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Story 113: What Happened To Your Sons?

After the martyrdom of Imam 'Ali ('a) and the absolute domination of Mu'awiyah over the Islamic Caliphate, the inevitable violence occurred between him and the most intimate Companions of 'Ali ('a).

Mu'awiyah made an effort to make them confess that they had not only gained anything in the friendship and obedience to their Imam 'Ali (‘a) but they also had undeniably lost in this way what all they had possessed. He aspired to hear one of them express his regret and remorse, but this aspiration of his was never fulfilled.

The Companions of Imam 'Ali ('a), after his ('a) martyrdom, realized more his eminence and personality than before. That is why they manifested their courage, bravery and frankness for his cause, love and protection of his school of thought much more than they had sacrificed their lives during his lifetime.

Sometimes it happened that the effort made by Mu'awiyah resulted in reverse and he and his close relatives were greatly impressed with the sentiments and convictions held by the followers of Imam 'Ali ('a).

One of the sincere, self-sacrificing and perspicacious Companions was Adi Ibn Hatim al-Tai, head of the great tribe of Tay. He had many sons. He himself, his sons and all the members of his tribe were devoted soldiers of Imam 'Ali ('a). Three sons of his named Turayf, Turfah and Zayd were martyred in the battle of Siffin attending Imam 'Ali's ('a) army.

Years passed, after the event of Siffin and the martyrdom of Imam 'Ali ('a), Mu'awiyah became the Caliph. Unfortunately under some circumstances, Adi Ibn Hatim had to face Mu'awiyah. In order to make Adi recollect in a bitter manner and to make him confess the great loss that he had attained for the obedience he had paid towards 'Ali (‘a), Mu'awiyah said: "What happened to your sons: Turayf, Turfah and Zayd?"

Adi: "They attained martyrdom in Siffin in front of 'Ali Ibn Abi Talib ('a)."

Mu'awiyah: "He did not deal fairly with you!"

Adi: "Why?"

Mu'awiyah: "Because he pushed your sons forward so that they got killed, while preserving his own sons behind the war front."

Adi: "It was I who did not deal fairly with him!"

Mu'awiyah: "What for?"

Adi: "Because he ('a) attained martyrdom while I am still alive. I should have sacrificed my life during his lifetime."

When Mu'awiyah came to understand that his purpose was not attainable, and he also willed to hear the virtues and attributes of 'Ali ('a) from the mouth of his close associates, those who lived with him ('a) day and night, he demanded Adi to explain 'Ali's qualifications just as he had closely observed.

Adi said in reply: "Excuse me from that!"

Mu'awiyah: "It is inevitable; you have to tell me!"

Adi: "I swear by Allah; 'Ali ('a) was extremely clear-sighted and mighty, talking with justice and decisiveness, knowledge and wisdom was gushing from him. He ('a) was disgusted with gaudy ornaments of life, familiarized with night and nocturnal loneliness. He ('a) was inexhaustibly shedding tears and incessantly reflecting. In private, he ('a) was taking himself into account, repenting for his past. He ('a) was pleased with plain and short garments as well as a plain and simple life like the poor people.

When he ('a) was among us, he ('a) was like one of ours. He ('a) acquiesced in what we demanded him, and if we went to his presence, he ('a) was so dignified that we did not dare to speak before him, and he ('a) had such a greatness that we were not able to gaze at him. While he ('a) was smiling, his teeth appeared like a string of pearls. He ('a) respected the pious and religious people and had affection towards the poor.

Neither the strong feared him to be ill-treated nor the weak, despaired of his justice. I swear by Allah, one night, I saw him, with my own eyes standing up in the 'Mihrab' prayer niche, and when the darkness of night enveloped all over, his tears trickled down his cheeks and beard. He ('a) was writhing as if stung by a snake and wailing as if overtaken by a calamity. Still it seems to me that I am hearing his voice addressed to the world: "O world! Why do you present yourself to me? Keep away from me and try to deceive someone else; you will never get a chance with me. I have divorced you thrice1 and it is irrevocable to refer to you. Your rejoicing is insignificant and your importance is nothing. Alas! Alas! Little of the provisions, the long way and few Companions."

When Adi's words reached this point, Mu'awiyah began involuntarily shedding tears. He dried his tears with the sleeve and said: "May Allah bless Abul Hasan. He was just as you have mentioned. Tell me at present how you feel with his separation?"

Adi: "Like the mother whose beloved child is decapitated in her lap."

Mu'awiyah: "Do you ever forget him?"

Adi: "It is impossible that the lapse of time lets me forget him!"2

  • 1. If a woman is divorced three times, she can not remarry her husband unless she fulfils certain conditions mentioned in the Islamic law.
  • 2. Al-Kuna wa al-Alqab, v. 2, p. 105.