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Story 112: Dower Of Blood

The battle of Siffayn was about to come to an end and lead up to the final defeat of the Syrian army that the stratagem of 'Amr Ibn As, prevented their failure and put an end to the war. As a matter of fact, when he felt that they would be driven to a decisive defeat, he ordered that the Holy Qur'an be brandished on the spears as a token that they were ready to choose the Divine Book as an arbitrator between them and the other side.

All the perspicacious individuals among the Companions of Imam 'Ali ('a) knew that it was a blunder trick to interrupt the military operation for preventing their defeat. Because before the result of the war arrived at such a position, all the propositions previously made by Imam 'Ali ('a) were not accepted by them.

Unfortunately, a group of harebrained and superficial people, without respecting the military discipline or waiting for the order of the commander-in-chief of the army, interrupted the military operation, and not only were they satisfied with this action, but they also came to the Imam 'Ali ('a) and asked him ('a) with great opponent to issue promptly an order to stop the total hostility on the warfront. They were convinced that if someone combated in that condition, he would combat with the Holy Qur'an!

'Ali ('a) said: "Don't be duped by their behaviour which is nothing else but a deceit. The Holy Qur'an commands us to continue fighting. They are not ready to comply with the Holy Qur'an. Our difference is nothing but to comply with Qur'an. At present they have resorted to this stratagem while we are at victory, and about to succeed and uproot them."

They replied: "Since they pretend officially to be ready to take the Holy Qur'an as an arbiter between them and us, it is not permissible for us to fight against them. From now onwards, fighting with them is considered as fighting with the Holy Qur'an. If you don't issue an order promptly to stop the war, we will put you down to pieces!!!"

It was useless to resist. A profound schism was created. If 'Ali ('a) persisted in his position, the events would wind up in a worse manner for the benefit of enemy and for his own defeat. Thus, he ('a) ordered the soldiers to put an end temporarily the hostility and to abandon the warfront.

'Amr Ibn As and Mu'awiyah, ascertaining that their plot had succeeded, were happy to see that they hit the centre of the target and the discord and dissension had occurred among the Imam 'Ali's ('a) Companions.

Neither Mu'awiyah nor 'Amr Ibn As, nor any other farsighted politicians could imagine that this small incident would become a starting point of creation of an ideology or a mode of thought particularly on the Islamic religious questions as well as the establishment of a dangerous group which would create disturbances even for Mu'awiyah and Caliphs like him in future.

Such a sect and a doctrine was created and founded after the rebellious of the army of the Imam 'Ali ('a) under the title of Khawarij, Seceders, opposed the continuation of war with an unboundedly stubborn and despotic and submitted to the arbitration. It was agreed that representatives would be appointed from both the parties and would gather together and arbitrate the case on the basis of the Holy Qur'an.

'Amr Ibn As was appointed by Mu'awiyah, 'Ali ('a) wanted to appoint Abdullah Ibn Abbas as 'Amr Ibn As counterpart, but the seceders intervened and opposed him ('a) under the pretext that the arbitrator should be impartial. Since Abdullah Ibn Abbas was the partisan and relative of Imam 'Ali ('a), they nominated an unqualified person.

The arbitration was concluded ineffective with another trick played by 'Amr Ibn As without a real agreement was made.

The proceedings of arbitration were shaped so ridiculously which lost its serious dimension to such an extent that it did not issue the most insignificant social effect both for Mu'awiyah and 'Amr Ibn As.

All the advantage which they both took of this incident was to have stopped the continuation of war and created discord in between the Companions of Imam 'Ali ('a). Moreover, they got a sufficient chance to refresh their forces and think about their other activities.

On the other side, when the "Khawarij," Seceders realized that all those previous steps related to the proposition of arbitration as well as the erection of the Holy Qur'an on the spears was nothing but a stratagem, they found to have made a mistake but they interpreted this error by pretending that man basically would have the right, neither to govern nor to arbitrate and the governorship only due to Allah and the arbitrator is His Book. They wanted to neutralize their previous error but they entered a way which made them commit a great and dangerous error.

