Part 4: The Allegiance Breakers (Nakitheen)

No doubt, it is a fact that the Mother of faithful, Ayesha and Talha and Zubair had instigated people against Uthman and developed such a state that people went to the extent of murdering him.

Zubair ibn Awwam was on the forefront among those opponents while Talha ibn Ubaidullah was just behind him.

Once Uthman had said regarding Talha: “I am really sad about Talha. I had given him so much gold and now he wants to kill me. O Lord! Do not let him enjoy that wealth. Make him suffer for his betrayal.”1

After Uthman’s murder, the above mentioned three persons took up the pretext of his death because they were on the forefront in his murder.

Uthman was besieged in his house. One day Imam ‘Ali (a) told Talha: “For the sake of Allah, send these rioters away from Uthman.” Upon this, Talha replied: “By Allah, I would not do so until Bani Umayyah returns the wealth of Muslim Ummah that it has usurped.”

Tabari writes: Uthman had given a loan of fifty thousand dirhams to Talha. Once when Uthman was going to the mosque, he met Talha on the way; Talha said: “I have saved the loan amount. You may take it from me whenever you want.” Uthman said: “O Abu Sehr! I exempt you from repayment of this loan.” When Uthman was besieged, he used to say: “He has repaid me as a thief repays a person.”

Madaini writes in Murder of Uthman: “Talha did not allow Uthman’s body to be buried for three days. When Hakim ibn Hazm and Jubair ibn Mutim were taking his body away, Talha appointed a few persons on the way to stone it.”2

Dr. Taha Husayn writes: “Talha’s love for the rioters was not hidden. His continued his efforts in enraging them. Uthman used to complain about this habit of Talha in private and public.”

Reliable narrators say: Once Uthman requested Imam ‘Ali (a) to dispel the rioters somehow. Imam ‘Ali (a) came to Talha and saw a large number of rioters with him. He said: “Send all of them back.” However Talha refused to do so.3

The role of Ayesha in Uthman’s murder is as clear as daylight. She had shown the Prophet’s shirt a number of times to Uthman and said: “Even the Prophet’s shirt is not worn out and you have ignored his practice (Sunnah).” She stood behind the veil a number of times and said: “Kill Nathal!”

It is a fact that the Mother of faithful was the greatest enemy of Uthman. You have read the narration in previous pages that when someone informed Ayesha in Mecca that Uthman has killed the rioters and the agitation has come to an end, she said: “What kind of justice is this? People seeking justice are being killed! The oppressed people are put at the mercy of swords instead of being provided with justice!”

As soon as Imam ‘Ali (a) came to power, Ayesha stood up to revenge Uthman’s death. She began preparations for Basra on advice of Talha and Zubair. During this period, Saeed ibn al-Aas came to the Mother of faithful and asked: “What do you want?” She replied: “I want to go to Basra.” Saeed asked: “Why do you want to go there?” She replied: “I want to revenge Uthman’s murder.”

Saeed ibn al-Aas said: “O Mother of faithful! Uthman’s killers are your allies.”4

On the basis of historical facts, we can say that those who initiated the Battle of Jamal were the greatest enemies of Uthman, having Uthman’s blood on their hands. The majority of Muslims of that time was well-aware of Uthman’s killers.

After having a look at this historical fact, an interesting question arises: When the heroes of the Battle of Jamal were real killers of Uthman, why did they want to revenge Uthman’s murder? Why did they instigate people against Imam ‘Ali (a)?

Were some hidden factors active at that time, which were taken as pretext to oppose the government?

Why did Talha and Zubair pay allegiance to Imam ‘Ali (a) then?

If the revenge of Uthman’s murder was important, was betraying the government the only way to do so? Did Uthman pass away without leaving an heir behind? All know that Amr, the son of Uthman, was present at that time.

Which law granted to the Mother of faithful, Talha and Zubair, the right to punish Uthman’s killers?

