"The Voice of Human Justice", (Sautul Adalatil Insaniyah)
By George Jordac (2000)
# Conditions prevailing after Ali
These calamities and social and moral evils began to appear in the Arab world, and gained strength in the East from the day on which the sinful hand of Ibn Muljim was stretched towards the specimen of justice and the embodi- ment of virtue viz. Ali son of Abu Talib.
It appears necessary to mention briefly the conditions of the Arab nation after the martyrdom of Imam Ali and to explain what shape the things assumed during the periods of Bani Umayyah and Bani Abbas, what the activities of these rulers, who deviated from the principles laid down by Ali, were, and how the common man became very cheap and was transferred like inheritance from one group to another.
The caliphate of Imam Ali was an interval between the period of Uthman and that of Mu`awiya and his successors. During this interval truth and justice enjoyed a very high position. However, during the period preceding it the rights of the people were violated. The people belonging to the upper class did not submit to the authority of government. The result was that injustice and oppression was rampant. The chiefs of the nation, the officers and the governors had become a cause of affliction for the people and were devouring their property. The advisers and associates of Uthman were perfect despots.
It will be better to explain here the condition of the rulers and the subjects during the periods of Bani Umayyah and Bani Abbas so that the value of the rules and principles laid down by Ali may be clearly understood and the readers may realize how sublime his wisdom and thinking was. His sword nipped selfishness in the bud and his righteous hand annihilated falsehood.
As soon as Ali was martyred at the hands of the accursed Ibn Muljim Mu`awiya son of Abu Sufyan began planning against the opponents of his caliphate. He severely punished every person who declined to acknowledge him as the caliph of God. He had not yet completed his task when he began levelling the ground for the succession of his son, the notorious Yazid as caliph. He adopted all possible means which could be useful for the kingship of his son. He bestowed honours on some persons and deprived others of position and authority. Out of the numerous plans which Mu`awiya contrived for taking the oath of allegiance from the people for Yazid we make a mention of one which will go to show the foundation on which the caliphate of Yazid and his successors was established.
Mu`awiya arranged a gathering so that the people from different provinces should collectively take oath of allegiance to his son Yazid during his own lifetime. When the poeple assembled, Mu`awiya and Yazid were also present. At that moment a flatterer named Yazid son of Muqanna rose and said pointing to Mu`awiya: "This is the Commander of the Faithful" Then he pointed to Yazid and said: "If Mu`awiya passes away it will be he". Then he pointed to his sword and said: "If any person does not agree to this his punishment will be this". Mu`awiya said: "Sit down for you are the chief of the orators".
The people of the Hijaz did not agree to take oath of allegiance to Yazid. They could neither be allured by wealth nor were they afraid of the military power. Mu`awiya's behaviour with those people is surprising. Once he threatened them saying: "I swear by God that if any person utters even one word here against me he will be beheaded before he utters the second word. You people should, therefore, take care of your lives and should not seek death". He posted two observers for each person belonging to the Hijaz and said to the police-officer: "Whoever from amongst these persons opens his lips to refute or to affirm, his head should be chopped off".
It was in this manner that Yazid son of Mu`awiya attained to the caliphate.
Abdullah son of Hanzala said: "We were afraid that if we did not oppose Yazid stones will rain on our heads from the heavens and all of us would be annihilated because of the divine wrath. It was for this reason that we opposed him".
It was the same Yazid who martyred Imam Husayn in a very tragic manner, beseiged the Ka`abah and stoned it with the help of the catapult, made the blood and the property of the people of Madina lawful for his soldiers, and lived a life of sensuality and pleasure. He used to play with dogs and monkeys till he died and was succeeded by other members of the Umayyad family. They distributed the property of the public treasury among their relatives and associates. The place of justice which was founded by Ali was destroyed by them and an unjust group assumed the reins of government. One group of persons became very rich and the other was reduced to extreme poverty. When thousands were starving, the Umayyad caliph gave twelve thousand dinars to the singer named Ma`abad, because he had amused the caliph with his music. The nobles possessed innumerable slaves and slave-girls. Seventy thousand of them were set free by Sulaiman son of Abdul Malik alone. Partiality and bias on account of race, family or party, was very common during the Umayyad rule although Islam had destroyed such bias and Imam Ali had not permitted it.
During that age discrimination was made between the people of Yemen and Bani Qais. The Arabs claimed supe- riority over the non-Arabs and similarly the Qurayshites claimed to be superior to others. Their courts were full of pleasure-loving persons who got large funds from the public treasury without doing any public service. History tells that Walid bin Abdul Malik disallowed the stipends of more than twenty thousand stipendiaries. These were the ways and manners of all Umayyads except Umar ibn Abdul Aziz. They gained mastery over various regions by means of oppression, and performed the task of Mu`awiya
and Yazid. Abdul Malik bin Marwan used to issue orders according to his own wish and did not attach any impor- tance to the lives and property of the people. He ordered the wells and the springs of Bahrain to be filled with dust so that the residents of that area might become indigent, and obey the government. He appointed a cruel and bloodthirsty person like Hajjaj bin Yusuf as Governor of Iraq.
Amin Rayhani says thus about Bani Umayyah: "The Umayyad rulers had reversed justice which should necessa- rily be observed by a monarch. This was a group of mean and incompetent persons. If one of them was a fool the other was despicable. If one was humble and devoid of honour the other was a drunkard and an oppressor. At least one cannot overlook the abominable and wicked practice of theirs that they abused Ali and his sons from the pulpits".
Amongst Bani Umayyah there was only one just caliph and he was Umar ibn Abdul Aziz. He started his rule with doing away with injustice. He wanted to get the looted property of the public treasury restored to it and to adopt a sensible policy for his caliphate. However, some people were not happy with this attitude of his and assassinated him.
Bani Umayyah attained to the caliphate by deceit, and converted it into kingship by coercion, and established a kingdom in which there was not a trace of equity and justice. At last the palace of their government became shaky and fell on their own heads.
After them came Bani Abbas and the impartial persons praised Bani Umayyah as compared with them.
Amin Rayhani says: "Bani Abbas gained control over the country by means of bloodshed. There were horrible scenes of massacres and bloodshed in Syria, Palestine, and Iraq and after which other chiefs also followed the example of Abu'l Abbas Saffah in killing and bloodshedding.
A man named Ameetar invited people to himself in Syria. The Yemenites obeyed him but Bani Qais rose against him. Ameetar launched a night attack on them and burnt their property and houses.
Another person named Ibn Bahees fought against Ameetar, gained control over Damascus and punished the residents of that city.
During the time of Bani Abbas revolts and distur- bances were rampant and the party spirit was gaining strength. And it was not only the cruel and blood thirsty rebels who were suffering, but the poor subjects who paid revenue and were always ready to partake in jihad were also involved in troubles".
Thereafter, referring to the big and small principali- ties of the last days of Bani Abbas Amin Rayhani says: "The people who lived in that dark age were very unlucky. Every ruler vied with another in bloodshed and warfare and was proud of his atrocities. He told his soldiers: "I hereby make it lawful for you to do anything you like with this city for three days". With these words they permitted the plundering of a city and shedding of the blood of its residents. Mutanabbi says: "The women who befriended them were to be made prisoners, their children were to be killed, the wealth accumulated by them was to be looted and their crops were to be burnt".
Fie upon that time, and upon the fear of the people of that time. May God bless those helpless people and may those rulers and soldiers be accursed! Does man who is God's best creation get metamorphosed at one time into a ferocious animal? Do these savages deserve that fifty pages of history should be allocated to them? No; their acts should be summarized only in one line; they became fell enemies of one another, fought, killed, looted and burnt, and were guilty of atrocities or in other words they considered the lives, property and honour of others to be lawful for themselves.
These are the remarks of Amin Rayhani about the period of Bani Abbas and the plundering and bloodshed of the small principalities during the last days of their caliphate i.e. when the caliphs were only in name and real authority and gone out of their hands.
Now we shall speak briefly about the period of Bani Abbas. It has been mentioned earlier, that Bani Umayyah
opposing the system of government which the Commander of the Faithful wished to introduce, and abandoning the just policy adopted by him, had treated the government to be their family property. They did not permit anyone to share their authority. They adopted Fascist policies as if the government and its revenues belonged to them only and none else had even the smallest share in them.
When Bani Abbas came at the helm of affairs after Bani Umayyah, they also based their administration on the same ideas.
They also held the view that the king was God's vicegerent on earth and it was his inherent right to rule. None else was entitled to bring about any change in this arrangement. It was on account of this very view that Mansur, the second Abbasid caliph, said while speaking before a public gathering: "O People! I am the king of the earth appointed by God. I rule over you with His blessing and help. I am the custodian of God's property. I utilize the public treasury with His will. Whatever I give to anyone is given with His permission, because He has made me the lock of His treasury. If He wants to give you something He will open that lock and if He does not like to give you anything He will keep it closed".
The same policy was followed by other caliphs of the Abbasid family. Every one of them was the vicegerent of God on earth.
This goes to show very clearly that cruelty was the foundation of the government of Bani Abbas and their subordinate princes and rulers. According to them sovereignty was a divine gift. God bestowed this gift upon those whom He liked and when He willed the welfare of the people He provided them with a kind, wise and generous ruler.
The result of this way of thinking and this idea and belief was that the people remained obedient to the Abbasid rulers and patiently bore whatever befell them considering it to be from God.
Baghdad, the capital of Bani Abbas, was overflowing with wealth, but this entire wealth was meant only for the
caliph and his relatives and associates. Others, however competent they might be and whatever services they might have rendered to the nation had no share in the wealth, and were doomed to poverty and abjectness unless they flattered the caliph and humiliated themselves before him.
As a consequence of this two classes of people came into being. There was a vast difference between these two classes. People belonging to one class rolled in wealth whereas those belonging to the other class, however skilled and efficient they might be, remained indigent and poor, and led very miserable lives. The revenues and income of the government were spent by the caliph, his relatives and courtiers, to lead lives of pleasure. They spent millions on their associates, flatterers, slave-girls and eunuchs.
From the point of view of wealth the caliph, the princes, the nobles and government officers belonged to the highest class. The tradesmen came next. Although their lives and property, too, were in constant danger on account of the high-ups, but as regards wealth they enjoyed a position next to the nobility. The only things which fell to the share of the common man were, however, abjectness, helplessness, hunger and death. In Baghdad the lofty palaces of the rich and the dilapidated huts of the poor stood side by side. It might be said that they presented a scene of paradise and hell. A poet of that time says about Baghdad:
"This Baghdad is fit for only rich people to live in, and not for the poor and the indigent.
