Reasons for Imam Ali (a.s.)'s Loneliness

Now, toward the end of this brief analysis, we bring up the important question that if administration of a state on the basis of the aforementioned policies are applicable and such polices are proper and competent, why then did people distance in a short time from such truth-centered statesman as Imam Ali (a.s.) whom they had selected as their leader with their widespread support, and left him alone during the last months his life?

Raising the Issue

Let us further delve into various aspects of this topic and raise the issue more explicitly. The foremost questions here are: What was the reason for people's distancing so widely from Ali (a.s.) in a not so long period? Why could not the Imam (a.s.) practically preserve people's widespread support of the government? Why was the bond of intimacy dissociated between the ruler and the people in Imam Ali (a.s.)'s hukuma, and people were disunited to the extent that the Imam could not create concordance among those who had directly sworn allegiance to him, and maintain "unity of word" among them?

Why did the Imam (a.s.) complain of the lack of people's support in the way of actualizing his lofty causes and implementing his reforms during the last days of his life, and would painfully say?

Far from it that I ever may remove, with your help, the darkness from the face of justice and straighten the crookedness (which has found its way) in the truth.1

Why did he consider them the heart-rending pain of his political life and say?

I want to cure (maladies) by you, but you are (yourselves) my pains.2

And he complained of disobediences and rebellions, saying:

I am entangled by people who do not obey.3

And he complained of their dispersed tendencies, and their fruitless crowded presence with their dissociated hearts, and said:

There is no richness in your multitude, with your hearts scarcely united.4

He yearned to have the few companions of the battle of Badr:

If I had companions similar in number as the people of Badr...5


Anyway! Where did so much regression originate after that wonderful turnout for swearing allegiance?

Did not that astonishing loneliness after such an unbelievable turnout for confirmation and companionship indicate that ruling on the basis of 'Alawi politics and with Ali (a.s.)'s procedure of hukuma was not practically applicable in the real world society, and that 'Alawi utopia was not but an image in the world of illusion?

We will, in this discourse, try as far as possible to respond to the above question on the basis of historical texts and the realities of Islamic community of those days. But before that, it would be worthwhile to outline several points, however briefly:

Role of the Elite in Political and Social Transformations

The role of the elite and the elect in social transformations is fundamental and widespread. They have had the most influential impact on political and social developments during the history of this section of the society.6

In fact, they mostly make decisions for the masses, and the people often do not hesitate in following them. Surprisingly enough, in these role-creating and manipulations, they play their roles in such a way that people imagine that they have themselves made the decisions and are acting on their own!

In a time like the early period of Islam, chiefs of tribes enjoyed pivotal roles in political and social changes. In another time, intellectual elite and social leaders played such roles, and today, heads of parties and political establishments, managers of great cultural, educational, and information organizations, and chief executives of the press agencies and other mass media are the main manipulators, role-creators, and decision makers of societies.

Role of the Kufans in Ali's Hukuma

In the geography of early Islam, the territory of Iraq used to serve as a bridge connecting east and west of Islam and acted as a center for supplying military power to the central authority. In this territory, Kufa enjoyed a special status and a sensitive role.

Kufa was constructed in 17AH/638CE for stationing the troops, and its organizers founded this city with the intention to set up a great camp for the troops. Thus, it is clear that Kufa was a military center; i.e., a center for those who harbored nothing but battle, hence always thinking of conquering borders and attaining spoils of war.

People who had gathered in Kufa were far away from Madina, which hosted most of the (Prophet's) companions. Very few companions frequented Kua, as 'Umar's policy was to have them remain in Madina.7

Therefore, the Kufans were at a low level of the required knowledge of religious law and doctrines.

'Umar had explicitly asked the companions who intended to travel to Kufa not to teach hadiths to the Kufans and not to distract them from intimacy with the Qur'an.8 The Kufan's intimacy and preoccupation with the Qur'an was restricted to mere recitation, nd nothing more. This can be found in the words of the caliph, too. That was why those initially gathered in Kufa as "reciters" (Qurra'), later on formed the original kernel of the Khawarij.

What is here very emphatic to notice is the tribalistic context in Kufa and the prevalence of ethnocentrism and dominance of tribal culture and lifestyle in the Kufan's behavior and relations. In this culture, the chief of the tribe is the role-creator in the movements and attempts, and other people are simply involuntary subjects and blind followers.

Accordingly, it must be asserted that when we say the people left Ali (a.s.) alone, it means that the elect, the elite, and the chieftains of Islamic community left him alone. This agonizing fact was more evidently represented in people of Iraq, especially among Kufans.

Now, after what seemed to be like an introduction to this topic, we proceed to deal with the reasons for Ali (a.s.)'s being left alone, on the basis of his own words and sayings.

Ali's Loneliness in his own Words

We said earlier that history is a truthful witness to the claim that the short period of Ali (a.s.)’s hukuma has been the most beautiful manifestation of a rule based on human values. His ruling method was not only attractive to those committed to Islamic human values but those uncommitted to such values were attracted by it too, and sometimes even did not fail to admit its magnificence and attractiveness. Thus, the reasons for people’s distancing from Ali (a.s.)’s hukuma is not to be sought in his inconsistency of method; rather, there are some other reasons and causes to be delved into in the following pages.

Ali (a.s.) has explicitly and adequately talked about people’s turning their back on his hukuma and expressed in his sermons and responses to the queries, the whys and hows of their initial welcome as well as their eventual turning their back on him.

Now, we are going to review the backgrounds, reasons, and causes of people’s withdrawal and Ali (a.s.)’s loneliness:

1. Contradictory Demands

The first reason for people’s distancing themselves from Ali (a.s.) was the fundamental discrepancy between the two approaches to the government. In fact, these two approaches were in principle contradictory in their motivations and purposes.

The great majority of the participants in the uprising against 'Uthman (specially a number of manipulators of that movement, such as Talha and Zubayr), did not intend to bring the community back to the Prophetic sira and sunna. They did not wield their swords in order to maintain the sovereignty of genuine Islamic values. Party monopolism and tribal decision-making of the Umayyad in government, which was formed through the 'Uthman’s rule, had wearied them. For them, overthrowing Uthman and pledge of allegiance to Ali (a.s.) was, in fact, aimed at undoing this knot and solving this problem, although in their slogans they stated otherwise.

After so much insistence by the people and his frequent refusals, Imam Ali (a.s.) took over the caliphate, perchance to restore a right, to lead the community back to the sira of the Prophet, to revive the forgotten genuine Islamic values in the society, and to spread reforms in all bureaucratic, cultural, economic, social, and judicial fields. In one of his earlier sermons he has stated, among other things, the perspective of these endeavors.