Why was Basra chosen for punishing Uthman’s killers? Why wasn’t Egypt chosen for this ‘virtuous deed’ in spite of the fact that majority of rioters was from Egypt only?

Ayesha’s Age-Old Hatred to ‘Ali (a)

It is not a concealed fact for students of History that Ayesha was jealous of Imam ‘Ali (a) since the Prophet’s lifetime. The hatred of Imam ‘Ali (a) was in her veins. There were two reasons for his jealousy:

1. Ayesha was taunted during the Battle of Bani Mustaliq and Imam ‘Ali (a) did not take her side.

2. Ayesha was jealous of Imam ‘Ali (a) because of her barren status. She knew that the Prophet’s progeny would continue through Lady Fatima. Ayesha did not bear any children. Hence, at times, Ayesha used to talk ill about the dearest wife of the Prophet, Lady Khadija. She had also hurt Lady Fatima many times by talking ill about her late mother.

The Mother of faithful narrates the incident of Ifk as follows: “Whenever the Prophet intended to go for a journey, he used to draw the names of his wives and take along one whose name was selected. I was selected in the draw at the time of the Battle of Bani Mustaliq and the Prophet took me along.

On our return, we halted at a place near Medina. I came out to answer nature’s call. I was wearing a necklace at that time. After I was done, my necklace was lost. I began to search it. Meanwhile, departure was announced.

People began to depart but I continued to search the necklace. At last, I found it but when I returned to the camp, all had departed. I lay there after covering myself with a sheet.

In the meantime, Safwan ibn Muattal Salmi who was left behind because of some work, happened to come there. He recognized me because he had seen me before the revelation of the verse of veiling (Hijab).

He brought his camel to me and made me mount it. Then he moved his camel swiftly and we reached Medina. People of Medina began to point fingers at me. These talks reached the ears of the Prophet and my parents.

Then I observed a change in the Prophet’s behavior. His love for me had decreased. I asked him that if he permitted, I would go to the house of my parents. “I am not feeling well and my mother will take care of me over there.”

The Prophet permitted me and I went to the house of my parents.

The Prophet called ‘Ali and took his advice in this matter. ‘Ali said: “O Messenger of Allah! There is no dearth of women for you. You can marry anyone else in her stead. You can ask the slave-girl and she would guide you in this matter.”

The Prophet called Buraira but ‘Ali ordered her to speak to the Prophet nothing but the truth…

By Allah, the Prophet had not even got up from this meeting that he received revelation from Allah. After some time he got up wiping his forehead and said: “O Ayesha! Congratulations! Allah has revealed your acquittal.” After that Mustah ibn Athatha, Hissan ibn Thabit, Hamna ibn Jahash and their companions were punished for Qazaf (accusing a chste woman of unchastity).”5

The above narration gives rise to the following issues:

1. The Mother of faithful, Ayesha had accompanied the Prophet to the Battle of Bani Mustaliq.

2. When the army had halted at a place on their return, she went out to answer nature’s call without informing anyone.

3. When she returned to the camp, she realized that her necklace was missing.

4. She went to that place once again in search of her necklace. She found her necklace but everybody had departed by the time she returned.

5. She lost all hopes and went to sleep after covering herself with a sheet. Fortunately Safwan was passing by on his camel and he recognized her because he had seen her before the revelation of the verse of veiling.

6. Safwan’s eyesight was so sharp that he recognized her from over the sheet in the dark night.

7. Safwan made her mount his camel and brought her to Medina. Some people including Hissan ibn Thabit taunted the Mother of faithful.

8. The Prophet took the advice of Imam ‘Ali (a) in this matter, who advised him to divorce the Mother of faithful.

Bukhari has also narrated this tradition in detail: Ayesha narrates: Whenever Allah’s Apostle intended to go on a journey he used to draw lots amongst his wives, and take with him one whose name was drawn. He drew lots during one of the battles which he fought and the lot fell on me; so I proceeded with Allah’s Apostle after Allah’s order of veiling (the women) had been revealed. I was carried (on the back of a camel) in my litter and carried down while still in it (when we came to a halt). So we went on till Allah’s Apostle had finished from that battle of his and returned.