If a rich man like Korah happens to come to Baghdad he too would be filled with sadness and perplexity.
Baghdad is the very paradise which has been promised us, but it has come prematurely into the hands of those who possess sufficient to eat and to wear.
In Baghdad there are houris and young servants and there is everything which you may desire. The thing which is not found here is human being".
A pleasure-loving rich man says: "Have you ever seen a city like Baghdad in the whole world? This Baghdad is the paradise on earth.
In Baghdad the fountain of enjoyment is pure and the tree of pleasure is green. At other places, however, life is neither pure nor happy.
One enjoys longer life in Baghdad. Its food and water is delicious and dainty. There is no doubt about the fact that the food and water of some lands is better than that of others".
It is not objectionable that Baghdad had been a paradise on earth during the Abbasid period or for that matter during all periods. It is also not something wrong that the fountain of pleasure in that city had been pure and the tree of happiness had been green. There is also no harm in the lives of the residents of that city being long. Nothing out of these things is wrong, man always seeks to live a life in a paradise, where there are all means of comforts - fruits and flowers and every good thing. But all these things can be good only if they have not been acquired by exploiting the poor and the helpless or by snatching away from the orphans and the widows. Where did these means of pleasure come from when there were thousands of indigent persons who did not eat to their fill even once throughout their lives in that city?
The famous poet Abu'l Atahiya addresses the caliph of his time thus expressing the sentiments of the people: "Is there anyone who should convey my frequent counsels to the caliph? I see that the cost of living of the people is very high and their incomes are very low. Their needs are innumerable and they are attacked in the morning and in the evening by calamities and hardships.
The orphans and the widows are sitting empty- handed in their lonely homes. The men as well as the women are stretching their hands towards you so that you may do them some favour.
All complain of the hardships of life, and are raising cries in low tones. They hope for your kindness so that they may get rid of difficulties and see the face of comfort. Mothers, with children in their laps, go without meals during night and fast during day time. Who is there who should fill their empty bellies and dress their naked bodies? I am
informing you about true facts on behalf of your subjects".
A man came to see the caliph Wathiq Billah. He draws a picture of the pomp of the caliph and the magnificence and grandeur of his palace in these words. (It should be remembered that this is about the magnificence of one palace only):
"One servant entrusted me to another and the second entrusted me to a third one. Having passed in this manner through the hands of many servants I arrived in a building, whose courtyard and walls were covered with painted brocade. Then I arrived in the royal court. Its ground and walls were also covered with brocade. In the middle of the hall Wathiq was sitting on his throne. The throne was bedecked with pearls. His slave-girl Farida was sitting with a guitar in her hand. Wathiq as well as the slave-girl were wearing costly brocade dresses.
This luxurious life and capitalistic pomp was a con- tagious disease from which all including the caliph, his relatives and courtiers as well as some businessmen were suffering. As regards other indecent acts which were done in the royal palace it is better not to mention them.
The purchase and sale of slaves and slave-girls for money which was not permitted either by the prophet or by Imam Ali ( 1 ) was so much in progress that in every city there used to be separate bazar for this particular trade.
In Baghdad, which was the capital of the Abbasides Dar-al-Raqiq road is a well-known place which was used for this purpose. The dealers in slaves had slaves and slave- girls of every race and colour. Black coloured slaves were brought from the south to the Abbasid Cities and sold at two hundred dirhams (about fifty to fifty-five rupees) per head. White coloured slaves and slave-girls were brought from Samarkand which was a big market for the
[*] Islam permits enslaving of only infidels deserving to be fought with, or prisoners who are captured as a consequence of jihad.
During the period of the caliphs and thereafter, however, the condi- tions became such that whenever the ruffians found any unprotected person in an Islamic city they caught and sold him.
slaves of this type. There were many kinds of slave-girls. Some of them belonged to Kandhar and Sind. They were slim and had black eyes and long hair, Some of them were those who had been trained in Madina. They were coquettish and adept musical performers. Those brought up in Mecca were matchless in their elegance and bewitching looks. Some slave-girls also came from the western countries.
The middleman Abu Uthman who possessed full information about the attributes of the slaves and slave- girls of that time says: "A slave-girl should be born in Barbary and should quit her country at the age of nine years. She should spend three years in Madina and three years in Mecca. At the age of sixteen years she should go to Iraq and learn social manners there. She should be sold when she attains the age of twenty five years. Such a slave- girl will combine in herself her inherent charm, the coquetry of Madina, the elegance of Mecca and the decency and manners of Iraq.
Unfortunately Abu Uthman has failed to mention as to how much price such a slave-girl would have fetched.
Besides the slave-girls who belonged to Barbary there were also Ethiopian, Turkish, Cypriot, Roman and Armenian slave-girls whose attributes need not be men- tioned here. The slave-girls belonging to each country had their particular qualities and characteristics which have been mentioned in detail by the experts of that time.
Not to speak of the poor people in the Abbasid period even the rich did not feel that their lives and property were secure. The lives of the people were in the hands of the monarch and they were afraid that they might lose their property or lives at any moment. Hence, if on the one hand the generosity of the caliph and his nobles knew no limits there was also no limit of the exploitation of the people by them. If at one time the caliph gave thousands of dinars to a person for his having uttered a beautiful verse, at another time he ordered that a person might be beheaded immediately and his property might be confiscated.
Attabi has drawn a very realistic picture of the
conditions prevailing in his time. He was asked as to why he did not try to seek some position in the royal court when he was a man of letters. He replied: "I see that at one time the caliph gives thousands of dinars to a person without any justification and without his having deserved it, and at another time he orders that an innocent man may be thrown on the ground from the roof of his palace. If I join the royal court I do not know which of these two fates I shall meet".
Once the caliph Mehdi summoned Mufazzal Zabi to his court. When the caliph's messenger approached him he feared that possibly some one had spoken ill of him before the caliph. He, therefore, wore a shroud under his clothes and reached the royal court fully prepared for his death. He saluted the caliph and the latter replied to his salutation. Then he stood quietly. After sometime he realized that the caliph had no intention of killing him and, therefore, became calm, Mehdi asked him: "Which Arab poet has composed the best verse on the subject of taking pride and glorying?" He also asked him some other questions and Mufazzal gave appropriate replies. Mehdi was pleased with his replies and questioned him about his personal affairs. Mufazzal told the caliph that he was indebted and thereupon the caliph ordered that he might be given thirty thousand dirhams.
Mamun executed his minister Fazal bin Sehl and then offered the ministership to Ahmad ibn Abi Khalid, but he declined to accept the post. On having been asked as to why he rejected the offer Ahmad replied: "My experience is that whoever has held this office has eventually lost his life".
The result of affluence was that revelry knew no bounds and had spread like a contagious disease. In every house there were innumerable slave-girls who were experts in singing, dancing and coquetry.[*] When the rich persons
[*] Islam does not permit enslaving a Muslim or a Zimmi or a non-believer with whom a pact has been concluded. It so happened, however, that during this period most of the slaves and slave-girls belonged to these categories.
got tired of one means of enjoyment they invented another. At times when they were overjoyed on hearing a good song and did not know how to express their pleasure they were beside themselves and struck and wounded their own heads with anything they could lay their hands on. Abu'l Faraj Isfahani in his `Aghani' and many other historians have narrated numerous such incidents. The reason of their becoming beside themselves was that they did not know to express their mirth and joy; hence they invented new devices everyday.
On the other side there were innumerable indigent persons, who living in misery and abjectness, were fed up with their lives. One group was leading an extremely luxurious life, while the people of the other group were fed up with their very existence. They despised their life as well as their society and culture. They had no hope of the condition of the society being better off. Abu'l Atahiya expresses the feelings of those people in these words: "The dry bread which you eat sitting in a corner and the narrow house in which you spend your days; or the corner of a Masjid in which you can live in seclusion are better than the moments which are spent under the shade of lofty palaces. This is a counsel from one who knows the real position fully well. Happy is he who hears my advice.
I swear by my life that this piece of advice is sufficient for him. Lend your ears to this advice of your well-wisher who is called Abu'l Atahiya".
Both the conditions of committing suicide by drown- ing oneself in joy and mirth or by abandoning the world are opposed to human nature. The Almighty God has not created man either for this mode of life or for that, however, during the Abbasid period these two evils were very common.
* * * * * * * *
What has been stated above is a glimpse of the condi- tions of the people during early days of the Abbasid rule.Later their lives became so miserable that it is not
possible to imagine their abjectness. The rich became richer and the poor became much poorer. The rich were small in number but the indigent were innumerable. However, the lives and property of neither of them were secure. Only a few persons viz. the monarch and his relatives and associates felt secure and satisfied. None of the other rich persons enjoyed peace of mind. They were constantly afraid that the caliph might get annoyed with them at any time and this might result in confiscation of their property and loss of their life. This type of cruelty began during the time of Mutawakkil - the man who constructed hell side by side with paradise.
The rich had become absolutely shameless. They drank wine and became devoid of their senses. They arranged feasting and drinking in their palaces and became riotously festive. They at times tore their clothes and rolled on the ground. They lost all sense of decency and indulged in all sorts of evil deeds. While intoxicated some of them thought that they had made the earth tremble by striking their feet on it. Many such stories have been narrated by Abu Hayyan Tauhidi in his book entitled `Al-Mata`a wa al-Mawanisah'.
The number of the slave-girls in those times was unprecedented. Mutawakkil, who insulted the wise and zealous persons as much as possible, tried his best to drown Imam Husayn's grave in water and allowed the ruffians in his court to ridicule and insult Imam Ali, had thousands of slave-girls in his palace. Some Abbasid caliphs had as many as ten thousand slave-girls. Besides the slave-girls there were innumerable eunuchs in their palaces.Wealthy persons and those belonging to the aristo- cratic class kept eunuchs in their houses for the protection of their females. During the days of Amin the number of the eunuchs increased very much. The caliph Muqtadir had as many as eleven thousand eunuchs. The middle class also possessed many slaves who were very immodest. The masters took shameful services from their slaves.