In other words, people were motivated by material and worldly drives and efforts; and Ali (a.s.) was motivated by truth- centrism, God-seeking, and concerns about revival of religious values. Accordingly, the Imam (a.s.) said:

My concerns and yours are not the same. I want you for the sake of Allah and you want me for your own.9

In such time, when some people saw Ali (a.s.)’s persistence in his goals and realized their own incompatibility with these goals, they turned away from the company of Ali (a.s.)’s adherents and refused to support him. Thus, as time passed, religious concerns and Divine motives and Islamic-human orientation of 'Alawi rule were further manifested, and on the other hand, supporting was diminished, the distance became wider, and the support of those who were seeking other than the truth slackened.

2. Treason of the Elite and their being

In the days of Amir al-Mu'minin’s hukuma, chiefs of tribes played the main role in making decisions for most of people. The Imam (a.s.) tried very hard to develop inclination toward criteria in people’s mind and life, so that they would choose their path and measure people by Truth criterion rather than measuring Truth by criteria of eminent individuals and personalities…10

Unfortunately, Imam Ali (a.s.)’s efforts in this respect were of no avail. The prevalence of the aforementioned situation seriously hindered the basic reforms of Ali (a.s.)’s rule and this was extremely painful for the Imam as his decisions were occasionally left unfulfilled by the opposition from an individual who was backed by a massive following. The Imam described this sorrowful atmosphere as follows:

People are three groups: Divine scholars; the learners who are on the way of salvation; and the wandering mean ones who linger about every wind. They were neither lighted by the light of knowledge nor hasted toward a safe haven.11

In this valuable statement, Imam Ali (a.s.) has divided people into three groups in their choosing the way of life:

1. The achieved learned: “Divine Scholars”;

2. The Seekers after Truth and the wayfarers on the path of deliverance from darkness and corruption: “The learners on the path of salvation”;

3. People who neither know the right and firm path nor identify the course of movement; rather, they are prompted to move by blind following of the elect. The Imam has called them “hamajun ra'a”, i.e., the petty flies sitting on the faces of animals, and the foolish ignoble who are moved around by any blowing wind and drift along any flow without achieving any firm position.

By the Imam (a.s.)’s analysis, those who neither know the right way of life nor allow themselves any deliberation and knowledge, and blindly follow others, are like flies that have gathered around those more ignorant that themselves and cherish it. Such people neither possess a firm intellectual status nor are able to stand on a steady position.

Without knowing who their leader is and whether he speaks the truth or falsehood, they highly respect him with their mind and soul and follow him only because he has some reputation or is endowed with chairmanship and is bearing the title of chief of the tribe on his forehead or is entitled the head of a party, or for any other reasons, just like a swarm of flies which are blown to every direction that the wind is blowing without knowing why and where they are heading.

It was so agonizing for Ali (a.s.) to see that a great number of people of his time lay among the third group. Amir al-Mu’minin was faced with large masses who were neither "people of understanding" nor on the way of investigation.

More heart-rending and distressing than that was the lack of empathy for listening to these social problems and passions, and the lack of some intelligent ones with whom Ali (a.s.) would share all these. In other words, Ali (a.s.) could not unveil the pains and reveal whom he was accompanied by and what kind of people he was ruling; and when he intended to share what he was involved in, he shared it with one of his close companions (Kumayl). He would take his hand, lead him to the desert and assert the bitter and biting reality, with much sorrow and pity, that what he would tell him was not conveyable to everyone since many were not able to tolerate listening to it; and that every human who enjoyed a larger intellectual and spiritual capacity would be more valued and so forth.

Then the Imam revealed the secret of people’s not supporting him and introduced all the abnormalities and failure of his reformations and reformative planning as rooted in people’s ignorance and their blind following of the treacherous elite.

A Step beyond Delineation of the Roots

Once Ali (a.s.) spoke to a gathering of his relatives and a group of the elite concerning his problems, stating more openly than before the whys and hows of the disturbance (in Kufa), and elucidated its origins and revealed the reasons for disunity in the then Islamic community. He explained why people were not consistent with his reformative planning, did not tolerate the hukuma and sovereignty based on the prophetic sira and sunna and did not support his policies. The Imam began his awakening speech with the following words of the Holy Prophet:

What I fear most about you are two things: following vain desires and extending of hopes.12

Then his holiness explicitly stated that the political disturbances causing disunity in the Muslim community and creating factions and fragmentation are rooted in moral corruptions, egotism and sensualism:

The bases of the occurrence of evil are those desires which are followed and the orders that are fabricated, in which the Book of Allah is disobeyed. People cooperate with each other about them [though it is against the Religion of Allah].13

Thus, the Imam (a.s.) indicates that egoism, sensualism and self-centrism turn into baseless and counter religious innovations disguised as religion; and it is through this approach that blind factionalism is launched, moral disturbances grow into cultural commotions, and eventually wind up in political and social seditions; it is in such case that the perpetrators misuse truth in order to justify their goals and the possibility to develop seditions, and pretend rightfulness. Ali (a.s.) warns:

Let it be known that if right had been pure, there would exist no differences; and if wrong had been pure, it would not be hidden from the wise. What is, however, done is that something is taken from here and something from there.14

By these words, the Imam (a.s.) actually delineated the cultural features of his time and drew attention to the fact that in the past truth and falsehood had been intermixed and the falsehood promoting rabble-rousers pretended truthfulness to achieve their fabricated goals. Consequently, after the lapse of a generation, innovation happened to be regarded as tradition; and now that he intended to unveil the features of falsehood and to rightly clarify the aspects of truth, it would be extremely difficult to do so since people did not realize how tragic the situation was.

Imam Ali (a.s.) quoted a saying from the holy prophet (S) who had predicted and talked about such an atmosphere over time:

Verily, I heard from the Messenger of Allah (S) who said: "How would you be when the disturbances would encompass you; [disturbances] in which the children would turn to adults and the adults would turn to the elderly. People would welcome them and adopt them as tradition so that if anything diverts form it, they would cry out that the tradition is transformed!"15

Surprisingly enough, the prophetic doctrines had settled in people’s minds, tongues, and beliefs so reversely that when such a person like Ali (a.s.), i.e., a tangible embodiment of truth and truth-orientedness intends to reconstruct and rectify people’s minds and thoughts, they cried and clamor that “tradition is transformed!” And so forth.