The Muslim army camped at a place near Medina. When they announced departure the next day, I had gone to answer nature’s call and I far away from the camp. When returned to my litter, I touched my chest and found that my necklace of Zifar beads6 was missing. So I returned to look for my necklace and my search for it detained me.

In the meanwhile, people who used to lift my litter to the camel came and took my litter and put it on camel back, on which I used to ride, as they considered that I was in it. In those days women were light in weight for they did not get fat, and flesh did not cover their bodies in abundance as they used to eat only a little food. Those people therefore, disregarded the lightness of the litter while lifting and carrying it; and at that time I was still a young girl. They made the camel rise and all of them left (along with it). I found my necklace after the caravan had gone. Then I returned to the camp to find no one there. I sat there for some time and then sleep overcame me.

Safwan ibn Muattal As-Salmi Adh-Dhakwani was behind the army. When he reached my place, he saw the figure of a sleeping person and he recognized me as he had seen me before the order of veiling. So I woke up when he recited the Istirja (i.e. We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return).Then he made me mount his camel and brought me to Medina.7

The following points can be concluded from the narration of Bukhari:

1. The Mother of faithful left the camp when the departure was announced.

2. She did not feel it right to inform anyone before going.

3. Nobody in the entire army saw her going.

4. Even the people carrying the litter did not realize it because all women of that time used to be light in weight as Ayesha.

5. The weight of Ayesha was negligible because of malnutrition hence the people handling the litter lifted it and put it on the camel back.

6. When the mother of faithful saw the ground empty, she slept there covering herself with a sheet.

7. Safwan was left behind the army. He recognized a sleeping person from far away because he had seen her before the revelation of the verse of veiling.

8. Safwan made the Mother of faithful mount his camel and brought her to Medina.

The incident of Ifk is one of the causes of hatred between the Mother of faithful and Imam ‘Ali (a). Also there are other factors because of which she was jealous of the Prophet’s daughter and ‘Ali al-Murtada.

Ayesha wanted to become a beloved one of the Prophet. She had such ego that she criticized the late beloved wife of the Prophet in his presence. She had tried to prove to the Prophet that Lady Khadija was an old woman whose teeth had fallen; while Allah has given him a young wife in her stead.

The Prophet had scolded Ayesha for this and said: “Khadija testified to me when people were opposing me. She sacrificed all her wealth for my sake when people had deprived me. The greatest virtue of her is that she is the mother of my progeny and this virtue is not shared by anyone else.”

Ayesha and Hafasa are the wives of the Prophet for whom Surah Tahrim was revealed and they are addressed by Almighty Allah as follows:

«إِن تَتُوبَا إِلَى اللَّهِ فَقَدْ صَغَتْ قُلُوبُكُمَا وَإِن تَظَاهَرَا عَلَيْهِ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ مَوْلاَهُ وَجِبْرِيلُ وَصَالِحُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمَلائِكَةُ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ ظَهِيرٌ.»

If you both turn to Allah, then indeed your hearts are already inclined (to this); and if you back up each other against him, then surely Allah it is Who is his Guardian, and Jibreel and the believers that do good, and the angels after that are the aiders.8

This verse proves that these two wives had certainly hatched some plot behind the Prophet, as a result of which Allah has mentioned about His help and that of Jibraeel, other believers and angels.

If someone claims that there was no conspiracy, he should be asked: If the conditions were all right, why Allah mentioned about such a large army? Why did he threaten them with divorce? Why did he consider them deviated from the right path?

Almighty Allah had deprived Ayesha of bearing children, so when she used to look at Lady Sayyada, the Prophet’s daughter, she used to be extremely jealous of her.

Reason of Talha and Zubair’s opposition

The reason behind the opposition of Talha and Zubair is also obvious, as they were aspiring for Caliphate, and were also included in the Shura committee appointed by Umar. However they could not get Caliphate through this committee and Uthman was selected; but in any case they derived a lot of benefits during Uthman’s Caliphate.