Their first mistake was merely of military and political. (the military error, how great it may be, concerns to a limited time and place and it is retrievable), but their second mistake was an ideological error and an erroneous philosophy in social questions of Islam, menacing the principles of Islam and being irretrievable.

The seceders, according to this mode of thought, had initiated a slogan, that is “لا حكم إلاّ لله” which means "verdict is only that of Allah and no one has the right to govern the people."

'Ali ('a) said: "This is a right sentence which is used for the wrong purpose. Verdict means law, lawmaking lies only with Allah and with those whom Allah has given permission. The purpose of seceders by saying this sentence is that the function of governance is only for Allah. In fact the human society needs, in any case, a ruler, manager or an executor of law."

Later on, the seceders were compelled to modify their conviction. Considering the acceptance of arbitration of any other person than Allah had been a sin which they had committed, they repented and demanded that Imam 'Ali ('a), who had, in return, submitted to the arbitration should repent too.

Imam 'Ali ('a) said in reply: "The armistice and reason to the arbitration was an error: you were responsible for the same, but not I. Regarding the arbitration, if you say it was an absolute error and not permissible, I will never admit it."

The seceders followed their conviction and mode of thought and excommunicated Imam ‘Ali (‘a) who had considered the arbitration permissible. Gradually they developed their religious conviction and formed a new religious sect which was different from other Muslims in numerous questions.

The manifest characteristic of their doctrine was based on the superficiality and coarseness. They considered the principle of enjoining right conduct. “Amr bil ma'ruf” devoid of any conditions and pretended that they should fight fearlessly and dauntlessly. As far as the seceders were contented to express their conviction. 'Ali ('a) did not oppose them for excommunicating him ('a), paid their rights from the public treasury and generously granted them leave to express freely their conviction. But from the very day when they rose officially in rebellion under the pretext of enjoining right conduct and forbidding to do evil "Nahy anil munkar". Imam 'Ali (‘a) issued order for their suppression.

They fought against 'Ali ('a) in Nahrawan where he ('a) defeated them severely. In fact the seceders were apparently ‘the believed and pious people’ which made the combat against them very difficult.

On the confession of their friend and foe, they were the people who spoke the truth and never told a lie, speaking with utter frankness, practicing the religion and many of them had the sign of prostration on the forefronts. They recited the Holy Qur'an regularly, prayed and supplicated throughout the nights. But they were very ignorant of their deeds. They presented Islam in a very strict, rigid and spiritless form.

Few persons were able to make ready to fight against such people and shed their blood. If it had not been the illustrious and exceptional personality of Imam 'Ali ('a), the soldiers would not have fought against them.

'Ali ('a) considered the war against the seceders as one of his great honours: he ('a) says: "It was I who have put out the eye of revolt. No one except me dared to advance towards it."1

It was like that and nothing more. It was only ‘Ali (‘a) who paid no attention to their camouflaged appearance and saintly aspects and considered them as the most dangerous enemies of religion despite all the aspects of devotion and piety of theirs. 'Ali ('a) knew that if this philosophy and the mode of thought, which would naturally find a great number of partisans among the masses, took root in the world of Islam, the latter would become involved in such a dogma and stratification that it would dry up this tree at the roots.

According to Imam ‘Ali ('a), the combat against seceders was not a combat against a few thousands of individuals but rather a combat against a mental rigidity, ignorant inferences and an erroneous philosophy in the domain of social questions of Islam. Who, except 'Ali ('a) had the ability to engage in the combat in such a front.

The battle of Nahrawan imposed a violent stroke on the seceders such that they could not pave a way as it was accepted in the world of Islam. The combat which Imam 'Ali conducted against them was the best document for the next Caliphs to consider the jihad holy war legal and necessary. But the survivors of seceders did not give up their activities.