Were radical reforms, basic changes, and restoration of the Muslim community back to the sunna of the Prophet (S) possible in such atmosphere? That was why, by these words, the Imam (a.s.) drew up to the main issue after his introductory words and clearly talked about innovations and reported on part of the innovations imposed on the sunna, and painfully unveiled what the former statesmen and authorities had bequeathed to people, asserting that he could no longer do anything else; because if he would not hold on to this cultural transformation and carried on the campaign against cultural deviations, the troops would disperse and he would be left alone; totally alone. Here are the Imam’s painful words:

If I force people to abandon their own Sunna and restore traditions to their original station and the way they were common in the Prophet’s era, my troops will scatter and I will be left alone or with few followers.

Expressing Grievances, an Ultimatum to all People

What the Imam (a.s.) briefly stated to Kumayl b. Ziyad, i.e., the treason of the elite and their being followed by common people; and what he said in a private session – attended by a group of the elect and devoted followers – he stated again in details in a lengthy speech in the last months of his hukuma before all people, thus giving each and every one an ultimatum.

In this speech known as the Sermon of Disparagement (Khutba al-Qasi'a)16 which has been delivered after the battle of Nahrawan, the Imam has stated very important radical points as to how and why pre-Islamic religious revolutions ended in failure, and has precisely foreseen the future history of Islam:

With the Elite (al-Khawas)

In his lofty utterances, Imam Ali (a.s.) describes the destiny of Satan who had worshipped God for six thousand years, and with reference to his high status [before his rejection] admonishes the elite who enjoyed brilliant records in their services to Islam lest they end up in a destiny similar to that of Satan:

Therefore, you should fear lest Satan infects you with his disease, or leads you astray through his call.17

And then he explains that the way to get rid of that destiny is to give up groundless prejudices, factional tendencies, Paganistic vindictiveness, and seeking undeserved superiority:

You should, therefore, put off the fires of haughtiness and flames of intolerance that are hidden in your hearts. This vanity can exist in a Muslim only by the machinations of Satan, his haughtiness, mischief and whisperings. Make up your mind to have humility over your heads, to trample self-pride under your feet and to cast off vanity from your necks.18

Warning the Common People

When eminent figures of the community, the political and cultural manipulators, and those enjoying ethnic, scholastic, and ideological reputation get involved in prejudiced clashes, they would make instrumental use of means of enflaming disturbances, i.e., the people and the communities, and thus lead the society into the fire of disunity.

Further on in his sermon, Imam Ali (a.s.) insistently enjoins people to refuse obeying their dignitaries and elite in case they would not give up seeking superiority and would persist on their haughtiness, arrogance, and sedition; and not to walk along their illegitimate objectives; and to be heedful of the fact that all seditions, corruptions, and abnormalities are rooted in their positions:

Beware, therefore, and fear obeying your leaders and elders who felt proud over their achievements and boasted over their lineage… certainly they are the main sources of obstinacy, and chief pillars of mischief…. They are the foundation of vice and linings of disobedience. Satan has made them carriers of misguidance and the soldiers with whom he attacks men.19

Then the Imam gave enlightening explanations concerning what was stated. Afterwards, he proceeded to make a very important political and ethical discussion about social interaction, and talked about difficult Divine trials for training human beings, stressing that life’s various misfortunes and difficulties are in line with spiritual construction of man and purging him of moral vices, particularly his selfishness, arrogance and seeking superiority, as the Almighty God has ordained prayers, fasting, and alms tax for such purposes.

Then, the Imam enjoined people to delve into the history, to deliberate on the events, and to take lessons from the fates of the religious revolutions to find out how they had ended and to recognize the impact of disparity and disunity on the failures in religious calls, lest the haughtiness and egoism of the elite and the elect and people’s unaware obedience would lead the Islamic hukuma to a destiny similar to that of the previous revolutions.

In this part of his speech, the Imam (a.s.) explicitly gives the warning and his ultimatum to the elite and the elect:

Beware! You have shaken off your hands from the string of disobedience and broken the divine fort around you by (resorting to) pre-Islamic rules…. You should know that you have again reverted to the position of the Bedouin Arabs after immigration (to Islam), and have become different parties after having been once united. You do not possess anything of Islam except its name, and know nothing of belief save its show.20

Risk of Abandoning Commanding Good and Forbidding Wrong

From Imam Ali (a.s.)’s viewpoint, “commanding good and forbidding wrong” is one of the major elements in continuation of Islamic Revolution. Establishment of all human and Islamic values is directly related to this injunction. If it is forsaken, values will be forsaken too; and once the Islamic community turns its back to the religious values and takes refuge in anything except Islam, it will lose Divine assistance and fail in its battle against alien enemies; the Muhammadan and 'Alawi hukuma will be defeated; the devils will dominate the Islamic Community; and the prayers of the pious will not be responded to.

Further on in the sermon of Qasi'a and concerning the above issue, the Imam (a.s.) said:

Be sure that if you incline towards anything other than Islam, the unbelievers will fight you. Then there will be neither Gabriel nor Michael, neither muhajirun nor ansar to help you, but only clashing of swords, till Allah settles the matter for you.

Certainly, there are examples before you of Allah’s wrath, punishment, days of tribulations and happenings. Therefore, do not disregard His promises, ignoring His punishment, making light His wrath and not expecting His violence, because Allah, the Glorified, did not curse the past ages except because they had left off commanding others to do good and forbidding them from wrong. In fact, Allah cursed the foolish for committing sins and the wise because they gave up forbidding wrong.21

Before Imam Ali (a.s.), the Holy Prophet (S) had also warned people of this hazard in the following words:

O People! Verily Allah says to you: Command people to do good and forbid them from wrong before you pray and I do not respond to your prayer and ask from Me and I do not grant you and seek for My assistance and I do not assist you.22

The hazard of leaving off “commanding good and forbidding wrong” (al-amr bi’l ma'ruf wa’l nahy 'ani’l munkar) for the perpetuation of the Islamic revolution is so serious that Imam Ali (a.s.) warned people against it till the last moments of his life, and said in the last sentence of his testament:

Do not leave off “commanding good and forbidding wrong” so that the villains would not dominate you, and then when you pray, you would not be responded to.23

After drawing attention to the hazards of leaving off “commanding good and forbidding wrong” and turning away from [Islamic] values to the future of the umma, Imam Ali (a.s.) goes on to say in the sermon of Qasi'a that right now the Islamic community is facing this problem. Thus, if it is not remedied, people must be expecting the villains’ dominance over them:

Beware! You have broken the shackles of Islam, have transgressed its limits, and have destroyed its commands.24

So then, leaving off obedience to the wise and truth-seeking leader; breaking through the stronghold of religion by paganistic tendencies and manners; putting aside inclination toward criteria, meritocracy, solidarity, harmony, and empathy; yielding to disunity and Satanic pomposity; contenting oneself with grandiose titles; towing behind merely titles of truth, faith, and Islam; leaving off implementing al-amr bi’l ma'ruf wa’l nahy ‘ani’l munkar and carrying out Divine sanctions; and annihilating religious ordinances, etc., are all secrets of failure and defeat, falling into hardships, remaining in vicious circles, and thereupon, getting ruined and witnessing Satanic dominance of the enemy, etc.