When they saw the tide turning, they also turned their directions and thought that if they played a good part in opposing Uthman they would get Caliphate after him. But, their efforts were in vain as no one considered them worthy of Caliphate after Uthman’s murder and Imam ‘Ali (a) got Caliphate.

They became furious at this and continued their practice, demanding the governorships of Kufa and Basra, but they were denied it by the Imam.

Also the financial policy of Imam ‘Ali (a) was completely different from that of the three caliphs and Imam ‘Ali (a) was never influenced by anyone’s personality. Neither did he believe in making friends with famous personalities by offering them wealth. On the other hand, both of them (Talha and Zubair) had got into the habit of accepting huge properties as gifts.

You have already read in details the wealth they had taken from Muslim treasury and the wealth they acquired during the time of Abu Bakr and Umar is described briefly by Balazari as follows:

Hisham ibn Urwah narrates from his father that Abu Bakr allotted all the property of Jarf and Qanaat to Zubair.

Madaini told me that Umar was allotting properties to people. When he reached the valley of Aqiq, he said: “Where are the seekers of this land? I have not seen a better land than this.” Zubair said: “Please allot this land to me.” Umar allotted the entire property to him.9

This narration shows that these personalities did not have the habit of supporting anyone free of cost. They had demanded maximum compensation for their support in every age.

However, a just Imam like ‘Ali could not give them anything because he had not given anything more than required even to his brother.

Some historians have recorded an incident which clearly shows the reason why Talha and Zubair were angry with ‘Ali.

Before rising up in revolt, Talha and Zubair sent Muhammad ibn Talha to Imam ‘Ali (a) with the following message:

“We paved the way for you. We instigated people against Uthman until they killed him. When we saw that people wanted to pay allegiance to you, we led them to you. We were the first to pay allegiance to you. We have subdued the Arabs for you. Emigrants and Helpers paid allegiance to you because of us. However, we are sad that you turned away from us after becoming the ruler and disgraced us like slaves.”

Imam ‘Ali (a) got the message through Muhammad ibn Talha, and told him to go and ask them what they wanted.

He returned to ‘Ali and said: “They demand from you that one of them should be made the governor of Basra and another, governor of Kufa.” Upon this Imam ‘Ali (a) said: “If I do so, mischief would increase and they would make it difficult for me to govern other places also. I am not at peace while they are in Medina, so if I make them governors of important regions, the chances of evil conspiracies would increase.”

Both became hopeless at this reply of Imam ‘Ali (a) and they saw all their aspirations fail. So they went to Imam ‘Ali (a) and said: “Please permit us to go to Mecca for Umrah.” Imam ‘Ali (a) said: “Promise me that you will not break my allegiance and will not betray me. You must not harm Muslim unity and come home directly after the Umrah.”

Talha and Zubair accepted these conditions and Imam ‘Ali (a) permitted them to go for Umrah. After that, they did what they wanted to do.10

When they were leaving for Mecca, Imam ‘Ali (a) asked them: “Have I ever deprived you of your right? Have I ever decreased the amount of your pension? Have you ever seen me negligent in providing justice to an oppressed one?

By Allah, I never desired for Caliphate and kingdom. You invited me to this kingdom and I accepted it. After coming to power, I sought guidance from holy Quran. It has taught me the rights and duties of a ruler and subjects. I have made the commandments of holy Quran as principles of my government and have followed the Prophetic Practice (Sunnah).

I neither needed your advice in this leadership nor that of anyone else. Till today, I have not received a case for which I need your advice.”

Imam ‘Ali (a) describes the mischief of Talha and Zubair in the following words: “By Allah, they cannot put any blame on me. They did not do justice with me. They were demanding a right they had left and seeking revenge of a murder for which they themselves were responsible.11

Instigators of the Battle of Jamal in Basra

Talha and Zubair departed for Basra along with the Mother of faithful, Ayesha seeking the revenge of Uthman’s murder, although their claim was wrong both according to religion and reason.

