While he was coming back from the valedictory pilgrimage to Medina he stopped at that place to tell the thousands of pilgrims who were accompanying him that ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib is the "Mawla" (guardian) of every believer.

Al-Hakim through his channel to Abu-Tufail reported that Zayd Ibn Arqam said: "When the Messenger of God was coming from the Valedictory pilgrimage he stopped at Ghadir Khum. He ordered the pilgrims to sweep what was under the trees at that place.

Then he said: 'I am about to be summoned by God and I shall respond. I am leaving among you the two valuables. One of the two is bigger than the other: The Book of God and my Itrah (members of my house). Beware how you shall treat them after me for they shall not part with each other until they join me on the Day of Judgement." Then he said: "Certainly God is my "Mawla" (Guardian) and I am Mawla of every believer. Whoever I am his Mawla this ‘Ali is his Mawla. God love whoever loves him and be hostile to whoever is hostile to him." 4

From this we understand that the Messenger wanted to declare to the Muslims at that stand three important matters which are related to each other:

1. He was expecting to depart from this world soon. Therefore he spoke to them as if he had been summoned by his Lord.

2. As he was about to meet his Lord he viewed it mandatory to have for his followers a means of guidance which would illuminate for them the road after the Heavenly revelation ceased by his absence. Therefore he declared to them that he was leaving to them the Book of God and his "Itrah" (the members of his House); and that if they follow the Book and the "Itrah " they guarantee for themselves the continuation on the clear road in their near and remote future.

3. The members of the House of the Holy Prophet were to lead the nation only because they were unequaled in their knowledge of interpretation of the Book and the instructions of the Messenger and their adherence to both of them. The Messenger wanted to declare to the nation that the man who had all qualifications for that leadership from among his close relatives was ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib.

Therefore he put him in his own place and made him his own replacement. God is the Guardian of the Messenger and the Messenger is the guardian of the believers. He has the right to administer the affairs of the believers more than the believers have to administer their own affairs and ‘Ali is the one who has a right equal to that of the Prophet in leading the Muslims and administering their affairs.

The Messenger was fully aware that people differ in memorizing what they hear and in understanding what they memorizing. Therefore he was expected to record in a special document what he verbally declared at Ghadir Khum leaving no excuse for anyone to argue in the future about the contents of the Declaration. But he did not do that.

History does not inform us of any document dictated by the Messenger and sealed by his blessed seal declaring that he had chosen ‘Ali or any other person for the leadership of the nation after him. What is the reason for the absence of such a document? We shall find the answer in the following pages.

  • 1. Ibn Hisham Biography of the Prophet Part 2 p. 6.
  • 2. Al-Tirmidhi in his Sahih Part 5 p. 328 Al-Tirmidhi said also that Abu Dharr Abu-Sa-eed (Al-Khidri) Zeid Ibn Arqam and Hutheifa lbn Oseid reported what agrees with this.
  • 3. Al-Bukhari Sahih Al-Bukhari Part 5 p. 224. Muslim in his Sahih Part 8 (Book of Pilgramage) p. 184 reported the hadith without mentioning the "Sunnah" (The Teaching of the Prophet)
  • 4. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p. 109.

15. Unfulfilled Will of the Prophet

The Prophet did not leave a written will though the Holy Qur'an commands every Muslim to make a will:

"It is prescribed when death approaches any of you if he leaves any valuables that he makes a bequest to parents and closest kins in the legitimate way. This is a duty of every righteous; If anyone changes the bequest after hearing it the guilt shall be on those who make the change. For God hears and knows (all things)." The Holy Qur'an Chapter 2 verses 180-181.

Although the verse speaks of the imperativeness of willing without specifying a method the Prophet commanded the Muslims to make their wills in writing. Muslim in his Sahih recorded the following: "Abu Salim reported that the Messenger said: 'A person who has something which he may will has no right to stay three nights without his written will.'"

Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar reported that the Prophet said: "A person that has something to will has no right to stay two nights without his written will." Muslim reported also that Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar said: "Since I heard this from the Messenger of God. I never stayed one night without my written will."1

The Prophet had the right to delay his will for days months and years because he exceptionally was on an appointment with his Lord. It is highly probable that he was Heavenly informed that he would not die until the religion of Islam was completed. However during the tenth year after the Hijrah at the completion of his Valedictory Pilgrimage the following verse was revealed:

"Today I have completed your religion for you and perfected my favor upon you and chosen Islam as a religion for you." The Holy Qur'an Chapter 5 verse 4.

By this revelation the Prophet felt the nearness of his death and that it was about time to make his will.

Thus on his way back to Medina from his pilgrimage he stopped at Ghadir Khum to make an important declaration in which he said: "I am only a mortal human. The Messenger of my Lord is about to come to me and I shall respond (to His invitation by departing from this world)." Then he declared that ‘Ali like the Prophet has more right to the believers than the believers have to themselves and that ‘Ali is the Guardian of every believer (See Chapter 14)

A Written Will Is Necessary In Important Matters Although a verbal will is valuable a written will is indispensable particularly in an important matter such as appointing a successor to lead a nation. A verbal statement can be forgotten increased decreased or inaccurately conveyed. But a written will sealed by the Prophet is difficult to change. The Prophet therefore was expected to make such a will but he did not.

It is said that he verbally told the Muslims to follow the Book of God and the precepts of His Prophet and this was a sufficient will. I disagree for the following reason:

A will by the Prophet is expected to give the Muslims some fresh instructions dealing with the future of the nation after his death. Adherence to the teaching of the Holy Qur'an and the Prophet is not of this kind because its imperativeness is self-evident to the Muslims and because obedience to God and His Messenger is repeatedly recorded in the Holy Qur'an:

"O you who believe obey God and obey the Messenger..." The Holy Quran Chapter 4 verse 59.

"Take whatever the Messenger brought to you. And avoid whatever he prohibited for you..." The Holy Quran Chapter 59 verse 7.

An unwritten statement by the Prophet cannot be as effective as a Divine word repeatedly recorded in the Book of God. Therefore such a statement dealing with such a self-evident subject cannot be the expected will of the Prophet.

The Prophet is expected more than anyone in the nation to comply with the command of God as stated in His Book and to do what he himself ordered his followers to do. If Ibn ‘Umar or any other Muslim has to write a will because he has a little wealth to will and a small family to take care of the Prophet had the final Heavenly message to secure and a whole nation to protect and direct.

Expected Crises Required Written Will The faith of Islam was still a new plantation the roots of which were not yet deepened in the soil of the Arab Society and the dangers against the faith were numerous. We all know that a civil war took place after the death of the Prophet because of the apostasy of the majority of the inhabitants of Arabia.

The Prophet was fully aware of those dangers. Al- Hakim in his Sahih Al-Mustadrak reported that Abu Muwaihibah a companion of the Messenger said:

"The Messenger of God has told me: 'I have been ordered (by God) to pray for the people of Al-Baqee (a cemetery of Medina) for forgiveness.' 'Come with me.' I went with him. When he stood in the midst of the garves he said: "Peace be upon you people of cemeteries. Congratulations to you for what you are in.You do not know what God has saved you from. The faithtesting trials are coming as pieces of a dark night one follows another...."2

Abu Bakr Left a Written Will We cannot conceive that the Prophet was less concerned with the future of the nation than his companion Abu Bakr who did not depart from this world before he appointed his successor (‘Umar). He did that in spite of the fact that the nation by the time of his death had passed the crisis of the civil war and reached an internal peace. He did that because he knew that leaving the Muslims without appointing a leader would be a negligence of their interest and a peril to their future.

A Dialogue Between ‘Umar and His Son It is worthy to note the wisdom of Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar in his dialogue with his father as the latter was dying: Abdullah: "You should appoint a successor." ‘Umar: "Whom should I appoint?" Abdullah: "You try your best. You are not their Lord.

Suppose you temporarily recall the caretaker of a land of yours. Would you not like him to have a successor during his absence until he goes back to the land?" ‘Umar: "Yes.".

Abdullah: "Suppose you recall the shepherd of your sheep. Would you not like him to have a successor until he goes back to the sheep?"3

Although ‘Umar refused to appoint a successor he did the equivalent. He chose six companions of the Prophet. He gave them the right to choose a caliph from among themselves. He ordered them to follow their majority if there were a majority. He ordered them to follow the party of Abdul-Rahman Ibn Ouf when the six were equally divided.

Thus he did not leave the Muslim nation without a directive. He defined a method by which a caliph would be selected.

The Prophet Regularly Left Successors In His Absence And the most amazing thing in this matter is that the Prophet used to appoint a successor whenever he left Medina for a few days or weeks: When he left for Badr be appointed Abu Lubabah.

When he left for Doumat Al-Jendal he appointed Ibn Arfatah.

When he left for Banu Quraidhah he appointed Ibn Om Maktoom. He appointed him also when he left for Thee Qirad.

When he left for Banul-Mustalaq he appointed Abu Dharr.

When he left for Kheibar he appointed Numailah.

When he left for Omrat Al-Qadha he appointed Ibn Al-Adhbat.

When he left for Mecca he appointed Abu Raham.

When he left for Tabuk he appointed ‘Ali.

When he left for the Valedictory Pilgrimage he appointed Abu Dujanah.4

Thus he constantly appointed successors whenever he planned to leave Medina. Yet when he left his nation forever he did not leave a document of succession!!!.

The Prophet Was Prevented From Writing A Will

The absence of a written will by the Prophet is astonishing indeed. There must have been an unusual cause that prevented the Prophet from writing a will! However when we review the records of the events of the final days of the Prophet we find that the Messenger wanted to write a will but he could not make it.

Al-Bukhari recorded in his Sahih that Ibn Abbas reported: "When the ailment of the Prophet became serious he said: 'Bring me a writing sheet I will write to you a directive after which you will not go astray.' ‘Umar said: 'The Messenger is overwhelmed by his ailment (does not know what he is saying). We have the Book of God.It is sufficient to us."

They (those who were present) disputed with each other vehemently. He (the Messenger) said: 'Go away and no dispute should take place in my presence.' Ibn Abbas went out saying: 'The tragedy the whole tragedy is what barred the Messenger of God from writing his document."5

Muslim in his Sahih recorded that Sa-eed Ibn Jubeir reported that Ibn Abbas said: "The day of Thursday and what a day of Thursday." Then he wept until he moistened the ground with his tears. I said: 'Ibn Abbas what is the day of Thursday?'

He said: "The Messenger became seriously ill and said: 'Bring me a writing sheet to write to you a directive so you will not go astray after me.' They disputed and disputes should not take place in the presence of the Prophet. And they said: "What happened to him? Did he hallucinate? Ask him." He said: 'Go away what I am in is better (than what you think of). I enjoin on you to do three things: Drive the pagans out of the Arabian Peninsula give the delegations (of various tribes who will visit Medina) as much as I used to give them.' Sa-eed said: "He (Ibn Abbas) kept silent on the third one or he said it and I forgot it."6

Obeidullah Ibn Abdullah Ibn Utabahsaid that Ibn Abbas reported: "When the Messengerof God was about to die ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab was among the men were present at his bedside. The Messenger said: 'Bring me a writing sheet. I will write to you a directive after which you will not go astray.'

‘Umar said: 'The Messenger of God was overwhelmed by ailment. You have the Holy Qur'an. The Book of God is sufficient for us.' Those who were present disagreed with each other and disputed.

Some of them said: 'Bring the Messenger what he needs. He will write to you a directive after which you will not go astray.' Some of them said what ‘Umar said. When they shouted excessively and disputed in the presence of the Messenger he said: 'Go away.' Ibn Abbas used to say: 'The tragedy the whole tragedy was their argument and dispute which barred the Messenger of God from writing to them that directive."7

Ibn Saad in his Al-Tabaqat recorded that Jabir Ibn Abdullah Al-Ansari reported: "When the Messenger was in his sickness by which he died he called for a sheet to write on it to his nation a directive (after which) they will not go astray nor will they be misled. There was at the house arguments and excessive talk. ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab spoke and the Prophet refused it."8

It is also recorded in Al-Tabaqat that ‘Umar Ibn Al- Khattab reported: "We were with the Prophet and there was a screen between us and the women. The Messenger of God said:

'Bring me seven skins filled with water (to pour them on his body in order to cool his fever) and bring me a sheet and an inkwell. I will Write to you a directive after which you will not go astray.' The women said: 'Bring the Messenger what he needs.'

‘Umar said: "I said to them: Be silent. You are his female companions. If he becomes ill you squeeze your eyes; if he is cured you hug his neck.' The Messenger of God said: They are better than you.' "9

It is also recorded in Al-Tabaqat that Zeinab the wife of the Messenger said to them: "Do you not hear the Prophet trying to write a directive for you?" They argued and the Prophet said: "Go away."10

This Unusual Event Raises Many Questions

1. Why did ‘Umar oppose the Messenger and lead the opposition against writing his will?

2. What was the Prophet trying to write in his will?

3. Why did the Prophet not write his will in spite of ‘Umar's opposition?

4. How can his directive become a security to the nation against straying? Some scholars say that ‘Umar opposed the Prophet's will out of compassion. The Prophet was dying and he was extremely tired. Writing a directive at such a time increases his tiredness. ‘Umar did not want the Prophet to over-burden himself at such a time.

It is evident that this explanation is erroneous. When was it permissible for a Muslim to prevent another Muslim commoner or great from writing his will while he is about to die? Writing a will is one of the religious duties which every Muslim is supposed to fulfill before he (she) dies.

You have already read that Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar reported that the Messenger said: "A person that has something to will has no right to stay two nights unless his will is written.".

The duty of every Muslim especially a prominent one such as ‘Umar is to assist his Muslim brother in fulfilling his religious duty rather than to prevent him from achieving it. ‘Umar and all those who were present at that hour had a manifold duty towards the attempted will of the Messenger.

The Messenger was not only a Muslim he is the Prophet of the Muslims and the founder of the faith. It was the duty of ‘Umar to offer him all assistance to fulfill his duty.

It was also the duty of ‘Umar to assist the Prophet in writing his will because the Messenger stated that his will represents a security to the nation against straying. The Messenger was always truthful.

When his will represented such a security it would be the most imperative duty of ‘Umar as an outstanding Muslim and sincere towards the nation to welcome what the Messenger wanted. With his great position in Islam ‘Umar is expected to be the happiest one to obtain such a securing directive which was necessary for the future of the Muslims.

What could be more important to the nation while the Messenger was about to leave it and the revelation of God was about to cease than to obtain a directive which would illuminate the road of the nation and secure its long future?

Furthermore the duty of all companions who were present on that occasion was to obey the command of the Messenger. He ordered them to bring him a sheet to write his will. The order of the Messenger must be and should have been obeyed.

It is erroneous to say that ‘Umar opposed his Prophet out of compassion and that he did not want him to increase his tiredness by dictating a directive. Indeed his opposition caused the Prophet a much bigger pain.

The Messenger was in his last days on this earth. When the Messenger was in the days of his strength and activity he used to command the Muslims and they used to rush to fulfill his desire even at the expense of their wealth and blood. Now in his final days in this world he asked them the cheapest thing (just a writing sheet and an inkwell) and his order was not obeyed.

The Prophet no doubt was greatly disturbed and deeply saddened by their attitude. Nothing would indicate his displeasure than his saying to them: "Go away” and his answer to ‘Umar: "They (the women) are better than you." Had they brought the Messenger what he wanted they would have lightened his pain. Nothing at that time could be more pleasing to the Prophet than the fulfillment of his religious duty by securing his nation against straying.

Abu Bakr wrote his will in which he appointed ‘Umar his successor. He did that while in his death agony fainting while dictating to Uthman the contents of the will. ‘Umar did not blame Uthman for assisting the Caliph in his will.

And how cruel would it have been to prevent Abu Bakr at such a time from writing his will.... ‘Umar himself was stabbed and fatally wounded. He did not prevent himself from willing to the Muslims what he wanted in spite of his severe pains loss of blood and fainting time after time.

While in that saddening condition he ordered six companions of the Prophet to select from among themselves a caliph to follow the majority if there were a majority and to side with Abdul-Rahman Ibn Ouf when the six are equally divided.

The Muslims obeyed his order and fulfilled his will in details though his will did not represent a security for the nation against straying. It rather led them to choose a good-hearted and weak-willed Caliph whose weakness led to his murder and his murder brought to Muslims incalculable tragedies. It is very hard indeed to believe that ‘Umar opposed the Prophet's proposed will out of concern for his health.

There is another possible explanation: It could be that ‘Umar knew what would be the content of the proposed will as he admitted later on and thought that it would not be in the best interest of the nation. Thus we may find the answer when we attempt to answer the second question.

What did the Prophet Want to Write?

It is not logical to think that the Messenger was trying at that difficult hour to write a book containing his teachings and the details of the Islamic laws. Nor was he trying to write to the Muslims the outlines of the Islamic teaching.

For the Messenger was well aware of his extremely short time on this earth.

Furthermore should the Messenger have written the outlines of the Islamic teachings at that moment he would not have secured the Muslims against straying. The outlines of the Islamic teachings are contained in the Book of God and in spite of this the Muslims are still in disagreement arguing about the details of those general outlines. And because of this many of them went astray.

The Messenger of God lived 23 years after the commencement of his Prophethood. He never wrote his teachings nor the outlines of the Islamic teachings nor did he order any Muslim to do that. Yet he was at the peak of his health and activity and the years were the years of teaching and delivery of revelation. For some wisdom he chose not to do that. It is inconceivable that he was attempting at that difficult and short time to do what he did not do during 23 years of his Prophethood.

Nor was the Prophet trying to command the Muslims to follow the Book of God and his own instructions. The Holy Qur'an as I have advanced does command the Muslims to obey God and His Messenger. Yet that does not secure the nation against straying. People are still in disagreement on the interpretation of the Holy Qur'an and the authenticity of hundreds of hadiths.

Again how could the teachings of the Prophet secure the nation against that when they are not recorded by him and according to the opinion of great many Muslims he did not appoint any authority to inform the Muslims of the details of his teachings.

The purpose of the Prophet's attempted directive could not be the two items which Sa-eed Ibn Jubier remembered from Ibn Abbas' words namely: Driving the pagans out of the Arabian Peninsula and giving the delegations amounts similar to what he used to give.

Both items do not secure the nation against straying. The purpose of the attempted directive could be the item about which Ibn Abbas kept silent or was forgotten by Sa-eed.

The Prophet Wanted to Name a Successor

It is logical to think that the Messenger wanted to appoint a leader whom he considered most knowledgeable in the Islamic teaching the sincerest to God and His religion and who would be an extension of the Prophet's personality.

That leader would be the highest authority for the nation and through his leadership the nation would walk on the clear road.

Evidently the intended leader was not ‘Umar or Abu Bakr. Had he been one of them ‘Umar would have been the happiest to see the Prophet's directive written. For we find ‘Umar after the death of the Prophet trying to justify the leadership of Abu Bakr by his being the companion of the Prophet at the Cave during the Hijrah or by his leading the congregational prayer at the time of the ailment of the Prophet.

Had the Prophet appointed Abu Bakr through his proposed directive ‘Umar would not have needed such a justification. Nor would he have needed to argue with the natives of Medina for the merit of Abu Bakr.

The words of the Messenger on the day of Ghadir Khum when he declared ‘Ali to be the Mawla (Guardian) of the Muslims were still fresh in ‘Umar's memory. When the Messenger spoke while on his deathbed of a written directive after which the Muslims will not go astray ‘Umar immediately remembered the Declaration of Ghadir Khum and many other statements.

The words are almost the same words contained in his statements about his "Itrah" (members of his House) in general and ‘Ali in particular. The Messenger of Cod said and Zayd Ibn Arqam reported:

"I have left for you that which if you hold fast you shall never go astray after me. The Book of God a rope extended between Heaven and earth and my "Itrah." Both the Book and the Itrah will not part with each other until they join me on the Day of Judgement Beware how you treat them after me."11

The Imam ‘Ali reported that the Prophet declared on the day of Ghadir Khum: "Whoever God and His Messenger are his "Mawla " This (‘Ali) is his Mawla. I have left for you what if you hold fast you will never go astray. The Book of God is His rope being held by His hand and your hands and the members of my House."12

Zayd Ibn Thabit reported that the Messenger of God said: "I am leaving in you two caliphs. The Book of God and my Itrah. Beware how you treat them after me. They will not part with each other until they join me on the Day of Judgement."13

Al-Tirmidhi in his Sahih reported through his channel to Jabir Ibn Abdullah Al-Ansari that he said: "I have seen the Messenger of God in his pilgrimage on the day of Arafat while he was riding his female camel (Al-Qusswa) delivering a sermon and I heard him saying: 'O people I have left among you that which if you uphold you will never go astray: The Book of God and the members of my house.' "14

These statements and many other similar statements were still ringing in ‘Umar's ears. When the Prophet spoke of a directive after which they will not go astray ‘Umar by his intelligence immediately understood his intention: The Prophet is trying to record ‘Ali's name in his directive. He immediately started his opposition.

Why Was ‘Umar Opposed to the Will ‘Umar during the days of his reign gave the answer in a reported dialogue between him and Ibn Abbas:

‘Umar: "How did you leave your cousin behind you?"

Ibn Abbas: "I left him playing with youths of his age (thinking that ‘Umar meant Abdullah Ibn Jaafar)."

‘Umar: "I did not mean that. I meant your great man (‘Ali) member of the House of the Prophet." Ibn Abbas: "I left him drawing water from a well through a bucket for palm trees... while reciting the Holy Qur'an.".

‘Umar: "The sacrifice of camels shall be your atonement if you conceal it from me. Is he still holding in his heart something concerning the caliphate?" Ibn Abbas: "Yes.".

‘Umar: "Does he allege that the Messenger of God appointed him?"

Ibn Abbas: "Yes and I add to this that I asked my father about his (‘Ali's) claim (of his appointment by the Messenger as his successor) and my father said ‘Ali told the truth."

‘Umar: "There were high words from the Messenger (about ‘Ali) which do not constitute a clear evidence nor remove an excuse. For some time he was testing his strength to see if he would be able to appoint him.

He wanted during his ailment to name him and I prevented him from it out of concern with (the future of) Islam. By the Lord of the Kaaba Quraish will not unite behind him and had he become a caliph the Arabs throughout the country would have revolted against him."15

‘Umar was concerned with the future of Islam. His sincerity is not questioned but why would ‘Ali's leadership be disadvantageous to Islam if the Arabs revolted against him? The Arabs revolted against Abu Bakr. Thousands and thousands deserted the faith during his reign. Yet ‘Umar did not think that he was wrong in supporting the leadership of Abu Bakr.

Again how did he know that the Arabs would revolt against ‘Ali? Was it not probable that ‘Ali would be the most acceptable to them because of his close relationship to the Prophet and his unequaled fame as a hero his righteousness and his knowledge in Islam? Then how did he expect all the Arabs to revolt against ‘Ali?

The Medinites were from the Arabs and they were the main portion of the Islamic force in that period and they were totally sympathetic with ‘Ali. As a matter of fact they were about to shift to him even after the election of Abu Bakr.

Even when ‘Ali belatedly came to power the Medinites were solidly behind him. The rest of the Arabs in all the Islamic provinces with the exception of Syria willingly gave him the pledge of fealty. It is true that a portion of the people of Basrah Iraq revolted against him and that the Syrians refused to pledge their fealty to him. But this happened only through incitements by leaders from Quraish.

The millions throughout the Muslim state accepted his leadership at a time when most of the Muslims had already forgotten his high distinctions. Had he been given the leadership at the time of the death of the Prophet and upon a written will by the Prophet the Arabs no doubt would have been more responsive to his leadership. ‘Umar said that Quraish will never unite behind ‘Ali.

This might be true. However we should not forget that Quraish united against the Prophet and fought him for twenty-one years. Should the Prophethood of Muhammad have been cancelled because of Quraish's opposition? Knowing Quraish's dark past ‘Umar should not have taken its opposition to a direction as a mark of unsoundness. He should have rather viewed it as evidence of the soundness of that direction.

Again who were the powerful leaders of Quraish at the time of the death of the Prophet? Abu Sufyan and the rest of the Pre-Islamic leaders were already conquered and lost their influence. The influential leaders at that time were

‘Ali Al-Abbas Abu Bakr ‘Umar Abu Obeidah Uthman Abdul-Rahman Ibn Ouf Talhah Al-Zubayr and the rest of righteous companions from Mecca. These leaders were expected to obey the Prophet's direction and to sway the rest of the Meccans to do so.

Furthermore history testifies that Abu Sufyan with all his grudges against ‘Ali (who killed his two sons Hanthalah Al-Walid and three of his close relatives in the Islamic defense) was willing to support ‘Ali rather than Abu Bakr.

Whether Quraish was willing or unwilling to support ‘Ali ‘Umar should have remembered that the Prophet had much more knowledge about the Meccans and the rest of the Arabs than he had. The Prophet and not ‘Umar was fought by them and he knew about them and all companions more than they knew about themselves. ‘Umar should have also remembered that the Prophet was concerned with the future of Islam much more than he was.

With all his concern with the future of Islam and his awareness of the Arab psychology the Prophet wanted to record ‘Ali's name in his will. The leadership of ‘Ali must have been the answer to the Muslims' problems.

How could he defy the Prophet?

Of course we are confronted with the big question: suppose that ‘Umar was certain of the soundness of his opinion. How did he allow himself to oppose the Prophet in spite of what is known about him of being righteous and obedient to God and His Messenger?

To answer this question we ought to know that the companions used to disagree with the Prophet occasionally in matters that belonged to worldly affairs. They used to allow themselves to do so because they believed that Islam granted them the right to disagree with him in such matters.

They wrongly believed also that the leadership of the Muslims was one of their worldly affairs. ‘Umar himself disagreed with the Prophet more than once.

The Disagreement with the Prophet at Al-Hudeibeyah It is a well-known fact in history that ‘Umar disagreed with the Prophet about the terms on which the Prophet agreed concerning the truce between the Muslims and the pagans of Mecca on the day of Al-Hudeibeyah.

It was one of the terms that any Muslim from Mecca who came to the Prophet without the permission of the Meccans had to be returned to the Meccans. But if a Muslim chose to leave the Muslims and rejoin the Meccan camp the Meccans do not have to return him to the Muslims. This appeared to ‘Umar and many other companions to be unfair to the Muslims.

The Messenger however knew better. A person that leaves Islam to a pagan camp will not benefit the Muslims if he is returned to them by force and Islam does not need such a person.

Ibn Hisham reported in his Biography of the Prophet the following: "When agreement was reached and nothing was left except writing the pact ‘Umar jumped... then he came to the Prophet and said: 'Messenger of God are you not the Messenger of God?'" The Prophet: "Yes I am.".

‘Umar: "Are we not the Muslims?"

The Prophet: "Yes you are.".

‘Umar: "Are they (the Meccans) not the pagans?"

The Prophet: "Yes they are.".

‘Umar: "Why should we accept this humiliation to our religion?".

The Prophet: "I am a servant of God and His Messenger. I shall not disobey Him and He will not forsake me."16

‘Umar used to say after that: "I am still paying charity fasting praying and freeing slaves as an atonement for what I did.".

Disagreed With the Prophet On Osamah

There was another occasion in which prominent companions disagreed with the Prophet.

Shortly before his death the Prophet appointed Osamah Ibn Zayd Ibn Harithah commander of the Muslim army which he ordered to leave for Jordan and Palestine. Abu Bakr ‘Umar Abu Obeidah and the rest of the Prominent companions except ‘Ali were in that army.

Many of the companions criticized his appointment thinking that he was too young to lead them. When this was brought to the Prophet's attention he came to the Mosque while he was sick.

He went to the pulpit and said in his address: "O people execute the expedition of Osamah. If you are criticizing his appointment you have criticized the appointment of his father before him. He is qualified for leadership and his father was qualified."17

They dragged their feet until the Messenger of God came out again while he was seriously sick and holding his head. He said: "O people execute the mission of Osamah.

Execute the mission of Osamah." But the companions did not move. Osamah and the rest of the people stayed near Medina waiting for what God would do to His Messenger.18

After the death of the Prophet many of his companions attempted to dismiss Osamah though the Messenger appointed him and by his own blessed hand he delivered the banner to him. ‘Umar came speaking for the companions from Medina requesting Abu Bakr to dismiss Osamah and replace him. Abu Bakr jumped and pulled ‘Umar's beard saying:

"May your mother be bereaved by your death and may I lose you son of Al-Khattab. The Messenger of God appointed him and you ask me to dismiss him!"19

The companions from Quraish thought that if the Prophet names ‘Ali in his will the leadership would stay in his House and would not be accessible to others from the rest of Quraish. Should ‘Ali be the successor Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein sons of ‘Ali and the leaders of the youth of Paradise by the testimony of the Prophet would be his successors. There would be no chance for Meccan or non-Meccan companions regardless of their high positions to reach the leadership of the Muslims.

The companions were human beings like the rest of the people. They had their ambitions and love of fame and they did not want to see the door of leadership slammed entirely in their faces. They wanted that door to stay open.

So it would be easy for them to reach the leadership. The rest of the clans of Mecca will support them rather than ‘Ali.

Those clans of Mecca were ready to accept any non-Hashimite companion rather than ‘Ali. They had the unholy grudge against him and they used to envy him for his brilliant record of endeavor for Islam his knowledge in religion his relationship to the Prophet and his heroism.

Should the first successor of the Prophet be a companion other than a "Hashimite" (member of the clan of the Prophet) the rest of the Meccan clans could attain the leadership because the non-Hashimite clans are equal. None of them is inferior or superior to others. Tyme (the clan of Abu Bakr) is not better than Uday (the clan of ‘Umar) and Uday is not better than Umayyad or Zuhrah or any other Meccan clan.

Ibn Al-Athir recorded a dialogue between ‘Umar and Ibn Abbas which indicates that ‘Umar and the rest of the Qureshites were of this idea:

‘Umar: "Ibn Abbas do you know what prevented your people (Quraish) from giving you (the Hashimites) the leadership after Muhammad ?"

Ibn Abbas: "If I do not know the Commander of the Believers (‘Umar) can inform me."

‘Umar: "They disliked letting you have both the Prophethood and the caliphate lest you dominate your people. Quraish (the Meccan community) had chosen for itself. It did the right thing and succeeded.”

Ibn Abbas: If the Commander of the Believers permits me to speak and holds away his anger I will speak."

‘Umar: "Speak.".

lbn Abbas: "You said that Quraish has chosen for itself and did the right thing and succeeded. Should Quraish have chosen for itself what God had chosen for it the right would have been on its side without being refused or envied.

As to the statement that they disliked to let us have the Prophethood and the caliphate certainly God has described some people with such an attitude and said: 'That is because they disliked what God has revealed so he nullified their deeds.'".

‘Umar: "lbn Abbas by God I heard things about you which I did not like to believe lest I lose your respect." Ibn Abbas: "Commander of the Believers what are the things you heard about me? if they are true they should not make you lose my respect; if they are false a person like me should be able to clear himself of falsehood."

‘Umar: "I heard that you say: 'They (the community of Mecca) diverted it (the caliphate) from us out of jealousy aggression and injustice.'".

Ibn Abbas: "Commander of the Believers as to the injustice it has become obvious to the ignorant and the wise; as to the jealousy Adam was envied and we are his envied children.".

‘Umar: "It is too far. Children of Hashim by God your hearts refuse to harbor but a permanent jealousy."

Ibn Abbas: "Commander of the Believers be not hasty.Do not describe this way the hearts of people whom God made spotless and purified them of jealousy and bad faith.The heart of the Messenger of God is from the hearts of the children of Hashim."

‘Umar: "Ibn Abbas be away from me." Ibn Abbas: "I will." (Ibn Abbas said): "When I was attempting to stand up he (‘Umar) felt embarrassed and said: 'Ibn Abbas stay where you are. By God I am observing your right and loving what pleases you.'"

Ibn Abbas: "Commander of the Believers I am entitled to a right which is due from you and from every Muslim.

Whoever observes it avails himself and whoever does not is the loser."20

‘Umar and other companions thought that since the Meccan clans do not support ‘Ali out of jealousy and grudge it would be more advisable to have a leader other than him though the Messenger chose ‘Ali.

Quraish is the community which fought Islam and the Prophethood for twenty-one years then embraced Islam reluctantly after a crushing defeat. The same community had become the decider of the future of the Muslim nation.

The Meccan community's support became a decisive factor that tipped the scale in favor of any contender for the Islamic leadership. This is astonishing. But this was the logic of the events.

Why did the Prophet not insist on Writing his Directive?

This brings us to the third question: Why did the Messenger not write his directive in spite of ‘Umar's opposition?

The answer is obvious: The purpose of the intended directive is to secure the nation against straying. This can be realized only if the writer of the directive were conscious alert knowing what he said and meaning what he said.

But the method of the opposition was clearly casting the doubt on the consciousness of the Messenger and the soundness of his mind at that hour. They said: "The Messenger is being overwhelmed by his ailment " or "What happened to him?" or "Did he hallucinate? Ask him.”

All these words portrayed the Messenger as unconscious of what he was saying or at least seeding the doubt in the minds of others about the consciousness of the Prophet and the soundness of his thinking. Other companions at that meeting shared ‘Umar's opposition.

When soundness of the words of the Prophet are doubted the directive is rendered ineffective. If such a doubt could be expressed while he was alive it would be much easier to express after his death. By this the intended directive had lost its significance and would not serve its purpose.

Sa-eed Ibn Jubier said that Ibn Abbas reported: "When the ailment of the Prophet grew he said: 'Bring me an ink-well and a sheet. I will write to you a directive after which you will never go astray.' Some of those who were present with him said 'The Prophet is hallucinating.' Then the Prophet was asked if he still wants to write a directive. He said: 'After what?' (What is its benefit after what has been said?)21

And finally we come to the fourth and final question of the subject:

How could the directive of the messenger be a security to the nation against straying?

No one has the right to claim that he knows what the Prophet knew about the method by which he can secure his nation against straying. However what appears clearly is the following:

Security Against Sectarianism

1. Had the Messenger named a person specifically in a written document while his consciousness and soundness of thinking were not doubted he would have avoided the nation a serious division. Had he named ‘Ali or Abu Bakr or any other one in such a directive the Muslims would have surrendered to his leadership and the division of the Muslims into Sunni and Shi’a would not have taken place.

This division was born out of the dispute about who was the legitimate successor of the Prophet: Is he Abu Bakr or ‘Ali? Should the Messenger have named either of the two men or another one such a division could not have arisen.

The Prophet made many verbal statements about ‘Ali but a written statement is much more effective. A verbal statement as we advanced can be denied added to curtailed or forgotten. A recorded statement is much more difficult to be tampered with.

Abu Bakr named ‘Umar in writing. And all the followers of Abu Bakr followed his directive. A directive by the Prophet could have been much more effective and more adhered to by the Muslims than that of Abu Bakr.

Naming a successor by such a directive could have prevented the birth of "Kharijis" (seceders) doctrine which repudiates ‘Ali and Uthman and calls for a Muslim state without a government. The war of Siffin which produced this doctrine could not have happened.

The civil war of Siffin between the Imam ‘Ali and Muawiya and prior to that the war of Basrah Iraq between the Imam on one side and Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubayr on the other side were the result of the murder of Uthman the Third Caliph.

Should ‘Ali have been named a caliph in a written directive Uthman would have died before coming to power because ‘Ali outlived him. Had ‘Ali become the caliph upon a written directive from the Prophet Muawiya could not have come to power nor could his transgressor son Yazeed have been able to massacre the children of the Messenger at Karbala. Nor could the war between the son of Al-Zubayr and the Umayyads and many other tragedies and wars have happened.

All these events were the result of the absence of a Prophet's written directive. Had such a directive been in existence the history of Islam would have changed and we would be reading an Islamic history dissimilar to what we read today.

I would like to rush to say that I do not consider the Second Caliph (‘Umar) by his opposition to the proposed directive responsible for the division between the Muslims and all what followed. ‘Umar was a human being unable to foresee the future of the Muslim nation.

All what ‘Umar was thinking of is that the leadership of the Muslims after the death of the Messenger is one of the worldly affairs which the Meccan companions have the right to decide in it according to what their interest dictated to them.

He did not want the Prophet to write a final word in this matter in order to keep the door open for the companions. Should the Messenger have written his directive his word becomes final. The Holy Qur'an declares:

"And it is not permissible to a believing man or a believing woman when God and His Messenger have decided an affair (for them) that they should (after that) claim any say in their affairs: And whoever is rebellious to God and His Messenger he verily goes astray in error manifest." The Holy Quran Chapter 33 Verse 36.

(It is worthy to note that when a Divine decision is stated verbally it would be as final as a written one. Otherwise all the Prophet's decisions and statements would not be binding because they were not written during his time.)

The only one who was able to foresee the future and not through his own power but through the revelation was the Prophet himself. He had seen by the light of God the future of his nation and that if it would remain without a written directive the faith-testing trials will close on it as pieces of a dark night (and this is what his companion Abu Muwaihibah reported). Thus he wanted to spare the nation those foreseen trials which would destroy its unity.

And for this he said: "Bring me an inkwell and a sheet to write to you a directive after which you will not go astray."

Security Against School Division

A written directive by the Prophet in which he names his successor would not only be a security to the nation against sectarian divisions but also against the multiplicity of the Islamic School of Law.

The Prophet declared that the Qur'an and his "Itrah" (members of his House) are the security against straying and that the Holy Qur'an and the "Itrah" will not part with each other until the Day of Judgement.

Were ‘Ali (the head of the members of the House of the Prophet) the highest Muslim authority after the Prophet he would have been that security. He was undisputedly the most knowledgeable in the Holy Qur'an and the teaching of the Prophet. The first two Caliphs (Abu Bakr and ‘Umar) with all their profound knowledge in Islam used to resort to him in what they did not know.

‘Umar repeatedly said: "Had not the counsel of ‘Ali been available ‘Umar would have perished (religiously)." And he said: "May God not keep me to a problem for which Abu Hassan (‘Ali) is not available." Ibn Saad reported that ‘Ali said: "By God there isn't a revealed verse which I do not know about what and where and about whom it was revealed. My Lord has granted me a comprehending mind and a fluent and inquiring tongue."22

‘Ali was asked why was he among the companions of the Prophet the biggest reporter of his statements? He replied: "He used to inform me when I asked him and to initiate (his teaching) when I was silent."23

Sa-eed Ibn Al-Musavab said: "No one other than ‘Ali ever said: 'Ask me before you miss me.' "24 ‘Ali is the one about whom the Messenger of God said: "I am the city of knowledge and ‘Ali is its gate. Whoever wants to enter the city should come through the gate."25

Omm Salemah (wife of the Prophet) reported that she heard the Prophet saying: "‘Ali is with the Qur'an and the Qur'an is with ‘Ali.

They will not part with each other until the Day of Judgement." 26

Had ‘Ali been the immediate successor of the Prophet through his written directive the instructions of the Prophet would have been known and the Muslims would have agreed upon them in the various branches of the islamic laws.

Thus the Prophet wanted to use ‘Ali as the uniting force for all muslims in all generations and this could have prevented them from going astray.

  • 1. These three hadiths are recorded by Muslim in his Sahih Part 11 (The Book of Will) pp. 74-75. The second of them is also recorded by Al-Bukhari in his Sahih Part 4 p. 3.
  • 2. Al-Hakim in his Al-Mustadrak Part 3 pp. 5-6. Ibn Hisham also reported this hadith in his Biography of the Prophet Part 2 p. 642. Ibn Sa’d also reported in his Al-Tabaqat Part 2 p. 204.
  • 3. Ibn Sa’d Al-Tabaqat Part 3 p. 343. Muslim in his Sahih also reported what is similar to this Part 12 p. 206.
  • 4. Ibn Hisham Biography of the Prophet.
  • 5. Al-Bukhari Sahih Al-Bukhari Part 1 p. 39.
  • 6. Muslim in his Sahih Part 11 (at the end of the Book of Will) p. 89. Ibn Sa’d also recorded it in his Al-Tabaqat Part 2 p. 242 And so did Imam Ahmad in his Musnad Part 1 p. 222.
  • 7. Muslim in his Sahih Part 11 p. 95. Similar to this is recorded by Ibn Sa’d in his Al-Tabaqat Part 2 p. 244. Imam Ohmad also rcorded it in his Musnad Part 1 p. 336.
  • 8. Ibn Sa’d recorded it in his Al-Tabaqat Part 2 p. 242. Similar report by Jabir is recorded in the same Part 2 p. 244. In this report Jabir said: "They excessively talked at the presence of the Prophet until he refused it.".
  • 9. Ibn Sa’d Al-Tabaqat Part 2 pp. 243-244.
  • 10. Ibn Sa’d Al-Tabaqat Part 2 p.244.
  • 11. Al-Tirmidhi Part 5 p.328.
  • 12. Recorded by Ibn Rahawaih Ibn Jareer Ibn Abu Assim and Al- Mahamili in his Amali (Kansul-Ummal Part 15 hadith 356)
  • 13. Imam Ahmad in his Musnad Part 5 p. 181.
  • 14. Al-Tirmidhi in his Sunan Part 5 p.328. Al-Tirmidhi said also that Abu Dharr Abu Sa-eed (Al-Khidri) Zeid Ibn Arqam and Hutheifa lbn Oseid reported what agrees with this.
  • 15. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid in his Commentaries on Nahjul-Balaghah Vol.3 p.278. And Ahmad Ibn Tahir in his History of Baghdad (Sharaful-Ddeen Al-Murajaat)
  • 16. Ibn Hisham Biography of the Prophet Part 2 pp. 216-217 Similar to this is recorded by Muslim in Sahih Muslim.
  • 17. Ibn Sa’d Al-Tabaqat Part 2 p. 249.
  • 18. Ibid p. 249.
  • 19. Al-Halabi in his Biography of the Prophet Part 3 p. 336 and Addahlani in his Biography of the Prophet and Ibn Jareer in his history book where he recorded the event of the year 12 after the Hijrah (Al-Murajaat by Sayed Sharaful-deen p. 225)
  • 20. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil Part 3 p. 31.
  • 21. Ibn Sa’d Al-Tabaqat Part 2 p. 242.
  • 22. Muttaqi Hindi in his Kanzul-Ummal Part 15 p. 113.
  • 23. Ibid p. 113.
  • 24. Ibid p. 113.
  • 25. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p. 124.
  • 26. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p. 127.

Part 2: The Imam During The Era Of The Three Caliphs

16. Abu Bakr Succeeds

Finally the inevitable came to pass. The Prophet Muhammad died and his death was the greatest loss mankind ever suffered. The Heavenly revelation to the people of the earth came to an end. He was the Final of the Prophets and no prophet will come after him.

The Muslims were so overwhelmed by the death of the Prophet that it was difficult for an outstanding companion to conceive it.

‘Umar Denied the Prophet's Death

‘Umar stood at the Mosque saying: "Some hypocrites allege that the Messenger of God died. The Messenger did not die. He only went to his Lord as Moses son of Imran went to his Lord. He left his people for forty nights then he returned to them after it was said that he died. By God the Messenger of God will return as Moses returned. He will sever the hands and legs of men alleging that he died."1

Abu Bakr's Speech

Abu Bakr was more realistic and present-minded than ‘Umar. He stood up and said:

"O people whoever was worshipping Muhammad should know that Muhammad has died. Whoever was worshipping God should know that God is living and never dies." Then he recited the following verses:

"And Muhammad is but a Messenger. The Messengers before him passed away. Should you turn on your heels if he will die or be killed? And whoever turns on his heels will not harm God in the least. And God will reward the thankful."2

Hearing these words ‘Umar realized that the Prophet was dead and fell to the ground.

Preoccupied With Holy Funeral

The crushing weight of the tragedy was felt by no one as it was felt by ‘Ali and the rest of the members of the House of the Prophet. The death of the Prophet made them unconscious of other things in the world. The sadness of this bereaved family was indescribable. They wished to depart from this world when he departed.

The Prophet confided in his daughter Fatima Al-Zahra twice during his ailment. He once informed her of his death and she cried. Then he informed her that she will be the first member of his family to follow him and she laughed.

She was joyful to know that she would not be separated from him for long.

Her husband ‘Ali spent twenty-three years with the Prophet offering his life for the protection of the Prophet against danger. Suddenly he beheld that that precious life had ended while he was unable to redeem it. The death of the Prophet was more painful to ‘Ali than if he himself had met his own death.

Political Conference

The tragedy however did not prevent the rest of the companions Meccans and Medinites from political thinking and doing while the Prophet was not yet buried.

As previously mentioned the Messenger attempted but could not write a will in which he was expected to name a successor. He tried to name a man whose leadership represented a security to the nation against straying. A group of companions led by ‘Umar objected to recording such a document and the method of their objection rendered the Prophet's proposed document useless.

The Declaration of Ghadir Khum and the rest of the statements of the Prophet on various occasions concerning ‘Ali were ignored. The best that can be said about the attitude of the companions towards these statements is that they did not see in them compelling evidence for ‘Ali's appointment. The Meccans and the Medinites started and ended their competition for leadership before the Prophet was buried.

‘Umar Spoke of the Conference

‘Umar during the last year of his reign spoke of what took place after the death of the Prophet. He informed his audience that when the Prophet died the Medinites led by Saad Ibn Abadah separated themselves from the Meccans and their prominent men conferred at Saqifat Banu-Saidah trying to select a caliph from among themselves. ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib Al-Zubayr Ibn Al-Awam and others with them shied away and the Meccans went with Abu Bakr.

Abu Bakr ‘Umar and Abu Obediah Ibn Al-Jarrah went to the conference of the Medinites to thwart their attempt.

Abu Bakr said to the Medinites that the Arabs would not accept a leader from other than the clans of Quraish (people of Mecca) who were the most prominent among the Arabs and from the most honorable city. It is reported that Abu Bakr told them that the Holy Prophet one time declared that the Imams are from Quraish.3

"I am satisfied he told them with the leadership of any of these two men (‘Umar and Abu Obediah). Give your allegiance to whomever you choose of the two." Some of the Medinites suggested having a leader from them and another from the Meccans. The argument was heated and ‘Umar said to Abu Bakr: "Extend your hand." Abu Bakr did and ‘Umar shook his hand and pledged to him his allegiance. The attending Meccans followed him and the conferring Medinites with the exception of Saad Ibn Abadah and his strong supporters accorded.

On the following day people gathered at the Mosque.

‘Umar stood up and told the audience: "God has enabled you to agree on your best the companion of the Prophet who accompanied him at the Cave (of Thour at the time of the Hijrah). Rise up and give your allegiance to him." And they did.4

Legal And Historical Questions

The succession of Abu Bakr raises these questions:

1. Did Abu Bakr ever claim that the Messenger of God made him his successor?

2. If the Prophet did not appoint him did he desire to appoint him?

3. Was the election of Abu Bakr legal from the Islamic point of view?

4. Did the Messenger say: "The Imams are from Quraish?" and what did he mean by that?

History answers the first question in the negative for Abu Bakr never claimed that the Messenger made him his successor. Nor did any of the companions who worked diligently for the establishment of his caliphate ever claim that the Messenger made Abu Bakr his successor.

The reader may remember that the argument of Abu Bakr which he introduced at the Medinite's conference did not contain any hint to any appointment by the Prophet. He only told the conferees that Arabs would not recognize any leadership that was not a Qureshite.

For Quraish he said are the most respected people among the Arabs and they are from the most honorable city. Had the Prophet expressed his desire to make him his successor Abu Bakr would have made the Prophet's statement his sole argument without resorting to the distinction of Quraish. ‘Umar also would have quoted such a statement to support his argument for Abu Bakr's election.

The Sunni scholars unanimously agree that the Holy Prophet never appointed a successor. This means that they agree that he did not make Abu Bakr his successor.

However it is reported that a contemporary Medinite scholar from the Wahabis claimed that the Messenger of God appointed Abu Bakr as his successor.5

He supported his claim by a hadith which reported that the Messenger said: "And God and the believers reject (any leadership) except that of Abu Bakr." He also claimed that this hadith is "Mutawatir" (reported through numerous channels which makes it certain)

This hadith is what Muslim in his Sahih recorded through his channel to Urwah who reported that Ayeshah said: "The Messenger said to me: Call for me your father Abu Bakr and your brother so that I can write a directive.

I fear that a wisher may wish and a sayer may say: I have more right (to the leadership than Abu Bakr) and God and the believers reject (any leadership) except that of Abu Bakr."6

Al-Bukhari recorded it in a similar way but it contained the word: "I almost attempted to call Abu Bakr and his son and write a directive...." 7

It is worthy to note that this hadith is not mutawatir as this Wahabi scholar claimed for it was not reported by numerous companions. As a matter of fact it was reported only by Ayeshah.

However introducing this hadith as evidence for the appointment of Abu Bakr as a successor is evidence of the lack of profound knowledge of the hadiths for this hadith is opposed by three authentic hadiths which are reported by Ayeshah herself:

Ayeshah Reported the Opposite

Muslim recorded through his channel to Masrooq that Ayeshah said: "The Messenger of God did not leave behind him a dinar or a dirham or a sheep or a camel nor did he will anything."8

Had the Prophet appointed Abu Bakr as his successor Ayeshah would not have said: "Nor did he (the Prophet) will anything." For if he had appointed Abu Bakr he would have willed a very important thing.

Muslim also recorded through his channel to Al-Aswad Ibn Yazeed that he reported that people mentioned in the presence of Ayeshah that ‘Ali was the executor (of the Holy Prophet). She said: "When did he (the Prophet) make him his executor? I was supporting the back of the Messenger by my chest or she said by my lap. He called for a basin then he collapsed on my lap and I did not think that he died. When did he make him his executor?"9

This hadith explains the previous hadith in which Ayeshah said: "Nor did he will anything." In both hadiths she was trying to disprove that the Messenger made ‘Ali his executor. This by itself indicates that the idea of the executorship of Abu Bakr was not in circulation among people.

What was in circulation is that the Messenger made ‘Ali his executor. Therefore she was trying actively to disprove it.

Had she known that the Messenger appointed Abu Bakr she would have said to those who mentioned ‘Ali's executorship that her father rather than ‘Ali was the executor.

Muslim also recorded through his channel to Abu Maleekah that he reported the following: "I heard Ayeshah and she was questioned: Had the Prophet wanted to appoint a successor whom would he have appointed? She said Abu Bakr. They said to her: Then whom would he have appointed after Abu Bakr? She said: ‘Umar. Then she was asked: Whom would he have appointed after ‘Umar? She said: Abu Obeidah Ibn Al-Jar- rah. Then she stopped there."10

Had the Messenger said: "and God and the believers reject (any leadership) except that of Abu Bakr she would have rejected the hypothetical question concerning the Prophet's appointment of a successor. For the appointment would be a fact rather than a hypothesis and Abu Bakr would be the actual appointee. But Ayeshah treated the matter hypothetically because the Prophet made no such statement concerning Abu Bakr.

Obvious Prejudice

The prejudice of Ayeshah against ‘Ali is clear in the last three hadiths. In Abu Maleekah's hadith she tried to tell us that Abu Obeidah was more beloved to the Prophet and was more deserving to be caliph than ‘Ali. No one subscribes to this for the Muslims unanimously agree that ‘Ali was higher and more beloved to the Messenger of God tban Abu Obeidah.

In Al-Aswad Ibn Yazeed's hadith the mother of believers tried to disprove the executorship of ‘Ali through no proof. Granting that the Messenger died while he was reclining on her chest and that he did not make ‘Ali his executor at that hour this does not disprove ‘Ali's executorship.

The Holy Prophet spoke publicly at Ghadir Khum in ‘Ali's behalf saying to thousands of Pilgrims that ‘Ali was the "Mawla" (Guardian) of the believers and that he is like the Prophet in having more right to them than they have to themselves.

Furthermore Omm Salemah reported what contradicts the claim of Ayeshah. Al-Hakim through a channel which he and Al-Thahabi considered to be authentic reported that Omm Salemah (wife of the Prophet) said: "By the One in Whose Name I swear ‘Ali was the last one in contact with the Messenger of God. We visited the Prophet before noon and he was saying repeatedly: "Did ‘Ali come?"

Fatima said: "It seems that you have sent him for a mission." She (Omm Salemah) said: "‘Ali came and I thought that the Prophet had something to tell him confidentially. We left the room-and sat at the door and I was the nearest to the door. The Messenger leaned upon ‘Ali confiding in him and speaking to him secretly. Then the Messenger of God died on that day. Thus ‘Ali was the last one who was with the Prophet."11

The Story of Maghafeer

Ayeshah used to allow herself to report some events which never took place if the report would serve the interest which she favored. The story of Maghafeer (a thick secretion which comes out of some particular trees) is well known in the Islamic history and mentioned in the Holy Qur'an in Chapter 66 of "Al-Tahreem."

She and Hafssah (daughter of the Second Caliph) conspired that each one of them individually was to say to the Prophet: "I smell on you the odor of Al-Maghafeer " while both of them knew that this was untrue.

Al-Bukhari recorded in his Sahih that Obeid Ibn Omeir reported that Ayeshah said: "The Messenger of God used to drink honey at the house of Zeinab daughter of Juhsh (another wife of the Prophet) and stay with her. Hafssah and I conspired to tell the Prophet when he comes to either one of us: "You have eaten Maghafeer. I smell the odor of Maghafeer."

He said: "No but I was drinking honey at Zeinab's house and I will not do it again. And I swear that you shall not inform anyone about this."12

Ayeshah betrayed the trust of the Prophet by revealing what he commanded her not to reveal. God informed him of that and this made the Prophet angry. The chapter of Al-Tahreem was revealed for this event. It contains the following:

"When the Prophet disclosed a matter in confidence to one of his wives and she then divulged it to (another) and God made it known to him he (the Prophet) told (her) a portion of it and mentioned not another portion. When he told her thereof she said: Who told thee this? He said:

The One who knows and is well acquainted (with all things). If ye (both) were to turn in repentance to the Al-mighty your hearts would be indeed so inclined. But (if ye collaborate) with each other against him (the Prophet) truly God is his protector; and Gabriel and the righteous believers and furthemore the angels will assist him."13

Al-Bukhari reported also through his channel to Obeid Ibn Hunein that he said: I heard Ibn Abbas saying: I stayed a whole year trying to ask ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab about a Qur'anic verse and I could not ask out of apprehension until he set out for pilgrimage and I was with him.

While we were on the road coming back to Medina he deviated to some trees to relieve himself. Ibn Abbas said: I waited for him until he finished then I walked with him.

I said: Amir Al-Mumineen (Commander of Believers) who are the two of the wives of the Holy Prophet that collaborated against the Prophet? ‘Umar said: They are Hafssah and Ayeshah.14

‘Umar Considered the Election as "Faltah"

If any one asks for more evidence on the fact that the Holy Prophet did not make Abu Bakr his successor the following statement of ‘Umar concerning the election of Abu Bakr is sufficient to clear the matter completely: Al-Bukhari in his Sahih15 Ibn Hisham in his Biography of the Prophet16 and Imam Ahmad in his Musnad17 reported that ‘Umar said in a sermon he delivered during the last year of his caliphate:

"...I am informed that a man from among you says: By God if ‘Umar dies I will elect "Fulan" (an x person whose name ‘Umar did not want to mention). No man should be deceived by saying to himself that the election of Abu Bakr was "Faltah " and it passed. Certainly the election of Abu Bakr was a "Faltah" (a hasty action without due deliberation)....".

This indicates that the Holy Prophet never expressed his desire to make Abu Bakr his caliph. Had the Prophet expressed such a desire or said what was reported through Ayeshah the election of Abu Bakr would not have been a hasty action and without due deliberation. It would have been rather of the best planned action for it would have been planned by God and His Messenger.

‘Umar's Last Statement

However the Second Caliph made this completely clear after he was stabbed. Muslim in his Sahih18 and Ibn Saad in Al-Tabaqat19 and Ibn Hisham in his Biography of the Prophet20 reported that Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar said that he advised his father to name a successor and ‘Umar said: "If I do not name a successor the Messenger of God did not name a successor; and if I name a successor Abu Bakr named a successor.".

Al-Bukhari in his Sahih reported that Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar said: "It was said to his father: Why do you not name a successor?" He said: "If I name a successor one better than myself Abu Bakr did name a successor. And if I do not name a successor one better than myself the Messenger of God did not name a successor."21

Did the messenger of god desire to appoint abu bakr as his successor?

The events of the last days of the life of the Holy Prophet clearly indicate that the succession of Abu Bakr was not on the mind of the Messenger. Nothing substantiates that like the expedition of Osamah.

The Messenger of God made Osamah Ibn Zayd Ibn Harithah a commander in chief of an army and issued a directive in which he commanded him to overrun the borders of Al-Balqa and Al-Daroom in the land of Palestine. People prepared themselves and the early migrants from Mecca joined the army of Osamah.22

From the well-known events of history in Osamah's expedition are the following:

1. Abu Bakr ‘Umar and others from the early migrants were in Osamah's army.23

2. ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib was not in that army.

It seems that the Messenger did not want ‘Ali to participate in more battles after the Islamic state was established in the Arab Peninsula as a result of the defensive battles in which ‘Ali was the outstanding hero.

He did not allow (or at least did not order) him to attend the Battle of Mutah where he sent a Muslim army under the leadership of Zayd Ibn Harithah (father of Osamah) to the borders of Syria where Zayd Jaafar Ibn Abu Talib and Abdullah Ibn Rawahah were killed. Nor did he allow ‘Ali to join him in the campaign of Tabuk. He chose to keep him in Medina to succeed him in his absence.

The foundations of the Islamic state were already established and it became unnecessary to expose ‘Ali's life to more dangers. Therefore he did not send him with the army of Osamah. Had ‘Ali been in that expedition the expedition would have been under his leadership rather than the leadership of Osamah.

The Prophet never put ‘Ali under any leadership in any battle. He was the bearer of the banner of the Holy Prophet in all the battles which were led by the Prophet.24 And he was the Commander in Chief of every expedition in which the Holy Prophet sent ‘Ali.

The readers of the history of Islam knew that the Prophet gave Abu Bakr and ‘Umar the command of the army at the Battle of Kheibar on two consecutive days. ‘Ali was at that time suffering from inflammation of his eyes which prevented him from participating in the battle.

When his eyes were miraculously cured on the third day ‘Ali became the Commander in Chief and the two sheikhs Abu Bakr and ‘Umar and the rest of the companions were under his leadership.

Ibn Saad reported that the Messenger of God made Osama commander of the army. When Wednesday came the ailment of the Messenger began; he had fever and a headache. On Thursday morning he gave the banner to Osamah: Osamah carried the banner then delivered it to Buraidah Al-Aslami and camped at Al-Jurf.

All distinguished companions from the Meccans and Medinites including Abu Bakr ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab Abu Obeidah Ibn Al-Jar- rah and Saad Ibn Abu Waqass joined Osamah's army."25

3. The Messenger fell ill after he gave the banner to Osamah. The army was still near Medina and did not begin its journey yet. The Messenger was alarmed by the slowness of the army's motion and reluctance of the soldiers to leave Medina.

Therefore he went to the Mosque twice while he was ill commanding them to begin their journey and to move quickly. He repeated his order three times in one sermon.26

He did all this while he was aware of the nearness of his death. His awareness of his death is reported in the following hadiths:

A. Ibn Hisham recorded that Abu Muwaihibah reported that the Prophet accompanied him to Al-Baqee cemetery at night before the beginning of his illness. The Prophet stood in the graveyard and congratulated its dwellers for being spared future faith-testing crises. Abu Muwaihibah reported that the Messenger said to him:

"Abu Muwaihibah I have been given the keys of the treasures of this world and the eternal life in it along with Paradise (in the Hereafter). I was given the choice between that and meeting my Lord and Paradise. Abu Muwaihibah said: May my father and mother be your redemp tion.Take the keys of the treasures of this world and the eternal life in it along with Paradise. He said: "No Abu Muwaihibah I have chosen to meet my Lord and Paradise."27

B. And when he sat on his pulpit delivering a sermon while he was sick he according to Ibn Hisham concluded the sermon by saying: "Certainly God has given a choice to one of His servants (the Prophet was referring to himself) between this world along with the Hereafter and what the Lord has. The servant chose what the Lord has (he chose to meet his Lord).28 Thus he was informing his audience that he was about to depart from this world.

C. Muslim recorded in his Sahih that the Holy Prophet said to his daughter Fatima while he was suffering from his ailment by which he died: "Gabriel used to review the Holy Qur'an with me once or twice a year and now he has reviewed it with me twice." Then he said to her: "I sense that my death is drawing nigh. Be obedient to God and patient I am a good ancestor of yours.... "29

D. Al-Bukhari through his channel to Ayeshah recorded that she said: "The Prophet called upon Fatimah (peace be upon her) in his ailment in which he died and confided in her on a matter and she cried:

Then he confided in her on another matter and she laughed. When we asked her about that she said: 'He informed me that he will die in his present ailment and I cried. Then he informed me that I shall be the first among the members of his House to follow him and I laughed."30

All these hadiths testify that he was fully aware of the nearness of his death.

Had the Messenger been desirous to appoint Abu Bakr as his successor while he knew the nearness of his death he would not have ordered him to leave Medina quickly.

Instead of urging Abu Bakr along with the others to leave Medina the Prophet should have prevented Abu Bakr from joining the expedition.

For the expedition of Osamah to reach the land of Palestine fight and return to Medina it would take two months or more. The Prophet on the other hand might have died a few days after the departure of the army and he himself was expecting to die soon.

He did not appoint Abo Bakr before the departure of the army. He could not appoint him after his return with the army from Palestine because Abu Bakr would not be able to see the Prophet alive.

He would not appoint him while he was absent from Medina for it would be inconceivable that the Messenger would allow the capital to be without a caliph after his death for two months or more while he knew the dangers which were threatening Medina and the Faith of Islam.

Furthermore Abu Bakr could have been killed while he was in the expedition. The death of a caliph at a battle during that serious period would lead to the worst consequences for the Muslims and Islam.

Had the Messenger been desirous to appoint Abu Bakr as a successor he would not have allowed him to be in that army. But the fact is that the delay of Abu Bakr and other companions in Medina was against the will of the Prophet which he made clearly known. He emphatically urged them to execute the mission of Osamah repeating that several times while he was on the pulpit and on his deathbed.

Thus Abu Bakr in spite of his high position and the love of the Prophet to him was not meant by the Prophet to be his successor.

Was the Election Of Abu Bakr Legal?

The Muslims had the right to elect Abu Bakr if the Messenger did not choose another person to succeed him. And Abu Bakr had the right to accept the election. Such an election constitutes a contract which exacts from both sides its fulfillment according to the conditions on which the election was based.

When the conditions of the election demand from the elected to follow the Book of God and the teaching of the Prophet and that the elector should obey his elect in what is considered to be an obedience to God and His Messenger the election would be sound and binding to both sides.

However such an election in spite of its legality had two negative sides:

1. The right to disagree with the majority. Since the succession of Abu Bakr came by a popular election rather than by the Prophet's selection a good Muslim could have refused to join his electors without sinning. Every Muslim is entitled to political freedom and no one has the right to force any one to do what he does not want or to impose on him a restriction that did not come from God. He should not be forced to elect a person whom he does not want to authorize.

It is equally true that the minority has no right to stand in the way of the majority and to prevent it from administering the affairs of the country as long as there is an explicit or implicit agreement that the majority rules the country.

Even in the absence of such an agreement the majority has the right to run the country. This is because the minority has no right to administer the affairs of the majority and if the majority is to be obstructed the country would be ruined.

Since every individual has the right to disagree with the majority it would be an injustice on the part of the majority to force a minority to agree with it. For this we think it was an injustice to force Al-Zubayr Ibn Al-Awam to elect Abu Bakr though he was qualified for leadership.

Abu Bakr was not appointed by God and His Messenger and Al- Zubayr's refusal to elect him did not constitute a violation of any Divine commandment. Abu Bakr and the majority of the companions entered into a pact and Al-Zubayr had the right not to be a part of that pact. Forcing him to enter into such a pact was an encroachment on his rights.

It was more than unfair to try to force ‘Ali to join the electors after the Prophet declared him the "Mawla" (Guardian) of every Muslim including Abu Bakr. The right of an individual or a minority to disagree with the majority is sacred and observed in all democratic elections.

When more than one nominee compete for a high office and one of the nominees wins the majority's votes the majority does not attempt to force the electors of the loser to join them in electing the winner.

Even in a nation with one political party where the government asks people to cast their votes by saying yes or no; when the result becomes known the government never forces those who said "no" to say "yes." This is the attitude of Islam the religion of justice.

Forcing people to do what they do not have to do is an aggression and God does not love the aggressors.

When the Imam ‘Ali was elected after the death of Uthman Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar Saad Ibn Abu Waqass Osamah Ibn Zayd and other companions refused to elect him. The Imam did not force them to join the majority nor did he consider them trangressors He only demanded from them not to hinder his administration.

The companions who lived at the time of Abu Bakr's election had the right to elect or refuse to elect him and they had the right to believe or disbelieve in his qualification. If so the Muslim generations who were born after that election had the same right. They would not be sinning by taking a positive or a negative attitude towards the caliphate of Abu Bakr.

From this it becomes evident that the mutual incrimination by the Muslims of today for their positive or negative attitude toward the caliphate of Abu Bakr is erroneous and represents extremism.

2. The second negative aspect of this kind of legitimate leadership is that it does not make the word or the deed of the caliph a sacred law. Before his election he was like any other companion unimmuned of error; and he would remain so after the election.

The election does not change his personality nor does it increase his knowledge. It does not elevate him in the eyes of God above other good believers nor does it make all his words or deeds right. At best he would be a righteous "mujtahid" (a scholar who is capable of forming an independent opinion about the Islamic law)

Other scholars have the right to disagree with him and the non-scholars from among the Muslims have the right to follow scholars other than him.

When another mujtahid believes that such a capilh is erroneous in word or deed he should not follow him. To demand from the Muslims to follow a wrong verdict is to demand from people what God did not demand and to add to the religion what is not from the religion.