3. Equity in Distribution

Human beings are frequently ensnared in material and worldly drives and attractions. If one gets accustomed to worldly indulgence and fills up one's life with worldly provisions and take to utilizing them in an indulging and hedonistic way, then parting with such a lifestyle would be extremely difficult.

After the Holy Prophet (S) and during the caliphate of the [first] three caliphs, allurement of the reputed figures and discrimination in providing for the related elect were among the flawed policies. This way many were lifted high in rank who did not deserve such lofty positions; and others were unrightfully degraded and tyrannized.

Now, the Imam (a.s.) intended to eliminate this terrible class discrimination and disorder in enjoyment of privileges, which he had explicitly stated in one of his early sermons.25

It was evident that this sermon would stimulate many people against the Imam (a.s.), and they – mainly consisting of the elect and the reputed figures – would in turn pull many of the common people behind themselves by various tricks to justify their opposition and to hide the secret of their parting from Ali (a.s.).

That was why Imam Ali (a.s.)’s advocates frequently suggested him to give up this policy, and forget about chieftains, influential political figures, and pompous persons enjoying special economic privileges for a time, and not to confront them and their indulgence. The Imam (a.s.), however, found the suggestions in conflict with the principles and fundamentals of 'Alawi hukuma, therefore rejected them. He seems to have regarded these suggestions as somehow abandoning the goals and ideals of an Islamic state, hence refusing them.

Now, let’s take a look at some examples of such suggestion and the Imam’s responses to them:

A) It is reported in Al-Ghari'at as follows: Ali (a.s.) was complaining to Malik al-Ashtar of people’s flight toward Mu'awiya. Al-Ashtar said: O Amir al-Mu’minin! We fought against people of Jamal in the company of Basrans and Kufans who were all unanimous in their opinions, but then they disagreed, bred enmity, their intentions slackened, and justice failed. And you call them to justice, treat them righteously, and take back the rights of the weak from the well-to-do who have no superiority over the weak to you.

A group of them who were with you, when given to this suffering, began to lament, and became sad with this justice. As for Mu'awiya, his gifts were with the opulent, and people’s soul yearned toward the worldly gains, and those who are not infatuated with the world are very few; but many of them are the ones who discard the truth, go along with falsehood, and prefer the worldly gains. If you are munificent toward them, they will be drawn toward you and become benevolent to you and their friendship will purely belong to you. May God settle your affair (O Amir al-Mu’minin!) and terminate your enemy, disperse their assembly, nullify their plots, and slacken their efforts, as He knows what He does.

In response to him, Ali (a.s.) thanked God and praised Him, and said: “As for what you said, my manner and character are based on justice. Verily God says: (Whoever acts righteously, it is for his own soul, and whoever does evil, it is to its detriment, and your lord is not tyrannical to the servants)26; and I am more fearful that I may have been negligent in what you said.

As for what you said about those who view the truth as too heavy and for this reason turned away from us. God knows, then, that they did not turned away from us due to our tyranny, and when they did turn away, they were not called forth to justice; [rather] they sought nothing but the fleeting world as if they had been parted from it; and on the Resurrection Day, they will be called to account whether they sought worldly gains or acted for serving God.

As for being munificent to men and buying them off that you mentioned, actually we are not able to give away out of public assets to people beyond what they deserve, as God has rightfully said: (How many a small party has overcome a large party by Allah’s will!)27

And he selected Muhammad (S) as a Prophet alone, and after a while He turned his few followers into multitudes and raised his party to power after being humiliated; and if God wishes to assign us to a task, He would smooth out the difficulties and would ease the hardships. And I approve whatever of your ideas in which there is the pleasure of God; you are the most trustworthy of my companions, and the most trusted, the most benevolent, and the most discerning of them to me.

B) In the same book, Rabi'a and 'Ammara are quoted as saying: A group of Ali (a.s.)’s companions went to him and said: O Amir al-Mu’minin give these riches away and [by means of that] give the noble and the dignitaries of Arab and Quraysh superiority over the non-Arab liberated ones, and also [give superiority] to the one of whose opposition you are very fearful.

[Rabi'a Said:] They said this because Mu'awiya treated those who went to him in this way. Ali (a.s.) said to them: “Are you ordering me to seek victory by means of tyranny? By God, I would not do that as long as the sun keeps rising, and a star is shining in the sky. By God, if these riches belonged to me, I would treat them equally, let alone that they belong to the public.”28

C) Sahl b. Hunayf, Ali (a.s.)’s governor in Madina, sent a letter to his holiness, reporting that a group of Madinans had joined Mu'awiya. The Imam wrote in reply: Now, I have come to know that certain persons from your side are stealthily going over to Mu'awiya. Do not feel sorry for their numbers so lost to you or for their help of which you are deprived. It suffices them to have gone into misguidance and you have been relieved of them.

They are running away from guidance and truth and advancing towards blindness and ignorance. They are seekers of this world and are proceeding to it and are leaping towards it. They have known justice, seen it, heard if and appreciated it. They have realized that here, to us, all men are equal in the matter of right. Therefore, they ran away to selfishness and partiality. Let them remain remote and far away. By Allah, surely they have not gone away from oppression and joined justice. In this matter, we only desire Allah to resolve for us its hardships and to level for us its unevenness, if Allah wills; Wassalam!29

4. Avoidance of Using Illegitimate Instruments in Enforcement of commands

Human society – as it must be – is a society replete with human values; it is a society in which law and justice create relations or breaks them, extinguish rebellions and rectify abnormalities. It is evident, however, that achieving such a stage in human society is so difficult. What kind of society is the one that Ali (a.s.) ruled over? What were people’s tendencies at its public level? How were common people’s drives and efforts basically determined?

In that period of time, other people had run the hukumas for 25 years; hukumas which had faced, particularly toward the final years, rebellions, criticisms, and confrontations, and then in return responded with violence, severe confrontations, punishments, and occasional imprisonments, tortures and atrocities.

The general public was not rightly familiar with law and its significance, and the rulers ruled over people in this milieu. The rulers, wherever encountered with people’s wrongdoing, practiced force, violence and domineering which they regarded as the first resort rather than a final one.