1. According to religion, they had no right to it because Uthman did not die heirless and his son, Amr had the right to file a case of murder with the Muslim Caliph and the Caliph was supposed to find the culprits and punish them.

Therefore Talha, Zubair and Ayesha had no right to seek the revenge of Uthman’s murder in the presence of his son.

2. Those who rose up to take revenge, committed many crimes: They killed a number of innocent persons. They robbed the Muslim treasury of Basra and tortured Muslims in general and the governor in particular, which is not permissible according to human nature or as per legal ruling.

3. Why did the evokers of Jamal go to Basra in search of the murderers instead of going to Egypt?

4. The Mother of faithful had no right to come out of her house because Almighty Allah had ordered her to remain in the house in the verse of:

“And stay in your houses…” (Surah Ahzaab 33:33).

She disobeyed Allah’s order by coming out to the battlefield.

5. Does Islamic law permit one to initiate a larger sedition in order to end a mischief? Especially when the rioters were aware of the fact that Imam ‘Ali (a) was not at all involved in Uthman’s murder and he had not even granted official posts to the murderers. The evokers of Jamal were angry with Uthman first and then they got angry with Imam ‘Ali (a). However the reason of their anger was completely different.

They were angry with Uthman because of his unjust economic policies; on the other hand, they were angry with Imam ‘Ali (a) because his economic policy was just and fair.

Imam ‘Ali (a) did not appoint any wealth-lover to an official post, therefore, his policy seemed more harmful than Uthman’s.

In present political terminology, it would be appropriate to say that Imam ‘Ali (a) came to power after an agitation in which he had not participated. The fruit of this revolution fell in Imam ‘Ali’s (a) favor and the agitators did not get even a part of it.

Also Talha, Zubair and the Mother of faithful feared that if Imam’s government becomes powerful, he would charge them for Uthman’s murder and they would face punishment for this crime.

Keeping this danger in mind, Talha and Zubair broke their oath of allegiance and set out for Basra along with the Mother of faithful. They passed by a spring on the way and some dogs surrounded Ayesha’s mount and started barking at it. As a result of which the camel became wild and the person controlling it said: “May Allah curse the dogs of Hawwab. There are so many dogs here.”

When Ayesha heard this, she said: “Turn back the camel as I don’t want to go ahead, because I heard the Prophet say: I see that dogs of Hawwab are barking at one of my wives. Then he told me: I don’t want you to be that woman.” Upon this, Zubair said that they have already crossed Hawwab. They bribed fifty Arabs to testify to Ayesha that the fountain was not Hawwab. This was the first false mass testimony in the history of Islam.

Imam ‘Ali (a) wrote to the governor of Basra, Uthman ibn Hunayf: “The traitors have broken the oath they gave to Allah. When they come to you, invite them to Allah’s obedience. If they accept, it would be nice for them.”

On reading this letter, the governor of Basra sent Abul Aswad Duali and Amr ibn Haseen Khuzai to the rebels. Both these honorable personalities of Basra went to the Mother of faithful and advised her as instructed but she told them to go to Talha and Zubair.

So they came to Zubair and asked: “Why have you come to Basra?” Zubair replied: “To take the revenge of Uthman’s murder.”

They told him: “Uthman was not murdered in Basra. You know the killers of Uthman very well. You both and the Mother of faithful were the deadliest enemies of Uthman and you instigated people against him; now that he is murdered, you arose to revenge his death. Also you paid allegiance to Imam ‘Ali (a) a few days ago at your free will, now you have broken the oath and want to fight against him.

Upon this, Zubair told them to meet Talha and the peace-makers proceeded there, but after holding a discussion with him, they concluded that Talha wanted to wage a war at any cost.

Meanwhile another dignified person of Basra, Abdullah ibn Hakeem Tamimi came to Talha and Zubair with a bunch of letters and asked: “Were these letters not sent by you?” Talha and Zubair replied in affirmative.