The Prophet's Appointee

These two negative sides of an elective leadership would not exist in a leadership based on an appointment by the Prophet. If the Prophet chose a leader his decision would be binding on every Muslim and according to the Holy Qur'an no one would have the right to defy it:

"And it is not permitted for believing man or believing woman to make a choice after God and His Messenger have decided in an affair. And whoever disobeys God and His Messenger would be in manifest error." The Holy Quran Chapter 33 verse 36.

When the people pledge allegiance to the Prophet's appointee they would be in fact pledging the same to the Messenger. And whoever pledges to the Messenger would be pledging to God. The Holy Qur'an declares:

"Certainly those who pledge allegiance to thee in fact they do that to God. The hand of God is above their hands. And whoever breaches a covenant he breaches against himself and whoever fulfills what he promises God God will grant him a great reward." The Holy Quran Chapter 48 verse 10.

A caliph appointed by the Messenger possesses a holiness that issues from the holiness of the Messenger. His contemporary Muslims have to follow his order and rules and so do the generations after them. To a certain degree he has jurisdictions that resemble those of the Prophet except that he is not a Prophet. He is not expected to add to nor substract from the Islamic rules. There shall be no

Prophet after Muhammad and the rules of Muhammad are eternal and will continue until the Day of Judgment. A caliph appointed by the Prophet represents him and because of that he is supposed to be the most knowledgeable of the Holy Qur'an and the teaching of the Prophet.

Whatever he declares legal is legal and whatever he declares illegal is forbidden. No Muslim has the right to disagree with him. He is the most knowledgeable and his obedience is as that of the Messenger.

Quraish And The Caliphate

Did the Prophet say that the Imams are from Quraish? And if he did say that did he mean that the caliphate is by election or by inheritance or by appointment from the Prophet?

Many hadiths on this subject are recorded in the Sahihs and other books of which are the following: Muslim recorded that Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of God said: "People are followers of Quraish.

Their Muslim follows their Muslim and their Kafir (unbeliever) follows their Kafir."31

He recorded also that Jaber Ibn Abdullah reported that the Prophet said: "People are followers of Quraish in good and in evil."

Muslim also recorded that Abdullah reported that the Messenger said: "The Islamic authority (Caliphate) will stay in Quraish as long as two men exist in this world."

He reported also that Jaber Ibn Samorah reported that the Messenger of God said: "This religion will continue until the Day of Judgement comes or 12 caliphs from Quraish rule you."

Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn ‘Umar reported that the Messenger of God said: This Islamic authority will stay in Quraish as long as two persons from Quraish remain alive."32

He recorded through his channel to Jaber Ibn Samorah that he said: "I heard the Prophet saying: 'There shall be twelve rulers.' Then he said a word I did not hear and my father said that the Prophet said: 'All of them are from Quraish.' " Al-Tirmidhi recorded the same except that he said that the Prophet said: "There will be twelve rulers after me " and that the father of Jaber said: "The Messenger said: 'All of them are from Quraish.'"33

Al-Hakim through his channel to Masrouq recorded that he said: "While we were sitting with Abdullah (Ibn ‘Umar) a man asked him: 'Abu Abdul-Rahman did you and other companions ask the Messenger of God how many caliphs will rule this nation?' Abdullah replied: 'No one before you asked me about this since I came to Iraq.' Then he said: 'We asked the Messenger of God and he said: Twelve the same number as the representatives of the children of Israel with Moses."34

Imam Ahmad reported that Abu Bakr said: (to Saad Ibn Abadah) "And you Saad knew that the Messenger of God said while you were sitting: 'Quarish are the people of this authority. The righteous of the people are followers of their righteous and the wicked of the people are followers of their wicked."35

It is clear that the first hadith does not speak about the caliphate. For Quraish at the time of the caliphate was not divided into Muslims and non-Muslims. All the Qureshites were confessing Islam at that time. It seems that the hadith came at a time when the majority of the Qureshites were pagans.

The hadith speaks of the influence of Quraish over the Arab tribes. For they were opposed to Islam when Quraish was fighting it. When Quraish entered the new faith the rest of the Arabs rushed into the faith. The Prophet in this hadith was not trying to announce an Islamic law or issue an order to the Muslims. He was speaking of a matter of fact: That is the influence of Quraish and its effect on the rest of the Arab tribes.

The second hadith like the first one does not speak about the caliphate nor about who should be the caliph. It is an information of a situation that existed at the time of the hadith.

As to the last six hadiths they clearly speak of the caliphate. These hadiths vary in their contents without contradiction. Some of them state that the caliphate is in Quraish.

Some of them add that the caliphate shall continue in Quraish until the end of the world. And some of them add that the caliphs are 12 and some of them mention that the number of the caliphs is 12 but do not mention that they are from Quraish.

To understand these hadiths we have to put together the two hadiths of Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar in one of which he reported that the caliphate shall continue in Quraish to the end of the world and in the other in which he reported that the number of caliphs is 12 like the representatives of the children of Israel. The two hadiths explain each other and agree with the hadith of Jaber Ibn Samorah which is the most specific among all these hadiths and capable of explaining the non-specific of them.

Thus these hadiths inform us that the non-Qureshites shall not be caliphs and that the caliphs are only twelve and that the caliphate will stay in Quraish as long as two people remain in this world.

These statements could be interpreted in one of the following ways:

Was the Prophet Predicting?

The Prophet was not trying to instruct the Muslims and inform them of what they ought to do after him concerning the caliphate. He was rather speaking to them about the future forecasting that the caliphate shall stay in Quraish forever until the Day of Judgement.

Thus he informs us that the caliphate will never be interrupted as long as the people are living on the face of this earth and that every caliph shall be a Qureshite and that the caliphs are to be twelve.

Of course this would not be true because the caliphate was interrupted and discontinued and because many of the caliphs such as the Osmanites were neither Qureshites nor Arabs.

In addition to this stating that the caliphs are twelve cannot be true whether it meant only the righteous caliphs or all of the caliphs including the non-righteous. For the number of righteous caliphs did not reach twelve and if we add to them the number of non-righteous their number is much higher than twelve.

Is the Qureshite Rule Hereditary?

The second way of interpreting the above hadiths is that the Prophet was trying to issue instructions and communicate to the Muslims a religious command so he told his nation that the caliphs after him have to be from Quraish and no one deserves to be a caliph except the Qureshites.

This is because the Qureshites are related to the Messenger closely or remotely for they join the Holy Prophet through their great-grandfather "Fihr Ibn Malik." By this a Qureshite Muslim would be qualified to be a caliph and a non-Qureshite would not qualify.

If we adopt this interpretation we would be admitting that the Islamic authority is by inheritance and that the right of inheritance would not be exclusive to the close relatives of the Holy Prophet. It is rather broad enough to include all the Qureshite clans who are descendants of "Fihr Ibn Malik.".

To believe that the Qureshite Muslims are qualified for the caliphate for being close or remote relatives of the Prophet is to subscribe to a theory of inheritance with which the Islamic law of inheritance does not agree. If the Islamic authority can be inherited through blood relation-ship the close relatives bar the remote relative from inheritance according to the Islamic law.

Furthermore the restriction of the number of caliphs to twelve becomes unjustifiable for the righteous among the Qureshite caliphs did not reach the number of twelve and non-righteous among them were many more than twelve.

Are the Qureshites Superior?

The third interpretation of the hadiths is that the Prophet through these statements was announcing a religious law which makes the caliphate an exclusive right of the Qureshites. This is not because they are related to him but because God preferred them to the non-Qureshites.

If we take this interpretation we have to accept two contradictory concepts:

(a) The caliphate is not to be by the choice of the Muslims. It is rather by appointment from God because He is the One Who decreed that the caliphs are to be Qureshites whether people accept or reject.

(b) The faith of Islam invites its followers to believe in a tribal superiority and a Qureshite aristocracy whose members regardless of the extent of their faith are preferred by God to others even if the others were more religious wiser and more knowledgeable.

We say these two ideas are contradictory because if the caliphate is by a Divine decree the Almighty is expected to choose for the leadership of the believers their wisest and most knowledgeable and righteous. It would be illogical to say that God prefers Abu Sufyan to Ammar Ibn Yasir because Abu Sufyan fought Islam and the Prophet for twenty-one years and Ammar fought with the Prophet for more than twenty-one years.

History remembers that the Holy Prophet stood on the day of conquest of Mecca and declared the following:

"O people of Quraish certainly God has done away with the boastfulness of the pre-Islamic mentality and its pride of ancestors. People are from Adam and Adam was from soil." Then he recited the following verse:'O mankind certainly We have created you from a male and female and made you people and tribes that you may recognize each other. The noblest among you in the eyes of God is the most righteous of you."

Thus placing the Qureshites above others not for anything except being Qureshites is opposed to the Book of God and the teaching of the Holy Prophet in words and deeds.

Again the restriction of the number of the caliphs to twelve would be unjustifiable for the same reason we mentioned before.

Were the Men Chosen Only for their Righteousness?

The fourth way of interpreting the hadiths is to say the Holy Prophet was trying to inform the Muslims that God had chosen men from Quraish to become caliphs. He did not choose these men because they were related to the Holy Prophet nor because they were Qureshites. He chose them because they were the best among the Muslims. These men are the legitimate caliphs whether people elect them or reject them.

The six hadiths of the Qureshite caliphate clearly indicate that God did not leave to the Muslims a complete choice in selecting their caliphs. He rather decreed that their caliphs have to come from Quraish. It would be illogical to believe that He did that because the Qureshites are relatives of the Messenger or because the Qureshites are better than the rest of the Muslims.

This would be an invitation to the belief in an aristocracy alien to the faith of Islam which calls for equality glorifies the righteous and despises the transgressor. The history of Islam attests that the majority of the Qureshites were the most hostile to the Messenger and his religion before they adopted Islam and less religious than others after they adopted Islam.

It would be only logical to say that the Qureshiteness of the caliphs is like the Qureshiteness of the Prophet himself.

God did not choose Muhammad because he was from Quraish or because he was a Hashimite or from the children of Abdul-Muttalib or from Mecca. He chose him because he was the best among the people of the earth and it happened that the best of the people of the earth was a Qureshite from the children of Abdul-Muttalib.

And so the caliphs about whom the Holy Prophet spoke were chosen by God because they were the best of the people of the earth and it happened that they were from Quraish. This logical interpretation agrees with the Shi’ite Islamic School. When God chooses a man to become Imam of the people he would be the Imam whether the Muslims accept him or reject him just as when God chooses a Prophet he would be the Prophet even if people do not believe in his Prophethood.

Qureshites and Election Are Irreconcilable

It is irreconcilable to say that God has decreed that the caliphs are to be from Quraish and that He left to the Muslims the matter of the selection of the caliphs from among the Qureshites.

God has decreed that the caliphs are to be from the Quraish in order to lead the Muslims to what is best for them. If he left the selection of the caliph from Quraish to the choice of the Muslims He would leave the future of the caliphate to chance. Election by people does not secure the best leadership for people do not know what is hidden in the hearts of individuals. God is the only One who knows that.

Since God did not leave the caliphate entirely to the choice of the people and decreed that their caliphs are to be only from a particular group (the Qureshites) the entire choice must be His. He would not divide the choice between Himself and the Muslims leaving the selection of the tribe to Himself and the selection of the man from the tribe to the Muslims.

God is expected to choose the tribe for the sake of the individual and not to choose the individual for the sake of the tribe. God has chosen Hashim and Quraish because of Muhammad and He did not choose Muhammad because he was a Hashimite or Qureshite Choosing the man rather than the clan is what secures the right leadership.

Thus when God and His Messenger informed us that the caliphs are from Quraish they were actually informing us that there are particular individuals who happened to be from Quraish and were chosen by God to be caliphs. They were chosen because of their high qualifications and not because of their being Qureshites.

  • 1. Ibn Hisham in his Biography of the Prophet Part 2 p.655.
  • 2. Ibn Hisham Biography of the Prophet Part 2 p.656.
  • 3. Dr. Taha Hussein Al-Fitna tul-Kubra Part 1 p. 35.
  • 4. Ibn Hisham in his Biography of the Prophet Part 2 pp. 659-660.
  • 5. Sheikh Muhammad Jawad Mugneyah recorded this in his book Hathi Hiya Al- Wahabiyah (This Is the Wahabism)
  • 6. Muslim Sahih Muslim Part 15 p. 155.
  • 7. Al-Nawawi in his commentary on Sahih Muslim conveyed this.
  • 8. Muslim Sahih Muslim Part 11 (Book of Will) p.89.
  • 9. Ibid.
  • 10. Ibid Part 11 p. 154.
  • 11. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p.139.
  • 12. Al-Bukhari Sahih Al-Bukhari Part 6 Book of Commentary on the Holy Qur'an. It is in the comment on the chapter of Al- Tahreem p. 194.
  • 13. Holy Qur'an Chapter 66 pp. 1-4.
  • 14. Sahih Al-Bukhari Part 6 p. 195.
  • 15. Al-Bukhari in his Sahih Part 8 p. 210.
  • 16. Ibn Hisham in his Biography of the Prophet Part 2 p.658.
  • 17. Imam Ahmad in his Musnad Part 1 p.55.
  • 18. Muslim in his Sahih Part 12 p.206.
  • 19. Ibn Sa’d in his Tahaqat Part 3 p.342.
  • 20. Ibn Hisham in his Biography of the Prophet Part 2 p.653.
  • 21. Al-Bukhari in his Sahih Part 9 p. 100.
  • 22. Ibn Hisham Biography of the Prophet Part 2 p.642.
  • 23. This is recorded by Ibn Al-Athir in Al-Kamil and by Ibn Sa’d Al-Tabaqat Part 2 p.190; and by Al-Dahlani and Al- Tabari in his history and Al-Halabi in his Biography of the Prophet (all this was conveyed by Sharaful-deen in Al-Mur- ajaat)
  • 24. Ibn Sa’d in his Al-Tabaqat Part 3 p. 25 and Al-Hakim in his Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p.111.
  • 25. lbn Sa’d Al-Tabaqat Part 2 p. 249.
  • 26. Ibn Sa’d Al-Tabaqat Part 2 p. 249.
  • 27. Ibn Hisham Biography of the Prophet Part 2 p. 642.
  • 28. Ibn Hisham in his Biography of the Prophet Part 2 p. 649.
  • 29. Muslim in his Sahih Part 17 p. 7.
  • 30. Al-Bukhari in his Sahih Part 7 p. 12.
  • 31. This hadith and the following three hadiths are recorded by Muslim in his Sahih Part 12 Book of Al-Imarah pp. 200-202.
  • 32. Al-Bukhari Sahih Al-Bukhari (in the book of Al-Ahkam) Part 9 p. 78.
  • 33. Al-Tirmidhi in his Sunan Part 2 p. 35. (Al-Fairuzbadi in his book Fadha-il Al-Khamsah Virtue of the Five) Part 2 p. 23.
  • 34. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak Part 4 p. 501.
  • 35. Imam Ahmad in his Al-Musnad Part 1 p. 5.

17.’Ali Views the Succession

There is a theory that claims that the civil war which took place during the reign of Abu Bakr could have been avoided if ‘Ali had succeeded the Prophet. This interesting theory (which I neither confirm nor deny) is based upon the following reasons:

1. The declaration of the Prophet at Ghadir Khum while returning from his valedictory pilgrimage made thousands of pilgrims believe that he had chosen ‘Ali to succeed him.

What they understood from the declaration seemed to be consistent with their tradition which gives the authority to the closest relative of the leader. When they realized that the leadership had been handed to Abu Bakr after the death of the Prophet some of them opposed the new government and refused to pay to it the "Zakat"(the Islamic tax)

Others went further and deserted Islam thinking that the companions have disobeyed the declaration of the Prophet.

They thought that the companions were not serious in their adoption of Islam. And so the Arab tribes thought that they have the right to desert Islam and go back to paganism.

2. Had ‘Ali been the ruler after the Prophet his military reputation could have deterred anyone from challenging his leadership. The stories of his heroism were on every Arab's lips. The beduins as well as the settlers of villages and cities had experienced and witnessed his military actions during the last ten years of the life of the Prophet. Why should they take a risk of confronting him in a losing war?

Whether this theory is right or wrong the civil war was decisive concerning ‘Ali. It obliged him to stop his opposition to Abu Bakr and pledge his support lest the Muslim government be weakened in its struggle against the deserters of the faith. ‘Ali was too pious to continue his opposition when dangers were threatening the foundation of Islam.

For several months the Imam ‘Ali refused to join the electors of Abu Bakr and he was expected to continue to do so. The civil war however made it mandatory for him to reverse his position.

The view of the Imam can be presented as follows:

He believed that the leadership is his exclusive right. He was the treasurer of the knowledge of the Prophet his choice and his closest relative. It is reported that when Abu Bakr demanded from ‘Ali to join his electors ‘Ali replied:

"I have the right of leadership. I will not follow you when you ought to follow me." When Abu Bakr asked him: "Was not my election by the will of the people?" he replied: "But you told the Qureshites and the Medinites that you are entitled to the leadership because you are related to Muhammad and they conceded to you. I have the same argument against you."

Then he said: "We have more right in the Messenger of God alive and dead. We are the members of his House the place of his confidence the treasure of his knowledge and wisdom. No one from this nation can come close to the positions of the members of the House of Muhammad. And those who were indebted to their favor should not be equalized with them."1

He said also: "I am the executor of the Prophet his minister and the trustee of his secrets and knowledge... I am the first one who believed in him the most effective defender of Islam among you in combatting the pagans the most knowledgeable in the Book of God and the teaching of the Prophet and most foreseer of the consequences of the events. For how long do you deny us the leadership? Give us justice and acknowledge our rights as the Medinites did for you."2

‘Ali does not lack evidence on his executorship or ministerial posts. The Messenger conferred on him the post of executorship when he gathered his close relatives ten years before the Hijrah. At that conference the Prophet said to the members of his clan while his hand on ‘Ali's neck: "This is my brother executor and successor in you. Listen to him and obey him." To his ministerial post the authentically reported statement of the Prophet attests: "‘Ali would you not be pleased to be to me like Aaron to Moses but there shall be no Prophet after me?".

Aaron was the minister of Moses according to the Holy Qur'an:

"And grant me a minister from the members of my house Aaron my brother. Strengthen me by him and make him a sharer in my mission." The Holy Qur'an Chapter 20 verses 28-31.

As to his trustworthiness on the secrets of the Messenger and his knowledge it suffices to remember that the Messenger said: "I am the city of knowledge and ‘Ali is its gate.

Whoever wishes to enter the city should come through the gate.".

He Believed That Abu Bakr's Election Was Unbinding.

The Imam viewed the election of Abu Bakr to be unbinding to his electors. Evidently he believed that the Messenger had chosen him to lead the nation and administer its affairs after him and that the choice of the Prophet is binding to the nation.

Thus the nation does not have the right to choose another leader. Had not the Imam believed in this he would not have allowed himself to ask the Medinites to reverse their position after they elected Abu Bakr.

A sound election is a covenant to be fulfilled and ‘Ali was too righteous to call upon people to break a legitimate covenant.

He and his wife Fatimah "Al-Zahra" (the Lady of Light) daughter of the Prophet visited the Medinite companions seeking their support and asking them to reverse their position towards Abu Bakr.

Muawiya in one of his letters to the Imam said:

... "And I remember when you used to carry your wife at night on a donkey while your hands in the hands of your sons Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein after Abu Bakr was elected. You called upon every Badrian and early Muslim to support you and went with your wife to them offering to them your two sons and asking them their help against the companion of the Messenger of God...."3

He Did not Want to Reach His Goal by Force

In spite of his belief that his right was usurped he did not try to regain it by force nor did he want to damage the unity of the Muslims The Imam realized that he does not have a strong support. The absolute majority of the Meccans were deadly against him. To them he was the man who was responsible for the death of many of their fathers brothers sons and relatives in his defensive campaign for Islam.

The Medinites were closer to him than the Qureshites but they did not have the will to sacrifice for his leadership. They had already entered into a pact with Abu Bakr and they thought that this exacts from them their loyalty.

‘Ali had some support from some outstanding companions such as Salman the Persian Abu Dharr Al-Bursa Ibn Azib Ammar Ibn Yasir Al-Miqdad Ibn Al-Aswad and Al-Zubayr Ibn Al-Awam. But these companions did not have the following. Thus the Imam found that patience was the only open avenue for him.

He Reversed His Position for the Sake of Unity

He could have continued his opposition to Abu Bakr as long as Abu Bakr lived. Saad Ibn Abadah continued his op position until Abu Bakr died. However the movement of desertion of the faith by the Arab tribes was to him a decisive factor that made him reverse his attitude. His op position to Abu Bakr was not motivated by a personal ambition. It was rather motivated by his desire to set the

Muslims on the true path of the Prophet. When Islam was threatened by the movement of desertion ‘Ali found it unwise to be concerned with the method of leading the Muslims when the very existence of Islam became endangered.

Al-Baladhuri recorded that when the Arabs deserted the faith of Islam Uthman came to ‘Ali saying: "Cousin no one will fight the enemy while you refuse to reconcile with Abu Bakr."4 He convinced the Imam to go with him to Abu Bakr; when Abu Bakr saw the Imam they hugged each other and cried. The Muslims were pleased with that and determined to fight the deserters of the faith.

Al-Bukhari in his Sahih reported that the Imam said to Abu Bakr when they met: We recognize your position and what God has given you but you have taken over the leadership without our consultation. We believe that we have our share and right in the leadership because of our relationship to the Messenger of God. Abu Bakr cried they promised each other to meet at the Mosque at night.

‘Ali went to the Mosque and he told the people that he was not motivated in his opposition by a jealousy toward Abu Bakr nor by a denial of his position; but we believe he said that we have a right in this leadership and he took it without consulting us. Thus we felt uneasy."5

The Imam spoke of what took place in that period in a message he sent to the people of Egypt when he sent to them Malik Al-Ashtar as a governor:

"... And I withheld my hand until I found the deserters of the faith of Islam calling for the destruction of the religion of Muhammad. (As this danger emerged I reversed my position) and decided to aid Islam and its followers lest I witness a total or partial destruction in Islam then the tragedy to me becomes greater than losing your leadership which is only transitory."6

  • 1. Abdul Fattah Abdul Maksoud Al-Imam ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib Part 1 p. 179.
  • 2. Al-Tabersi Al-Ihtijaj Part 1 p. 95.
  • 3. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid his Commentraries on Nahjul-Balagha Vol. 1 p. 131.
  • 4. Sayed Murtadha Al-Asakari conveyed this in his book: Abdullah Ibn Saha p. 73.
  • 5. Al-Bukhari his Sahih Part 5 p. 108.
  • 6. Nahjul-Balaghah Part 3 pp. 198-199.

18. Abu Bakr Names a Successor

Abu Bakr died and a life filled with important achievements came to an end.

1. He subdued the deserters of the faith and the withholders of the Zakat. He brought the Arab tribes back to Islam and made them soldiers of Islam after they became its adversaries.

2. Upon his order the verses and chapters of the revelations were gathered in the Book of Islam the Holy Qur'an.

3. He pushed the faith of Islam beyond the borders of the Arabic Peninsula. He died while the Muslim forces were facing the Persian armies in Iraq and the Roman armies in Syria.

As Abu Bakr's death was drawing nigh he chose to appoint a successor and this was his right. He decided not to leave to chance the leadership of the state.

Had the history been logical ‘Ali would have succeeded Abu Bakr. He was by-passed after the death of the Prophet because the election was held hastily without planning and consultation. It is said that the emergency which was brought about by the conference of the Medinites at Saqifat Ranu Sa-idah and the absence of ‘Ali who was preoccupied with the Holy Funeral made the companions overlook ‘Ali and his qualifications.

If this were the fact ‘Ali should not have been overlooked at this time. There was no emergency and the Caliph was able to appoint whomever he chose. Yet ‘Ali was not chosen by the Caliph.

Quraish stood against him for many reasons and his high distinctions along with his close relationship to the Prophet were the main reason.

The Meccan clans went into costly wars against the Messenger of God because they did not want the Hashimites to have the exclusive honor of having the Prophet from among them. Having this attitude they were not expected to let the Hashimites possess another exclusive honor by allowing ‘Ali to succeed the Prophet.

The Qureshite influence grew rapidly during the reign of Abu Bakr. The rapid growth of the Qureshite influence was expected to increase the distance between ‘Ali and the High Office.

One might say that Abu Bakr should not have followed the unfair attitude of Quraish toward ‘Ali after he heard so many statements by the Prophet which indicated that ‘Ali was his choice. But Abu Bakr seemingly did not believe that the statements of the Prophet concerning ‘Ali made it mandatory for the Muslims to follow him. Had he believed that he would not have allowed himself to be the First Caliph. Being of this opinion he thought he had the option to choose ‘Ali or any one from the outstanding companions.

He did not choose ‘Ali because he was his main opponent. He chose ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab his strongest supporter the planner of his election and his right hand in all affairs.

The reader may remember that when ‘Ali reconciled with Abu Bakr he complained of Abu Bakr's failure to consult him when he was elected and that he took from ‘Ali what he was entitled to have. Abu Bakr listened to his complaint and wept.

Abu Bakr's tears gave the impression that he would not repeat it. He was expected to consult ‘Ali and the rest of the Hashimites along with companions who were inclined towards him. Nothing of this took place.

It is worth noting that Fatimah Al-Zahra daughter of the Prophet was not on speaking terms with Abu Bakr and she was urging the Medinites to shift from Abu Bakr to ‘Ali. She was angry with Abu Bakr because of the caliphate and because he nationalized "Fadak." (a group of orchards) which she had received from her father and was supposed to keep for herself as a gift or a legacy. But Abu Bakr reported that the Messenger said: We the Prophets do not leave inheritance.

Fatimah denied that her father said that because this is opposed to the Holy Qur'an which declares that Suleiman (Solomon) received an inheritance from his father David. Both Solomon and his father were prophets.

Abu Bakr made efforts to normalize relations with her without reversing his position on Fadak but she refused to speak to him and when she died he was not informed of her death lest he attend her funeral.1 Abu Bakr was very concerned with Fatimah's anger because the Prophet said: "Fatimah is a portion of me.

Whoever displeases her displeases me." He also said: "Fatimah is the leader of the women of Paradise." (Both hadiths were reported by Al-Bukhari in his Sahih section of virtues of Fatimah).".

With all this the righteous Caliph would be expected to name ‘Ali his successor for this would please the Prophet because it pleased Fatimah though belatedly.

Abu Bakr did not do that nor did he consult ‘Ali or any of the Hashimites including Al-Abbas uncle of the Holy Prophet.

Indeed Abu Bakr did not consult any companion about whom he should choose to succeed him. He did not give them a choice between two or more candidates. He consulted a few companions about ‘Umar and ‘Umar only. The consultants were Abdul-Rahaman Ibn Ouf Uthman Ibn Affan and Osseid Ibn Hudheir. These were ‘Umar's admirers and all of them were positive towards him. Talhah Abu Bakr's cousin was not consulted and when he criticized ‘Umar Abu Bakr exploded in anger.

Why shouldn't we call the events by their names? Abu Bakr was iiidebted to ‘Umar in his election and establishing his leadership. He was his right hand during the time of his caliphate. Abu Bakr wanted to return to his good friend his favor. We say this not trying to minimize the sincerity of the First Caliph.

While he was dying Abu Bakr commanded Uthman to write his will. When he reached the following words: "I have appointed as a successor " he fainted before mentioning the name of his appointee. When he woke up he asked Uthman to read what he wrote and to the surprise of Abu Bakr Uthman had added the name of ‘Umar. Abu Bakr was very pleased with that.

Of course the new Caliph was more pleased with Uthman. He remembered this favor for Uthman. He rewarded him by a similar favor at the end of his reign.

  • 1. Al-Bukhari reported it in his Sahih Part 5 p. 178. Muslim also reported it in his Sahih Part 12 "Hukm of Al-Fei" (The wealth which is acquired from enemies of Islam) p.77.

19. ‘Umar Succeeds

‘Umar came to power as the Second Caliph 14 years after the Hijrah (635 AD). He proved to be the most effective among the caliphs in directing the policy of the Muslim World and its events.

The period of his leadership was full of spectacular accomplishments and conspicuous events. If the policy of a head of state has domestic and foreign aspects ‘Umar's policy had all that plus past and future aspects for its influence went beyond the boundaries of his own reign with far-reaching consequences.

The success of his external policy was dazzling to the eyes of the historians Muslim and non-Muslim alike. He inherited from his predecessor Abu Bakr a World-War against the two great empires of his time: The Persian and the Roman empires.

The Muslim forces during his reign faced the Persian armies and were able to place Iraq and Persia including Al-Ahwaz and Azarbaijan under the dominion of Islam.

The Muslim forces on the North Western front were able to defeat the Romans and bring Syria and Egypt into the Islamic Jurisdiction.

Thus under his leadership Muslim armies were able to disintegrate the two prominent empires of his time; the spiritual conquest which accompanied the military conquest as the greater of the two. His policy towards the non-Muslim inhabitants of the conquered lands was fair. He levied taxation on the conquered land plus a personal taxation on the adult males.

None of the followers of other religions were oppressed during his reign. He recognized their natural rights and freedoms. History recorded his word as directed to Amr Ibn Al-Aus who was his appointed governor of Egypt whose son hit a Coptic Christian: "Amr when did you enslave people after they were born free?"

His domestic policy was mostly successful. It may be summed up as follows: In relation to his family; in relation to Muslims in general; in relation to his colleagues of the companions of the Prophet; and in relation to the members of the House of the Prophet.

In relation to himself and his family his policy was ideal. Hundreds of millions of dirhams (a dirham of his time is equivalent to a dollar of our time) were pouring into the treasury of the Islamic State. Though he had unlimited authority he and his family lived in poverty. It is reported that he said: "I deal with the Muslims' treasury as I deal with a fund of an orphan. If I am in no need I will not touch it; and if I am in need I only satisfy my necessity."1

In relation to the Muslims in general his policy was characterized as just firm and helpful. He sufficiently provided for the soldiers their families and the inhabitants of Medina plus many others.

As to his relation to the companions, he alloted to them according to the record of their participation in the defense of Islam. Trying to prevent the companions temptation of wealth or fearing the use of their brilliant record for advancing their influence he prevented the companions from residing in any city other than Medina.

"I am standing at the mouth of Al-Harrah (the entrance of Medina) he said holding the Qureshites' throats and belts lest they fall into the fire."2 Thus he kept the ambitious companions of the Prophet under his watchful eyes.

In relation to the members of the House of the Prophet his policy was mixed with admiration and caution. He did not grant any governmental post to any of them. However the tension between him and ‘Ali which started after the death of the Prophet and continued during the period of

Abu Bakr abated and gradually was replaced by a friendship which grew by the passage of time. ‘Umar used to resort to ‘Ali's counsel in important events seeking solutions of serious problems.

When he was informed that the Persian government had mobilized an extremely huge army to fight the Muslims he wanted to attend the battle in order to strengthen the morale of the Islamic army.

When he consulted the Imam ‘Ali and other companions the Imam told him: "The Islamic cause did not triumph or retreat by a great or small number. It is the religion of God Who made it prevalent and His host which He prepared and extended until it reached what it reached and appeared as it appeared.

We are promised by God and He will fulfill His promise and help His Host. The place of the leader is the place of the string in the beads. It collects them and makes them join each other. If the string breaks the beads will scatter and never rejoin each other completely.

Though the Arabs today are few compared to others they are numerous through Islam and strong by their unity. Be like an axis of a mill let the mill go around and let the Arabs participate in the war without your presence. If you leave you will leave behind you dangers which will be of more concern to you than what you will face.

"If the Persians see you on the battlefield they will say: 'This is the source of the danger. If you destroy him you will triumph.' Their war will be more intensive and their hope in defeating the Muslims will grow higher.

"As to what you mentioned of the Persian march to fight the Muslims God the Almighty hates their march more than you do and He is more capable of changing what He dislikes. As to what you have mentioned of their great number we never fought by quantity. We fought only by the help of God and His assistance."3

‘Umar and ‘Ali's Knowledge

‘Umar was deeply impressed with ‘Ali's profound knowledge. It is reported that he said: "No one should give any verdict at the Mosque (of the Prophet) when ‘Ali is present." When he made wrong decisions in Islamic rules ‘Ali used to correct him.

He repeatedly said: "Had ‘Ali not been present ‘Umar would have perished (spiritually)."4 He expressed his serious need to ‘Ali's knowledge by saying: "May God not keep me to a problem when Abu Hassan (‘Ali) is not available.".

A lady was accused of adultery because she gave birth to a child six months after she married. ‘Umar decided to stone her. ‘Ali said to him: "Leader of the Believers if she appeals to the Book of God contesting your decision she will prevail against you." God says: "Pregnancy and nursing periods are thirty months."

Again He says: "Mothers nurse their children two complete years for whoever wants a complete nursing." If we subtract twenty four months from thirty the balance would be six months. ‘Umar reversed his position and let the lady go free.

‘Ali at one time was with ‘Umar while others were present. When he left one of them criticized ‘Ali and accused him of pride and conceit. ‘Umar said: "A man like ‘Ali is entitled to be proud. By God without his sword the pillar of Islam could not have been erected. He is the highest magistrate in the nation its earliest Muslim and its most honorable."5

When the critic asked what prevented him from giving him the leadership after the death of the Prophet ‘Umar replied: "We did not like his young age and his love to his clan.".

However this does not mean that ‘Umar used to consult ‘Ali in all affairs or follow all his opinions in religion. ‘Umar was extremely independent. Sometimes he appeared as if he were in disagreement with the Prophet. The Messenger made the duty of any pilgrim who did not accompany animals of sacrifice to perform a pilgrimage of "Tamattu" (in which the pilgrim takes leave of restrictions which are imposed at the start of the Pilgrimage).

The Prophet commanded such a person to make the seven circuits around the Kaaba and the seven walks between Al-Safa and Al- Marwah; then it would be legal for him to approach his wife before he resumed his pilgrimage again before leaving for Arafat.

The Prophet also legalized the temporary marriage.’Umar chose to prohibit both and to punish severely whoever married a woman for a limited period. Muslim in his Sahih reported that Abu Nudrah said the following: "Ibn Abbass (a cousin of the Prophet) used to legalize "Muta" (temporary marriage) and Ibn Al-Zubayr used to prohibit it. When I mentioned that to Jabir Ibn Adbullah (a prominent companion of the Prophet) he said: In my presence the following took place":

We practiced the temporary marriage during the days of the Prophet.... When ‘Umar came to power he said: God used to legalize to His Messenger whatever He chose through whatever He chose. The Qur'an was revealed to regulate our life. You have to complete your pilgrimage and the Omrah (which precedes the pilgrimage) as God commanded you to do (without terminating the regular restrictions before going to Arafat). Desist from marrying women for a limited time. If a man married a woman for a limited time and is brought to me I shall stone him (to death)."6

This opinion of the Second Caliph concerning pilgrimage seems to be in a clear conflict with the Holy Qur'an:

"And when you are in safety any pilgrim who at the "Omrah" (the devotional part that precedes going to Arafat) satisfies his carnal desires (after terminating the state of restriction) until the resumption of pilgrimage he should offer what is easily available of sacrificial animal. If he can not he should fast three days during the pilgrimage and seven when you have returned; that is ten in all. That is for the one whose family is not residing at the Inviolable place of worship." The Holy Quran Chapter 2 verse 196.

The hadith however clearly indicates that temporary marriage was legal during the time of the Prophet and that he did not Prohibit it after legalizing it. Had the Messenger prohibited such a marriage the Second Caliph would have reminded the companions of that prohibition. His saying:

"Desist from marrying a woman for a limited time" tells us that the companions were still practicing the temporary marriage during his time. Otherwise he would not have commanded them to stop that practice. Had the Messenger prohibited such a practice after he legalized it the companions would not have continued to practice it and the Second Caliph would not have had to admonish them and threaten to stone those who practiced such a marriage.

As to the pilgrimage of "Tamattu " the Messenger in his valedictory pilgrimage said while he was in Mecca: "Had I been at the beginning of my pilgrimage I would not have accompanied the sacrificial animals and I would have made it Omrah (separate from the pilgrimage by termination of the restrictions of the Ihram). Whoever did not accompany sacrificial animals should terminate his Ihram and make it Omrah."

Suraqah lb Malik Ibn Jaasham stood up and said to the Messenger: Is it for our present year exclusively or forever? The Messenger put the fingers of his two hands between each other and said: "The Omrah entered into the pilgrimage (repeating that twice) It is not for this year. It is forever." 7

Thus the extreme independence of the Second Caliph had made him prohibit the pilgrimage of Al-Tamattu and legalize killing the practicer of temporary marriage. Yet the Messenger commanded the Muslims to make the pilgrimage of Al-Tamattu and legalized temporary marriage.

A man so extremely independent in his opinion would not be expected to consult the Imam ‘Ali in every problem or follow all his opinions. However he considered ‘Ali to be the most knowledgeable among the companions and the highest authority on religion.

Dialogues About The Caliphate

The relationship between the Caliph and the Imam continued to improve and finally ‘Umar married Om Kulthoum daughter of the Imam. In spite of these improvements history as far as I know does not record any dialogue between the Caliph and the Imam concerning the caliphate.

But the Caliph had several dialogues with Abdullah Ibn Abbass (a cousin of the Prophet and the Imam) concerning the disagreement between the Imam and himself. In most of these dialogues ‘Umar appeared to be satisfied with what took place. One of the dialogues went as follows:

‘Umar: "... The Qureshite community was unwilling to let you (the Hashimites) have the honor of both the caliphate and the Prophethood lest you compromise the right of your community. Quraish chose for itself. It succeeded and made the right decision."

Ibn Abbass: "... You said that the Qureshites were unwilling to let us have the honor of both the caliphate and the Prophethood. But the Almighty described some people as "resentful" when he said: 'Because they resented what God had revealed God nullified their deeds.' You said that the Qureshite community chose for itself and that it succeeded and made the right decision. Had they chosen for themselves what God chose for them the right would have been on their side neither objected to nor envied...." 8

In another dialogue ‘Umar told Ibn Abbas the following: "There were high words from the Messenger of God (concerning ‘Ali). But those words did not constitute a clear evidence for his leadership nor did they eliminate all excuses (for those who did not side with him). The Messenger was trying to give ‘Ali the leadership. He wanted to record his name when he was in his ailment but I prevented him from doing that for the interest of Islam. By the Lord of the Ka-abah Quraish will never rally around him. Had he come to power after the death of the Prophet the Arabs would have revolted against him. "9

In another dialogue the following conversation took place: ‘Umar: "Son of Abbass this man has exerted himself in worship until he had become lean trying to show his piety.".

Ibn Abbass: "Who is that man?" ‘Umar: "That is your cousin (‘Ali).".

Ibn Abbass: "What does he gain by showing his piety?" ‘Umar: "He wants to present himself for the caliphate." Ibn Abbass: "The Prophet nominated him for the caliphate and he did not attain it.".

‘Umar: "He was in his youth and the Arabs thought that he was too young. But now he has reached the age of maturity. Did you not know that God never sent a Prophet before the age of forty?".

lbn Abbass: "People of wisdom and good judgement regard him perfect and mature since God heightened the light of Islam. But they consider him deprived and unlucky.".

‘Umar: "He will reach it after difficulties then his foot will slip and he will not reach his aim. Abdullah you will witness that. Then the dawn will appear to anyone who has two eyes. Then you will know the soundness of the opinion of the early migrant companions who diverted the leadership away from him."10

In another dialogue ‘Umar appeared to have remorse for the way in which ‘Ali was treated. He said to Ibn Abbass while they were walking on one of the streets of Medina holding hands: ‘Umar: "I think that your man (‘Ali) was treated unjustly.".

Ibn Abbass: "Amir Al-Mu'mineen (leader of the Believers) give him back his right.".

‘Umar took his hand away from the hand of Ibn Ab- bass and left while talking to himself angrily. Then he stood and called Ibn Abbass. When Ibn Abbass came to him ‘Umar said:

"What prevented the Qureshites from giving him the leadership was his age. They thought he was too young." Ibn Abbass replied: "By God neither God nor His Messenger considered him too young when they commanded him to take the chapter of "Bara-ah" from your man (Abu Bakr) when he was setting out taking with him Bara-ah to announce it in the pilgrimage.".

Upon this the Caliph turned away from Ibn Abbass and left hurriedly.11

In another conversation with Ibn Abbass ‘Umar appeared to be milder than usual. He said to Ibn Abbass: "... You may think that Abu Bakr was the first one who pushed you (the Hashimites) back. He did not mean that. Something emerged and there was no wiser way for him to take than the path he took.

Had he not had his opinion about me he would have given you your share of the leadership. Had he done that your people (the Qureshites) would not make you enjoy the leadership.... They look at you as a bull looking at his butcher."12

The Dimensions Of ‘Umar's Policy

The attitude of the Second Caliph towards Quraish and its line of thinking was far-reaching in its consequences. We can see its effects in the events that took place before and after his reign where it directed the future policies of the Muslim World to a great extent.

His influence was visible during the days of Abu Bakr. He was the man behind his election and his strongest supporter and the most effective person in establishing his leadership.

The following anecdote shows the extent of his influence during the days of Abu Bakr: Oyeinah Ibn Hissn and Al-Aqra Ibn Habis came to Abu Bakr and said: "Caliph of the Mesenger of God: There is a piece of unproductive land void of herb and useless. We request that you give it to us so we may till it and plant in it. God may benefit us through it in the future."

Abu Bakr consulted the companions around him. As they counseled him positively on the matter he wrote a document signed it and the witnessing companions also signed it. Then he handed it to the two men.

Since ‘Umar was not present among the companions the two men went to him to have his signature on the document. As they found him busy applying tar on a camel they informed him that the Caliph had given them a document and that they came to have his signature. They asked him if he would like to read it or they should read it to him.

He told them to read it to him. As he heard it he took the document spat on it and erased the writing. The two men exploded in anger and made uncomplimentary remarks.

He told them that the Messenger of God used to appease them when the faith of Islam was not in strength. God had strengthened Islam. "Go away " he said to them "and do whatever is in your power."

They went back to Abu Bakr complaining and said to him: "We do not know who is the ruler. Is it you or ‘Umar?"

Abu Bakr replied: "He is if he wants to be."

When ‘Umar came the following dialogue between him and Abu Bakr took place: ‘Umar: "Tell me of this land which you gave to the two men. Is it yours or does it belong to all Muslims?"

Abu Bakr: "It belongs to all Muslims." ‘Umar: "What made you give this land to these two men excluding the rest of the Muslims?"

Abu Bakr: "I consulted the companions around me and they agreed.".

‘Umar: "Have you consulted all the Muslims and acquired their consent?".

Abu Bakr: "I had told you that you are more capable-than I in handling the nation's affairs but you prevailed against me (and made me the Caliph)."13 It is difficult to understand how ‘Umar expected Abu Bakr to consult all the Muslims in giving a piece of unproductive land while he did not consult all the Muslims in giving Abu Bakr the leadership.

The leadership was more important to the Muslims than a piece of land. However the event tells us of the magnitude of his influence during the time of Abu Bakr.

His influence extended not only to the time of Abu Bakr. It was also visible at the ailment of the Messenger himself. The readers of the Sahihs know that the Prophet wanted during his ailment to write a document to assure that the nation would not go astray.

‘Umar opposed writing such a document and said that the Prophet was overpowered with his ailment or that he was hallucinating. By his objection the Muslims were deprived of the Prophet's document which was expected to illuminate for the nation the path of its future and provide it with security against straying.

Pre-Arranged The Future Of The Muslims

The influence of his policy in directing the future of the Muslim world can be clearly seen in many decisions which he took while thinking that they were in the interest of the nation. But they were fraught with grave consequences.

The following are only a few of those decisions: 1. He did away with the method of the Prophet (which Abu Bakr followed) of distributing the public funds among the Muslims equally. When ‘Umar was questioned about his uneven distribution he said "I will not equalize the ones who fought the Messenger with the one who fought with the Messenger.".

He allocated to every companion who attended the Battle of Badr an annual salary of five thousand dirhams; and to every participant in the Battle of Uhud four thousands. He gave the child of a Badrian two thosuands except Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein.

He equalized them with their father ‘Ali because of their relation to the Prophet. He alloted twelve thousand Dirhams for each one of the wives of the Prophet.

To those who migrated before the surrender of Mecca he alloted three thousand dirhams and to those who adopted Islam at the time of the surrender of Mecca two thousands each. Then he made the rest of the Muslims one category giving them 25 dinars a year or according to their religious positions their reading of the Holy Qur'an and their endeavor in the defense of Islam.

He allotted to the Yemenites and the Qaisites who were in military service in Iraq and Syria salaries ranging between two and three thousands. He made the minimum of their salaries three hundred dirhams.14

The Caliph was motivated by good intentions when he preferred the early Muslims and the defenders of Islam. He had a very justifying reason in preferring the relatives of the Messenger and he should have given them more than he did because they were entitled at least to the sixth of the fifth of the spoils of war according to the Holy Qur'an:

"And know that whatever you may gain a fifth of it belongs to God His Messenger the relatives the orphans the needy and the wayfarer if you do believe in God and what We revealed to Our servant on the day of decisive event when the two forces confronted each other And God has power over everything." The Holy Quran Chapter 8 verse 41.

However it is very difficult to justify religiously his preference of the Badrians over the Ohdians and the Ohdians over those who embraced Islam before the surrender of Mecca and those who embraced Islam on the days of its surrender over those who adopted Islam later.

We cannot justify such preferences after the Messenger of God distributed the Islamic funds equally among the Muslims.

It was a beautiful poetic statement on the part of the Caliph when he said: "I will not equalize the ones who fought the Messenger with those who fought with him” and it would have been very sound if he preferred the early Muslims by glorifying them and placing them spiritually above others.

Preference in fund-distribution could also be permitted if the funds belonged to the Caliph personally. But it was an injustice to give to one category more than others from a fund owned by all Muslims equally. The allowance with which he preferred the early Muslims was owned by the rest of the Muslims and he took it away from them without their permission.

Had the allowance been deserved by the preferred categories the Messenger would have given it to them rather than to the rest of the Muslims. Otherwise he would be distributing among all Muslims what belonged to the earlier Muslims.

Thus we should either say that the Messenger had deprived the early Muslims from what they deserved of allowance or that ‘Umar deprived the majority of the Muslims from their right in the allowance with which he privileged the early Muslims. Which theory should we choose?

Undesirable Consequences

Whether inequality in distribution was legal or illegal it certainly led to the creation of a new wealthy class among the Muslims. The minority which benefited from the preference acquired much more than it needed for spending.

Thus the members of such a minority were able to invest their surplus money in purchasing and selling properties and in trade.

As a result the Muslim Society was divided into an extremely wealthy class and another class that could satisfy its needs without prosperity and a third class deprived and unable to acquire the necessary food and clothes. However the consequences of this division in the society did not appear violent during the reign of ‘Umar.

In fact the Second Caliph witnessed the signs of the evils of this division at the end of his reign when he said with an obvious remorse: "Should I be given the opportunity to do it again I would take the surplus fund of the wealthy and return it to the poor." But time was not on his side. He died before he could rectify the situation.

It is worthy to note that the preferred classes enjoyed what they had acquired and believed that they were religiously entitled to what they acquired. When the Imam came to power and wanted to go back to the method of the Prophet and to return to the deprived people what belonged to them the privileged minority revolted against him.

They used all the means at their disposal in combatting him to preserve their privilege. Why not? They had enjoyed those prerogatives for over twenty years and to them they became natural rights.

Subversive Elements In The Caliph's Regime

Overlooking the obvious risks the Second Caliph placed in high positions politically ambitious and religiously unscrupulous men from Quraish. This led to many grave consequences after his death.

Ibn Al-Aws

He appointed Amr Ibn Al-Aws governor of Egypt before he professed Islam Amr was extremely hostile and harassing to the Prophet. He lambasted the Holy Prophet with seventy verses of poetry.

Belatedly Amr chose to become a Muslim after he foresaw through his wiliness and intelligence that the Prophet and his followers would have the upper hand.

The conspiracy of Amr appeared later when he became a leading agitator against Uthman after Uthman dismissed him and replaced him with Abdullah Ibn Sarh. He continued his malicious campaign until Uthman was assassinated.

Then he used Uthman’s assassination for his own unholy goal. He became the second man in the aggressor party which fought ‘Ali the Imam of the truth with the pretext of avenging the blood of Uthman whose death was brought about by the agitation of Amr and others like him.

The Umayyads In

The Second Caliph appointed Muawiya son of Abu Sufyan as the governor of Damascus. He appointed his brother Yazeed Ibn Abu Sufyan the governor of Jordan. When Yazeed died the Second Caliph added Jordan to the area of Muawiya's rule.15

By this the power of Muawiya began to grow politically and militarily. During the reign of ‘Umar Muawiya became important enough to be feared and reckoned with.

When ‘Umar was stabbed he said to the members of the Electoral Convention according to what Ibn Abbas reported: "... And if you exchange jealousy and hatred and refuse to co-operate with each other Muawiya will snatch the authority from your hands."16

The Hashimites Out

The Second Caliph did not put any of the Hashimites in any position of power though they had efficient men such as Ibn Abbas. ‘Umar was asked why he did not give him a governorship of a province in spite of his knowledge and capability. The Caliph expressed his apprehension that Ibn Abbas might make his own interpretation of the Islamic rule.

Evidently the Second Caliph thought that Ibn Abbas might legalize for himself or his relatives to take some of what God allotted for relatives of the Prophet in the Holy Qur'an of the fifth of the spoils.

The Caliph seemingly kept the Hashimites away from high offices of any Islamic provinces lest they gain some popularity in those areas. He thought that people of those provinces might glorify them because they were from the clan of the Holy Prophet.

With his love for God and His Messenger the Caliph was expected to keep the Umayyads out of his regime because of their opposition towards the Prophet. He was also expected to give the Hashimites substantial positions in his regime for the sake of the Prophet. Contrary to all expectations the Second Caliph kept the Hashimites out and brought the Umayyads in and kept them there.

The Caliph kept Muawiya in his position in spite of what he knew of his ambition and of what he witnessed of growth of his power. He kept him for the duration of his reign contrary to his method of dismissing his appointed governors and replacing them with others.

The Caliph seemingly was impressed with Muawiya's administrative ability and his efficiency in policing his borders which neighbored the Roman Empire. Yet ‘Umar used to believe that the victory of the Muslims and their success did not depend on a person or persons regardless of their ability for God aids the Muslims by the power of Islam rather than the power of persons.

He dismissed Khalid Ibn Al-Walid from the command of the Syrian front after he became extremely popular. He replaced him by Abu Obeidah Ibn Al-Jarrah who was relatively unknown to make the Muslims realize that God would help them without need for the leadership of Ibn Al-Walid.

The Caliph might have been lulled by the obedience of Muawiya to him. Thus he wanted to benefit from his intelligence and administrative ability and Muawiya did not represent a threat to him. The Second Caliph had a very strong personality and none of the Muslims could dare challenge him.

The obedience of Muawiya to him however should not have made him forget what he knew of the danger of the Umayyads to the future of Islam; for ‘Umar heard from the Messenger what should have alienated him from them.

He said to Ibn Abbas that he heard the Messenger of God saying:

"The children of Umayyad will ascend to my pulpit and I saw them in my dream jumping on my pulpit like monkeys." And about them the following verse was revealed:

"And We made the vision which We have shown thee only a faith-testing trial for the people and (the men you were shown are) the tree which is cursed in the Holy Qur'an."17

‘Umar said also to Al-Mughirah Ibn Shubah (who was one-eyed): "Mughirah have you ever seen anything through your eye after you lost it?" When Mughirah answered in the negative ‘Umar said to him: "By God the children of Umayyad will make Islam lose its eye as your eye was lost: Then they will blind Islam until it will not be able to know where to go or where to come." 18

The Umayyad's Reign Was Not Inevitable

Probably what the Caliph heard from the Messenger concerning the children of Umayyad made him believe that their coming to power was pre-destined and inevitable.

Therefore he allowed himself to walk in this path which placed the Umayyads readily in power. Thus he did that while submitting to what he thought to be a pre-destined future.

Probably his belief that the arrival of the Umayyads to the high office was inevitable made him say to Ibn Abbas that ‘Ali shall arrive to the caliphate after a serious confusion then his foot will slip and he will not accomplish his aim.

Then he said to Ibn Abbas: "Abdullah you will be a witness and the morning will be clear to anyone who has two eyes then you will know the soundness of the opinion of the early migrants who diverted the caliphate from him.".

Of course the arrival of the children of Umayyad to power became conceivable and expected after they became an important part of the Islamic regime and after their most intelligent became the governor of a highly important part of the Muslim State. The presence of Muawiya and his like in positions of power was expected to be an important obstacle which ‘Ali would face if he were to come to power.

As a matter of fact the difficulties and obstacles were steadily increasing and accumulating during ‘Umar's reign and continued to increase after his death until it became impossible for ‘Ali to rule peacefully.

This was not due to a weakness in ‘Ali but it was due to the events which took place before his arrival to power.

These events were not inevitable for those events were made by man and his will and were not pre-destined by God. Had ‘Umar not placed Muawiya in a position of power or had he not kept him in power Muawiya would not have become an obstacle in ‘Ali's path for without the governorship of Syria Muawiya would have been an ordinary man.

What the Prophetic Word Meant

What the Holy Messenger said about his vision in which he saw the children of Umayyad reaching the pulpit of the Holy Prophet was a warning to the nation to take a road that will not lead to this consequence. But the nation took the road which brought the Umayyads to that pulpit.

The Holy Messenger informed the nation that his grandson Al-Hussein would be killed and that ‘Ali would fight those who breached the covenant the aggressor party and the Kharijites (seceders). He also informed ‘Ali that the nation would betray him.

He informed Al-Zubayr that he would fight ‘Ali unjustly. He informed the mother of believers Ayeshah that she would be barked at by the dogs of Al-Hou-ab while she is deviating from the right road.

He also informed the Muslims that the aggressor party would kill Ammar Ibn Yasir.

The Holy Prophet did not inform the Muslims of all these events to tell them that they were pre-destined from God. He did not mean to tell the Muslims that the predicted events were inevitable and that the will of man would not be a factor in bringing them or preventing them.

Had he meant that then the disobedients the sinners the murderers the breachers of the covenants and the aggressors would not be blamable. What the Messenger wanted to say was that these expected events which saddened him would take place as a result of wrong choices by the nation or by some of its leaders.

The attitude of the Prophet in forecasting these events is like the attitude of a physician who warns a physically weak person of what will happen to him if he does not take preventive measures which he prescribes to him.

If the patient refuses to take the preventive medicine then he becomes ill his illness would not be a result of predestination nor would it be inevitable. His illness would be the result of his own failure and mis-choice.

The Messenger forecast these ugly events which he expected and prescribed to the nation the right measure to prevent their occurrence namely the adherence to the Book of God and the teachings of the members of his House.

He told the Muslims that the adherence to these two elements represented a security for the nation against the ugly events and all deviations of any kind. The nation however did not heed the warning of the Holy Prophet nor could it appreciate the seriousness of his statements and its dimensions.

It took a different road which led to those evil events.

For this I believe that the Second Caliph was wrong when he said to Ibn Abbas that morning would appear to anyone who has two eyes and that Ibn Abbas himself would be a witness and discover the soundness of the opinion of the early migrants who diverted the caliphate from ‘Ali.

The fact is that what happened to ‘Ali did not prove the soundness of the opinion of the early migrants. Rather it proved that they had committed a costly and terrible mistake. Had they not diverted the caliphate from ‘Ali after the death of the Holy Prophet the clouds would not have accumulated in his horizon nor could those obstacles and difficulties have accumulated in his road.

‘Ali could have arrived to a peaceful reign even after the caliphate was diverted from him twice. Had the Second Caliph used his tremendous influence in taming the Qureshites and directing them towards ‘Ali ‘Ali would have achieved his goal.

Had he kept the Umayyads out of his regime and avoided the creation of the preferred class of early companions through his inequal distribution of public funds ‘Ali would not have had serious problems.

Even after all these events took place ‘Ali could have had a peaceful rule if ‘Umar had named him as a successor or formed the Electoral Convention of members with a positive attitude towards ‘Ali rather than Uthman. Had ‘Ali succeeded in coming to power peacefully the Muslims would have been avoided all the faith-testing crises to which the death of Uthman led.

  • 1. Ibn Sa’d Al-Tabaqat Part 3 p 276.
  • 2. Abdul-Fattah Abdul-Maqsud Al-Imam ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib Part 1 p. 223
  • 3. Al-Sayed Al-Radhi Nahjul-Balaghah Part 2 pp. 29-30.
  • 4. Abdul-Fattah Abdul-Maqsud Al-Imam ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib Part 1 p. 226.
  • 5. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid his Commentaries on Nahjul-Balaghah Vol. 3 p. 179.
  • 6. Muslim in his Sahih Part 8 p. 169.
  • 7. Muslim. Sahih Muslim Part 8 pp. 172-179.
  • 8. Ibn Al-Athir in his hook Al-Kamil Part 3 p. 31.
  • 9. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid Commentaries on Nahjul-Balagha Part 3 pp. 97 105 and 155.
  • 10. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid Commentaries on Nahjul-Balagha Part 3 pp. 97 105 and 155.
  • 11. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid Commentaries on Nahjul-Balagha Part 3 pp. 97 105 and 155.
  • 12. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid recorded this dialogue in his Commen- taries on Nahjul-Balagha Vol.3 p.94.
  • 13. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid his Commentaries on Nahjul-Balaghah Vol.3 pp. 108-109.
  • 14. Ibn Sa’d in his Al-Tabaqat Part 3 pp.296-297.
  • 15. Dr. Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra Part 1 p.118.
  • 16. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid in his Commentaries on Nahjul-Balaghah Vol.1 p.62.
  • 17. Ibn Abdul-Hadid his Commentaries on Nahjul-Balaghah Vol. 2 p. 376. There are more hadiths recorded by the Imatn Al- Razi in his "Commentaries on the Holy Qur'an " Chapter 17 Part 5 pp. 413-414.
  • 18. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid Commentaries on Nahjul-Balaghah Vol. 2 p.277.

20. The Electoral Convention

The Second Caliph was asassinated while praying to his Lord at the Mosque of the Holy Prophet (in Medina)

By his assassination the life of one of the giants of history came to an end. His reign did not exceed a decade yet it was filled with events that changed the course of history.

His life ended yet his influence did not come to an end. He did not die before he pushed the nation to a future pregnant with important events the key of which was the Electoral Convention which he formed while he was on his deathbed.

Muslim in his Sahih reported that Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar said to his father: "They allege that you are not willing to name a successor. If you have a shepherd for your camels or sheep and he came back to you leaving them without a shepherd you would consider him negligent. Shepherding people is more important than shepherding animals."

Abdullah said: "My words seemed to appeal to him. He put his head down for a while then he raised it saying: 'If I do not name a successor I will be following the example of the Messenger. If I name a successor I will be following the example of Abu Bakr.' "1

The Caliph refused at the beginning to name anyone.

Al-Tabari and Ibn Al-Athir reported that ‘Umar was advised to appoint one after him but he said: "Had Abu-Obediah Ibn Al-Jarrah been alive I would have appointed him. If God questions me I will say: 'I heard Thy Prophet saying: "Abu Obediah is the trustworthy of this nation.".

"Had Salim Mawla Abu Hutheifa been alive I would have appointed him. If God questions me I shall tell Him: 'I heard Thy Prophet saying: "Salim is a strong lover of God." ‘Umar refused to appoint his son Abdullah for the high office saying: "How can I appoint a man who was unable to divorce his wife or he said does not know how to divorce his wife?"2

Six Nominees

Once again he was urged to appoint a successor but he refused saying: "After I said my last word I decided to choose a man who is the most qualified to lead you to the right road (pointing to ‘Ali). Then I fainted and in my swoon I saw a man entered a garden. He picked every fresh and ripe of its fruits taking them for himself and putting them under him. I realized that God had decreed something and He will prevail. I did not want to shoulder its responsibility dead and alive.

I recommend to you these six men for whom the Prophet testified to be from the people of Paradise: ‘Ali Uthman Abdul-Rahman Saad Ibn Abu Waqass Al-Zubayr Ibn Al-Awam and Talhah Ibn Ubaydullah. These men should select a caliph from among them. If they choose one you should co-operate with him and help him.”

When ‘Ali and his relatives left the Caliph's house Abbas (the Prophet's uncle) advised ‘Ali not to enter into that convention. ‘Ali said: "I dislike dissention." Abbas replied:

"And you will have what you dislike." However the Caliph did not elaborate on the matter nor did he define the method by which the caliph should be selected from these six men.

Procedural Instructions

On the second day the Caliph defined the method of election. He said to those who were present of the six men: "When I die deliberate for three days and Suheib should lead the prayer. The fourth day should not come before you elect a leader. Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar should attend your meetings as a counselor but he has no part in the caliphate.

Talhah is your partner in this affair (he was absent). If he comes during the three days have him with you. If the three days pass before he comes make your decision... I think that only one of the two men ‘Ali and Uthman will be the caliph. If Uthman is selected his weakness is his lenience. If ‘Ali is selected his blemish is his jolliness. And he is the most qualified to lead the people to the right road.

The Caliph commanded Abu Talhah (from the Medinites) to select fifty men from the Medinites and to stand in arms on the members of the Electoral Convention insisting that they select a caliph from among them after the burial of the Caliph.

He told them: "If five out of six agree and one disagrees kill him. If four agree and two disagree kill the two. If they are divided equally have Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar as an arbiter. If they do not accept his arbitration you should side with the party of Abdul-Rahman Ibn Ouf and kill the rest if they did not agree with what people agree upon."3

It is reported also that he said: "If three days pass before they decide on a leader kill them all and let the Muslims choose for themselves."4

The members of the Convention met after the burial of the Caliph. They argued and disagreed. It is reported that Talhah withdrew from the race for Uthman and Al-Zubayr withdrew for ‘Ali and Saad Ibn Abu Waqass withdrew for his cousin Abdul-Rahman. Whether this was or was not true it is well known that Abdul-Rahman suggested that he take himself out of the race and that he be authorized to choose one of two men: ‘Ali or Uthman.

Uthman authorized him without hesitation. ‘Ali did not authorize him until he made him take an oath to side with the truth follow no personal desire prefer no relative and endeavor for the interest of the nation. Abdul-Rahman was Uthman’s brother-in-law (he was married to Uthman’s sister Om Kulthoum)

Saad Ibn Abu Waqass advised his cousin Abdul-Rahman to choose himself. But Abdul-Rahman said: "I dislike it because I saw in my dream last night a green prairie full of grass. A beautiful camel entered it and passed through it eating none of the grass. Another camel followed and did as the first camel did. A third and huge camel followed and did what the first two did. Then a fourth camel entered the prairie and went on gluttonly eating its grass. (He interpreted the four camels to represent the Prophet and the three Caliphs after him and the prairie to represent the public funds.)

"By God I shall not be the fourth camel " he said: "A man succeeding Abu Bakr and ‘Umar will never be able to please people." Abdul-Rahman consulted his friends asking them whom he should choose.

The majority of the Qureshites were in favor of Uthman and the outstanding companions from the non-Qureshites were in favor of ‘Ali. He met with ‘Ali and Uthman separately. On the third day Abdul-Rahman was determined to bring the matter to a conclusion. People gathered at the Holy Mosque in the morning. They filled it to its capacity.

Abdul-Rahman stood up and said: "People the visitors have to go to their own towns. Counsel me. Ammar Ibn Yasir stood up and said to him: 'If you want to avoid the Muslims division select ‘Ali." Al-Miqdad Ibn Al-Aswad another outstanding companion seconded Ammar saying:

"Ammar told the truth. If you select ‘Ali we say: We listen and obey.”

The two companions were contradicted by Abdullah Ibn Abu Sarh who said to Abdul-Rahman: "If you want to avoid the Qureshites division select Uthman." Abdullah Ibn Abu Rabi-ah from the clan of Makhzoom seconded him saying: "You told the truth. Should Abdul-Rahman select Uthman we say: We heard and will obey."

Ibn Abu Sarh smiled but Ammar said to him: "When were you sincere to the Muslims?" (Ibn Abu Sarh embraced Islam during the time of the Prophet. Then he deserted the faith. The Messenger ordered the Muslims to kill him wherever they find him.)

The Hashimites spoke and so did the Umayyads. Ammar addressed the multitudes saying: "O people certainly God has honored us with His Prophet and strengthened us with His religion. Where do you divert the caliphate from the members of the House of your Prophet?"

A man from Makhzoom contradicted him by saying: "Son of Sumayah who are you to tell Quraish what to do for themselves?" Saad Ibn Abu Waqass said to his cousin Abdul-Rahman: "Finish it before people fall into dissension.".

Abdul-Rahman Selected Uthman

Abdul-Rahman called upon ‘Ali. He offered him the caliphate with a new condition: "Will you pledge to God and covenant Him that you will follow the Book of God the teachings of the Messenger and the precepts of the two caliphs (Abu Bakr and ‘Umar) after him?" ‘Ali replied: "I shall follow the Book of God the teachings of the Prophet and I shall follow my best knowledge and endeavor to the maximum of my ability.".

As he did not accept the offered condition Abdul-Rahman turned to Uthman with the same offer and Uthman accepted. It is said that Abdul-Rahman offered it to the two men three times and in each time ‘Ali refused the condition and Uthman accepted it.

At this point Abdul Rahman lifted his head towards the ceiling of the Mosque saying: "God be my witness I have transferred the responsibility from my neck to the neck of Uthman. Then he pledged his allegiance to Uthman.