Three of them gathered together in Makkah, reviewing, according to their illusion, the situation of the world of Islam. They were of the opinion: All the misery and misfortune of the world of Islam were imputed to three persons, 'Ali, Mu'awiyah and 'Amr Ibn As.

In the beginning, they were the soldiers of 'Ali ('a) and Mu'awiyah and 'Amr Ibn As were also the same persons whose political use and military stratagem had provoked a constitution of such a dangerous and stauntless sect.

These three persons named Abdul Rahman Ibn Muljam, Bark Ibn Abdullah and 'Amr Ibn Bakr al-Tamimi concluded a pact and took an oath to kill all the three persons being the heads of the Muslims, as per their decision the nineteenth day of the month of Ramazan was fixed for this act.

Abdul Rahman was nominated for the murder of Imam 'Ali ('a). Bark Ibn Abdullah for the murder of Mu'awiyah and 'Amr Ibn Bakr was appointed to kill 'Amr Ibn As. They parted from each other by making this pact and resolution. They set out for their mission in different ways.

Abdul Rahman went towards Kufah, the seat of Caliphate of Imam 'Ali ('a). Bark Ibn Abdullah towards Syria, the capital of Mu'awiyah's government, and 'Amr Ibn Bakr made his way towards Egypt, where 'Amr Ibn As was governing.

Two of them were not able to achieve an important task. Bark Ibn Abdullah, being charged of killing Mu'awiyah, managed to inflict a blow on his buttocks, in the same night of nineteenth of Ramazan, the wound was cured by medicine.

'Amr Ibn Bakr who was supposed to kill 'Amr Ibn As did not know him personally. Incidentally, 'Amr Ibn As, was ill and did not go to the Mosque that day. He sent Kharijat Ibn Huzayfah on his behalf, taking him for ‘Amr Ibn As, 'Amr Ibn Bakr inflicted a blow and killed Kharijat Ibn Huzayfah. Later on, he came to know that he had killed someone else other than 'Amr Ibn As.

The only one who managed to put his intention in practice was Abdul Rahman Ibn Muljam. Abdul Rahman arrived in Kufah without expressing his intention and opinion to anyone. He was not stable and determined in his decision and objective. He changed his mind again and again, keeping in view the great personality of Imam ‘Ali ('a), how cruel and savage it will be for him to kill the Imam ('a).

However, the events which contributed to save Mu'awiyah in Syria and 'Amr Ibn As in Egypt turned to another shape in Iraq, and an incident caused Abdul Rahman Ibn Muljam to be serious in his resolution. Without intervention of such an incident, Abdul Rahman would have totally abandoned his dangerous decision, it was a question of love of a woman.

One day, going to visit one of his fellow party members, Abdul Rahman got acquainted with Qutam, the daughter of a seceder who had been killed in Nahrawan. Qutam was extremly beautiful and attractive.

Abdul Rahman felt in love with her at first sight and forgot the pact of Makkah. He decided to live with her happily throughout his life and forgot entirely his intention. He asked for her hand and she accepted it too. When the dowry was supposed to be fixed, apart from the conditions mentioned, she asked something which made Abdul Rahman stupefied.

Qutam said: "My dowry consists of three thousand dirhams, a male-salve, a female-slave and the blood of "Ali Ibn Abi Talib!!!"'

Abdul Rahman said in reply: "I will provide for you all of them, money, a male-slave and a female-slave but it is not an easy task to kill "Ali. Don't you like to live with me? How could I raise my hand against 'Ali and kill him and then escape safe and sound?"

Qutam replied: “Whatever I have mentioned as my dowry it will be the same. If it is impossible to kill ‘Ali in the battle field, one can surprise him during his prayers. If you made an escape safe and sound, we will live happily together for the whole of our lives, and if you are killed, you will have a better and higher reward from Allah. Moreover, I can associate other persons with you so that you may not be alone!"