The root cause of all these evils was that the nobility and the rich persons had ignored the principles laid down
by the prophet and Imam Ali. They did not consider human being equal to one another. The rich and the persons in high positions considered themselves to be superior to the ordinary people and led luxurious lives by exploiting the poor.
We would like to talk once again about the habits and morals of the people during the Abbasid period to throw light on the luxurious and voluptuous life led by the nobles and the rich, and the indigence and helplessness to which the poor were subjected. The fact is that in a society whose members are usually indigent there two things viz. affluence and indigence are bound to occur. We may notice this fact in the light of what Imam Ali said: "I have not seen excessive wealth with anyone except when side by side therewith I have seen a right being violated".
Magnificent palaces were constructed and on them enormous amount of money was spent. Mutawakkil got constructed many palaces, whose beauty and splendour was beyond description. In one of these palaces a big swimming pool was constructed for the ladies and the slave-girls. When the famous poet Behtri saw that palace he was so much impressed by its grandeur that he thought that it had been constructed by the fiends and the genii. Describing the palace he says:
"It appears as if the genii subordinate to prophet Suleiman had constructed this palace and worked hard on every detail.
If Bilquis, the queen of Sheba were to pass through this palace she would have mistaken it for Suleiman's palace on account of great resemblance of the two.
When you look at this pool at night and see the reflection of the stars in it you will think that the pool is the sky and the stars are studded in it. The fish cannot reach the bank of the pool, because there is a great distance between its beginning and end".
Yaqut Hamavi writes in Mu`jam al-Buldan: "None of the other caliphs built such magnificent buildings in Samarrah as were built by Mutawakkil. Besides other buildings there were a number of palaces namely Qasr
al-`Arus which cost thirty million dirhams, Qasr al-Ja`fari, Qasr al-Gharib, Qasr al-Shaidan, Qasr al-Burj and Qasr al-Bustan Aitakhyah which cost ten million dirhams each, and Qasr al-Maleeh and Qasr al-Subh which cost five million dirhams each".
After giving a long list of the palaces Yaqut Hamavi says that a sum of three hundred million dirhams was spent on them.
Praising Mutawakkil's Qasr al-Ja`fari the poet Ali son of Jehm says: "There are such masterpieces of art in this palace as must not have been seen by the Roman and Iranian emperors during their long rule.
There are such spacious court-yards in it that the eyes must travel long to see their rarities and curiosities.
And there are such high domes that it might be said that they are chatting with the stars.
Ibn Mu`tiz got built a palace, whose roof was cons- tructed with bricks of gold, and trees were planted around it. Bahtri praises the palace in these words:
"Its roof was made of gold and was bright and luminous. Its light prevailed everywhere.
The breeze loitered in it and the fruitless trees and fruit trees were always swinging.
They were like delicate maidens who come out for a walk - some of them having ornaments and others being without them".
One of the palaces got built by the caliph Mu`tazid was called Qasr al-Surayya. It was very spacious and was very finely decorated, so much so that Ibn Mu`tiz, who had built this palace himself, considered it to be the workmanship of the genii.
The historian Khatib Baghdadi has drawn a compre- hensive picture of this palace while describing the meeting of the Roman ambassador with the caliph. He says:
"Muqtadir had eleven thousand eunuchs and thousands of Sicilian, Roman and Ethiopian slaves. This was one aspect of the palace. There were also other innumerable items which contributed to its beauty and elegance. Muqtadir had ordered that the ambassador should be taken
round the entire palace and should also be shown the store-houses wherein very valuable articles had been stored in a very beautiful manner. Costly pearls had been set in cases which were covered with black-painted silken cloth. The ambassador was brought in a hall wherein stood a tree made of pure silver which weighed five hundred thousand dirhams. There were also many birds made of silver which were fixed to the branches of the tree and as and when the wind blew they began to whistle. The ambassador was wonder-struck to see all this.
The curtains suspended on the walls of this palace numbered thirty eight thousand. All these curtains were made of silk and brocade. They were painted in various ways and contained pictures of animals and boats. The big curtains were the best specimens of the workmanship of the Armenians and the Venetians. Some of them were plain and others were painted.
Thereafter the ambassador was taken to the stable. The porch of this building rested on marble pillars. In the right half of the stable there were five hundred horses fully equipped with bridles and saddles but without saddle- covers and in the left half there were also five hundred horses which were equipped with bridles, saddles and silken saddle-covers. For every horse there was a servant clad in a costly uniform.
Then the ambassador was taken to the building wherein tamed wild animals were kept. They used to come to the visitors and smell them, and also ate things from their hands.
Then the ambassador was brought to another building wherein he saw four elephants covered with painted silken sheets. Many servants were posted there to look after the elephants. When the ambassador saw the elephants he was struck with terror.
Thereafter the ambassador was taken to a building where one hundred ferocious animals were kept. Fifty of them were kept in one portion of the building and fifty in another.
Then he was brought to a place called `Josaq'. This
place was surrounded by gardens and in the middle of it a pool made of pewter had been built. A canal which was also made of pewter had been built around this pool. This pool, which was thirty cubits long and twenty cubits wide was more beautiful than one made of silver. It contained four boats in which golden chairs had been placed to sit in. There were four hundred trees in the garden situated around the pool and each of those trees was five cubits in height. Every tree was covered from top to bottom with painted ebony wherein bronze rings were fixed. On the right bank of the pool there were fifteen statues of mounted soldiers, clad in silk, who held spears in their hands as if they were going to attack an enemy. Fifteen more statues had been installed on the left bank.
After the ambassador had been taken round twenty three magnificent palaces he was brought in a court-yard which was called "Tas`eeni". In this court-yard young slaves were standing and all of them were fully armed. Then he was brought before the caliph Muqtadir in Qasr al-Taj which was situated on the bank of the river Tigris. He was wearing a crown which was called Taweela and was dressed in silk and brocade from head to feet. His throne was made of ebony and its carpet was made of painted silk and brocade. Nine strings of very precious pearls were suspended on the right side of the throne and as many on its left side". (Sakhi al-Islam, vol. 1, page 100 - 102).
The Abbasid caliphs continued to spend large sums of money in this manner. Every caliph who ascended the throne tried to excel his predecessors in the matter of extravagance till the turn of Muhtada came. He was a devout person, but he was not destined to live long, for he was killed by his own kinsmen.
The ministers too did not lag behind in the matter of extravagance. Mutawakkil's minister Fateh bin Khaqan built such lofty palaces that their minarets appeared to touch the sky. The poet Behtri says: "The minarets which are as lofty as the sky appear like the plumage of white pigeons flying in the space".
The minister lbn Maqla had collected so many wild animals and birds in his palace that it is not possible for a government treasury to bear their expenses.
The minister Ibn Furat owned vast tracts of land and possessed enormous wealth. He took his meals with crystal spoons. He used one such spoon for one morsel and did not use it again. More than thirty spoons were placed on his dining-table.
The minister Mohlabi was fond of flowers. A person who had seen him says: "Red roses worth one thousand dinars were purchased for Mohlabi in three days. The same were strewm in his assembly and in the spacious pool of his palace. Strange fountains had been built in the pool. The flowers were thrown into the pool and the fountains scattered them in the assembly of Mohlabi where they fell on the heads of those present. When the assembly dispersed the flowers were looted by the people".
A thick silken cloth called Thiyab al-Na`al used to be purchased for the shoes of the mother of the caliph Muqtadir. Same silk was used for the upper part and the sole of the shoes, and they were joined by means of melted musk and ambergris. The queen-mother did not use these shoes for more than ten days. Thereafter the servants appropriated them, extracted the musk and ambergris and utilized them.
The ministers and high officials also endeavoured not to lag behind the caliph in the matter of pomp and wealth.
Ali bin Ahmad Razi the Governor of Jundishapur, Sus, and Mazaria left behind, on his death, gold, silver, pearls, precious stones and other articles which were so costly that if they had been distributed among the poor all of them would have become rich. Moreover, he left behind so many eunuchs and black and white slaves that if they had been sent in the capacity of an army to some country they would have conquered it.
The quantity of wealth possessed by other governors can be guessed from what has been stated above about the wealth of Ali bin Ahmad Razi. The rich merchants also lived a luxurious life. The lives of poor people depended
on the will of the caliph, his chamberlains and ministers. They were safe and secure only so long as the persons at the helm of affairs were not displeased with them.
Where did the affluent persons get all this wealth from? What reply can be given to this question except that they accumulated all these riches by exploiting the common people, who were reduced to penury and help- lessness? A most cruel system was adopted to realize government taxes and to collect wealth. The caliph and his ministers and agents sold the entire land revenue and other taxes to a single person. That person paid a few millions of dirhams or dinars into the government treasury and then realised as much money from the people on account of taxes as he liked. This was like the system introduced by the Turkish Sultans in the Islamic countries which were ruled by them.
The Justice Department, too, was topsyturvy. The dignitaries of the state constantly interfered with the working of the courts and no judge could dare give a judgement against the wishes of the rulers.
Bribery was rampant. The indigence of the people was on the increase and their difficulties and afflictions were multiplying. So much so that if a person died he deserved congratulations rather than condolances.
lbn Luknak of Barah says: We are witnessing strange vicissitudes. If we were to see in a dream what we see while awake we would wake up in a state of distress".
He prays to God that He may grant Job's patience to the people. He himself cries for them like Jacob and says: "The people are so much afflicted that when one of them dies he deserves to be congratulated".
He adds: "By God we are caught in the clutches of cruel and oppressive time and pray to the Almighty to grant us Job's patience. The world has become devoid of its beauty. So cry like Jacob".
The wise, learned and distinguished persons about whom Ali had made recommendations to his sons Hasan and Husayn (for the guidance of the people) that they should associate with them, hear their words carefully
and recognise their status. He had also instructed the governors to consult and honour them as they are light amongst the Muslims and shall remain till the world lasts. They were in an enviable condition during the Abbasid period, except those who had sold themselves to the rulers.
Abu Hayyan who was a great scholar and author of many valuable books says in his book entitled Al-Amta` wal Mawanisah: "I have been obliged to sell my faith and compassion and to resort to hypocrisy and to do such indecent deeds that no gentleman may like to record them".
He got so much fed up with the world during the last days of his life and was so disappointed with the govern- ment of the time that he burned up all his books.