‘Ali commented on what took place saying: "This is not the first day you have collaborated against us (members of the House of the Prophet)... By God you gave him the leadership only to return it to you later. God is able to change the situation." Then he turned to both Abdul-Rah- man and Uthman saying: "May God plight you with a mutual and lasting hostility." Abdul-Rahman retorted saying: "‘Ali do not incur trouble upon yourself (reminding him that the Second Caliph ordered them to kill any dissenter).".

‘Ali left after he gave his pledge to Uthman saying:‘Ali left after he gave his pledge to Uthman saying:

"What is written of timed events will reach its maturity." Ammar said to Abdul-Rahman: "By God you have left out the man of truth and correct judgement!" Al-Miqdad Ibn Al-Aswad joined Ammar saying: "By God I have never witnessed anything similar to what has been done to the members of the House of the Prophet after his death. I am amazed at Quraish who left out a man unequaled in knowledge piety and justice. If I have supporters I will fight the Qureshites now as I fought them in the battles of Badr and Uhud."

Abdul-Rahman replied: "Miqdad fear God. I am afraid that you will bring about divisions among Muslims." Al-Miqdad retorted angrily saying: "The one who creates division is the one who follows his own selfish interest."5

Observations

As we have presented the events of the Electoral Convention briefly it would be appropriate to make the following observations: The Second Caliph stated that if Abu Obediah Ibn Al- Jarrah and Salim servant of Abu Hutheifah were living he would have appointed one of them for the Messenger said: "Abu Obediah is the trustworthy of this nation and Salim is a strong lover of God." He refused to appoint ‘Ali about whom he heard from the Messenger numerous statements. None of them were made about any other companion.

Assuming the Messenger said that Abu Obediah was the trustworthy of this nation the Messenger also said: "‘Ali is from me and I am from ‘Ali and no one is qualified to represent me but ‘Ali."6

The Messenger did not commission Abu Obediah nor any one else from among the companions to deliver what he had of trusts to the Meccans at the time of his Hijrah. He entrusted only ‘Ali to do this on his behalf.

He entrusted him also to deliver the chapter of Bara-ah to the pilgrims and ordered him to take that chapter from Abu Bakr after he commissioned him with its delivery. Gabriel told the Prophet: "No one should deliver on your behalf except yourself or a man from the members of your House."7

The Messenger according to ‘Umar said: "Salim is a strong lover of God " but he did not say that God loves Salim. The passing Caliph should have remembered that the Messenger said: "God has commanded me to love four persons and informed me that He loves them."

Then he said: "‘Ali is one of them " repeating that three times. If the Caliph did not hear this statement from the Messenger certainly he heard from him at Khaibar a much more important statement. The Islamic army under the leadership of Abu Bakr and then of ‘Umar was unable to conquer the fortress of Kheibar.

At that serious moment the Holy Prophet said: "I shall give the banner tomorrow to a man who loves God and His Messenger and is loved by God and His Messenger. God will open the fortresses at his hands."8

‘Umar used to say that he never wished the leadership except that day so that the words of the Messenger would be about him. The Messenger on the following day gave the banner to ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib after he cured his two inflamed eyes miraculously. And on that day the Almighty opened the fortresses at ‘Ali's hands.

Yet neither these nor other significant statements about ‘Ali could induce the passing Caliph to nominate ‘Ali for the high office.

Is the Hadith Accurate?

It is very difficult to believe that the Messenger said that Abu Obediah was the most trustworthy of the nation. Abu Obediah was not more trustworthy than ‘Ali or Abu Bakr or ‘Umar. The Messenger might have uttered the words jokingly. He might have said that Abu Obediah is one of the trustworthies of this nation and ‘Umar misheard the statement and this would not be unusual.

‘Umar and his son inaccurately and inadvertently attributed to the Prophet that he said: "The deceased is to be punished for the cry of his family." Muslim in his Sahih recorded that Ayeshah denied the attributed statement saying: "‘Umar and his son are neither liars nor discredited. But the ear sometimes mishears. The Prophet only said that God increases the punishment of the unbeliever by his family's weeping."

Then she cited the Qur'anic verse: "And no soul shall bear the burden of another soul." (Part 6 pp. 230- 232)

Could a Non-Qureshite be a Caliph?

The passing Caliph was constantly advocating that the caliphate is an exclusive right of the Qureshites. He repeatedly spoke of that during his reign and the reign of Abu Bakr. Yet he wished to have Salim servant of Abu Hutheifa alive. For he would have named him his successor while Salim was neither a Qureshite nor an Arab. He was a man from Ostokhar. He was enslaved and sold several times.

Finally he came to the ownership of Abu Hutheifa and because his father was not known he was called Salim servant of Abu Hutheifa.9

Thus the passing Caliph was ready to appoint Salim who was neither a Qureshite nor an Arab. But he was not ready to appoint ‘Ali who was the cousin of the Messenger and the Messenger made him his brother.

The Medinite Companions Out

The passing Caliph chose six companions from Quraish for the membership of the Electoral Convention. He gave them alone the right of competing for the caliphate and gave them alone the right of selecting the caliph.

He commanded all Muslims to follow them and to abide by their decision. The nation according to him had no right to disagree with them. He added to the six a seventh (Ab- dullah his son) as a consultant and arbiter and that consultant was also a Qureshite.

The Caliph did not admit any Medinite companion as a voter or as a consultant. The new caliph is not a caliph of the Qureshites only. He is the Caliph of all Muslims. The Medinites did not have the right to elect a caliph from among themselves but they had a right equal to that of the Qureshites in choosing any Qureshite caliph.

Evidently the passing Caliph excluded the Medinites for a reason: The Medinites were predominantly in favor of ‘Ali.

Had he included members from them they could have given ‘Ali the edge in the election and ‘Umar did not want that to happen. The method which he chose for the members of the convention to follow in selecting the caliph was obviously steering the affair in a direction adverse to ‘Ali.

The six members to whom he confined the right of seeking the leadership and selecting the leader had their own inclinations which were known to the Caliph. Uthman was seeking the caliphate for himself Abdul-Rahman was his brother-in- law Saad ibn Abu Waqass was Abdul-Rahman's cousin and he would not oppose him.

Talhah Ibn Ubaydullah was from the clan of Abu Bakr who were unfriendly to ‘Ali because of the rivalry between him and the First Caliph. Thus the majority of the members of the Electoral Convention were unfavorable to ‘Ali.

‘Ali immediately noted this when he heard the passing Caliph giving his instruction to the six members on the method of selecting the caliph. When he left ‘Umar's house

‘Ali told the Hashimites: "If your people (the Qureshites) are obeyed you will never reach the leadership." He told his uncle Al-Abbas: "Uncle the leadership has already been diverted away from us... ‘Umar equalized Uthman with me and ordered the people to follow the majority of the six members. If the members are divided equally he told the Muslims to side with Abdul-Rahman and Abdul- Rahman is a brother-in-law of Uthman. Saad is Abdul-Rahman's cousin and they will not disagree with each other. If the other two are with me they will not avail me."10

Had the Caliph added a few more members who were not self-serving ‘Ali could have won the election. While dying the passing Caliph repeatedly stated that ‘Ali was the most qualified among the six to direct the nation to the right road.

This testimony is in accordance with the statements of the Prophet in which he declared that ‘Ali never parted with the Holy Qur'an and that he was in complete alliance with the truth.

As the Caliph expressed his well-founded confidence in ‘Ali he was expected to tip the scale in ‘Ali's favor by advising the members of the convention to be on his side in case of division. Contrary to this expectation the passing Caliph commanded the members of the convention to accept his son's arbitration if they were equally divided.

Should they reject his arbitration the Caliph commanded them to follow Abdul-Rahman Ibn Ouf (rather than ‘Ali). Needless to say the Caliph's action did not correspond with his professed convictions.

Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar

We find in the admission of Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar to the Convention as a consultant and arbiter another discrepancy. This righteous companion was according to his father's testimony incapable of making decisions about leaving or living with his wife. A man with such inability should not be made consultant or arbiter in a highly important matter such as the caliphate on which the future of Islam depends.

Abdullah's weakness and hostility towards ‘Ali became evident years after his father's death. The whole Muslim World with the exception of Muawiya and his followers in Syria elected the Imam ‘Ali after the death of Uthman. But Abdullah refused to cast his vote for the Imam.

The Imam's reign lasted about five years and Abdullah continued for the duration of his reign to withhold his hand from him in spite of his awareness of what the Messenger said about him. The same Abdullah was willing later to give his allegiance to Yazeed Ibn Muawiya. Muslim in his Sahih reported the following:

"Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar came to his cousin Abdullah Ibn Mutee when the Battle of Al-Harrah took place. (In this battle the sacred city of the Prophet was defiled by Yazeed's army and its righteous people were massacred.) Spread the cushion for Abu Abdul-Rahman (Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar) Abdullah Ibn Mutee said to his aides.

But Ibn ‘Umar said to him: "I did not come here to sit down. I came to report a hadith. I heard the Messenger of God saying: Whoever stands in open disobedience (of a caliph to whom he owes obedience) will meet God on the Day of Judgement lacking an excuse. And whoever dies owing no allegiance (to a caliph) dies in a pre-Islamic state."11

By reporting this hadith Ibn ‘Umar was trying to prevent Ibn Mutee from revolting against Yazeed urging him to give allegiance to the wicked caliph. This shows that Ibn ‘Umar himself was thinking that he would meet a pre-Islamic death if he did not give allegiance to Yazeed.

Yet Yazeed was the killer of the Imam Hussein and the defiler of sanctity of Medina and demolisher of the Kaabah. But Abdullah was not afraid to meet a pre-Islamic death when he refused to give his allegiance to ‘Ali the one whom the Messenger "brothered.".

The way this companion understood the words of the Prophet is amazing. The Prophet in his reported statement prohibited rebellion against a righteous caliph to whom the rebellious had pledged loyalty. Such a rebellion of course is inexcusable by God.

But Ibn ‘Umar thought that the Prophet was commanding the Muslims to obey and give their allegiance to a wicked ruler. Disobedience of such a caliph is not only excusable by God but also desirable to Him. As a matter of fact Islam commands the Muslims to overthrow their wicked rulers and forbids pledging loyalty to them. The Holy Qur'an declares:

"You will not find people who believe in God and the Last Day befriending any one who defies God and His Messenger." The Holy Quran Chapter 58 verse 32.

The attitude of Abdullah towards these events leaves little doubt that his admission to the Electoral Convention represented an additional help to Uthman and an additional problem to ‘Ali.

Does Islam Forbid Opposition?

The passing Caliph instructed the Muslims to execute any of the Electoral Convention's six members that disagreed with their majority. If the members were equally divided the party of Abdul-Rahman was to be followed.

The other three were also to be executed if they persisted in their opposition. And all six members were to be executed if they did not reach any decision within three days after his burial and let the rest of the Muslims choose a caliph.

This is astonishing for Islam does not permit killing a believer because he disagrees with the majority or with Abdul-Rahman or with the Caliph. Islam sanctifies the life of all believers. And a killer of a believer is doomed eternally.

The Holy Qur'an declares:

"And whoever kills a believer deliberately his punishment would be his eternal settlement in Hell: and the wrath of God is upon him and he is damned by God and for him God has prepared a dreadful punishment." The Holy Quran Chapter 4 verse 93.

If killing any believer constitutes a major crime killing one of the six is a much bigger crime because the Prophet (according to ‘Umar's report) considered them from the people of Paradise.

By his instructions the passing Caliph implicitly recommended the execution of ‘Ali if he opposed the majority of the six or Abdul-Rahman. Yet the Messenger said: "God love whoever loves ‘Ali and be hostile to whoever is hostile to him." Thus hostility towards ‘Ali let alone executing him provokes the wrath of God.

It is difficult to understand how ‘Umar recommended the execution of outstanding companions or a member of the House of the Prophet for merely disagreeing with him or with Abdul-Rahman. The Muslims used to disagree with the Messenger and he did not punish them. ‘Umar himself opposed the Prophet and prevented him from writing his will and the Messenger did not execute him nor did he penalize him. Was ‘Umar's or Abdul-Rahman's desire more sacred than that of the Messenger?

The Caliph probably thought that the endorsement of his appointment received from the Muslims at the beginning of his rule had given him an absolute authority to do whatever he thought to be in the interest of the Muslims. Upon this he issued his stern measures concerning the six members. But this is obviously erroneous.

The Caliph whose appointment by another Caliph was endorsed by Muslims may have the right to choose his successor or to limit the freedom of his electors or to deprive them of some of their rights. But that endorsement certainly does not give him the right to kill an outstanding companion who was declared by the Messenger to be from the people of Paradise for merely disagreeing with his opinion.

Muslims do not have the right to authorize him to do what is forbidden to him and to them. They neither collectively nor individually have the right to kill a person whose life is sanctified by God. Election of a caliph is never absolute. It is rather conditioned by adherence to the Book of God and the teaching of the Prophet and both prohibit killing a believer.

Unheeded Warning

Two dreams took place during the time of the Electoral Convention:

1. The dream of the passing Caliph who saw in his swoon a man entered a garden and picked all fresh and ripe fruit taking them to himself and putting them under him.

2. The dream of Abdul-Rahman in which he saw a beautiful camel entered a green prairie full of grass. The camel passed through it sparing the grass. A second and a third followed and behaved as the first camel did. Then a fourth entered the prairie and went on gluttonly eating its grass.

Both dreamers understood from their visions that the coming caliph would not be scrupulous about the public wealth. The two men should have been induced by their alarming dreams to choose for the caliphate a man with high integrity who would not allow himself to take what does not belong to him.

But the two dreamers did not heed the warning. They took measures by which they excluded the most scrupulous among the companions and selected a man with a loose policy toward public wealth.

History recorded two statements by ‘Umar concerning ‘Ali and Uthman. To ‘Ali he said: "What a great man you are! Should you be given the leadership you will drive the nation to the straight path." To Uthman he said: "I expect the Qureshites to give the caliphate to you because they love you. Then you will carry the members of your house on the necks of the Arabs giving them the public funds. Then a band of Arab wolves from various places will gather to slay you."12

Giving credence to this prophecy we wonder how the passing Caliph favored Uthman over ‘Ali. Since he believed or suspected that Uthman would adopt a loose policy towards the public funds he should have excluded him from the Convention. Unfortunately the passing Caliph did not only include him but tipped the scale in his favor through his instructions to the members of the Convention.

Thus the Caliph did everything in his power to promote the cause of the one whom he suspected and to defeat the one whom he trusted. ‘Ali's trustworthiness concerning the public funds was evident to ‘Umar and the rest of the companions. He was free of greed and material wealth never attracted him. Unlike other companions such as Talhah Al-Zubayr Abdul Rahman Uthman and other companions who accumulated millions of dirhams ‘Ali lived modestly. Throughout the days of the Prophet and the first two Caliphs ‘Ali was noted for leading a devotional and intellectual life.

The warning which ‘Umar and Abdul-Rahman received through their alarming dreams should have prompted them to select ‘Ali rather than Uthman for the leadership. Unfortunately they did the opposite.

The Unwarranted Stipulation

The stipulation of Abdul-Rahman which required the would-be Third Caliph to follow the precepts of the first two Caliphs was an unjustifiable addition. The duty of every caliph is to follow the Book of God and the teachings of the Prophet.

He is not duty-bound to follow the footsteps of any predecessor unless selected by the Prophet. When the new caliph is more knowledgeable than his predecessor and finds some of his deeds or rules erroneous he would be duty-bound to disagree with him.

To put the precepts of the first two Caliphs on the same level with the Book of God and the teachings of His Prophet is a grave error. The Book of God is entirely true and the Messenger of God is immune from error in his religious instructions.

On the other hand the first two Caliphs were like the rest of the good companions subject to error. To put their words and deeds on the same level with the Holy Qur'an and the teaching of the Prophet is indeed a heresy in religion.

The caliphate can be based on an appointment by the Messenger of God in reliance on a Divine revelation. It also can be based on an election by a majority or a distinguished minority or on a selection by an elected or appointed predecessor.

The words and the deeds of an elected (or appointed by an elected) caliph do not become sacred Islamic law. Before his election he would be like the rest of the good Muslims unimmune from error. He will remain so after he is elected.

His election does not change his personality; nor does it make him profoundly knowledgeable if he had only a limited knowledge.

At best he can be a mujtahid (a scholar capable of forming an independent opinion about the Islamic law). No other Islamic scholar is required to follow him and it is permissible for laymen to follow a scholar other than him.

If the Messenger (in reliance on God's revelation) were to appoint a caliph all Muslims would be required to follow his appointee. Their disagreement with the Messenger's appointee would be a disagreement with the Messenger himself. The first two Caliphs were not appointed by God's Messenger.

The first was elected by the majority of the companions of the Prophet and the second was appointed by the first. Neither of them can be considered more than a mujtahid unimmune from error. A caliph that comes after them is not required to follow their footsteps.

This shows the baselessness and absurdity of Abdul-Rahman's condition which he imposed on the would-be Third Caliph. The absurdity reached its maximum when Abdul-Rahman tried to exact from ‘Ali adherence to the path of the two Caliphs who used to resort to ‘Ali as an authority in the Islamic law.

Furthermore it was impossible for any ruler to follow the precepts of the first two Caliphs. The Second Caliph disagreed with the first on many things among which was the method of distribution of the Islamic public funds.

Abu Bakr followed the method of the Prophet and distributed the funds among the Muslims equally. ‘Umar classified the companions into categories and preferred some of the categories over the others.

As the two Caliphs disagreed with each other it became impossible for any other caliph to agree with both of them even if he wanted to.

For this we think that the stipulation of Abdul-Rahman was not only an addition in religion and innovation in Islam but also a requirement the fulfillment of which is impossible.

Abdul-Rahman was in fact more kingly than the king.The First Caliph appointed the Second and did not require him to follow his way. He expected him only to follow the Book of God and the teachings of the Prophet. Nor did the Second Caliph instruct Abdul-Rahman to exact from the next caliph to follow his footsteps.

I do not think that Abdul-Rahman was unaware of the unjustifiability of his introduced condition. He was a prominent companion and he was not that naive. Otherwise the passing Caliph would not have given him such an important authority.

The fact is that he added his unwarranted condition only to get rid of ‘Ali. It was difficult for him to prefer Uthman over ‘Ali without an excuse. Neither Uthman nor any other companion had what ‘Ali had of distinctions in knowledge endeavor in Islam and kinship to the Prophet and of being the first male Muslim.

In spite of all these distinctions Abdul-Rahman was determined to give the leadership to Uthman rather than ‘Ali in spite of his unequaled record. Uthman is his brother-in-law and giving him the leadership is a profiting deal. Uthman is expected to return to him the favor by appointing him as a successor.

‘Ali on the other hand is not a man of deals. His leadership will slam the door in the face of all ambitious Qureshites.

His children are expected to succeed him. They are the grandchildren of the Prophet and they are by the testimony of the Prophet the leaders of the youth of paradise.

But how can Abdul-Rahman favor Uthman over ‘Ali without risking his whole reputation as a fair and righteous companion? He needed an excuse and he invented his condition as an excuse. He offered the leadership to ‘Ali then to Uthman stipulating their adherence to the path of the first two Caliphs knowing that ‘Ali will reject such an unjustifiable condition.

But the veil was too thin. ‘Ali immediately accused him saying: "By God you gave him the caliphate only because you expect him to return it to you later....".

A Justification by Hadith

It may be said that Abdul-Rahman's condition is justifiable by two statements attributed to the Prophet. The first is the following hadith: "Follow the example of the two men after me Abu Bakr and ‘Umar..."

But the content of the hadith testifies to its unauthenticity for the following: The hadith indicates that the Messenger had appointed Abu Bakr and ‘Umar to be his successors while it is a well known fact in history that neither was appointed by the Messenger.

When Abu Bakr was arguing against the Medinites at the Saqifat he said to the Medinites: "The Arabs do not acknowledge any leadership unless it is from the Qureshites and the Messenger said: "The Imams are from the Quraish." Had the reported hadith been authentic he should have used it as a decisive evidence.

Abu Bakr called upon the Muslims at the Saqifat to elect either Abu Obeidah or ‘Umar. Had the Messenger called upon the Muslims to follow the example of the two men after him Abu Bakr and ‘Umar it would prohibit Abu Bakr to call for the election of Abu Obeidah because only he and ‘Umar were selected by the Prophet....

Abdul-Rahman was blamed and accused by ‘Ali Ammar and Al-Miqdad with an ulterior motive in his introduced condition. Had this reported hadith been authentic he should have vindicated himself by citing it.

Again had the hadith been authentic ‘Ali would have accepted Abdul-Rahman's condition. The Prophet according to the hadith had called upon the Muslims to follow the two Caliphs. And ‘Ali was the most obedient to God and His Messenger. ‘Ali's rejection of the introduced condition testifies to his unawareness of this hadith. Yet he was the most knowledgeable in the teachings of the Messenger.

Furthermore the failure of all companions to report this hadith at the time of the Convention indicates that none of the companions knew about it. This by itself makes it incredible.

It is a well known fact in history that ‘Ali claimed that the caliphate was his exclusive right and that he refused to pledge his loyalty to Abu Bakr and continued his re-fusal until his wife Fatimah died. Had the reported statement been authentic ‘Ali would have neither claimed such a right nor refused to give his allegiance to Abu Bakr.

The Second Hadith which may be cited for justifying Abdul-Rahman's condition is the following:

"Certainly God has put the truth on ‘Umar's tongue and in his heart..." If this were true it would be mandatory for any caliph after him to follow his lead.

Probably the Holy Prophet made this reported statement on one of the occasions where ‘Umar had given a sound opinion and the Prophet was attesting to the soundness of ‘Umar's opinion on that occasion. Thus the attributed statement should not be taken as a general declaration for the following reasons:

If we take the hadith as a sweeping statement we have to believe that ‘Umar was completely immune of error in words and in deeds whether it is on worldly or religious affairs. But the majority of the Muslims do not believe that the Messenger himself was immune of error. They believe in his immunity from error only in religious instructions.

Another reason for rejecting this hadith is that ‘Umar was erroneous on several occasions:

He was not with the truth when he denied the death of the Messenger. Ibn Hisham in his Biography of the Prophet and many other historians reported that ‘Umar said on that day: "Certainly there are hypocrites alleging that the Messenger of God has died. By God he shall return as Moses returned and he will sever the hands and the feet of men alleging that the Messenger of God died."

Al-Bukhari in his Sahih recorded that Abu Bakr came on that day while ‘Umar was speaking to the people. He commanded ‘Umar to sit down but ‘Umar refused to sit.

The people left ‘Umar and turned their faces to Abu Bakr and Abu Bakr told them: "Whoever among you was worshipping Muhammad should know that Muhammad has died. And whoever was worshipping God should know that He is living and never dies.

The Almighty said: "And Muhammad is but a Messenger; the Messengers before him passed away." ‘Umar later said: "By God when I heard Abu Bakr reciting this verse my feet could not carry me. I fell down to earth when I heard him reciting that Muhammad had died."13

The truth was not with ‘Umar when he opposed the Prophet while trying to write his will. He provoked the anger of the Prophet and by his opposition the nation was deprived of the document which was expected to illuminate the road to the nation after him.14

Certainly ‘Umar was seriously erroneous on this occasion. He prevented the Prophet from writing his will and that is a major sin. He questioned the mental capability of the Prophet while the Holy Qur'an declared:

"And he (the Prophet) does not speak out of a selfish desire. It is only a revelation sent down to Him)." The Holy Qur'an Chapter 53 verses 3-4.

Again the Qur'an declares:

"O you who believe obey God and obey the Messenger..." The Holy Quran Chapter 59 verse 7.

‘Umar was not with the truth on the day of Al-Hudeibeyah. Historians unanimously reported that ‘Umar argued with the Messenger and objected to the projected truce between the Messenger and the pagans of Quraish. ‘Umar said after that "I still pay charity fast pray and free slaves as an atonement for what I had done on that day."

The Second Caliph was not right in setting up his Electoral Convention. His refusal to appoint the Imam ‘Ali and his instruction to the members of the Convention in selecting the would-be Third Caliph brought Uthman to power and put the caliphate in the hands of his Umayyad relatives who transformed the caliphate into a despotic and hereditary rule.

These are only a few out of many occasions on which the Second Caliph took erroneous stands. The right word was not always on his tongue nor was the truth always in his heart. Thus the two hadiths cannot justify Abdul- Rahman's invented condition.

‘Ali's Unique Dedication

The manner in which ‘Ali conducted himself during the crisis of the Convention was unparalleled in the history of Islam after the Prophet. It was the high example of nobility firmness and adherence to the truth. The leadership of the Muslim World was offered to him and its price was only a promise on his part.

He refused to pay the price and turned the offer down because it demanded from him to deviate slightly from his priuciples. No temptation of any magnitude could influence the man of the truth. The caliphate to him was not an end by itself; it was only a means of establishing justice and realizing the ideals to which he was dedicated and for which he staked his life since his ears heard the call of Muhammad.

He was irritated by the formation of the Convention and viewed it as an ominous event fraught with dangers.

The structure of the Convention was destined to bring Uthman to power. This would put his ambitious and unscrupulous relatives in a challenging position and make them seek the high office at any cost.Foreseeing these dangers the Imam decided to try to prevent them by seeking the caliphate.

True Prophecies

History recorded that ‘Ali made two prophetic statements during the crisis of the Convention forecasting the expected events as if he were reading from a book: Al-Tabari recorded that ‘Ali spoke to his uncle Abbas after the Second Caliph gave his instructions about the method by which the Third Caliph would be selected. "I know that they will select Uthman "

He said "and he will bring about innovations and unaccepted changes. And if I live I shall remind you. Should Uthman die or be killed the Umayyads will make the caliphate rotate among them. And if I shall be living they will find me where they dislike.".

He spoke also to the members of the Convention when they were trying to select the new caliph: "Praise be to God who from us has chosen the Prophet Muhammad and sent him to us as a Messenger. We are the members of the House of the Prophet the source of wisdom the security of the people of the earth and the haven to the seekers of security (against deviation)

"We have a right. If we are given it we will take it; if we are deprived of it we will take the back seat even if the journey will be long. Had the Messenger given us a directive we would have fulfilled his directive. Had he told us to take an action we would have fought for it until we died. No one will be faster than I in response to a righteous invitation or kindness to a kin.

"Listen to my word and comprehend my presentation. Your leadership after this Convention (if you fail to select the qualified leader) will be violently contended. Covenants will be breached and swords will be drawn until your unity will come to an end. Some of you will be imams of revisions some will be followers of men of ignorance."15 Both prophecies were realized. Uthman was elected.

He brought unacceptable changes and this brought about his death. By his violent death the Islamic unity came to an end. The Imam was elected after him but prominent companions breached their covenants with him after they pledged to him their loyalty. The leadership was violently contended. Swords were drawn and many battles were fought. Leaders of revisions deviation and ignorance emerged and masses of the people followed them.

Expecting these ugly events the Imam was compelled to enter into the Electoral Convention trying his best to prevent the expected events from taking place. This is what made him disregard the opinion of his uncle Abbas who advised him to stay out of the Convention.

Membership to the Convention was below his dignity but he was duty-bound to enter the race. Had he shied away from the Convention he would have given the other members an excuse for by-passing him or they could have taken his refusal of the membership as an evidence of his disinterest in leadership.

A refusal on his part to enter into the Electoral Convention would have put the Imam in an indefensible position in the eyes of history. It may lead us to think that he deprived himself of the leadership when it was available to him. We may think that he did not do his best to avoid the ugly events which he was expecting.

Furthermore his absence from the Convention could have been considered an irresponsible stand and an encouragement to the members to elect someone else. Thus he would share with them the responsibility of their error.

It was his duty to attend the Convention and remind its members of his right to the leadership and that the members of the House of the Prophet are the source of wisdom a security of the people of the earth against straying and a haven to whoever seeks such a security. And this is what the Prophet meant when he commanded the nation to follow the Book of God and the members of his House and likened them to the Ark of Noah.

The Imam fulfilled his obligation by attending the Convention. He warned the members of the grave consequences of their wrong choice. He reminded them of the right of the House of the Prophet in leadership a right for which the Prophet did not ask his relatives to fight.

History records that a dialogue between ‘Ali and the rest of the members of the Convention took place and went as follows:

The Imam: I ask you in the name of God: Is there among you anyone other than I whom the Prophet called his brother?

The Members: None other than you.

The Imam: Is there any among you other than myself about whom the Messenger said: whoever I am his "Mawla " this ‘Ali is his "Mawla"?

The Members: None.

The Imam: "Is there anyone among you besides me to whom the Messenger said: You are to me like Aaron to Moses but there shall be no Prophet after me?" The Members: None.

The Imam: Is there anyone among you besides me who was trusted with the chapter of Bara-ah and the Messenger said about him: no one will deliver for me except myself or a man from me?".

The Members: None.

The Imam: "Do you not know that the companions of the Messenger deserted him at more than one battle and I never deserted him?" They said: Yes.16

The Imam told them all that and they were aware of the truth of what he said. But their personal interests were in conflict with what they knew about him.

Motives And Consequences

The Imam endeavored through his logic to prevent the members of the Convention from taking an irresponsible direction leading the Muslims to an insane turmoil which would govern the future of the nation for generations to come. Unfortunately the members were unable to rise to the level which the serious situations were demanding.

They were mostly ambitious and unwilling to forget their interest. If ‘Ali came to power their personal hope in reaching the leadership in the future would fade out. If leadership returned to the House of the Messenger it would stay in it for a long time. On the other hand giving the leadership to Uthman would keep the door open for people such as Abdul-Rahman who was expecting the aging Uthman to die before him and to name him as a successor.

The members of the Convention were psychologically ready to bar ‘Ali from the caliphate in spite of what the Prophet said about him. Why not? The first two Caliphs with all their righteousness did that. The rest of the companions were expected to follow them.

As diverting the leadership from ‘Ali at the time of the Prophet's death was unexpected diverting it to him after the two Caliphs had become also unexpected.

The Second Caliph did not view it out of line to give the caliphate to Uthman. Probably he considered it a good deed by which he returned a favor to him.

The readers may remember that Uthman wrote Abu Bakr's will in which he named ‘Umar his successor. While dictating his will Abu Bakr fainted before pronouncing ‘Umar's name. Fearing the death of the Caliph in his swoon Uthman took it upon himself to write ‘Umar's name.

When Abu Bakr woke up he asked Uthman to read what he wrote. Uthman did that and when he read ‘Umar's name Abu Bakr happily marvelled. ‘Umar of course never forgot what Uthman did for him.

A New Class

As the events which preceded the Electoral Convention brought about creation of the new classes: The Qureshites the preferred companions and the Umayyads the formation of the Convention added a new class.

Talhah Al-Zubayr Saad and Abdul-Rahman became members of a higher class among the companions. ‘Umar promoted them and testified for their qualifications to the caliphate by admitting them into the Electoral Convention. This inflamed their ambition for leadership.

It made them feel that they are ‘Ali's equals and competitors. This by itself brought about many dangerous consequences. It made Talhah and Al-Zubayr try to hasten Uthman’s death after they pledged their loyalty to him.

They conspired against him and each one of them was an aspirant to succeed him. This led to Uthman’s violent death and ended the Islamic unity. The same ambition motivated these two good companions to challenge ‘Ali's leadership later breaching their covenant with him in which they pledged their loyalty and obedience to him.

The Lost Opportunity

Through the formation of the Electoral Convention the Muslims and the Second Caliph lost the last opportunity for correcting the situation and avoiding incalculable tragedies for the nation.

The passing Caliph wrote for himself and his nation brilliant and glorious pages in history. The caliphate during his and his predecessor's reigns took a righteous path inspired by the guidance of the Holy Qur'an and the precepts of the Holy Prophet.

But the goal of the Heavenly message was not the continuity of the righteous government for only twelve years to be derailed afterwards from the path of justice brotherhood and true democracy.

The leadership was diverted from ‘Ali to Abu Bakr then to ‘Umar and both were righteous doers. Had ‘Ali taken over the leadership after ‘Umar his coming to power would not have been too late.

The nation was still healthy ruled by the spirit of brotherhood and placing its religion above its worldly affairs. It was possible for the Imam with his tremendous qualifications to continue the nation on the right road and to add brighter pages to its brilliant record. It was possible for him to prevent the disunity from taking place.

The Umayyad influence started to grow during the days of ‘Umar but that influence was not yet developed enough to represent a serious danger to the caliphate. Muawiya's provincial regime was not strong enough to challenge the central authority. Had ‘Ali succeeded ‘Umar he would have been in a position to uproot the Umayyad plant from Damascus before its roots were deepened and spread in the Syrian soil.

The preferred companions were not capable of challenging the Imam's leadership. Nor were Talhah and Al- Zubayr powerful enough to become a threat to him. They were only two out of scores of good companions.

Had ‘Umar given the leadership to ‘Ali he would have avoided the nation all those catastrophic events securing the continuity of the unity of the nation along with the continuity of the righteous caliphate for many generations to come.

Had ‘Umar done that he would have returned to the members of the House of the Prophet their right in the Islamic leadership and protected these most righteous people from the atrocities of the Umayyads. By doing that he would have brought pleasure to the Holy soul of the Prophet.

With his great wisdom ‘Umar was expected to take this righteous course. Unfortunately the Qureshite clannish attachment of this prominent companion outweighed his wisdom. This produced the tradegy of the Electoral Convention.

  • 1. Muslim in his Sahih Part 2 p. 206.
  • 2. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil Part 3 p. 34. (Printed by Dar Al- Kitab Al-Arabi Beirut Lebanon.)
  • 3. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil Part 3 p. 35.
  • 4. Ibn Sa’d Al-Tabaqat Part 3 p. 342.
  • 5. Ibn Al-Athir in his Al-Kamil Part 3 pp. 32-35 and Ibn Abu Al-Hadid in his Commentaries on Nahjul-Balaghah Vol. 1 pp. 63-65 taken from Al-Tabari's History.
  • 6. Al-Tirmidhi Sunan Al-Tirmidhi Part 5 p. 300 hadith No. 3803.
  • 7. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p. 51.
  • 8. Al-Bukhari Sahih Al-Bukhari Part 5 p. 171 and Muslim in Sahih Muslim Part 15 pp. 170-171.
  • 9. Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra Part 1 p. 37.
  • 10. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil Part 3 p. 33.
  • 11. Muslim Sahih Muslim Part 12 p. 40.
  • 12. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid in his Commentaries on Nahjul-Balaghah Vol. 1 p. 62.
  • 13. Ibn Hisham Biography of the Prophet Part 2 p. 656; and Sahih Al-Bukhari. Part 6. p. 17.
  • 14. Al-Bukhari Sahih Al-Bukhari Part 1 p. 39.
  • 15. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil Part 3 p. 37.
  • 16. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid Commentaries on Nahjul-Balaghah Vol. 2 pp. 198-199.

21. Uthman’s Reign

The Electoral Convention produced its expected conclusion. Uthman became the Third Caliph. As a companion Uthman was not less than his two predecessors: Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. He was a member of the fourth ten of the early Muslims (among the first 40 muslims).

His Islam was earlier than that of ‘Umar and before his conversion he was not as violent as ‘Umar in opposing Islam. He had a distinction which neither of his two predecessors had: being the son-in-law of the Messenger twice.

He married Ruqayah one of the daughters of the Prophet. The fruit of this marriage was a son named Abdullah who died at the age of six after the death of his mother. After Ruqayah Uthman married her sister Om Kulthoom. She also did not live long with him. She died during the life of her Holy father.

Non-Combatant

Uthman did not attend the Battle of Badr. He was in Medinah helping his sick wife Ruqayah who died before the return of her Holy father from the battlefield. Uthman attended the Battle of Uhud and other battles.

History does not record any physical participation on his part in a fight at any battle. Like the majority of the companions he deserted the Prophet during the Battle of Uhud. He returned to the Prophet after the battle ended and he was one of the companions who were forgiven by the Almighty according to the Holy Qur'an.

"Those who turned their back on the day the two hosts met it was Satan who caused them to fall because of some evil they have done. But God has blotted out their sin. For God is Most-Forgiving Most Forbearing." The Holy Quran Chapter 3 verse 155.

Uthman was not a warrior but he was charitable. He participated effectively in funding the army of Tabuk. It is reported that he brought to the Messenger a thousand dinars (equivalent to ten thousand dollars) to be spent in financing the military mission. He did other charities.

Uthman came to power at the end of the twenty-third year after the Hijrah (644 A.D.). His reign started after he passed seventy and continued for twelve years.

During the first six years of his reign the affairs of his administration went well. The Muslims achieved many victories during this period. They were still in a state of war with the two prominent Empires of that time: The Persian and Byzantine Empires. What was left of the Persian Empire during the reign of ‘Umar came into the Islamic Dominion. North Africa was also detached from the Roman Empire to become a part of the Muslim State. The Third Caliph lifted the ban against military use of the seaways. An important Islamic fleet was built in the Mediterranean.

The last six years of the reign of the Third Caliph were full of ugly events. The class struggle between the over-paid and the under-paid started to grow rapidly until it exploded with a revolution whose first victim was the Third Caliph. The events which took place during the last six years were germinated before this period. The seeds of these events were born at the beginning of his reign ot during the reigns of his predecessors.

A Bridging Personality

Uthman possessed neither the wisdom nor the determination of his predecessors. Nor did he have their non-materialistic attitude. In fact his personality had two sides opposed to each other. On the one hand he was an early Muslim. He accompanied the Messenger for a long time acquired the honor of marrying two daughters of the Messenger and was charitable for the cause of Islam.

On the other hand he was a member of the Umayyad clan. His love to them was unbounded in spite of their dark past towards the faith of Islam and its Prophet. These two sides of his personality made the outstanding companions foresee the Third Caliph's potential as a bridge over which the caliphate might pass from the righteous reign of the early companions of Muhammad to the despotic and unjust reign of the members of the clan of Umayyad.

The reader may remember that when ‘Umar issued his instructions concerning the selection of his successor ‘Ali said to his uncle Al-Abbas: "I know that they will select Uthman and if he is killed or dies the members of the Umayyad clan will make the caliphate rotate among themselves and if I am alive they will find me where they dislike.".

It is amazing that Quraish refused to give the leadership to the Imam ‘Ali fearing that the leadership might rest in the House of the Prophet because of their unequaled religious honor yet Quraish chose to make the caliphate rest in the House of Umayyad which was noted for its hostility towards the Messenger and his religion.

Early Opposition

This was probably one of the reasons which made two outstanding companions Ammar Ibn Yasir and Al-Maqdad Ibn Al-Aswad start their opposition to Uthman at the very beginning of his reign. They loudly objected to his coming to power in spite of what they knew of his righteousness.

History recorded that Ammar came out shouting after Uthman’s election: "Announcer of death come forward and announce the death of Islam. Justice has died and evil emerged. By God if I find supporters I will fight the Qureshites. By God if I find one person ready to fight them I will be his second."1

He came to the Imam ‘Ali and called upon him to start war against the Qureshites. But the Imam reminded him of the lack of support. He said to him and others: "I do not like to endanger you or burden you with what is beyond your ability."

Al-Miqdad came out on the day following Uthman’s elction. While he was walking he met Abdul Rahman Ibn Ouf the king-maker who was responsible for Uthman’s selection. A confrontation between the two companions took place and went as follows: Al-Miqdad: "Abdul-Rahman may God reward you in this world and the Hereafter if you have sought to please God by what you did. May He increase your wealth if you have sought by what you did a worldly gain."

Abdul-Rahman: "May God have mercy upon you; listen to me.".

Al-Miqdad: "By God I will not listen." He pulled his hand from Abdul-Rahman's hand and left.

The two companions had another confrontation at another occasion:

Al-Miqdad: By God I have never seen anything similar to what was done to the members of this House (of the Prophet)

Abdul-Rahman: Miqdad why are you concerned with this?

Al-Miqdad: By God I love them for the love of the Messenger of God. I am amazed by the Qureshites who claim superiority over other people because of their relationship to the Prophet then allow themselves to take the authority of the Prophet away from the members of his House.

Abdul-Rahman: By God I have tried to do what is best for the interest of the people.

Al-Miqdad: By God you have left a man who is capable of leading the nation to the right road and maintaining truth and executing justice. By God if I have supporters against the Qureshites I will fight them as I fought them at Badr and Uhud.".

Abdul-Rahman: May your mother be bereaved by your death. Let no one hear those words from you. I am afraid that you may have become revisionist and devisive.

Al-Miqdad: A person that invites people to follow the truth and right leadership is not revisionist. But the one who drives people to the falsehood and prefers his own interest above the truth is the man of revision and division..."2

Neither Ammar nor Al-Maqdad had any political ambitions and neither of them was seeking through his endeavor any material gain. These companions were highly commended by the Messenger.

Ibn Majah reported in his Sunan that the Messenger said: "God has commanded me to love four persons and informed me that He loves them." When he was asked who they were he said "‘Ali is of them (repeating that three times) Abu Dharr Salman and Al-Miqdad."3

Al-Tirmidhi reported in his Sunan that the Messenger said: "Every Prophet was given distinguished companions but I was given fourteen." Then he counted Ammar and Al-Miqdad among the fourteen.4

Al-Tirmidhi also reported that the Prophet said when Ammar Ibn Yasir asked permission to enter the house of the Prophet: "Admit him. Welcome the good the purified."5

He also recorded that Ayshah reported that the Messenger said: "Whenever Ammar is given the choice between two alternatives he chooses the more righteous of the two."6

Al-Tirmidhi reported also that the Messenger said to Ammar: "Ammar be cheerful the aggressor party will kill you."7

Implementation Of The Umayyad's Plan

What these good companions had seen through their intuition was becoming true. The signs of the future started to emerge quickly.

The members of the Umayyad clan met at the house of Uthman after he was elected. Abu Sufyan their old man who had lost his sight through aging asked them: "Are there any outsiders among you?"

When they assured him that there were none he said: "Children of Umayyad rotate it (the caliphate) among you as boys rotate a football. By the one in whose name Abu Sufyan swears there shall be neither a punishment nor requirement of account. Nor will there be a paradise or a hell or resurrection or a Day of Judgement."8

The Caliph of course chided him but this did not change the attitude of Abu Sufyan. He asked a man to lead him to the grave of Al-Hamzah uncle of the Prophet Muhammad and the prince of the martyrs.

When he stood on the grave he said addressing Al-Hamzah: "Abu Imarah (a code name of Al-Hamzah) the matter for which we gladiated with each other has become a play in the hands of our youth." Then he kicked the grave with his foot.9

He meant that the Umayyads and the Prophet Muhammad and his family fought each other for authority. Now the authority had come into the hands of Umayyads and the members of the House of the Prophet were deprived of it.

It did not take long before these words were translated into a reality. The members of the Umayyad clan exploited the simplicity of the Third Caliph and his extreme love for them. Within the first few years of his reign they put their hands on the two sources of power: The authority of the important provinces of the Islamic state and their treasuries.

The main power and wealth of the Islamic state were in three provinces: Syria Iraq and Egypt. During the first few years of the reign of Uthman these vast areas became Umayyad princedoms.

Muawiya and Syria

We have mentioned (Chapter 19) that ‘Umar appointed Muawiya governor of Damascus then he added Jordan to his authority after the death of Yazeed (Muawiya's brother). ‘Umar also appointed Omair Ibn Saad (a Medinite) the governor of Homs and Quinnisrine and Abdul- Rahman Ibn Alqamah the governor of Palestine. When ‘Umar died these two men were still in their posts. But Abdul-Rahman Ibn Alqamah died at the beginning of the reign of Uthman and Omair resigned because of ailment.

Uthman added Palestine Homs and Qinnisrine to the authority of Muawiya.10 Thus within two years from the beginning of the reign of Uthman Muawiya became the governor of what is called today the Greater Syria.

Muawiya's influence started to grow during the days of ‘Umar. Yet it remained relatively limited in size and heavily supervised by ‘Umar. The size of his area was more than doubled during the reign of Uthman and his influence became almost absolute and free of any supervision.

Within a few years Syria became an autonomous state within the Islamic state and Muawiya became the strong man of the Muslim world. Within a few years he was able to put in the battlefield a huge army containing one hundred thousand soldiers. It is worthy to note that Muawiya was no more righteous than his father Abu Sufyan.

Ibn Abu Sarh In Egypt

‘Umar died while Amr Ibn Al-Aws was the governor of Egypt. Uthman dismissed him during the first two years of his reign. He replaced him with his foster brother Abdullah Ibn Saad Ibn Abu Sarh who remained in his position until the end of Uthman’s reign.

Ibn Abu Sarh was one of the enemies of the Holy Prophet. He professed Islam during the time of the Messenger then deserted the faith. He used to ridicule the Holy Qur'an saying: "I shall reveal equal to what God has revealed to Muhammad."

Ibn Hisham reported that Ibn Abu Sarh embraced Islam and became a recorder of the revelation for the Prophet. Then he deserted the faith and went back to Quraish. When the Messenger entered Mecca he ordered his execution. Ibn Abu Sarh took refuge at Uthman’s house who was his foster brother and Uthman hid him. When the situation calmed down Uthman brought him to the Messenger asking clemency for Abdullah.

The Messenger kept silent for a good while then said: yes. When Uthman and his foster brother left the Messenger said to the companions around him: "I kept silent for a while hoping that one of you would kill him." A Medinite companion asked: "Prophet of God why did you not give me a signal?" The Messenger replied: "A Prophet does not kill by signal."11

Iraq there were two important cities in Iraq: Kufah and Basra. ‘Umar appointed Saad Ibn Abu Waqass to be governor of Kufah. Then he dismissed him and replaced him by Al-Mughirah Ibn Shubah.

When Uthman came to power he dismissed Al-Mughirah and replaced him by Saad Ibn Abu Waqass in response to a recommendation by ‘Umar before his death.

Saad was a highly respected companion and gained a prominent position when ‘Umar made him a member of the Electoral Convention. In spite of this Uthman kept him in the gubernatorial post for only one year. He replaced him with Walid Ibn Aqabah a cousin and a half-brother of the Third Caliph.

Walid was a transgressor by the testimony of the Holy Qur'an. He embraced Islam after the year of the Hudeibeyah truce. The Messenger sent him to the tribe of Banu Al-Mustaliq to collect their Zakat.

Expecting his arrival Banu Al-Mustaliq rode their horses to receive him. Beholding their coming toward him he was frightened and went back to the Prophet before meeting them. He told the Prophet that Banu Al-Mustaliq wanted to kill him. Relying upon his information the Muslims considered a punitive action against the Mustaliqites.

But the Mustaliqites came to the Prophet and informed him that their intention was to receive and honor Walid rather than to kill him. A revelation concerning Walid and the Mustaliqites came down prohibiting the believers from reliance on information of unrighteous persons such as Walid because a transgressor is unworthy of reliance. Thus we read in the Chapter of Al-Hujorat the following:

"O you who believe if a transgressor comes to you with news try to verify it lest you harm people unwittingly and afterward you would regret what you have done. And know that among you is God's Apostle:

Were he in many matters to follow your opinions you would have certainly got into misfortune; but God has endeared the faith to you and made it beautiful in your hearts and He has made hateful to you the unbelief wickedness and rebellion. Such indeed are those who walk in righteousness."12

It is evident that Walid had kept his pre-Islamic mentality for the rest of his life. He remained in the governorship of Kufah for five years until witnesses from the people of Kufah testified that he took intoxicants.

He was given the prescribed punishment and the Caliph was required to dismiss him. The situation of Walid was not unknown to Uthman and to the good Muslims especially after the Holy Qur'an called him a transgressor.

It is reported that when Walid came to replace Saad Saad asked him: "Have you become wise or have we become fools?" Walid replied: "Abu Is-Haq (the code name of Saad) neither of this is the case. It is the royal authority which some people take as lunch and then others take it as supper." Saad replied: "You (Umayyad) evidently have made the caliphate a kingdom." Abdullah Ibn Masud also said to Walid: "I do not know whether you have become good or people have became bad."13

As the Caliph was required to dismiss his foster brother after he was scandalized by his own deeds the Caliph was expected to replace him by a companion such as Saad Ibn Abu Waqass or Ammar Ibn Yasir or Abdullah Ibn Masud. But the Caliph did not do any of these. He replaced him by Sa-eed Ibn Al-Aws another Umayyad.

Although Sa-eed did not have a record as bad as that of Walid he was only one of the Umayyad youths whose governorship did not inspire people of Kufah with confidence nor rectify what needed to be rectified. We shall see later that the events took a turn from bad to worse during the days of Sa-eed.

In Basra When ‘Umar died Abu Musa Al-Ashari was the governor of Basra. He remained in his post for three or five years during the reign of Uthman. A delegation from Basra came to the Caliph complaining of Abu Musa's misuse of public funds.

Abu Musa was not from the good companions. He once was accused by ‘Umar of enriching himself at the expense of the Muslims and ‘Umar took from him the surplus of his wealth and put it back in the Islamic treasury. Yet he kept him in his post because of his extreme loyalty to the Second Caliph.

The Third Caliph was expected to investigate the complaint of the Basra's delegation and replace Abu Musa (if proven guilty) by a better companion. But Uthman did not do that. Instead he took the word of the complainers dismissed him and replaced him with Abdullah Ibn Amir another Umayyad youth.

Thus within a few years of Uthman’s reign the three important provinces of the Muslim state became Umayyad princedoms. The majority of their rulers were enemies of the Prophet and condemned by him or by the Holy Qur'an.

The ugly impact of their appointment to such high offices could have been minimized by a firm supervision on the part of the Caliph. It was easy for the Caliph to surround himself with righteous and intelligent advisors from among the companions. He could delegate to such advisors the authority of investigating and supervising the administrations of these provinces.

Unfortunately supervision was completely absent. The chief advisor of the Caliph was his cousin Marwan Ibn Al-Hakam another unscrupulous Umayyad. The power which was given to this Umayyad youth is not available to any prime minister of our time. As a matter of fact Marwan was the actual caliph and Uthman was only a figurehead.

Thus the caliphate was transformed actually into an Umayyad kingdom. To prepare the Muslim world psychologically for the Umayyad rule the Umayyad officials advocated the superiority of the Qureshites over the rest of the Arabs and the superiority of their clan over the rest of the Qureshites. They imposed a complete silence on the distinctions of the members of the House of the Prophet in general and ‘Ali in particular. They informed their subjects of the close relationship of the Umayyad to the Messenger.

Their historical hostility to him and to the members of his House was not to be mentioned to these subjects who were new Muslims unaware of the history of Islam.

Muawiya one time met Ammar Ibn Yasir in Medina. In a heated argument he told Ammar: "There are in Damascus one hundred thousands plus an equal number of their sons and servants. They receive their annual salaries and they do not know ‘Ali and his kinship (to the Prophet) or Ammar and his early Islam nor Al-Zubayr and his companionship."14

Jundub Ibn Abdullah Al-Azdi once tried to inform the people of Kufah about the distinctions of the Imam ‘Ali.

When he was reported to Walid Ibn Aqabah governor of Kufah he jailed him and did not free him until some important people mediated for his freedom.15

The Third Caliph And His Two Predecessors

You may remember that Abdul-Rahman Ibn Ouf offered ‘Ali and Uthman the caliphate stipulating that the third caliph had to follow the path of the first two Caliphs.

‘Ali lost the caliphate because he rejected the stipulation. Uthman won the caliphate because he accepted it.

Let us see if he fulfilled his pledge to Abdul-Rahman and to the rest of the Muslims.

Neither of the two Caliphs appointed any of their relatives for any post in the Islamic provinces or cities. Uthman on the contrary put his relatives in the gubernatorial posts of all the key provinces. Was he by doing this in accord with the way of the two Caliphs?

The Third Caliph did not appear to believe that this was inconsistent with the way of his two predecessors. He vindicated the appointment of his relatives by the fact that ‘Umar appointed Muawiya and men like Muawiya such as Amr Ibn Al-Aws and Mughirah Ibn Shubah for the governorship of Damascus Egypt and Kufah. ‘Umar did not choose for these posts the best companions of the Prophet.

The Third Caliph could have said also that ‘Umar commissioned Walid Ibn Aqabah as a collector of the Zakat in the land of Jazirah. Probably ‘Umar also appointed Abdullah Ibn Abu Sarh for a minor position. The Third Caliph was right in saying this. But the fact remained that ‘Umar did not appoint any of his relatives to any high or minor post. Uthman appointed his relatives to high offices and gave them authorities without any appreciable supervision.

It is justifiable to say that Uthman was not out of tune with his two predecessors by choosing his relatives to high offices for the Umayyad influence began and grew to a noticeable degree during the time of ‘Umar.

It was only natural for that influence to be escalated during the reign of Uthman by the factor of time and the membership of Uthman to the Umayyad clan. Had ‘Umar been unwilling to see the Umayyad influence grow to that height he should have kept the Umayyads away from his regime.

He should not have formed the Electoral Convention or at least should have excluded Uthman from the Convention. ‘Umar was well aware of Uthman’s extreme love for the members of his clan.

Therefore we cannot say positively that Uthman by promoting his relatives was inconsistent with the policy of ‘Umar for ‘Umar is the one who started the Umayyads on the road to authority and enhanced their influence by indirectly putting their relative Uthman in the highest office.

Loose Fiscal Policy the aspect in which the Third Caliph was clearly inconsistent with his predecessors was his loose fiscal policy. It is a well-known fact that the first two Caliphs had led a very simple and rugged life for themselves and their families.

Whenever ‘Umar ordered people to do something he expected his relatives to be the example to the rest of the Muslims in following the order. The Third Caliph on the contrary led a very luxurious life and he was constantly showering his relatives with gifts from the public funds. He privileged his relatives with huge grants while they were less adherent to the Islamic teaching than the rest of the Muslims.

Honoring Exile of the Prophet Al-Baladhuri reported that Uthman gave his uncle Al- Hakam Ibn Abu Al-Aws three hundred thousand dirhams (equivalent to 300 000 dollars) after he brought him to Medina.16

This man was one of the worst enemies of the Messenger before he became a Muslim. After the Messenger conquered Mecca Al-Hakam came to Medina declaring Islam hypocritically and only for saving his life. Yet he continued harassing the Messenger.

He used to ridicule him by imitating his motions. The Messenger one time saw him peeping into his room from a slit in a door. The Messenger came out angrily and when he recognized him he said: "Should anyone blame me for punishing this cursed insect?" Then he exiled him and his family to Ta-if forbidding him and his children from dwelling in Medina.

By permitting Al-Hakam and his children to come back to Medina Uthman was in clear discord with the Messenger and the first two Caliphs who did not allow Al-Hakam to come back to Medina in spite of Uthman’s mediation for him.

Uthman granted his foster brother Abdullah Ibn Saad Ibn Abu Sarh the fifth of the spoils from the first expedition which Abdullah led in North Africa. Marwan Ibn Al- Hakam purchased the fifth of the spoils of the second expedition in North Africa for five hundred thousand dinars (equivalent to five million dollars). Then the Caliph allowed him the whole amount.17

Khalid Ibn Abdullah Ibn Oseid (another Umayyad) received from the treasury three hundred thousand dirhams when he visited the Caliph while accompanying the delegation. The Caliph also ordered one hundred thousand for each member of the delegation.

When the treasurer Abdullah Ibn Arqam refused to pay these huge sums the Caliph proudly asked him: "Who are you to interfere with my order? You are only my treasurer." But Abdullah retorted saying: "I did not believe that I was your treasurer. Your treasurer is one of your servants. I am the treasurer of the Muslims." Then he came with the keys of the treasury and hung them on the pulpit of the Prophet at the Mosque resigning from his post.

The Caliph ordered three hundred thousand dirhams for Abdullah Ibn Arqam after he resigned; but out of pity Abdullah did not accept the grant.18

Uthman also gave Sa-eed Ibn Al-Aws one hundred thousand dirhams. And when he married three or four of his daughters to men from Quraish he gave each one of them one hundred thousand dinars. He gave his cousin Al- Harith Ibn Al-Hakam (exile of the Prophet) three hundred thousand dirhams. He appointed him as a collector of the Zakat of Qud-ah. When he brought the Zakat the Caliph allowed him what he collected.19

We ought not to forget that Abu Sufyan the old man of Umayyad also received from the Caliph two hundred thousand dirhams yet the old man fought the Prophet for twenty-one years and professed Islam only to save his neck after he and the rest of the Meccans were completely defeated.

He rejoiced on the defeat of the Muslims by the pagans of Hawazin in Hunain saying: "Their retreat will not end before they reach the sea."20

The Third Caliph did not only shower his relatives with public funds but he also granted them vast pieces of lands from the public properties.

Fadak a land of orchards (which came to the ownership of the Holy Prophet because it was acquired by the Muslims without war) also was granted by Uthman to some of his relatives. Fadak was supposed to be inherited totally or partly by Fatimah daughter of the Prophet but was nationalized by Abu Bakr because of a Hadith in which he reported that the Prophet said that what is left by the Prophets would be charity. However Uthman granted Fadak to Marwan Ibn Al-Hakam the exile of the Prophet!21

Uthman did not follow the policy of his two predecessors concerning the public funds. He used to think that he had the right to spend out of the Muslims' funds as he liked.

He was the Imam of the Muslims and he had the right to do with their funds as he pleased. This is opposite of the precise and strict policy of the Second Caliph who used to exact from his appointees a full account concerning the public funds and ask whoever acquired a wealth among them: "How did you get this?" And he used to return the surplus of their wealth to the Islamic treasury.

‘Umar and Abu Hurairah

‘Umar appointed Abu Hurairah to collect the taxes of Al-Bahrain. When he knew that Abu Hurairah had prospered he said to him: "I sent you to Al-Bahrain while you were barefooted unable to acquire shoes for your feet. I have been informed that you have sold horses for sixteen hundred dinars.".

Abu Hurairah: "I had horses which multiplied by reproduction.".

‘Umar: "I shall withhold your salary and what you used to receive of food allotment or you will bring me the surplus of your wealth.".

Abu Hurairah: "You have no right to do that." ‘Umar: "Yes by God and I will hurt your back." Then he hit him with his rod until his back bled and ordered him to bring him the surplus fund.

When Abu Rurairah brought the demanded amount he said: "I hope that God will compensate me for this." ‘Umar said: "That would be true if you had earned it legitimately and paid it willingly. By God your mother did not beget you to reach the position of collector of tax revenues from Hajar Al-Yamamah and the remote area of Al-Bahrain and to collect all that for yourself and not for God or for the Muslims. She begot you only to be a shepherd of donkeys." Then he dismissed him.22

There is a world of difference between this strict policy and that of Uthman who used to give his relatives hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of dirhams seeing no wrong in doing that.

Other Grants to Other People The generosity of the Caliph was not limited to his relatives. It was extended to others whom he used to pay heavily either as a reward for their loyalty or as an appeasement to some potential opponents. He gave Zaid Ibn Thabit one hundred thousand dirhams. He gave Al-Zubayr six hundred thousand dirhams and Talhah Ibn Ubaydullah two hundred thousand dirhams.23

These two companions were members of the Electoral Convention which brought Uthman to power.Neither of these two companions was in need of financial assistance. Both were wealthy with big holdings and big business. They had a great deal of real estate and of liquid funds.

It is worthy to note that history does not mention that the generosity of the Caliph was extended to the members of the House of the Prophet to whom the Holy Qur'an allotted at the least the sixth of the fifth of the spoils.

The Provincial Governors' Policy The governors of the provinces did what they were expected by adopting a policy similar to that of the Caliph in handling the Muslims' funds. It is reported that Walid Ibn Aqabah took a loan from the treasury of Kufah while he was the governor of the city. When the loan matured the treasurer Adbullah Ibn Masud asked him to pay it back but Walid did not pay it.

When the treasurer demanded the payment the governor wrote to the Caliph complaining about the treasurer. The Caliph wrote to the treasurer ordering him to leave Walid alone with the loan and telling him that he was only the treasurer of the Caliph.Upon this Ibn Masud angrily resigned.24

The Muslims of Kufah were lucky enough to find a man like Abdullah Ibn Masud who had the courage to stand up to Walid and require him to pay a loan. The Muslims of Syria were not so fortunate. Muawiya was an absolute ruler of Syria with no limit to his power.

He was living like a king handling the public funds of Syria as he was handling his own funds free of supervision. He used the public funds for purchasing loyalty and support of the chiefs of the Syrian tribes and men of influence. He was preparing himself to succeed Uthman and he had sufficient time for such a preparation.

As a matter of fact Muawiya started his preparation for his goal during the days of ‘Umar. His extravagancy was evident to ‘Umar himself. When the Second Caliph went to the Syrian front he was angered by the high standard of Muawiya's luxurious life. But Muawiya convinced the Caliph of the soundness of his policy using his proximity to the Roman Empire as an excuse for his extravagance.

It is amazing that the Caliph required Abu Hurairah to give a serious account for sixteen hundred dinars but he failed to ask Muawiya how he could maintain his lavish way of life.

Muawiya was not the only governor who used the public funds for his own interest. The rest of Uthman’s appointed officials followed the same method in proportion to their authority and lack of supervision. All were working for the goal of transforming the caliphate into a despotic rule and the Muslim World into an Umayyad kingdom.

This unscrupulous policy had many consequences:

(1) The growth of the wealth of the wealthy class in the Islamic society Many of the lucky individuals who received generous gifts from the Caliph and his appointed officials invested what they received of funds or portions of it in real estate and business. This yielded them enormous profits.

Many of the companions who were highly paid during the days of ‘Umar became considerably wealthy through investing the surplus of their salaries in real estate and trades. The wealth of these companions was expected to grow by the passage of time. When Uthman allowed the companions to live outside Medina (ending the ban which was imposed by ‘Umar on the companions) many of the prosperous companions found new avenues for multiplying their fortunes. They purchased buildings orchards and lands in Iraq and other provinces. The Third Caliph also gave vast public lands in Hijaz to many of his relatives friends and supporters.

Transactions and exchanges of real estates between wealthy owners living in Iraq and their counterparts in Hijaz and Yemen continued and the Caliph encouraged these transactions.25 Thus many deals were made and the fortunes of these enterprisers were increased rapidly.

Many of the companions and others became multi-millionaires. The fortune of Al-Zubayr amounted to forty million dirhams26 and that of Talhah to thirty millions27 and that of Abdul-Rahman Ibn Ouf to about three millions.28

(2) The other result of the Third Caliph's handling of public funds was the increase of the pressure on the tax payers of the conquered countries. The generosity of the Caliph and his appointed officials in handling the public funds and their gifts to the individuals required liquid funds which could not come but through overtaxation of the conquered nations. This aspect is not mentioned clearly in our history because the conquered nations did not have political power or voice.

A dialogue between the Caliph and Amr Ibn Al-Aws (who was once the governor of Egypt and was replaced by Abdullah Ibo Abu Sarh) reveals the mounting pressure on the conquered nations. The Caliph said to Amr: "The camels are giving much more milk after you left." (He meant that more funds were coming from Egypt after his dismissal.)

And Amr replied: "yes but their babies have perished!" (He meant that by exacting more taxes from the Egyptians the Egyptians were being impoverished.)29

The Growth Of Opposition

Early opposition to the Third Caliph had started at the beginning of his reign by Ammar Ibn Yasir and Al- Miqdad Ibn Al-Aswad who were outstanding companions and free of any political or material ambitions. That opposition was calmed during the first few years of the Third Caliph's reign due to the lack of support by the public and because what they expected to happen did not happen during the early period of his reign.

However the events which took place later contributed to the rapid growth of the opposition. The motive behind the oppositions was either religious or political and sometimes it was both.

Abdul-Rahman Ibn Ouf the one who selected Uthman and brought him to power was one of the early critics of the Caliph. He was displeased to see his selected Caliph following a policy opposed to that of the first two Caliphs in spite of his pledge at the time of his selection to follow their policy.

No doubt many companions blamed Abdul- Rahman for selecting Uthman and depriving ‘Ali of the caliphate. They held him responsible for the Caliph's policy in handling the public funds and imposing the authority of the Umayyads on the Muslims.

Abdul-Rahman changed his heart towards his man and turned 180 degrees from the Caliph's extreme supporter to the Caliph's hostile critic.

The road which Uthman took probably showed Abdul- Rahman that the caliphate would continue in the Umayyads after the death of Uthman. The relatives of the Caliph had become very powerful and capable of keeping the caliphate in their clan.

With their unlimited influence on the Caliph's mind they were in a position to convince him to make one of them his successor. Thus Abdul-Rahman belatedly discovered that he was maintaining a false hope of becoming Uthman’s successor.

We may remember that ‘Ali told Abdul-Rahman after he selected Uthman: "By God you gave him the leadership only to return it to you. May God plight you and him with a reciprocal and constant animosity!!!".

If Abdul-Rahman had a good memory he could recall the warning which he received in his dream during the days of the Electoral Convention. He dreamt of a green prairie into which a beautiful camel entered and passed through without touching it. It was followed by two camels one after another and they followed its behavior.

Then a fourth camel came and ate all he could from the grass of the prairie. Abdul-Rahman interpreted his dream by thinking that the fourth camel would be the third caliph who would not follow the precepts of the Prophet and the first two caliphs in handling the public funds.

Because of this dream Abdul-Rahman did not want to be the third caliph lest he would be the fourth camel. Had Abdul-Rahman remembered that vision he would have realized that he did not heed the warning which it contained. He would have realized that he had chosen the man whom he should have left out and left out the man whom he should have cbosen. Had he selected ‘Ali he would have avoided the nation all the tragic events that took place later.

You may recall that ‘Umar also saw in his dream that a man entered a garden and picked every fresh and ripe fruit taking them to himself and putting them under him. The two visions resembled each other and so did the responses of the two dreamers. Both chose the picker and the gluttonous eater.

Two Other Members of the Convention Talhah and Al-Zubayr who were also members of the Electoral Convention joined the opposition. Al-Zubayr was less violent in his opposition than Talhah.

It is difficult to believe that the two companions opposed Uthman because of his mishandling of the public funds. Of course the Caliph granted his relatives huge sums of money but the two companions also had their big shares of his generosity. The share of Al-Zubayr was six hundred thousand dirhams and Talhah received two hundred thousand dirhams. They could not disallow the Caliph's grant to his relatives while legalizing it for themselves.