Trapped deeply in Qutam's love, the rebellious love which drew him once more towards the same course of events which had conducted him previously his rancour and vengeance, Abdul Rahman revealed his secret for the first time and said: "As a matter of fact, I escaped from this city, and at present I have returned here to do nothing except to kill 'Ali Ibn Abi Talib."

Qutam was very delighted at these words. She met a man named Wardan whom she disposed to accompany Abdul Rahman Ibn Muljam.

Regarding Abdul Rahman Ibn Muljam, one day, he met one of his fellow party members, Shabib Ibn Bajarah, in whom he had full confidence and said to him: "Are you ready to collaborate with him in a case which will have the honour in this world and the hereafter?"

"What is the case in hand?"

"The murder of 'Ali Ibn Abi Talib."

“May Allah kill you! The murder of 'Ali? A man who has served Islam right from the beginning?”

"Yes! Is it not that he became infidel by complying with the arbitration? Whatever his previous Islamic records may be! Furthermore, in the battle of Nahrawan, he killed our pious and devoured brothers; therefore, according to the Divine law, we can kill him and retaliate!!"

"How is it possible to raise a hand against him?"

"It is very easy, we will be on the watch in the Mosque and as he comes there for the morning prayer, we will attack him with the swords dissimulated under our garments and will kill him."

Abdul Rahman repeated this several times until Shabib accepted and associated with him. He then took him to Qutam at the Mosque of Kufah where she was under a tent retiring for prayer and introduced him to her.

Qutam said: "Very well! Wardan will also accompany you. The night when you decide, first come to see me!"

Abdul Rahman waited till Friday night, nineteenth (or seventeenth) of Ramazan, the date which was fixed with his associates of Makkah. As decided, that night he and Shabib went to Qutam who tied a piece of silk cloth with her own hands around their chests. Wardan was also present. These three persons took their seat near the door through which Imam 'Ali ('a) used to enter the Mosque.

It was a vigil night for praying. They began to pray and worship like the other Muslims. In order to put the people in a false scent, these three individuals, having a storm in their heart, pretended as if they were prostrating, without showing the least signs of tiredness which provoked the astonishment of the observers.

On the other side, 'Ali ('a) had organized a particular program for himself in the month of Ramazan. He ('a) broke the fast every evening in one of his sons' or daughters' house. His dinner never exceeded three morsels of food. His children insisted that he might eat more, but he said to them: "I would like to be hungry when I meet Allah." He repeated this many times, "According to the signs that the Holy Prophet (S) has informed me, the time is near when my white beard is tinged with the blood of my head."

That night 'Ali ('a) was the guest of his daughter, Umm Kulthum. More than any other night, the signs of expectation and emotion were visible in him. When others went to bed, he went to his place of prayer, engaged himself in worshipping.

Before dawn, Imam al-Hasan ('a) his elder son came to him ('a), 'Ali ('a) said: "My son! I did not sleep the whole night, and disturbed in sleep all family members by my prayers, because it is the Friday night, coincided with the night of Qadr 'Night of Destiny,' while I was sitting suddenly a slight slumber took me, the Holy Prophet (S) appeared in my dream. I said: 'O Messenger of Allah! I have suffered a lot with your people!'

The Holy Prophet (S) replied: 'Curse them!' I cursed them; and this was my curse: 'My Lord! Take me away from them as soon as possible and unite me with the better ones. Send them someone that they deserve, the one who is worse for them."

At this moment, Muadhdhin 'One who makes a call for prayer' announced the time of morning prayer. 'Ali ('a) moved towards the Mosque. There were a few ducks in the Imam's ('a) house belonging to the children. The ducks began to snuffle. One of the members of family wanted to make them silent, but 'Ali ('a) said: "Don't let them be tranquil; they are singing the mourning melody."

On the other side, Abdul Rahman and his accompanists were impatiently waiting for Imam 'Ali's ('a) arrival. No one was aware of their secret except Qutam and Ash'as Ibn Qays who was a man of bad character, detested the equitable conducts of Imam 'Ali ('a) and had good relation with Mu'awiyah.