Abu Ali Qali was also compelled to sell his books which were his dearest capital. He says: "For twenty years these books were a source of solace for me and I was immensely grieved when I had to sell them. I had never thought of selling them even though I might have had to remain in prison continuously on account of my being in debt. However, owing to indigence and with a view to feed my small children I was obliged to sell these books".
Khateeb Tabrizi had a copy of Azhar's book entitled `Tehzib-al-lughat' which was in many volumes. He wished to hear its contents from an expert and to investigate them. The people advised him to contact Abu'l `Ala Muarri. He put the book in a sack and proceeded to Muarratu'l No`man on foot carrying the sack on his back as he did not have enough money to hire a conveyance. During the journey he perspired so much that all the volumes of the book were spoiled. Complaining against adversity he says: "Others may get tired of journeying but I am tired of standing. In Iraq I had to live among people who are mean and the descendants of mean persons".
Complaining against the unsound judgement of time and its maltreatment of noble-minded person Ibn Lunak of Basrah says: "O time! you have made the noble persons wear the dress of humiliation and abjectness. I do not consider you to be `time'. You are paralysis. How can any one expect anything good from you when you consider
ability and perfection to be a shame. What is the reality of your condition as we see it? Is it insanity, shamelessness or impudence?"
During the entire period of the Abbasids[*] the people remained divided in two groups. One of them was that of the rich and the other of the poor. Both the groups suffered from numerous moral evils according to their respective environments. Moral degradation prevailed to the same extent during the last days of their rule as in the beginning. Rather it was at a higher level.
The rich led a life of luxury and pleasure and indulged in unlimited debauchery. As regards the poor enmity, envy, falsehood and deceit were rampant among them. Owing to indigence the people resorted too much to asceti- cism and mysticism. It was not, however, the mysticism, which emanates from good morals and from considering the world to be transient. It was the mysticism which is the consequence of helplessness, failure and despair.
Owing to indigence many other bad habits like love for magic, jugglery, and superstition, developed in the people. This was because when a person fails to earn his livelihood by honest means he resorts to foul means.
The governments which were established after the decline of the Abbasid empire had more class differences and their moral degradation was more dreadful.
From the time when the hand of the oppressor (Ibn Muljim) was stretched towards Imam Ali son of Abu Talib and that supporter and defender of human rights was martyred, these calamities became the fate of the Arabs and befell them constantly in new forms.
[*] No doubt, most of the Abbasid caliphs led lives of luxury and pleasure and were ill reputed on account of their having oppressed their subjects. However, there were a few amongst them who were just. Some of them promoted literature and industry and worked for public welfare in many ways. They constructed many observatories the like of which were not known to the Romans and the Greeks. They also established big hospitals and trained doctors and scholars.
All these facts are recorded in the pages of history.
In short the people of the East were permanently subjected to these sufferings and hardship.
# The two families of Quraysh
The prophet had said very correctly: "My followers will meet destruction at the hands of the youngsters of Quraysh". These youngsters mentioned by the prophet who were to create trouble and to conspire, were born at a place which served as a cradle for the shameless persons like Yazid son of Mu`awiya.
The prophet could see that this party was waging war at one time to safeguard its chiefdom and authority, and was surrendering and making a show of Islam at another time to acquire chiefdom and authority. When he glanced at different parts and saw these people he said with much grief and anxiety: "My followers will meet destruction at the hands of the youngsters of Quraysh".
The readers are requested to keep before their eyes the history of the Quraysh, which I am going to narrate, so that it may be possible to identify each of them.
The enmity between Bani Umayyah and Bani Hashim was very old. They were opposed to each other, before struggle for rulership and authority had cropped up between them and even before Islam had gained predominance.
Their enmity with each other was based on various reasons. In fact all the strong internal and external reasons for opposition had combined. Among them were included tribal party spirit, superiority complex, old grudge, desire for vengeance of the murder of kinsmen, political views, personal sentiments, difference in ways of life and manner of thinking etc. Bani Umayyah and Bani Hashim were the chiefs of Mecca and held high offices even during the age of ignorance. However, the chiefdom of Bani Hashim was
spiritual[*] whereas that enjoyed by Bani Umayyah was political and they were also tradesmen and possessed enormous wealth.
All the Muslim historians and European Orientalists agree that before the advent of Islam Bani Hashim were not habituated to cunning and deceit like the idolatrous priests. They did not deceive the simple-minded people on the pretext of their religious and spiritual leadership. They neither exploited others nor kept their personal benefit in view. They had faith in the Lord of the Ka`abah and sincerely believed in what had been permitted or disallowed by the Almighty God. Accordigng to their code helping the oppressed, sympathising with the helpless, warding off injustice, and meeting the needs of the indigent, was compulsory. They were sincere in their belief. They did not deceive anyone and did not consider
[*] Shamsu'l Ulema Shibli No`mani writes thus in the twelfth volume of his book entitled Seerat al-Nabi. "He had vowed that if he saw his ten sons fully grown up he would slaughter one of them in the path of God. The Almighty God granted this wish of his. He then brought all his sons in the Ka`abah and asked the worshipper to draw lots. It so happened that the lot fell upon Abdullah. He then proceeded along with Abdullah to the place of sacrifice. Abdullah's sisters who were present began to cry and suggested that ten camels might be sacrificed instead of Abdullah.
Abdul Muttalib asked the worshipper to draw lots to find out whether the lot fell on Abdullah or on the camels. By chance the lot fell on Abdullah. Abdul Muttalib increased the number of the camels to twenty but the lot again fell on Abdullah. He continued to increase the number of the camels and the lot fell on them only when their number reached one hundred. Abdul Muttalib then slaughtered one hundred camels and the life of Abdullah was saved. Historians say that Abdul Muttalib was not satisfied even when the lot fell on the camels and said: "I swear by God that I shall not agree (to one hundred camels being slaughtered instead of Abdullah) unless the lots are drawn thrice and everv time they fall on the camels". This was done and Abdul Muttalib was satisfied only when the lot fell on the camels thrice.
hypocrisy to be permissible. For example, it was possible that Abdul Muttalib, the grandfather of the prophet and Ali might have slaughtered one of his sons in the path of God because he had firm faith in his Lord and had vowed that if his ten sons survived he would slaughter one of them for the sake of God on the threshold of the Ka`abah. He was not satisfied about the fulfilment of his vow until he was convinced in the light of his faith that killing his son would not be a means of pleasing God.
His faith was so firm and he was so keen to assist the poor and the needy that he concluded a pact with some families of Quraysh to achieve this end. (Bani Umayyah did not become signatories to this pact). One of the special conditions of this pact was that they would side with the oppressed person and make the oppressor restore his right, help one another in financial matters and restrain the powerful persons from molesting the weak. The incident which led to the conclusion of this pact was as follows:-
A Qurayshite purchased some articles from a person belonging to another place and promised to pay the price after a fixed time. He did not, however, make payment on the due date. He was confident that on account of his family dignity and the support of his kinsmen none would compel him to make payment. Furthermore, the person from whom he had purchased the articles was a non-Meccan and belonged to an ordinary family, and did not enjoy support from anyone. However, Bani Hashim decided to assist him. They made a mutual pact whereby they decided to realize the price of the articles purchased by the Qurayshite and to enforce justice. However, as this pact did not accord with the nature of Bani Umayyah they opposed it vehemently.
The religious and spiritual leadership inherited by Bani Hashim from their ancestors generation after genera- tion, accorded with their nature. They had inherited pure disposition and nobleness from their ancestors. Every generation of theirs displayed the virtues inherited by it and Bani Hashim continued to maintain dignity and excellence till Almighty God appointed Muhammad to the
prophetic mission and also created Ali son of Abu Talib as respresentatives of the morality and perfection of the Hashimite Family.
Have a look at the history of Bani Hashim (i.e. the descendants of Abu Talib) after the passing away of the prophet, and you will find that, whether that history covers one hundred years or two hundred years or five hundred years, they have always been a specimen of the noble qualities and virtues. The manliness, bravery, piety and truthfulness which was possessed by their forefathers can also be observed in their sons and grandsons. History continued to turn its leaves, but whoever from amongst them came was a specimen of his forefathers.
If this family had not been virtuous and noble by nature it would not have become a specimen of piety and purity, because in those times egotism, selfishness, flattery and ambitiousness were so rampant that all were morally degraded and these vices were very common among them.
It is much easier to go down into an abyss as compared with ascending or standing firm at one's place. However, notwithstanding the fact that the atmosphere was unfavour- able and corruption was prevalent everywhere Bani Hashim were not affected by these things and their noble qualities and virtues remained intact.
However, Bani Umayyah were quite the reverse of this. During the age of ignorance they were traders and politicians; and it is evident that whoever is engaged in trade and politics possesses wealth and authority and endeavours to continue to possess these things and make them remain within his family. No intelligent person can deny the reality that when a person is engaged in trade and his near ones are also tradesmen he can do anything which serves his interests. He can at least defraud his customers, hoard wealth, indulge in deception, and dilly-dally in the performance of his duties.
Bani Umayyah chose these things for themselves as they accorded with their nature. It was just as Bani Hashim chose purity of nature, honesty and chastity for them- selves as they accorded with their nature and disposition.
Bani Umayyah were addicted to these abominable acts, because they had been engaged in their habits for long and they had become their second nature. They did not assist the oppressed because this did not bring them any profit and in fact entailed great expenditure. They did not join the said pact (which - condemned the oppressors) because this meant involving themselves in trouble.
Umayyah, the ancestor of Bani Umayyah was not as noble-minded and chaste as Hashim so he could not desist from molesting gentle women. When a dispute took place between Abdul Muttalib, the grandfather of Ali and Harb son of Umayyah, the grandfather of Mu`awiyya, they referred the matter to Nafeel bin Adi. Nafeel decided the matter in favour of Abdul Muttalib and praised him. Addressing Harb he also recited a verse wherein he drew a complete picture of Umayyah and Hashim. The verse is as follows: "Your father was an adulterer and his father was chaste. He (Abdul Muttalib) compelled the army of Abraha to go back from Mecca".
In this verse Nafeel referred to the event of Abraha who, mounted on an elephant and accompanied by a large army, had come to demolish the Ka`abah. He also de- nounced the vices of Umayyah, the father of Harb and the ancestor of Bani Umayyah, who had earned an ill fame in the matter of women. Once, owing to this evil habit of his, he escaped death. He outraged the modesty of a woman belonging to the tribe of Zohra. The people of that tribe attacked him with swords but the injury sustained by him was not very effective. Many surprising stories have been narrated about his voluptuousness.