It seems that both men were aspirants to succeed Uthman. When ‘Umar granted them candidacy to the high office in the Electoral Convention he actually qualified them for leadership. The enormous wealth of the two companions enhanced their importance in their own eyes and in the eyes of many Muslims. Tallah gained numerous supporters in Basra and so did Al-Zubayr in Kufah.

Like Abdul-Rahman the two companions were frightened by the rapid growth of the Umayyads' power which made them capable of competing with any companion for the leadership. It was disturbing to them to think that Uthman might appoint Muawiya or another Umayyad as a successor.

The turn of events indicated that the Umayyads would keep the caliphate in their clan blocking the road of other Qureshites to the high office. The two companions realized that silence would contribute to the Umayyads' success in achieving their goal. For this they decided to oppose the Caliph and try to end his reign before he chose an Umayyad successor. This would enable one of the two companions to succeed the Caliph.

Ayeshah Ayeshah wife of the Prophet also joined the opposition. She became an open critic of Uthman accusing him of taking a direction opposite to that of the Prophet. She occasionally displayed a garment of the Prophet saying that the garment of the Prophet had not yet deteriorated but Uthman had brought the precepts of the Prophet into deterioration. She used to call him Naathal (a heavily bearded Jew). The historians recorded that she used to say: "Kill Naathal because he deserted the faith."30

It seems that her motive was merely political rather than religious. She could not be angered by Uthman’s violation of the Islamic Law because she allowed herself to commit a much bigger violation of God's commandments.

She opposed ‘Ali who was the most adherent to the Book of God and the precepts of the Prophet. She was more violent in her opposition to the brother of the Messenger than in her opposition to Uthman.

She criticized Uthman because he injured some of the companions and mishandled the Muslims' funds yet she waged a war in which thousands of Muslims lost their lives. Killing the Muslims is a much bigger sin than injuring them or usurping some of their funds.

Her motive in opposing Uthman was identical to that of Talhah and Al-Zubayr. She wanted her cousin Talhah or her brother-in-law Al-Zubayr to succeed Uthman. The growth of Talhah's influence in his opposition to the Caliph was extremely pleasing to her.

Al-Tabari reported that Ayeshah said to Ibn Abbas: "You are a man of understanding wisdom and expression.

I ask you by God not to detract people from Talhah. The situation of Uthman has become obvious. People from various cities have gathered for a great event which is about to take place. I am informed that Talhah is already in control of the houses of the public funds and possesses their keys. I think that he God willing will follow the path of his cousin Abu Bakr." Ibn Abbas retorted saying:

"Mother if anything happens to Uthman people will resort to our man (‘Ali)." Ayeshah of course did not agree with him but she said to him: "Ibn Abbas I do not want to antagonize you or argue with you."31

She was looking at the events with the eyes of Talhah and Al-Zubayr. Her hope that one of the two men would reach the caliphate through co-operation with Uthman was withering gradually by the rapid growth of the Umayyads' power and the continuation of Uthman in his office.

It became evident to her and the two companions that the Caliph would follow only the advice of people such as Marwan and Muawiya and that these advisers would counsel him to choose an Umayyad successor.

Ayeshah and the two companions thought that their silence would render assistance to the Umayyads in fulfilling their goal. For this the two companions raised their voices against the Caliph and Ayeshah called upon the Muslims to kill him.

Amr Ibn Al-Aws

Amr Ibn Al-Aws joined the opposition. This politician did not have the ambition to become a caliph. He was not from the early companions or a member of the Electoral Convention nor did he have the needed influence to make him ambitious to reach the high office. His opposition was motivated by the desire to avenge himself.

He was the governor of Egypt during the days of ‘Umar. He wanted to stay in his post but Uthman dismissed him and replaced him by Adbullah Ibn Saad Ibn Abu Sarh. He came back to Medina waiting for the opportunity to jump the Caliph.

When Ayeshah and others started their campaign against Uthman Amr became a noted agitator. He used his intelligence and wiliness in instigating people against the Caliph.32

When Uthman was killed Amr joined the seekers of the revenge for Uthman’s blood because Muawiya promised him the governorship of Egypt.

Opposition From Non-Qureshite Companions

The Qureshite companions were mostly politically motivated in their opposition to Uthman. The opposition that was religiously motivated came from outstanding non-Qureshite companions. Most noted among these in the history of that period was:

Abu Dharr

When the third Caliph granted his cousin Marwan five million dirhams and Zayd Ibn Thabit one hundred thousand dirhams and Harith Marwan's brother three hundred thousand dirhams Abu Dharr raised his voice repeatedly reciting the following Qur'anic verse: "Give the news of a painful punishment to those who treasure gold and silver and do not spend them in the way of God." Uthman sent his messengers to Abu Dharr prohibiting him from such a recital.

Abu Dharr protested saying: "Does Uthman want to prevent me from reciting the Book of God and denouncing those who disobey the commandment of God? By God it is more desirable to me and better for me to please God by displeasing Uthman rather than displeasing God by pleasing Uthman."33 This attitude angered Uthman.

It was not difficult for Uthman to solve the problem of Abu Dharr and all other critics and Abu Dharr himself prescribed to Uthman the solution of the problem. He told him one day: "Follow the path of your two predecessors and no one will criticize you."

But the Caliph was not of this opinion. He wanted to solve the problem by punishing whomever he could. Evidently he did not know that medicating the problem of sincere criticism by violence is bound to bring him bigger problems.

Abu Dharr in Exile It was difficult for the Caliph to punish the Qureshite critics. They were too powerful for him to punish. Abu Dharr and others like him in spite of their brilliant Islamic record were neither powerful nor wealthy.

The Caliph chose for these good companions a kind of punishment which was inappropriate and inapplicable to them. He chose for Abu Dharr punishment by exile which is prescribed by the Holy Qur'an for those who are at war with God and His Messenger and the makers of mischief in the land. Abu Dharr was not one of these. He was rather a righteous companion whose motives were prohibiting evil and enjoining good. He did not challenge the authority of the Caliph nor did he call for a revolt against him.

The Messenger of God was criticized by a hypocrite who told him: "You ought to be just in distributing the spoils among Muslims." The Prophet did not exile him nor did he punish him. He only said to him: "Woe to you. If I do not execute justice who will?"

Abu Bakr said to his electors: "Obey me as long as I obey God. If I do not obey Him you owe me no obedience."

‘Umar used to say: "When you see a crookedness in me try to straighten me."

Abu Dharr and Muawiya Uthman did not take the attitude of his predecessors.

He exiled Abu Dharr to Syria placing him under the authority of Muawiya who was actually a government within the government. Seeing the extravagancy of Muawiya and his mishandling of the public funds Abu Dharr raised his voice against him.

When Muawiya built his famous palace called Al-Khadra Abu Dharr said to him: "If this is from the Muslims' fund it is a theft. If it is from your own fund it is an extravagancy." Abu Dharr used to shout at the door of Muawiya saying: "God may Thou curse those who enjoin good and do not do it. May Thou curse those who prohibit evil and do it.".

Permanent Exile This irritated Muawiya. He complained about Abu Dharr to the Caliph. The Caliph recalled Abu Dharr to Medina and he was returned to it in a very unmerciful way. 34When he arrived in Medina the Caliph found him persisting in his critical attitude towards his regime. For this he ordered him to leave Medina. Abu Dharr asked his permission to go back to Damascus or to go to Iraq or Egypt or to Mecca according to some reports. The Caliph did not permit him to do so. He ordered him to go to the desert of Najd saying to him: "Go in this direction and do not go beyond Al-Rabathah.".

The Caliph ordered people not to speak to Abu Dharr nor give him a send off. When Abu Dharr was departing Marwan went with him to prevent people from talking to him. No one dared to be with Abu Dharr at his departure except the Imam ‘Ali his two sons Al-Hassan and Al- Hussein his brother Aqeel and Ammar Ibn Yasir. By doing this they actually defied the order of the Caliph. This added to the deterioration of the relation between the Imam and the Caliph. Of the Imam's valedictory words to Abu Dharr were the following:

"Abu Dharr you opposed the rulers because they disobeyed God. Put your hope in Him. The rulers feared you for personal interest and you feared they would compromise your religion. Leave in their hands what they want to protect and run away with what you want to protect. These rulers are in a great need for the things you tried to deprive them of and you are in no need for the things they deprived you of. You will know who has the happy fate and who is more enviable.

Should the heavens and the earth close in on a righteous servant of God He will grant him an exit. Let the truth be your only friend and falsehood be your only enemy.

Had you approved their way they would have loved you; and had you shared the spoils with them they would have trusted you."35

Some historians say that Abu Dharr left Medina to Rabathah willingly but it seems improbable that Abu Dharr had chosen to become bedouin living in the desert rather than being in the city of the Prophet. However it is certain that he was exiled to Damascus before he left to Rabathah then he was brought back to Medina. He was not consulted in his exile nor in his return.

Abu Dharr settled in Rabathah living constantly there in difficulty and intolerable poverty until he died. When he died there were not enough people to bury him. Had not Abdullah Ibn Masud with a few others (including Malik Al-Ashtar) passed by Abu Dharr would not have been buried.

The exile of Abu Dharr to Rabathah was a big political mistake on the part of the Caliph. The good Muslims were shocked by the exile of this outstanding companion for he was of an indomitable spirit in his endeavors for the truth.

He was a beloved of the Messenger and the Messenger said about him: "There is no one under Heaven and above the earth that is truer than Abu Dharr." The righteous Muslims felt toward what happened to Abu Dharr as they felt towards the great martyrs of the truth whose souls were filled with dedication to high ideals for which they lived and died.

Abdullah Ibn Masud

Abdullah Ibn Masud another non-Qureshite outstanding companion also joined the opposition. Like Abu Dharr Abdullah had no political or material ambition. He was the treasurer of Kufah province and he resigned angrily when the Caliph wrote to him: "... You are only our treasurer leave Walid (the Umayyad governor of Kufah) alone with what he borrowed from the treasury."

It is reported that Abdullah Ibn Masud used to deliver a weekly sermon in which he included the following words: "Certainly the truest is the Book of God and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad. And the worst deed is that which does not conform with the teaching of God and His Messenger. For every such deed is an innovation and every innovation is a heresy and every heresy leads to Hell."36

Walid informed the Caliph of Ibn Masud's insinuating speeches and the Caliph summoned him. When Ibn Masud entered the Mosque of the Prophet Uthman said to the congregation: "The one that entered the Mosque is an evil insect which causes a person to vomit and secrete when it walks on its food." Ibn Masud said: "I am not so but I was a companion of the Prophet at Badr Uhud Hudeibeyah the Moat and Hunain."

Uthman ordered one of his servants to throw Abdullah out of the Mosque. The servant carried him on his shoulders and violently threw him outside the Mosque.37

Some of his ribs were broken. Then the Caliph withheld his salary. Abdullah lived two or three years after that continuing his opposition to Uthman. When he died he willed that Uthman should not pray over him and Ammar Ibn Yasir was his executor. Ammar buried Abdullah without informing the Caliph of Abdullah's death.

Ammar Ibn Yasir

Ammar was a man of the earliest opposition to Uthman. He called upon the Muslims to fight the community of Quraish because it chose Uthman for leadership and left ‘Ali out. Like ‘Ali Ammar saw in the personality of Uthman a potential bridge over which the caliphate would pass from the good companions of Muhammad to the Umayyads.

The sequence of the events was destined only to confirm to Ammar and others what they expected. What happened to Abu Dharr and Abdullah Ibn Masud made Ammar more serious in his opposition to Uthman. Ibn Yasir was not the kind of man who keeps silent when he sees what is in conflict with the Book of God and the teachings of the Prophet.

Such opposition was expected to put Ammar in danger of severe punishment from the Caliph. Uthman wanted to exile him as he had Abu Dharr but ‘Ali and other companions raised strong objections which made him threaten to exile ‘Ali himself. But ‘Ali dared him to do that.

There were some gems of great value in the treasury and Uthman gave those gems to his ladies. People talked about that and Uthman was angered by their talk. He said while he was giving a sermon: "We shall take what we need from the treasury even if some people would be displeased." ‘Ali replied: "Then you shall be prevented and stopped." And Ammar said: "I make God my witness that I am one of the first people who are displeased." Uthman retorted angrily: "Do you dare say that to me? Take him."

He was taken and Uthman went to the place where Ammar was confined. He beat him up until Ammar fainted and he stayed in swoon until he missed the noon afternoon and sunset prayers. When he came back from his swoon he made his ablution made up his prayers and said:

"Praise be to God. This is not the first time I was tortured for my endeavors in the way of God."38

It is reported that a group of companions (among them Talhah Al-Zubayr Al-Miqdad and Ammar) wrote to Uthman a letter in which they criticized a number of Uthman’s deeds accused him of betraying his religion and warned him that they would fight him.

Ammar delivered the letter to Uthman. When Uthman read a portion of the letter he asked Ammar: "Are you the only audacious among them to confront me with this?" Ammar answered: "I am your best advisor among them." Uthman said to him: "Son of Sumayah (Ammar's mother) you have lied. Ammar retorted "I am by God son of Summayah and son of Yasir.”

Uthman ordered his servants to lay Ammar on the floor and hold his hands and his legs. Then Uthman kicked him with his foot in the stomach. This caused him to have a hernia. Ammar was old and weak and he fainted. Ammar was the most outspoken and the highest voice against Uthman. His opposition to Uthman counted heavily because of his brilliant past and because of what the Holy Prophet said about him.

Opposition Outside Medina

The Qureshite Aristocracy in the Islamic society began at the beginning of the reign of the First Caliph. In his argument for the Qureshite leadership at the "Saqifat" conference Abu Bakr said to the natives of Medinah that the Arabs would not accept a non-Qureshite leadership. For Quraish was the highest community among the Arabs and the community of the most honorable city.

Upon this the Medinites conceded the leadership to the Qureshites. Thus the majority of the Meccan and Medinite companions conceived it as tribal superiority. By this the Qureshite supremacy was established though the Faith of Islam the religion of equality denies any form of aristocracy.

This aristocracy grew during the reign of the Second Caliph and peaked during the reign of the Third Caliph.

The notion of Qureshite superiority evolved during Uthman’s reign and went far enough to view the Muslim world as a Qureshite Kingdom. This was destined to have a negative reaction on the part of the enlightened men who knew that Islam is a religion of equality and brotherhood. The Message of Islam aims at elevating every Muslim and dignifying all believers in God rather than dignifying a minority at the expense of millions.The notion of Qureshite superiority evolved during Uthman’s reign and went far enough to view the Muslim world as a Qureshite Kingdom. This was destined to have a negative reaction on the part of the enlightened men who knew that Islam is a religion of equality and brotherhood. The Message of Islam aims at elevating every Muslim and dignifying all believers in God rather than dignifying a minority at the expense of millions.

The righteous Muslims were disturbed by Quraish's claim of superiority in the name of religion while the Umayyads who became the leaders of the Qureshites were of the least righteous among the Muslims.

The spark of opposition outside Medina started in Kufah. Most of its people were Yemenites. It is reported that the beginning of this opposition took place during the time of Sa-eed Ibn Al-Aws who succeeded Walid Ibn Aqabah in the gubernatorial office of Kufa. Historians disagree on the details of this event.

It is reported that some of the leaders of the city while they were visiting the governor spoke of the orchards of Kufa. A dialogue between them and the city Chief of Police Abdul-Rahman Ibn Khumeis took place and went as follows: Ibn Khumeis: "I wish all these orchards were owned by the governor and you the people of Kufah owned better than these orchards."

Malik Al-Ashtar: "Wish the governor better than these orchards but do not wish him to own our properties." Ibn Khumeis: "How did my wish harm you to make you so frown on me? By God if the governor wishes he would have these orchards."

Al Ashtar: "By God if he wants that he will not have it."

Sa-eed (angrily): "All these orchards are actually Quraish's garden." Al-Ashtar: "Do you make what we won through our spears and what God has given us a garden for you and your people?"

And others spoke supporting Al-Ashtar.

Al-Ashtar: "Is anybody here? Don't let this man get away with what he said."

They jumped Ibn Khumeis treading on him severely until he fainted. Then they dragged him by his feet. Finally his face was sprayed with water until he woke up.

Ibn Khumeis said to Sa-eed: "The people whom you selected have killed me.".Ibn Khumeis said to Sa-eed: "The people whom you selected have killed me.".

Sa-eed: "No one shall spend the evening with me after this.".

Other historians recorded that some people spoke in the presence of Sa-eed of the generosity of Talhah Ibn Ubaydullah and that comments by the governor and his visitors went as follows:

Sa-eed: "A man that has the wealth of Talhah and his holdings ought to be generous. Should I possess what Talhah possesses I would make you live in prosperity."

A young man from the Asad Tribe: "I wish that you owned all the orchards that are on the two sides of the Euphrates.".

This irritated some of the men who were present and made them speak harshly to the youth.

The father of the youth: "He is too young. Do not punish him for what he said." The irritated men: "He is wishing Sa-eed our own properties." They jumped the youth. His father wanted to defend him. They beat the father and the son until they fainted. The members of the tribe of Asad learned about the event and came encircling the palace. Sa-eed persuaded them to leave and they left.39

Both versions of the event agree that Al-Ashtar and others with him stayed away from the governor and spoke loudly against Sa-eed and the Caliph. This was the occasion which made the opposition surface in Kufah. Whether the first or second report was the truth the occasion indicates that people during that time were fed up with Quraish its leaders their big claims and their over-reaching hands.

The event was actually the straw that broke the camel's back. The sequence of events was inevitably leading to some political explosion.

Abdullah Ibn Masud's sermons in which he criticized the policy of Uthman and his officers helped to open the eyes of the people of Kufah on the corruption in the government.

Abu Dharr's exile was also a factor in fermenting the opposition. We have advanced that Al-Ashtar and others from Kufah were with Ibn Masud at the time of the oppressed companion's burial.

What happened afterwards to Abdullah Ibn Masud was also another factor. People of Kufah had a great esteem for this outstanding companion who was violently thrown out of the Holy Mosque by order of the Caliph.

People of Kufah knew Ammar Ibn Yasir and his brilliant record in Islam. He was the governor of their city during the reign of ‘Umar. They had a great respect towards this outstanding companion. What happened to him at the hand of the Third Caliph was also an additional factor which made the explosion of the opposition from the righteous people of Kufah an expected event. The fire was about to start and it found its spark at Sa-eed's occasion.

The opposition of Kufah received the same kind of punishment Abu Dharr received. Exile became the regular punishment for the criticism of the government; and Damascus became the destination of the exiled critics. There they received their discipline at the hands of Muawiya the strong man of the Islamic state.

The exiled Kufans were kept at the church of Mariam.

Muawiya met them spoke to them and lectured them. The topic of his lecture was the distinction of Quraish in the Islamic and pre-Islamic history. He tried to substantiate the superiority of Quraish by the fact that all communities were invaded except the Qureshites whom God protected. He mentioned also that God made the caliphate in the Qureshite companions of the Prophet. Thus they are the qualified ones for leadership. Then he told them that God protected Quraish while they were unbelievers. "Do you think that He will not protect them while they are following His religion."40

He told them also that Abu Sufyan (his father) was the most honorable and the son of the most honorable among the Qureshites except the Prophet then he added: "I think that if Abu Sufyan were the father of all people all people would have been wise."41

Sa-sa-ah Ibn Souhan belied him saying: "Adam was better than Abu Sufyan. God created him by His own hand breathed in him from His spirit and ordered the angels to bow to him. He was the father of mankind. Yet we see among them the good and the weak the foolish and the wise.".

The logic of Muawiya was full of distortion of facts.

Re said that his father Abu Sufyan was the best man after the Messenger (including Abu Bakr and ‘Umar)

He forgot that the Divine protection to the Qureshite was not for the sake of Abu Sufyan his children and their likes from the Qureshites. It was rather for the sake of the Sacred House and for the sake of the Messenger the best of the descendants of Abraham. It was also in response to the prayer of Abraham the Prophet of God of which the Holy Qur'an informs us:

"And when Abraham said: 'My Lord make this a safe town and give its settlers of fruits to those of them who believe in God and the Hereafter.' The Almighty said: 'And whoever of them disbelieves I will give them a respite. Then I will drive them to the chastisement of Fire; terrible is the fate.' "42

Muawiya did not know that the caliphate in the offspring of Abraham including the Qureshites was made by appointment from God. That appointment did not reach the unjust among them. We read in the Book of God:

"And remember when God tested Abraham by commandments and he fulfilled them. The Almighty said:

'I am making you Imam of the people.' Abraham said: 'And make imams from my offsprings.' The Almighty said: 'My covenant will not include the unjust.' The Holy Quran Chapter 2 verse 125.

History tells us that Muawiya freed the exiles and when they went back to Kufah they resumed their opposition. Consequently they were exiled to Homs. They were placed under the authority of Abdul-Rahman Ibn Khalid Ibn Al-Walid.

This was harsher on them and more violent than Muawiya. They showed him repentance and he released them. Al-Ashtar went back to the Caliph and the Caliph permitted him to go wherever he chose. He went back to Homs. When opposition grew stronger in Kufah Al-Ashtar went back to it. He and Yazeed Ibn Qais led a multitude to a place called Al-Jarah to prevent Sa-eed Ibn Al-Aws from re-entering Kufah. Sa-eed went back to Medina and the Kufans demanded from Uthman to replace Sa-eed with Abu Musa.

We may realize the bitterness which exiled men used to feel when we read a message from Malik Al-Ashtar to Uthman as an answer to the Caliph's letter to the people of Kufah reprimanding the opposition:

"From Malik Ibn Al-Harth to the tested and sinful Caliph who is deviating from the precepts of his Prophet and turning his back on the rule of the Holy Qur'an.

"We have read your message. You ought to prohibit yourself and your officers from injustice aggression and exiling our righteous men. This will make us content to obey you. You alleged that we have wronged ourselves.

This is your conjecture which caused you to perish (spiritually) and made you consider inequity a justice and the wrong right. As to what we desire we want you to change and repent and to ask God His forgiveness for incriminating our righteous men exiling our good people driving us out of our homes and ruling us by our youth. We desire that you appoint Abdullah Ibn Qais Abu Musa governor of our city. We ask you to keep your Walid and Sa-eed away from us. "43

The Caliph responded to this by appointing Abu Musa governor of Kufah.

The opposition to the Caliph's policy was not confined to Kufah. It was extended to Basra in Iraq and also to Egypt. Historians inform us that Muhammad Ibn Abu Bakr and Muhammad Ibn Abu Hutheifah went to Egypt and instigated the people against Uthman.

With the presence of Abdullah Ibn Saad Ibn Abu Sarh in Egypt as its governor the two Muhammad s did not need to bring to the Egyptians any additional evidence of the corruption in the government. It is reported that an Egyptian went to Medina complaining of the governor to the Caliph. When the complainer came back to Egypt the governor killed him.

It is reported also that a group of companions in Medina wrote to other companions at different provinces saying:

"If you want to make Jihad come to us. The religion of Muhammad is corrupted by our Caliph. By this people were turned against him."44

Now People Remembered ‘Ali

The regressing developments of the political events made the non-Qureshite Muslims realize the gravity of the erroneous attitude of the Qureshites toward ‘Ali. Now they could clearly see the magnitude of the mistake which the members of the Electoral Convention had committed when they diverted the caliphate from him to Uthman.

By doing that they drove the nation into a crisis which it had never experienced before. It became obvious to the people of wisdom that the nation would not have had to be confronted with such a crisis if ‘Ali were the Caliph. Thus they began to think that ‘Ali's leadership was the solution to the problems of the nation.

People spoke of ‘Ali loudly and Uthman started to see that ‘Ali's existence and his presence in Medina added to his difficulties. He asked him to leave Medina for his land in Yunbu that people might forget him; but when the crisis grew in dimension he asked him to come back to Medina that he might shield him against danger. Then Ibn Abbas came to him with a message from Uthman asking him to leave for Yunbu hoping that people would stop circulating his name. The Imam said:

"Ibn Abbas Uthman wants to treat me like a camel going back and forth to fill the buckets with water. He told me to go to Yunbu then he asked me to come back.Now he is asking me to go to Yunbu again. By God I have defended him until I feared that I am committing a sin." 45

‘Ali faced in Uthman a problem bigger than the problem which Uthman was facing. It was in the hands of Uthman to solve all his problems by changing his policy in handling the public funds dismissing his relative officials and keeping Marwan away from him. This could have regained him the confidence of the people and their satisfaction.

‘Ali on the other hand did not possess the means to solve his problem and the problem of the nation in Uthman.

He was seeing through the light of God that the future and the fate of the nation would be decided to a great extent by what would happen to Uthman. Uthman had embarked on a policy which would enable the Umayyads to rule the Muslim world for generations to come. Yet the Umayyads were noted for their lack of sincerity toward Islam. They embraced Islam only after they were completely defeated.

‘Ali knew them very well as men and as children. He is the one who broke their back and humiliated them until they adopted the faith of Islam reluctantly. He knew that if they had the authority they would devour the public fund enslave the servants of God and corrupt His religion.

Uthman had three alternatives: (1) Resign; (2) persist in his policy and refuse to resign or (3) change his policy drastically. The first two alternatives were evil and the third was not expected. If he were to persist in his policy he would be killed. His murder would be a terrible and ugly event. He would be the first imam to be killed by the Muslims. The Umayyads the relatives of the Caliph already possessed enough power to enable them to challenge the good Muslims by waging war avenging his death using it for seizing authority.

Should Uthman be forced to resign and people elect a man to succeed him the Umayyads having so much power would not surrender. They would be able to claim that Uthman was the legitimate Caliph and that forcing him out of office would not remove the legality of his leadership. By this they would arrive at what they want. And it would become easier for them to reach their goal than if he were killed.

The third alternative was not expected. There was nothing in the behavior of Uthman to indicate the possibility of the needed change. Even if he wanted to change his financial policy and dismiss his wicked relatives Marwan would dissuade him from doing that and he did not possess the will-power which would make him immune from his influence.

‘Ali knew all that. Yet he tried his best to reach the third alternative in order to avoid the evil of the other two alternatives. Historians inform us that a group of the companions of the Messenger who were living in Medina wrote to the companions who were settling on the borders of the Muslim state saying: "Come back to Medina. The "Jihad" is here." People spoke ill of Uthman and none of the companions defended him except Zied Ibn Thabit Abu Osaid Al-Sa-idy Kaab Ibn Malik and Hassan Ibn Thabit. These were loyal to the Caliph because they had received his generous gifts.

The Imam Mediates the companions met together and spoke to ‘Ali to mediate between them and Uthman. He met the Caliph and spoke to him saying:

"The people behind me asked me to mediate between you and them. By God I don't know what to tell you.

Nor do I know something which you don't know. Nor can I point to matters of which you are ignorant. You have seen heard and accompanied the Messenger of God and acquired the honor of being his son-in-law.You are not less expected to do good than Ibn Abu Quhafah (Abu Bakr) and Ibn Al-Khattab (‘Umar)

You are closer than both of them to the Messenger of God and you have acquired through marriage what they did not acquire. Nor were they ahead of you in anything. I ask you in the name of God to be merciful to yourself. You are not suffering blindness nor ignorance.The right road is clear and obvious and the demarcation of religion is standing.

"Uthman remember that the best of the servants of God in the eyes of God is a just imam who is led to the truth and leads to the truth. Thus he establishes a well-known precept and abolishes an abandoned innovation. The worst of all is an unjust Imam who is erroneous leading to error. Thus he abolishes a well-known precept and revives an abandoned innovation.

"I have heard the Messenger of God saying: 'An unjust Imam will be brought on the Day of Judgement while he has no helper nor a vindicator. He will be thrown into hell.... I warn you of the wrath of God and His smite and chastisement. Certainly His chastisement is painful and severe. I warn you not to be the murdered imam of this nation. It is said that an imam will be killed and his death will open on the nation the door of killing and wars until the Day of Judgement. He will confuse the affairs of the nation and throw the Muslims into divisions that they will not be able to see the truth because of the height of the falsehood....'"46

The words of the Imam did not please the Caliph. A dialogue between the two men took place as follows: Uthman: "‘Umar appointed and kept in office people like those whom I appointed and kept in office."

‘Ali: "‘Umar appointed such people but he used to tread on their heads. When he knew of any minor violation by any of them he used to summon him and punish him severely. You are weakened because you are too lenient on your relatives.".

Uthman: "They are your relatives also." ‘Ali: "Yes they are but virtue is not in them."

Uthman: "Do you not know that ‘Umar appointed Muawiya and kept him in office for the duration of his reign?"

‘Ali: "I ask you in the name of God. Do you not know that Muawiya was afraid of ‘Umar more than Yarfah ‘Umar's servant?".

Uthman: "Yes." ‘Ali: "Muawiya makes his decisions without consulting you then he tells people: 'This is the order of Uthman.' You know it and you do not change anything. Nor do you stop him from doing what he is doing."47

Thus ‘Ali unlike any other person did not take advantage of the difficulties of a Caliph whom he considered to be usurper of his right in leadership. He rose above that and was most protective of him endeavoring to correct the situation of his adversary because his fate had a bearing on the fate of the whole nation.

But Uthman considered his advice provocative. He went to the pulpit and delivered a fiery speech threatening the opposition with punishment. He was expected to do only that so long as Marwan was his chief advisor. Thus the fire of opposition became more inflamed.

The Caliph Is Besieged

The messages which were sent by the companions residing in Medinah to people of various provinces brought its expected results. Groups from Egypt Kufah and Basra came to Medinah asking the Caliph to dismiss his ruling relatives or resign. Otherwise they were ready to kill him.

When the Caliph realized the seriousness of the situation he came to ‘Ali and asked him to mediate between him and his adversaries.

‘Ali asked him: "What are your terms for reconciliation?" The Caliph replied: "You are fully authorized to pledge to them whatever you choose. I shall do whatever you propose." ‘Ali reminded him that he spoke to him re peatedly about certain corrective measures and that the Caliph time after time promised to take those measures.

Then the promises remained unfulfilled by the Caliph who was influenced by Marwan Muawiya Ibn Amir and Abdullah Ibn Saad Ibn Abu Sarh. Uthman replied: "I will disobey them and obey you."

Accompanied by thirty men from the Qureshites and the Medinites the Imam went to meet the Egyptian group.

He convinced them not to resort to violence and promised them on behalf of the Caliph to fulfill their demands of dismissing his relatives and changing his policy in handling the public fund. When he went back to the Caliph he advised him to go to the Mosque and pledge publicly to make the reform.

Repentance and retreat The Caliph responded positively to the good advice. He went to the pulpit and addressed the congregation saying:

"I am the first one that should obey God. I ask God to forgive me for what I did. I shall repent to him. A man like me is expected to change and repent. When I come down let your leaders come and make a decision about me. By God if justice reduces me to a slave I shall do what a slave does and I shall be as humble as a slave. There is no escape from the anger of God but through Him. By God I shall give you the satisfaction and I will keep Marwan and my relatives away from me. I shall not seclude myself from you."48

These words moved the audience. They wept until tears moistened their beards and the Caliph wept and people hoped for the good.

Marwan was waiting. As soon as Uthman came back to his home Marwan dissuaded him and brought him back to his old hard line. Marwan went out facing the multitude which were waiting for the reform. He reprimanded them and told them"... You have come to rob us of the authority which is in our hands. Go away. By God if you challenge us you will see what will displease you...".

When ‘Ali knew what happened he said: "Servants of God if I sit home he says: 'You let me down in spite of my relationship to you and what I am entitled to of your respect. If I try to help him and a good comes out of my effort Marwan dissuades him and deceives him. He has become an obedient tool in the hands of Marwan after having been the companion of the Prophet." He went to Uthman and spoke to him angrily saying:

"You couldn't satisfy Marwan but by your deviation from your religion and wisdom. You have become like a ridden camel led by his rider to wherever he pleases.

By God I forsee that he will bring you to danger but he will not be able to take you out of it. I will not come back to you after this. You have ruined your honor and lost the power of judgement."49

‘Ali ceased to mediate between Uthman and the rebels.

When Uthman was besieged he came to him and told him: "I have the right of brotherhood of Islam relationship to you and of being a son-in-law of the Prophet. If none of these things existed and we were in pre-Islamic days it would be shameful to the children of Abd Munaf (the great grandfather of the Hashimites and the Umayyads) to let a man from Tyme (Talhah Ibn Ubaydullah) rob us of our authority.".

Talhah was strongly supporting the rebels. He helped them and approved their siege of Uthman. Probably their invasion of Medina was the result of his communication and instigation.

‘Ali went to Talhah and found people gathering around him. He asked Talhah: "What are you involving yourself in?" Talhah replied: "It is too late." (He meant that Uthman is coming to his end.) ‘Ali went to the treasury and asked that it be opened. When the keys were not found he broke the door and distributed some of what was in the treasury among people who were gathering around Talhah.

They left him and Uthman was pleased with that. Talhah came to Uthman and said: "Amir Al-Muminine (Commander of the Believers) I wanted something and God barred me from it." Uthman replied: "By Cod you did not come repenting; you are only defeated. May God hold you accountable for what you did."50

Ibn Al-Athir reported that Ibn Abbas said: "I came to Uthman when he was besieged. (This was before Uthman sent Ibn Abbas as a leader of the pilgrims during that year.) He (Uthman) held my hand and led me to the door ordering me to listen to the words of the besiegers. Some of them were saying: 'What are we waiting for?'

Others said: 'Let us wait. Probably he will change.' While we were standing. Talhah came and asked about Ibn Odais (One of the leaders of the Egyptian rebels) Ibn Odais went to Talhah confiding in him. When Ibn Odais returned he ordered his followers not to let anyone go into or come out of Uthman’s house.

Uthman said to Ibn Abbas: "This is the order of Talhah. God take care of Talhah. He instigated these people against me. By God I hope that his share of the caliphate will be zero and that his blood will be shed." Ibn Abbas said: "When I wanted to leave the house they prevented me until Muhammad Ibn Abu Bakr interceded for me."51

As to Al-Zubayr it is said that he left Medina before Uthman was killed. Some historians reported that he was present in Medina when Uthman died. Ayeshah went on pilgrimage and while in her devotional duty she was urging people to repudiate Uthman.

When Uthman was besieged the rebels cut off his water supply. ‘Ali came with a skin of water and spoke to Talhah saying: "This water has to be allowed to Uthman " then it was allowed. He attempted another time to bring him water and spoke to the rebels saying: "What you are doing does not resemble the deed of the believers or unbelievers! Cut not this man from his water supply. The Romans and the Persians feed and give water to their prisoners." But the rebels refused to allow the water in.

The siege of the Caliph continued for forty days. The rebels were trying to force him to change his policy or resign. He refused to resign saying: "I Will not take off a shirt which God put on me.".

Probably Uthman was right in his refusal to resign. But he was wrong in saying that the caliphate was a shirt which God had put on him for his leadership was not by an appointment from God or His Messenger. The one who put the shirt on him was Abdul-Rahman Ibn Ouf and behind him the Qureshites; or we may say that the Second Caliph was the one who put the shirt on Uthman.

It seems that the rebels were not determined to force the Caliph to resign nor were they willing to kill him. All they wanted from him was to change his policy in handling the public funds dismiss his relative governors and keep Marwan away from him.

He promised to do that but he never fulfilled his promise. Thus they asked him to resign and he refused. Now some of the rebels resorted to violence.

Muawiya Let the Caliph Down It is amazing that Muawiya and the rest of the Umayyad governors did not seriously attempt to rescue their relative Caliph. They did not send armies to break the siege around him or to prevent the invaders from killing him.

Yet the Caliph asked their help. lt is reported that Muawiya sent an army which came near Medina but did not enter it while the Caliph was besieged. Muawiya ordered the commander of the army not to do anything until he received his order. He told him: "Say not that the present sees what the absent does not see. You are the absent and I am the present.".

And So the Medinites

The other thing which can be easily noticed in the recorded events of those days is the absence of any resistance on the part of the Medinites. They neither challenged the invading rebels nor did they prevent them from killing the Caliph. It seems that the Qureshites from the inhabitants of Medina (with the exception of Umayyads) were not in sympathy with Uthman.

They were fed up with the Umayyads and the extreme growth of their influence in the Muslim world. The majority of the Qureshites in Medina were sharing with Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubier their feelings towards the Caliph.

The majority of the Medinites were displeased with Uthman’s policy of glorifying the Qureshites and putting the Umayyads the least religious clan among the Qureshites on the necks of the Muslims. The natives of Medina evidently did not feel that they owed the Caliph a serious support because they did not receive what the Qureshites received of his generosity. By their nature the natives of Medina were more religious than the Qureshites.

Thus the majority of the inhabitants of Medina let Uthman down and did not defend him though they were much more numerous than the invading rebels.

The Imam ‘Ali was the companion most opposed to the murder of Uthman and the most sincere in trying to correct the Caliph's policy. He did not only show his sympathy toward him by word; he tried to defend him by arm. He endangered the lives of his two sons Al-Hassan and Al- Hussein who were to him more valuable than his two eyes.

He sent the two young men to protect Uthman and ordered them to stand in arm at his door to prevent the rebels from entering his house.Finally the rebels were informed that armies from various cities were on their way to Medina to rescue Uthman.

Some of the rebels felt that the only solution was to kill the Caliph. Since they could not enter the door they climbed up to the house from over the wall and killed him while the guards at the door did not know what took place.

Thus what ‘Ali tried fervently to prevent occurred and all his efforts to prevent it from happening failed. The murder of the Caliph was an ugly event whose consequences were dangerous to the future of Islam and Muslims. This was not necessary to happen had the Caliph listened to ‘Ali's advice by purging his regime from the wicked officials and purifying the state from corruptions.

Had he listened to ‘Ali's advice by following the policy of his two predecessors Abu Bakr and ‘Umar Uthman would not have been killed. But Uthman was not in control of the affairs. Marwan son of the exile of the Prophet was the actual ruler of the Muslim world and the chief advisor of the Caliph. He was able to steer him in any direction he chose.

However I doubt that Uthman was able even if he wanted to dismiss Muawiya who had become stronger than the Caliph. Suppose that Uthman told Muawiya to leave his post and he refused to do that. Would Uthman attempt to force him out of office? And had he enough power to do that?

  • 1. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid his Commentaries on Nahjul-Balagah Vol. 2 pp. 411-412.
  • 2. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid in his Commentary on Nahjul-Balagha Vol.2 pp. 411-412.
  • 3. Ibn Majah his Sunan Part 1 p. 53 (hadith No. 149)
  • 4. Al-Tirmidhi his Sunan Part 5 p. 329 (hadith No. 149)
  • 5. Al-Tirmidhi his Sunan Part 5 p. 332.
  • 6. Al-Tirmidhi his Sunan Part 5 pp. 332-333.
  • 7. Al-Tirmidhi his Sunan Part 5 pp. 332-333.
  • 8. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid in his Commentaries of Nahjul-Balaghah Vol.2 p. 411.
  • 9. Obd Al-Fattah Abd Al-Masqood Al-Imam ‘Ali Part 1 p. 287.
  • 10. Ibn Al-Athir in Al-Kamil Part 3 p. 57.
  • 11. Ibn Hisham Biography of the Prophet Part 2 p. 409.
  • 12. Chapter 49 verse 6-7 Ibn Hisham recorded the event in his Biography of the Prophet Part 2 p. 296.
  • 13. Ibn Al-Athir in Al-Kamil Part 3. p. 40.
  • 14. Abdul-Fattah Abd Al-Maqsud in Al-Imam ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib Part 2 p. 120.
  • 15. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid in his Commentaries on Nahjul-Balaghah Vol.2 p. 412.
  • 16. Al-BaladhuriAnsab Al-Ashraf Part 4 p. 28.
  • 17. Ibn Al-Athir in Al-Kamil Part 3 p. 49.
  • 18. Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra Part 1 p. 193.
  • 19. Dr. Taha Hussein in his Al-Fitna tul-Kubra Part 2 p. 193.
  • 20. Ibn Hisham recorded this in his Biography of the Prophet Part 2 p. 443.
  • 21. Abu Dawood Sunan Abu Dawood Part 2 p. 127.
  • 22. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid in his Commentaries on Nahjul-Balaghah Vol.3 p. 104.
  • 23. Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra Part 1 p. 77.
  • 24. Al-Baladhuriin Ansab Al-Ashraf Part 4 p. 31.
  • 25. Ibn Al-Athir in Al-Kamil Part 3 p. 52.
  • 26. Ibn Sa’d in his Al-Tabaqat Part 3 p. 110.
  • 27. Ibn Sa’d Al-Tabaqat Part 3 p. 222.
  • 28. Ibn Sa’d Al-Tabaqat Part 3 p. 126.
  • 29. Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra Part 1.
  • 30. Al-Tabari History of Messengers and Kings about the events of the year 36 p. 3112 and Ibn Al-Athir in Al-Kamil Part 3 p. 102.
  • 31. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid Commentaries on Nahjul-Balaghah Vol.2 p. 506.
  • 32. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil Part 3 p. 82.
  • 33. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid Commentaries on Nahjul-Balaghah Vol. 1 p. 240.
  • 34. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil Part 3 p. 56.
  • 35. Nahjul-Balaghah Part 2 pp.12-13.
  • 36. Dr. Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra Part 1 p. 160.
  • 37. Dr. Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra Part 1 pp. 160-161.
  • 38. Dr. Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra Part 1 p. 167.
  • 39. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil Vol.3 pp. 71-72.
  • 40. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil Vol 3 p. 70.
  • 41. Ibn Al-Athir Vol.3 p. 71.
  • 42. Chapter 2 verse 127.
  • 43. Al-BaladhuriAnsabul-Ashraf Part 4 p. 46.
  • 44. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil. Vol.3 pp. 73 and 83.
  • 45. Nahjul-Balaghah Part 2 p. 233.
  • 46. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil Part 3 p. 76.
  • 47. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil Part 3 p. 76.
  • 48. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil Parr 3 p. 82.
  • 49. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil Part 3 p. 82.
  • 50. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil Part 3 p. 84.
  • 51. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil Part 3 p. 87.

Part 3: Imam ‘Ali In His Own Era

22. The Election of the Imam ‘Ali

Had Quraish (Meccan Community) remained in control of the political affairs during the first few days after the death of Uthman it would have prevented the Imam ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib from coming to power. Had Tallah Al-Zubayr and their supporters expected ‘Ali to come to power they would not have opposed Uthman or called for his assassination.

Each of the two companions was hopeful that he rather than ‘Ali would be the fourth caliph and Quraish was determined to use all its power to keep ‘Ali away from the caliphate. You may remember that the Imam said to the Hashimites when the Second Caliph issued his instructions concerning the Electoral Convention: "Should your people (the Qureshites) be obeyed in matters pertaining to you you will never be given the leadership."1

Fortunately Quraish lost the political initiative for a few days after Uthman’s assassination. The Qureshites were astonished and numbed and they did not know what to do. It is true that the non-Umayyad Qureshite leaders instigated the uprising against Uthman and called for his assassination. Yet the people who made the revolution were from outside Mecca and Medina.

They were Egyptians Bassrites and Kufites. These revolutionary elements were in control of the political affairs having what the Qureshites did not have of influence during that short period.

The reign of the Third Caliph exhibited to the Muslims that Quraish had committed a classical error when it diverted the caliphate from ‘Ali to Uthman. The natives of Medina found in the few days following his death a breathing time and an opportunity to liberate themselves from the Qureshite influence and its despotic role in directing the caliphate and giving it to whomever it chose.

Thus Quraish for the first time was not obeyed in a matter pertaining to the House of the Prophet. Therefore the House of the Prophet was given the leadership and ‘Ali who was the head of the House was elected.

It was ironic concerning the caliphate that ‘Ali desired to be the elected caliph when Abu Bakr was elected when ‘Umar was appointed and when Uthman was selected.

And at each time Quraish used to stand in his way and divert the caliphate from him to others. Yet his desire and the Qureshite desire did not clash when he was offered the caliphate after the death of Uthman.

The Qureshite leaders were wishing out of jealousy that ‘Ali would not be given the leadership. ‘Ali on the other hand wished that the caliphate would be diverted from him because he expected to face tremendous difficulties which could not be surmounted by a man of principle such as ‘Ali.

A Drafted Caliph

Al-Tabari reported that the Meccan and the Medinite companions including Talhah and Al-Zubayr met with the Imam ‘Ali and told him: "We have to have an Imam." He said: "I have no desire for your leadership. I would be satisfied with whomever you choose." They said: "We shall choose none but you."

They came to him time after time saying: "We know of no one who has more right or precedence in Islam or closer relation to the Prophet than you." He said: "Do not do it. I would like to be an assistant rather than a leader." They said: "By God we shall not desist until we elect you."2

Al-Tabari reported also that the people remained five days after the death of Uthman without an lmam. The revolutionary people gathered the people of Medina and told them: You are the people of the counsel.

You are the makers of the caliphate and your decision would be honored by the nation. Look for anyone whom you choose and we will follow you. The majority said: We choose ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib. We will be satisfied with him. The revolutionaries gave the people of Medina two days to choose a leader. People came to ‘Ali saying to him: "We want to elect you; you are witnessing what happened to Islam and what we are exclusively (from among the rest of the people) facing of difficulties."

A Gloomy Expectation

‘Ali said: "Leave me out and seek other than I. Certainly we are facing a crisis with many faces and colors. The hearts will not stand for it and the minds will not rest on it." They said: We ask you in the name of God. Can't you see what we are facing? Can't you see what happened to Islam? Can't you see the crisis? Do you not fear God?

He said: "I accept and you should know that if I accept I will follow only my knowledge in administering your affairs. If you leave me out I would be only one of you yet I would be of the most obedient to whomever you elect."3

They left him after they made an appointment with him for the following day..

The following day (Friday) people came to the Mosque and ‘Ali mounted the pulpit and said: "O people upon mutual counsel and permission this affair is yours.

No one has the right to lead you except the one you choose. We parted yesterday on an agreement. If you choose I will sit for you; otherwise I will not have any ill feelings against anyone (if you change your opinion)." They said: "We are still on the same principle as yesterday."4

People elected him. It is said that Talhah was the first one who gave him his allegiance.5 The people of Kufa said that Malik Al-Ashtar was the first one who gave ‘Ali his allegiance.

Unachievable Goals

The Imam reluctantly accepted the election although he wished that the caliphate had been diverted from him to another person. The caliphate in his view was not an end.

He viewed it only as a means of spreading justice among people realizing brotherhood among the followers of the Islamic message and leading the nation to a life ruled by principles of the Holy Qur'an and the instructions of the Holy Prophet. All evidence was pointing to the fact that the achievements of these goals had become impossible.

The unity of the nation had come to an end during the reign of the Third Caliph. His saddening death was expected only to increase the division of the nation and magnify the flame of dissention.

‘Ali's program called for implementation of equality in distribution of public funds executing justice removal of corruption and elimination of discrimination. This was expected only to meet the strongest opposition from elements of strong influence who were not willing to relinquish their acquired privileges.

Quraish's Hostility

Quraish the community that blocked ‘Ali's way to the caliphate for twenty-five years (thinking that if he comes to power the caliphate will remain in his house) will do all it can to destroy his caliphate.

The Privileged Companions

The class of companions who were preferred in salary by the Second and Third Caliphs and acquired wealth through investment of the surplus fund which they received will oppose ‘Ali because he believes in distributing the public funds equally among the Muslims.

Those who enriched themselves by accepting huge sums of money and vast pieces of land from the Third Caliph and his appointed governors will also oppose the Imam because he intends to recover what they received illegally and put it back in the Islamic treasury.

Talhah and Al-Zubayr members of the Electoral Convention were representing a new class of companions and endeavored to bring the reign of Uthman to an end (hoping that one of them will replace him). They were expected to try to fight ‘Ali with all their power.

The two companions were extremely powerful. The fortune of each had amounted to tens of millions of dirhams.6 They had the support of the Qureshite clans and a great number of the people of Basra and Kufa. And above all they were supported by Ayeshah Mother of the Believers who enjoyed a great influence and a high prestige.

In fact this important lady was one of the tremendous obstacles which the Imam had to face because she was extremely hostile to the Imam. She was effective and influential because of her high position. She was the one who fermented a revolution against Uthman in order to replace him by her cousin Talhah or her brother-in-law Al- Zubayr.

The Umayyads

More dangerous than all these elements were the Umayyads members of the clan of the assassinated Caliph whose influence was escalated during his reign and one of them Muawiya became the strongest man in the Muslim World.

Tribalism

What made the Umayyads extremely dangerous was their exploitation of the tribal spirit in the Arab society which compelled the members of any tribe regardless of their number to obey their chief under any condition. Such a spirit produces evil when the chief of the tribe is greedy putting his worldly interest ahead of his religion.

It is very easy for a ruler who controls a national or state treasury to purchase the loyalty of a tribe by purchasing the loyalty of its chief. There is nothing that corrupts man's conscience like money. The Umayyads were masters in the art of purchasing people's loyalty and corrupting their conscience. They were the rulers of the important Islamic provinces and this enabled them to have a great number of proteges and purchase the loyalty of many tribes by pleasing their chiefs.

The Absence of the Military Draft System

The aforementioned difficulties would be accentuated when compulsory military service is absent. The Faith of Islam makes it mandatory to the Muslims to defend the nation and the sacred principles of Islam. Yet the performance of this duty was left during the time of the Prophet and the first three Caliphs to the conscience of the Muslims. The Islamic Army was composed of volunteers.The aforementioned difficulties would be accentuated when compulsory military service is absent. The Faith of Islam makes it mandatory to the Muslims to defend the nation and the sacred principles of Islam. Yet the performance of this duty was left during the time of the Prophet and the first three Caliphs to the conscience of the Muslims. The Islamic Army was composed of volunteers.

When the nation is united and people are conscious of their religious duties it would be easy for the government to gather task forces in order to meet any threatening danger. But when the nation is divided and people are confused by the slogans of various parties it would be most difficult to meet arising dangers and subduing subversive elements.

This is much harder when subversive elements already exist and military forces acquired through purchasing the loyalty of chiefs of tribes through public funds. This was the situation when the Imam was elected. There was no national military establishment.

People were divided and confused and Muawiya the governor of Syria had established in that province during the eighteen years of his governorship a viable military power by gathering the tribes of Syria around him and putting all their forces under his command.

The caliphate was diverted from the "Brother of the Messenger" when the nation was healthy and united and religion was its main concern. Then the caliphate was forced upon him when the nation was divided and the caliphate became bloody.

‘Ali was not the man who runs away from his responsibilities even in a desperate situation where the elements of evil and anarchy which shall stand in his way are much stronger than the good elements which support him.

The Imam was fully aware that the Umayyads were to acquire the authority of the Muslim World and transform the caliphate into a despotic Kingdom. The Imam was aware of this because he was aware of the prevalent corruption in the nation and because of the information which he received from the Prophet about the future of the nation.

His awareness of this future would not justify in his eyes a passive attitude. As a matter of fact his expectation of the future success of the Umayyads made him more determined to fulfill his duty after he found some good elements determined to assist him and desirous to combat injustice in the Islamic society and purify it of corruption.

The Imam expected the Umayyads to control the Muslim World but this expected control was not inevitable or predestined from Heaven where man has no choice. On the contrary what was expected to happen was to be a result of failure of the Muslims to combat injustice and stand for the truth.

Had the Imam refused to lead the nation after the righteous companions and their good followers offered him assistance he would have assisted the Umayyads in reaching their evil goals.

It was his duty to stand up and to do all he could to prevent them from coming to power. If the nation supports him justice will prevail and he would avoid the Muslims a great danger that threatened their religion and future as a nation of a great mission. If the nation let him down he would have fulfilled his duty and pleased his Lord and his conscience. He would be following the examples of the prophets who entered into struggles which they did not hope to win.

Blood and Tears

As the Muslims put the Imam face to face with his responsibility and forced the caliphate upon him he tried also to make them face their responsibility. He warned his electors that they will face very insane crises which will demand heavy sacrifices and that they should not expect but blood and tears. He told them that they are about to face a crisis of manifold faces and colors with which neither hearts stand nor minds rest with certainty.

He told the people of the acquired privileges who enjoyed self enrichment at the expense of others that he will re-direct the nation and will not listen to criticism by people who are opposed to justice. "If I respond to your call I will follow only my own knowledge."

The good companions of the Prophet and their followers gave the Imam their allegiance (while they had a clear idea about what they will face) with an unequaled zeal. His election was truly an election by the people whose hearts were filled with faith without being corrupted by politics and quest of prestige. These people believed that they were electing the Brother of the Prophet the most knowledgeable of his message and the Prophet's choice from his nation.

As to the people of political ambition and material greed from the members of the preferred classes they were unable to resist the tide of enthusiasm of the masses of the people. They had lost political control during that short period. The death of Uthman stunned them and they could not gather themselves to resist the Imam. They gave him their allegiance as other people did.

Marwan Ibn Al-Hakam one of the most hostile persons to the Imam was among those who elected him. Talhah and Al-Zubayr elected the Imam though each of them was hopeful to become the caliph after Uthman.

An Early Opposition

A Qureshite woman of great influence and high voice was not stunned by the sequel of the events. Ayeshah wife of the Prophet and a Mother of the Believers was completely present-minded capable of thinking planning and working for her political goal. She declared her opposition to the Imam the moment she received the news of his election.

Ayeshah was the most outspoken person against Uthman. Her propaganda against him was one of the main factors in bringing the rebels to Medina and besieging the Caliph. When he was besieged she was calling for his assassination.

Al-Balatheri in his history recorded that when the situation became serious for Uthman he ordered Marwan Ibn Al-Hakam and Abdul Rahman Ibn Attab Ibn Oseid to meet with Ayeshah. They came to her and she was preparing herself for pilgrimage. They requested her to stay in Medina that God may protect the man (Uthman) through her.

She said: "I shall not do what you are requesting." The two men stood up and Marwan recited a verse of poetry indicating that Ayeshah started the fire and when the fire grew she was leaving! At this point she told him: "Marwan I wish that Uthman were in one of my sacks and I could carry him so I may throw him in the sea."7

Abdullah Ibn Abbas while on his way to Mecca (after Uthman appointed him "Ameer" (leader) of the pilgrimage) met Ayeshah on the road and she said to him: "Ibn Abass God has given you wisdom intelligence and eloquence. Beware do not try to dissuade the rebels to save that tyrant."8

Sudden Reversal

Her hostile attitude towards Uthman was immediately changed when she received the news of ‘Ali's election after Uthman’s death. While at "Saraf" coming back from her pilgrimage Ayeshah met Obeid Ibn Abu Selema (who was related to her through her mother). The following dialogue took place:

Ayeshah: What do you know?

Obeid: Uthman was killed and the people remained eight days without a caliph.

Ayeshah: Then what did they do? Obeid: They elected ‘Ali.

Ayeshah: May Heaven fall on earth if your man succeeds. Return me to Mecca.

She turned her face towards Mecca saying "By God Uthman was killed unjustly. By God I shall avenge for his blood.”

Obeid: By God you are the first one who discredited him. You used to say about him: Kill Naathal (likening Uthman to a heavily bearded Arab Jew named Naathal) because he deserted the faith.

Ayeshah: They made him repent then they killed him. They said and I said and my last saying is better than my first saying.9

Thus the Mother of the Believers turned in one hour from an enemy of Uthman urging people to kill him to an avenger of his blood and she did not lack the argument for her opinion in both situations for both attitudes.

Campaigning for War at the Sacred Mosque

She went to Mecca and when she arrived at the Sacred Mosque of Mecca she delivered a fiery speech urging people to avenge the blood of Uthman.10 She forgot and through her influence as a wife of the Prophet and daughter of the First Caliph she made her audience forget that she was the holder of the biggest share of the responsibility of his death.

She forgot and made people forget that Islam had forbidden and abolished the pre-Islamic traditions which allowed people to wage bloody wars for revenge and that the punishment of a killer is not in jurisdiction of any one but a true Islamic government.

She forgot and made people forget that God had commanded her and all the wives of the Messenger to stay at their houses and that she should not display herself as women used to do during the pre-Islamic days.11

Her audience in Mecca were the Qureshites who shared with her the hatred of ‘Ali since the days of the Prophethood. These people made continuous efforts to keep ‘Ali away from leadership for twenty-five years. He was elected caliph only when the Qureshites lost the political control after the death of Uthman. Now Mother of Believers was trying to gather the Qureshite anew in order to destroy his leadership after the believers elected him.

Mecca is the Sacred City whose sanctity ‘Ali would not violate. Therefore it was a safe place for the conspirators. They gathered there from various places after Ayeshah preceded them raising the banner of rebellion towards "Ameer Al-Mumineen" (the Leader of the Believers)

A Preparation for War Under Way

The first one to respond to her call was Abdullah Ibn Amir Al-Hadrami who was Uthman’s appointed governor of Mecca.12 He said: "I am the first one to seek revenge for the blood of Uthman." When the Umayyads knew about the attitude of Ayeshah they left Medina secretly to Mecca.13

Talhah and Al-Zubayr stayed in Medina for a while then decided to go to Mecca to join the Mother of Believers.14 They left Medina pretending that they were going for Omrah (a brief visit to the ancient House of God in Mecca)

The Two Companions Joined

Talhah and Al-Zubayr were most expected to join the camp of Ayeshah because her goal was to cancel the caliphate of ‘Ali in order to replace him with one of the two companions.

She instigated people against Uthman and ordered them to kill him for the same purpose.15 She wanted to replace him with her cousin Talhah as her prime choice or with her brother-in-law Al-Zubayr as a second choice.16

The Umayyads Were Still to Be Reckoned with

The meeting of the conspirators and their dialogue in Mecca indicate that the Umayyads after Uthman were still something to take into account. People of Mecca were with them; the former governor Abdullah Al-Hadrami was in the front line and they did not encounter any opposition from the Meccans.

Yaala Ibn Omayah (he is Ibn Munyah) Uthman’s former appointed governor of Yemen pillaged what was under his control of the Islamic treasury in Yemen before the arrival of Obeidullah Ibn Al- Abbas the Imam's appointed governor of Yemen. Ibn Omayah brought for the conspirators six hundred thousand dirhams and six hundred camels.17 This enabled them to implement a portion of their unholy project.

Abdullah Ibn Amir who was Uthman’s appointed governor in Basra brought a great amount of funds.18 He informed them that they had many proteges in Basra. In fact everyone of Uthman’s appointed governors had many proteges. The purchase of the Arab tribes' loyalty was the Umayyad art. They excelled in that art and bought many chiefs and tribes in order to erect the pillars of the Umayyad Kingdom.

Rassrah the Chosen Target

When the conspirators tried to decide to which city they should go in order to begin the revenge for the blood of Uthman they realized that all of Syria was under the control of an Umayyad governor Muawiya who was more hostile to the new Caliph than they were.

Finally they decided to go to Basra in spite of the presence of the Imam's appointed governor. They chose Basra because it had many Umayyad proteges.19 They hoped that the words of Mother of the Believers will influence the majority of the people of its population to repudiate the Imam.

United Only Against the Imam

The Umayyads and their previous enemies: Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubayr had agreed to stand against the Imam who was their common enemy. The destruction of his leadership was their first goal. They were divided on their ultimate goal namely: Who is to rule after the destruction of the Imam's caliphate?

The Umayyads were working for returning the caliphate to them while Ayeshah and Talhah and Al-Zubayr were opposed to that. The Umayyads were wiser than Talhah Al-Zubayr and Ayeshah. The Umayyads were hopeful to eliminate them after using them.

To them the three leaders were partners in shedding the blood of Uthman and dangerous to the Umayyads. The following story shows the extent of their difference in goals.

Sa-eed Ibn A-Aws Uthman’s former appointed governor of Kufa came to Marwan Ibn Al-Hakam and his group while the caravan was at the beginning of its journey to Basra. He asked them: "Where are you going and leaving alive the people from whom you should seek revenge? (He meant Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubayr)

Kill them and go back to your homes. They retorted: We hope that we will be able to kill all the killers of Uthman.

Sa-eed met Talhah and Al-Zubayr privately and asked them the following question: If you prevail against ‘Ali whom are you going to make a caliph? Tell me the truth! They told him that the caliphate will be for one of them.

Either of them that would be chosen by the people shall be the caliph. Sa-eed suggested to them that they should give the caliphate to one of the children of Uthman because they were going to avenge his blood.

They said: We are not going to pass over the elders of the Meccan companions and give the leadership to the orphans. Sa-eed said: "I would not endeavor to take the leadership away from the children of Abd-Munaf" (whose descendants are the Hashimites and the Umayyads). He went back and so did Abdullah Ibn Khalid Ibn Useid.20

Sa-eed was hasty. Marwan and his group were trickier than Sa-eed. They were trying to weaken or destroy the caliphate of the Imam and then eliminate the three leaders.

The Umayyads were much more intelligent than the three leaders Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubayr. They wanted to use these leaders in order to reach their goal and then sacrifice them. But the three leaders were not aware of what was planned for them.

History informs us that Marwan killed Talhah in the Battle of Basra.21 Had Al- Zubayr remained alive he would not have escaped the avenge of the Umayyads.

Talhah and Al-Zubayr did not have any legitimate excuse in their rebellion against the Imam. Talhah was the first one who gave allegiance to the Imam and Al-Zubayr was one of the electors. Yet when they started their unsuccessful venture both claimed that they were forced to give their allegiance to the Imam.

Were Talhah and al-Zubayr forced to elect the imam?

The Imam was most aware of the human and Islamic rights and he was too righteous to deprive people of their rights. Every Muslim is entitled to exercise his political freedom and authorize or refuse to authorize another person to govern in his name. Every human has the right to refuse to pledge his allegiance to any candidate even if he is elected by the majority.

However such an abstainer should not try to prevent such an elected person from exercising his right to administer the affairs of the people as long as he governs according to the Islamic laws. A ruler who is elected by the majority is not permitted to force a person to change his vote from "no" to "yes.".

The Imam Did Not Force Any Companion to Elect Him

The Imam himself faced difficulties and was subjected to injustice when companions tried to force him to elect Abu Bakr.22 Other companions warned him after they selected Uthman that he should not incur harm to himself by refusing to vote for Uthman.23 The Imam believed that such attempts are violations of his natural rights. The Imam is not expected to do what he used to criticize.

He believed that the Messenger of God had chosen him to lead the nation and that the duty of the nation is to follow the choice of the Messenger. Yet he refused to use violence as a means of acquiring leadership when Abu Sufyan offered him to fill Medina with horses and men against Abu Bakr.24

Saad Ibn Abu Waqass who was a member of the Electoral Convention refused to elect the Imam and said to him: By God you will see no harm from me. The Imam did not force him to pledge his allegiance to him.25

He did not force Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar to elect him and he was not less important than Talhah and Al-Zubayr. The Imam asked from him to bring a surety and when he refused to do that the Imam said to the people: Leave him I am his surety. Then he said to him; "You are as far as I have known you a man of ill manner in your youth and adulthood.26

When he asked him to bring a surety he wanted only to be sure that the one who refuses to elect him will not try to revolt against him. Osamah Ibn Zayd Ibn Harithah refused to elect the Imam and the Imam did not try to force him.

Individuals from the natives of Medina also refused to elect the Imam. Among these were Zayd Ibn Thabit Hassan Ibn Thabit Muslimah Ibn Mukhlid Muhammad Ibn Muslima Naaman Ibn Basheer (who became a supporter of Muawiya later) Kaab Ibn Ujrah and Kaab Ibn Malik (who was sent by Uthman to collect the Zakat of Muzainah then he granted him what he collected).27

All these were loyal to Uthman and opposed to the Imam. Yet the Imam did not force any of them to elect him. The Imam would not have given an exceptional treatment to Talhah and Al-Zubayr if they had refused to elect him. The most he could do to them was to ask them to offer a guarantee that they would refrain from any subversive activity.

I do not rule out that the rebels or their leaders had exercised some pressure against the two companions and made them elect the Imam. But such pressure would not have prevented the two companions from saying to the Imam:

We are forced to elect you. Had they said that to him he would not have accepted their election. He was the most knowledgeable of the fact that their election cannot be sound when it is done by force.

The Imam Could Not Force His First Elector

Furthermore to expect an Imam to force people to elect him he had to have certain elements: A strong desire to come to power and a military power through which he could force people to elect him or tremendous wealth with which he may try to purchase the loyalty of the people.

Our Imam was not desirous to come to power and he did not make himself a candidate. He seriously tried to divert the leadership from himself. He did not accept the caliphate except when it was forced upon him. He did not have a military power or a material wealth through which he could exercise any pressure against individuals or masses of people.

In addition to this it may be possible for a caliph who has already been elected by the majority to try to force an opponent to vote for him. But it is not conceivable that a candidate tries before he is elected by a majority or a minority to force the first voter to elect him.

The story which tells us that Talhah and Al-Zubayr were forced to elect the Imam mentions that Talhah was the first one to pledge his allegiance to the Imam. It tells also that a man called Habib Ibn Thu-aib who was present at that time interpreted the incident to be ominous saying that the Imam will not succeed because the first hand to give him allegiance was paralyzed (Talhah had a paralyzed finger since the Battle of Uhud).28

The Imam Refuted the Allegation

The Imam refuted the allegations of the two companions in a message he sent to both of them after they left Mecca to Basra. In that message he left no excuse for the two companions. "Certainly you have known.”

He said "Though you have concealed the fact that I did not seek the people until they sought me; nor did I solicit their election but they elected me. You were from the people who sought me and elected me.

The masses of the people did not elect me for a prevailing authority nor for any material wealth. If you had elected me voluntarily you ought to reverse your attitude and repent to God quickly. If you had elected me unwillingly you have given me the right to demand your obedience when you exhibited your free election and concealed your intention."29

If the two companions had elected the Imam under pressure from the rebels or other people they should have at least informed the Imam at the time of election or at least before they left Medina that they had elected him unwillingly.