In the Umayyad diplomacy, ends justify the means, and the politicians utilize any tools, even illegitimate ones, by any means for implementing their policies, plans, and orders. The leader of such politics speaks to some in a language of allurement and to others through threatening, and still to some others by means of imposture. Mu'awiya did rule over Sham (Syria) by means of such policies, and perhaps the maintenance of national interests (!) of Sham demanded doing so.

What was Imam Ali (a.s.) to do? In 'Alawi diplomacy, in which the use of illegitimate means to implement the policies is not permissible and people’s leader speaks solely by means of explanation, elucidation, and instruction; he neither uses words of allurement nor acts deceivingly, threateningly, or violently; then how should he bring the people who had been accustomed to this [latter] procedure back to the right way?

Surprisingly, the public masses of Sham indisputably obeyed Mu'awiya without receiving anything from him simply by means of the policy of imposture, allurement, and threat. The public masses of Kufa, however, did not obey the Imam, although they enjoyed material interests by his side, too. The Imam said accordingly:

It is not strange that Mu'awiya calls out to some rude low people and they follow him without any support or grant, but when I call you, although you are the successors of Islam and the (worthy) survivors of the people, with support and distributed grants you scatter away from me and oppose me?30

The Imam (a.s.) knew well that the society was not at a level of understanding to grasp his heart-rending and “suspicion-free” words. He knew that he could make many, including some of dignitaries, obey him through violence and threat, and put things in order even though temporarily, but he refused to do so and said:

Let it be known that till yesterday I was giving order [I was Amir al-Mu’minin], but today I am being given orders, and till yesterday I was dissuading people (from wrong acts), but today I am being dissuaded. You have now shown liking to live in this world, and it is not for me to bring you to what you dislike.31

In 'Alawi diplomacy, achieving goals is rightful only when people think freely and accept reforming plans and submit to it. The Imam (a.s.) never deemed it right to make people accept what he viewed as truthful and firm by resorting to sword and violence and force them to obey him, since the people would finally choose a way which they are attached to.

In other words, if Imam Ali (a.s.) had been asked “why people had left him alone”, the Imam would have answered: “I was not willing to force them to obedience by sword. And they were regretfully not in a position to appreciate this path [my rule] and submit to it for some cultural reasons and due to the social structure that has been imposed on them and they have been accustomed to it."

The Imam (a.s.) believed that problems of hukuma could be solved temporarily by violence, but that sovereignty and hukumas would no longer be 'Alawi. He has frequently stated this fact as follows:

O People of Kufa! You suppose I do not know what can rectify you? Yes, I do. But I do not like to rectify you by ruining myself.32

And then he said:

I know what rectifies you is a sword, but I do not seek to rectify you by ruining myself. After me, however, a tough authority will dominate over you.33

Imam Ali (a.s.) asserted that he knew how to confront people and subjugate people by means of violence and sword and was able to straighten their crookedness with a sword and to force the rebels to obedience, but he refused to do so. He said: "Correcting you by resorting to violence would cost a price, i.e., ruining the moral values, and I am not willing to pay such a price. This would neither be compatible with my disposition nor with my philosophy of hukuma. But you should know that after me a hard time will be awaiting you. With such manners and acts, you pave the way for the rule of those who would not have mercy on you, and would not talk to you except by the vocabulary of sword:

You will not be rectified (O people of Iraq!) except by the one who will humiliate you, and God will humiliate him, too.34

Imam Ali (a.s.)’s Predictions Coming True

Thus, with such poignant grieves, the Imam (a.s.) departed from among the people while complaining of them:

Before me the people used to complain of the oppression of their rulers but now I have to complain of the wrongful actions of my people.35

He had told people that wrongdoing of people toward the just leader would be as dangerous to the community as the function of an oppressive leader; and the community that does not observe the rights of a just leader and refuses obedience to and solidarity and empathy with him – who is most deservedly entitled to such rights – it will entangle in commotion and burn in the fire of decline:

And if the ruled gain sway over the ruler, or the ruler oppresses the ruled, then difference crops up in every word, signs of oppression appear, mischief enters religion and the ways of sunna are forsaken. Then desires are acted upon, the commands (of religion) are discarded, diseases of the spirit become numerous and there is no hesitation in disregarding even great rights, or in committing big wrongs. In such circumstances, the virtuous are humiliated while the vicious are honored, and there are serious chastisements from Allah, the Glorified, onto the people.36

Thirty four years after the martyrdom of Imam Ali (a.s.), his prediction about the Kufans obviously came true. In the caliphate of 'Abdul Malik b. Marwan, a group of Khawarij called “Azariqa” in Ahwaz region, rose up against the central hukuma. The only place that was apt to dispatch troops to action was Kufa. But the people did not comply and refused to go to battle. In an inciting sermon, 'Abdul Malik sought a solution from his dignitaries and close companions, saying:

Who will volunteer against them with a cutting sword and a piercing spear?37

All kept silent. Hajjaj b. Yusuf who had newly suppressed 'Abdullah b. Zubayr in Makka, stood up and declared his readiness; but 'Abdul Malik did not accept. Referring to the difficulty of dispatching troops to the Ahwaz front, he asked them to choose volunteers from among their most powerful troops for the Emirate of Iraq and battle with Azariqa. Here again, the only one who volunteered was Hajjaj b. Yusuf.

Interestingly, 'Abdul Malik wonders how Hajjaj wants to have such rebellious and unsteady people to obey, asking:

Every commander has got tools and leashes. Where are your tools and leashes?38

And Hajjaj replied, “The vocabulary of sword and tools of violence!” He would talk to them with the vocabulary of sword and would raise whips of violence. He would spread the diplomacy of threat and allurement, and would uproot the opposition:

The one who struggles with me, I will break, and the one who approaches me, I will honor. The one who distances from me, I would seek, and the one who resists me, I would damage; the one who turns his back to me, I would chase? And when I find him I would kill him… These are indeed my tools: sow your friend with your dirhams (gold coins), and reap those who are hostile to you with your sword.39

'Abdul Malik approved this policy and in 74 AH/887 CE elected Hajjaj as the governor of Kufa and Basra, and the latter said in a warning sermon to people in his first encounter with them:

Verily I see heads ripe enough to be plucked and I am undertaking this task, and it sounds as if I am looking at blood gushing out of turbans and beards…

Know that I will not promise anything unless I carry it out; I do not utter anything unless I fulfill it; I do not get near unless I find out, and do not go away unless I hear. What is happening to you, O people of Iraq? O you who are seeking separation? O partisans of hypocrisy and vulgar morality? Verily you are inhabitants of a town that [God said] (was secure and peaceful. Its provision came abundantly from every place. But it was ungrateful toward Allah’s blessings; so Allah made it taste hunger and fear because of what they used to do). 40

Know that my sword will soon be satiated by your blood and will peel off your skin. Therefore, preserve your blood, every one of you who wishes so!41

From the very outset, Hajjaj showed in his speech that death was flowing out of his eyes and blood from his sword. He talked to the Kufans with the harshest words and the most degrading epithets and illustrated the ending of rebellions, openly stating that he would quench his sword with the blood of those disobeying him and intending to be haughty. After this horrifying speech, characterized with blood dripping from every word, he issued a statement which was pronounced to the public in every quarter and neighborhood:

Be informed that I give the companions of Muhallab a respite of three days, whomever I catch after that, his punishment would be beheading of his head.42

In order to show that the statement would be implemented unquestionably, he ordered his disciplinary commander and chamberlain, Ziyad b. 'Urwa, to have a number of his troops patrol around town recruiting people to be dispatched to the war front, and kill those who hesitated of refused.