Abdullah ibn Hakeem Tamimi said: “Then fear Allah. Till yesterday you were instigating us to depose Uthman and if that was not possible to kill him; but now that he is murdered, you want to revenge his death.”

The governor of Basra, Uthman ibn Hunayf came to Talha and Zubair and reminded them for the sake of Allah and His Messenger that they had already given allegiance to Imam ‘Ali (a), hence they should desist from rebelling against him. But they said: “We have come to revenge Uthman’s death.”

Uthman ibn Hunayf said: “What have you got to do with Uthman’s murder? The right to revenge rests with his heir, because he did not die heirless.”

The governor signed an agreement with Talha and Zubair and this agreement was written down on a sheet of paper. According to it, both parties would wait for the arrival of the Caliph of Muslims and would not fight in any way.

There was peace in Basra for a few days because of this agreement. After that, Talha and Zubair wrote to the chiefs of different tribes and made them join their side. Bani Azd, Qais ibn Ghailan, Bani Amr ibn Tameem, Bani Hanzala and Bani Darim were deceived by their words and paid allegiance to them. However some religious persons of Bani Majash strictly opposed them.

Talha and Zubair betrayed in one more way. One night they armed their followers and made them wear armors inside their clothes so that no one could suspect them. It was a stormy night and it was raining heavily. They entered the mosque in such weather along with their followers. As soon as the governor, Uthman ibn Hunayf moved ahead to lead the prayer congregation, the armed followers of Talha and Zubair pulled him back at once and sent Zubair ahead. The security guards came forward and pulled Zubair back and moved Uthman ibn Hunayf ahead.

Meanwhile some more armed followers of Talha and Zubair reached the mosque and fought with the security guards of the government fiercely. They defeated the guards and handed over the leadership of congregation to Zubair. As a result of this, the time of sunrise was nearing and the congregation shouted: “The time of prayer will lapse.” In the end, Zubair snatched the leadership somehow and led the congregational prayer. After completing the prayer, Zubair ordered his followers to take Uthman ibn Hunayf into their custody and punish him severely. They caught hold of the governor and punished him by pulling out the hair of his face and head. They also arrested the security guards and plundered the Muslim treasury.

The guards and the governor of Basra were brought to the Mother of faithful and the ‘merciful’ mother ordered all of them to be killed.12

I would like to quote one more narration to complete the discussion of the allegiance-breakers (Nakitheen). Ibn Athir writes:

The Mother of faithful had gone to Mecca when Uthman was besieged and she was returning to Medina after completing Hajj, when she reached a place called Sarf and a person from Bani Laith named Ubaidullah ibn Abi Salma met her.

Ayesha enquired about the going-ons in Medina and he informed her that Uthman was killed. She asked him as to who succeeded to Caliphate and he told her that the government had gone into the hands of Imam ‘Ali (a).

The Mother of faithful became furious and said: “The sky should have crashed to the earth.” She ordered to be taken back to Mecca saying: “The innocent Uthman is dead!”

Ubaidullah ibn Abi Salama said: “O lady! What are you saying? You were instigating us to kill the Nathal for he had become a polytheist.”

Then he quoted the following lines: You were the source. The dust has originated from you only. Storm and heavy rainfall is from you only. You ordered us to kill the Caliph and used to say that he was a disbeliever. We obeyed you and killed him. According to us, the real killer is one who ordered the killing.

The Mother of faithful then came to Mecca and gathered people around her, saying that Uthman’s murder was unlawful. Uthman was better than all the inhabitants of the earth. Abdullah ibn Aamir brought a lot of wealth and gave it to the Mother of faithful. Similarly, Yaala ibn Umayyah brought a great deal of wealth from Yemen and gave it to her and suggested to her to proceed to Basra.

The other wives of the Prophet were also present in Mecca at that time. Ayesha insisted them to accompany her. Lady Umme Salma opposed her strongly and told her: “Fear Allah for He has ordered us to stay in our houses and not to lead the army in war.” Hafasa bint Umar was prepared to leave, but her brother, Abdullah ibn Umar advised her against it.