They stayed in Medina months after the election and never claimed any coercion. Their silence for the duration of that period is evidence that they elected him voluntarily. They did not refrain from mentioning that because of fear of punishment.

It is one of the known facts in history that Saad Ibn Abu Waqass who was their colleague in the membership of the Electoral Convention and Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar did refuse to elect the Imam and neither of them was punished or threatened by the Imam. Talhah and Al-Zubayr were wealthier and more powerful than Saad and Abdullah.

Therefore the Imam said in his message to the two companions: "Certainly you were not the most entitled from among the 'Migrants' (the Meccan companions) to keep silent out of fear. Your refusal to enter into my election could have been easier for you than to exit out of it after acknowledging it..."30

The Guilty Accused the Innocent

However the two companions did not only claim that they were forced to elect the Imam but also accused the Imam of the murder of Uthman. Yet they and Ayeshah Mother of the Believers were the ones who urged people to besiege and kill Uthman and the Imam was the defender of Uthman among the Migrant companions. Since people of Medina were aware of this the Imam concluded his message by the following words: "And you have alleged that I had killed Uthman.

Those who stayed in Medina and did not join you or me ought to be questioned about this matter. Then everyone of us will be burdened with his own action. You the two old men ought to reverse your attitude. The most you may suffer now is shame; but if you continue your way you will add to the shame the Divine punishment."31

The story of the coercion of Talhah and Al-Zubayr to elect the Imam was obviously untrue. ‘Ali was not the man who would try to force any voter to elect him while he was not yet an elected caliph. The two companions invented the story of coercion to justify their rebellion against the Imam.

The two companions who allowed themselves to fight ‘Ali and to kill thousands of Muslims for their own interests would not be expected to refrain from telling untruth deliberately.

  • 1. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 33 Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 239.
  • 2. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 427 Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 98.
  • 3. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 434 Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 99.
  • 4. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 435 Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 99.
  • 5. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 435 Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 99.
  • 6. Ibn Sa’d mentioned in his al-Tabaqat part 3. p110 that al Zubayrs wealth announced to forty million dirhams and in p. 222 that Talhah’s wealth amounted to thirty million dirhams
  • 7. Al-Balatheri Ansabul-Ashraf part 4 p. 45.
  • 8. Ibn Abu-Al-Hadid his Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah part 2 p. 506.
  • 9. Abn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 106.
  • 10. Abd Al-Fattah Abdul-Maqsud Al-Imam ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib part 2 p. 297.
  • 11. The Holy Qur'an chapter 33 verse 33.
  • 12. Al-Tabari his History part 4 pp. 449-450.
  • 13. Al-Tabari his History part 4 pp. 448-450.
  • 14. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 452.
  • 15. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 459.
  • 16. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid his Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah part 2 p. 506.
  • 17. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 106.
  • 18. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 106.
  • 19. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 106.
  • 20. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 107.
  • 21. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 124.
  • 22. Abdul-Fattah Abdul-Maqsud Al-Imam ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib part 1 p. 190.
  • 23. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 37.
  • 24. Abdul Fattah Abdul-Maqsud Al-Imam ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib part 1 p. 185 Al-Tabari in his History part 4 p. 428.
  • 25. Dr. Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra part 2 p. 22 Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 428.
  • 26. Dr. Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra part 2 p. 22 Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 428.
  • 27. Al-Tabari his History part 4 pp. 429-430.
  • 28. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 428.
  • 29. Al-Imam ‘Ali Nahjul-Balaghah part 3 p. 111-112.
  • 30. Al-Imam ‘Ali Nahjul-Balaghah part 3 p. 111-112.
  • 31. Al-Imam ‘Ali Nahjul-Balaghah part 3 111-112.

23. The Battle of Basra

The period at which the Qureshite community was overwhelmed and lost the political control had elapsed. Quraish woke up after the Brother of the Messenger was elected. Now this community went on gathering its forces determined not to let ‘Ali enjoy his leadership and to demolish that leadership regardless of what it may cost the Muslims in blood unity and religion.

The Qureshite parties (though neither of them had good intentions towards the other) agreed to wage war against ‘Ali the Imam of the truth. One of the two parties was led by three leaders who had a high religious position:

Ayeshah the politically-minded wife of the Holy Prophet Talhah and Al-Zubayr who were among the early Muslims with a brilliant record in their endeavor during the days of the prophethood along with a long companionship of the Holy Prophet.

The other party was the Umayyads led by Muawiya (governor of Syria). The Umayyads were known (with the exception of a few) to be less religious than other Muslims as they were known for their long and strong hostility towards the Prophet.

That hositility continued for most of the years of the prophethood and the signs of it did not disappear except during the last two years of the life of the Messenger.1 In spite of that this party had a tremendous material power which made it the more dangerous of the two parties.

A Third Party Governor of Kufa Both parties declared their open defiance to the Caliph. Both parties made out ot the revenge for the death of Uthman a slogan with which they were trying to deceive millions of ignorant Muslims.

The two parties were joined by Abu Musa Al-Ashari in a covered and camouflaged way. As the Imam's appointed governor of Kufa Abu Musa was able through his malicious method to offer to the two parties tremendous assistance.

However the three leaders of the first Qureshite party were faster than the second party in their violent hostility.They took the strategy of offense while Muawiya took the strategy of disobedience and defiance.

The three leaders took the law in their hands and appointed themselves as the high magistrates of the nation and the administrators of its affairs. They went on shedding the blood of the Muslims2 though they were neither heirs nor relatives of the assassinated Caliph. Nor were they elected by the nation.

History recorded the names of the killers of Uthman and their number did not exceed five: Soudan Ibn Hamran Al-Ghafiqi Qutairah Kinanah Ibn Bishr Al- Tajeebi and Amr Ibn Al-Hamiq.3 History records that three of them: Kinanah Ibn Bish Al-Tajeebi Soudan Ibn Hamran and Qutairah were killed at the same time Uthman was murdered.4 Thus only two of them survived Uthman. But the three leaders did not go after these two.

They considered all who attended the besiegement of the Third Caliph from Basra Kufa and Egypt to be of his killers. Yet most of these came asking the Caliph to make changes and did not come to kill him.

They came only to pressure him to change his policy towards handling the public funds and towards his relatives. The few who killed him made their attack on him while the majority of the rebels were unaware of what the few did. His death probably was a shocking surprise to most of those who besieged him.

The three leaders considered all who attended the besiegement partners in his assassination because their presence was an assistance to the murderers. If this logic is sound then it would have been the duty of the three leaders to go to the Imam and ask him to give them what they deserved of punishment because they were among the biggest agitators against the Caliph.5

A Sweeping Condemnation

The three leaders were not satisfied to kill only the ones who besieged Uthman whose number did not exceed twelve hundred from Egypt Kufa and Basra. Evidently the three leaders considered every loyal person to the Imam a partner in the murder of Uthman.

They went to Basra and turned thousands of its inhabitants against the Imam then used them to fight whomever they could reach of the Imam's followers in Basra or Kufa. The participants in the siege of Uthman from the people of Basra did not exceed two hundred persons and none of them participated directly in killing the Caliph.

The Qureshite war followed a pre-Islamic method. Its purpose was not to kill the killers of Uthman but to destroy the caliphate of the Imam. How would they avenge the blood of Uthman when they were the ones who urged people to kill him?

A Warning Prophecy Not Heeded

The three leaders went to Basra accompanying three thousand persons including a thousand Meccans. Uthman’s former appointed governors supplied them with funds and means of transportation through what they stole from the public funds before they left their posts.

Their procession arrived to a water where dogs at that water barked at them. Mother of the Believers Ayeshah asked about the name of the place. When they told her it was the water of Al-Hou-ab she realized that she was deviating from the right road and the prophecy of the great Messenger had been fulfilled.

She said "Return me return me (to Mecca)."6 Al-Zubayr and his oldest son Abdullah confused her by bringing witnesses testifying falsely that the water is not the water of Al-Hou-ab.

It is also reported that she was told that ‘Ali is about to overtake them and they ought to hurry out. Thus she continued her journey to Basra.7 Yet she knew that the Imam does not fight anyone that does not fight him. She was too intelligent to believe in the testimony of witnesses who were brought to her by people who justified every means for reaching their end.

The voice of the Messenger was still ringing in her ears: "I wish I knew which one of you will be the rider of the huge camel to be barked at by the dogs of Al-Hou-ab and she would be deviating from the right road." (He was addressing Ayeshah and Om Selema) and he turned to Ayeshah saying: "Humairah I have warned you." 8

Dividing Killing and Truce

Finally the procession arrived in Basra and the wife of the Messenger was able (through her position with the Messenger of God and her father being the First Caliph) to divide the people of Basra after they had given their allegiance to the Imam. The three leaders' party and the party of the governor of Basra Uthman Ibn Hunayf fought each other then agreed on a temporary truce.

This truce was violated by the three leaders when they attacked the followers of Ibn Hunayf then forced him out of the leadership of the prayer at the Mosque and slaughtered many of his guards then occupied the governor's office and massacred their opponents.9 Their opponents were not the killers of the Caliph Uthman but they were loyal to the Imam.

The Contents of the Truce Agreement

Al-Tabari in his History reported that the truce pact which was made between Ibn Hunayf on one hand and Talhah and Al-Zubayr on the other hand contained the agreement to send a messenger from Basra to Medina seeking information from its inhabitants whether Talhah and Al-Zubayr elected ‘Ali voluntarily or by force. If people of Medina testified that the two companions were forced to elect ‘Ali the city of Basra shall be under control of the two companions and Ibn Hunayf should leave his post.

If people of Medina testify that the two companions elected the Imam voluntarily the governor Ibn Hunayf would stay in his post and Talhah and Al-Zubayr could stay in Basra under the control of the Imam if they want and if they choose to leave Basra they could.10

The messenger of the two parties to Medina was Kaab Ibn Soor a former judge of Basra. When he asked people of Medina about the two companions' election of the

Imam people did not answer his question except Osamah Ibn Zayd Ibn Harithah. He stated that they elected ‘Ali unwillingly and under coercion. Sahl Ibn Hunayf (brother of Uthman Ibn Hunayf governor of Basra) and others attacked Osamah Ibn Zayd but Osamah was defended by a few people who were from the opposition of the Imam and Osamah was taken to his home without being hurt. 11

Al-Tabari recorded that when the Imam knew about what took place in Medina he sent to Uthman Ibn Hunayf a message in which he blamed him for his inefficiency and told him in the message: "By God they were not forced for a division. They were forced for unity and good. If they want to declare their disobedience they have no excuse; and if they want something else we may consider the matter.''12

When the message of the Imam came to Uthman Ibn Hunayf and Ibn Soor came with his news from Medina Talhah and Al-Zubayr sent to Uthman Ibn Hunayf to leave his post and his office. Uthman refused to do so saying that what the Imam brought up is different from what they had agreed upon. Upon this Talhah and Al-Zubayr and their supporters made their attack at the Mosque then they attacked the governor and prevailed against him.

They occupied his office and the city of Basra then took over the treasury. This was followed by a massacre.13 The three leaders aimed at liquidating their opponents. Ibn Hunayf was taken prisoner. They tortured him and pulled the hair off his beard and wanted to kill him.

Al-Tabari in reporting these events relied on the narration of Seif Ibn ‘Umar who alleged to have taken his information from Muhammad (Ibn Oun) and Talhah.

Knowing the Imam's method of conducting himself we ought to discredit this report. The Imam was not a man who would take a pledge of loyalty from a person who was forced to give it.

We have already substantiated that the claim of coercion by Talhah and Al-Zubayr was unfounded. The reporter of this story was Seif Ibn ‘Umar who was discredited by many historians and hadith recorders and some of them declared him as one of the forgers of the history and some of them accused him of being a heretic.14 We shall deal with this in the following chapter.

Forcing Two Persons Does Not Nullify the Election

Assuming that the two companions were forced to elect the Imam this would allow them only to withhold from the Imam their assistance if he seeks it. It would not allow them to hinder the Imam from exercising his rule as the administrator of the affairs of the nation after he was elected by the overwhelming majority from the companions of the Prophet.

Forcing two persons to elect an Imam does not cancel the whole election or the legitimacy of his caliphate. Al- Zubayr was forced to give his allegiance to Abu Bakr when Abu Bakr was elected. Historians reported that Al-Zubayr came out from the house of ‘Ali drawing his sword in the faces of the attackers saying. "‘Ali has the right more than anyone to the caliphate."

The attackers took the sword from his hand and led him to Abu Bakr and made him give his allegiance to him by force.15 Forcing Al-Zubayr at that time did not cancel the legitimacy of Abu Bakr's election in spite of the fact that his election was a "Faltah" (an incident that came without preparation or planning) according to the testimony of ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab.16

Would it have been legitimate at that time for Al-Zubayr to go to Mecca for example and occupy it and drive Abu Bakr's appointed governor from Mecca by force? I do not believe that Al-Zubayr could claim that this was legal for him to do. I do not think that anyone from the companions would agree with him if he had claimed the right to do that.

Had he done this he would have been fought and considered to be a divider of the Muslim community. Why should it be legitimate for him and Talhah to fight the Imam and drive his appointed governor out of Basra and occupy a city whose people pledged their allegiance to him?

Illegal Agreement

If Ibn Hunayf had agreed with the two companions voluntarily on the contents of the alleged pact of the temporary truce he would have committed a grave mistake.

This is because his agreement with the two companions represents a negligence of the trust which the Imam put in the hand of Ibn Hunayf and because it is an agreement on dividing the nation. This is abhorable to God and His Messenger.

Granted that Ibn Hunayf agreed on that. This could not make it legitimate for the two companions and for the Mother of the Believers to implement the contents of the agreement because it contained a pledge to commit a major sin.

If Ibn Hunayf had breached the pact between him and the two companions after the Imam reprimanded him he would have only fulfilled his duty. This is because the contents of the pact are unjustifiable in Islam.

If the two companions wanted out of their occupation of Basra to make one of them a caliph the Faith of Islam does not allow them to do so. Muslim reported in his Sahih that Abu Sa-eed Al-Khidri said that the Messenger of God said: "If two caliphs are elected kill the latter of the two."17 Muslim reported also that the Messenger said: "Whoever stood in open disobedience and parted with the bulk of the community then dies he would die d pre-Islamic death."18

The Imam's Journey

Muawiya declared his open defiance to the Imam and the Imam found his confrontation with Muawiya inevitable. Therefore he went on trying to mobilize an army in order to subdue this dangerous rebellion. While he was dealing with this crisis he received the news of the journey of the three leaders to Iraq.He changed his plan.

The Imam found it necessary to give priority to the crisis of the three leaders. The providence of Iraq was the most important among the Islamic provinces for the caliphate. Should the three leaders occupy Iraq while the Syrian province is controlled by Muawiya the Imam would have lost most of the moral material and military forces in the Muslim World.

The Imam facing this crisis was fifty-eight years old. His relatively old age did not diminish his determination bravery and his fast response to the big problems and facing them with proper solutions.

During the days of the Messenger he was his right arm the one who solved his probelms and subdued his enemies. Now after twenty-five years during which he was in actual retirement he returns with his well-known capabilities to face crises but on a larger scale. The forces he had to face at this period were uncomparably greater than what he used to face in the days of the Prophet.

Unprecedented Test

The struggle between right and wrong was and still is difficult for the followers of the truth. People of the right camp are usually in the minority. The wrong side has its own attraction as it has fruits which the people of its camp can pick quickly. The truth is not tempting and the strength of its followers springs from their belief in God the Day of Judgment and their determination to sacrifice.

The difficulties which the camp of truth faces increase greatly when people are confounded unable to distinguish between right and wrong. Under such circumstances the truth loses the assistance of people with good intention who would be helpful if the right road were clear to them.

On the other hand the wrong camp wins certain forces which could have been antagonistic to it if they had known that it is the wrong camp. People of good intention may stay neutral because they do not know which side is right.

Their neutrality decreases the number of the supporters of truth and the wrong party would be relieved of the burden of combating these good people due to their neutrality.

This is what happened to the camp of truth which the Imam was leading. It was the first time it took place in the Islamic history. It never happened during the days of the Prophethood nor did it happen during the days of the Three Caliphs who preceded the Imam.

The Holy Prophet faced many enemies but the separation between him and his enemies was as clear as the separation between day and night. He is the Messenger and his followers are the believers in his message and his enemies are the pagans and the rest of the unbelievers who declared their disbelief in his message. There was no possibility to lose the distinction between right and wrong.

Abu Bakr faced at the beginning of his reign forces that declared their desertion of the Faith of Islam. Thus there was no room for any confusion between right and wrong. When the war of desertion ended the First Caliph had to face forces that did not believe in Islam and declared their animosity towards its message. And so was the situation during the days of ‘Umar and Uthman. Right and wrong distinguished from each other like day and night.

The Imam ‘Ali on the contrary had to face hostile forces which belonged to the Faith of Islam and declared their belief in its Book and offered the five prayers and paid Zakat. Furthermore one of the camps of those forces was led by three people whom tne Muslims highly respected because of their companionship to the Prophet or for being related to him by marriage.

Thus it became difficult for the masses of the people and even for some of the knowledgeable people to distinguish between the camp of the truth and that of falsehood. The history of the three leaders attracted tens of thousands of people and made them side with them against the well-guided Imam while they were thinking that they were right and that he was wrong.

Had ‘Ali come to power immediately after the death of the Holy Prophet his confrontation with Talhah Al- Zubayr and Ayeshah could have been easier than his confrontation with them twenty-five years later.

During the early years after the Prophet people still remembered the distinctions of ‘Ali his great endeavor in the way of God and his position with the Holy Prophet and the Prophet's declarations about him. By the passage of more than two decades after the death of the Prophet people had forgotten ‘Ali's distinctions. He was away from the political arena and in actual retirement.

People of Basra and Kufa probably knew about Talhah and Al-Zubayr more than they did about the Imam ‘Ali. Talhah and Al-Zubayr had many properties and big investments in both cities. Even Al-Zubayr forgot that the Holy Prophet had told him that he will fight ‘Ali while unjust to him. This explains the word of the Imam which he uttered before he was elected: "... For we are facing a crisis with many faces and colors.

The hearts do not stand to it and the minds do not rest with it." As the crisis which was precipitated by the movement of the three leaders had such great dimensions it was the duty of the Imam to face it with all his forces. Therefore he left Medina with a few hundred volunteers hoping that he will overtake the leaders and their followers before reaching Iraq and prevent them from implementing their plan.

When he arrived to Rabatha he realized that they had already passed it and gone towards Basra. However he believed that their invasion of Basra was less harmful than invading Kufa where the most important Arab forces were settled.

He went on until he arrived to Thee Qar. He sojourned there after he sent a message to the people of Kufa urging them to join him for the sake of bringing peace preventing evil and supporting truth. The three leaders were already in control of Basra.

They drove Uthman Ibn Hunayf out of his office. Uthman came to Thee Qar. When he met the Imam he told him:"Ameer Al-Mumineen when you sent me to Basra I was bearded but I returned to you without a beard."

The Imam said to him: "May God reward you for what you have suffered. Two persons before me ruled the people and both followed the Book; then the third one followed them. People spoke about him and dealt with him the way they did. Then they elected me. Talhah and Al-Zubayr elected me then they breached their covenant with me and instigated people against me. It is one of the wonders that they obeyed Abu Bakr and ‘Umar and now they antagonize me. By God they know that I am not less than any of those who passed away. God I ask Thee to untie what they knotted and abort what they plotted and make them meet the evil consequences of what they have done."19

Abu Musa Al-Ashari

After the three leaders' party occupied the City of Basra Ayeshah Mother of believers took a further step. She wrote to the leaders of Kufa informing them that her party had already occupied Basra urging them to avenge the blood of Uthman and discouraging them from supporting the Imam.20

Of course she wrote to Abu Musa (the Imam's appointed governor of the city) and asked him to use his influence in preventing the Kufites from sending any recruits to the army of the Imam. Abu) Musa did not need anyone to urge him to do that. He was not loyal to the Imam; nor was he a believer in his right.

The messages of the Mother of Believers to the Kufites had their effects. It divided them. Some of them called for the support of the Imam and some of them called for staying out of the dispute or for supporting the three leaders. Abu Musa spoke to the people repeatedly warning them and advising them not to enter into any battle for the support of the Imam. He reported to them that he heard the Messenger of God saying:

"There shall be a faith-testing crisis in which the less participation the better." Then he told them: "Sheath the swords give refuge to the oppressed until people are united and the cloud of crisis clears up."21

Had the Kufites obeyed Abu Musa the Imam could not have faced the crisis with any considerable strength.

He had only a small army when he arrived to the area of Thee-Qar. It is amazing that history did not record that Abu Musa ever criticized the three leaders for invading and occupying Basra and pushing people to the Faithtesting crisis which he used to mention so often.

Evidently. Abu Musa shared with the three leaders their opinion and he wanted the Muslims to approve their usurping the authority from the Imam and breaching their covenant with him after they pledged their allegiance to him.

Abu Musa used to report the hadith of the crisis as if he had a special knowledge of it. Yet the Holy Qur'an declared the following:

"Do the people think that they will be left alone when they say: 'We have believed' without being tested? Certainly We have tested generations before them. Thus God would know the people of truth and the untrue ones." The Holy Qur'an chapter 29 verses 2-3.

Abu Musa Misinterpreted His Own Report

It seems that Abu Musa reported a statement he attributed to the Prophet but he did not understand what it meant. If the Messenger had uttered the words which Abu Musa reported the Prophet had meant that there will be a devious and confusing movement in the Muslim society and that the duty of the Muslims will be to discourage its people and to let the people of that innovation down by denying them any support.

The Messenger did not mean that the good believers should not resist the people of innovation when their movement becomes dangerous to the unity of the nation and when they shed the blood of the Muslims. Otherwise the Prophet would be calling upon the nation to approve the devious movement and let them succeed in reaching their goal and usurping the power and administering the affairs of the Muslims after they acquire what they seek of power.

Abu Musa Disagreed with the Qur'an

Had Abu Musa understood the words of the Messenger he would have known that those who entered Basra and usurped from the Imam his authority and drove his appointed governor out of Basra are the people of the devious movement who should be denied all support.

He should have known that when those people divided the Muslims the duty of the Muslims was to fight them because they are people of invitation to an un-Islamic movement and to a rebellion against the legitimate Imam in whose name Abu Musa was ruling Kufa.

Abu Musa reported the hadith which he claimed to have heard from the Prophet and forgot what the Holy Qur'an clearly declared that the nation is dutybound to fight a Muslim party that commits an aggression against another Islamic party:

"If two parties among the believers fall into a quarrel make ye peace between them; but if one of them transgresses beyond bounds against the other then fight the one that transgresses until it complies with the command of God. But if it complies then make peace between them with justice and be fair. For God loves those who are fair and just." The Holy Qur'an chapter 49 verse 9.

Abu Musa also forgot another verse which makes it mandatory to obey the Imam and support him:

"O ye who believe obey God and obey His Apostle and the people of authority among you. If ye differ in anything among yourselves refer it to God and His Apostle if ye do believe in God and the last Day. That is best and most suitable for finer determination." The Holy Qur'an chapter 4 verse 58.

This verse makes it mandatory for Abu Musa and every Muslim to obey the Imam.

Obedience of the leader of the believers is mandatory to every Muslim unless the leader calls upon people to disobey God. The verse also commands that a matter of dispute should be referred to the Book of God and the instruction of the Messenger. The Imam ‘Ali was the leader of the Muslim nation and he did not invite people to disobey God. He rather called upon them to obey Him.

His aim was to unite the Muslims and the aim of his opponents was to turn people against him and to divide the nation.

Which Faith-testing Crisis?

However there were many confounding crises that took place in the history of Islam before the election of the Imam and after his departure from this world. The Prophet in the statement which Abu Musa attributed to him did not name that crisis. How did Abu Musa know that the crisis which the Prophet meant was the crisis which took place during the days of the Imam's reign?

It is not reported that the Prophet ordered ‘Ali to be in active in the face of confounding crises which were to take place during the days of his reign. On the contrary he commanded him to fight and commanded the believers to follow him. Al-Hakim in his Mustadrak (part 3 page 139) recorded that Abu Ayyoub Al-Ansari reported during the days of ‘Umar that the Messenger ordered ‘Ali to fight the breachers (of the pact of allegiance) the Unjust party and the Seceders' party; and that Abu Ayyoub asked the Messenger saying: "With whom shall we fight these parties?"

The Messenger replied: "With ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib." Al-Hakim recorded also that Abu Sa-eed Al-Khidri reported that the Messenger of God said that ‘Ali shall fight for the interpretation of the Holy Qur'an as I fought for its revelation.

Abu Musa Appointed Himself a Counselor to the Nation and the Imam

His words indicate clearly that he accused the Imam of being a partner in the confounding crisis about which he spoke. His words indicate also that he accused the Imam with either the lack of knowledge of the instructions of the Messenger or disobedience of the Prophet's instructions or with both lack of knowledge and disobedience. Yet the Messenger said: "I am the city of knowledge and ‘Ali is the gate of that city; whoever wishes to enter the city should come through its gate."22

Abu Musa Persisted in His Error

It may be said that Abu Musa was following Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar whom he used to love and whom he recommended for leadership. Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar stood neutral in the dispute between ‘Ali and his opponents. He did not support the truth. Nor did he fight the untruth. But then he found himself failing to follow the Book of God.

Therefore he repented and changed his attitude towards ‘Ali. Al-Hakim recorded in his Al-Mustadrak through his channel to Al-Zuhri who reported that Hamzah said the following:

"While he (Hamzah) was sitting with Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar a man from Iraq came to Ibn ‘Umar. He said: Abu Abdul-Rahman (a code name of Ibn ‘Umar) by God I have been seriously trying to follow you and take an attitude similar to yours towards the division of the nation and be neutral as far as I could.

Yet I have read a verse from the Holy Qur'an which occupied my mind and I would like you to inform me about it. I mean the Word of God: 'If two parties among the believers fall into a quarrel make ye peace between them; if one of them transgresses beyond bounds against the other then fight ye (all) against the one that transgresses until it complies with the command of God. But if it complies then make peace between them with justice and be fair. For God loves those who are fair and just.'

"Please inform me how to comply with this verse. Abdullah said: 'You have nothing to do with this. Go away.' The man left and when he disappeared Abdullah turned to us saying: 'I never found in my heart something as I felt about this verse that I did not fight the aggressor party as God commanded me to do.' "23

Al-Hakim commented on this report saying: "This is an important hadith reported by many outstanding tabi-is (good religious scholars who did not witness the Prophet and took their knowledge from his companions). I have chosen the channel of Shu-aib Ibn Abu Hamzah to Al- Zuhri because the two Sheikhs (Al Bukhari and Muslim) used this channel which indicated that this is truly authentic.”

Thus Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar repented for his wrong stand in the quarrel between ‘Ali and his opponents but Abu Musa did not repent.

Abu Musa Did Not Distinguish Between Hadith and Qur'an

However I am not confident that Abu Musa conveyed the statement of the Messenger as the Messenger pronounced it. And we find that Abu Musa reported to the people of Basra when he was their governor something contrary to the truth and denied by all Muslims. Muslim in his Sahih reported the following:

"Abu Musa Al-Ashari summoned the readers of Basra. Three hundred readers of the Holy Qur'an came to him. He said to them: "You are the righteous men of Basra and the readers of the Qur'an. Let not the passage of time make you forget the truth. Thus your hearts will be hardened. We used to read a chapter similar to the chapter of Bara-ah in length and seriousness and I have forgotten it. However I remember of that chapter only the following verse:

'Should Ibn Adam acquire two valleys full of money he would seek a third valley. And the abdomen of Ibn Adam would not be filled but by soil.' "And we used to read a chapter which was similar to the chapters which are begun with the word: "Sabbaha " and I have forgotten it. I remember of it only the following: 'O you who believe why do you say what you do not do? Testimony will be written on your necks then you would be questioned about it on the Day of Judgement."24

The words which Abu Musa reported are certainly not from the Holy Qur'an; nor do they resemble the Qur'anic words in the least. The best guess is that Abu Musa was disturbed in his thinking unable sometimes to distinguish between the Qur'an and the hadith. And when he reported a hadith he was not accurate nor could he understand it.

I believe that Abu Musa was a part of the conspiracy of Talhah Al-Zubayr Ayeshah and Muawiya Ibn Abu Sufyan. He was trying his best to destroy the caliphate of the Imam. Had he succeeded in convincing the Kufites to sit and refrain from supporting the Imam the reign of the Imam would have ended in the first year after his election.

It is obvious that the Imam did not trust Abu Musa and that he knew his negative attitude towards the members of the House of the Prophet in general and towards him in particular.

When the Imam was elected he sent Imarah Ibn Shihab one of the companions as a governor of Kufa to replace Abu Musa. But Imarah came back to Medina after Tulaihah Ibn Khuwailid threatened him before his arrival to Kufa...25

(During the short period that took place after the death of Uthman there was no security for people.) The Imam then kept Abu Musa upon the request of Al-Ashtar. Abu Musa was a Yemenite and most of the Kufites were Yemenites.

The Imam sent Muhammad Ibn Abu Bakr and Muhammad Ibn Jaafar to the Kufites asking them to join him in his journey to Basra and to be supporters and helpers to the religion of God. He told them also that he wanted to bring peace and reunite the nation. The two messengers did not succeed and the attitude of Abu Musa was the biggest obstacle in the way of their mission.

When they challenged him he spoke his mind saying: By God your man and I still owe allegiance to Uthman. If fighting is inevitable then we should not fight anyone until we finish the killers of Uthman wherever they may be. 26

Thus Abu Musa believed that he owed allegiance to Uthman even after Uthman died but he did not believe that he owed any loyalty or obedience to the living Imam and that he did not have to respond to his call.

He believed that if the fight is necessary they had to fight the killers of Uthman. But the three leaders who were the first to call for the murder of Uthman should not be fought even if they usurp the authority of the Imam in Basra and people should not challenge them.

Abu Musa spoke his mind also on another occasion when Abd Kheir Al-Haiwani said to him: "Did Talhah and Al-Zubayr not give ‘Ali a pledge of Allegiance?" When Abu Musa replied in the affirmative Abd Kheir asked him: "Did ‘Ali commit any wrong-doing which allows the two companions to breach their covenant with him?" Abu Musa replied: "I do not know." Abd Kheir said: "We leave you until you know."27

He took this attitude in order to preserve for the three leaders their gains against the Imam. Had he spoken the truth he would have admitted that the two companions had breached their covenant with the Imam without any justification.

But this would damage his interest and their interest. It is also reported that the two messengers sent Hashim Ibn Utbah Ibn Abu Waqass to the Imam to inform him of what took place. The messenger returned to Thee Qar where the Imam was and informed him of what had taken place.

The Key to the Solution

It became clear to the Imam that Abu Musa was the biggest obstacle and that his dismissal is the key to the solution of the problem. The Imam could not lead a respectable army as long as the Kufites listened to Abu Musa. Therefore he sent to him a letter with Hashim Ibn Utbah saying to him: "Send people to me. I did not appoint you governor except to have you as my assistant for establishing the truth."

Abu Musa refused to do so and Hashim wrote to the Imam the following: "I have come to a man who is a radical disputer open in hatred." The Imam sent Al-Hassan and Ammar Ibn Yasir to urge people to join the Imam.

He wrote to Abu Musa: "I have sent Qurthah Ibn Kaab as governor of Kufa. Leave your post blamed and defeated. If you defy him and he prevails against you I commanded him to execute you. Abu Musa left his post and Al-Hassan and Ammar went on in their mission and people of Kufa responded to their call.28

It is reported also that Abu Musa did not leave his post and persisted in his defiance until Al-Ashtar joined Al- Hassan and Ammar because he felt that he was responsible for keeping Abu Musa in his post when he requested the Imam to keep him in that post. When Abu Musa unveiled his malicious intentions Al-Ashtar said to the Imam: "Ameer Al-Mumineen may God honor you With your permission I would like to join them (Al-Hassan and Ammar); I believe that the Kufites are very obedient to me.

If I go there I hope that none of them will disagree with me." The Imam honored his request. He went there and called upon everyone he met to join him in his march on the mansion of the governor. He entered the mansion with a large group while Abu Musa was standing at the main mosque speaking to his audience discouraging them from supporting the Imam and reporting to them what he claimed to have heard from the Prophet concerning the confounding crisis and that the one who does not participate is better than the one who does.

Ammar Ibn Yasir was responding to him by saying: The Messenger of God told only you that not taking part in it is better than your participation. Then Ammar said: God prevails against those who try to fight Him.

The servants of Abu Musa came running to the mosque saying: Abu Musa Al-Ashtar entered the mansion beat us up and drove us out. When Abu Musa came down and entered the mansion Al-Ashtar shouted: "Get out of our mansion. May God get your soul out of your body. By God you are of the early hypocrites." Abu Musa said: Give me a respite only this evening. Al-Ashtar granted him that saying: You will not stay tonight at the mansion.

People entered into the mansion trying to loot Abu Musa's belongings but Al-Ashtar prevented them saying: I granted him my protection.29 Thus the Imam needed to use force in order to remove Abu Musa from his post because Abu Musa was not like the rest of the appointed officials. He was a conspirator against the Imam disguised as his appointed governor.

Had he been really scrupulous about war and blood shedding he should have sided with the Imam because the Imam was still far from entering a battle. He was seeking peace and unity while the three leaders had already shed a great deal of blood.

Abu Musa approved what the three leaders did and tried anxiously to preserve for them their bloody gains by urging people of Kufa not to join the Imam. Yet the Imam was asking people to come to him in order to assist him if he is right and to correct him if he is wrong.

Thus we can easily conclude that Abu Musa was not a man of peace or against war. He was rather against the Imam collaborating with his enemies. The Imam was trying to prevent war while the three whom Abu Musa was trying to protect had already started their bloody battle before the Imam's arrival to Thee Qar. Of the words which the Imam said to the people of Kufa when they met him at Thee Qar are the following:

"I have invited you to witness with us the behavior of our brothers in Basra. If they change their attitude this is what we want. If they persist in their wrong way we shall not agree with them but we shall try peaceful avenues prefering them to the avenue of war (unless they force it upon us). There is no power but that of God."30

I have given Abu Musa this lengthy discussion because his hostile stand toward the Imam was a factor in shaping the events of that period. He performed a very dangerous role whose consequences were detrimental to the Muslim World.

Finally a group of Kufites (numbering twelve thousand) came to join the Imam. Al-Tabari Ibn Al-Athir and other historians along with a number of hadith recorders reported that the Imam said before the arrival of the Kufites:" Twelve thousand and one men will come to you from Kufa." Abu Al-Tufail a companion who reported this hadity said: "I stood at Thee Qar counting those men. I found them to be twelve thousand and one men.31

Kufa was able to send to the Imam tens of thousands of its men if it were not for the stand of Abu Musa and the messages of Ayeshah. Her religious place and the place of Talhah and Al-Zubayr in the minds of the Muslims were factors in discouraging the Kufites from joining the camp of the Imam. When the Imam neared Basra a group from Abdul Qeise joined him.32 And after all that the Imam's army did not exceed twenty thousand while the three leaders' army according to estimates was a minimum of thirty thousand.33

The Imam's Effort for Peace

As expected the Imam did not start a battle against his opponents in Basra. All legitimate avenues of peace must be explored although his opponents had shed enough blood to justify fighting them. He wanted to confine the crisis and bring it to an end.

Thousands of Muslims were confounded and confused because of the religious position of his opponents; therefore he wanted to leave no excuse for his opponents and to make the right path clear to the masses of the Muslims.

Historians recorded that the Imam sent Al-Qaaqaa Ibn Amr as his special envoy to the three leaders to speak to them and offer them peace. Al-Qaaqaa was a man of wisdom and prestige and he was not accused of anything concerning Uthman.

He went on his mission and it appeared to him that he convinced the three leaders to accept peace and give the Imam a pledge of allegiance and reunite the Muslims after the death of Uthman and the events of Basra had divided them. As for what the three leaders spoke of concerning the killers of Uthman the Imam was supposed to consider it at a later stage.34

The ambassador came back to the Imam and informed him of the result of his negotiations with the three leaders and the Imam hoped that some good will come out of the negotiations. Thus he went to Basra. To his disappointment he found his opponents closer to war than to peace and that their military preparation was bigger than his.

They had already gathered an army of thirty thousand fighters. 35

Al-Zubayr Lost Determination

The determination of Al-Zubayr to fight was shaken up when he learned that Ammar Ibn Yasir was with the Imam's army. When a man informed him that he saw Ammar Ibn Yasir with the Imam's army and that he spoke to him Al- Zubayr refused to believe that. But the man assured him time after time that Ammar was there. Al- Zubayr sent a member of his family to see whether this was true. When his messenger came back confirming the truth of the information Al-Zubayr said: "This broke my back."

He lost his nerve and a tremor violently shook his body. Even the weapons which he was carrying started to shake. It was well known to Al-Zubayr and the rest of the companions that the Prophet said to Ammar: "Ammar be cheerful. The aggressor party will kill you and your last drink from this world is a drink of milk." Realizing that Ammar was with the army of the Imam Al-Zubayr became frightened.36

The Imam in Dialogue with His Opponents

In spite of this Al-Zubayr stayed with his party. The Imam wanted to make it clear to him and to his colleague Talhah that they were wrong. He met them between the two camps while each of them was riding his horse and people were looking at them. The Imam was completely unarmed and Al-Zubayr was fully armed.

The Imam wanted to show people that his goal is peace rather than war. His opponents declared their rebellion against him under the pretext of avenge for Uthman for the sake of God. The Imam tried to remind them of God and the following dialogue occurred:

The Imam: "Certainly you have prepared arms horses and men " he said to the two companions while he and they were on their horses. "I do not know whether you have prepared an excuse when you meet your Lord on the Day of Judgment. Fear God and be not like a woman who unspun her strands after she had strongly spun it.

Was I not your brother and you used to believe in the sanctity of my blood and I believed in the sanctity of your blood? Did I do anything that makes it legitimate for you to shed my blood?"37

Then he said to Al-Zubayr: What brought you here? Al-Zubayr: You have brought me here and I do not believe that you are qualified to be caliph. You have no more right than we have to be caliphs. And you killed Uthman.

Reminiscence of a Prophecy

The Imam: "You believe that Uthman was more qualified than I? We used to count you from the children of Abdul-Muttalib (Al-Zubayr was the son of Safeyah daughter of Abdul Muttalib) until your son Abdullah the evil son separated you from us. Zubayr do you hold me responsible for the blood of Uthman while you were his killer? May God punish today our harshest to Uthman."

Then the Imam said to him: "Do you remember the day when you were with the Messenger of God passing through the area of Banu Ghunam and he smiled at me and I smiled at him then you said to him: 'Ibn Abu Talib is always conceited.' The Messenger of God said: 'He is not conceited and you shall fight him unjustly.'"38

Al-Zubayr: By God yes I remember that now and had I remembered that before I would not have come here. By God I will never fight you.

Talhah was expected to take the same attitude as Al- Zubayr. The Messenger foretold Al-Zubayr that he will fight ‘Ali while he is unjust and that certainly goes to Talhah whose stand towards the Imam was like that of Al- Zubayr but more violent and unjust. But Talhah was not affected by all that. He stuck to his hard line.39

The Basra camp began to shoot and kill men from ‘Ali's camp. The followers of the Imam began to ask and beg him to permit them to fight and the Imam refused time after time.

The Imam Offered the Arbitration of the Qur'an

Finally the Imam held a copy of the Holy Qur'an and asked: Who is willing to hold this Qur'an and invite the other camp to follow what is in it and he should know that he will be killed? A young man from Kufa volunteered to take the mission and the Imam turned his back to him. He repeated his question and no one was willing to take that mission except the young man. The Imam gave him the Qur'an and commanded him to tell the opposite camp:

This is the Book of God between us and you from its beginning to its end. Fear God for our blood and your blood. The Kufan youth did what the Imam told him to do and the Bassrites shot and killed him. With this flagrant aggression the Imam declared: "Now it is legal for us to fight them."40

The Beginning of The Battle

"By God I did not commit any sin for which they could criticize me; nor did they put between them and me a fair judge. They are seeking a right which they have neglected and trying to avenge a blood which they have shed. Certainly they are the aggressor party which was predicted by the Prophet to include a man and woman who are related to each other through marriage.

"By God I shall prepare for them a basin which I will fill. They will drink out of it without quenching their thirst and it will be their last drink. God the two men (Talhah and Al-Zubayr) have faced me with open hostility dealt with me unjustly breached their pledge of allegiance to me and instigated people against me. God I ask Thee to untie what they knotted and invalidate what they plotted and make them meet disappointment in their expectation and action. I have tried to secure their repentance to prevent hostility and gave them a respite before the battle began. They ignored the gracious overture and rejected peace."41

The Imam was not a man to be intimidated by warnor frightened by the quantity of enemies. Talhah and Al-Zubayr and their thirty thousand soldiers would not terrify him. He was still the same hero who brought the Arabs to their knees during the days of the Holy Prophet and the years did not increase in him but bravery and determination.

He had known through information from the Messenger that this battle was coming and that his enemies were the aggressor party which the Prophet described to include the man and the woman who are related to each other through marriage rather than birth (Al-Zubayr was married to Asma sister of Ayeshah)

The Imam Knew His Killer's Description

When he faced Al-Zubayr unarmed the Imam was asked: How did you face Al-Zubayr unarmed and he was well armed knowing his bravery? "Al-Zubayr is not my killer " he replied. "My killer is obscure from a low family. He will kill me but not on a battlefield. Woe to his mother.

He will wish that his mother had been bereaved by his death. Certainly he is as wicked as the killer of the Female Camel of the Prophet Salih." (The Camel of Salih was created miraculously and was killed by one of the most wicked men in history.)

Although he knew that his opponents shall fight him he offered them peace and called upon them to change their attitude. He was determined to use all means available to him in order to prevent bloodshed.

Should they refuse his peaceful proposal and persist in their hostile way he was determined to prepare for them a deadly basin which he will fill. He would be the one to fill it and they would come out of it without quenching their thirst. Then he asked the Almighty to untie what they knotted and to show them the evil consequences of their deed and the disappointment in what they expected; and God responded to his prayer.

Historians disagree about the duration of the Battle of Basra whether it was one day or more. Whatever the time of its duration it was one of the ugliest and most violent battles. It was unique in its effect in dividing the Muslims. For the first time history witnessed the Muslims standing in two camps fighting each other and thousands of them fell by the swords of each other.

The battle started and appeared to be short and the losses seemed to be light. The general offense which the army of the Imam started was stormy. It shook the Bass-rite camp and compelled the thousands of the soldiers of the three leaders to run away before the middle of the day.

Talhah was shot by a deadly arrow which made him bleed to death. It is reported that Marwan Ibn Al-Hakam killed him.42

Talhah's Death

Jundab Ibn Abdullah Al-Azdi reported that he witnessed Talhah accompanied by a band of fighters and many of them were wounded and they were overwhelmed by people. Talhah himself was wounded. He was holding a sword and his followers were leaving him one after another and he was saying. "Servants of God patience there is only victory and reward after patience."

I told him: "May your mother be bereaved by your death. Go away to safety. By God you would not be victorious nor would you have any reward. You have only sinned and lost." Then I shouted at his followers and they were surprised and left him. Then I told him: By God if I want to I can kill you here.

He replied: By God if you do that you would perish in this world and in the Hereafter. I said: By God your blood has become legal to us and you are of the regretters. Then he left accompanied only by three people and I do not know what happened to him after that except that I know he perished.43

Al-Qaaqaa Ibn Amr witnessed Talhah urging people to fight even though he was bleeding from a wound. He told him: Abu Muhammad you are wounded and you are too sick to continue your way. Enter these houses.44

The Killer of Talhah

Historians reported that Marwan Ibn Al-Hakam is the one who shot him with a deadly arrow. Yet Talhah was his commander. Marwan and the rest of the Umayyads believed that Talhah and Al-Zubayr were two of the main agitators against Uthman but they were delaying their avenge of the two men until they obtain victory against the Imam.

When Marwan witnessed that the battle was lost he did not want Talhah to escape death because he was to the Umayyads the actual killer of Uthman. Thus the Umayyad strategy was to use the three leaders as a means to retrieve the authority which they lost by the death of Uthman.

They were ready to sacrifice the three leaders as easily as one would spend a dirham. But the three leaders did not know what they were doing. Had Al-Zubayr not been killed after his departure from Basra he would not have escaped the avenge of the Umayyads.

Al-Zubayr Left the Battlefield

The Imam as we mentioned above reminded Al- Zubayr of the word of the Messenger when he told him that he will fight ‘Ali while he is unjust to him. Upon that Al- Zubayr promised not to fight the Imam.

His determination to fight was already weakened when he knew that Ammar Ibn Yasir is within the army of the Imam. In spite of this he remained at the camp and participated in the battle for a short time. He did so because his son Abdullah accused him of being a coward filled with fear when he witnessed the flags of ‘Ali carried by brave men. When Al-Zubayr informed his son that he took an oath not to fight ‘Ali his son counseled him to break his oath and make an atonement for that by liberating one of his servants. He did that and fought.45

Al-Zubayr Freed a Slave in Order to Fight the Imam's Camp

It is amazing that Al-Zubayr was too scrupulous to break his oath without an atonement but he was not too scrupulous after the atonement to participate in a battle in which he may kill whomever he faces of the Muslims. Yet he knew that killing a believer deliberately would bring eternity in Hell.46

Finally Al-Zubayr left the battlefield and he did not leave until Ammar Ibn Yasir met him and started driving him out of the battlefield by his spear. Afraid to kill Ammar or to be killed by him Al-Zubayr asked him repeatedly: "Abu Al-Yaqthan (Ammar's code name) do you want to kill me?" Ammar repeatedly answered him: "No Abu Abdullah (Al-Zubayr's code name) but you have to leave.47 It was known to the companions that the Messenger said that the aggressor party shall kill Ammar.

Al-Zubayr was expected to fear a fight against the Imam more than a fight against Ammar. For fighting ‘Ali according to the testimony of the Messenger is like fighting the Messenger himself. The Prophet said to ‘Ali Fatima Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein: "I am at peace with whomever you are at peace and I am at war with whomever you are at war."48

Al-Zubayr met his death after leaving Basra. Amr Ibn Jurmooz killed him while he was on his way to Medina.49

Under the Leadership of Ayeshah

The camp of the three leaders was shaken up. Talhah died and Al-Zubayr left the battlefield; but Mother of the Believers took over after the two and proved that she was a braver leader and more capable of commanding the masses. She was more hostile than the two companions to the Imam. She had through her relationship to the Messenger and to her father Abu Bakr a halo of holiness in the eyes of the masses of the Muslims.

She was placed in an armored canopy on the back of her camel (Askar). She called upon the people to come and fight and they came back to her with great zeal. They probably felt that to let the wife of the Messenger down is to let the Messenger himself down.

They decided to offer their sacrifices for her. They attacked the right and left wings of the Imam's army and forced the two wings to retreat. The two wings joined the heart of the army where the Imam was standing. At that moment the Imam showed a bravery unparalleled in the history of wars.50

The Unique Courage

The Imam personally moved towards the camel leading what was called the "Green Division" which consisted of the Migrant and Medinite companions. He was surrounded by his children Al-Hassan Al-Hussein and Muhammad. He gave the banner to Muhammad and Muhammad told his soldiers to slow down until the rain of the arrows stopped.

The Imam sent word to Muhammad urging him to advance and commanding him to start the decisive battle. When Muhammad hesitated the Imam came from behind and put his left hand on the right shoulder of his son. He reprimanded him and commanded him to advance.51

The Imam then compassionately took the banner from him and carried it in his left hand while his sword was drawn in his right hand. Then he charged the opposite camp hitting them with his sword then came back when his sword was twisted. He straightened it with his knee.

His children and companions including Ammar and Al- Ashtar surrounded him and tried to prevent him from repeating his action but he kept looking at the opposite camp. Then he returned the banner to his son Muhammad and charged again entering into the midst of the hostile camp hitting them with his sword.

Witnessing people falling by his sword men started to run away from him to the right and to the left. He returned after he moistened the soil with their blood and his sword was twisted; so he again had to straighten it with his knee.52

His companions surrounded him and asked him in the name of God not to continue reminding him that it was their duty to protect him and do what he was doing. He said: By God I do not want out of what you are witnessing (of his action) anything except to please God. Then he said to Muhammad : "Son of Al-Hanafeyah (his mother): This is the way you should fight."

Ta-if's Honey

A man brought him honey. When he tasted it he said to the man who brought it: "Certainly your honey is from Al-Ta-if " (a city in Hijaz) and the man said: Yes it is.

But "Ameer Al-Mumineen” by God I am amazed how could you distinguish the honey of Al-Ta-if from others today when the hearts are jumping to the throats?" The Imam replied: "Son of my brother by God no fear touched the heart of your uncle nor is he concerned with anything (but the truth).53

The Imam's Thrust Changed the Battle

The two charges of the Imam had their expected effect.

They represented a thrust in the camp of the enemy and raised the morale of the Imam's army. He ordered Al-Ashtar to attack with his division the left wing of the Bassrite army and he did and killed Hilal Ibn Wakee-a who was the commander of the left wing. The fight was fierce and Al-Ashtar forced the left wing to retreat towards Ayeshah.

They formed a circle around her and most of them were from Banu Dhubbah Banu Uday Banu Asad Banu Najiah and Banu Bahilah. All these surrounded the camel and started to compete with each other by holding the rein of the camel one after another.

The camel became the banner of the Bassrites and Mother of the Believers was urging her sons to fight and her hope of victory did not diminish.

Abdullah Ibn Khalaf Al-Khuza-i chief of the people of Basra and their wealthiest came and asked for a duel saying that no one should meet him but ‘Ali and the Imam came to him and immediately hit him with his sword and split his head.

Abdullah Ibn Abza held the rein of the camel then attacked the army of the Imam saying: "I hit them but I do not see Abu Hassan (‘Ali). This certainly is saddening." The Imam met him and struck him with his spear and left the spear in him saying: "You have seen Abu Hassan. How did you see him?"

About seventy warriors from Quraish were killed while they were holding the rein of the camel and many non-Qureshites also died.54 Abdul-Rahman Ibn Attab Ibn Oseid from Umayyad was from the top of the Qureshites.

Al-Ashtar attacked him and killed him. Al-Ashtar also attacked and killed Khabbar Ibn Amr Al-Rasibi when he heard him challenging the Imam.

Ammar the Ninety- Year-Old

Ammar Ibn Yasir who was ninety years old fought like a lion. It is reported that he had a duel with Amr Ibn Yathri who was the bravest one among the Bassrites. Amr Ibn Yathri killed a number of companions of the Imam.

Ammar challenged him saying: Certainly you have taken refuge in a safe place. Leave your place and come to me. People worried about Ammar because of his old age and because of the reputation of Amr as a warrior. But Ammar prevailed against him and dragged him by his feet to the camp of the Imam.55

A man said to the Imam: "Ameer Al-Mumineen " what a great "Fitnah" (faith-testing trial)!! The Badrians (companions who attended the Battle of Badr with the Holy Prophet) are attacking each other with swords. The Imam replied: "Woe to you; Would this be a "Fitnah" when I am its leader? By the One Who sent Muhammad with the truth and honored his face I never lied; nor was I devious from the right road and no one ever was deviated from the right road through me. I am on a clear evidence from my Lord who made it clear to His Messenger and His Messenger made it clear to me. I shall be summoned on the Day of Judgment and I will be guiltless. And if I had sinned what I am doing now would be an atonement for my sin."56

Hamstringing the Camel

Beholding that death is around the camel and realizing that the war will not come to an end as long as that camel was standing the Imam drew his sword and advanced towards the camel while the rein of the camel was in the hands of the Dhubbites. The killing continued and many of them fell down. The Imam reached the camel with a group from Nukhaa and Hamdan.

He said to one of his companions (named Bujair): Hit the camel. Bujair hit the back of the camel with his sword. The camel fell down on his side and roared terribly. As soon as the animal fell the army of Basra ran away as if they were locusts in a strong wind.

The Imam Spoke

Muhammad Ibn Abu Bakr and Ammar Ibn Yasir carried the canopy of Ayeshah and put her aside. The Imam came towards her while he was angry but holding himself.

He hit the canopy with his spear and said to her: Sister of Aram (likening her to a woman that ruled the country of Yemen before Islam). "You have brought people back to fight after they ran away and instigated them and made them kill each other... " She said: Ibn Abu Talib you have won be forebearant... Then she was taken to the mansion of Abdullah Ibn Khalaf Al-Khuza-i. She stayed days there then the Imam sent her back to Medina in a very dignified way accompanied by women and men.57

Ammar came to her when she was about to leave. He asked her: "Mother where does this journey fit with what God had commanded you to do?" She said: "I testify that you were always telling the truth." He said: "Praise be to God the One Who put for me these words on your tongue."58

The Imam remained three days in his camp then he entered Basra. He followed the "Sunnah" of the Prophet in his treatment of the people of Mecca. He forgave their guilty and prevented his followers from taking anything from the properties of the Bassrites.

He divided what he found in the treasury of Basra among the winners and the vanquished equally. He prayed over the dead of the two parties. People of Basra re-elected him and re-pledged to him allegiance. He received that pledge from them while they were under their banners. He received it from the healthy and the wounded.

He addressed his vanquished opponents saying: "You were the army of the woman and the followers of the animal. When it roared you responded and when it was hamstrung you ran away... Whoever lives with you would be bound by his sin and the one who leaves you receives the mercy of his Lord! By God your city shall be drowned and I visualize its mosque looking like a front of a ship or a sitting giraffe."59

His prophecy was fulfilled years later when Basra was drowned and covered by water and nothing of its buildings remained visible except its mosque.60

One of his companions told him after God gave him the victory: I wish my brother was present here to see how God gave you victory over your enemies. The Imam replied: "Is the sympathy of your brother with us?" He said: Yes.

The Imam said: "Then he was present with us and others were present who have not been conceived yet whom time shall bring infrequently and through whom the faith will be strengthened."61

The Responsibility of The Three Leaders

As we look back at this war retrospectively we find that thousands from the Bassrites met their death believing that they were on the right side. They were confounded and it was difficult for them to believe that a wife of the Messenger and two of his outstanding companions had parted with the truth.

People were and still are trying to know the truth through their Leaders rather than to try to know the Leaders through the truth. I do not believe that the people of Basra were aware of the brilliant history of the Imam ‘Ali and the declarations of the Messenger concerning him.

The three leaders who led the Bassrites were fully aware of ‘Ali's history and the testimonies of the Prophet for him but they concealed what they knew about him.

They did not want the Bassrites to know it. They tried with all their power to minimize his right and merit and accused him of what they themselves committed the murder of Uthman knowing that ‘Ali was innocent of their accusation. They added to what they had done to Uthman the blood of thousands of victims who died in that battle from both sides.62

The Umayyads Were Less Blamable than the Three Leaders

The responsibility of the three leaders in fighting the Imam and accusing him of the murder of Uthman was bigger than the responsibilities of Muawiya and the rest of the Umayyads.

The attempt of the Umayyads to avenge the blood of Uthman by killing his killers did not have an Islamic justification but it had a pre-Islamic tribal-justification.

They were from the members of the clan of the assassinated Caliph. They did not play a big part in turning people against him. The three leaders of the Bassrite party did not have any justification in avenging the blood of Uthman because they were the first to seek his blood.

In addition to this they were not from his relatives and they knew that ‘Ali was the most protective of Uthman and opposed to his assassination. He offered Uthman his help and Uthman rejected his offer;63 and in spite of this he sent his two sons to do their share in his protection.

Talhah's Responsibility

Al-Balatheri reported that Talhah blamed ‘Ali when he hit Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein for their unintended failure in protecting Uthman and that ‘Ali cursed Talhah because he insisted to do what ‘Ali disliked (conspiring against Uthman).

Talhah replied saying: Had Uthman handed Marwan to the rebels he would not have been killed." ‘Ali disagreed with Talhah saying: "If Uthman were to deliver Marwan to you Marwan would have been killed before he was tried.''64

Al-Tabari reported in his History about the events of the year 36 after the Hijrah that ‘Ali said to Al-Zubayr at Basra "Do you want to avenge from me the blood of Uthman while you were his killer? May God make our harshest to Uthman meet what he dislikes today."65

Muawiya the head of the Umayyad party was not from those who pledged allegiance to the Imam. On the contrary he refused to give such a pledge. It is true that the election of the Imam by the people of Medina and the majority of the Muslim nation made it mandatory for Muawiya to follow the Imam and obey him but he technically is not a breacher of covenant with the Imam as Al- Zubayr and Talhah.

The two companions Pledged their allegiance to the Imam then led a devastating war against him. They were duty-bound to obey him as long as he followed the Book of God and the instructions of His Prophet. ‘Ali was the most adherent to the Book of God and the teaching of the Holy Prophet. God ordered the believers to fulfill their covenant in which they give allegiance to a righteous ruler. The Holy Qur'an declared:

"And whoever breaches he breaches against himself and whoever fulfills what he pledges to God God will give him a great reward." The Holy Qur'an Chapter 48 verse 10.

The Messenger of God ordered the nation to kill the breachers of the pledge of allegiance. Muslim reported in his Sahih that the Holy Prophet said: "There shall be events and events. Whoever tries to divide this nation while it is united hit his head with the sword whoever he may be.66

It is reported also that the Holy Prophet said: "Whoever takes a rebellious stand (against a righteous Imam) and parts with the united community then he dies he would die a pre-Islamic death. And whoever fights blindly under a banner unknown to be a banner of truth siding with a wrong party selfishly then he is killed he dies a pre-Islamic death. And whoever parts with my nation and carries a sword indiscriminately hitting its righteous and transgressor... and refusing to fulfill a covenant he made he is not from me and I am not from him."67

Much more was expected from Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubayr than from Muawiya who never had a brilliant past in religion; nor was he counted from among the righteous. The three leaders heard from the Messenger of God about ‘Ali what Muawiya did not hear. Even if the Umayyad Muawiya had heard what the three leaders heard from the Messenger about ‘Ali it would have been expected from them rather than Muawiya the opportunist to listen to the words of the Messenger and obey him.

Ayeshah Al-Zubayr and Talhah knew that the Messenger said on the day of Ghadir Khum about ‘Ali: "God love whoever loves him and be hostile to whoever is hostile to him.''68

And the Messenger also said to ‘Ali Fatima Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein "I am at peace with whomever you are at peace and I am at war with whomever you are at war."69

These statements indicate clearly that whoever fights ‘Ali fights the Messenger of God and that the enemy of ‘Ali is the enemy of God and His Messenger. Thus the stand of the three nghteous leaders with their hostilities towards ‘Ali was an amazing event for which there is no justification.

Al-Zubayr's Responsibility

Al-Zubayr should be particularly blamed. He is the one who stood up when Abu Bakr was elected drawing his sword and saying "I shall not sheathe my sword until ‘Ali is elected." ‘Umar said to companions who were with him:

Take his sword and hit the rock with it.70 Had ‘Ali wanted to fight for the caliphate on that day Al-Zubayr was ready to fight and be killed for the sake of ‘Ali's leadership. How did he after 25 years fight the Imam after the Imam was elected by the companions and he was one of the electors?

Al-Zubayr particularly was to be blamed also because he heard from the Messenger of God that he shall fight ‘Ali unjustly. This was reported by Ibn Al-Athir in his Al- Kamil and Al-Tabari in his History and a number of historians.

Al-Hakim reported in his Mustadrak through four channels that ‘Ali reminded Al-Zubayr on the day of the Battle of Basra that the Prophet said to Al-Zubayr that he shall fight ‘Ali while he is unjust to him. And Al- Zubayr acknowledged that and said he had forgotten it.71

Ayeshah's Responsibility

Ayeshah particularly was to be blamed much more than the others because she was one of the wives of the Prophet and she knew the extent of the love of the Messenger for ‘Ali. She received from the Messenger warning and reprimand when she displayed resentment towards the presence of ‘Ali with the Messenger.

Dialogue of Om Selemah and Ayeshah

Ibn Abu Al-Hadid in his commentary on Nahjul- Balaghah recorded that Abu Makhnaf reported a dialogue between Om Selemah (another wife of the Messenger) and Ayeshah when the latter decided to go to Basra and invited Om Selemah to accompany her. Om Selemah reminded her of things which Ayeshah did not deny: She reminded her of what took place when both of them were with the Messenger of God and ‘Ali sat privately with the Prophet and his session with him was long.

Ayeshah wanted to enter and Om Selemah advised her not to do that and she did not listen to Om Selemah. Then she came back crying. Ayeshah at that time informed Om Selemah that she said to ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib: "I have only one out of every nine days with the Messenger; why don't you leave me alone with my day?"

The Messenger turned to her angrily and his face was reddened saying to her: "Go away! By God whoever hates ‘Ali from the members of my family or from other families would be out of the Faith."72

The Lady of Al-Hau-ab

She reminded her also that they both were with the Messenger of God on a journey and Ayeshah was washing the head of the Messenger and Om Selemah was preparing food for him. Suddenly he raised his head saying:

"I wish I knew which one of you will be the rider of the huge camel. The dogs of Al-Hau-ab will bark at her while she is deviating from the right road." Om Selemah said:

"I freed my hand from the food and said 'I seek refuge in God and His Messenger from this.' Then he slapped your back and said: 'Beware not to be that lady.' Then he said to me: 'Daughter of Abu Omayah be not that lady.' Then he turned to Ayeshah saying: 'Humaira (red faced) I have already warned you.' " 73

The Patcher of the Sole

And the third item of which Om Selemah reminded Ayeshah was that they were with the Messenger on a journey. ‘Ali used to mend the shoes of the Holy Prophet and wash his garments. The shoes of the Holy Prophet during that journey needed to be mended. He took them and started to patch them and sat in the shade of a tree.

Abu Bakr and ‘Umar asked permission to see the Prophet.

Om Selemah said: Ayeshah and I left and sat behind the curtain. The two men entered and chatted with the Prophet for a while. Then they said: Messenger of God we do not know how long you will be with us. We wish that you would inform us of a person whom you want as your successor.

He said to the two men: "I see his place. And if I inform you of him you shall part with him as the children of Israel parted with Aaron son of Imran." When the two men heard these words they left without comment.

When we came out to the Messenger you said to him (and you were our most courageous to ask him): Whom would you choose as your successor to lead them? He said: "The patcher of the sole." Then you and I went to see who was the patcher of the sole and we found ‘Ali patching the sole of the Prophet. You said to the Messenger of God: I do not see but ‘Ali and he said: "He is the one." Ayeshah acknowledged all of what Om Selemah reminded her of. Then Om Selemah told her: I am Om Selemah. Yesterday you were agitating against Uthman and saying about him the worst words. You named him Naathal (a name of a heavily bearded Arab Jew). And you know the place of ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib from the Messenger of God.74

A number of historians including Ibn Al-Athir and Al-Tabari reported the warning of the Messenger to Ayeshah and his prediction that she would be barked at by the dogs of Al-Hau-ab.75

A number of the recorders of the hadith including Al- Hakim also reported that. Al-Hakim reported in his Mustadrak the following:

When Ayeshah reached the area of Banu Amir dogs barked at her. She asked: Which water is this? They said: Al-Hau-ab. She said: I think I am going back. Al-Zubayr said: No you should continue your journey and let people see you and you will bring about peace. She said: I guess that I am returning. I heard the Messenger of God saying: What would one of you do when the dogs of Al-Hau-ab bark at her?76

Al-Hakim also reported that Om Selemah said: The Prophet one time mentioned the travels of some of the mothers of the believers and Ayeshah laughed and he looked at her and said: Humaira you should not be that lady. Then he turned to ‘Ali saying: "If you have to deal with her be kind to her."77

Om Selemah portrayed to Ayeshah her deeds and she excelled in her presentation. She said:... "What would you say if the Messenger of God faces you while you are in these deserts riding the camel from one water to another water? Certainly God witnesses your travel and you shall meet His Messenger (on the Day of Judgment)." If I were in your place and I am told: Enter Paradise I would be ashamed to meet Muhammad after I tore up the screen with which he had hidden me. Make your house your fortress and the screen (of your room) your grave until you meet him while you are in your best obedience to God and help to religion..."78

This sound advice was lost on Ayeshah. She said: "I accept your preaching. The matter is not what you think.

It is a good journey which is requested by two parties fighting each other. If I stay I would not be sinning and if I leave it would be for something I have to escalate."79 It is amazing that Ayeshah claimed that she was taking the journey because two parties fighting each other resorted to her. Yet one of the two parties (the party of the Imam) not only did not request her to take it but vehemently opposed it.

On the other hand the other party would not have stood up to the Imam without Ayeshah's help and instigation. This shows us that when a person determines to do something he would not lack an excuse with which to justify his action.

Ayeshah did all that while she knew that the Holy Qur'an commands the wives of the Messenger to stay in their houses:

"And stay in your houses and bedizen not yourselves with the bedizenment of the pre-Islamic State... " The Holy Quran Chapter 33 verse 34

All this shows that the three leaders were more responsilbe than Muawiya in destroying the unity of the Muslims by what they did under the pretext of avenging the blood of Uthman while their aim was the destruction of the Imam's caliphate.

Conclusion

In spite of all this we are not allowed to say about the three leaders but good and ask God to forgive them and say: "Our Lord forgive us and our brethren who preceded us in Faith." What they had done is for God to judge.

But there are certain conclusions which we may draw from these events:

Should We Accept Their Hadiths?

Since these three distinguished leaders had legalized for themselves to shed so much blood in order to achieve their ends it would not be logical to take what they had reported of statements and deeds of the Prophet to be authentic.

When a person breaches a legitimate covenant divides the Muslims into two camps leads one of the two camps to start a bloody war he would not be righteous and reliable reporter. When a Muslim has the courage to shed the blood of thousands of innocent Muslims in order to serve his own interest he would not lack the courage to tell the untruth.