This way, all the troops who had left Muhallab b. Muqri'a – who was appointed by Hajjaj to command the battle against Azaraqa – alone, returned to the battle front and not even a single person refused.43

Thus, 'Abdul Malik suppressed all the opponents on the central government by implementing the diplomacy of threat and allurement throughout the community, and then set out for Hajj pilgrimage with peace of mind in 75 AH/694 CE! Ya'qubi wrote:

When things were settled in favor of 'Abdul Malik and the cities calmed down, leaving no place that required being settled and taken care of, he left for Hajj pilgrimage in 75 AH.44

Reformation was actually taming and creating peace under the glittering of swords! That was the kind of reformation that Imam Ali (a.s.) viewed as to the cost of corrupting the reformer, and was not willing to approve such “reformation” of society. He could not yield to a policy that would solve the problems of the state to the cost of ruining the human values.

What need do such a society and such sort of problem-solvings and solutions have for messengers to be sent? What need do they have for Divine leaders and what need for Ali (a.s.)? In such politics 'Alawi hukuma is meaningless. Everyone who possesses power of arms and impudence in action; who puts compassion aside and discards human wisdom; who abandons moral dignities and appeals to whatever enforcing his dominance, can rule.

In Ali (a.s.)’s hukuma, however, values are genuine. He is by no means willing to sacrifice human and Islamic values. The hukuma, in which values are sacrificed and human standards and criteria are beheaded in the slaughterhouse of statesmanship, is a Satanic and Umayyid hukuma. These kinds of hukuma will not be 'Alawi, although towing the names Ali (a.s.) and Islam behind.

Now, it must be added that in today’s world the diplomacy of sword, force, and violence is not efficient any longer. Military equipment is gradually losing its efficacy and the statesmen are basing hukuma on new foundations. Human values are now being sacrificed in alternative ways, among which is the policy of taking social justice to the slaughterhouse of economic reforms and crushing the subordinates under the pressure of economic development.

5. Peripheral Factors

What we enumerated so far are the major factors of people’s lassitude and Ali (a.s.)’s loneliness in last days of his hukuma. Other factors can also be pronounced for people’s withdrawal, which, although not as effective as the aforementioned factors, have had conspicuous role in making people weak and fatigued. Such factors which we have called “peripheral factors, are listed as follows:

Misconception of War against the People of Qibla

In its first days of establishment, Ali (a.s.)’s hukuma unfortunately plunged in war: Civil war and war against the people of Qibla. The wars before that were entirely against the unbelievers, and the battle against unbelievers was unambiguous and free of misconception. But the wars during Ali (a.s.)’s hukuma which were fought to suppress disturbances and improving the society and bringing it back to the sira and sunna of the Prophet (S) were wars against the people of Qibla; i.e., wars against those who were bearing the name of a Muslim and occasionally boasting of bright records in their socio-political dossiers.

That was how the Prophet (S) – who had seen these events in the mirror of time and had predicted the way they would happen – on one hand regarded these battles as warfare based on ta’wil (allegorical interpretation), and on the other, confirmed their difficulty.45

War against the people of Qibla would create trepidation in faith for the narrow-minded. They could not rightly make up their minds, so they refused to keep [his] company. This way the cunning statesmen who had problems with the Imam (a.s.) justified their refusal and raised doubts among the common people. Therefore, from the outset apparently justified figures such as Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas, Usama b. Zayd and 'Abd Allah b. 'Umar refused to accompany Ali (a.s.). When the Imam (a.s.) asked the reason for their refusal, Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas said:

I am reluctant to go on to this battle, lest I should kill a believer. If you give me a sword that distinguishes a believer from an unbeliever, I will fight along with you!46

And Usama said:

You are the dearest person to me, but I have made a pledge to God not to fight against the people of [who have confessed] “la ilaha illa Allah” (There is no god but Allah).47

I do not know anything of this battle, and I ask you not to make me do what I do not know.

People’s mental preparedness to accept the misconception of the battle against the people of Qibla as being impermissible on one hand, and the raising doubts by the opponents to the Imam (a.s.)’s reform plans, particularly by Mu'aiwiya’s propaganda network, on the other, had made the recruiting and the mobilization of the forces extremely difficult. Therefore, the Imam often had to take on to explain to people the grounds, causes, and quality of his stance. At the outset of the emergence of disturbances and his being forced to fight against the perpetrators, the Imam said:

The door of war has been opened between you and the other Muslims (the people of Qibla). And this banner will be borne only by him who is a man of sight, of endurance and of knowledge of the position of rightfulness. Therefore, you should go ahead with what you are ordered and desist from what you are refrained.

Do not make haste in any matter till you have clarified it. For in the case of every matter which you dislike we have a right to change it.48

Although the Imam spared no effort in explaining to people the reason for his stances and the causes of the events, it was difficult for many to accept that Ali (a.s.) was absolutely rightful in his words, that he had a firmly set position, and that Talha, Zubayr, and 'Ayisha were thoroughly false and were on the false path.49

Warriors being Tired of a War with no Spoils

The peoples of those days, although Muslims and ready to set out for battle by the order of their Divine leaders, were not on such a high level of culture and predisposition so as to be God-seeking and practicing sincerity and devotion. Collecting spoils in wars was a strong motivation, especially for those who had for years been accustomed to this practice. Now they had to remain in the battlefield for days and months without being able to enjoy what they seized [as spoils of war].

They had gotten accustomed to gaining spoils in wars and exploiting those spoils in the reign of the rulers prior to Imam Ali (a.s.). Now, from the outset of the battle, the Imam wanted them to keep their hand off people’s property and to know that they had no right to appropriate what they seized in action. Approving a battle without enjoying any spoils was very difficult for people.