Suddenly an incident took place, it was nearby that their plan would have been exposed, but another incident prevented it. Ash'as approached Abdul Rahman and said: "It is almost dawn, if the day breaks, you will be scandalized, make haste in your decision!"

Hujr Ibn Adi, one of the intimate and devoted Companions of Imam 'Ali ('a), who had recently returned from the journey, probably an official mission, and his horse was in front of the Mosque, wanted to present a report to Imam 'Ali ('a), overheard the mysterious code-words of Ash’as which he told to Abdul Rahman and guessed that it be a bad scheme.

Hujr, after having heard Ash'as saying these words, insulted him and went out of the Mosque hastily towards Imam 'Ali's ('a) house so that he would reach him and inform about the danger. But Imam 'Ali ('a) came to the Mosque through another way. Although his children and Companions had requested him ('a) several times to permit them to appoint a bodyguard, 'Ali ('a) did not permitted them to do so. He ('a) used to move all alone, the very day the demand was reiterated, yet it was refused.

Ali ('a) entered the Mosque, stood in the "Mihrab" prayer niche, started his prayers and said: "O people! Get ready for prayer! Get ready for prayer!"

Suddenly at that moment, two swords sparkling in the darkness one after another, and the shout of “الحكم لله يا علي لا لك” means: "O Ali! Verdict is only of Allah not of you!" shocked everyone.

It was Shabib who stroke the first blow, but it ran against the wall and did not work. Abdul Rahman stroke the second blow hitting 'Ali's ('a) vertex.

On his part, Hujr Ibn Adi hastily made his way to the Mosque, but when he reached there, the people were crying: "The Commander of believers is martyred, the Commander of believers is martyred."

Immediately, after having been struck by the sword, Imam ('a) said the following words: "I swear by the Lord of Ka'bah that I have been delivered," then he ('a) added: "Don't let this man escape!"

Abdul Rahman, Shabib and Wardan managed to escape from the Mosque. Wardan was not identified because he didn't come forward. While escaping, Shabib was caught by one of the Imam 'Ali's ('a) Companions who seized Shabib's sword and sat on his chest so as to kill him.

The people were coming in groups, fearing that he would be taken in place of Shabib and be killed in his place, he stood up and Shabib escaped and made his way towards his house where his cousin arrived and found that Shabib had taken part in the assassination of the Imam ('a). He immediately fetched his sword and without any delay killed him.

About Abdul Rahman, he was caught by the people and brought towards the Mosque, with tied arms. The people were so furious and indignant that they wished to slash his body into pieces with their teeth the very moment they got him in their hands.

'Ali ('a) said: "Bring Abdul Rahman near me!"

When he was brought, the Imam ('a) said: "Did I not act benevolently towards you?"

He replied: "Yes! You did!"

The Imam ('a) said: "Then why did you commit this?"

He said: "Anyhow, I have smeared this sword with poison for forty mornings, and I prayed to Allah that the worst creatures of Him would be killed with it."

The Imam ('a): "Your prayer is granted, because you will soon be killed with this sword."

Then 'Ali ('a) turned his face towards his relatives and Companions who were around his bed and said: "Descendants of Abdul Mutalib! You should not shed blood of people and accuse some individuals of being accomplice under the pretext of my murder or something else."

He said to his son Imam al-Hasan ('a): "My son! If I survive. I know how to behave with this man but if I die, you must not strike him more than one stroke, for he has struck me only once. Avoid mutilating him! Do not dismember his ears, nose or tongue, for I have heard the Holy Prophet (S) saying: "Avoid mutilating even though it might be a rabid dog! Act moderately towards the captive "Ibn Muljam" and take care of his food and comfort!"

By the order of Imam al-Hasan ('a), Ibn Asir, medical practitioner and well-known specialist, came to examine Imam 'Ali ('a). After examining him ('a), he said: "Since the sword was smeared with poison which damaged the brain, the treatment is of no effect."