When Muhammad, the distinguished son of the Hashimite Family was appointed to the prophetic mission he met opposition from most of the people. However, foremost among his opponents was Abu Sufyan, who was at that time the chief of the Umayyah Family. He instigated all the polytheists against him. He was the central figure in all the conspiracies and the mobilization of forces against the prophet. It was he who invented different kinds of torture for the prophet and his companions and supporters.
If Abu Sufyan's opposition to the prophet had been on account of religious faith and if he had done all that he could to defend his old principles and beliefs, there could be some justification for it, because when one sincerely believes in something, whether it be right or wrong, he is justified in defending his belief. However, that was not the case with Abu Sufyan. He never considered himself justified in opposing the prophet nor did he make any such claim with his tongue. His opposition to the prophet was not on account of any religious sentiments. What he really wanted was that the predominance and authority of Bani Umayyah should not be affected - the same predo- minance and authority which was based on monopolizing trade, profiteering, personal interests and enslaving the weak. He decided to oppose the prophet when he saw that the power and authority of his family which had already been weakened and become shaky was going to be des- troyed by the prophet.
On account of his profiteering nature, which it will be right to call Umayyad nature, Abu Sufyan did not believe in Islam sincerely even after he had embraced it. He always weighed it in the scale of wealth and power and thought that Islam was nothing except that authority had been transferred from Bani Umayyah to Bani Hashim. He could not appreciate the character of the prophet and his companions and the sacrifices made by them, and had never even thought of the human values for the pro- motion of which the prophet had come in this world.
When at the time of the conquest of Mecca he saw a large army consisting of the devotees of the prophet he said to Abbas, the uncle of the prophet: "O Abul Fazal! your nephew has acquried a very great kingdom". He uttered these words because he could not even imagine the sublime objects and the spiritual teachings for which the prophet had come. It was those very sublime objects and spiritual teachings which Bani Hashim had understood very well and in propagating them they even sacrificed their lives.
After the conquest of Mecca the Family of Abu Sufyan did embrace Islam but it was a very bitter pill for
them to swallow. In the eyes of Abu Sufyan and his wife Hind Islam meant their own humiliation. For a long time after embracing Islam Abu Sufyan continued considering the predominance of this religion as his personal defeat. He did not consider the success of Islam to be the result of its being a true faith. He thought that it was due to the weakness of his own people. One day he glanced at the prophet in the masjid like a perplexed man and said within himself: "O that I could know on what account Muhammad has gained victory over me".
The propet perceived the meaning of Abu Sufyan's look. He touched his shoulder with his hand and said: "O Abu Sufyan! It has been on account of God that I have gained victory over you".
The prophet tried to console Abu Sufyan before the conquest of Mecca as well as thereafter. Before the conquest of Mecca he married his daughter Umm Habibah, and after Mecca was conquered he declared his house to be a place of refuge by saying that whoever entered his house would remain unmolested. The prophet placed his name at the top of `muallefa-tul-qulub' (those persons who were given a larger share of the booty as compared with other Muslims, so that they might be consoled and the hatred which they entertained in their hearts for Islam might vanish) and granted him many concessions. In spite of all this the Muslims did not rely upon him. They were careful in dealing with him and refrained from associating with him. Abu Sufyan was worried on this account and wished that the Muslims might have a soft corner for him and his fmaily in their hearts. He, therefore, requested the prophet to appoint Mu`awiya as his scribe. When the prophet breathed his last and differences arose about the caliphate between the Muhajirs and the Ansar and later between the Muhajirs themselves Abu Sufyan considered it a good opportunity to exploit these differences and acquire the chiefship of Quraysh himself. He thought that after this achievement it would not be difficult for him to become the head of the entire Muslim nation. He, therefore, approached Abbas and Ali instigating them to oppose the
caliph by assuring them of his own support. He said: "O Ali and O Abbas! How has the caliphate been assumed by a family (i.e. the Family of Abu Bakr) which is the meanest as well as small in number? I swear by God that if I so desire I can fill the streets of Madina with horsemen and foot-soldiers''.
Abu Sufyan had not realized that he was talking to that Ali who would not be reluctant to give away the entire world to comply with one true order, and who was not unaware of the fact that his (i.e. Abu Sufyan's) annoyance was not on account of Bani Hashim having been deprived of the caliphate, because if it had remained with Bani Hashim he would have been annoyed all the more, and might have made his family, his tribe, and the entire world, against them.
Ali reproached Abu Sufyan and said to him! "O Abu Sufyan! The believers are the well-wishers of one another and as regards the hypocrites they are deceitful and insincere, although their houses are adjoined and their bodies are connected with one another. Abu Sufyan belonged to the aristocratic class - the class which considers itself to be superior to others and the common people to be its slaves. He looked at Islam from this point of view. According to him the prophet's invitation to Islam was only a means of attaining to authority and power. Accord- ing to him there was no difference between the principles and fundamentals of Islam and the idols, and both of them were sources of profit. He considered the principles of Islam to be a source of income for the founders of that religion in the same way in which the idols were the source of income for the idolatrous priests. He could not think on any line except that the people were to obey their elders and chiefs - whether they be the priests of the Ka`abah or the dignitaries of Islam.
According to Abu Sufyan the only difference between Islam and idolatry was that Islam was more profitable and in it there was a greater possibility of the people belonging to the lower class submitting to the nobility and the aris- tocratic class. In case, however, the common people were
not submissive to the aristocrats in Islam this system, according to him, was worthless and deserved to be replaced by a more useful and profitable one.
When after Abu Bakr and Umar the caliphate was assumed by Uthman who was an Umayyad, Abu Sufyan thought that the power and authority which belonged to Bani Umayyah previously had returned to them. The grudge and rancour which he had in his heart for Hamzah made him go to his grave. He kicked the grave of Hamzah with his foot and said; "O Hamzah! Rise and see that the rulership for which we had been fihgting with each other has once again returned to our family". The bitterness and animosity which this sentance contains is self-eivdent. This is how he expressed his sentiments.
So long as the caliphate remained with Abu Bakr and Umar, Bani Umayyah could not disclose what was hidden in their hearts and the plan according to which they had made a show of the embracement of Islam viz. that as soon as they got an opportunity they would convert the Islamic government into a kingdom. They got this opportunity when Uthman attained to the caliphate.
Nobody can believe that Bani Umayyah were aware of the true concept of caliphate. According to their view- point there was no difference between caliphate and kingship and they could not visualize the good points of Islamic caliphate. Their faith in Islam was extremely superficial and they had embraced it reluctantly. Their party-spirit of the age of ignorance instigated them to readopt the ways and practices of that age. They could not forget that the prophet did not belong to their family but was a member of Bani Hashim and they had always been inimical to that family. They were, therefore, looking for an opportunity to grab the rulership. The caliphate of Uthman opened the way for the fulfilment of their desires. As soon as he became caliph all the Umayyads gathered round him and secluded him from the public. None could, therefore, see him and acquaint him with his problems. The Islamic government now became the Umayyad govern- ment. Only Bani Umayyah could benefit from it. It was
only Bani Umayyah and their friends who could aspire to become governors and to hold other key posts. Marwan son of Hakam headed them. He was the first person who instigated the Muslims against the Muslims and incited the people to rise against the caliph. He was the first person who declared that kingship was better than caliphate, and only Bani Umayyah were entitled to become kings. He compelled Uthman to dismiss the governors who were holding offices since the days of Abu Bakr and Umar and to replace them by the Umayyads. Wealth and sovereignty became the exclusive property of Bani Umayyah. None else could hope to benefit from it or to hold property and position.
We shall mention in the next chapter how vicious and ill-natured Marwan was, what malpractices he committed when he was in power, and how many innocent persons he slaughtered to satisfy his personal desires. It was the same Marwan bin Hakam who had suggested to the governor of Madina to kill Imam Husayn and had reproached him for not complying with his wishes when he (the governor) failed to take that heinous step.
Marwan coveted power, sovereignty and luxuries, just as his ancestors had coveted them during the age of ignorance, and was keen that even if he did not possess authority himself it should remain with any other Umayyad, but should not go out of their family. The methods which he adopted to acquire authority and rulership go to show that he did not possess even one quality which might create least love for him in the hearts of the people.
# Mu`awiya and his successors
Mu`awiya son of Abu Sufyan was a perfect specimen of the qualities and characteristics of Bani Umayyah. When we study the characteristics of Mu`awiya carefully we come to know that he did not possess even an atom of Islamic human values and did not have any quality of the Muslims of that neat and clean age. If we consider Islam to be a revolt against the ways and manners of the Arabs of the age of ignorance (for example acting with personal interests in view and treating common people to be animals and a source of income for the nobility and aristocracy) it can be said with certainty that, as we shall explain later, Mu`awiya had nothing to do with Islam.
And alternatively if Islam is the name of the religion whose orders apply to evey individual it is quite clear that Mu`awiya had also no connection with Islam of this type. This was admitted by Mu`awiya himself. He used to wear silken dress and eat his food in gold and silver vessels. Abu Darda, a companion of the prophet objected to this and said: "I have heard the prophet saying that hell-fire will be poured into the belly of one who takes his meals in gold and silver utensils". Mu`awiya, however, replied unconcernedly: "I do not consider it to be objectionable". When we find that the early Muslims were very strict in religious matters, paid due respect to what was ordered or prohibited by the prophet, and sacrified even their lives for the sake of their faith, and then look at the impudent reply which Mu`awiya gave to Abu Darda in clear defiance of the prophet we are convinced that Mu`awiya never joined the group of those Muslims who sincerely believed in the moral and spiritual teachings of Islam.
The conduct of Mu`awiya after embracing Islam was identical with that of his father Abu Sufyan during the age of ignorance viz. that of an aristocrat who took forced labour from the people and treated them like slaves. He became a Muslim reluctantly and also continued to remain a Muslim reluctantly.
Who can be more aware of the mentality of Mu`awiya and the worth of his faith in Islam than his contemporaries who had seen him with their own eyes. Did all his contem- poraries not accuse him of the things which we shall mention later? Did Ali not know him more than anyone else and did he not draw a true picture of his when he said in his letter: "You are imitating your forefathers in making false claims, deceiving the people, claiming to enjoy a position higher than that which you possess and grabbing things which are prohibited?"