The ones who were accompanying Ali (a.s.) were mostly not favored with enough faith and insight to think only of God, “to wield their sword for the sake of Allah”, and to have no desire except for God’s pleasure, in their battle against rabble-rousers. In the war, most of them were thinking of their own interests, rather than of rightfulness and faith, or of putting an end to the disturbances. Historical records indicate that among the most frequent complaints – too many as they were – brought up in the battles of Nahrawan and Jamal was that why the women of the enemy were not taken as captives and their property was not divided [among the warriors]. Ibn Abi al-Hadid has related this historical event based on unanimous reports:

The narrators are unanimous that what Ali (a.s.) found from among the Jamal troops, including weapons, mounts, slaves, and other objects, he divided them among his companions. They demanded: "Divide the people of Basra among us as slaves." He said: "No." Then they said: "How come their blood is lawful to us but taking them as captives is not?"50

When the fatigue of the troops having fought for two years without receiving any spoils and financial benefits is accompanied with the misconception of the illegitimacy of the war against people of Qibla (other Muslims) and considering other factors of the Imam (a.s.)’s loneliness (mentioned earlier), the result would obviously be nothing but disobedience. Thus, it happened that the Imam (a.s.) faced serious problems in mobilization of the troops toward the end of his hukuma.

Losing Eminent Companions

A director of a community and a leader of people are above all indebted to the concordant assistants and coordinating companions in his cadre enabling him to overcome problems and to resolve knotty social problems. The presence of self-sacrificing talented and endeavoring wise men, who out of sincerity accompany the leader and make sacrifices through challenging situations, is greatly effective in managing the society. Such person’s role in removing ambiguities, delivering messages, explaining positions, and creating motivation in forces that indirectly actualize the leader’s ideals in society, is very significant. Amid the battle of Siffin, the impact of the sermons and valorous speeches delivered by such persons as Malik al-Ashtar, Hashim Mirqal, and others is evident and attests to what said above.

Regretfully, Imam Ali (a.s.) did not enjoy the company of such persons toward the end of his hukuma. The most outstanding companions of the Imam (a.s.), who were articulate interpreters and advocates of his path, were no longer present. The absence of Malik al-Ashtar, 'Ammar, Hashim Mirqal, Muhammad b. Abi Bakr, 'Abd Allah b. Badil, Zayd b. Suhan, and others was sadly felt among the companions of Imam Ali (a.s.). No longer were those fervent, encouraging, and stimulating sermons heard among the troops. On the other hand, there were so many evil-minded, misleading, and ill-hearted elements who raised difficulties and spread lassitude.

It is due to such atmosphere of rabble-rousing, troublemaking, and denial of assistance that the Imam (a.s.) grievously remembers those vigilant, insightful "worshippers in the night and fighting lions in the day", the pioneers in the fields of action and warriors in battlefields and says [about them]:

Where are those who were invited to Islam and they accepted it? They read the Qur’an and decided according to it. They were exhorted to fight and they leapt (towards it) as she-camels leap towards their young. They drew their swords out of the sheaths and went out into the world in groups and rows. Some of them perished and some survived. The good news of survival did not please them nor did they condole about the dead. Their eyes turned white with weeping. Their bellies were emaciated because of fasting. Their lips were dry because of (constant) praying. Their color was pale because of wakefulness. Their faces bore the dust of God-fearing. These are my comrades who have departed. We should be justified if we feel eager for them and bite our hands in their separation.51

And in the end of his agonizing words uttered in the last days of his life, he said:

Where are my brothers who took the (right) path and departed [from the world] in rightness? Where is 'Ammar? Where is Ibn al-Tayyihan52? Where is Dhu al-Shahadatayn53? And where are others like them from among their comrades who had pledged themselves to death and whose (severed) heads were taken to the wicked enemy?54

It must be further added that a group of Imam Ali (a.s.)’s companions and troops consisted of the Khawarij who after the battle of Siffin stood up against him; some were killed in Nahrawan [battle] and some others went into retreat. Thus, Ali (a.s.) was left alone, absolutely alone, with no combatant comrades, articulate speakers, and highly minded, brave heroes of battlefields.

The Leader’s Utmost Power in his Utter Loneliness

Now at the end of this briefly put analysis, it is worthwhile to deal with a very significant point in 'Alawi diplomacy and Amir al-Mu’minin’s leadership approach. I have not heard anyone else finding out this feature or explicitly bringing it up in respect to Imam Ali (a.s.)’s leadership. And this thought-provoking and wondrous feature is indeed Imam Ali (a.s.)’s leadership authority, power of management, and steadfastness in Imamate in such era the dimensions of which have so far been explained.

Historical documents show that Ali (a.s.) has displayed the most sublime, the most powerful, and the most significant leadership in his days of loneliness. Therefore, when we say Ali (a.s.) was left alone, it must not be supposed that due to so much disobedience and in his lamenting and complaining, he went into retreat, or left the arena, or during the final months of his hukuma he openly lost the power of leadership and management of society, and until his martyrdom he contented himself only with lamenting and complaining the people’s disobedience and lack of support, and the elite’s lassitude. Far from it!

Historical texts and a multitude of documents reporting on 'Alawi sira show that the most hard-working and diligent period of Ali (a.s.)’s hukuma was the time of his loneliness. Never did despair overwhelm the matchless hero of the battlefields and the most sagacious figure of resistance in the onslaught of hardships and difficulties. He made amendments alone; delivered lofty sermons, created legends, and went along the path he had delineated at the outset of his hukuma to the end of his life and never kept quiet or remained idle for even a moment.

In a community where a great part of the elect and the elite did not accompany Ali (a.s.) with empathy; where the common people following them turned to disobedience and lassitude in an atmosphere of misconception about battle against the people of Qibla and against renowned and sometimes sanctimonious figures; where the warriors were quite exhausted after going through three bloody battles without gaining any spoils; and when the Imam had lost the best of his companions and the frequent ambushes by ignorant and counter-merit troops of Mu'awiya and his plundering had wearied the people, the Imam stood bravely firm and persistently pursued the mobilization of people against Mu'awiya’s iniquities and criminalities.

In such ambience fraught with disappointment, lassitude, and horror, he mobilized people – without resorting to violence – to make their appearance again in the battlefront of war against Mu'awiya. How much power in leadership, how much strength in management, and who much charisma in Imamate must have Ali (a.s.) been enjoying to be able to stand up in such ambience and to mobilize the troops to such extent?