Criticism is Much Smaller Sin Than Fighting

If the Muslims are not allowed to say but good about Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubayr in spite of their war against "Ameer Al-Mumineen" (the Leader of the believers) and the Brother of the Messenger it would not be permissible to say but good about the Muslims who take a critical or an unfriendly attitude towards some outstanding companions. For fighting an outstanding companion is much more abhorable to God than an unfriendly attitude towards him.

The Islamic law does not discriminate among Muslims.What would be applicable to the three leaders should be applicable to the rest of the Muslims.

The criticism of any companion was never forbidden to people. The Muslims who criticize some of the caliphs do not do that because they deliberately want to defame them. They do that because they have a negative opinion of them. They sincerely believe in what they say.

The three leaders on the other hand had fought the Imam while they knew that they were wrong. If we have to respect these leaders and say only good about them it would not be right for us to be hostile to the millions of Muslims for what is much less than killing and fighting.

Critics of the companions are not necessarily devious or transgressors. It is neither logical nor fair for the Muslims to condemn each other because of their opinions pertaining to the events and personalities of the Islamic history as long as those opinions do not contradict the Holy Qur'an or the well known instructions of the Holy Prophet. Nor is there anything in the known instructions of the Holy Prophet that prevents the Muslims from criticizing companions whose deeds or words disagree with the Qur'an or the Prophet in word or deed.

The Three Leaders Open the Door of Wars Among Muslims

The three leaders are the ones who opened on the Muslim society the doors of the civil wars. They started the first bloody battle in which thousands from both sides fell and through which the unity of the Muslims was destroyed and never restored. It is difficult for our minds to understand how these righteous leaders have the courage to shed so much blood while the Holy Qur'an declares that killing one believer would bring an eternal Divine punishment to the killer:

"And whosoever slays a believer deliberately his reward is Hell forever. God's wrath is against him. He has cursed him and prepared for him an awful doom." The Holy Quran Chapter 4 verse 93

The Battle of Siffin with all its violence and ugliness was only a consequence of the Battle of Basra. Had Mother of Believers Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubayr assisted the Imam and gone throughout the Islamic provinces urging people to obey the Imam and to walk under his banner Muawiya would not have dared to fight him.

Had these leaders done that Muawiya would have realized that if he fights the Imam he would be waging a losing battle that will end with his destruction and the destruction of his camp and he would have humbly surrendered to the Imam.

But when he witnessed a portion of the people of Iraq sharing with him his opinion and taking an attitude similar to his and that leaders from the outstanding companions preceded him in combating the Imam his hope of a victory against the Imam was heightened.

The Battle of Basra was in fact a main factor in Muawiya's continued defiance of the Imam and his victory at the end. It is true that the Imam obtained a clear victory against his opponents at the Battle of Basra but the losses which both camps suffered had weakened the Imam's camp a great deal. The tribes of the defeated camp remained unfriendly to the Imam carrying grudges against him because of the thousands of men whom they lost in that battle.

The tribes of the Imam's camp also were weakened and lost a great deal of determination to wage a decisive campaign against Muawiya because of their losses in the battle of Basra. Muawiya remained outside the battle waiting and increasing in material and manpower.

Probably the Qureshites had forgotten through the passage of time what they had suffered of losses at the hand of the Imam in the battles of Badr Uhud and Moat.

However the Battle of Basra in which the Qureshites lost seventy of their chiefs had not only revived but also increased their rancor and hatred. It is an understatement to say that the action of the three rebellious leaders had led to the transformation of the Righteous Caliphate into the despotic rule of the Umayyad dynasty.

Had these three leaders not waged that sinister war the Imam could have uprooted the Umayyad plantation from the Syrian land and the Righteous Caliphate could have continued for generations. Having internal peace the Imam could have faced the external adversaries of the Muslim World with his unusual bravery.

The three leaders waged their campaign against Uthman because they feared that the caliphate would be transferred from him to one of his relatives and that would mean the caliphate will rest with the Umayyads. By this a rule of dynasty would be established and Talhah and Al-Zubayr would be deprived of the caliphate. To prevent this they managed to kill Uthman.

But the death of Uthman did not make them closer to their goal. So they waged their bloody campaign to destroy the Imam's caliphate. This also brought them no closer to their goal. They destroyed themselves and the caliphate of the Imam and transformed the caliphate to a rule of Umayyad dynasty the least religious tribe rather than the close relatives of Muhammad whom God purified of all sins.

  • 1. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 2 pp. 165-166.
  • 2. Dr. Taha Hissein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra part 2 p. 39 Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 111.
  • 3. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 391-and pp. 393-394.
  • 4. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 89-90 Al-Tabari in his History part 4 p. 431 Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 102 Ibn Abu-Al-Radeed Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah vol.2 p. 506.
  • 5. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 506 Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 431.
  • 6. Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra part 2 p. 34 Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 407 Al-Hakim in his Al-Mustadrak part 3 pp. 119-120 Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 39.
  • 7. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 107.
  • 8. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak part 3 p. 120.
  • 9. Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra part 2 p. 39 Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 468 Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 111.
  • 10. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 467.
  • 11. Al Tabari, his History, part 4, p.468
  • 12. Al Tabari, his History, part 4, p.468-69
  • 13. Taha Hussein, al Fitnat al Kubra, part 2 p. 36
  • 14. Sayed Murtadah AI-Askari Abdullah Ibn Saba second edition p. 26.
  • 15. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid his Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah part 6 p. 11 (printed in 1965 by the House of Resurrection of the Arabic Books.
  • 16. Al-Bukhari his Sahih part 6 p. 195 Imam Ahmad his Musnad part 1 p. 17.
  • 17. Muslim his Sahih part 6 p. 195.
  • 18. Muslim his Sahih part 6 p. 195.
  • 19. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p.480.
  • 20. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p.480.
  • 21. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p.116.
  • 22. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak part 3 p.127.
  • 23. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak part 3 p.115.
  • 24. Muslim Sahih Muslim part7 (Book of Zakat) p.139-140.
  • 25. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p.103.
  • 26. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p.482.
  • 27. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p.486.
  • 28. Al-Tabari his History part 4 pp.499-500.
  • 29. Al-Tabari his History part 4 pp.486-487.
  • 30. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p.118.
  • 31. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p.500 and p.501 and p.505 in sequel.
  • 32. Al-Tabari his History part 4 pp.500-501 and p.505 in sequel.
  • 33. Al-Tabari his History part 4 pp.500-501 and p.505 in sequel.
  • 34. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 pp.119-120 Al-Tabari his History part 4 pp.488-489.
  • 35. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p.501.
  • 36. Al-Tabari his History part 4 pp.510-511.
  • 37. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p.501.
  • 38. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p.511.
  • 39. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p.509.
  • 40. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 511.
  • 41. The Imam ‘Ali Nahjul-Balaghah part 2 page 19
  • 42. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 509 Abdul Fatah Abdul-Maqsud Al-Imam ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib part 3 p. 222.
  • 43. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid Commentary on Nahjul Balaghah part2 p. 431.
  • 44. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 513.
  • 45. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 509 Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra part 2 pp. 48-49.
  • 46. The Holy Qur'an chapter 4 verse 94.
  • 47. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 124.
  • 48. Ibn Majah his authentic Sunan part 1 p. 143.
  • 49. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 510-511.
  • 50. Abdul-Fattah Abdul-Maqsud Al-Imam ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib part 3 pp. 214-216.
  • 51. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah 1 p. 86.
  • 52. Abdul Fattah Abdul-Maqsud Al-Imam ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib part 3 p. 219.
  • 53. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 127.
  • 54. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 126-127.
  • 55. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 519.
  • 56. Taha Hussein Al Fitna tul Kubra part 2 p. 53.
  • 57. Al-Tabari his History part 4 pp. 547-548.
  • 58. The Imam ‘Ali Nahjul-Balaghah part 1 p. 44-45.
  • 59. The Imam ‘Ali Nahjul-Balaghah part 1 pp. 44-45.
  • 60. Sheikh Muhammad Abdoh his Commentary on Nahjul- Balaghah part 1 p. 45.
  • 61. The Imam ‘Ali Nahjul-Balaghah part 1 p. 45.
  • 62. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 539 mentioned that ten thousand Muslims died at the battle of Bassrah Taha Hussein in his Al-Fitna tul-Kubra part 2 p. 51 men- tioned this estimate and other estimates came to twenty thousand.
  • 63. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 82 reported that the Imam mediated between Othman and his opponents and both sides agreed that Othman removed his bad relatives from their offices and stopped giving them and others the public funds. Then Marwan disuaded Othman from fulfilling his promise.
  • 64. Al-BaladhuriAnsab Al-Ashraf part 4 p. 70.
  • 65. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 509.
  • 66. Muslim his Sahih part 12 p. 241.
  • 67. Muslim his Sahih part 12 p. 239.
  • 68. Ibn Majah his Authentic Sunan part 1 hadith no. 145.
  • 69. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 2 p. 220.
  • 70. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 120.
  • 71. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah part 2 p. 78.
  • 72. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid Commentary on Nahjul- Balaghah part 2 p. 78.
  • 73. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid Commentary on Nahjul- Balaghah part 2 p. 78.
  • 74. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid Commentary on Nahjul- Balaghah part 2 p. 78.
  • 75. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak part 3 pp. 119-120.
  • 76. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak part 3 pp. 119-120.
  • 77. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid his Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah part 2 p. 79.
  • 78. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid his Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah part 2 p. 79.
  • 79. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid his Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah part 2 p. 79.

24. The Alleged Conspiracy

Al-Tabari recorded through a channel including Saif Ibn ‘Umar that Muhammad (Ibn Oun) and Talhah (two reporters) reported that ‘Ali sent Al-Qaaqaa Ibn Amr (a Kufite leader) to Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubayr after they occupied Basra.

Al-Qaaqaa spoke to them and convinced them to make peace with the Imam and that the two parties should try to seek the killers of Uthman and punish them after the situation calms down and peace prevails.

The report says that the Imam agreed to the proposal and that he left Thee Qar area after he delivered a sermon in which he mentioned the grace of God that was bestowed on the nation by unity after the Messenger of God through the First Caliph then the one who followed him then the one who followed the Second Caliph.1

The Imam according to the report said also: "Then this event (the assassination of Uthman) took place. It was brought on this nation by groups who sought the material of this world envying those who obtained it by their own merit and they wanted to turn the affairs regressively.

God will fulfill His will and He will punish whom He wants to punish. I would like to inform you that I shall be leaving tomorrow and none from those who assisted in anyway against Uthman should accompany us. Let the fools stay away from me..."2

The report continues to say that individuals from those who participated in the siege of Uthman including Al-Ashtar Alba Ibn Haitham Uday Ibn Hatam Salim Ibn Thaalabah Al-Absi and Shuraih Ibn Dubai-ah held a secret meeting and Abdullah Ibn Saba (titled Ibn Al- Souda) was with them. (This man is said to have been a Yemenite from Sana-a born from a Jewish father and an Abyssinian mother adopted Islam during the days of Uthman and instigated people against him.)

The conferees realized that they will pay the price of peace with their lives and that ‘Ali shall be harsher with them than Talhah Al-Zubayr and Ayeshah because he knows more about the Book of God than the three leaders and he was much more adherent to the Divine law especially the laws which deal with criminals.3

The report continues reminding us (as Dr. Taha Hussein said) of the conference of the Qureshite pagans when they conspired against the Messenger of God and Satan attended their conference disguised as an old man from Najd. There was only one difference: The Devil in this report was Abdullah Ibn Saba.

The conferees made several proposals but finally "Ibn Al-Souda" (Abdullah Ibn Saba) advised them to make the two camps lose the opportunity of agreement by starting a fight at night. By this each of the two camps would accuse the other of starting the fight. The report says that the conferees implemented their strategy with precision and succeeded in inflaming the Battle of Basra.4

Many historians after Al-Tabari gave this report great importance and chose it over other reports in spite of the fact that Al-Tabari himself mentioned a number of reports which contradict this report.

Contradicted by Better Reports

He reported that Ammar Al-Duhani reported that ‘Ali took a copy of the Holy Qur'an on the day of the Battle of Basra and went through his camp saying: Who shall hold this Qur'an and invite the Bassrite camp to agree that both camps should comply with the contents of the Qur'an?

Then he said: The one who makes this invitation should know that he will be killed by the Bassrites. A young Kufite man said to him: "I shall do it " and the Imam ignored him. Then he repeated his call and the same man repeated the same answer.

The Imam gave him the Qur'an and the Kufite youth extended the invitation and the Bassrites shot him to death with a hail of arrows. The Imam said: "Now it has become legitimate to fight them."5

Al-Tabari reported also that Al-Zuhri said that when ‘Ali received the news of the death of the seventy men from Abdul-Qais (a branch from the tribe of Rabee-ah) he set out hurriedly until he came to Basra saying: "I am saddened by the tragedy of Rabee-ah the listener the obedient who was attacked before my arrival."

When the two camps faced each other Al-Zubayr came on his horse and ‘Ali called upon Al-Zubayr. They faced each other and ‘Ali asked Al-Zubayr: What brought you here? Al-Zubayr said: "You. And I do not believe that you are qualified for the caliphate; nor do I believe that you have more right to it than we and you killed Uthman." ‘Ali said to Al-Zubayr:

Do you ask me for the blood of Uthman while you were his killer? May God make our harshest to Uthman meet today what he dislikes. He reminded Al-Zubayr of the word of the Messenger of God: That he will fight ‘Ali while he is unfair to him. Al-Zubayr left the scene and promised the Imam that he will not fight him.6

Al-Tabari reported that the Imam said to Talhah: You have brought the wife of the Messenger of God trying to fight with her while you have hidden your wife at your house (in Medina). Did you not pledge your allegiance to me? Talhah said: I pledged my allegiance to you while the sword was over my neck.

‘Ali said to his camp: Who shall display this Holy Qur'an and invite the opposite camp to agree with us to abide by its contents and the one who does that should know that he will be killed? A Kufite youth said I. The Imam said to him: Offer them this (the Qur'an) and say to them it is between you and us from its beginning to its end and fear God by refraining from shedding our blood and your blood.

The Kufite youth did what the Imam told him to do and he was killed. ‘Ali at that time said: Now the fight is legitimate.

They started fighting and seventy men died and each one of them was holding the rein of the camel.7 This report like the report that preceded it is evidence that the fight did not begin until the Imam offered the other camp peace and surrender of the matter to the Book of God.

This was after the Imam and his two opponents Talhah and Al-Zubayr faced each other and after he debated with them. All this was in front of people and the two camps were witnessing it. This was of course in the daytime. Thus there was no secret conspiracy and no battle that the conspirators started during the night.

Al-Tabari reported also that Al-Shi-abi reported that the battle of Basra started during the height of the day till the afternoon.8 Ammar Al-Duhani and Al-Zuhri and Al-Shi-abi narrated witnessable events and consistent with the logic of the events.

Yet these reports were not chosen by the historians who came after Al-Tabari because these reports seem to convict the three leaders and place the responsibility of the Battle of Basra upon their shoulders. The historians chose Saif's report of the conspiracy though it reports something that was not witnessable and at the same time was not consistent with the logic of the events.

The three leaders did not come to Basra for a picnic or for spreading peace. They came to start a war against the Imam and they started the battle before his arrival to Basra. They killed scores of people and occupied the city before the arrival of the Imam to the city.9

Saif reported a conspiracy that was made in a secret conference attended by Abdullah Ibn Saba and that conspiracy resulted by starting the battle at night according to the plan of the conspirators. The historians chose this report and gave it high importance though Muhammad (Ibn Oun) and Talhah (whom Saif claimed to be the source of his report) did not claim that they witnessed the conference. These historians did not even ask how Muhammad and Talhah knew about this conspiracy.

History mentions that the Meccan pagans had a secret conference at the "Nadwa" (club in Mecca) in which they conspired to kill the Messenger. The Prophet knew about it through a Divine Revelation. Saif Ibn ‘Umar and Muhammad and Talhah on the other hand did not receive a Revelation from God.

It is evident that these historians chose this report because they wished that the contents of this report were real. The reason is that report vindicates the three leaders.

Since this report was given so much importance it is necessary to try to investigate it and see whether it is worth all that credence which it was given by the historians. Therefore I would like to record the following observations:

(1) This report presupposes that Ayeshah Mother of Believers Talhah and Al-Zubayr were serious in seeking the avenge for the blood of Uthman.

Yet the instigation made by the three leaders against Uthman and their admission of making it is a well known fact in history. The three leaders urged the Muslims to kill Uthman and when he died and ‘Ali was elected they used his blood only as a means of combating the Imam. Since this was their intention they would not be ready to change their attitude if he agrees with them to punish the killers of Uthman because their target was ‘Ali rather than the killers of Uthman.

(2) Saif's report mentioned that the Imam said before his departure from Thee Qar: "I will be leaving tomorrow and you should leave with me. None of the people who assisted in the crisis of Uthman should accompany me and let the fools stay away from me."

If the Imam had uttered these words it would be evident that he did not mean by assistance in the crisis of Uthman a direct participation in his assassination because none of the direct participants in Uthman’s murder were in the Imam's army.

The ones whom he meant by these alleged words are those who agitated against Uthman and started the march against him and particularly those who urged people to kill him or participated in his siege. Some of these people were in the Imam's army. If the Imam had issued this order he should have prevented those instigators and participants in his siege from accompanying him (the Imam) to Basra but this was not the case.

Muhammad Ibn Abu Bakr

The Imam did not prevent Muhammad Ibn Abu Bakr from accompanying him though he knew that Muhammad was one of the leaders of the agitators against Uthman and of the participants in his siege. He was also one of those who climbed the wall and entered his mansion to kill him though he did not participate in his killing.

Historians agree that he held the beard of Uthman and insulted him and called him "Naathal" and that he said to him: "What did Muawiya and Ibn Abu Sarh and others from your relatives avail you?10 The Imam knew all that yet he kept Ibn Abu Bakr in his company.

Muhammad attended the Battle of Basra with the Imam. He is the one who removed the canopy of his sister Ayeshah from the back of her camel when the camel fell down.11 Muhammad Ibn Abu Bakr was so close to the Imam that the Iman used to consider him as one of his children. Muhammad lbn Abu Bakr was killed while he was the Imam's appointed governor of Egypt.

Al-Ashtar

It was clear to the Imam that Malik Al-Ashtar was an outstanding agitator against Uthman. He participated in his siege but he was not a participant in his murder.

Uthman exiled him from Iraq to Syria twice. Al-Ashtar led after that a group of Kufites to prevent Sa-eed Ibn Al-Aus (Uthman’s appointed governor) from coming back to Kufa.

Al-Ashtar was the first revolutionary leader who called for ‘Ali's election after the death of Uthman. He remained with the Imam and accompanied him to Thee Qar then he went to Kufa and came back with the Kufan army to meet the Imam in Thee Qar. Then he departed with the Imam to Basra and he was the top general in the Imam's army.

It is from the well known facts of history that Al-Ashtar was extremely close to the Imam for the duration of his reign until Al-Ashtar died. He was the Imam's right hand in both battles of Basra and Siffin. Al-Ashtar died by poison plotted by Muawiya while Al-Ashtar was on his way to Egypt. It was the Imam who sent him as his appointed governor of Egypt. 12

Uday Ibn Hatam

Uday Ibn Hatam who was mentioned in Saif's report as a conspirator and a part of the conference which was attended by Ibn Saba was also close to the Imam and an outstanding supporter. He attended the battles which the Imam faced during his caliphate.

Uday accompanied the Imam from Thee Qar to Basra and the Imam did not prevent him from going with him even after the alleged order that the participants against Uthman cannot accompany him.13

Ammar Ibn Yasir

We ought to mention particularly Ammar Ibn Yasir who was an outstanding companion. He was from the leaders of the opposition to Uthman. He called for his removal. His voice was the loudest in criticizing his policy.

He shared with Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubayr their opinion which called for Uthman’s assassination. In spite of all that Ammar was one of the outstanding leaders in the Imam's army. Those who attended the Battles of Basra and Siffin used to follow Ammar as if he were an Islamic banner.14

It is well known in history that the presence of Ammar at the Battle of Basra on the side of the Imam was one of the main factors which contributed to the departure of Al-Zubayr from the battlefield.15

Al-Zubayr knew that the Messenger of God said to Ammar: "Ammar the aggressor party shall kill you."16 Had the Imam ordered those who assisted with anything against Uthman not to accompany him to Basra he would have prevented Ammar from going with him.

Thus as the report of Saif is opposed to the reports of Ammar Al-Duhani Al-Zuhri and Al-Shi-abi it is also opposed to the well known facts of history that the Imam was accompanied to Basra by Ammar Ibn Yasir Muhammad Ibn Abu Bakr Malik Al-Ashtar and Uday Ibn Hatem. These distinguished individuals were with him and they were extremely close to him. When a report is opposed to well known facts in history it should be disregarded.

(3) In addition to the aforementioned the Imam was not in need of anyone to ask him to punish anyone who killed a believer unjustly. Had the Imam known the killer (or killers) of Uthman he would have punished him immediately without waiting for any agreement with Talhah Al-Zubier and Ayeshah as a price for his peace with the three leaders.

It is well known in history that the Imam was most observant of criminal punishment. He was the one who counseled Uthman to kill Obeidullah Ibn ‘Umar when he killed Al-Hirmizan without any evidence that substantiates his involvement in the murder of his father ‘Umar.17 The Imam threatened Obeidullah with punishment because of this while still out of power.

His strong adherence to the Islamic principles forced him to enter into the war of Siffin the bloodiest in the history of Islam until that time. It was possible for him to avoid himself that costly war by keeping Muawiya as governor of Syria. But he said: "I would not compromise in my religion." He chose that rather than to deviate from his principles in the least.

Such a leader does not need an agreement with Talhah and Al-Zubayr in order to enforce the Islamic law by punishing killers of a prominent Muslim. Had he viewed that Muhammad Ibn Abu Bakr Al-Ashtar and those who instigated people against Uthman deserved punishment he would have done that without delay.

The caliphate in his view was only a means for executing justice and enforcing the Islamic laws. The least of what the Imam would have done to them is to keep them away from him and not make them a part of his army. Since he did not do that and did the opposite by making them his closest associates we infer that they did not deserve any punishment for their attitude towards the Third Caliph and their agitation against him.

The Three Leaders

If he had believed that they were criminals deserving punishment it would not be conceivable that he would agree with Talhah and Al-Zubayr to punish them and leave Talhah Al-Zubayr and "Om Al-Mumineen" (Mother of Believers) unpunished while they were the outstanding agitators against Uthman. They were the first to do that and they continued their way until Uthman died. The Imam would not give different treatments to people of equal crimes.

It seems that the Imam used to believe that only the ones who participated directly in the assassination of Uthman were punishable. We have already mentioned that three of those who participated in his murder were killed at the same hour he was killed. The three were Qutairah Soudan Ibn Hamran and Kinanah Ibn Basheer Al-Tajeebi.

If there were other participants the Imam did not know.

He said in a letter to Muawiya: "I do not know specifically any killer of Uthman. I thought deeply about this matter and I did not see it permitted for me to hand you anyone you accuse from among those who are around me."18

(4) The sermon of the Imam which Saif's report mentioned speaks clearly that the Imam believes in the soundness of Uthman’s policy and his administration of public funds and that he approved Uthman’s appointment of his relatives. The report mentioned that the Imam said in his sermon: "God has bestowed His grace on the nation by the unity through the three Caliphs one after another.

Then this event (assassination of Uthman) took place. It was brought on this nation by people who sought the material of this world. They were envious of those who were given it by God meritoriously for their virtues. These material seekers were trying to turn the affairs of the nation regressively."

Thus the Imam according to this report was speaking of the soundness of the policy of Uthman and accusing those who opposed him of trying to turn the national affairs regressively. They did what they did just for the sake of the worldly material and out of jealousy of Uthman and his appointed officials to whom God had given the materials of the World meritoriously and for their virtues.

There is no doubt that this is in conflict with what was known in history with utmost certainty that the Imam did not approve Uthman’s policy in handling the public funds; nor did the Imam approve Uthman’s appointments of his relatives. The Imam mediated many times between Uthman and his opponents asking him to dismiss his relatives and change his policy and many times Uthman promised to change and reform in response to his mediation then Marwan would prevent Uthman from fulfilling his promise.19

Had the Imam believed in the soundness of Uthman’s policy and the policy of his appointed governors the Imam would not have insisted on the dismissal of Muawiya and waged for his dismissal the Battle of Siffin which had no equal in the history of Islam before that time.

All these aspects substantiate clearly that the report of Saif Ibn ‘Umar was a fabrication made up for covering the reality and acquitting the three leaders of the responsibility of the Battle of Basra. It aimed also at ruining the reputation of the supporters of the Imam such as Al- Ashtar and others by accusing them of starting the war for their selfish purposes and upon the counsel of a hypocrite who was alien to the Islamic nation.

Any serious student of the Islamic history knows that Al-Ashtar and the rest of the revolutionar leaders were among the most noble Muslims in their intention and adherence to the ideals of Islam and who gave their souls for the pleasure of God.

Did Abdullah ibn Saba exist?

However there are reasons to doubt the very existence of Abdullah Ibn Saba. I do not think that this man was but a fairy-tale and was admitted into the history of Islam for covering undesirable informations. The defenders of Uthman and his policy wanted to attribute the revolution which was made against him to a Jew who is alien to Islam.

They alleged that he organized through secret conspiracies elaborate cells in Basra Kufah Egypt and Damascus for a revolution against the Caliph.20 They said that this alleged man claimed that the Prophet Muhammad will come back and that he tried to substantiate the return of the Holy Prophet to this world by comparing it to the return of Jesus to this world in the future. Since Muhammad is more important than Jesus he would be more entitled than Jesus to return. They said that Ibn Saba supported the idea of the return of the Prophet by the following verse:

"Certainly the One Who commanded you to convey the Qur'an (to mankind) shall return you to a new coming..." The Holy Quram Chapter 28 verse 8521

Who Was the First to Speak of the Prophet's Return?

I would like to state clearly that attributing the idea of the Prophet's return to the imaginary Ibn Saba is an obvious distortion of the truth. Was not ‘Umar the first one who proclaimed the doctrine of the Prophet's return?

History testifies and no historian or hadith-reporter would deny that ‘Umar stood at the Mosque of the Prophet when the Prophet died and said:

"Some hypocrites allege that the Messenger of God died. The Messenger did not die. He only went to his Lord as Moses son of Imran went to his Lord. He left his people for forty nights then he returned to them after it was said that he died. By God the Messenger of God will return as Moses returned. He will sever the hands and legs of the men who alleged that he died." (The Brother of the Prophet Muhammad vol.1 p. 161 (and Ibn Hisham in his Biography of the Prophet part 2 p. 655)

Would any Muslim accuse ‘Umar of learning this doctrine from Abdullah Ibn Saba?

If anyone after ‘Umar believed in the return of the Prophet we should assume that he learned that from ‘Umar rather than from Ibn Saba.

They also mentioned that this imaginary Jew was the one who spread the doctrine of ‘Ali's executorship and successorship to the Messenger.22 They said also that he taught Abu Dharr while in Damascus the theory that prohibits treasuring gold and silver and that what is collected from Zakat and other Islamic taxes are Muslims' fund rather than God's fund.23 They also said that Ammar Ibn Yasir went to Egypt and met Ibn Saba and that Ibn Saba turned him against Uthman. 24

These allegations contradict well known historical facts and very substantiated truths. From these facts is that Uthman did not follow the policy of the Two Caliphs before him though he pledged to Abdul-Rahman Ibn Ouf and the nation at the time of his selection that he will follow their policy.

It is well known in history that the Messenger exiled Al-Hakam Ibn Abu Al-Aws and his family and said: Al- Hakam shall not live with me in Medina forever. Uthman brought back the exiled of the Prophet and his children.

He gave them large amounts from the public funds.25 He gave them hundreds of thousands of dirhams. He made Marwan Ibn Al-Hakam his main advisor and actually he was the real caliph.

It is a well known fact of history that Abdullah Ibn Abu Sarh deserted the Faith after he declared his Islam and that the Messenger of God ordered his execution.26 It is also known in history that Walid Ibn Aqabah Ibn Abu Mo-eet was a transgressor and used to drink intoxicants.27 The Holy Qur'an testifies to his transgression.28

Yet Uthman appointed Ibn Abu Sarh as governor of Egypt. He gave him the fifth of the spoils of North Africa.29 Uthman also appointed Walid governor of Kufa. He did not dismiss him until the Muslims testified that he was found drunk while he was leading the congregational prayer at the main Mosque of Kufa.30

It is also known that Uthman exiled Abu Dharr31 and beat up Ammar Ibn Yasir until Ammar fainted.32 He also ordered Abdullah Ibn Masud to be thrown out of the Mosque and his ribs were broken.33 He penalized these three outstanding companions only because they were critical of his policy.

Uthman also exiled a number of good people from Kufa to Syria because they criticized his policy and that of his appointed officials from the Umayyads.34 There are no prescribed punishments in Islam for critics who demand reform from a ruler.

The masses of the people resented punishment of these people by exile. Exile according to the Holy Qur'an is a punishment for those who are at war with God and His Messenger and those who spread corruption in the land.

These exiled Muslims were neither at war with God and His Messenger nor were they from the corruptors of the land. They were only critics of the Caliph because he used to give any member of his clan tens or hundreds of thousands of dirhams from the public funds and grant them vast pieces of land from the public property.35

It was only expected that the companions and the rest of the Muslims would frown at these arbitrary actions after they witnessed the way of the Messenger and the two Caliphs after him. It was only a matter of course that resentment would grow and that people would demand from the Caliph to change his policy and dismiss his appointed officials who were his relatives. It was also expected that the resentment would be transformed into a revolution after he refused to change.

The companions and other outstanding Muslims were not in need of an alleged Jew to call for a revolution. The existence of such a Jew in relation to the causes of the revolution was of no effect and similar to the existence of a fifth leg of a chair.

To say that Uthman adopted the policy that was approved by the companions and the rest of the Muslims and that Abdullah Ibn Saba is the one who instigated people against him is an invitation to the denial of well established facts of history.

The attribution of the revolution against Uthman to Abdullah Ibn Saba cannot be true unless we say that Abdullah Ibn Saba is the one who counselled the Caliph to commit the numerous violations which he committed and which brought about the revolution. Thus we ought to ask the following questions: Did Ibn Saba advise the Caliph?

Did he persuade the Caliph to give his relatives the public funds and make Marwan Ibn Al-Hakam his prime minister? Did he convince him to exile companions such as Abu Dharr and other prominent Muslims such as Malik Al-Ashtar? Did Ibn Saba counsel him to beat up outstanding companions?

These and other illegal actions are the true causes of the revolution. Unless Ibn Saba is the one who convinced Uthman to commit all these mistakes and refuse to change them he could not be a cause of revolution. Of course the historians who adopted the report of Saif Ibn ‘Umar (which created the tale of Ibn Saba) would not accept any relationship between Uthman and Ibn Saba.

Was Ibn Saba in Medina?

The people who accepted the report of Saif Ibn ‘Umar have forgotten that the agitation against Uthman did not start in Basra or Kufa or Egypt. It rather started in Medina and that Ayeshah and Talhah and Al-Zubayr were the most outstanding agitators against Uthman. Was Ibn Saba the motivator of these people to oppose Uthman and to call for his murder?

The report of the conspiracy of Ibn Saba says that Ibn Saba met Abu Dharr in Damascus and urged him to oppose Uthman and Muawiya. But Abu Dharr started his critical campaign while in Medina before he went to Damascus. He was exiled to Damascus because of his critical campaign against the Caliph.36

Saif's report says also that Ibn Saba is the one who taught Abu Dharr to say that the revenues of Zakat and other Islamic taxations are the revenues of the Muslims rather than the revenues of God. Yet history tells us that when Abu Dharr was brought back to Medina from Damascus he was still saying that these revenues are revenues of God.

It is reported that when Abu Dharr came to Medina he faced the Caliph and he reported in the presence of other companions that he heard the Messenger of God saying:

"When the men from the children of Abu Al-Aws become thirty they will make the revenue of God rotate among them the servants of God their slaves and the religion of God interpolated."37

However saying that Abu Dharr learned some religious doctrines from an alien hypocrite seems to be extremely ugly and obviously fabricated. Abu Dharr was an outstanding companion of the Prophet. He embraced Islam before all the Medinite and most of the Meccan companions.38

He accompanied the Holy Prophet and his companionship was long. He memorized the Holy Qur'an and he heard from the Messenger and understood what he heard. He reported the statements of the Messenger and his deeds accurately. He was well aware of what he was reporting. He was extremely true and devoted and the Holy Prophet loved him very much.

Al-Tirmidhi reported that the Messenger said: "Neither did the Heaven shade nor did the earth carry truer than Abu Dharr."39 He reported also that the Holy Prophet said: "Neither did the Heaven shade nor did the earth carry truer and more loyal than Abu Dharr. He walks on earth with the immaterialistic attitude of Jesus son of Mary''40

It is reported by Ibn Majah that the Messenger said:"God commanded me to love four persons and He informed me that He loves them. When he was asked: Who are they? The Prophet said; ‘Ali is from them (repeating that three times) and Abu Dharr Salman and Al-Miqdad."41

Abu Dharr was so concerned with the purity of the Islamic teaching to a degree that he did not allow Kaab Al- Ahbar to give a verdict in Islamic law though Kaab Al- Ahbar was highly respected by ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab and Uthman. Many times the two Caliphs asked him about things in religion and they used to listen to what he said.

It is reported that Abu Dharr said to Uthman after he came back from Damascus to Medina: "It is not sufficient for a man to pay only Zakat. He should add to that by helping the needy and feeding the hungry and spending in the way of God." When Kaab Al-Ahbar commented that "Whoever fulfills his prescribed duty does not have to add anything to it " Abu Dharr became angry and said to Kaab: Son of the Jewish lady who are you to say this? Do you want to teach us our religion? Then he hit him with his rod on his neck.42

A man that does not allow Kaab (who was highly regarded by ‘Umar) to give a verdict in religion is not expected to follow the opinion of a Jew who adopted Islam during the time of Uthman and did not see the companions of the Messenger nor did he know the Islamic instructions.

If Abu Dharr and Ammar agreed with Ibn Saba Ibn Saba must be right. The Holy Prophet testified for the truth of these two companions.

It is reported that Ayeshah said that the messenger of Cod said: "Whenever Ammar is given the choice between two alternatives he always chooses the most righteous of the two alternatives."43 Abdullah lbn Masud was consulted: Whom should we follow when the Muslims are divided? He said: "Follow Ammar. He will never part with the truth..."44 The Prophet told Ammar: "Ammar be cheerful the aggressor party will kill you.''45 He also said: "Paradise longs for three persons: ‘Ali Ammar and Salman."46

When the Messenger of God testified for the distinction of a companion of this kind such companion must have been right. And if these two companions had agreed with any person about a religious matter the one with whom they had agreed must have been right. If the two companions agreed with a person who was a new convert he and not they must be the learner. He would be learning from the two companions.

If Ibn Saba were in existence and if he had met Abu Dharr and Ammar (as Saif's report alleged) it would be logical to assume that he did not teach the two companions anything and that he learned from them.

If he had spoken of ‘Ali's executorship and his succession to the Messenger he would be only following the two companions. Ibn Saba did not hear the Messenger but Abu Dharr and Ammar heard him saying at Ghadir Khum: "Whoever I am his "Mawla" (leader) ‘Ali is his Mawla."47 The two companions heard the Messenger saying: "I am leaving for you that which if you uphold you will never go astray: The Book of God and the members of my House.

Beware how you shall treat them after me.48 These two companions no doubt understood from the statement of the prophet that the Messenger was appointing ‘Ali his successor.

To Discredit Abu Dharr and Ammar Is To Discredit The Prophet

As we conclude our discussion and analysis of Saif Ibn ‘Umar Al-Tameemi's report we come to the following conclusions:

1) The subscribers to Saif Ibn ‘Umar's report who are trying to smear the Shi’ite Muslims are actually smearing Abu Dharr and Ammar Ibn Yasir before they smear the contemporary Shi’ites.

2) The two companions were following the line of the Prophet because he testified to their righteousness truth and rightfulness. The Shi’ites follow the same line.

3) This means that he who discredits the two companions actually discredits the Prophet himself.

I do not believe that Ibn Saba ever existed. I believe that he was only a fabricated story to ruin the reputation of the "Shi’ites" (the followers of the members of the House of the Holy Prophet)

Dr. Taha Hussein observed that what was reported about "Ibn Al-Souda" (Abdullah Ibn Saba) was obviously made up and fabricated. It was invented when the debate between the Shi’ites and other Islamic schools was in progress.

The enemies of the Shi’ites wanted to admit into the teaching of this school a Jewish element for the sake of destroying their reputation. Taha Hussein said: Ibn Al- Souda was nothing but an imagination.

And if he had truly existed he was not that important as the historians try to portray him and describe his activity during the days of Uthman and in the first year of the caliphate of ‘Ali. He is an imaginary person treasured by the enemies of the Shi’ites in order to harm the Shi’ites.49

The Source Of The Legend

The source of the story of Abdullah Ibn Saba or Ibn Al-Souda was Saif Ibn ‘Umar Al-Tameemi who lived in the second century after the Hijra. Al-Tabari Ibn Asakir and Ibn Abu Bakr took the story of Ibn Saba from Saif Ibn ‘Umar. The rest of the historians such as Ibn Al-Athir Ibn Kutheyer Ibn Khaldoon and Abu Al-Fida took the story from Al-Tabari.

This Saif Ibn ‘Umar was one of the forgers of the hadiths and the reports of the events of history. The Muslim scholars who are specialized in Hadith have expressed their opinion about Saif: Ibn Mu-een (died in 277) said: Saif is a weak reporter.

Al-Nisa-i (died in 303) said: Saif is a weak reporter.

Abu Dawud (died in 317) said: Saif is nothing.

Al-Hakim (died in 405) said: Saif is abandoned and accused of being heretic.

Ibn Hayyan said: Saif reportedly forged stories and attributed them to reliable reporters and he was accused of being heretic.

Al-Dar Qutni (died in 385) said: Saif is a weak reporter and was abandoned.

Ibn Hajar (died 850) said: Saif is a weak reporter.50

This Saif reported many Hadiths which are opposed to the well known facts of history and to the facts which are reported by numerous reliable reporters. He also reported events which are inconceivable.

The resentment of ‘Ali towards the election of Abu Bakr was reported by outstanding hadith-reporters and this is known to the students of history. What Al-Tabari reported through Saif Ibn ‘Umar about ‘Ali's election of Abu Bakr is the following:

"‘Ali was at his house when he was informed that Abu Bakr is receiving the pledge of allegiance. ‘Ali hurriedly left his home without having his cloak on him because he did not like to lose time. He came to the mosque and pledged his allegiance to Abu Bakr then sat with him and sent after his cloak. When it was brought to him he put it on and remained with Abu Bakr."51

It is a well known fact of history which was reported by numerous reliable sources that ‘Ali did not accept the caliphate of Abu Bakr at the beginning and refused to give him the pledge of allegiance and he continued to do so until his wife Fatima Al-Zahra died. Al-Bukhari and Muslim through their channels to Ayeshah reported the following:

"... Fatima daughter of the Messenger of God sent to Abu Bakr asking him for her inheritance from her father out of what God has given him in Medina Fadak and what remained from the "fifth of Kheibar"... ; Abu Bakr said: The Messenger of God said: "We (the Prophets) are not to be inherited (materially); what we have left is (or as) charity."

Abu Bakr refused to give Fatima anything. She was outraged by what he did and she refused to speak to him until she died. She lived six months after the Messenger of God. When she died ‘Ali buried her at night and did not inform Abu Bakr of her death. ‘Ali prayed on her.

People were warm towards ‘Ali when Fatima was still living. When she died ‘Ali lost that warmness. Thus he sought to make peace with Abu Bakr and he pledged his allegiance to him."52

Of Saif's reports of events which are inconceivable are the following: Al-Tabari reported that Saif said that Abu Bakr sent Al-Ala Ibn Al-Hadrami to fight the deserters of the faith in Al-Bahrain and that he and his army went through Al- Dahna and that their camels ran away from them in the desert during the night and that they became thirsty. Then water appeared to them. They drank from it and washed then their camels came back.

Abu Huraira filled a container of his with water but he left it near the water. When they departed from that place they came back to it. They did not find the water but Abu Hurairah found his container.

Saif also reported that Al-Ala and his army went to Dareen traveling by sea on their camels for twenty-four hours and the water of the sea did not cover the hooves of the camels. He mentioned also that after the army passed through the sea it was able to obtain victory against the people of Dareen.53

But Al-Baladhuri on the other hand reported the invasion of Al-Bahrain through a source other than Saif and mentioned that Al-Ala invaded Zarah and Dareen during the reign of ‘Umar (rather than the reign of Abu Bakr).

He reported that the inhabitants of Zarah made a peace treaty with Al-Ala and that they agreed to give him a third of the city and a third of what was in it of gold and silver; that he would take half of what belongs to them outside the city and that Al-Akhnas Ibn Al-Amiri said to him that they did not include in the peace treaty what they had in Dareen.

Thus he advised him of a shallow passage between Zarah and Dareen in the sea and that Al-Ala and his army went through that shallow passage and invaded Dareen.54 Al-Tabari reported through Saif that when Saad Ibn Abu Waqass and his army arrived to a place called Othaib Al-Hijanat he sent Assim Ibn Amr to the lower part of the Euphrates.

Assim came to Maisan seeking sheep or cows but he did not find any. The cows fortified themselves by going into a wooded area. Assim went and looked until he found a man near the area. He asked him about the cows and the sheep and the man swore to him that he did not know anything about their location.

But the man was the shepherd of those animals. Upon this a bull spoke clearly in Arabic saying what means: "By God he lied to you; We are here." Assim went in and drove the cows out and brought them to the camp.55

Thus we find that Saif reports in the two stories what is unbelievable. A water appears and the whole army drinks from it. Then it disappears shortly after they leave it; an army goes throngh the sea for twenty-four hours and the water of the sea does not cover the hooves of the camels and a cow speaks the grammatical Arabic language.

This is only some of Saif's fabricated lies. It is amazing that Al-Tabari who was an outstanding Muslim historian relied upon Saif's reports while his own reports testify to Saif's incredibility.

Ibn Saba was nothing but one of his fabricated lies. He tried to cover up the truth by alleging that the revolution against Uthman was not caused by Uthman’s mishandling the public funds and giving it to his relatives and friends and appointing his transgressor relatives as governors of the Muslims.

He tried to say that the cause of that revolution was the conspiracies of Abdullah Ibn Saba who never was mentioned by any reliable historians before Saif Ibn ‘Umar.

Saif wanted to acquit Ayeshah Mother of Believers Talhah and Al-Zubayr from the responsibility of the Battle of Basra. Thus he invented the story of a conspiracy by Ibn Saba and his followers for starting the Battle.

Al-Tabari and the historians who followed him in recording the story of Saif Ibn ‘Umar should have asked themselves the two following questions: 1. If Ibn Saba had existed and had such revolutionary and destructive activity why did not Ayeshah mention him and his activities when she went to Basra trying to turn people against ‘Ali and his followers?

Why did she not mention that those who made the revolution against Uthman and those who killed him were followers of a Jewish Arab that was conspiring against Islam and that these conspirators were the followers of ‘Ali and the callers for his election?

She did not mention that though she came to Basra for the sole purpose of turning its inhabitants against ‘Ali. Had the story of Abdullah Ibn Saba been truthful Ayeshah would have mzde it the main theme of her speeches. Had she mentioned that she would have hurt ‘Ali and his followers a great deal.

It could be said that Mother of the Believers was not aware of the intrigues and conspiracies of Ibn Saba because he used to work secretly. But the report which speaks of Ibn Saba says also that he came to Basra and formed a revolutionary cell in it and that Abdullah Ibn Amir who was the Umayyad governor of Basra expelled him from Basra when he discovered his subversive activities.56

Abdullah Ibn Amir was with Ayeshah when she departed from Mecca and he was with her when she came to Basra. Why did he notgive her that information about Ibn Saba if Ibn Saba had really existed? Tens of Umayyads were with Mother of the Believers and these people were fully aware of the situation of the Islamic cities and communities and what was taking place in them.

These Umayyads were the rulers of the cities during the time of Uthman and they were not simple people.

Ayeshah did not mention Abdullah Ibn Saba and his activity before the Battle of Basra nor on the day of the Battle. Nor did she mention anything about Ibn Saba and his activities after the Battle though she lived a good number of years afterwards.

None of the Umayyads who accompanied her (such as Abdullah Ibn Amir and Marwan Ibn Al-Hakam who were arch enemies of the Imam) ever mentioned anything about Ibn Saba and his activities. Had the story of Ibn Saba been true the voices of these people would have filled the Muslim World.

Granted that Ayeshah did not mention Ibn Saba because she did not know about his intrigues and conspiracies but why did Muawiya refrain from mentioning that? The report which speaks of Ibn Saba mentioned that he went to Damascus and that he turned Abu Dharr against Muawiya and Uthman and that Ibn Saba spoke of his destructive opinions to two other companions of the Prophet: Abu Al-Darda and Abadah Ibn Al-Samit.

The report added that Abadah resented the statements of Ibn Saba and took him to Muawiya and informed Muawiya that Ibn Saba is the one who turned Abu Dharr against him... and with this information Muawiya drove Ibn Saba out of Damascus.57 Ibn Saba later went to Egypt and Abdullah Ibn Abu Sarh (the governor of Egypt) also knew about Ibn Saba.58

Muawiya used to give large amounts of money to people in order to defame the Imam by inventing stories that would damage his reputation and the reputation of his followers. Muawiya was the one who decreed that the Imam ‘Ali should be cursed every Friday at every Islamic Mosque.

This order was issued after the death of the Imam. Had the story of Ibn Saba been true Muawiya would have considered it most important and would have held it by his two hands and he would not have failed to mention it every day.

Yet history does not mention that Muawiya or anyone of his appointed governors ever spoke one word concerning Ibn Saba.

History has preserved numerous messages from Muawiya in which he directed whatever he could of false accusations towards the Imam. His main goal in those messages was to smear the Imam by saying that he protected the killers of Uthman and those who participated in the revolution against him.

Yet he did not mention in any of those messages that the killers of Uthman or the participants in that revolution had any relation with a man named Ibn Saba. Had the legend of Ibn Saba had any truth to it the pen of Muawiya would have flown with it and it would have come on his tongue and the tongues of his followers during the days of his reign and the reign of the rest of the Umayyads.

The truth is that Ibn Saba was not dangerous to the unity of the Muslims or a cause in dividing the Muslims because Ibn Saba did not exist. The fact is that one of the main reasons for dividing the Muslims and spreading animosity among them was Saif Ibn ‘Umar who invented the story of Abdullah Ibn Saba.

Saif elaborately fabricated the story and Al-Tabari accepted it. Thus it was spread and became popular among the Muslim masses. This fabrication brought a mutual hatred among the Muslims and divided them into two parties separated by considerable distance.

Only God knows how many innocent Muslims lost their lives as a result of the poison with which Saif Ibn ‘Umar sprayed the Islamic atmosphere through his fabrications.

  • 1. Al-Tabari, his History, part 4, p. 493.
  • 2. Al-Tabari, his History, part 4, p. 493.
  • 3. Al-Tabari, his History, part 4, pp. 493-494.
  • 4. Al-Tabari, his History, part 4, pp. 493-494.
  • 5. Al-Tabari his History part 4 Events of 36 H. p. 509.
  • 6. Al-Tabari his History part 4 Events of 36 H.
  • 7. Al-Tabari his History part 4 Fvents of 36 H. p. 509.
  • 8. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 512.
  • 9. Dr. Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra part 2 pp. 36-37.
  • 10. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 89-90.
  • 11. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 533 and he mentioned that Ammar Ibn Yasir aided Muhammad Ibn Abu Bakr in the removal of the canopy.
  • 12. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 178.
  • 13. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 4 p. 119 Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 525 mentioned that Oday Ibn Hatam and Al-Ashtar were the ones who reached the camel of ‘Aisha in order to end the Battle of Bassrah.
  • 14. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 157.
  • 15. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 107.
  • 16. Al-Tirmidhi his authentic Sunan part 5 pp. 323-333.
  • 17. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 239.
  • 18. Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra part 2 p. 68.
  • 19. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 81-82.
  • 20. Al-Tabari his History part 4 (Events of the 36th year H.) pp. 340-341.
  • 21. Al-Tabari his History part 4 (Events of the 36th year H.) pp. 340-341.
  • 22. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 340.
  • 23. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 283.
  • 24. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 341.
  • 25. Al-BaladhuriAnsab Al-Ashraf part 4 p. 28.
  • 26. Ibn Hisham Biography of the Prophet part 2 p. 409.
  • 27. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 53-69.
  • 28. Ibn Hisham Biography of the Prophet part 2 p. 296.
  • 29. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 46.
  • 30. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 53.
  • 31. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 56 and Al-Tabari his History part 4.
  • 32. Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra part 1 p. 161.
  • 33. Taha Hussein Al-Fitna tul-Kubra part 1 p. 161.
  • 34. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 70-71.
  • 35. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 49.
  • 36. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah vol.1 p. 240.
  • 37. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah vol. 1 p. 241.
  • 38. Taha Hussein Al-Fitna tul-Kubra part 1 p. 133.
  • 39. Al-Tirmidhi his authentic Sunan part 4 p. 334 (hadith no. 3889)
  • 40. Al-Tirmidhi his authentic Sunan part 5 p. 334 (hadith no. 3890)
  • 41. Ibn Majah his authentic Sunan part 1 p. 53 (hadith no. 129)
  • 42. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 284.
  • 43. Al-Tirmidhi his authentic Sunan part 5 pp. 332-333.
  • 44. Yousof Ibn Abdul-Barr Al-Istea-Ab part 3 p. 1139.
  • 45. Al-Tirmidhi his authentic Sunan part 5 p. 332-333.
  • 46. Al-Tirmidhi his authentic Sunan part 4 p. 332 (Hadith no. 3884)
  • 47. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak part 3 p. 110.
  • 48. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak part 3 p. 109.
  • 49. Taha Hussein Al-Fitna tul-Kubra part 1 pp. 98-99.
  • 50. Sayed Murtadha Al-Askari in his book Abdullah Ibn Saba p. 26.
  • 51. Al-Tabari his History part 3 (Event in the 11th year A. H.) p. 201 (conveyed by Sayed Al-Askari Abdullah Ibn Saba)
  • 52. Al-Bukhari his Sahih part 5 p. 177 (chapter of Battle of Khaibar). Muslim also reported it in his Sahih part 12 p. 77.
  • 53. Al-Tabari his History part 3 conveyed by Al-Askari Abdullah Ibn Saba.
  • 54. Al-BaladhuriFutooh Al-Buldan pp. 92-93 (conveyed by Al-Askari Abdullah Ibn Saba p. 117)
  • 55. Al-Tabari his History part 3 p. 12.
  • 56. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 72.
  • 57. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 283.
  • 58. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 341 (Events of 35th year A.H.).

25. The Battle of Siffin

The Imam came to Kufa after the end of the Battle of Basra and he made Kufa his capital. The people of Kufa were the builders of his army whose support was indispensable in defeating his opponents in Basra. There were no other people upon whom he could rely.

The majority of the people of Basra were against him and they were not expected to become sincere towards him after the war of Basra had eliminated many of their loved ones.

People of Hijaz were not reliable because they were few compared to the people of the rest of the Islamic provinces. People of Syria were followers of his enemy Muawiya. The Muslims of Egypt were incapable of offering what he needed of an army for subduing the secessionists.

The Imam stayed about four months in his new capital preparing what he needed to meet Muawiya the most dangerous among his opponents to the unity of the nation.

He was the most capable among them to challenge the authority of the Imam and their least scrupulous in religion. Muawiya had declared before the Battle of Basra his refusal to join the electors of the Imam and his challenge to his authority.

By this he actually separated Syria from the body of the Islamic State and declared its secession. He added to this his hostility to the central authority and that he was at war with that authority using revenge for the blood of Uthman as an excuse. His secessional movement started before the movement of the three leaders.

The Imam sent after he was elected a message to Muawiya which was carried by his messenger Subrah Al- Juhani informing him of his election by the companions and asking him along with his followers to join his electors. Muawiya after a long silence sent Qubaisah Al- Absi and gave him a sealed letter addressed from Muawiya to ‘Ali. He ordered him to enter Medina raising the letter and holding its lower part and told him what to say.

When Qubaisah entered Medina people knew that Muawiya was defiant. He gave what was in his hand to the Imam. The Imam opened it and did not find anything in it and the following dialogue took place: The Imam: What did you leave behind you (in Damascus)?

Qubaisah: (after he asked for and was given immunity): I left behind me angry people who would not be satisfied but with a death punishment for Uthman’s blood.

The Imam: Whose death? Qubaisah: Yours! I left also sixty thousand old men crying under the shirt of Uthman which is hung on the pulpit in Damascus.

The Imam: Do they want me to pay for the blood of Uthman? Am I not bereaved by the death of Uthman? God I declare to Thee my innocence of the blood of Uthman. By this the killers of Uthman have been spared unless God wants the opposite. For if He wants something He would necessarily have it.1

The answer of the Imam to this obvious challenge was to start mobilization of soldiers for subduing this dangerous defiant. He gave the banner to his son Muhammad Ibn "Al-Hanafeyah" (the mother of Muhammad)

He gave the leadership of a portion of his army to Abdullah Ibn Abbass. He gave ‘Umar Ibn Abu Selemah the leadership of another portion of his army. He appointed Abu Leila Al-Jarrah the commander of his advancing division.

He appointed Qutham Ibn Abbass his successor in Medina. He wrote to Qais Ibn Saad his appointed governor of Egypt Uthman Ibn Hunaif his appointed governor of Basra and Abu Musa Al-Ashari his appointed governor of Kufa to try to mobilize people for a march on Syria.2 He called upon the people of Medina to participate in that Holy mission. He spoke to them saying:

"Certainly our safety would be secured within the authority of God. Give Him your obedience truthfully and willingly. By God you either do that or God will remove from you the authority of Islam; then He will not bring it back to you until the authority of Islam shrinks and recoils in Medina.

Stand up to these people who want to divide your nation. May God reform through you what people of other areas had corrupted and by this you would be paying only what is due from you." 3

The Imam went on preparing for the march on Syria trying to mobilize all that which was within his reach for the confrontation with this aggressor party. But the news of the departure of Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubayr to Basra came to the Imam. Thus he was forced to delay his march on Syria until after the conclusion of the emerging crisis.4

The Imam did not delay his march on Syria because the three leaders were more dangerous to the caliphate than Muawiya. He did that because the departure of the three leaders to Iraq added to the danger of Muawiya a dealt with soon the Imam would be deprived of all military and financial assistance which he needed to subdue the main enemy Muawiya.

The three leaders with all their forces would not represent a great danger against the unity of the nation if they were alone challenging the authority of the Imam. The Imam would be able to subdue their forces easily if they were alone without Muawiya. Their rebellion was extemporaneous.

They did not have what Muawiya had of resourcefulness strong army and wide popularity in a large Islamic province. As a matter of fact people of Basra were divided in their loyalty towards them and a party from the people of Basra fought them as soon as they entered and before the Imam came to confront them.

Muawiya on the contrary was dangerous by himself even if the three leaders were not with him. He was wily and resourceful. His movement was not extemporaneous. He prepared for it for two decades.

He was in a province whose inhabitants were obedient to his order. He had a huge and well organized army ready to comply with his command. He was capable of challenging the authority of the Imam even if he did not have any helpers from outside Syria.

Therefore the biggest concern of the Imam after he finished the Battle of Basra was to prepare for facing this enemy who was dangerous to the unity of the nation and its future.

To leave no excuse for Muawiya the Imam sent him a message with Jareer Ibn Abdullah Al-Bajali inviting him to join the majority of the Muslims who elected him.

He mentioned in that message that those who elected him were those who elected Abu Bakr ‘Umar and Uthman and that the right of the decision about the caliphate was only for the migrant and the Medinite companions. If they elected a man their election would be binding to the rest of the Muslims.

If anyone tries to break away by accusation or innovation they would bring him back. If such a person persists in his secessional way they have to fight him for taking a road other than the road of the believers. The Imam also said to Muawiya in this message the following:

"Talhah and Al-Zubayr elected me then they broke their covenant with me. Their breach of covenant is like their faith desertion. I fought them after I left no excuse for them until the truth came and the cause of God prevailed while they were averse.

"I invite you to join the Muslims by pledging your allegiance to the new administration. I prefer peace but if you persist in your opposition I will fight you seeking the help of God against you..."

The excuse which Muawiya used in his deceptive movement for reaching the caliphate was the blood of Uthman and that the Imam did not punish the killers of Uthman though they were around him. The Imam therefore included in his message what refutes his argument.

"And you have spoken repeatedly about the killers of Uthman. Join the rest of the Muslims who elected me then ask me to try the ones whom you accused. I will judge between you and them according to the Book of God..

"Muawiya if you look at the matter through your mind rather than your selfishness you will find me the most innocent in relation to the blood of Uthman and that I was completely isolated of his affairs unless you deliberately make false accusations. You may do that if you want to. You ought to know that you are from the ones who were freed by the Prophet at the conquest of Mecca who are forbidden from reaching the caliphate. They cannot be a factor in deciding the leadership. Nor would they be consulted in the Islamic affairs or elected by the Muslim electors. I have sent to you Jareer Ibn Abdullah Al-Bajali. He is faithful and a migrant with a good past.

Pledge your allegiance to me through him and there is no power but by God."5 Jareer carried the message to Muawiya and added his own power of persuasion. Muawiya however refused to answer him positively or negatively trying to gain time in preparation for the future. Finally his expected answer came.

It was not expected that any mediation or means of convincing would succeed in bringing Muawiya to the right road. Re believed that he is in a strong position to challenge the Imam and he would not do anything else.

He had under his leadership about one hundred thousand fighters and he was still with all his financial and manpower. He did not enter any battle and he did not suffer any loss of property funds or men. The Imam on the other hand was forced to enter the bloody Battle of Basra in which his supporters had to pay a great deal of their blood and wealth.

The enemies of the Imam were on the increase and the supporters of Muawiya were in a continuous increase.

The Syrian treasury was in Muawiya's hands and he used it as he used his own funds purchasing with it the conscience of the seekers of selfish interests and they were numerous.

The Opportunist Amr

The wily Amr Ibn Al-Aws was most outstanding among those who sold their principles and conscience. The co-operation between Amr and Muawiya was a very distinguished event in the history of opportunism. History knew (and Muawiya who was seeking to avenge the blood of Uthman also knew) that Amr Ibn Al-Aws was from the outstanding agitators against Uthman.6

This did not prevent Muawiya from covenanting the wily Amr for an alliance against the Imam with the pretext of seeking the avenge for the blood of Uthman of which Amr was guilty.7 The price Muawiya had to pay to Amr for his alliance with him was the governorship and the tax revenues of Egypt as long as Amr lived if Muawiya wins the struggle against the Imam.8

The Imam was determined to try to subdue Muawiya and his followers and bring them back to the bulk of the nation and thwart their secessional movement. He led his army to Syria and when he came to the land of Siffin he found Muawiya and his army had already occupied the bank of the Euphrates. The Imam was forced to camp away from the water.

Idealist Versus Opportunist

Muawiya would not hesitate to use for his end any means even if it is extremely criminal. He occupied the bank of the Euphrates and thought he could prevail against ‘Ali and his army through the terrible weapon of thirst. He decided to prevent his opponents from reaching the water.9 Thus ‘Ali and his army had to surrender or die of thirst. Thirst would make them easy victims and Muawiya's army in possession of supplies food and water would be able to destroy ‘Ali and his army. Muawiya thought victory was within his reach. Destroying scores of thousands of Muslims through this method would not shake the conscience of Muawiya because his conscience was dead.

It would not shake his conscience to kill ‘Ali and his two sons Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein members of the House of the Prophet. Nor would it shake his conscience to kill them by thirst though it meant killing by thirst the majority of the companions of the Messenger who were "Badrians" and "Uhudians."

Why should the conscience of Muawiya be shaken for committing such an ugly crime? Is not his aim to defeat the truth and the people of the truth? What is the difference between one death and another death? There is not any difference in the eyes of Muawiya between reaching victory through the sword or through annihilation by the weapon of thirst.

The annihilation of ‘Ali and his camp through thirst was preferable to Muawiya over killing them by sword.

Fighting ‘Ali and his camp by conventional weapons does not secure Muawiya's victory but annihilation through thirst would definitely secure it.

However Amr Ibn Al-Aws his chief advisor counselled him not to try such a terrible weapon yet Amr was not more righteous than Muawiya. Amr thought that this method in spite of its ugliness would not secure victory. It may bring him only failure and curse. ‘Ali the man of unusual bravery would not die from thirst while he is in command of a huge army. But Muawiya refused the advice of his ally.10

The Imam told Muawiya in a message that he did not come to fight for water. He came to uphold the truth and defeat falsehood. He came to bring the Muslims together after the leaders of falsehood put them in two separate camps. Muawiya did not take the Imam's message seriously and he did not leave the Imam any open avenue but to fight for water.11

The Imam waged a battle for the water and this was his first Holy Battle against Muawiya and his camp. He succeeded in occupying the bank of the Euphrates and driving the Umayyad army away from the river. By this the situation was reversed. Now it became possible for the Imam and his army to do to their opponents what their opponents were trying to do to them. It became possible for the Imam to annihilate his opponents by their own weapons. Would the Imam do that?

Here the history of war kneels to glorify ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib. Here ‘Ali stands among the leaders of nations towering like a mountain as he gives generations of humanity his impressive lesson. The religion of Islam stands against all kinds of wars of genocide and annihilation. The leaders of the nations of the twentieth century have legalized the annihilation of civilians through atomic bombs and so far have failed to prohibit the use of such weapons.

The faith of Islam (over fourteen centuries ago) had prohibited what was much less than a nuclear war. It prohibited killing children women elderly people and blind enemies. It prohibits the demolishing of houses of the enemies and destruction of their orchards.12

I cannot conceive that anyone after the Messenger could take the attitude of the Imam ‘Ali towards his enemy after his enemy had given him every justification to annihilate him and his army by his own weapon.

The leaders of the Imam's army and their soldiers shouted: Prevent them from water as they prevented us from water. The Imam replied: "God has given you victory against them because of their injustice and aggression. Certainly the issue is more important than depriving them of water."13

Then he sent to Muawiya this message: "We shall not treat you as you treated us. Come to the water we are equal."14cdxxxi

New Efforts for Peace

The Imam tried again to bring about peace. His aim was to avoid shedding blood and to bring the Muslims back to unity. His ambassadors went to Muawiya but mediations and negotiations failed to bring any result.

Muawiya was hoping to be the ruler of the Muslim World and nothing would stop him from trying to reach that end.

Skirmishes between the two camps were started and remained limited. A regiment from one side and a regiment from the other side faced each other on one day. On the following day another two regiments faced each other.

The situation continued this way until the month of Muharram began. All hostilities ceased in observation of the sanctity of the month. The Imam went back to his peaceful efforts during the month of Muharram and the result was not better than in his previous efforts.15

As the month of Muharam ended the two camps went back to their skirmishes and limited battles. The Imam wanted to prevent both camps the expected heavy losses if the two armies faced each other in a decisive battle.

These battles did not prevent men from the two camps to meet and debate each other. Most of the tribes were living in both provinces: Iraq and Syria. Thus they had their special blood relationship. Muawiya contacted a number of leaders of the Iraqi army. He sent them his messengers and spoke to some of them directly trying to persuade them by promising them important rewards if they leave the camp of the Imam and join him.16

The followers of the Imam also tried to persuade their relatives in Syria to join the camp of the truth. The Imam however did not allow himself to try to buy his opponents with public funds or to promise their ambitious leaders important positions.

There were many people looking for their interests among the followers of the Imam. It would be sufficient to mention men such as Ashaath Ibn Qais about whom Abu Bakr said: Whenever Ashaath sees an evil he assists it.'' History records that Muawiya sent his brother Utbah to Ashaath trying to attract him. He offered him proposals and Ashaath was not unreceptive.

Finally the Imam decided to meet Muawiya in a decisive battle. The two huge armies met and the most important battle the Muslims had ever waged until that time began. The two armies fought each other all day and a big portion of the night.

They resumed the battle on the following day and the right wing of the Imam's army was defeated and ran away. By this the core of his army was weakened. Thus the Imam had to move from the heart of the army to its left side where the fighters were from the tribe of Rabi-aah.17

When the Rabi-ites witnessed the Imam among them they realized the magnitude of their responsibility towards the protection of the Imam. They fought bravely fearing that the Imam might be killed while he is among them and that this will put them in an eternal shame. Therefore they decided to prevent that at any cost.18

Malik Al-Ashtar went on trying to bring the retreaters back. They heard his voice and came back. The army was back again in action and the war went on with its utmost cruelty and ugliness for the whole day and night.19

Martyrdom of Ammar Ibn Yasir

On that day when the right of the Imam's army retreated an outstanding companion of the Holy Prophet Ammar Ibn Yasir who was 93 years old stood between the two camps. He spoke loudly saying: By God if they hit us until they drive us from here to the orchards of Hejar we will continue to believe that we are the people of truth and that they are people of falsehood.20

Then he said pointing to the banner of Muawiya: "By God under the banner of the Messenger I fought the man of this banner three times and the man of the banner is not more righteous now than before."21

Ammar had an appointment with his martyrdom at the hands of the aggressor party. The Messenger of God said to him in the presence of many companions. "Son of Sumayah (Sumayah was Ammar's mother) the aggressor party shall kill you."22

This statement was well known to the companions. Amr Ibn Al-Aws was one of the reporters of this hadith and people of Damascus heard that from him. His narration of this hadith caused a deep disturbance in the camp of Muawiya days before the decisive battle began.23

Muawiya blamed Amr for reporting this hadith. He expected Ammar to be with the Imam and through his presence Muawiya's followers will discover that they belong to the aggressor party.