Was there even one among the Muslims of the days of the prophet or the orthodox caliphs who was a false pretender or a liar and was called a Muslim? Was there a Muslim during that pure period of the Muslims about whom Ali had said? "All those members of your family who embraced Islam embraced it reluctantly".
As regards some qualities of Mu`awiya like forbearance, softness, and generosity, it may be said that they were all means to achieve his selfish ends. He had realized it on account of his intelligence that to realize his objects and to attain to kingship these things would be very useful for him.
I think that Mu`awiya had understood it very well that the people did not like the characteristics and chracter of his forefathers and those of the Umayyads of his own time, and the power and authority, which his ancestors once wielded, had ceased to be of any value. He endeavoured to beguile the people by making a show of forbearance and generosity so that the people might not know the facts and get enamoured of his farbearanc and generosity, because if competence magnanimity and nobility of birth had been treated to be the criterion for rulership Bani Umayyah could not at all compete with Bani Hashim. He showed forbearance in order to gain
support of the people, and thus acquire powers and what could be a more effective plan to win the people and hide the evils of his family than to bestow gifts on them?
The supporters of Mu`awiya praised him much for his forbearance and generority but in fact his policy was the one adopted by the oppressor with the oppressed it was the policy of cruelty, oppression, tyranny and looting which he left as a legacy for the Umayyad rulers who succeeded him.
What sort of forbearance and generosity of Mu`awiya is praised by his supporters when he sent Busr bin Artat with instructions to loot the people telling him: "Go on plundering and pass through Madina, and put the people to flight. loot on your way every habitation whose people are supporters of Ali''.
What kind of courtesy and forbearance was that when he sent Abu Sufyan son of Ghamadi to Iraq on a plundering expedition and gave him these instructions: "March on by the bank of the Euphrates and reach Hait. If you meet there the troops of Ali attack them, otherwise move on and reach Anbar and plunder its citizens. If you do not meet any resistence even there then march on till you reach Ctesiphon (Mada'en). You should know that attack- ing Ctesiphon and Anbar is as good as attacking Kufa itself. O Sufyan! these attacks will terrify the people of Iraq and those among them who are our supporters will become happy. Invite people to us and put those people who do not agree with you to sword. Loot every village you pass through, and snatch away every property that you can by your hands and plundering the property is like murder, rather more heart-rendering". (Commentary on Nahj al-Balaghah by Ibn Abi'l Hadid, p.144).
Zuhhak bin Qais Fehri was sent by Mu`awiya to attack some cities, which were under the control of Imam Ali and was given these instructions: "Proceed and reach Kufa. Attack on your way all those Arabs who are suppor- ters of Ali and loot their arsenals, if any".
Zuhhak carried out Mu`awiya's orders in the same way in which Busr bin Artat and Sufyan bin Ghamadi had
carried them out. He massacred and plundered the people and treated them with extreme brutality.
Mu`awiya made a strange display of his forbearance and kindness when he expressed his views about millions of non-Arabs. He said about them. "I find that the non- Arab Muslims are going to outnumber us, and if this state of affairs continues I am afraid that the day is not far off when they will obliterate the names of our forefathers. I feel like letting only half of them to live so that the bazars and the highways may remain in tact". If Akhnaf bin Qais had not dissuaded him from acting on his program in this behalf, Mu`awiya would have killed thousands of innocent persons whose only offence was that they were non-Arabs.
Mu`awiya was kind and forbearing only when he had to face a powerful person who, he feared, might curb his power and topple down his government. He tolerated whatever such a person said, flattered him and agreed to whatever be suggested.
Whenever he was sitting among his friends and associates and some distinguished person rebuked him he immediately showed meekness and forbearance lest the other person might attack him. He also asked his scribes to write down the words of rebuke saying; "It is a piece of wisdom". However, if the other party was not powerful and influential, Mu`awiya did not show any meekness. And even if that person had not said anything harsh he wished to kill him in a most ruthless manner.
Mu`awiya became meek, kind and forbearing when he expected some benefit from the other party. He agreed to whatever the other person said, even though he might be oppressive and unjust, provided that he assisted in making his rule stable. To such a person be could present Egypt and the inhabitants of Egypt as he did in the case of `Amr bin `Aas.
On the one hand Mu`awiya's kindness was so extensive that he bestowed Egypt and its inhabitants upon Amr bin Aas and on the other hand it was so limited that he took away the right of Egypt and the Egyptians to live
and made a gift of them to one person. If this is what is called kindness and forbearance Nero. Genghiz (Changez) Rawan and Halagri (Halaku) were also very kind and forbearing.
When a person studies Mu`awiya's policy carefully he is stunned to find what means he employed to win the people. The duplicity practised by him in statecraft was cent per cent Machiavellian. Murder, plunder and terrorism formed his basic policy and making attractive promises and administering threats were also parts of it. It also included murder of good and innocent persons, holding rogues and vagabonds in esteem, false propaganda and seeking assistance of cruel and characterless persons.
Mu`awiya admitted several times that his politics was devoid of equity and justice and he did not on any occasion lend support to truth. The incident narrated below throws light on his politics and explains his views about equity and justice. Mutraf bin Mughira bin Sho`ba says:
"I accompanied my father Mughira to see Mu`awiya. My father visited him every day and praised him very much on his return. When he came back one night he was very sad and he did not even take his dinner. On my having enquired about the reason for his sadness he said: My son! Tonight I have come after meeting the most evil person. On my having enquired as to who he was he said: "I told Mu`awiya in seclusion: You have achieved all your desires. It will now be in the fitness of things if you behave with the people kindly. You have grown old now. You should behave well with Bani Hashim who are your kith and kin. There is no reason for you to be afraid of them now! Mu`awiya replied: `Never! Never! The man belonging to the Family of Taym (Abu Bakr) became caliph. When he died he was no longer talked about. Now he is called only `Abu Bakr' by the people. After him Umar became caliph and ruled promptly for ten years. With his death he also ceased to be talked about and people now call him `Umar'. Then our brother Uthman became the caliph. He belonged to the noblest family. He ruled justly but when he died he too ceased to be talked about. However, the name of
the son of Bani Hashim (i.e. Muhammad) is announced five times during the day and night (i.e. everyone says: I acknowledge that Muhammad is the prophet of God). Now what else can be done with his name except that I should destroy it Completely''. (Murooj al-Zahab, vol. 2, page 241).
Mu`awiya was brought up in an atmosphere of people who denied prophethood. He belonged to a family which hated religion. From his very childhood he had seen his father preparing to fight against the Muslims, leading big armies against them, and planning to kill the companions of the prophet as well as the prophet himself, in order to safeguard his chiefship, authority and material gains. He had seen that his father wanted to remain a chief even though this might result in the annihilation of the spirit of justice created by the prophet and the death of the prophet and his companions, and the misfortune of entire Arabia.
In all these matters Mu`awiya had inherited the spirit of his great grandfather Umayyah son of Abd al-Shams.
Just as Abu Sufyan's nature had a great influence on the character of Mu`awiya, who was a true picture of his father in the matter of selfishness and greed for power, in the same way his mother Hind, the liver-eater, made a strong impression on his disposition. Both of them greatly influenced his nature and habits.
In the entire history of Arabia it is not possible to find another woman who may equal Hind in egotism, harshness, savagery and villainy. She was so hard-hearted that even the most blood-thirsty person cannot equal her.
The polytheists of Quraysh had come fully prepared to fight against the prophet at Badr and a severe battle was fought. Many polytheists were killed. The women of Mecca mourned the death of their relatives for one month. Then they came to Hind, mother of Mu`awiya and said to her "Why don't you mourn like us?" She said in a tone full of grudge and rancour not found in any other woman: "Why should I weep? Should I weep so that the news may reach Muhammad and his friends, and they may feel happy and the women of the Ansar may also be happy? By God I
shall not weep until I have taken revenge on Muhammad and his companions and I shall not oil my hair unless a battle has been fought against them". Thereafter she continued to instigate the polytheists against the Muslims and eventually the Battle of Uhad took place. The sentences quoted above show how cruel and hard-hearted she was. She did not believe in relieving herself of grief by weeping and mourning. Women are tender-hearted by nature, but she was of a different disposition. She saw things with the eyes of a man. She believed that chiefship and sovereignty meant enduring hardships of warfare to keep the standard of one's superiority and dignity high.
When the polytheists of Mecca proceeded to Madina making full preparations to fight the Battle of Uhad, Hind also prepared a detachment of women and reached the battlefield accompanied by them to instigate men to fight bravely, so that she might satisfy her desire of vengeance by looking at the flowing blood and the dead bodies of those who were killed.
A man objected to the women going to the warfront. However, Hind shouted in reply: "We will certainly go and see the fighting with our own eyes".
Hind stuck to her decision and went to the battle- field along with other women. She did all she could to satisfy her desire of taking revenge. When severe fighting began she along with other women went to each row of the army of the polytheists. They played on tambourines and sang the following verses:
"O descendants of Abd al-Dar! make haste there are at your back those persons (i.e. women) whom you must defend; unsheathe your swords".
"If you move to the battlefield we shall embrace you and shall place soft pillows under your heads. But if you fly away from the battlefield we shall forsake you, because in that case we cannot love you".
Hind had made many promises of reward with the Ethiopian slave named Wehshi if he killed some Muslim especially the prophet's uncle Hamzah for whom she nursed an extreme grudge. In this battle the polytheists
fared better and the Muslims had to sustain severe losses. Hind was very much pleased. One of those martyred at Uhad was Hamzah who was killed by Wehshi. When he was killed Abu Sufyan shouted: "Today we have taken the revenge of the Battle of Badr. We shall meet again next year". His wife Hind was not however, satisfied that a valiant man like Hamzah had been killed. She approached the dead bodies of martyrs along with other women of Quraysh. They cut off the hands, feet, noses and ears of those killed and made necklaces out of them and thus manifested brutality, which even the most cruel tyrants could not think of. Then she tore off the belly of Hamzah like a butcher, and pulled out his liver. She wanted to munch and swallow it but could not do so. This act of hers was so abominable that even her husband Abu Sufyan expressed disgust at it. He said to a Muslim: "The dead bodies of your men, who were killed, were amputated. By God I was neither pleased nor displeased on this account. I neither ordered that this thing might be done nor forbade it". On account of this incident Hind began to be called the liver-eater.