Ali (a.s.)’s last fervent and heroic speech, delivered before re-dispatching troops to Siffin, attests to the above claim. Nawf Bikali has described the appearance of the Imam at the time of delivering his exciting sermon, as well as the way he arrayed the troops:

Amir al-Mu’minin delivered this sermon to us in Kufa, while standing on a rock set up by Ja'da, son of Hubayra al-Makhzumi. He was wearing a wool garment; his sword-belt was made of palm tree filaments, and so were the slippers he was wearing. The trace of prostration on his forehead was like the callus on the camel’s knees.

Nawf goes on to say that in the end of his speech, the Imam (a.s.) shouted at the top of his voice:

Al-jihad, al-jihad (fighting, fighting), O’ servants of Allah! By Allah, I am mobilizing the army today. He who desires to proceed towards Allah should come forward.

Then he reports the organizing of the troops as follows:

Then Amir al-Mu’minin (a.s.) put Husayn (a.s.) over (a force of) ten thousand; Qays b. Sa'd over ten thousand; Abu Ayyub al-Ansari over ten thousand; and others over different numbers, intending to return to Siffin, but it was before Friday when the accursed Ibn Muljam carried out his fatal strike. Consequently, the armies came back and we were left like sheep that had lost their shepherd while wolves were snatching them away from all sides.55

According to what was said, Imam Ali (a.s.)’s painful utterances and his frequent complaints of his companions were not due to his weakness and failure in leadership and managing people with the features delineated above; rather, instead of using the vocabulary of violence and sword for mobilizing people, he used it for motivating them.

Mobilization of great numbers of troops, as explained above, in less than a week (the same week before his martyrdom), indicates his superb capability in mobilizing masses on one hand, and the success of 'Alawi policies in statesmanship, on the other.

What was brought up here was a glimpse at the background, reasons, and causes of people’s lassitude in such period of time, as well as a delineation of 'Alawi sira in administering a state.

In conclusion, we beseech Almighty Allah to succor us in benefiting from Ali (a.s.)’s radiating Divine knowledge and the ocean-like doctrines of the “people of Allah” [Ahl al-Bayt](a.s.).

  • 1. See The Encyclopedia of Amir al-Mu'minin, VII, 38.
  • 2. Ibid., VI, 265.
  • 3. Ibid., VII, 33.
  • 4. Ibid., VII, 36.
  • 5. Ibid., VII, 41.
  • 6. See, Mizan al-Hikma, X, 4614.
  • 7. Al-Mustadrak 'Ala al-Sahihayn, I/193/ 374.
  • 8. Kanz al-'Ummal, 1/ 292/ 29479.
  • 9. See 1/4, hadith 15.
  • 10. See 4/6.
  • 11. Nahj al-Balagha, Aphorism 147.
  • 12. See 2/4, hadith 74.
  • 13. See 2/4, hadith 74.
  • 14. Ibid.
  • 15. Ibid.
  • 16. Nahj al-Balagha: Sermon 192.
  • 17. Ibid.
  • 18. Ibid.
  • 19. Ibid.
  • 20. Ibid.
  • 21. Ibid.
  • 22. Mizan al-Hikma: 8/3708/12727.
  • 23. See The Encychlopedia of Amir al-Mu’minin: VII, 276 (h 2961).
  • 24. Nahj al-Balagha: Sermon 192.
  • 25. See 2/1, hadith 62.
  • 26. Al-Qur’an, 41:46. (All translations from the Qur’an are from The Qur’an with An English Paraphrase, translated by sayyid Ali Quli Qara'i, The center for Translation of the Holy Qur’an, 2003, Qum, Iran.)
  • 27. Al-Qur’an, 2: 249.
  • 28. See 5/10, hadith 229.
  • 29. See The Encyclopedia of Amir al-Mu’minin, VII, 53 (Nahj al-Balagha, Letter 70)
  • 30. See 5/10, hadith 245 (Nahj al-Balagha, Sermon 180)
  • 31. The Encyclopedia of Amir al-Mu’minin, VI, 225 (hadith 2577).
  • 32. See 8/9, hadith 447.
  • 33. See 8/10, hadith 449.
  • 34. Rabi' al-Abrar, 4/250.
  • 35. See The Encyclopedia of Amir al-Mu’minin, IX, 474, (ahadith 4747, 4748). (Nahj al-Balagha, Aphorism 261).
  • 36. See 6/2, hadith 305.
  • 37. Al-Futuh, VII, 8/3.
  • 38. Al-Futuh, VII, 8/3.
  • 39. Al-Futuh , VII, 8/4.
  • 40. Al-Qur’an, 16:12.
  • 41. Al-Futuh , 7 & 8/10. Mas'udi has said:
    Hajjaj died at the age of 54 in the region of Wasit, Iraq in 95 AH/713 CE. He ruled over people for twenty years, and the number of people who were killed [during his rule] in battles or due to torture amounted to 120 thousand. When he died, 50 thousand men and 30 thousand women, including 16 thousand girls, were kept in his prisons.

    He used to keep men and women in one place. His prisons were roofless, so the prisoners could not keep away from the heat of the sun in summer and rain and cold in winter. His other tortures are described in my [Mas'udi's] other book. It is reported that one day he mounted his horse to go to Friday prayer. He heard moans. He asked what that was.

    He was replied: the prisoners are moaning and complaining of their hardships. He went toward them and said: (Begone in it, and do not speak to Me!) (Al-Qur’an, 23:108) It is said that Hajjaj died the same Friday, never having mounted [a horse] after this mounting. (Maruj al-Zahab: 3/175).

  • 42. Al-Futuh, 7 & 8/10.
  • 43. Al-Futuh, 7 & 8/13.
  • 44. Tarikh al-Yaqubi: 2/273.
  • 45. See The Encyclopedia of Amir al-Mu’minin: V, 25.
  • 46. See 1/9, hadith 44.
  • 47. Ibid.
  • 48. Nahj al-Balagah, Sermon 173.
  • 49. See The Encyclopedia of Amir al-Mu’minin, V, 147.
  • 50. See The Encyclopedia of Amir al-Mu’minin, V, 147.
  • 51. Nahj al-Balagha, Sermon 121.
  • 52. Malik b. Tayyihan al-Ansari, one of the sahaba (companions) in the battle of Badr, who was martyred in the battle of Siffin.
  • 53. Khuzayma b. Thabit al-Ansari who attended in Badr and other battles, and martyred in Siffin. The Holy Prophet (S) considered his testimony as equal to that of two persons.
  • 54. See The Encyclopedia of Amir al-Mu’minin, VII, 167. (Nahj al-Balagha, Sermon 182).
  • 55. Nahj al-Balagha, Sermon 182. Also cf. The Encyclopedia Amir al-Mu’minin, VII, 167.