The Mother of faithful set out with Talha and Zubair. Marwan asked: “Who would become the Imam from these two?”

Abdullah ibn Zubair said that his father would be the Imam and Muhammad ibn Talha said that his father would be the Imam. When Ayesha got the news of this argument, she sent a message to Marwan: “Why are you creating dissension between us? My nephew, Abdullah ibn Umar will lead the congregational prayer.”

A person from this group named Maaz ibn Abdullah says: “Thank God, we were defeated. If we had won, Zubair and Talha would have fought for Caliphate and we would have destroyed ourselves.”

When this group of traitors was proceeding to Basra, Saeed ibn al-Aas met Marwan and said: “The people from whom we have to take revenge are with you. In order to implement this operation in real sense, you should kill those instigators and return home.”

Talha and Zubair narrated a remorseful story of Uthman’s death to people on reaching Basra and expressed their desire to avenge his death. The Mother of faithful also addressed the people on several occasions.

At this, Jariya ibn Qudama Saadi stood up and said: “O Mother of faithful! The pain would not have been as severe at the death of a hundred such Uthmans as it is because of your public appearance. Allah granted you honor and respect because you are the Prophet’s wife, but you torn all curtains of this honor and came to the battlefield.”

Another youth from Bani Saad stood up and addressed Talha and Zubair: “Have you both brought your wives in the battlefield? If not, then shame on you. You have kept your wives in veil and have brought the Prophet’s wife out.” After that he also quoted a few poetic lines in this regard.

Then they came to Basra and arrested Uthman ibn Hunayf after betraying them, pulled out his beard and hair and whipped him forty times. The Mother of faithful wrote to Zaid ibn Sauhan from Basra: “This is from the beloved wife of the Prophet, Ayesha, to her son Zaid ibn Sauhan! You should come and join our side and if you cannot, instigate people to hate ‘Ali as much as possible.”

Zaid ibn Sauhan replied: “I am your son only if you return and sit at home, otherwise I am your greatest enemy.”

Then Zaid addressed the people and said: “I feel pity for the Mother of faithful. She was ordered to stay in her house and we were ordered to fight in battles. She disobeyed that order and is doing what we were commanded.”

Once Talha and Zubair were addressing the public when a person from Bani Qais stood up and said: “O Emigrants! Please listen to us. When the Prophet passed away, you paid allegiance to a person and we accepted it. When that person died, he appointed his successor without consulting us. We accepted him also as our leader. When the death of this leader approached, he selected a committee of six persons without consulting us.

One of the members was elected as Caliph from that committee and we accepted him also. Then you pointed his defects and killed him without taking advice from us. Then you paid allegiance to ‘Ali without involving us. Now, what is wrong with ‘Ali? Why do you want to fight against him? Has he given the wealth of Muslims to a person not worthy of it? Has he left the right path and is going astray? What crime has ‘Ali committed that you want to fight against him?”

At this, some people ordered that person to be killed but the people of his tribe protected him and that day passed away somehow. On the next day, the traitors attacked the house of that person and killed him and other persons of his tribe.

Imam ‘Ali (a) started for Basra to put an end to this mischief. On the way he fought a fierce battle, in which Imam ‘Ali (a) was victorious and Talha and Zubair died.

The Mother of faithful took shelter in the house of Abdullah ibn Khalaf. Amirul Momineen (a) ordered his army not to kill injured persons and women or entering any house or to plunder the belongings.

Amirul Momineen (a) arranged to send the Prophet’s wife to Medina, accompanied by forty women. He sent along Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr, Ayesha’s brother for extra protection. At the time of departure, Ayesha said: “There should be no misunderstanding between us. The conflict between me and ‘Ali is like that of a woman with her brother-in-law.”

Crimes of Jamal Instigators

You have gone through the deeds of the allegiance-breakers, how they committed a number of crimes in this entire mayhem.