When Abu Sufyan embraced Islam reluctantly at the time of the conquest of Mecca his wife Hind addressed Quraysh loudly in these words: "O Quraysh! Kill this evil and dirty man who does not possess any virtue. I have never seen a worse defence force than you people. Why have you not defended your city and your lives?"
Hind was not at all impressed by the kind treatment which the prophet meted out to her husband and her children. It was the same Abu Sufyan and the same Hind who brought up Mu`awiya. Furthermore, he possessed the special traits of his forefathers by birth (viz. love for power and authority, use of all fair and foul means to achieve one's purpose, which is called `diplomacy' in modern terminology, bribery, simulation, oppression etc.) In short he was a perfect specimen of his forefathers. He had been brought up by, and had imbibed the ideas of the people about whom Ali the Commander of the Faithful said: "They are corrupt and treacherous persons who lead a life
of debauchery at the expense of others. If they are allowed to rule the people they would oppress them, consider themselves superior to others, display domination, indulge in violence and create trouble on the face of the earth".
The Umayyads continued their nefarious activities to promote their family interests as in the age of ignorance even during the life time of caliph Umar but they did all this secretly and with great dexterity under the cover of flattery. However, when Uthman, who belonged to their family assumed the caliphate their machinations became apparent. From that time onwards they endeavoured their best to ensure that the government should become their family government and should be inherited by their sons and grandsons. They had no regard either for the caliphate or for Islam. They grabbed as much wealth as possible. They also recruited a large army. They treated the public treasury, which belonged to all the Muslims, to be their personal property. They bribed the influential persons with public money and won their support. They were awaiting an opportunity to secure rulership for themselves and their descendants. They were waiting to establish a kingdom for the family in the sense in which their ancestor Abu Sufyan had interpreted `prophethood' when he said to the prophet's uncle Abbas: "Your nephew has established a grand kingdom". He considered the prophet- hood of the prophet to be kingship, while he (the prophet) had never even thought of establishing such an institution. The murder of Uthman provided another opportunity to the Umayyads. We shall show in the following pages that Mu`awiya himself had a hand in the killing of Uthman. From that time onwards the Mu`awiya's cunning, deceit, and conspiracy, was known to all, and from that time onwards contention started between two natures which were opposed to each other. On the one side there was virtue, steadfastness and purity of nature and on the other side there was greed for authority, egoitism, fascism, corruption and other vices Ali represented the first set of qualities and Mu`awiya and his kith and kin the second one. Ali's mottoes were:
"I shall not deceive anyone nor shall I do any ignoble or improper act.
Like for others the same thing which you like for yourself.
Do not like for others what you do not like for yourself.
Do not oppress others just as you do not like to be oppressed by others.
In comparison with the maltreatment ofyour brother, you should be competent enough to do good to him".
On the other hand Mu`awiya used to say: "The army of God is in honey". By `honey' he meant the poisonous honey with which he used to do away with his enemies, so that the path might be cleared for his attaining to rulership. Mu`awiya treated all those good and pious persons to be his enemies who stood in the path of his achieving ne- farious ends.
As and when Mu`awiya feared that a person could become an obstacle in the achievement of his desires he finished him, even though he might have been a virtuous and pious man. So much so that he did not spare even his fast friends who had been his supporters. He killed Imam Hasan with the same honey. He purchased friends and bribed influential persons with the money of public treasury which ought to have been spent for purposes of public welfare.
When he went to Mecca to compel the people to take oath of allegiance to Yazid he kept a strong army on one side and stocks of gold and silver on the other and said to the Meccans: "I only want that Yazid should be a caliph only in name. Authority to appoint or to dismiss the officers or to incur expenditure will remain with you".
However, when the people did not agree to accept Yazid as their caliph he (i.e. Mu`awiya) said to them threateningly. "I have informed you of the consequences for which I take no responsibility. I am going to address you. If any person stands up to refute me his neck will be severed before he utters a word. So you should take care of your lives".
When Mu`awiya was reproached for squandering away the money of the public treasury - the same money which Ali used to spend for purposes of public welfare - he (Mu`awiya) used to utter this Umayyad sentence: "The earth is God's property and I am His representative. Whatever I take is mine and I am also entitled to take that which I do not take".
When he was asked to allow freedom of opinion and beliefs to the people he used to reply: "So long as a persor. does not stand between me and my sovereignty I have nothing to do with him".
In his book entitled `Islam and Political Dictatorship' Prof. Muhammad Ghazal while commenting on the dicta- torial policy of Mu`awiya says: "It is the greatest offence to be selfish and obstinate. If a person attains to rulership he should hold that office and the people should lend him support only till such time that he fulfils the needs of the people and works according to their wishes....."
At another place he writes: "Obstinacy and fascism of the kings is disliked by God and his prophets as well as by the people. It is an undeniable fact that in all ages the way of thinking of the kings has remained the same. These kings do not forsake their egotism even if their supporters and well-wishers may love them beyond measure".
Mu`awiya grabbed sovereignty by means of his Machiavellian policy. He converted the caliphate into kingship and left it as a legacy for his descendants.
In this regard Mu`awiya was a perfect specimen of the selfish nature of Bani Umayyah-the same Bani Umayyah who were ill-natured during the age of ignorance and remained so even after embracing Islam. After Ali met martyrdom at the hands of Ibn Muljim, Mu`awiya began planning to do away with any person who was not prepared to accept him as the caliph of God. He said openly: "We shall leave the people to themselves only when we have enslaved them". He also said: "We have nothing to do with a person unless he stands between us and our sovereignty. He told the people in clear terms: "Sovereignty belongs to me and after me it will belong to Bani Umayyah. People
are free so long as they do not become an obstacle between Bani Umayyah and their rulership". He began arresting and punishing people on mere suspicion, although this had never happened during the period of the former caliphs. He began killing relentlessly the companions of the prophet, the companions of the companions and other believers, who represented public opinion and pursued the right path.
As soon as he gained control over the state he began registering the wealth and property of the people as inheritance for his wicked son. He used thousands of means to obtain oath of allegiance for Yazid by force. We narrate below an incident which will go to show on what bases the governments of Yazid and some other Umayyad caliphs were founded.
Mu`awiya decided to remove Mughira son of Sh`oba from the governorship of Kufa and to appoint Sa`id bin Aas in his place. When Mughira came to know about it he went to see Mu`awiya and suggested to him that he should nominate Yazid to be the caliph after him. Mu`awiya was pleased to hear this suggestion and said to Mughira: "I allow you to continue as Governor of Kuta. You should go back and put this proposal before the persons whom you consider reliable. Mughira came back to Kufa and placed the proposal before some such persons. They con- curred; Mughira selected ten persons out of them and sent them to Mu`awiya in the form of a deputation. He also gave them thirty thousand dirhams and appointed his son Musa as their leader. These persons saw Mu`awiya and highly praised the proposal regarding Yazid's succession. Mu`awiya asked Musa: "What, has your father paid these persons to purchase their religion?" Musa told him that Mughira had paid thirty thousand dirhams for the purpose. Mu`awiya said: "It is a good bargain".
Mu`awiya then sent the proposal to all the governors and directed them to send deputations to him from every town and district. Many deputations came and exchanged views on the subject. Then Yazid son of Muqanna stood up and said pointing to Mu`awiya: "He is the Commander
of the Faithful". Then pointing to Yazid he said: "When he (i.e. Mu`awiya) passes away he (i.e. Yazid) will be the Commander of the Faithful". Then he pointed to his own sword and said: "This is for him who does not agree with us". Then Mu`awiya said, "Come, sit down you are the chief of the orators".
The compulsion and force, which Mu`awiya used to obtain the oath of allegiance for Yazid from the people of the Hijaz is surprising as well as astonishing. In order to obtain their concurrence he went to them with an army as well as with many bags of dirhams and dinars. However, when they were not intimidated by the army and were not ensured by wealth, Mu`awiya said: "I have done my duty. So far the practice has been that whenever I delivered a speech and some one from among you rose and refuted me I tolerated it and forgave him. However, I am going to deliver a speech now and I swear by God that, if anyone of you utters a sentence against what I say, a sword will reach his head before he utters the second sentence. You should, therefore, take care of your lives". Then he ordered his police-officer to post two persons by the side of each one of the audience and ordered that if any person spoke anything in support of or against what he (i.e. Mu`awiya) said they should sever his head.
Mu`awiya and other members of the Umayyad Family put into practice the fascist authority of the age of ignorance. They were despots who owned everything, and the Muslims were as good as their slaves, who were not expected to raise any objection. They beheaded those who declined to take the oath of allegiance to Yazid. As regards those who took the oath their hands were tattooed, as it was a special sign of the person concerned being a slave.
The successors of Mu`awiya were even more crooked and perverted. Some of them excelled him in matters of crimes and perverseness, but did not possess in the least the apparent qualities which were possessed by him. The people therefore, suffered much during their time. They were compelled to place their wealth as well as their necks at the disposal of the rulers. Their agents and employees
were cruel and corrupt. They oppressed the people wherever they were deputed. They humiliated the non-Arabs who had embraced Islam. They also maltreated the Zimmis with whom good and kind behaviour has been enjoined by Islam. They did not spare even the Arabs and killed those who declined to feed them with their flesh and blood. They appointed as their rulers the persons who imposed heavy taxes on them and realized the same with extreme high-handedness and in a very shameful manner. That is why Sa`id bin Aas who was appointed by Uthman as the Governor of Iraq used to say: "Iraq is the garden of Quraysh, we shall take from it what we desire and leave what we do not desire". And when a Zimmi enquired from Amr bin Aas as to how much tax they had to pay he replied: "You are our treasure" (i.e. we shall realize from you whatever we wish).
The Umayyad caliphs were keen to appropriate the public treasury to themselves and to make their friends and associates as wealthy as they could. The officers appointed in Islamic territories grabbed whatever they could and also realized large sums of money from the people as a proof of their faithfulness to the rulers. For example, Khalid son of Abdullah Qasra, who was one of the governors of Hisham son of Abdul Malik, used to take one million dirhams from the public treasury every year. He also took millions of dirhams besides this amount.