Ammar asked for a drink before he entered the decisive battle of Siffin during which he obtained his martyrdom. A lady brought him milk mixed with water.

When he saw the drink he exclaimed "Allahu Akbar" (God is The Great). This is what my beloved the Messenger of God promised me when he said: Ammar the aggressor party shall kill you and your last drink in this world will be milk.24

He took his drink then he rushed on saying: Who wants to go to Paradise? Paradise is under the shades of the spears. He who is thirsty comes to the water and the water will be drunk today. TUday I will meet my beloved ones: Muhammad and his party."25

Ammar went on fighting and urging Hashim Ibn Utba Ibn Abu Waqass to advance (Hashim was the bearer of the banner of Ammar's regiment. He was of the best of the Qureshite warriors and very beloved by the Imam. He lost one of his eyes at one of the battles.) Ammar sometimes joked with him saying: One-eyed advance.

Then he tells him: Advance I redeem you with my father and mother. And Hashim calms Ammar down saying: Take it easy "Abu Yaqthan" (Ammar's code name). The war makes you move too fast.26 But neither the words of Hashim nor the ninety three years could minimize the speed of Abu Yaqthan. He wanted to hurry to Paradise.

He had an appointment with his beloved the great Messenger. He wanted to meet him and he did.

Khuzaimah Ibn Thabit the man of two testimonies (The Prophet had made his testimony equal to the testimony of two men) was with the Imam in Siffin but he did not fight. When Ammar was killed Khuzaimah realized that the aggressor party is the camp of Muawiya. He entered his tent. He took a bath and put his armor on then he went fighting until he died.27

The Big Conspiracy

The war continued with all its violence and intensity during the third day and weakness became obvious in the camp of Muawiya. The Imam's army almost reached the tent of Muawiya. He wanted to run away but he felt ashamed and so he stayed.28

Before noon while the battle was progressing in its intensity victory became within the reach of the Imam's camp. While his army was about to defeat the aggressor party copies of the Holy Qur'an were hoisted in Muawiya's camp and voices were heard saying:

This is the Book of God. It is between you and us from its beginning to end. Remember God. Remember God for the future of the Arabs. Remember God for the future of Islam. Who shall protect the borders of Syria if the Syrian people perish? Who shall protect the borders of Iraq if the Iraqi people perish? 29

Muawiya had already despaired from obtaining a military victory. He was facing a decisive defeat on the battlefield. Now he resorted to the Holy Qur'an. The invitation to accept the rule of the Holy Qur'an was not an invention of Muawiya and Ibn Al-Aws.

You may recall that the Imam called upon the camp of Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubier at Basra before the beginning of its battle to surrender to the Holy Qur'an. A youth from Kufa volunteered to carry the Holy Qur'an face the people of Basra and invite them to accept the rules of the Holy Qur'an. His invitation was rejected and the youth was killed.30

Muawiya and Ibn Al-Aws had decided to resort to the invitation of the rule of the Holy Qur'an when they realized that their military defeat was inevitable.

Muawiya evidently had prepared the atmosphere for such an invitation through his secret contact with some of the leaders of the Imam's army particularly Ashaath Ibn Qais the head of the tribe of Kindah whose members were numerous in Kufa.

Muawiya was almost certain that hoisting the copies of the Holy Qur'an would lead to a division in the Imam's camp whether the Imam would accept or refuse the invitation. What Muawiya expected happened. Voices from the Imam's camp were raised asking to stop the fight and accept the rule of the Holy Qur'an.

Those who wanted to stop hostilities were three categories. Each of them had a motive that differed from that of the other two categories. The scrupulous category was made up of religious fanatics. They thought that rejecting the invitation to the rule of the Book and continuing the battle would be a major sin which Muslims are not supposed to commit. They forgot that their Imam is the most knowledgeable of the Holy Qur'an and the Islamic law and that he is the most adherent to the Islamic principles.

This category included a great number of readers of the Holy Qur'an who thought that they knew all the Islamic law and appointed themselves as the protectors of Islam. This kind of religious people are numerous in every generation.

There was another category of people who were anxious to stop the fight led by conspirators who were collaborating with the enemy believing their co-operation with the enemy will bring them some material wealth or high positions.

The third category believed that their obedience to the Imam in the two battles of Basra and Siffin had cost them dearly because they paid with the blood of their children brothers and relatives. Their main concern was to save their lives. They could not care less for what happened to Islam and the Muslims.

The Imam stood up trying to show them the right road saying to them: The resort to the Holy Qur'an is only a conspiracy planned by Muawiya and his advisors. I know them as young and old. They never were people of the Qur'an or religion. All they wanted was to avoid the catastrophe of defeat.31

There was within the camp of the Imam some people who had both sincerity and wisdom (these were a minority compared to the others.) These people agreed with the Imam and urged him to continue the war and to ignore the many voices which were calling for cessation of hostility.

These people were led by Malik Al-Ashtar. But their voices were drowned by the voice of the majority who wanted to end the battle.

Al-Ashtar was still pushing hard towards Muawiya seeing that victory was within his reach but those who wanted to end the war surrounded the Imam. They threatened to desert him and to fight him and even to take him as a captive and hand him to Muawiya.32

They asked him to order Al-Ashtar to discontinue his march. The Imam found himself between two alternatives. If he continued the war he would be forced to fight his enemy and the biggest portion of his own camp with only a minority that was still obedient to him.

Otherwise he could discontinue the war and victory would slip from his hand. He chose to discontinue the war feeling that his obedient followers may be annihilated without reaching a result which would improve the just side.

The Imam found himself facing a coup by which his authority came to an end. Al-Ashtar came back from the front and urged him to fight those who disobey him with those who obey him. The Imam said: "Malik I was a leader but now I have become a follower."33 However the conspiracy was twofold: Discontinuation of war and the acceptance of the invitation to the rule of the Holy Qur'an through two arbiters.

The arbiters from the Iraqi camp had to be Abu Musa Al-Ashari who was the governor of Kufa before the beginning of the Battle of Basra. The reader may remember the efforts which this man made to prevent the people of Kufa from joining the Imam in his confrontation with the army of the three leaders at Basra.

Muawiya achieved all that through the stupidity of the religious fanatics along with some traitors in the Imam's army. The collaborators and the fanatic readers acted and sounded as if they were burdening the Imam instead of Muawiya with the responsibility of the war.

Their efforts were directed at challenging the authority of the Imam and preventing him from choosing any arbiter that inclined to his opinion or thought of resuming the fight.

Muawiya chose Amr Ibn Al-Aws to be his representative and none of the people of his camp argued with him. The Imam chose Abdullah Ibn Abbas but Al- Ashaath and his followers said: No two men from Mudhar (the Arab tribes who are neither Rabi-ites nor Yemenites) shall rule us (meaning that Amr Ibn Al-Aws and Abdullah Ibn Abbas both are Qureshites non-Yemenites and non-Rabi-ites). The fact is that they did not refuse Ibn Abbas for being a Mudharite. His being a Mudharite was taken by Ashaath as a pretext to cover up his intentions. Had Ibn Abbas been against the Imam Ashaath would have accepted him.

This became obvious when the Imam nominated Malik Al-Ashtar who was a Yeminite. Ashaath rejected him and so did his tribe saying: Did anyone burn the earth other than Al-Ashtar? They meant that Al-Ashtar was in agreement with the Imam and wants to go back to war in order to defeat the aggressor party. Ashaath and his tribe were actually assistants and collaborators with the aggressor party.

They joined the Imam reluctantly. They did not like his reign or his victory or everything he stood for. In fact these people were more harmful to the Imam and more dangerous to his cause than his own enemy Muawiya.

The Imam was forced to accept the arbitration. He was forced also to accept Abu Musa as the representative of his camp and the documents of arbitration were written and signed by the two sides. Ashaath was extremely pleased with obtaining such a document and he went from one division to another of the Iraqi army reading it to them.34

The Two Arbiters

The important points of the document of arbitration were the following:

1. The two arbiters will validate what the Holy Qur'an validates and invalidate what the Holy Qur'an invalidates and that they will follow what they find in it.

2. They should follow the instructions of the Holy Prophet which unite the Muslims and do not separate them.

3. The two arbiters promise God and covenant Him that they will try to bring peace to the nation and will not turn the nation back to division and war.

4. The deadline for their deliberation will be the month of Ramadan (and if they choose to make the decision before that date or choose to delay it for the interest of the nation they could do that.)

5. The place of their meeting will be equal in distance between Kufa and Damascus and Hijaz.35

The Holy Qur'an and the hadiths which bring unity to the nation validate the right of ‘Ali who was elected by the companions of the Prophet and who was "brothered" by the Messenger and declared to be the leader of every believer. They invalidate the untruth of Muawiya who divided the nation and shed the blood of the Muslims for his own interest.

Yet the two arbiters were not expected to validate a truth or to invalidate a falsehood. Neither of the two companions was neutral in the dispute about which they came to issue a fair decision. Ibn Al-Aws was the second in command of the camp which was fighting the Imam. Al-Ashari was one of five people who were opposed to the Imam and his policy before the beginning of the Battle of Basra.

During that period Muawiya was preventing the extension of the Imam's authority to his province and declaring his armed disobedience. The Mother of Believers Talhah and Al-Zubayr were occupying Basra and hoping to extend their influence to Kufa.

While Muawiya and the three leaders were doing that Abu Musa was preventing people of Kufa from assisting the Imam in retrieving what the three leaders had usurped from the area of his authority.36

Abu Musa was taking this stand while the Imam was sending to him and to the people of Kufa his messages and messengers asking people of Kufa to come to his assistance in retrieving his right. Abu Musa was satisfied to keep Basra under the authority of the three leaders because he was collaborating with them. He actually was in open defiance of the Imam covering his intention with his deceptive methods of calling upon people to avoid fighting.

Yet the Holy Qur'an clearly invites the believers to fight any Muslim community that commits aggression against another Muslim community.37 Had Abu Musa had his way during that period he would have prevented the people of Kufa from joining the Imam and the Imam's reign would have ended in the first year after his election.

Trusting Abu Musa and Amr Ibn Al-Aws on the right of the Imam was in fact trusting an enemy on the right of his enemy.

What was expected finally took place. The two arbiters continued in their deliberation for a long time. The result of their deliberation was that they agreed to invalidate the leadership of the Imam and Muaweyeh.

Abu Musa was the first to declare his decision of invalidating the leadership of the two men. Ibn Al-Aws stood after him to declare the invalidation of the leadership of the Imam and the establishment of the leadership of Muawiya. Abu Musa accused Amr of being treacherous breaching an agreement with him.

Had Ibn Al-Aws not been treacherous and agreed with Abu Musa to invalidate the leadership of the Imam and Muawiya their invalidation would have had an adverse effect on the Imam rather than Muawiya.

The Imam was the Caliph and Muawiya was only the governor of Syria. Thus invalidating Muawiya's caliphate would be meaningless. What does it mean to overthrow a man from an office he does not occupy?

Had the decision of the two arbiters been in accordance with the stipulation of the document of arbitration the deceptive act of Ibn Al-Aws against Abu Musa would have been considered an assistance to the Imam rather than to Muawiya.

Had not Ibn Al-Aws done that the harm to the Imam from the legal point of view would have been greater because their decision would be binding on the Imam and unharmful to Muawiya. For invalidating Muawiya as a caliph does not deprive him of any position he had.

Had their decision been in agreement with the Holy Qur'an and the instructions of the Holy Prophet the deception of Ibn Al-Aws would have been the only barrier from making their decision binding because it proved that they were in disagreement in their ruling.

But the decision of the two arbiters was opposed to the Holy Qur'an and the instructions of the Holy Prophet even if they had agreed. The Holy Qur'an declares the following:

"If two parties among the believers fall into a quarrel make ye peace between them. But if one of them transgresses beyond the bounds against the other then fight ye (all) against the one that transgresses until it complies with the command of God. If it complies then make peace between them with justice and be fair. For God loves those who are fair and just.’’ The Holy Qur'an chapter 49 verse 10.

The party of Muawiya was the aggressor party which refused to obey the command of God. ‘Ali was the legal Caliph by the appointment of the Holy Prophet according to the followers of the members of the House of the Holy Prophet.

He was also the Caliph by a general election which he received from the overwhelming majority of the companions and the inhabitants of Medina Mecca Iraq Egypt Yemen and the rest of the Islamic provinces with the exception of the inhabitants of Syria who were ruled by Muawiya. Since he was the legal Caliph it was the duty of the Muslims to obey him. The Holy Qur'an commands the Muslims to obey the leaders from among them:

"O you who believe (in Islam) obey God the messenger and the people of authority from among you..." The Holy Qur'an chapter 4 verse 58.

The Holy Prophet declared that ‘Ali is the leader of every believer and prayed to the Almighty that He love whoever loves ‘Ali and to be hostile to whoever is hostile to ‘Ali.38 Muawiya was hostile to the Imam. He fought him and he legalized shedding his blood. And if God responds to the prayer of His Prophet (and no doubt He does) then Muawiya is an enemy of God by being the enemy of ‘Ali.

Muslim in his Sahih reported that the Holy Prophet said "Whoever comes in an open rebellion and parts with the community then he dies he will die a pre-Islamic death."39 Muawiya no doubt was out of obedience to the legal Caliph.

If anyone has hesitated in judging that Muawiya was the leader of the aggressor party he should remember the authentic hadith (whose authenticity is well established) which reported that the Messenger said to Ammar Ibn Yasir while many companions were listening: "Ibn Sumayah the aggressor party shall kill you."40 The party of Muawiya is the party that killed that outstanding companion who was a beloved of the Prophet.

This hadith was so well known that Al-Zubayr had a tremor with which the arms he was carrying started to shake at the Battle of Basra when he knew that Ammar was in the Imam's camp. He feared that Ammar will be killed at that battle then Al-Zubayr will be from the aggressor party.41

When Amr Ibn Al-Aws at the Battle of Siffin was informed that Ammar was killed he refused to believe it and when he witnessed the body of the martyr the color of Amr's face was changed. Then he said: Are we the ones who killed him? The one who killed him is the one who brought him42 and so Muawiya said.

When the Imam heard of that he ridiculed it saying: "Then the Messenger of God is the one who killed his uncle Hamzah because he is the one who brought him to the Battle of Uhud." There is no doubt that Abu Musa heard the hadith.

He knew that Ammar was killed and he knew that Muawiya and his party were the aggressor party and that ‘Ali is the well guided Imam but all that did not prevent him from deciding to invalidate the leadership of the Imam and overthrow him. This was only because he was an enemy of the Imam. I do not want to say that he did not value what he knew of the Book of God and the words of the Messenger but I would say that his hatred of the Imam blinded him.

  • 1. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 104.
  • 2. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 104-105.
  • 3. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 105.
  • 4. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 5
  • 5. Abdul Fattah Abdul-Maqsud ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib part 4 pp. 31-32.
  • 6. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 141 Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 560.
  • 7. Abdul-Fattah Abdul-Maqsud ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib part 4 pp. 44-45 And Taha Hussein Al-Fitna tul-Kubra part 2 pp. 62-63 (8th edition) Al-Tabari his History part 4 pp. 460-461.
  • 8. Al-Tabari his History part 5 p. 39.
  • 9. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 145 Al-Tabari his History part 21 pp. 571-572 Taha Hussein Al-Fitna tul-Kubra part 2 p. 71.
  • 10. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 145 Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 542.
  • 11. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 145.
  • 12. Al-Hurr Al-Amili Wasa-il-al-Shi’ah part 11 pp. 43-44.
  • 13. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 145-146 Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 572.
  • 14. Abdul-Fattah Abdul-Maqsud Al-Imam ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib part 4 p. 190.
  • 15. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 149.
  • 16. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 148.
  • 17. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 152.
  • 18. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 152.
  • 19. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 152.
  • 20. Ibn Sa’d Al-Tabaqat part 3 p. 257.
  • 21. Ibn Sa’d Al-Tabaqat part 3 p. 257.
  • 22. Ibn Sa’d Al-Tabaqat part 3 p. 259.
  • 23. Ibn Sa’d Al-Tabaqat part 3 p. 259 Ibn-Al-Athir also reported this in his Al-Kamil part 3 p. 158.
  • 24. Ibn Sa’d Al-Tabaqat part 3 p. 258 Taha Hussein Al-Fitna tul-Kubra part 2 p. 78.
  • 25. Ibn Sa’d Al-Tabaqat part 3 p. 258 Taha Hussein Al-Fitna tul-Kubra part 2 p. 78.
  • 26. Ibn Sa’d Al-Tabaqat part 3 p. 161.
  • 27. Ibn Sa’d Al-Tabaqat part 3 p. 259.
  • 28. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 154.
  • 29. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 160-161.
  • 30. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 509.
  • 31. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 161.
  • 32. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 161.
  • 33. lbn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 163.
  • 34. Al-Tabari in History part 5 p. 55.
  • 35. Al-Baladhuri Ansab Al-Ashraf (conveyed by Taha Hussein Al-Fitna tul-Kubra part 2 pp. 83-84. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 162-163.
  • 36. See chapter 23 of this book section 3.
  • 37. The Holy Qur'an chapter 49 verse 10.
  • 38. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak part 3 p. 110. The Hadith was reported by more than one hundred companions.
  • 39. Muslim his Sahih part 12 p. 241.
  • 40. Al-Tirmidhi his authentic Sunan part 5 p. 233.
  • 41. Al-Tabari his History part 4 pp. 510-511.
  • 42. Ibn Sa’d Al- Tabaqat part 3 pp. 253-254.

26. Al-Khawarij (The Seceders)

The group of readers of the Holy Qur'an who attended with the Imam the Battle of Siffin were the first to call for discontinuation of the war. They were the most insistent on accepting the arbitration and the most violent against the desire of the Imam in continuing the war and refusal of the invitation for arbitration.

But these readers after the document of arbitration was signed swiftly reversed their attitude and turned one hundred and eighty degrees. They viewed that they had committed a grave error in cessation of hostilities and accepting the arbitration of men concerning the religion of God. They viewed that the duty of the Imam and their duty was to go back to war immediately without waiting for the decision of the two arbiters.

Probably they thought after deliberation that the rule of God was clear. Muawiya and his camp were the aggressor party which resorted to war to protect its falsehood. They did not resort to the rule of the Holy Qur'an because they wanted to surrender to its rule but because they believed that their defeat was inevitable.

The rule of God is clear in this matter. There would be no room for accepting the arbitration of two men and letting them try to deliberate and issue a judgment or verdict in a matter which is so clear that it leaves no place for forming any new opinion.

These fanatics forgot that they were the ones who challenged the authority of the Imam and pushed him by force to stop the war and to accept the arbitration and to sign its document. Now they were trying to force him to breach that covenant which he signed and made God and people witnesses on his acceptance.

These religious fanatics raised the slogan of "La Hukma Illa Lillah" (There is no rule but that of God). They meant by this slogan that Islam does not approve choosing two arbitrators for settling a dispute between two Muslim parties. Rule belongs only to God and it is not legal for men to issue a rule in religious matters.

It is amazing that this slogan had attracted thousands and thousands of Muslims who claimed adherence to the teachings of the Holy Qur'an and the Holy Prophet. Yet an arbiter of a matter about which two Muslim parties differ is nothing but a judge who is expected to settle that dispute and declare that one of the two sides is right.

That the two arbiters are two judges is what the document of arbitration spoke of. It started as follows: "This is what ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib and Muawiya Ibn Abu Sufyan litigated for. ‘Ali litigated for the people of Iraq and those who are of their followers of believers and Muslims..."1

When did the faith of Islam forbid litigation and appointment of judges and the judges' exercise of their mission in settling disputes? How would disputes be settled if litigation is forbidden? Did the "Khawarij" (Seceders) believe that the Messenger and the Caliphs were not exercising the mission of judges and appointing judges? The legality of issuing a judgment and the necessity of that is only self-evident in our religion.

The Seceders raised the slogan of "There is no Rule but that of God " and I do not think they understood its meaning. Probably they took this slogan from the following Qur'anic verse:

"Certainly the rule belongs only to God. He commanded that you shall not worship but Him..." The Holy Qur'an chapter 12 verse 4l.

Yet what the verse speaks of is one thing and what the Seceders understood from the verse is something else. The verse meant that the Almighty is the One Who reveals the principles and rules of the religion. He commanded that we ( His servants) worship none but Him.

An arbiter or a judge is not the revealer of the religion or a worshipped person. He is only a man whose mission is to apply the rules of God.

If he does that and rules according to what God has revealed the Muslims are supposed to surrender to his rules. If he rules p a way contrary to what God has revealed the Muslims are supposed to disobey him.

It is amazing that this extremist party had forgotten that the Almighty said to His Messenger and to the followers of His Messenger:

"And judge between them according to what God has revealed and follow not their illegitimate desires..." The Holy Qur'an chapter 5 verse 53.

The Almighty said also to the people of the Gospel:

"And the people of the Gospel should judge according to what God has revealed in it and whoever rules not in accordance with what was revealed would be the transgressors." The Holy Qur'an chapter 5 verse 51.

He also said to the believers:

"Certainly God commanded you to deliver the trusts to whom they belong.And if you judge among people judge equitably." The Holy Qur'an chapter 4 verse 58.

Had the document of arbitration imposed on the Muslims to obey the two arbiters even if they were devious judging in contradiction with the Holy Qur'an and the instructions of the Holy Prophet the attitude of the Seceders would have some justification. But the document declared that the arbiters have to validate what the Holy Qur'an validates and invalidate what the Holy Qur'an invalidates.

If they do not find in the area of their disagreement an instruction from the Holy Qur'an they should resort to the authentically reported teaching of the Holy Prophet which unites and does not divide. If the two arbiters abide by the stipulation of the document they would be ruling according to what God has revealed.

Had the rebellious extremists said that the two chosen arbiters were not qualified to issue a judgment they would have been right and this was the Imam's opinion. But the extremists were the ones who forced him to accept the two arbiters while he knew they were the worst choice.

Ibn Al-Aws was an arch enemy of the Imam. Abu Musa was extremely limited in knowledge and understanding. His past during the days of ‘Umar and Uthman indicates his unscrupulousness in religion.

His recent past at the beginning of the reign of the Imam indicates that he was following selfish interests. He hated the Imam and did everything in his power to discourage people of Kufa from supporting the Imam to regain his authority in Basra.

The two arbiters undoubtedly were not qualified to decide in a matter about which the nation was divided.Yet the Imam was not responsible for choosing them. He accepted the invitation for the arbitration and accepted the two arbiters under pressure and unwillingly. These extremists themselves were a very important part of the power which forced the Imam to do that.

However the lack of qualification of the two arbiters for making a decision does not prevent their commission as arbitrators because the acceptance of their decision was conditioned by their adherence to the teaching of the Holy Book and the instructions of the Holy Prophet.

Violent Extremism

The truth is that the Seceders never were moderate in any of their stands. At the beginning they were the most zealous for arbitration and they threatened the Imam with war if he insisted upon the continuation of the war.

They considered his continuation of the battle after he was invited to accept the rule of the Book of God an unforgivable major sin and a disbelief in Islam.2
As soon as the document of arbitration was signed the Seceders moved from the extreme right to the extreme left.

They declared that the acceptance of arbitration and the discontinuation of the battle is an unforgivable sin or rather a disbelief in Islam.

They went on moving from one extreme to a bigger extreme. They appointed themselves protectors of the faith and the Islamic law which they did not know. They made themselves inquisitive judges condemning people for their opinions.

They put people to death because they disagreed with them. The Declaration of the Faith: "There is no God but the Almighty and Muhammad is His Messenger" (through which the Prophet secured sanctity of the life and property of its pronouncer) was declared by the Seceders to be insufficient. Neither this nor the compliance with all of God's commandments could represent in their views a religious security.

They invented a new law through which they could test the faith of every Muslim namely: The repudiation of ‘Ali and Uthman. Whoever repudiates the two Caliphs his life would be protected and whoever fails to do so would be condemned to death.

Thus repudiation of the Imam ‘Ali the Brother of the Messenger and the "Mawla" (guardian) of every believer became an article of the Islamic Faith in the view of these rebels.3

The Imam came back from Siffin and these extremists also came back separating themselves from his army.

They camped at Harura and to that place they were related afterwards and called: Haruris. The Imam tried to convince them to rejoin his army and he almost succeeded in reaching that goal. They came back to Kufa but they were hoping that the Imam will go back to fight Muawiya without waiting for the result of the arbitration. But the Imam was too righteous to breach a covenant he signed.

When they knew of his determination to honor the document of arbitration they left Kufa after they wrote to those who shared with them their opinion in Basra.

They promised each other to meet at the Land of Nahrawan.4 Five hundred from the Bassrites joined them at that place.

The Imam wanted to go back to resume his campaign against Muawiya after Abu Musa and Amr Ibn Al-Aws ended their mission with disagreement and their deviation from the right path became obvious.

He sent to the Seceders a message calling upon them to rejoin him in his new campaign against Muawiya as they used to urge him to do. But now they refused his invitation accusing him of trying to avenge for himself because the rule of two arbiters did not come in his favor.5

The Imam wanted to leave them alone and go back to the battlefield. He called upon the Kufites and the Bassrites to join him in his military campaign. Sixty-two thousand Kufite volunteers responded to his call along with three thousand and two hundred from Basra.

The Seceders in the meantime were waging a campaign of terror unprecedented in the history of the Muslims.

They were interrogating people and killing anyone that refused to repudiate the Imam.

They arrested Abdullah Ibn Khabbab Ibn Al-Arath (companion of the Holy Prophet) and his wife. They asked him about ‘Ali before the arbitration and after the arbitration. The man replied saying: "‘Ali knows more about God than you do. He is more adherent to the religion and more farsighted than you."6

They said: "You follow your selfish desire. You glorify men because of their names and not because of their deeds. By God we shall kill you in a way with which we never killed anyone before."

They handcuffed him and took him with his wife (who was pregnant and about to give birth) to the orchards of Mawaqeerpalm. They slaughtered him and his blood ran into the river. When they came to his wife she asked: Do you not fear God? I am a lady!! They cut her abdomen.7

They also killed three other women from the tribe of Tay as well as a well-known righteous lady called: Mother of Sinan Al- Saidaweyah.8

The Imam received this disturbing news while he was about to leave for Syria to resume his campaign against Muawiya. He thought that it would be very dangerous to the people of Kufa and the rest of Iraq if he went on his mission and left these cruel terrorists behind him doing to the people what they were doing. He found it necessary to try to deal with the new danger before leaving for Syria.

The Imam led his army to Nahrawan where the Seceders were camping. He sent them a message demanding from them to hand him the killers of the Muslims in order to punish the criminals for their crimes. He told them that if they do that he will leave them and go to face the people of the west hoping that God may change their hearts and their thinking.

The defiant answer was: "We all killed them and your blood and the blood of your followers are not sacred to us.9 The Imam came to face them in person and spoke to them saying: "You the band that was driven out of the right road by the hostility of arguments and stubbornness and were prevented from seeing the truth by your blind emotion..

I warn you not to become in the future objects of curse by this nation laying at this valley... without any authority from your Lord or a clear evidence.

"Do you not know that I prohibited you from accepting the invitation of arbitration and informed you that it was a conspiracy against you? Did I not tell you that the leaders of your enemies are not people of religion and you disobeyed me?

"When I did what you wanted I stipulated that the two arbiters shall validate what the Holy Qur'an validates and invalidate what the Holy Qur'an invalidates. They disagreed with each other and disagreed with the rule of the Book and the Holy Prophet. We rejected their decision and we are now on the original position. How did you come to your position?"10

They said; "We have accepted the invitation for arbitration and when we did that we committed a sin and by this we became unbelievers. And we repented. If you repent we will be with you and from you and if you refuse to repent we will be against you and we will fight you."

He said "... Do you want me to call myself an unbeliever after I believed in the message of the Holy Prophet migrated with him and endeavored in the way of God? Should I do what you are asking I would be of the misguided party."11 Then he left them.

The logic of the Seceders is amazing. They say that they committed a sin by the acceptance of the invitation of arbitration and by this they became unbelievers. Did they mean that whoever commits a sin becomes an unbeliever? If this is what they meant then a person has to be completely sinless in order to be a Muslim. This means that they believed that all Muslim generations were unbelievers.

Prophecies

However what was recorded in the books of history about the battle of Seceders and what the books of Hadith contained indicate that the Imam was not surprised by what happened to these people. He was expecting the battle and he knew its location its outcome and its details before it happened. He spoke of all that as if he were reading from a book.

The Seceders went towards the bridge of the river while the Imam was praying at a place remote from the river.

When some of his companions came to inform him that the Seceders had already crossed the river he said: "They will never pass the river." As he said that one of his companions went to verify the word of the Imam. He looked at them from a distance because he was afraid to come close to them. He thought that they had crossed the river.

He came back to the Imam verifying the news of their passage. The Imam said: "By God they will never cross the river and they will die before coming to the river."12 People doubted the words of the Imam and some of them became suspicious.

When they went towards the Seceders to verify what he said and found them away from the river the companions of the Imam exclaimed saying: "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great). When they informed the Imam of their doubt and what they found he said: "By God I never lied nor has my word ever been disproved."13

The Imam did not only have the knowledge of the location of the battle but also he was aware of its minute details. He told his companions before its beginning: "By God you will not lose ten men from among you and their balance after the end of the battle will not amount to ten." And the result of the battle came to show the truth of his prophecy.14

He gave Abu Ayyoub Al-Ansari the banner of safety.

Abu Ayyoub called the Seceders saying: "Whoever comes to stand under this banner would be safe and whoever did not commit murder and did not attack people and left this place for Kufa or Al-Mada-in would be safe. Whoever leaves this community would be safe. We do not want to shed your blood. We want to punish the killers of our brothers from among yuo." Many of them left the camp and about half their number remained determined to fight.15

The Imam ordered his companions not to start the battle against the Seceders but they exclaimed: "Let us travel this evening to Paradis." The Seceders attacked the army of the Imam and the army of the Imam split itself into two portions and they put the Seceders between them.

The marksmen received them with their arrows. The cavalry from the two sides closed in on them. The foot soldiers came to them with their spears and swords. The Seceders perished in one hour as if God told them: "Die” and they died.16

It became obvious to the companions of the Imam that his prophecy was completely true. The army of the Imam did not lose more than eight men and the balance of the Seceders did not amount to ten.

There was another prophecy which was more important but the companions of the Imam could not verify it after the end of the battle. The Imam informed his companions before the appearace of the Seceders that a group of Muslims will depart from religion as an arrow departs from its bow. The mark of these people is a man with a defect.

When the Imam finished the battle he ordered his companions to seek that person. They did but they did not find the man. Some of his companions said: "The man with the defect is certainly not among the dead."

The Imam repeatedly said: "By God he is among them. By God I never told a lie nor has my word ever been disproved." Finally he personally went accompanied by some of his companions searching for the described man.

They found him in a pit on the bank of the river among fifty corpses. When he drew him out he looked at his arm.

He found a lump of flesh like a woman's brest. When that flesh is extended it extends until it becomes completely parallel to the other hand. If left it shrinks until it takes its original shape! When the Imam found what he sought he exclaimed: "Allahu Akbar " then he said: "By God I never told a lie; nor was I ever proven to be untrue. Had I not feared that you may neglect your devotional duties I would have informed you of what God on the tongue of His Prophet said about the people who fight these Seceders while knowing their deviousness and acknowledging the right on which we are standing."17

The historians and the hadith-recorders reported that the Messenger informed his companions about the appearance of these Seceders and that he described them graphically. Al-Bukhari recorded in his Sahih that Abu Sa-eed Al-Khidri said:

"While we were with the Messenger of God when he was distributing some of the public funds among the Muslims Thul-Khuwaissirah (a man from Bani Tameem) came to him and said: "Messenger of God be just. The Prophet said: "Woe to you. If do not execute justice who does? I would have failed and lost if I did not execute justice." ‘Umar asked the Messenger to permit him to kill that man. The Messenger said: "Leave him. A group will follow the path of this man. Your prayer and your fast would look too small compared to their prayers and fasts.

They read the Holy Qur'an but the Holy Qur'an does not go beyond their throats. They depart from religion as an arrow departs from a bow. Their mark is a man one of his two arms looks like a woman's breast or a lump of flesh. The Seceders antagonize the best group of people.

"I bear witness that I have heard this hadith from the Messenger of God as I bear witness that ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib fought them and I was with him. He ordered his companions to seek that man and he was brought out and I saw him exactly as the Holy Prophet described him."18

Muslim in his Sahih reported that Zayd Al-Juhani was in the army of the Imam which fought the Seceders. ‘Ali said: "O people I have heard the Messenger of God saying: A group of people part with my nation. They read the Holy Qur'an. Your reading compared to their reading is nothing and so is your prayer and your fast compared to their prayer and fast. They read the Holy Qur'an and think that it is with them but it is against them. Their prayers do not go beyond their throats. They depart from Islam as an arrow departs from a bow. If the army that fights them knows what came on the tongue of the Messenger for them they may neglect their duties in reliance on what God promised them of great reward. The mark of this group is a man who has an upper arm only. There is at the end of his upper arm something resembling the end of a breast with some hair coming out of it.

‘Ali said: "Seek that defective man." They sought him but they did not find him. ‘Ali had to seek him by himself until he came to a group of corpses lying one above another. He commanded his men to bring those dead men out. They did and found the man they were seeking down at the bottom. The Imam exclaimed: "Allahu Akbar." Then he said: "God has fulfilled His Promise and His Messenger has delivered."19

  • 1. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 162.
  • 2. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 171-173-174.
  • 3. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 172-173.
  • 4. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 170.
  • 5. Taha Hussein Al-Fitna tul-Kubra part 2 p. 104 Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 171.
  • 6. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 172-173.
  • 7. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 172-173.
  • 8. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 172-173 Al-Tabari his History part 5 pp. 81-82.
  • 9. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3. p. 173 Al-Tabari his History part 5 p. 83.
  • 10. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 173 Al-Tabari his History part 5 p. 84.
  • 11. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 173-174 Al-Tabari his Histoiy part 5 p. 84.
  • 12. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 174.
  • 13. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 174.
  • 14. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 174.
  • 15. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 174 Sheikh Muhammad Abdo recorded in his Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah part 1 p. 107 that only nine of the Seceder survived and only eight of the Imam's army died.
  • 16. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 175.
  • 17. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 175 Al-Tabari his History part 5 p. 88.
  • 18. Al-Bukhari his Sahih Book of the Beginning of the Creation.
  • 19. Muslim his Sahih Book of Al-Zakat.

27. Martyrdom

When the Seceders were annihilated one of the companions of the Imam said to him: "Ameer Al-Mumineen the Seceders have perished completely." The Imam said: "No by God they are still sperms in the bodies of men and wombs of women. Whenever a "horn" of them appears it will be cut off until their last generation becomes thieves and robbers."1

The Imam was not deceived by his victory against the Seceders. He did not believe that their death meant the death of their doctrines or that it represented a drastic solution to their problem. He was fully aware that doctrines and principles do not die by the death of their innovators. His combat of the Seceders was nothing but a temporary measure the purpose of which was to slow their speedy movement and to lighten their growing danger. His combat of the Seceders was only a mission with which the Messenger commissioned him and made clear to him its details descriptions and marks more than two decades before its time.

The Messenger commissioned the Imam ‘Ali with that mission only because it is a sacred duty which represents the defense of the freedom of belief and the defense of the innocent lives and blood which the Seceders went on shedding for no reason except that their victims did not believe in their falsehood.

The Imam himself with all of what the Holy Messenger said about him of being the ally of the truth did not believe that he should force the Muslims to share with him his opinions or to follow the right road.

On the contrary he used to excuse his opponents and acknowledge their righ in the freedom of thinking. He is the one who said: "Kill not the Seceders after me; the one who sought the truth and missed it is not like the one who sought the falsehood and acquired it."2

Had the Seceders believed in their wrong doctrines without attempting to impose it by force on the rest of the Muslims the Imam would have left them alone and this was his wish. But they prohibited the Muslims to speak the truth or to believe in it. They forced them to believe in the falsehood and to take it as a religion. They went on killing people because they did not believe in their innovation.

The Battle of Nahrawan succeeded in stopping the speed of the movement and its growing danger against the Muslims. But as the Imam expected it did not succeed in eliminating that danger. Nor did it succeed in restoring the determination of the Imam's army to fight the unjust Umayyad party.

The Imam tried after the Battle of Nahrawan to go directly to the land of Syria to face Muawiya in a decisive battle. But the army and its leaders expressed their desire to camp at Nukhailah near Kufa for a short rest through which they could regain their strength and renew their weapons and rest their animals of transportation.

As they camped at Al-Nukhailah they started to desert their camp gradually and secretly entering into Kufa as groups and individuals and they never came back. The Imam was finally forced to enter Kufa urging them day after day to go and face their enemies but they hated to go and they remained at their homes.3

It is not difficult to know the causes of the failures of these people to poerform their duties. The righteous men who were the brains of the revolution such as Ammar Ibn Yasir Malik Al-Ashtar Khuzaimah Ibn Thabit (the man of two testimonies) Abdullah Ibn Badeel and Hashim Al-Mirqal had already died at the battle of Siffin or outside that battle.

These righteous men were highly enlightened. They were concerned with the future of Islam and ready to sacrifice for the sake of the truth their wealth and their lives. They were the links which used to tie the masses of the people with the Imam and inform them of his right and urge them to obey him and show them by their own action the living examples of obedience and sincerity towards his principles.

They were always the first to respond to his call seeing in him the true representative of the Holy Prophet in word and deed. These righteous people had already met their Lord. They were replaced by people such as Ashaath whose hearts were not occupied by faith or by men such as Hijr Ibn Uday and Uday Ibn Hatam who did not lack faith or sincerity but lacked the wide influence and the power of attracting the masses.

The masses of people who fought with the Imam in three wars had already paid with the blood of their sons and brothers. They became tired of fighting and inclined to an easier and peaceful life without having foresight which makes them concerned with the future and worried about Islam.

The crisis of the Seceders brought about division in the camp of the Imam and destroyed the unity of his followers. The Seceders were annihilated at the Battle of Nahrawan but their death was not expected to raise the morale of the army which annihilated them.

They were the sons the brothers and the friends who recently had been the comrades of the soldiers of the Imam and his supporters against his enemy. For a Kufite or a Bassrite to kill another Kufite or Bassrite was not expected to generate in his mind a feeling of victory. It would rather generate only sadness and a feeling of loss.

The Battle of Nahrawan did not bring an end to the propaganda activity of the Seceders; nor did it bring their bloody action to a complete stop. They spread their propaganda among people turning them against the Imam.

Whenever a group of them felt strong enough to challenge the Imam's authority they came out carrying their swords on their shoulders spreading panic horror and death among innocent people.

Ashras Ibn Ouf Al-Shaibani along with a group parted with the Imam. Then he was followed by Hilal Ibn Alqamah then Ash-hab Ibn Bishr then Sa-eed Ibn Nufail Al-Taimi.3 After these Khirreet Ibn Rashid from Bani Najeyah and others followed the same method.4 Whenever a group of these people defied the Imam he was forced to send a regiment or regiments to fight them.

All that destroyed the morale of the Imam's camp and its unity as it destroyed its determination to fight. By this the military and political initiative moved from the hand of the Imam to the hand of Muawiya.

As Muawiya knew of the destruction of the unity in the camp of the Imam he decided to invade Egypt and occupy it knowing that people of Iraq will not respond to the Imam's call if he calls upon them to send an army for its defense.

Muawiya accomplished what he wanted and the people of Iraq received the news of the invasion of Egypt the death of its governor Muhammad Ibn Abu Bakr and the burning of his body as if the matter did not concern them at all.5

Success brings success and failure brings failure. Success made Muawiya more ambitious. He tried to usurp Basra from the Imam because he knew that the majority of its people were still holding grudges against him for what they lost in the Battle of Basra. Muawiya sent Abdullah Al-Hadrami to Basra to try to turn its people against the Imam. He did not succeed in his mission and was killed but only after he generated division among the people of Basra.6

Muawiya sent Naaman Ibn Bashir (a companion of the Prophet) with a thousand soldiers then Sufyan Ibn Ouf with six thousand then Al-Dhahak Ibn Quais with three thousand to various areas of Iraq for invasions by which they spread destruction and death. Most of the time these invaders went back without meeting from the people of Iraq more than token resistance. Muawiya sent regiments to Yemen and Hijaz. They did to the Muslims there what non-Muslims would hesitate to do. The invading regiments went back successfully without being hurt.7

The Imam used to gather people time after time urging them to defend themselves. Sometimes he spoke to them harshly but the Iraqis had been weakened and lost their will to fight. One time he spoke to them in the following manner: "Which country after your country shall you defend and with which Imam after me shall you fight?

The deceived one is the one you have deceived. And whoever had you in his party certainly had the losing party. I lost my hope in your help and I would not believe your words.

May God separate between me and you..." "You shall meet after me a general humiliation and an annihilating sword along with a discrimination against you which the unjust ruler will make a rule. He will divide your community... and bring poverty to your homes and you will wish soon that you had seen me and helped me.

You shall know the truth of what I say. May God put the unrighteous out of His Mercy." It would not do any good to blame Muawiya for corrupting and dividing people and committing incalculable crimes by killing people and destroying their properties or purchasing their conscience. The Imam knew that Muawiya and his relatives were and continued to be the enemies of truth and its message. Muawiya was a seeker of worldly affairs and a man of falsehood. The Imam did not expect him to do but what he was doing.

Only the followers of the Imam were to be blamed.They were expected to be the means for straightening the crookedness of the nation and re-directing it towards a future in which the light of Islam goes high and spreads throughout the world and leads all nations.

Instead of being the Imam's solution to the problems of the nation the Kufites became an additional problem to him and to the nation. In one of his addresses the Imam told them the following words: "My aim was to medicate the problem of the nation through you but you have become my main problem.

God the fighters of this disease have gotten tired..." 8 The falsehood certainly acquired victory through the failure of the Kufites their disobedience and divisions.

The Kufites did not only lose their spiritual values but the value of their worldly life and honorable future on the face of this earth as well. Their enemy whom they fought violently at the beginning and wanted to strangulate and worked for his annihilation was not expected to be merciful with them after they cowardly turned their back to him in their retreat.

The Imam told them: "You shall experience after me a comprehensive humiliation a destructive sword and a constant discrimination against you. Your enemy shall be your ruler. He shall divide you bereave you and impoverish you." These words which may arouse a coward and awaken a comatose did not move the Kufites nor did it succeed in awakening them.

He told them again: "How amazing your attitude is. It paralyzes the heart puzzles the mind and defies the human understanding to see the determination of Muawiya's party supporting their falsehood and your failure to support your right. Thus you have become a target constantly being hit and never hitting and invaded but never invading. God is disobeyed and you are satisfied. If I tell you to invade them in the winter you say: The weather is too cold! If I tell you to invade them in the summer you say: This is the heat of the summer; give us respite until the heat ends. If you are afraid of hot and cold weather you will be more afraid of the sword.

"O you who look like men but never truly are... by God you have ruined my strategies through your disobedience. You have filled my heart with anger." Thus the Qureshites said: "Ibn Abu Talib is a brave man but he does not have the know-how to run a war... Who knows about war more than I? Who had experienced war more than I did? By God I entered war before I was twenty years old. And now I have passed sixty. But a disobeyed man cannot substantiate the wisdom of his opinion."9

With all the setbacks and problems accumulated in his path the Imam did not lose his determination. His camp caused him to lose the military initiative and imposed upon him an unsuccessful defensive position.

Yet he continued to believe in the possibility of regaining the military initiative and destroying all his enemy's gains by dealing with him decisively. Should the Imam's camp regain its unity Muawiya will not benefit from the occupation of Egypt or winning several skirmishes prior to that decisive battle.

Finally the Imam decided to force those evasive followers of his to take a firm attitude after he despaired of their voluntary co-operation. He tried to put them on the spot and put all of what they had of honor and religion at stake. They either defend all that or they will have a shame which will never be washed.

The Imam wanted to open their eyes to the fact that he has already made a very dangerous decision which he has the power to fulfill because it belongs to his own person. They knew certainly that when he says something he will do it. He is the hero who was never afraid of any sacrifice regardless of its magnitude. He gathered them and told them the following:

"O people you have called upon me by your election to serve and I did not turn you down. You pledged your allegiance to me and I did not ask you to do that. Some challengers confronted me and God took care of them.

They fell on the battlefield in humiliation. There is still a community which is disobedient to God following their selfish interest deviating from truth. They claim what they are not qualified for. If they are told to advance they advance and when they advance they do not know the truth as they know the falsehood. Nor do they fight the wrong as they fight the right."

"I have become tired of talking to you and blaming you. I would like you to make your intention clear to me.

If you are determined to go to our enemy this is what I ask and love. If you are reluctant to do that be frank with me. Let me know your intention so I will form my opinion.

"By God if you do not go with me to your enemy in order to fight them until God judges between us and them (and He is the Best of the Judges) I shall pray God to punish you then I will go to our enemy even if I am not accompanied with more than ten men. Do the riffraff of Damascus and its ignorants have more patience and stronger co-operation for helping the falsehood and assisting the wrong than you have for your truth and right? What happened to you? What is your medicine? Your enemies are like you. If they are killed they will not be resurrected before the Day of Judgment."10

By this important declaration the Imam put them face to face with their responsibilities. They believed that he was going to fulfill his decision and he will go to his enemy even if he does not have more than ten persons and they know that he will find more than ten.

They know that if he does that he will meet his death and they will have a shame which they were not ready to accept. Probably some of them feared if the Imam prays to God to punish them God will answer his prayer.

The listeners stood up and spoke well and left him after they showed him that they have decided to help him.

They went to their tribes urging them to fight their enemies. They gained some unity and seemed to be ready to leave ready to confront their enemy after they prepared manpower and supplies to face the forces of heresy anarchy and evil in a decisive battle.11

Was that task force really as healthy as it appeared? Did the hearts of the leaders of the army rally behind the truth? Were Ashaath and others like him cured of the disease of hypocrisy? Would some of the leaders of the newly mobilized army conspire with the enemy to deliberately defeat themselves at the battle for bribes necessitating the Imam to enter into a desperate battle in which he will meet his death? Did the Imam believe in their sincerity? History does not give us any clear answer for these questions because the army did not go through that trial.

The Imam met his Lord before the newly mobilized army moved from its camp. History however accuses Ashaath who was among the leaders of that army with being an accomplice in the Imam's assassination.

I am inclined to believe that the events which took place before the mobilization of this army had made the Imam lose his confidence in his followers. He told them on one occasion: "By God I visualize that when the future battle takes place and the fight progresses you will leave Ibn Abu Talib alone and run away"...12 The Imam was not a man who threw his words vainly.

His words always conveyed realities which he used to foresee through the light of God. The Imam would not be deceived by the new mobilization. He knew that the gathering included men who subscribe to the Seceders' opinion and others believed for their short-sightedness that victory against Muawiya had become impossible and that the regime of the Imam was coming to its end. People of this kind were always ready to co-operate with the enemies of the Imam.

Of course there were men who were truly sincere but these people were few and their presence would not make the Imam reach his goal and prevent the defeatists from bringing his army to a catastrophe.

the trial of the Imam and his tragedy in this nation were great. He was looking at the truth and seeing it clearly in front of him. He knew that the election which he received reluctantly had put on his shoulders the huge responsibility of trying to bring the Muslim World back to the road of righteousness validating what the Holy Qur'an validates and invalidating what the Holy Qur'an invalidates.

He believed and he was right in what he believed that he was the most entitled to be obeyed after the Holy Prophet. He was to him as Aaron to Moses.

On the other hand he knew the tragic fact: The nation had ignored his right and was divided while it walked in unity and obedience under the banner of men below him in endeavoring for the religion of God and in knowledge and relation to the Holy Prophet.

Then he looked around and found that a portion of those who went along with him have turned against him fighting him and offering all of what they had of power to thwart his efforts. The other portion who stayed with him did not give him obedience except untrue promises and cheap excuses.

The enemy who was about to be defeated and whose falsehood was nearing its end until he resorted to hoisting the Qur'an in order to avoid the danger of annihilation became the man of the hour. He became capable of attacking without being attacked and usurping provinces which were under the Imam's authority.

The enemy does all that not because his followers are more numerous or powerful but because the numerous followers of the Imam had lost their determination and their unity had been destroyed.

The Imam was right when he considered his followers worse to him than his enemies because they were the ones who enabled his enemy by their defeatist attitude to have the upper hand and to become the victorious party.

Thus it was not surprising to see the Imam wishing to part with his followers by death or assassination. On more than one occasion he asked God to separate him from them and make him join people better than them knowing that God will not make him join better than them while he was living on this earth. He knew that this wish would never be realized unless he departed from this world to join his beloved the Messenger of God and his party.

It is amazing that he asked God to do that for him when he saw the Messenger of God in his dream shortly before he was assassinated and after the newly mobilized army was formed for the decisive battle. This was evidence that the Imam believed that his new army will not be able to fulfill its mission because a portion of that army does not have good intentions and that they were with his enemy and not with him.

Ibn Saad in his Tabaqat13 Ibn Abdul Barr in his Istee-ab14 lbn Al-Athir in Osd Al-Ghab15 recorded that Al- Hassan and Al-Hussein reported that Ameer Al-Mumineen (the Imam) told them that he complained to the Messenger of God in his dream saying to him: "O Messenger of God the crookedness and hostility which I have experienced from your nation are amazingly terrible.

The Messenger said to him: Pray to God to punish them." The Imam prayed saying: "My Lord make me join better than these people and give them a leader worse than I."And the prayer of the Imam was answered.

The Fulfilled Promise

Had the Imam expected any good out of the newly mobilized army confident of its reliability and the intention of its leaders he would not have asked the Almighty to make him join better people by expediting his departure from this world.

There was nothing more desirable to the Imam than to reform what was corrupt of the affairs of the Muslims and to avoid the Muslim World what was threatening it at the hands of the future tyrant rulers in order to illuminate the road to the future generations.

Had the Imam been confident of what had been available of force he would have found in it his wish and he would have prayed to the Almighty to prolong his life in order to realize his goal.

Evidently he believed that those who were around him had lost their determination and will for sacrifice. It seems that he felt that a number of the leaders of his army were ready to let him down at the decisive hour and leave him on the battlefield facing thousands of Muawiya's soldiers alone to be killed while his army deserted him.

They had done what is uglier than that at the war of Siffin when they were in a better situation and a bigger determination.

Had this happened the life of the Imam would have ended in a battle in which he would be defeated and deserted. But the Almighty wanted for His beloved servant ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib not to taste the bitterness of defeat and humility.

He is the sword of God who never was defeated in any battle before. God wanted to move His servant from this world while he is in a dignified state apparently with a powerful state. Thus a huge army was gathered at his command before he met his martyrdom so that he would depart from this world while in power and dignity.

It became clear to the Imam after he went through the most cruel experience that those who wanted evil for the nation were serious in their work and dedicated for reaching their ends while those who used to seek good justice prevalence of truth and the heavenly law were weakened and deteriorated.

The Imam lost all hope in achieving his goals. Seeing all evidence indicating that falsehood is on the rise and that the truth will meet its death the Imam wished that he himself will meet his death before witnessing the death of the truth.

The Imam longed for a long time to meet his martyrdom. It was his greatest wish in life. He was saddened when he did not receive his martyrdom at the Battle of Uhud. He informed the Prophet of his sadness because he was deprived of martyrdom.

The Holy Prophet said to him: "Be cheerful; martyrdom is coming to you." When the following verse was revealed:

"Do people think that they will be left to say that we have believed and they will not be tested? We have tested those who were before them and God surely knows those who were true and those who were liars " The Holy Quran, 29:2-3

The Imam reminded the Prophet of his prophecy concerning his martyrdom. The Prophet re-affirmed his prophecy saying: "It shall be so. How shall your patience be?" The Imam replied: "Messenger of God that is not a place of patience! It is rather a place for cheerfulness and thanks."16

The Holy Prophet told him once: "The nation will betray you after me. You shall live according to my precept. Whoever loves you loves me and whoever hates you hates me and this (pointing to the beard of the Imam) shall be reddened from this (pointing to the head of the Imam)."17

He told him also along with Ammar Ibn Yasir: "Shall I inform you of the most wicked among mankind?" ‘Ali and Ammar said: "Yes Messenger of God." The Prophet said: "The Red of Thamoud who hamstrung the female camel (of the Prophet Saleh) and the one who hits you on this (pointing to the head of ‘Ali) and makes this (pointing to the beard of ‘Ali) moistened by its blood."18

The prophecy was realized on a morning of a day from the month of Ramadan forty years after the Hijrah. The wickedness which does not recognize any boundary motivated a Seceder (called Abdul-Rahman Ibn Muljam an obscure person from a lowly family) to assassinate the Imam ‘Ali the brother minister and successor of the Prophet Muhammad while praying to his Lord in a house of God. Yet the assassin testified by his tongue that there is no God but the Almighty and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.

A man with a spark of faith in his heart cannot pass this point from the history without shedding a tear on a martyr who obtained from every virtue its highest degree.

That is the martyr who offered for the sake of his religion and his nation what no other man after the Holy Prophet ever offered of sacrifice. Then the nation for which he offered so much formed an attitude towards him which it may feel ashamed to take towards its worst enemy.

It is difficult for any Muslim that is concerned with the future of the faith of Islam to pass this point of our history without shedding a tear. It is impossible to measure the losses which beset the Muslims and the faith of Islam through the death of this unique leader before he was able to fulfill his goal and his message to a world which was and is still in a great need of that message.

The loss which the Muslims suffered when they missed the Brother and Successor of their Prophet was great and unique in its magnitude. The Muslims never experienced similar to it after the death of the Holy Prophet.

Unequalled Loss

The Muslims who were living at the time of the death of the Imam were unable to measure its magnitude and dimensions and its great consequences. It is worthy to mention two important consequences that took place immediately after the death of the Imam:

Firstly, by the death of the Imam the Muslims lost the clear and pure source of religious information from which they used to obtain the true interpretation of the Holy Qur'an and the authentically reported instructions of the Holy Prophet.

The Holy Prophet was the city of knowledge and ‘Ali was the gate of that city. When the Prophet departed from this world ‘Ali remained the gate of his knowledge and the treasure of his secrets and the heir of his wisdom. Through him the Muslims were able to hear the voice of the Messenger informing them of the genuine Islamic rules in the areas of their disputes.

It is true that a number of the Imam's children and grandchildren had acquired his knowledge and they were capable of providing the Muslims with the interpretation of the Book of God and conveying to them the actual instructions of the Holy Prophet. However the Muslims who refused to follow the Imam himself with all his acknowledged superiority in knowledge were not expected to follow the Imam's offspring.

The Muslims did not try to acquire from the Imam's knowledge what could spare them the problems of difference and divisions; nor did they give him the time or the true opportunity to provide them with what they needed of knowledge.

Therefore the Muslim World was not expected to enable the Imams from his descendants to realize what the Imam himself could not realize. On the contrary these Imams from ‘Ali's children and grandchildren were killed and exiled.

Thus the Muslim World with the lack of clear source of knowledge was forced to adopt various schools in the details of the Islamic Law. Had the Imam been given sufficient time to write and publicize what the Muslim generations needed of knowledge in the Book of God and the instructions of the Holy Prophet the Muslims would not have adopted various schools of jurisprudence.

The End of the Righteous Caliphate

The other immediate consequence which inflicted the Muslims by the death of the Imam was the end of the period of the Righteous Caliphate forever.

Abu Bakr died and ‘Umar was assassinated; then Uthman was assassinated and the righteous caliphate did not end by the death of any of these three Caliphs. But the death of the Imam ‘Ali immediately transferred the Muslim World from a rule led by the Book of God and the precepts of the Holy Prophet to a despotic rule which did not respect the sacred rights and founded itself on shedding the sacred blood spreading falsehood and silencing the voice of truth.

The presence of the Imam was the only barrier between the Umayyads and the establishment of their despotic rule over the provinces of the Muslim World. When he was assassinated their rule became inevitable.

Had the Muslim World given the Imam the opportunity to erect the pillars of his regime for a sufficient time the Righteous Caliphate could have lasted generation after generation. The Muslim generations could have lived under the protection of its enlightened just and generous rule which the human generations so far could not reach.

The Imam among the followers of the Messenger was their most knowledgeable in the Book of Cod and the teachings of the Holy Prophet. He was the wisest among them their closest to the Holy Prophet the most similar to him and most adherent to the Law of God and the instructions of the Holy Prophet. He was also the highest magistrate in the nation the greatest endeavorer in the Way of God and the most determined in enforcing the Divine Law.

Yet the nation in spite of all of the Imam's magnanimity did not obey him. Thus he could not establish the pillars of his regime nor could he fulfill his goals. People were and are still looking at the outcome regardless of the circumstances which may have led to those results. The absence of these achievements was a source of a continuous controversy around his policy.

Most of the students of history believed that the Imam adopted an idealistic policy which could not succeed in a non-ideal society. Had he been less idealistic and more realistic he could have achieved his goal.

Some scholars blame the Imam for his policy in administering the public funds. He insisted on taking the Muslims back to the days of the Holy Prophet when the public funds were distributed among the Muslims equally.

But people at the time he came to power had already been accustomed to the policy of unequal distribution which ‘Umar and Uthman had adopted.

Some scholars blame the Imam for his insistence on dismissing Muawiya. They believe that he could have gained the support of Muawiya if he did not try to dismiss him. Had he done that the war of Siffin would not have taken place and Muawiya would not have challenged his authority.

Others blame him for being too lenient with his opponents. He did not punish them when they declared their opposition to him. Some of these critics accuse the Imam of attempting to rule the nation as a preacher rather than a ruler.

Therefore it would be appropriate to discuss these aspects then list the true factors which led to the absence of what the Imam endeavored for.Therefore it would be appropriate to discuss these aspects then list the true factors which led to the absence of what the Imam endeavored for.

  • 1. Imam ‘Ali Nahjul-Balaghah (collection of the Imam ‘Ali's Sermons and Words) part 1 p. 107.
  • 2. Imam ‘Ali Nahjul-Balaghah part 1 p. 108.
  • 3. Taha Hussein Al-Fitna tul-Kubra part 2 p. 107.
  • 4. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 187-188 Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 183.
  • 5. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 180-181.
  • 6. Taha Hussein Al-Fitna tul-Kubra part 2 pp. 130-131.
  • 7. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 188-189.
  • 8. The Imam ‘Ali Nahjul-Balaghah part 1 p. 234.
  • 9. The Imam ‘Ali Nahjul-Balaghah part 1 pp. 69-70.
  • 10. Taha Hussein Al-Fitna tul-Kubra part 2 pp. 142-143 (quoting Al-Baladhuriin his book: Ansab Al-Ashraf)
  • 11. Taha Hussein Al-Fitna tul-Kubra part 2 p. 143.
  • 12. The Imam ‘Ali Nahjul-Balaghah part 1 p. 83.
  • 13. Ibn Sa’d Al-Tabaqaat part3 p. 36.
  • 14. Ibn Abd Al-Barr Al-Istee-ab part 3 p.1127.
  • 15. lbn Al-Athir Usd al-Ghabah part 4 p.36 (quoted by Al-Fairouzabadi Fadha-il Al-Khamsah part 3 p.56)
  • 16. The Imam ‘Ali Nahjul-Balaghah part 2 p.50.
  • 17. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak part 3 p.142.
  • 18. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak part 3 p.141.

28. The Imam's Policy Concerning Public Funds

Some of the students of history believed that one of the main factors in the absence of peace during the Imam's reign was his policy concerning the public funds. He tried to treat the leaders and the followers equally in distributing the public funds.

With Talhah and Al-Zubayr

Had he preferred some distinguished men such as Talhah and Al-Zubayr the two companions would have remained loyal to him and the war of Basra would have been avoided. The cause of war was the disagreement of Al-Zubayr and Talhah with the Imam conceriling the distribution of the public funds. The two companions and a number of other companions were accustomed to the poli cy of unequal distribution which was started by ‘Umar.

They thought that the policy of the Imam meant to deprive them of their acquired privileges. Talhah and Al-Zubayr and other preferred companions and children of these companions believed that the Imam would return most of their properties and funds to the Islamic treasury for a good portion of their wealth was acquired through gifts they received from Uthman.1

With Chiefs of the Arab Tribes

Had the Imam given preference to the chiefs of the tribes and presented them with gifts as Muawiya did the Imam would have earned the loyalty of those chiefs and he would have established the unity of his followers and prevailed against his enemies.

Does Islam Allow Preference?

These critics believed that the Imam could have done all that without breaking the Islamic Law. Such preference actually could have been in agreement with the Holy Qur'an and the precepts of the Holy Prophet.

The Holy Qur'an declares clearly that the recipients of the Zakat are eight categories including the ones who are to be attracted to Islam by generous gifts. The Holy Prophet gave Abu Sufyan Aqra-a Ibn Habis and Oyainah Ibn Hissn Al-Fuzari from the spoils of Hawazin much more than he gave righteous Muslims.2

The Three Leaders

The reliable information which we find in history concerning Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubayr does not support such criticism. It rather contradicts the opinion of these critics. Ayeshah declared her opposition to the Imam as soon as she knew of his election while she was on her way to Medina coming back from her pilgrimage.

She said to the man who informed her of the Imam's election: "I wish that the Heaven falls on the earth if your man (‘Ali) succeeds in this affair." Then she returned to Mecca starting her campaign to avenge the blood of Uthman before she reached Mecca. She did all that before she knew anything about the Imam's policy concerning the distribution of the public funds.3

It is a well known fact in history that Uthman preferred Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubayr in his distribution of money. He granted Al-Zubayr six hundred thousand Dirhams.4 He granted Talhah two hundred thousand Dirhams.5

But his preference of these two companions did not prevent them from being the leaders of his antagonizers who called for his assassination. Why would they be expected to be in peace with the Imam if he had preferred them in distribution when we know that Ayeshah and Talhah were more resentful to the Imam than they were to Uthman?

Al-Zubayr was not less than Ayeshah and Talhah in resenting the Imam in his last years after he became obedient to his son Abdullah the one who carried a great deal of hatred towards the Imam.

Each of the two companions was thinking that the election of the Imam deprived him of reaching the caliphate which he thought to be within his reach.

Ayeshah's Grudge

In addition to her old unfriendly attitude towards the Imam Ayeshah thought that the leadership of the Imam would be a strong barrier to the return of the caliphate to her clan of Tyme which was headed by her father the First Caliph.

On more than one occasion during the days of Uthman Ayeshah expressed her hope that the caliphate would come back to Tyme through her cousin Talhah.6

She used to see in Al-Zubayr a good substitute for Talhah because Al-Zubayr was her brother-in-law and she used to consider his son Abdullah a son of hers.

The Two Companions' Motives

It is reported that Talhah and Al-Zubayr criticized the Imam's policy in distributing the public funds and they complained that he equalized them in allotment with those who are below them. But their criticism of the Imam was nothing but propaganda aimed at arousing the preferred class from among the companions against the Imam.

They criticized his distribution of the funds equally while they knew that he did that because he wanted to follow the method of the Prophet. They accused him of the blood of Uthman while they knew his innocence and that they were the ones who were responsible for Uthman’s blood. The motive for their criticism was the same as their accusation.

They were hopeful to reach the caliphate. Their ambition was inflamed when ‘Umar made them members of the Electoral Convention. Because of this they instigated people against Uthman and sought his assassination and for the same reason they criticized the Imam and accused him of the murder of Uthman. And for the same motive they breached their covenant by which they pledged their loyalty to him.

With Chiefs of the Tribes

It is said that the Imam could have secured the loyalty of the chiefs of the Muslim tribes by showering them with gifts and preferring them in distribution. I do not believe that the Imam was religiously able to treat those chiefs as the Prophet treated similar chiefs when trying to attract them to Islam by financial preference.

The chiefs whom the Imam had to deal with had adopted Islam a long time before he came to power. They lived under the Islamic law for twenty-five years after the death of the Holy Prophet. ‘Umar discontinued paying the appeased men their share from the Zakat less than ten years after the death of the Holy Prophet.

It should be mentioned though it does not have much bearing on the subject of discussion that it is doubted that the Messenger gave Abu Sufyan Aqra-a Ibn Habis and Oyaihah Ibn Hissn Al-Fuzari three hundred camels from the Zakat at the Battle of Hunain as the critics mentioned.

The share of the appeased men is to come from the Zakat. But the Messenger gave the three chiefs from the spoils of the battle and no Zakat is to be paid out of the spoils. The fifth is to be paid out of the spoils.

It seems that the Holy Prophet gave the three men from the fifth of the spoils which he had the right to administer its half (which belongs to God and to the Messenger and to the relatives of the Messenger) as he found it in the public interest.

We believe that the Imam ‘Ali had what the Messenger had of the right to administer half of the fifth. But the three Caliphs before him had ignored such a right for the duration of their regimes. I do not think that the Imam could have exercised that right without bringing a problem to himself.

Granted that he had the right and the capability of giving the influential individuals from the shares of the appeased ones and that he was able to give them out of the half of the fifth without difficulty. Yet it was difficult to secure the loyalty of the chiefs through the shares of the appeased or through half of the fifth. The time of the Imam was not like the time of the Messenger.

Those whom the Prophet tried to attract to Islam through his gifts were few. The recipients of his gifts whose names are recorded in books of history as far as I could determine do not amount to a hundred. It was possible to satisfy those people with what was less than the eighth of the Zakat or half of the fifty.

The greed of the people did not grow at the time of the Holy Prophet as it grew during the time of the Caliphs. The Holy Prophet gave Abu Sufyan one hundred camels. This was a very huge gift by the measure of the time of the Holy Prophet.