1. Talha and Zubair bribed fifty persons to testify falsely that the name of that spring was not Hawwab. This was the first case of mass false testimony in the history of Islam.

Refer to this tradition of Sahih Bukhari to understand what a great sin, false testimony is:

The Prophet has said that the greatest sin is to join others in worship with Allah, to be undutiful to one’s parents and to testify falsely. He kept on repeating that warning till we thought he would not stop.

2. We think that the Mother of faithful would not have returned to her house on hearing the name of Hawwab because the witnesses were saying that they had just passed by Hawwab. If she had given even an iota of importance to the Prophet’s words, she would have returned home.

3. Talha and Zubair paid allegiance to Imam ‘Ali (a) and then broke the oath. They also broke the promise made to Uthman ibn Hunayf.

4. They did not care about the sanctity of mosque and prayer. Even though Holy Quran has promised severe punishment for killing a believer, they killed the guards unlawfully.

5. The instigators of the Battle of Jamal pulled out the hair of Uthman ibn Hunayf’s face and head. Let us consider it in the light of the teachings of the Prophet:

Umar told the Prophet: “Suhail ibn Amr is a polytheist orator, and he always instigates the disbelievers through his speeches. If you permit me, I will break two of his lower teeth. After that, his speeches will not have much effect and he won’t be able to instigate people against Islam.”

The Prophet strictly forbade him from doing this and said: “I don’t want to disfigure anyone’s face, or Allah will disfigure mine even though I am a prophet.”13

You can see how the Prophet did not permit disfiguring the face of even the worst disbeliever, however, Talha and Zubair went against the teachings of Islam and disfigured the face of a trustworthy believer. Does Islam permit this evil act?

6. What is the relation between Uthman’s murder and plundering Basra?

7. If the behavior of the rebels with Uthman was not right, was the behavior of Talha and Zubair with Uthman ibn Hunayf according to Islamic teachings?

8. Islam has emphasized honoring a promise and called breaking of oath a sign of hypocrisy as narrated in the tradition of the Prophet by Imam Muslim:

The Prophet said: “A person having the following four signs is a real hypocrite and if a person has even one sign, he is a hypocrite till he gets rids of it viz. 1) lying 2) dishonoring the terms of an agreement 3) breaking promises 4) resorting to abuse during a quarrel.”14

I would like to leave it to the just readers to search for these signs in the group of the allegiance-breakers (Nakitheen) and request the readers to compare this with the practices of Imam ‘Ali (a).

I hope that the just readers would conclude that the difference between the practices of Imam ‘Ali (a) and his rivals was like that of the heaven and the earth or between light and darkness.

  • 1. Dr. Taha Husayn, Al-Fitnah al-Kubra ‘‘Ali wa Banuh, Pg. 8
  • 2. Ibn Abil Hadid, Sharh Nahjul Balagha, Vol. 2, Pg. 5-6, Egypt
  • 3. Al-Fitnah al-Kubra ‘‘Ali wa Banuh, Pg. 8
  • 4. Abdul Fattah Abdul Maqsood, Al-Imam ‘‘Ali bin Abi Talib, Vol. 3, Pg. 427
  • 5. Tabari, Tarikh al-Umam wal Muluk, Vol. 3, Pg. 76-77
  • 6. Yemenite beads partly black and partly white
  • 7. Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 3, Pg. 154-156
  • 8. Surah Tahrim 66:4
  • 9. Balazari, Futuhul Buldan, Pg. 26
  • 10. Ibn Abil Hadid, Sharh Nahjul Balagha, Vol. 3, Pg. 4 to 9, Egypt
  • 11. Ibn Abil Hadid, Sharh Nahjul Balagha, Vol. 2, Pg. 405
  • 12. Tarikh Tabari and Sharh Ibn Abil Hadid, Vol. 2, Pg. 497-501
  • 13. Tarikh Tabari, Vol. 2 Pg. 289
  • 14. Sahih Muslim, Vol. 1, Pg. 42