From the moment when Imam 'Ali (‘a) was injured until his ('a) death, it lasted less than forty-eight hours but Imam 'Ali ('a) did not lose this chance nor neglect to give advice and to admonish.

He ('a) made testament in twenty articles written as follows:

"In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful - This is what "Ali, the son of Abi Talib, makes his last will. 'Ali testifies to the Unity of the Oneness of Allah and bears witness that Muhammad (S) is the creature and Apostle of Allah, Who has sent him (S) to prevail His religion upon the other religions. Verily, my prayer, my religious practices, my life and my death is due to Him and for Him. He has no associate. I have been ordered to this, and I have already submitted to Him.
Hasan, my son! I recommend you, my children, all members of the family, and whoever is able to read this written note, I recommend and advise them as follows:

1. Never forget the Divine piety, endeavour to remain faithful to the religion of Allah until your last breath.

2. Hold tightly to the cable of Allah, all of you together, be united and allied on the basis of belief and knowledge of Allah, do not separate from each other, for the Holy Prophet (S) said: "Reconciliation among the people is superior to the prayer and perpetual fasting, what makes the religion obliterate are the discord and the corruption."

3. Do not forget those who are related to you by blood, practise the familial relations, for it makes the man's accounting easy near Allah.

4. Keep Allah in view regarding orphans, don't let them starve and be guardianless.

5. Keep Allah in view in the matter of your neighbours, the Holy Prophet (S) went on recommending in their favour till we thought he (S) would allow them a share in inheritance.

6. Keep Allah in view in the matter of the Holy Qur'an. May no one excel you in acting upon it.

7. Keep Allah in view in the matter of prayer, for it is the pillar of your religion.

8. Keep Allah in view in the matter of Ka'bah, Allah's House, may it not be abandoned. If it becomes so, you won't be spared, and the others will make you become their prey.

9. Keep Allah in view in the matter of 'jihad' the holy war in the way of Allah, do not refrain from your property and life in this way.

10. Keep Allah in view in the matter of Alms giving, the alms will extinguish the Fire of Divine Wrath.

11. Keep Allah in view in the matter of the descendants of the Holy Prophet (S), they may not be oppressed.

12. Keep Allah in view in the matter of the Holy Prophet’s (S) Companions, the Holy Prophet (S) recommended for them.

13. Keep Allah in view in the matter of the poor and indigent, make them share with you in life.

14. Keep Allah in view in the matter of the slaves, for this case was the last recommendation of the Holy Prophet (S).

15. Do your utmost to achieve the satisfaction of Allah and do not pay attention to the peoples' words.

16. Behave towards the people with kindness and pleasure just as the Holy Qur'an has enjoined.

17. Do not forget to enjoin good and forbid evil, lest the mischievous and the vile get position over you and oppress you, then if the good of yours pray, their prayers will not be granted.

18. It is incumbent upon you to increase good and friendly relations among yourselves: do act benevolently with each other. Avoid turning away from one another and severing mutual relations.

19. Perform the beneficial actions together and avoid collaborating with the sins, evil doings and things which engender the annoyance and enmity.

20. Fear Allah, for his chastisement is severe.

May Allah preserve all of you under the aegis of His protection and bestow upon the Prophet's people, His favour so that they preserve your honour and that of the Holy Prophet (S). I entrust you all with Allah. May the peace and the salutation of Allah, be upon you all.”

After this testament no one heard 'Ali ('a) saying anything but:

لآ اِلَهَ اِلاَّ اللَّهُ

There is no god but Allah’, till he ('a) passed away.2

  • 1. Nahj al-Balaghah: Sermon no. 91.
  • 2. Maqatil al-Talabyan, p. 28 - 44. Kamal Ibn Athir, v. 3. p. 194 - 197. Muruj al-Dhab. Masudi, v. 2, p. 40 - 44. Usd al-Ghabah fi Ma’rifat al-Sahabah, v. 4. Bihar, v. 9.