The Islamic State at the time of the Imam became vast and the number of the Muslims went up to millions. The number of chiefs of tribes went up to hundreds and thousands. For the Imam to open upon himself the door of purchasing people's loyalty with money it meant that he had to pay hundreds or thousands of chiefs. To give one chief would inflame the appetite of many other chiefs.

The price of loyalty went up very high. A gift of one chief sometimes reached one hundred thousand dirhams and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dirhams (a dirham is equivalent to $2.00)

We have mentioned in the twenty-first chapter that Khalid Ibn Oseid (from the Umayyads) came to visit Uthman while heading a delegation. The Caliph gave him three hundred thousand dirhams. He also gave every member of the delegation one hundred thousand.7 This took place while the Third Caliph was ruling the whole Muslim World without any competitors where he did not need to purchase people's loyalty.

Should the number of the chiefs (who were to be paid for their loyalty) reach one thousand it would have required about one hundred million dirhams. Had the Imam opened on himself the door of gifts the eighth of the Zakat and the half of the fifth would not have been sufficient to satisfy the appetites of the chiefs. Nor would the whole fifth be enough.

We should not forget that the spoils of the war during the time of the Imam were not very abundant because the Islamic revenues were decreased during the years of his reign due to the civil wars.

Furthermore had the Imam wanted to open the door of gifts on himself he would have had to compete with Muawiya for purchasing the loyalty of the chiefs. This meant that he would have had to give most of the public funds for pleasing the chiefs and deprive the masses of the people of their shares in the public funds. This is what the faith of Islam does not allow nor would Ibn Abu Talib do.

Was it politically sound?

It may be said that the Imam should have done that even if it were not permissible in the faith of Islam under normal circumstances. The Imam had to do that in compliance with the rule of necessity. In other words the Imam had two alternatives.

He had either to observe justice in distributing the public funds then he would lose the caliphate and the Muslims would lose the Righteous Caliphate forever or he would preserve his caliphate and sacrifice justice in distribution of the funds for a few years until he prevails against his opponents and reaches a peaceful time. By this he could preserve for Islam its future and for the Muslims the Righteous Caliphate for a long time.

These two duties were competing with each other. But securing a good future for Islam is more important than observing justice in distribution. It would be forbidden in Islam to give priority to the important above the more important. Why did the Imam give priority to the important above the more important?

It would be easy for a person who does not analyze the events of history and its factors to criticize the policy of the Imam without taking into consideration what the circumstances and the principles of the Imam were dictating at that time.

An objective criticism requires more than this superficial thinking. To try to understand the events which filled the period of the caliphate of the Imam we have to take into consideration the following factors:

The Islamic principles which the Imam was trying to live up to were expected to limit a great deal of his freedom of action.

The hard circumstances which preceded his election had accompanied his reign and continued to escalate the revolution during his era.

In addition to this we ought to consider the unlimited freedom of action which his opponents enjoyed due to their lack of principles.

The Imam was elected after an insane revolution which brought the life of the Third Caliph to an end. The source of the revolution was the policy of the Third Caliph in handling the public funds and preferring his relatives and friends allowing them vast lands and granting them hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of dirhams from the Islamic treasury.

The rebellious groups were seeking through revolution to reform the situation and to bring the nation back to its right road and to prevent the minority from enriching itself at the expense of the millions of Muslims. These rebels and those who shared their opinion from among the Muslims were the ones who prepared the election of the Imam.

These rebellious ones were in agreement with the Imam concerning justice in the distribution of the public funds.

They elected the Imam and pledged their loyalty to him on the condition that they would follow the Book of God and the precepts of the Messenger of God. The Imam would not have accepted their election on any other basis. These were the supporters of the truth and the representatives of the reformatory camp of the Muslim World.

Had the Imam reversed his attitude by following a policy of appeasement and purchasing the loyalty of people with public funds he would not have benefited politically. He would rather have lost the unity of his camp at the beginning of his reign and his supporters would have stood away from him as they did from Uthman.

History records that when the Imam appointed Abdullah Ibn Al-Abbas governor of Basra and his brother Obeidullah a governor of Yemen Malik Al-Ashtar with all his loyalty to the Imam said to him "Why did we kill the old man yesterday?"

He meant that the revolution which brought the life of Uthman to an end was caused by his policy of preference.8 What would be the attitude of Al-Ashtar and others like him if the Imam had tried to purchase the loyalty of the chiefs of the tribes through public funds.

The majority of those who opposed him later from among his followers after the war of Siffin were not from the people of selfish interests. The Seceders who opposed him after the war of Siffin were the most remote people from materialism. They were radical immaterialists and excessive in keeping away from all selfish interests.

They were enemies of the policy of appeasement and of purchasing loyalty. Their excessiveness is what made them antagonize the Imam and fight him.

Of course there were among the followers of the Imam some hypocrites such as Ashaath. Yet it is not substantiated that the resentment of these people towards the Imam and their conspiracy with his enemy against him was the result of their materialism.

It is not substantiated that the Imam was able to purchase the loyalty of these people by gifts or bribery. In fact many were working with the Imam's opponents for no materialistic gain or a position they were seeking or wanted. They were doing that only because their sympathy was with his opponents. Take for example Abu Musa Al-Ashari whom the Imam appointed governor of Kufa the most important province in the Islamic State. He was able to preserve his position for the duration of the Imam's caliphate by co-operating with him.

He chose to stand against the Imam and tried to prevent people from supporting him though he knew that this would put his own position in jeopardy. This shows that he did not oppose him for a material gain nor for a position. He did that only because he disliked the Imam and liked his opponents.

I think that the attitude and motives of Ashaath and others like him towards the Imam were like the attitude and motives of Abu Musa towards the Imam. However the Imam was not able to purchase the loyalty of Ashaath and others even if their loyalty was for sale. It was not possible for the Imam as a man of principle or a flexible statesman to purchase their loyalty.

Many companions and sincere followers of Islam would have opposed him and he would have expedited the hostility of the extremists such as the leaders who became Seceders later for reasons much less than the mismanagement or embezzlement of public funds.

Ashaath by himself would not have been able to bring the war of Siffin to its end if he did not have the support of extremist readers who later became Seceders. Only through their support he was able to do damage to the Imam and the Muslim world though Ashaath and the Seceders had different motives behind the attitude which they shared. The religious fanaticism of these leaders made them consider the rejection of the invitation to the Holy Qur'an a great sin and this attitude gave Ashaath the effectiveness which brought the Battle of Siffin to its saddening end.

Thus an objective look at the circumstances which preceded the election of the Imam and the foundation on which his election was based and the elements of which his supporters were composed would prove that the policy which he followed in distributing the public funds was not only righteous but also the wisest course he could take.

Thus the principles for which he lived and endeavored and the circumstances which surrounded him dictated the same policy which he chose.

Had the Imam followed what these critics suggested he would have lost politically and militarily and the Islamic history would have lost the only example of the idealism which was embodied in the person of the Imam.

  • 1. Taha Hussein Al-Fitna tul-Kubra part 1 p. 77.
  • 2. Ibn Hisham Al-Seerah Al-Nabaweyah (Biography of the Prophet) part 2 pp.493-494..
  • 3. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p.102.
  • 4. Taha Hussein Al-Fitna tul-Kubra part 2 p.77.
  • 5. Taha Hussein Al-Fitna tul-Kubra part 2 p.77.
  • 6. Al-BaladhuriAnsab Al-Ashraf part 1 of volume 4 p.75.
  • 7. Taha Hussein Al-Fitna tul-Kubra part 1 p. 193.
  • 8. Taha Russein Al-Fitna tul-Kubra part 2 p. 53.

29. Was the War of Siffin Inevitable?

"And I am to the Messenger of God like a tree to another tree coming from one trunk and I am to him like a lower arm to the upper arm. By God if all the Arabs combine their efforts in combating me I would not turn my back to them... And I shall endeavor to purify the earth from this inverted person until the soil is separated from the grain."1

"By God if I confront them while they are filling the land I would not be concerned; nor would I feel lonely. I am with assurance from myself and certainty from my Lord through which I see the falsehoods to which my opponents adhere and the guidance which I follow. I am expecting to meet my Lord and hoping for His reward. I am saddened to expect the affairs of this nation to be administered by its wicked foes. They shall distribute the revenue of God among themselves and enslave His servants. They shall oppress the righteous and befriend the transgressors."2

Had ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib been a politician whose main concern was to come to power and enjoy authority unconcerned with what will happen to the future generations he could have easily gained Muawiya's support by keeping him as governor of Syria and promising him to be his successor. This would have relieved the Imam from combating him and would have secured his loyalty and assistance.

Men who are in love with authority are always ready to pay the price regardless of its magnitude because authority to them is more valuable than any price they pay. Our Imam was not from these Authority by itself did not have in his view any value.

Therefore he was not ready to pay for the authority a price which he considered more valuable than the authority. History witnessed the Imam ‘Ali losing the caliphate when it was offered to him at the conclusion of the Electoral Convention because he refused to pay its price.

The price which he refused to pay was not more than one word by which he promises Abdul-Rahman Ibn Ouf to follow the first two Caliphs in matters where he finds no instruction from the Holy Qur'an or the precepts of the Holy Prophet.3

He refused to pay for the caliphate that small price because he believed that he was more knowledgeable in the Islamic Law than the two outstanding companions.

He believed also that their precepts were marred by errors which he did not legalize for himself to follow.

As he refused to offer for the leadership a promise to follow the ways of two brilliant companions he would not be expected to grant Muawiya the man of a terrible past what he seeks in order to enjoy a peaceful leadership.

The Imam was not a conventional politician whose main concern is to come to power. He was rather a unique statesman. Had not ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib existed the Islamic ideals after the Messenger would have remained subjective without being embodied completely in a human being.

Security for all Muslim generations against religious deviation was the goal which the Imam was trying to accomplish through leadership. That goal could be summarized as follows: 1. To make justice prevalent in society regardless of the religious elements from which it may be composed and retrieving for the nation and individuals what was acquired by the elites through exploitations.

To enforce Islamic law so that the adherence to the Islamic principles becomes second nature to the Muslims individually and collectively.

To facilitate understanding of the Holy Qur'an and instructions of the Prophet for the followers of the Faith of Islam.

To try to spread Islam throughout the world by making the true Islamic teaching known to all nations.

In other words the Imam wanted to realize what the Holy Prophet wanted when he tried to dictate a document for his nation that his nation will never stray after it. The political circumstances of the nation had led the nation to deviate from the safe road in the past.

Finally the Imam who represented in the eyes of the Messenger the security for the nation against deviation has come to power. His duty is to realize that security for the nation and this was within his reach if the nation obeys him. He is the most knowledgeable in the Book of God and the teachings of the Holy Prophet.

He was the most concerned person with spreading the teaching of the Faith of Islam and the spirit of adherence to that teaching. He by the testimony of the Messenger and the outstanding companions is the most qualified to direct the nation to the right and clear road after the Messenger. He was after the Prophet the bravest and firmest person who ever walked on earth.

The Imam believed that retaining Muawiya within his regime contradicts what he was trying to accomplish.

Muawiya by his nature was opportunist exploiter materialistic and unprincipled. With his wiliness and power Muawiya was the most dangerous among the opportunists. The Imam was right when he thought that retaining Muawiya in the rule of Syria will enable him to rule the Muslim world. And this was not all the danger.

The bigger danger was the expected continuity of the leadership in the house of Umayyad and rotation of the caliphate in their dynasty.The bigger danger was the expected continuity of the leadership in the house of Umayyad and rotation of the caliphate in their dynasty.

The Umayyad period proved later that the Imam was right in his thinking. The rule of Muawiya and the rest of the Umayyads was the antithesis of the Imam's goal. It represented the usurpation of the people's right their exploitation shedding the blood of the innocent and the defiance of the Islamic Laws. This resulted with the weaken ing of the Islamic Spirit in the successive generations.

The war of Siffin the assassination of Hijr Ibn Uday and his righteous companions for their refusal to repudiate the religion of ‘Ali the massacre of Karbala and the defamation of the Imam on the pulpits of the Muslim World for eighty-three years were some of the traits of the Umayyad anti-Islam rule.

Mughirah And Ibn Abbas

History recorded that Mughirah Ibn Shu-abah Al- Thaqafi came to the Imam after he was elected and advised him to keep Muawiya in his office at least temporarily. The Imam refused his advice. On the following day Mughirah came to the Imam admitting that he was mistaken and advised the Imam to dismiss Muawiya.

Ibn Abbas witnessed Mughirah coming out of the house of the Imam while he himself was about to enter the house of the Imam. When Ibn Abbas met the Imam he asked him about Mughirah's visit. The Imam informed him of Mughirah's two contradictory opinions. Ibn Abbas commented that Mughirah was genuine in his first advice deceptive in his second advice. He affirmed that the wise policy is to keep Muawiya in his post at least temporarily and it would be easy for the Imam to dismiss him after he joins his electors. The Imam refused to retain Muawiya in his post because he did not want to deviate from his principles which do not permit him to keep Muawiya in his post for two days.4

It appeared to many past and present historians that what Ibn Abbas and Mughirah counseled the Imam to do was right. Had the Imam accepted their advice he would not have had to wage the war of Siffin and he could have dismissed Muawiya later and the reign of the Imam could have been peaceful instead of being filled with civil wars.

Naive Opinion

I believe that those who hold this opinion were not able to estimate the fore-sightedness of the Imam and his awareness of Muawiya's intention. At the same time they underestimated the wiliness of Muawiya and his alertness. Ibn Abbas and Mughirah both were mistaken.

The Imam had seen through the light of God and his super mental capability years before he was elected that the Umayyads will come to power and that they will rotate the leadership among them. He spoke of that during the days of the Electoral Convention before Uthman was elected. At that time he said to his uncle Abbas. "I know that they will elect Uthman and if he is assassinated or dies the children of Umayyad will rotate the caliphate among them; and if I am alive they will find me where they dislike."5

The Progress of the events indicated to the people of wisdom and understanding that the Umayyads were going to come to power. ‘Umar appointed Muawiya as governor of Damascus then he widened his authority by adding Jordan to Damascus. He kept him in that post for the duration of his reign.

This made Muawiya so strong that the Caliph after he was stabbed warned the members of the Electoral Convention not to dispute with each other; otherwise Muawiya may prevail against them and take the leadership away from them. Should such a word reach Muawiya it would inflame his ambition towards the caliphate and make him expect the day when he becomes able to snatch the leadership from the hands of the outstanding companions.

Al-Tabari also reported this in his History part 4 p.230.

Muawiya's Long Preparation

Muawiya realized that he could not come to power through a natural course. The caliphate in the eyes of the Muslims was only for the outstanding companions who adopted the faith of Islam at the early stage and offered many sacrifices during the days of the Prophethood when the faith of Islam was at its primary stage of spreading.

Muawiya was not one of those people. As a matter of fact Muawiya and Abu Sufyan the father of Muawiya and the majority of the Umayyads except Uthman Abu Huthifa and Khalid Ibn Al-Aws were the front line of the enemies of the Messenger. They were waging against him and his religion war after war trying to eliminate Islam and its Messenger. They refused to adopt Islam until the Messenger conquered Meccab and Islam became their only means for saving their lives.6

For the Muslims to move the caliphate from the early companions of the Holy Prophet to the enemy of the prophet they had to reverse themselves insanely or the enemies of the Messenger would reach the caliphate by force. Muawiya was not nearer to the caliphate than his father Abu Sufyan.

However time was not ungenerous to the son of Abu Sufyan with opportunities. Uthman came to power and his caliphate revived the hopes of the Umayyads and made them nearer to their dreams. Uthman as we mentioned (in chapter 21) through the two sides of his personality represented a potential bridge through which the caliphate may cross from the early righteous companions of the Holy Prophet to the Umayyads the people of the dark past.

Uthman was from the early companions. At the same time he was an Umayyad and he loved his cousins a great deal. His love for them would cause him to move the caliphate to one of his opportunist cousins and they would use him for reaching their goals.

The wily Abu Sufyan realized that as soon as Uthman was elected. He said to the members of the Umayyad clan while they were meeting at the house of the new Caliph:

"Make the caliphate alternate among you. By the one in whose name Abu Sufyan swears there is no Paradise and no Hell..."7

It is possible that the new Caliph was not present when Abu Sufyan uttered that profane statement or that the Caliph admonished and chided him but these words actually expressed the thinking of the Umayyads and what they were trying to reach.

The caliphate of Uthman added to the power of Muawiya a much greater power than he had during the time of the Second Caliph. The area of his rule and influence was greatly widened to include Palestine Hums and Qinnisreen.8

Thus he became the governor of what may be called "The Greater Syria." It is true that the authority of Muawiya was growing during the days of ‘Umar but it was under strong supervision of the Second Caliph. When Uthman took over the authority of Muawiya was freed of all supervision and by widening the area of his influence Muawiya emerged as the most powerful ruler in the Muslim World. He became stronger than the Caliph.

The Caliph began to resort to him in punishing his opponents in Hijaz and Iraq by sending them to Syria and putting them under the supervision of the strong man of the Muslim State.9

Muawiya was not the man who neglects opportunities. He was the kind of person who seizes every opportunity and gets out of it the utmost benefits. He started to establish his rule and lay the foundation of his future since the days of ‘Umar. He went on attracting the chiefs of the tribes through his generous gifts and mobilizing whomever he was able to mobilize until he possessed the strongest striking force in the Muslim World. One hundred thousand supported by an equal number from their sons and servants were paid annually from the Islamic treasury in Syria.10

Muawiya found in Uthman his means to the caliphate. He was his cousin and his beloved. It was very likely that Uthman would appoint him as his successor if peace continued during the reign of Uthman.

When the situation changed and the political atmosphere became grim showing that the signs of violence evil and tragedy were creeping near the Caliph Muawiya wanted to make out of the difficulties of the Caliph a means which would bring him quickly to his goal.

Muawiya Refused to Protect Uthman

Muawiya invited Uthman when the danger surrounded him to move to Damascus ostensibly for the purpose of shielding the Caliph against danger.11 His actual motive was to put the Caliph under his protection. Thus Uthman would keep the name of the caliphate and Muawiya would be the actual caliph and at the end Uthman will appoint Muawiya his successor.

The Caliph did hot respond to the invitation. Muawiya however was capable of preventing the tragedy from reaching the Caliph by sending an army to Medina in order to defend the Caliph. He did not do that though the Caliph asked for his military assistance.12 Muawiya chose to hand his cousin to the knife of the revolution. He refused to assist him militarily.13

He thought rightly that Uthman’s death would give him a pretext to seek avenge for the blood of the victim Caliph. By this he would excite the masses of the people and take them out of their sound thinking and transfer the Muslim World to an insane situation which brings Muawiya to what he wanted.

Forecast Rule

In addition to the helpful opportunities and the continuous preparations which made Muawiya close to his goal he heard many prophecies supporting his thinking and made his wish to reach the caliphate strong and full of life.

Ibn Al-Athir recorded that while Uthman was coming back from pilgrimage accompanying Muawiya who was riding a blond mule a man uttered some poetry indicating that the successor of Uthman would be ‘Ali then Al- Zubayr.

But Kaab Al-Ahbar (a Rabbi who adopted Islam) said to the poet: You have lied. The one who will succeed the Caliph is the rider of the blond mule.14 Muawiya became ambitious since that time. The fact is that his ambition did not start at that time.

Muawiya heard similar to this from the person who was much truer than Kaab Al-Ahbar. I do not believe that Kaab Al-Ahbar found the caliphate of Muawiya in the Jewish books as he tried to pretend. He actually found that through statements of some companions who heard from the Holy Prophet (one of them was Abu Dharr) who was known for his truth and to this the Holy Prophet had testified.15

Abu Uthman Al-Jahith in his book Al-Safyaneyah recorded that Jallam Ibn Jandal Al-Ghifari attended a dialogue between Muawiya and Abu Dharr after Uthman exiled Abu Dharr to Damascus.

Muawiya said to Abu Dharr: "Enemy of God and enemy of His Messenger you come every day and do what you are doing. If I were to kill a man from the companions of Muhammad without the permission of the Caliph Uthman I would have killed you.".

Abu Dharr retorted saying to Muawayah: "I am not the enemy of God and His Messenger. You and your father are the enemies of God and His Messenger. You showed Islam and concealed disbelief. The Holy Messenger cursed you and prayed to God that you will never be cured of hunger. I heard the Messenger of God saying:

"When the big eyed with the broad throat the one who eats and never gets full becomes the ruler of this nation the nation should be alarmed." Muawiya said: "I am not that man." Abu Dharr said: "Yes you are that man.

The Messenger of God informed me of that and I heard him saying while you were passing: God curse him and make him not feel full except by soil..."16

Abu Dharr reported in the presence of Uthman that the Messenger of God said: "When the children of Abu Al- Aws (the clan of Marwan from the Umayyads) become thirty men they will distribute the revenue of God among themselves and enslave the servants of God and interpolate the religion of God.17

‘Umar said to Mughirah Ibn Shu-abah (and this man was one eyed): "By God the Umayyads will make Islam one eyed as you are one eyed and they will blind it until Islam is unable to know where to go and where to come.18

‘Umar also reported that he heard from the Messenger of God the following: "The children of Umayyad will ascend to my pulpit. I was shown them in my dream jumping on it like monkeys. About them the revelation came 'And We did not make the vision which you have seen but a trial to people and the cursed tree in the Holy Qur'an...'"19

Fakhr Al-Deen Al-Razi in his commentary on this verse recorded that Sa-eed Ibn Al-Musayab said: "The Messenger of God saw in his dream the children of Umayyad jumping on his pulpit like monkeys and that saddened him."

Al-Razi said: "This is the opinion of Ibn Abbas according to the hadith of Ata."20 He reported also that Ibn Abbas said that the cursed tree is Banu Umayyad meaning Al-Hakam Ibn Abu Al-Aws. Ibn Abbas said: "The Messenger of God saw in his dream that the children of Marwan were alternating on his pulpit and he informed Abu Bakr and ‘Umar of his dream while they were with him at his house. When they left the Messenger of God heard Al-Hakam speaking of the dream of the Messenger.

The Holy Prophet became angry and suspected that ‘Umar betrayed his secret. Then it appeared later that Al-Hakam was spying on them. The Prophet exiled him... "21

Al-Hakim reported that Imam Al-Hassan Ibn ‘Ali said to a man from his companions: "Blame me not (for abdicating the caliphate); may God have His Mercy upon you. The Messenger of God saw in his dream the children of Umayyad speaking on his pulpit one after the other. This saddened him and it was revealed to him in the chapter of Glory:

"We have revealed it (The Qur'an) during the Night of Glory and what did make you know the Night of Glory. The Night of Glory is better than a thousand months (in which the children of Umayyads rule the nation."22

From all this we may understand the meaning of the word of the Imam to his uncle during the days of the Electoral Convention: "I know that they will elect Uthman...if he is killed or he dies the children of Umayyad will alternate it among them..."23

No doubt the Imam heard from the Messenger concerning Uthman and the Umayyads in general and Muawiya in particular more than ‘Umar Abu Dharr and others heard from the Prophet about them.

The Imam said after the Battle of Basra when Marwan was brought to him to renew his pledge of allegiance to the Imam: "What shall I do with his pledge? Did he not pledge in Medina? If he pledges his loyalty to me by his hand he will betray it by his back."

When Marwan left the Imam said: "He will have a rule as short as a dog's licking its nose. He is the father of the four Rams. The nation will have through him and his children a bloody day."24

Thus Muawiya had prepared himself eighteen years for his goal. He seized every opportunity and acquired out of it its utmost benefits and heard what was conveyed to him of the prophecies of the Holy Prophet concerning the Umayyads and concerning him. It was only naive on the part of Ibn Abbas or others to think that keeping Muawiya in his post temporarily would give the Imam the opportunity to dismiss him easily without a bloody war.

‘Ali would not have attempted to deceive Muawiya and if he wanted to do that he would not have succeeded.

Muawiya was too wily to be disuaded of his goal. Had the Imam ‘Ali followed the advice of Ibn Abbas and Mughirah the Imam would have deceived only himself.

I believe that the two advisors with all their intelligence and wiliness had underestimated the knowledge of the Imam about Muawiya and the Imam's wisdom and his farsightedness as they underestimated the wiliness of Muawiya and his determination. Historians who shared Ibn Abbas and Mughirah's opinion committed the same mistake.

The Imam could have earned peace with Muawiya by keeping him in his position for the duration of his life and appointing him his successor. But if the Imam had done that he would have acquired a personal gain at the expense of everything he had stood for.

He was fully aware that Muawiya could not be trusted with the religion of God and the Islamic nation. The Imam said one time. "I have thought about alternatives concerning Muawiya. I found only two of them: either to fight him or to reject what was revealed to Muhammad."25

Was Umayyad's rule inevitable?

It may be said that if the Holy Prophet had informed his nation that the Umayyads will come to power why did the Imam fight Muawiya while he knew that Muawiya would prevail? What is the benefit of shedding blood if the consequence which the Imam wanted to avoid was the same consequence which God had predetermined for him?

The fact is that the Prophet did not inform ‘Ali or the rest of the companions that the rule of the Umayyads was inevitable and predestined from Heaven and that the will of man has no value in that affair. Actually the opposite is true. The Holy Messenger wanted to inform his nation that its failure to protect Islam against the Umayyads' conspiracy shall bring the Umayyads to power and make them rule the nation. This was a warning from the Messenger to his nation aimed at advising the nation to take the necessary measures to prevent this from happening.

The Holy Prophet prescribed to the nation the measures which shield the nation against this danger and all dangers of deviations.

The prescribed measures were the adherence to the Holy Qur'an and the leadership of the members of the House of the Prophet. He said to the nation that this represents the security against deviation. Had the nation followed the prescription of the Prophet the Umayyads could not have come to power and the nation would have been secured against any faith-testing crises.

It was unfortunate that the nation did not heed the Messenger's warnings and did not take the steps which he prescribed. The nation actually disregarded the second part of the advice completely. It took the opposite road which led the nation into what the Messenger warned against.

The Imam was the only leader who wanted to shield the nation against the danger of the Umayyads. Had ‘Umar done the least in this field he could have prevented that danger. The Imam ‘Ali was required to wage a bloody war against Muawiya in order to protect the nation against his danger.

The Second Caliph could have shielded the nation against Muawiya's danger by avoiding his appointment or dismissing him after he appointed him or selecting ‘Ali instead of Uthman who came to power through the arrangement of the Electoral Convention. This is what brought the Umayyads to power.

I would like to add that all these events did not constitute a determining factor in preventing the Imam from subduing Muawiya and reaching a peaceful reign. Even after all these events took place it was possible for the Imam to rid the nation of Muawiya and to subdue him or dismiss him. Had "Om Al-Mu'mineen" (Ayeshah) and the two outstanding companions Talhah and Al-Zubayr co-operated with the Imam and urged the Muslims to help him instead of revolting against him Muawiya would have surrendered to the Imam with humility.

Had the three leaders done that instead of starting the fire of rebellion the rule of the Imam would have been stabilized and the Muslims would have been spared all the civil wars which were inflamed during the first century after the death of the Prophet. Unfortunately the three leaders took the opposite road and led the nation into what the Messenger warned against.

The Battle of Basra made peace with Muawiya unavailable to the Imam as it made the war with Muawiya inevitable unless the Imam denies all his principles. The Battle of Basra made it clear to Muawiya that he was not the only one who was opposed to the Imam and that people outside Syria shared with him his opinion and legalized war against ‘Ali and that they did not see it wrong to shed blood for the sake of his opposition.

The Battle itself created to the Imam enemies who were silenced temporarily by his victory but they were ready to rejoin his enemies as soon as the opportunity permitted. This opportunity came after that and they rushed into it.

The Battle of Siffin was truly inevitable. Yet it was not Heavenly predestined because man's will had played a very important role. Had the Iraqi people listened to the Imam and followed him to the end of the road it would not have been necessary for the nation to surrender to the authority of the Umayyads and they would have spared the future generations many terrible evils.

Thus the authority of the Umayyads in spite of being predicted by the Holy Prophet was not a Heavenly predestined event. It was only a result of the refusal of the nation to take the right medicine which was prescribed by the Holy Prophet. Certainly the nation continued to refuse it until the end.

I would like to add that the Imam was duty-bound to take the road which he chose even if the Umayyad authority were predestined. The position of the Imam was like the position of many prophets who endeavored in the way of God and died in their endeavor without reaching their aim of making the word of God triumphant.

I do not believe that the Prophet Muhammad would have discontinued his endeavor if he had known that he would not win his struggle against his pagan enemies. Had he known that he would have entered and continued the battle of truth to its end. This is what he declared to his uncle Abu Talib:

"Uncle by God if they put the Sun in my right hand and the Moon in my left hand to abandon this mission I will not abandon it until God makes it triumphant or I perish in it.".

The war which the Imam waged was a preventive measure against the Umayyad danger. It was an imperative duty rested upon his shoulders after he found supporters for his message and mission ready to sacrifice. Had he not done that he would have been negligent in discharging the trust and he would have been an accomplice in the injustice deviation and sins of the Umayyads.for his message and mission ready to sacrifice. Had he not done that he would have been negligent in discharging the trust and he would have been an accomplice in the injustice deviation and sins of the Umayyads.

  • 1. The Imam ‘Ali Nahjul-Balaghah part 3 p.73.
  • 2. The Imam ‘Ali Nahjul-Balaghah part 3 p.120.
  • 3. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p.37.
  • 4. Ibn Al-Athir, Al-Kamil, part 3, p.101.
  • 5. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p.36.
  • 6. Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra part 2 p. 14.
  • 7. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid his Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah vol 2 p. 411.
  • 8. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 57.
  • 9. Dr. Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra part 2 pp. 118-119.
  • 10. Abdul-Fattah Abdul-Maqsud Al-Imam ‘Ali Abu Talib part 2 p. 120.
  • 11. Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra part 2 p. 57.
  • 12. Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra part 2 p. 59.
  • 13. Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra part 2 p. 59.
  • 14. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p.73.
  • 15. Al-Tirmidhi his authentic Sunan part 5 p.334.
  • 16. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid his Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah vol.2 p.376.
  • 17. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah vol.2 p.377.
  • 18. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah vol.2 p.115.
  • 19. Ibn Abu Al-Hadid Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah vol.2 p.115.
  • 20. Imam Fakhr Al-Razi his Detailed Commentary on The Holy Qur'an part 5 pp.413-414.
  • 21. Imam Fakhr Al-Razi his Detailed Commentary on The Holy Qur'an part 5 pp.413-414.
  • 22. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak part 3 p.171.
  • 23. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p.230.
  • 24. Al-Imam ‘Ali Nahjul-Balaghah part 1 p.124.
  • 25. Al-Imam ‘Ali Nahjul-Balaghah part 1 p.94.

30. Did the Imam Exercise His Rule as a Preacher?

Some of the students of history think that one of the main reasons for the difficulties which the Imam encountered in his caliphate is that he did not exercise his rule as a ruler. He rather exercised his rule as a preacher. He was not firm with his opponents. He allowed them to oppose him and he was so lenient with them that they felt safe to confront him and disobey him.

Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar and Saad Ibn Abu Waqass and others from the companions in Medina refused to elect him and he did not force them to change their vote as the Caliphs before him did. None of the three Caliphs allowed any companions to refrain from giving their allegiance to the Caliph. Al-Zubayr was forced to give his allegiance to Abu Bakr and Abu Bakr and his minister ‘Umar applied a tremendous pressure on ‘Ali himself to give his allegiance to Abu Bakr.

When Al-Zubayr and Talhah left Medina to Mecca pretending that they were going for Omrah (a mini pilgrimage) to visit the House of God the Imam knew that they were going to join the rebellious group in Mecca.1 In spite of knowing that he did not prevent the two companions from leaving Medina. It would have been wise on his part to jail the two companions until the situation became clear. Had he done that he would have spared himself and the Muslims many difficulties and sacrifices.

When he came back to Kufa after the battle of Siffin he should have punished Ashaath after he witnessed a great deal of evidence indicating the insincerity of Ashaath and his co-operation with his enemies. He did not do that and surrendered to Ashaath's pressure time after time. He postponed the return to the Battle of Siffin and entered into the Battle of Nahrawan under Ashaath's pressure.

It would have been wise to keep Ashaath outside the battlefield from the beginning. When the Imam was elected Ashaath was still in his post in Persia as one of Uthman’s appointees. When the Imam was about to leave to Siffin he dismissed Ashaath from his post. He according to some reports required Ashaath to pay some of the funds which he took from the public treasury then he accompanied him after he reformed him. Had Ashaath been left in his post the fanatic readers (of the Holy Qur'an) who called for acceptance of the arbitration would not have been able to impose arbitration.

A Winner of Three Wars Is Not Unfirm

It is absurd to say that the Imam did not exercise his rule as a ruler or that he exercised his rule as a preacher and that he did not seriously attempt to keep his authority after he obtained it. It is absurd to say that when we know that the Imam waged three wars against his opponents and defeated them completely at Basra annihilated his opponents at Nahrawan and confronted and almost crushed Muawiya and his army at the biggest battle the history of Islam ever witnessed until that day. A ruler who treated his enemies with such firmness should not be accused of practicing his rule as a preacher.

Why Did He Not Force Some Companions to Elect Him?

It is true that the Imam did not force Ibn ‘Umar Saad Ibn Abu Waqaas and a number of companions to pledge their allegiance to him and allowed them to take a neutral position. But this is what the Islamic justice demands. It is not permissible for any elective government to force individuals to elect it. Election means authorization by choice. Thus pledging loyalty by force is the opposite of election. Therefore Islam declares that allegiance taken by force is forbidden and unbinding. It is one of the natural rights which the faith of Islam sanctifies that every human being has the right to exercise his political freedom and this is what the most advanced governments in this century sanctify.

When Al-Zubayr was forced to pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr ‘Ali considered such a coercion contrary to the principle of justice. Individuals and minorities have the right to disagree with the majority and the majority does not have the right to pressure the minority unless the minority attempts to prevent the majority from exercising its administration.

Should a minority try to prevent the majority from administering the affairs of the nation the majority would be duty-bound to subdue the minority when the election is sound. Saad and Ibn ‘Umar and others did not try to prevent the Imam from exercising his rule as a caliph.

Why Did the Imam Not Prevent Talhah and Al-Zubayr from Leaving Medina?

The Imam did not prevent the two companions from leaving Medina though he knew that they were going to declare an armed rebellion against him and he was right in doing that. It was not in the interest of the Imam to be accused of preventing two outstanding companions from offering a devotional visit to the House of God or to jail them for attempting to do that.

Ayeshah was ready to tell that to the Muslim World and to use such an action on the part of the Imam as an additional excuse for revolting against him.

Furthermore keeping the two companions in Medina would not prevent the Mother of Believers from starting a revolt against the Imam. Ayeshah was ready to start that revolt with or without the two companions.

She started her rebellion as soon as she received the news of the Imam's election and without knowing the attitude of the two companions toward him.2 She had a large amount of funds and a good number of men to do that. The Umayyads and their followers were at her disposal and anxious to cooperate with her.3

Why Did He Not Continue the War in Siffin?

It is not fair to criticize the Imam for the discontinuation of the battle after the copies of the Holy Qur'an were hoisted. Had the majority of his army remained healthy and obedient to him such a criticism would have been justifiable. He could have been blamed if he had been among those who were deceived by the hoisting of the copies of the Holy Qur'an. But the Imam was the first to tell his army: "Go on with all your determination to fight your enemy."

He declared to them that hoisting the Holy Qur'an is only a deception and conspiracy. Muawiya and his supporters wanted to avoid a crushing defeat. He told them that he knew the leaders of the opposite camp as men and as children and they were the worst children and the worst men. They were not people of religion or Qur'an.4

He told them all that but they were already deceived and they were unable to see the truth. They defied him and threatened to do to him what they did to Uthman or to take him as a captive and deliver him to Muawiya. When they did that no voice in the army with which he was surrounded was raised against them. Thus the Imam was forced to withdraw Al-Ashtar and his division.5

Had the Imam continued the war a battle among elements of his army would have started instead of a battle between them and the enemy. As a matter of fact that battle was about to start between Al-Ashtar and the people of anti-war movement. He cursed them and they cursed him and they hit with their rods the face of his horse and he hit with his rod the faces of their horses but the lmam stopped their arguments.6

Had such a battle started among the elements of the Imam's army it would have ended with a hastened catastrophe in which thousands of them would have perished. The hostility among the survivors of the expected battle would have been inflamed leaving no room for reuniting them to fight the enemy again.

Had the Imam insisted on continuing the war and refused to withdraw Al-Ashtar and his division from the battle all evidence indicated that the fanatics who surrounded the Imam were ready to assassinate him or hand him to Muawiya. This could have happened without the knowledge of Al-Ashtar and his division.

Had the Imam been killed at that time or at a battle that would have started afterwards between the two elements of his companions the catastrophe would have been much greater than we could imagine.

Why Did He Not Punish Ashaath?

I do not see any logical justification for criticizing the Imam because he accompanied Ashaath to Siffin or because he did not punish him when his insincerity and collaboration with the enemy became evident.

The Imam is a human being. He cannot know the future nor would he be able to foresee that Ashaath would conspire against him if he were in the army. To keep Ashaath away from the battlefield would not prevent the crisis of the arbitration.

The Seceders who were the main factor in the crisis were not from the followers of Ashaath. Thousands and thousands of fighters shared with the readers of the Qur'an their opinion believing that turning down the invitation of the arbitration was a major sin. Ashaath was not the only hypocrite among the followers of the Imam.

The Imam did not punish Ashaath after his insincerity became evident for two reasons: 1. Ashaath was an intelligent hypocrite. He was able to cover up his hypocrisy showing no evidence that would prove his conspiracy. There was at the time of the Messenger many hypocrites who declared Islam prayed and fasted and heard from the Messenger. (There is in the chapters of Al-Ahzab and Bara-ah the clearest evidence on that).

The Messenger knew a number of them. He did not punish the ones whom he knew because he did not find evidence that convicts them or because he hoped that they will reform and become good Muslims. Had he punished them a dispute among his followers might have erupted.

Therefore he preferred to leave them alone for the sake of unity among his companions.

Ashaath was not the only hypocrite in the Imam's camp. Probably there were hundreds and thousands of hypocrites who were feigning loyalty to the Imam and at the same time concealing hostilities towards him.

Ziyad Ibn Abeeh Shibth Ibn Rib-i and the hundreds from those who fought with the Imam then participated after that in fighting his son Al-Hussein represent physical evidence of the existence of a great number of hypocrites in the camp of the Imam.

The authority of the Imam after the Battle of Siffin was shrunk to a great degree. The rebellion of the majority against him after Muawiya's camp hoisted the copies of the Holy Qur'an represented a military coup which left him authority in name only.

Had the Imam tried to punish Ashaath for his opposition to the continuation of the battle a large portion of the inhabitants of Kufa (who for one reason or another had attitudes similar to that of Ashaath) would have opposed the Imam.

Had the Imam punished Ashaath he would have offended thousands from the tribe of Kindah who used to consider Ashaath their leader. As a matter of fact Ashaath's punishment was expected to alienate the majority of the Kufites because they were of the Yemenites and so was Ashaath. The Imam after Siffin was not in need of more enemies and difficulties.

Why did the imam bind himself with a document which was forced upon him?

There are two important questions which demand answers:
All evidence indicates that the Imam did not stop the war and sign the document of arbitration willingly. He was forced to do that and it is known in the religion of Islam that a forced action is nil. A divorce or marriage or election by force would not be sound. And the rule is the same concerning the Pact of Arbitration.

This means that the document of arbitration was not binding to the Imam and that he had the right to disregard it. Furthermore his duty was to cancel it when its cancellation was expected to benefit the camp of truth. Since the Seceders reversed their attitude and tried to return to the battlefield the Imam should have returned to the war without waiting for the decision of the two arbiters.

As to the validity or invalidity of a pact I would like to say that a pact signed by a coerced person is nil if the signer signed it as an individual. When the coerced signer is a head of state and he signs a pact on behalf of Muslims he represents the pact would not be unsound unless the people whom he represented were coerced to accept the pact.

When they are the seeker of the pact the pact would be binding as soon as it is signed. The pact has to be honored even if a portion of the representees reverse their attitude towards the pact.

It is well known that the majority of the Imam's camp including the Seceders were not coerced to discontinue the fight and accept the arbitration. On the contrary they were the advocates of both. Repudiation of the pact by the Seceders after it was signed does not relieve the Imam of his responsibility.

Furthermore reversal of the Seceders' attitude towards the contents of the pact does not necessarily make its breaching in the interest of the Imam or his camp.

The majority of the advocates of the pact continued their attitude thinking that obeying it is a duty and that they had to wait for the outcome of the arbitration. Had the Irnam breached the pact which he signed he would have faced from the supporters of the document an opposition more violent than that of the Seceders and his posi tion would have become more difficult than it was before signing the document. For the Imam to go back on a document he signed would only add to the Muslims' confusion.

It would have given Muawiya an argument against the Imam which the Imam would not be able to defeat. The history which today judges categorically in favor of the Imam would have hesitated or strayed in its judgment if the Imam had done that.

Why Did the Imam Prolong the Period of Arbitration?

The other question which seriously demands an answer is the following: We believe that the Imam was forced to accept the invitation for discontinuing the war and accepting the arbitration and accepting Abu Musa Al-Ashari and Ibn Al- Aws as arbiters. We know all that but what made the Imam prolong the period of arbitration for several months?

It was possible for the two arbiters to meet and to issue their judgment within a week or one month. It was possible for the Imam to stay with his army in Siffin until the two arbiters issued their decision. Had the Imam done that he would have prevented the development of the dispute and the difference bctween him and the Seceders who repented for their discontinuation of the war.

Had he shortened the period of arbitration he would have been able to return to the battle while accompanying the Seceders as soon as the two arbiters issued their decision. We should add to this the fact that the Imam was certain that their verdict would not be in his interest because the two arbiters were hostile to him.

The Seceders asked the Imam: Why did you prolong the period of arbitration? He answered: "We wanted to give the ignorant time so that he may know the facts. We wanted to give the one who knows the facts time so that he may become firmer in his belief. And we hoped that God may rectify the affairs of this nation (then the nation would not need to go back to war)."

Nevertheless it was possible for the affairs of the nation to be rectified and the nation would not have needed to go back to war if the two arbiters were expected to validate what the Holy Qur'an validates and to invalidate what the Holy Qur'an invalidates and if Muawiya were of those who surrender to the rule of the Holy Qur'an.

But Muawiya fought the Imam knowing that his fight was a fight against the Holy Qur'an and against the prophet to whom the Holy Qur'an was revealed. Yet one of the two arbiters was as hostile to the Imam as Muawiya was. The other one (Abu Musa) was very ignorant and unfriendly towards the Imam. Neither of them was expected to say the truth.

Prolonging the time of the armistice could have added to the firmness of the faithful and enlightened the ignorant. For it gave people a longer time to think without being under the pressure of the events and the influence of emotion. But prolonging the armistice would also prolong the arguments among people escalate differences of the disputing elements in the Imam's camp relieve the enemy for a longer time and enable him to make a new mobilization for a new battle.

The question seems to assume that the Imam at the time of signing the armistice was aware of the future repentance of the Seceders for the guilt of discontinuation of the war and that he knew that they will change their at-titude and call for the return to the war against Muawiya. Had the matter been so the Imam would not have needed to accept the invitation for arbitration and the whole event of arbitration would not have taken place.

This was not the case. The Seceders were very serious in demanding the cessation of hostility and acceptance of arbitration and they continued this way until the document was executed. They and others from the bigot readers were the power which forced the Imam to stop the war. They did not change their attitude until the document was signed by the two parties and became a pact in full.

The Seceders were not expected to change their attitude with such speed and move within three days from the extreme left to the extreme right. In the first two days they believed that continuation of war and rejection of arbitration represented a disbelief in the religion of God. Then they reversed themselves on the third day and believed that discontinuation of war and acceptance of arbitration represented a disbelief in the religion of God.

The Imam responded to their first demand which seemed to be the position of the majority of his camp. He executed the document and he was right in giving them and the rest of the nation a respite that continued a few months with which the matter could become clear to them after they were deceived and confused.

It was logical to expect that the situation would become clear to the Seceders and to others during the months of the armistice and particularly after the two arbiters issued their unjust and contradictory verdict. The Seceders however were not logical neither at the beginning nor at the end. It was impossible for any human mind to predict their extreme and fast changes of thinking. The Imam was not to be blamed because he could not predict the unseen future.

Suppose the Imam had shortened the period of the armistice for one month and stayed with his army in Siffin until the two arbiters issued their verdict then he called upon his army to return to war. Would that have satisfied the Seceders and reunited the Imam's camp?

The subsequent events make us expect the Seceders to refuse to return to war and that their attitude if they had stayed in Siffin would be similar to the attitude which they took in Iraq. The Imam actually called upon them to rejoin him in resumption of war after the two arbiters issued their verdicts. They refused to rejoin him accusing him of wanting to return to the war in order to avenge for himself because the verdict of the two arbiters did not come in his favor.7

Had the Imam shortened the time of armistice and remained in Siffin then tried to go back to war after the end of the arbitration the Seceders could have returned to Iraq waging a campaign of terror cutting the supplies of his army and killing whoever disagreed with them.

This was what they did after coming back from Siffin.8 No doubt the danger to the inhabitants of Iraq during his absence would have been greater than it was in his presence.

Thus prolonging the time of armistice and the return to Iraq was less dangerous than shortening it and staying in Siffin and returning to war without security forces to protect the innocent civilians of Iraq and the roads of supplies against the Seceders' attacks.

It was only rational on the part of the Imam to expect those who demanded cessation of hostility and the acceptance of arbitration to continue with their opinion and wait until the two arbiters issued their verdicts. Had they done that the screen of deception would have been removed when the two arbiters strayed from the right road and invalidated what the Holy Qur'an validated.

This would have motivated them to renew the war with a stronger determination clearer sight and bigger preparation. Had they done that it would not have been difficult for them while they were under the bravest leadership to defeat Muawiya and liberate Syria from his rule. Had they done that they could have secured for themselves the nation and its future generations the brightest future in which justice would be prevalent and the truth would be triumphant.

  • 1. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p.491 and p.444.
  • 2. Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 459.
  • 3. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p. 106.
  • 4. Al-Tabari his History part 5 pp. 48-49.
  • 5. Al-Tabari his History part 5 pp. 48-49.
  • 6. Al-Tabari his History part 5 pp. 48-49.
  • 7. Ibn Al-Athir Al-Kamil part 3 p.171.
  • 8. Al-Tabari his History part 5 pp.81-82.

31. Why did the reign of the Imam not last long?

Many historians and writers criticized the policy of the Imam and considered it extremely idealistic and unrealistic. At the same time these critics appeared to be so impressed with the intelligence of Muawiya and his wiliness that they considered him a statesman of the highest rank.

Critics of this kind usually look at consequences instead of looking at the circumstances which brought about those consequences.

The best way to reach an objective judgement in comparing the two men is to suppose that they had exchanged their circumstances places and times as well as their posts and their qualities except wisdom intelligence and bravery. Let us suppose:

1. ‘Ali was a non -Hashimite Qureshite and he was not responsible for the death of many Qureshites at the Islamic defensive battles during the prophethood era.

2. That he was the governor of Syria since the early portion of ‘Umar's caliphate.

3. That he remained in his post for about eighteen years. Thus the roots of his authority and policy were spread and deepened in Syria.

4. That the people of Syria were the same people at that time in their obedience and unity.

5. That he was an opportunist unconcerned with ideal principles and that he was concerned only with his selfish materialistic benefits allowing himself to acquire those benefits through any means including purchasing people's conscience with public funds assassination betrayals lies and killing righteous and innocent people.

6. That the Qureshites who represented the influential aristocracy in the Muslim World loved and supported him.

On the other hand let us also suppose:

1. That Muawiya was a Hashimite responsible for many Qureshite deaths.

2. That he became caliph after the death of Uthman when the unity of the Muslims was broken.

3. That Quraish hated him because he was responsible for the death of many Qureshites.

4. That Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubayr accused him of the assassination of Uthman and turned a great number of Iraqi people against him and waged against him a costly war in which thousands died.

5. That he stayed in Kufa only a short period after that bloody war.

6. That the people of Iraq were the same people at that time in arguments disputes extremism and disobedience.

7. That Muawiya was a man of principle concerned with the Hereafter as much as with the present life or more so he would not compromise his principles for his selfish interests. Nor would he allow himself to use any means which are not in accord with the Islamic Law.

Then let us suppose that the two men met at a battle such as the battle of Siffin and each one had what he had of intelligence wisdom and bravery; ‘Ali with his unusual bravery and Muawiya with his weakness and cowardice.

What would be the outcome? The answer is not difficult. ‘Ali is the triumphant and Muawiya is the loser politically and militarily.

Even if we delete the 7th condition for Muawiya and suppose that the two men were equally opportunistic unbound by any principles Muawiya would be the loser politically and militarily. This is because the roots of his authority would not have been spread and deepened in the land of Iraq due to the shortage of his time in Iraq and to the fact that the Iraqi people were not united and inclined by their nature towards arguments dispute and disobedience.

This would be clear when we remember that Muawiya was about to meet a crushing defeat at the Battle of Siffin while he Was leading the obedient people of Syria. What would have been the situation if he had had to lead the argumentative and disobedient people of Iraq against the obedient people of Syria?

In fact we find that Muawiya after the Imam was assassinated and after he became the ruler of Iraq was not able to control Iraq except through the Syrian army. Had he not possessed that populous base along with its obedient army he would not have been able to continue ruling Iraq in spite of his lack of principles and abundance of opportunities. What would be his fate if he were a man of principle scrupulous in his religion and deprived of a firm populous base and an obedient army?

The historical events during the Umayyad period have proven that the ruler of Iraq during that period regardless of his opportunism and lack of all principles would not be able to continue ruling Iraq except through a non-Iraqi task force to which he resorts when a crisis erupts. Al- Hajjaj Ibn Yousef Al-Thaqafi with all his harshness tyranny and extravagance in blood shedding was not able to retain his authority except through the Syrian army.

Had he not had the Syrian military recruits he would have fallen under the blows of the Seceder Shabeeb and his army.

From this we come to the following conclusion: For a ruler to be able to retain his authority he has to possess two important elements:

1. A firm and well-established populous base.

2. An obedient military force capable of supporting him; otherwise his authority would be unstable.

If we know this we would be able to put our hands on the factors which contributed to the turbulence which persisted in the Imam's era and hastened its end. The two above mentioned elements: The firm populous base and the obedient military force were unavailable to the Imam.

The sequel of events which took place during the period between the death of the Messenger and the Imam's election made the two elements beyond his reach.

Ali did not have the two elements

‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib was logically expected to be the closest person after the Messenger to the hearts of the followers of the Messenger. He is his cousin his son-in- law and the one whom he "brothered." He was after the Prophet the most faithful and the most knowledgeable among the Prophet's companions and the most adherent to the Prophet's teaching.

Thus the Muslims who were the followers of the Messenger were and are expected to be genuinely loyal to ‘Ali responsive to his call and obedient to his order more than they were obedient to others. It would have been only natural for ‘Ali to have the two necessary elements for retaining and expanding his authority.

The events of history however did not take their logical sequel. They were rather directed through emotional motives partisan and tribal bigotry and went on through a road opposite of the logical expectation.

The Jealousy of Quraish

The Qureshites refused while Muhammad was in Mecca to respond to his invitation or to acknowledge his prophethood. They knew Muhammad very well. They knew his trustworthiness and truthfulness. The main factor which made Qureshites take such a negative attitude was their jealousy of Hashim the clan of the Messenger.

They thought that recognition of his prophethood meant recognition of the superiority of the Hashimites above the rest of the Qureshite clans the rest of the Arab tribes and the rest of the nations.

The Qureshites refused to acknowledge the prophethood of Muhammad besieged him and his clan and used against him their means of pressure and threat then plotted to assassinate him. They forced him to leave his hometown to Medina. When their scheme of assassination failed they resorted to military confrontation.

The Messenger the members of his House and his companions stood up defending their freedom and sacred principles against the numerous pagan forces and Qureshite tribes were his main pagan enemy. Motivated by their jealousy they continued their attempts to annihilate the Messenger and his followers.

‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib was the right hand of the Prophet in all those battles. He was the leader of the defenders and the most efficient in facing the enemy. His strong defense in the battles of destiny cost the Qureshites many lives.

Thus the Qureshite clans held him responsible for the blood of their sons’ brothers and relatives. By this the Qureshites added a new rancor to their glowing jealousy against the Hashimites in general and inflamed grudges against ‘Ali in particular.

Quraish Retains its Influence and Grudges

Mecca was conquered during the eighth year after the Hijra. Thus the Qureshites declared their Islam after they lost all hopes of obtaining victory against the Prophet. By this the bloody struggle of Quraish against the Messenger and his message came to an end; yet the grudge of the Qureshites against ‘Ali did not come to an end, nor did the influence of Quraish in the Arab society diminish.

The Messenger attempted to secure for the nation a future in which the nation enjoys security against deviation. That security was a combination of two elements: The Holy Qur'an and a righteous wise and thoroughly knowledgeable leadership that walks through the Prophet's path. The Messenger saw that ‘Ali and the rest of the members of his House were the ones who possessed the needed qualifications.

Therefore he declared to the Muslims that ‘Ali to him is like Aaron to Moses1 and that he is the Mawla (guardian) of every believer.2 He informed them also that he is leaving in them that which if they uphold they will never go astray the Book of God and the members of his House. He told them that God informed him that the Holy Qur'an and the members of his House will not part with each other until the Day of Judgment.

Beware he said to the nation how you treat them after me.3 By this declaration the Prophet wanted to establish ‘Ali's leadership and to purify the Qureshites' hearts from the pre-Islamic grudges and replace these grudges with the Islamic brotherhood.

Feeling that he was about to depart from this world and that grudges and jealousy may prevent ‘Ali from reaching the leadership of the nation after him the Prophet wanted to take a precautionary measure against what he feared. He decided to send an army headed by Osamah Ibn Zayd Ibn Harithah to Palestine. There was no immediate danger that motivated the Holy Prophet to send that army.

Yet he urged outstanding companions such as Abu Bakr ‘Umar Abu Obeidah and Saad Ibn Abu Waqaas to be in the expedition. He evidently intended to send the ambitious companions away from Medina so that ‘Ali would take over without difficulty.

The outstanding migrant companions disliked leaving Medina when they knew that the Prophet had fallen ill and had a high fever. The Holy Prophet attempted several times to send them away saying time after time "implement the expedition of Osama." But the companions refused to leave and waited.4

Unwritten Will

The Prophet witnessed the reluctance of his companions to leave Medina. Therefore he wanted to decide in the matter and leave no excuse for them. Thus he wanted to dictate while he was in his ailment a document through which his nation will be secured against straying after him.

Those who were present in his room from his companions felt that he wanted to record in writing what he declared concerning ‘Ali verbally. Therefore the influentials among them resisted the will of the Holy Prophet and cast a doubt on his consciousness. They refused to provide him with an inkwell and a sheet for writing saying: The Book is sufficient for us.5

The Alternation of the Caliphate

It seems to us that the migrant Meccan companions were influenced by the psychological attitudes of the Qureshites. They felt that the continuation of the rule in the House of the Prophet after his death will prevent the rest of the Qureshites from reaching the caliphate. These companions felt that ‘Ali's succession to the Prophet would make the Arab society accustomed to the rule of the members of the House of the Prophet. Their relationship to the Prophet had already cast on those members a halo of holiness.

Furthermore their merit was affirmed by what they had of high quality. Thus it would become impossible for any companions to take the place of these distinguished relatives of the Prophet in the hearts of the Muslims.

‘Ali in addition to his close relationship to the Prophet and his special position had the most brilliant record in the defense of Islam along with a profound knowledge and a righteousness of the highest degree. His two sons Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein were declared by the Messenger of God to be the two leaders of the youth of Paradise6 and they would not be so unless they resembled their grandfather and their father.

Should the leadership after the Messenger be transferred to ‘Ali no one from the Qureshites or other people could compete with him for the hearts of the Muslims by offering a relationship to the Prophet equal to his or a record equal to his record. Nor would anybody be able to compete with his two sons by offering a grandfather a father or a mother equal to theirs.

Even without considering the prospects of his sons ‘Ali's succession to the Messenger would be sufficient to prevent the ambitious companions from reaching the leadership because of his youth and their old age. Had ‘Ali succeeded the Prophet and lived after the Messenger only thirty years none of the caliphs could have reached the caliphate. They would have died before the end of his rule.

The succession of a non-Hashimite Qureshite to the Prophet therefore was conceived by ambitious companions to be the only means that makes the caliphate accessible to them. By this the non-Hashimite Qureshite clans would be able to alternate the caliphate because they are equal to each other. Thus the honor of the caliphate would compensate those clans for what they missed of the honor of prophethood.

During the days of his caliphate ‘Umar said to Ibn Abbass: "Quraish disliked to see you having both honors of the prophethood and caliphate then you would be unfair to your people (The Qureshites). Qureshites have chosen for themselves and they were right and successful."7

If there had been nothing of all this the grudges of Quraish against ‘Ali and the continuation of its influence in the Arab society would have been sufficient to keep ‘Ali away from the caliphate after the Messenger.

The Holy Prophet saw through the light of God what will happen after him. This saddened him and so he on an occasion embraced ‘Ali and wept. When ‘Ali asked him: Messenger of God why do you weep? The Holy Prophet said: "Because of the grudges in the hearts of men which they will show you only after me." 8

The Attitude of the Two Caliphs Towards ‘Ali

When the Messenger departed from this world the Meccan Migrants and the Medinite companions competed for the caliphate but the Migrants had the edge. They won the race. Their argument against the Medinites was that the Messenger of God is from them and that the caliphate is in them. The majority of the companions elected Abu Bakr without mentioning ‘Ali and without consulting him.

When ‘Ali refused to join the electors they attempted to force him to do so but the daughter of the Messenger stood in their way. ‘Ali did not join the electors of Abu Bakr until the daughter of the Holy Prophet (Fatima) met her Lord.

It was only natural for Abu Bakr to find in his heart towards ‘Ali what every human finds towards his only competitor and to find in himself towards ‘Umar what any human can feel towards his dear friend and strong supporter. It was only natural that Abu Bakr rewards ‘Umar by returning the favor and appointing him his successor.

The Growth Of The Qureshite Influence And The Obscurity Of The Imam

The leadership of the first Two Caliphs was expected only to make the non-Hashimite Qureshite influence increase and grow stronger and stronger and this was expected to put ‘Ali in more isolation.

The Obscurity of the Imam

The period of the Two Caliphs was full of important events and many conquests. This kept people occupied.

The position of the Two Caliphs went high enough to reach the degree of holiness. The names of the military leaders of the conquests and especially the Qureshites among them became well known. People forgot ‘Ali his brilliant record in defending the faith of Islam and his great participation in establishing the foundation of the Muslim State along with what the Messenger of God said about him. People of many nafionalities entered into the domain of the faith of Islam. These people knew the names of the Two Caliphs and the military leaders who subdued those nationalities and the rulers who administered their countries. They did not know anything about ‘Ali and his past.

‘Ali remained in Medina for the duration of the rule of the three caliphs and he was living in an actual state of isolation from the events and the authority. The Two Caliphs did not appoint him to any post; nor did they appoint any member of his house to any military leadership or civil administration in any part of the Muslim World.

Thus people did not know him. The opportunity was not given to any member of his house to be put in a position that would enable him to inform the Muslims about the members of the House of the Holy Prophet and their leader.

The Muslims during the days of the Two Caliphs knew Saad Ibn Abu Waqaas the conqueror of Iraq Amr Ibn Al-Aws conqueror of Egypt and its governor and Muawiya Ibn Abu Sufyan governor of Damascus. They knew Mughirah Ibn Shu-abah governor of Basra Abu Musa Al-Ashari its subsequent governor Ammar Ibn Yasir governor of Kufa for a short time and Abdullah Ibn Masud the treasurer of Kufa.

These individuals became better known to the conquered nationalities than ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib. I do not believe that any of these leaders and rulers except Ammar Ibn Yasir and (maybe) Abdullah Ibn Masud was anxious to inform people about ‘Ali and his position in Islam.

I do not say that the Two Caliphs were denying the position of ‘Ali and that they did not recognize any of his distinctions. They were too righteous to do that. It is recorded that ‘Umar said: "No one should give a verdict at the Mosque of the Prophet while ‘Ali is present."9 He also said more than once: "Had ‘Ali not been present ‘Umar would have perished (spiritually)."10 And ‘Umar said about ‘Ali: "By God no pillar of Islam could have been erected without the sword of ‘Ali."11

Yes ‘Umar used to say that and more than that but these words used to be said occasionally and never took the form of a general introduction; nor did they pass the walls of Medina. It was easy for the Second Caliph who had an unlimited influence in the Muslim World to introduce to the Muslims the Imam ‘Ali.

He could have informed them about what he knew of ‘Ali's distinctions and brilliant record in order to prepare the Muslims in general and the Qureshites in particular to accept ‘Ali's leadership of the nation after him. But ‘Umar did not do that.

The Umayyads Infiltrated the Regime

This by itself was not to prevent the Imam from reaching a peaceful reign. The growth of the Qureshites in the Islamic society was not in favor of the Hashimites in general and ‘Ali in particular. Yet it did not represent an insurmountable difficulty to ‘Ali. Had the Umayyads remained outside the Islamic Regime ‘Ali could have surmounted that difficulty.

Unfortunately the Umayyad clan which was the most hostile to the Prophet with the worst grudge against ‘Ali had infiltrated ‘Umar's regime and its influence developed rapidly and it became the strongest Qureshite clan among Muslims.

The Continuity of Muawiya and His Governorship

The Umayyad influence in the Islamic State was born when ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab appointed Yazid Ibn Abu Sufyan as the governor of Damascus shortly after it was conquered. Yazid did not live long. The Second Caliph called upon Muawiya to succeed him. Shortly afterwards he added Jordan to Muawiya's authority.12 Muawiya continued in his post for the duration of ‘Umar's caliphate.

‘Umar did not dismiss him though he used to dismiss his official appointees and replace them. He dismissed Saad Ibn Abu Waqaas from the governorship of Kufa in spite of his brilliant past and endeavor.13

He dismissed Ammar Ibn Yasir though he wrote to the people of Kufa when he appointed him their governor informing them that Ammar is from the distinguished men among the companions of Muhammad. But ‘Umar retained Muawiya in his post.14 It seems that the Caliph was impressed by Muawiya's intelligence his administrative ability and he was confident of his obedience to him.

Muawiya remained in his post until the Second Caliph departed from this world. He retained him in that post though he witnessed his extravagance and his high standard of living. Muawiya by his continuation in the governorship of that important province was able to purchase the loyalty of many chiefs of Arab tribes in Syria.

He became powerful enough to make the Second Caliph shortly before he died warn the members of the Electoral Convention not to dispute with each other; otherwise Muawiya may prevail against them and snatch the caliphate from their hands.

Needless to say the continuity of the rule of Muawiya in Damascus and Jordan for that long period was expected to prevent ‘Ali from having any populous base in that province. Muawiya was expected to close all channels through which some information may reach the masses of the people of his region about the past of the Imam and his present.

The Electoral Convention Put The Caliphate In The Hands Of The Umayyads

However the infiltration of the regime by the Umayyads was not a difficulty insurmountable to ‘Ali if ‘Umar had appointed him his successor.

Had ‘Umar appointed him his successor ‘Ali would have been able to uproot the Umayyad plantation from the soil of Damascus without much difficulty because that plantation did not reach its ultimate strength during ‘Umar's time.

The Second Caliph with good intentions pushed the caliphate in a direction whose immediate consequences were two developments that made the arrival of the Imam to a peaceful rule impossible.

The first of the two developments was the sudden escalation of the Umayyad's power.

When the Second Caliph was stabbed he refused to appoint ‘Ali as his successor15 though he repeatedly declared that ‘Ali was the only one qualified among the companions to make the Muslims walk on the clear and straight road.16

He refused to appoint him because he did not want to shoulder the responsibility of the caliphate after his death. Thus he invented the idea of the Electoral Convention. He put the caliphate in the hands of six Qureshite companions; ‘Ali was one of them; the others were: Uthman Abdul-Rahman Ibn Ouf Al-Zubayr Ibn Awam Talhah Ibn Ubaydullah and Saad Ibn Abu Waqass. The selected caliph shall be from these alone and these alone shall select him.

Since the passing Caliph knew that ‘Ali was the most qualified among the six members to lead the nation to the right road he was expected to tip the scale in his favor by commanding the Muslims to follow ‘Ali's party if there were two parties among the members of the Electoral Convention. The passing Caliph did what was not expected. He commanded the Muslims to follow the party of Abdul-Rahman Ibn Ouf.

Yet this man was expected to choose Uthman who was his brother-in-law and this is what he did. Thus the passing Caliph with good intention brought the Umayyads to a reality that was beyond their dreams before ‘Umar's era. He indirectly chose for the caliphate Uthman the righteous member of his Umayyad clan.

Yet his righteousness and excessive love of the members of his clan made him a potential bridge through which the caliphate would cross from the early migrant companions to the rest of the Umayyads the traditional enemy of the Messenger.

Uthman’s reign insured for Muawiya the continuity of his rule with a broader authority and fame. The new Caliph added to the area of Muawiya's authority Palestine and the rest of the Syrian sub-provinces.17

As Muawiya became the ruler of that vast and rich area his rule became free of higher supervisions. As a result he became the strongest man in the Muslim World. It became possible for him before the Third Caliph met his Lord to put at battlefield a respectable army of a hundred thousand fighters. These were salaried by the Islamic treasury in Syria.18

Muawiya was not the only Umayyad who ruled an important province and purchased the loyalty of Arab chiefs with what was under his authority of public funds. The Third Caliph appointed a