The edifice of justice erected by Islam and Imam Ali was pulled down by the Umayyads. Two classes viz. the rich and the poor appeared among the people. Consequently some of them were rolling in wealth whereas others could not make both ends meet. One of the Umayyad caliphs gave twelve thousand dinars to a singer named M`abad, because he liked his performance, while there were innu- merable persons who longed to live as free men. Before Sulaiman bin Abdul Malik became caliph the number of slaves had reached hundreds of thousands. This is proved by the fact that seventy thousand slaves and slave-girls were set free by him.
During the period of Bani Umayyah party-spirit had
become acute to an extent which was not at all sanctioned by Islam, the prophet and Ali. An inhabitant of Yemen did not enjoy the rights which were enjoyed by a member of the tribe of Qais, and a non-Arab did not have the privileges available to an Arab.
It was during the Umayyad period that the number of pleasure-loving courtiers had increased by leaps and bounds. They did not do any work but got huge stipends from the public treasury as is the practice even now in some Arab countries. History tells us that Walid son of Abdul Malik stopped payment of stipends which were being given to as many as twenty thousand persons.
The Umayyad rulers also committed grave atrocities to keep their hold on various cities. Abdul Malik was an absolute despot who ruled in a very shameful manner. He got the wells and springs of Bahrain filled with dust so that the people might become helpless and indigent and consequently submissive to the rulers (Vide Ibn Rayhani's books entiteld `Muluk al-Arab' vol. 2, p. 206) and al-Nukabat p.64. He entrusted the government of Iraq and the Hijaz to the despicable and bloodthirsty person known as Hajjaj bin Yusuf.
It would be sufficient to quote one example (that of Yazid son of Abdul Malik) to show what value the Umayyad kings attached to the common man and how they descreated the caliphate as well as looked down upon the people. One day he drank too much wine and became over-intoxicated. His favourite slave-girl Hubaba was sitting by his side. He said to her, "Let me fly away" she asked, "And to whom are you entrusting the Muslims?" "To you" was his reply.
Writing about Bani Umayyah Amin Rayhani says: "Administration of justice to the subjects is the foundation of a government. Those who occupied the throne, however, thought otherwise. As you have come to know there were among the Umayyad rulers worthless persons, drunkards and tyrants". (al-Nukabat page 70).
It should also be not forgotten that the Umayyad rulers introduced the shameful practice of abusing Ali and
his descendants. However, the noblest among them was Umar son of Abdul Aziz who gave dignity to the rulers of the East as well as to mankind. As soon as he ascended the throne he relieved the people of oppression, restored their rights, appointed just officers, and instructed the governors to deal with the people justly and leniently. He introduced real equality between the Arabs and the non-Arabs and the Muslims and the non-Muslims. As a mark of respect to human dignity he stopped further conquests. He abolished all taxes except those which were paid by the people willingly. He also stopped the abusing of Ali which had continued for long. He took back from the nobles and the aristocrats the property and wealth, which had been grabbed by them illegally, and advised them to work for their living. The rule of this great man did not continue for long and he fell a victim to the conspiracies of the Umayyads themselves and lost his life. They killed him just as they had killed Mu`awiya son of Yazid earlier - his only offence being that he had mentioned their evil doings, expressed displeasure over their violating the rights of the people, admitted that his father and grandfather had been at fault and preferred secluded life to rulership.
It is very surprising that some modern writers are very active in justifying the acts of the tyrannical and obstinate Umayyad rulers and their agents. They say things with which they themselves must not be satisfied. They do so only to support their ancestors and, therefore, put forth very funny and meaningless defence on their behalf. Were the contemporaries of Bani Umayyah who were eye-witnesses of their rule not more true? Do their state- ments not belie those of the modern writers and provide a true picture of the conditions during the Umayyad rule? What will these modern writers say after reading the following narration?
One day Ubaydah bin Hilal Yashkari met Abu Harabah Tamimi, Ubaydah said to Abu Harabah: "I want to ask you some questions. Will you give me correct replies?" Abu Harabah replied in the affirmative. Thereupon the following conversation took place between them:
Ubaydah: What do you say about your Umayyad caliphs?
Abu Harabah: They used to shed blood without any justification.
Ubaydah: How did they utilize wealth?
Abu Harabah: They obtained it illegally and spent it illegally.
Ubaydah: How did they behave with the orphans?
Abu Harabah: They grabbed the property of the orphans, deprived them of their rights and outraged the modesty of their mothers.
Ubaydah: Woe betide you O Abu Harabah! Are such persons fit to be followed and obeyed?
Abu Harabah: I have told you what you enquired about.
Now you should not censure me.
Abu Harabah's words "you should not censure me" go to explain incidentally that during the rule of Bani Umayyah and their agents it was not possible for any person to form an opinion of his own and express it.
How will the modern defenders of Bani Umayyah explain the views of the people of Madina which they expressed before the Kharijite Abu Hamzah? After expell- ing the Umayyads from Madina Abu Hamzah enquired from the residents of that city as to what hardships they had to bear at the hands of the Syrian caliphs and their agents. They said in clear terms that they used to kill them on mere suspicion, and considered those things to be lawful which had been declared to be unlawful by Islam, and which are also unlawful in the eyes of reason, con- science, and human dignity. In the speech delivered by Abu Hamzah on this occasion he also said these words:
"Don't you see what has happened to the divine caliphate and the Imamate of the Muslims? So much so that Bani Marwan have been playing with it like a ball. They devoured God's property and played with His religion. They enslaved God's creatures. Every elder of theirs made the younger ones his successors for this purpose. They grabbed rulership and stuck to it like self-made gods. Their hold was the hold of the tyrants. They took decisions according to their whims and caprices. If they got annoyed
they killed the people. They arrested the people on mere suspicion and suspended punishment on recommendations. They made dishonest persons the trustees and disobeyed those who were honest. They realized revenue from the people even if it was not due from them and spent it for unlawful purposes".
How will these defenders of Bani Umayyah explain the verse of Bakhtari in which he has expressed the thoughts of the people of that age and drawn a true picture thereof: "We consider that group of Bani Umayyah to be infidels who acquired the caliphate through fraud and deceit.
The evil doings, oppressive administration, and nefa- rious designs of Bani Umayyah which were certainly known to the earlier people were also known to those who came later, and the non-Arab writers have mentioned their atro- cities and crimes in the same manner in which they have been described by the Arab writers. It is a reality which is admitted even by the Egyptian and other writers who actively support Bani Umayyah. They say: "Most of the eastern and western historians vehemently attack and unsure Bani Umayyah only the attitude of Polios Wilharzan is moderate to some extent".
It will be observed that the attitude of the single orientalist who is not in agreement with others is also not `moderate' but we can call it `moderate to some extent'.
This remark of the Egyptian writer is a clear acknow- ledgement of the fact that this solitary orientalist could not lay hands on sufficient evidence on the basis of which he could support Bani Umayyah more openly and his attitude towards them should have been moderate rather than moderate to some extent. However, we would like to tell the Egyptian writer that there is also another orientalist, who has supported Bani Umayyah fully. He is the French historian La Mius who has lent complete support to that family for some special motive. We shall comment on the writings of this historian later. With the exception of these two orientalists most of them have drawn a picture of the son of Abu Sufyan and the descendants of Marwan, which will not be liked by their supporters. Among these orien- talists the most prominent is Kazanofa who says:
"The nature of Bani Umayyah was composed of two things: Firstly love for wealth to the extent of avari ciousness; and secondly love for victory to plunder and for chiefship to enjoy worldly pleasures".
However, whether they are the Arab historians or the orientalists none of them has drawn as true a picture of Bani Umayyah as has been drawn by the Umayyad caliph Walid bin Yazid in the verses translated below.
"Do not mention the people of Sa`di's Family. We are superior to them in the matter of numbers as well as wealth. We wield power over the people and humiliate them in every manner and torture them in various ways. We humiliate them and bring them on the brink of ruination and destruction and there too they meet with only humiliation and annihilation".
Even if the supporters of the Umayyads reject all that has been said by the old and modern historians and orien- talists about Umayyad mentality, can they reject what has been said by Walid son of Yazid?
# Husayn and Yazid
All those events which Husayn had to go through prove that from the point of view of morality he occupied the highest place of glory and all the events through which Yazid passed are an evidence of the fact that he was at the lowest ebb of ignominy. The tragedy of Karbala is a sufficient proof for it. This event speaks volumes for his stark wickedness.
Yazid was a drunkard. He used to wear silken clothes and played on a tambourine.
Husayn son of Ali and Yazid son of Mu`awiya were the persons who came in the world as perfect specimens of the qualities of the two families viz. the Hashimites and Umayyads. Husayn was a perfect Hashim of his time as Yazid was Abd al-Shams. If the special qualities of a man can be the true picture of the environments in which he is brought up there is no doubt about the fact that Husayn and Yazid were the true models of their families. Husayn represented the Hashimites and Yazid the Umayyads. The only difference was that Husayn was the best specimen of the Hashimite virtues and excellences whereas Yazid was devoid of even the good qualities which were possessed by Bani Umayyah.
Husayn was the son of the prophet's daughter Fatima and Ali son of Abu Talib. When he was born the prophet took him in his lap and pronounced `Azan' in his ears so as to infuse his own spirit into the spirit of his grandson, make him a part and parcel of his own being, and to impress upon him that he was born to perform a special mission, and that purpose of life had been fixed for him.
On the seventh day of his birth the prophet said with great happiness: "I have named this son of mine Husayn".
The child grew up day after day in such a condition that he had in him the soul of his grandfather, the beatings of the heart of his father, and a deep impression of prophethood on his mind. All the virtues and excellences of his forefathers had combined in his person. And as he continued to grow up these virtues and qualities of his also continued to become more apparent.
Transmission of the qualities of forefathers to their children is a law of nature about which there cannot be any doubt whatsoever. Just as the children inherit the colours, facial appearances, material qualities etc. from their ancestors they also inherit their characteristic virtues.
Husayn remained under the supervision of his grand- father till the age of seven years. After the prophet's demise his companions continued to imitate him in the matter of love for Husayn. A special reason for their displaying love for him was that his features very much resembled those of the prophet. This is borne out by the statements of those persons who had seen the prophet as well as Husayn.
The great names of the ancestors and their achieve- ments have a great deal to do with the development of their children and the making of their future bright. When the child hears about the achievements of his ancestors from his very early age a picture of theirs is drawn on his brain, and consequently he acquires the qualities of his ancestors. A child naturally inherits the qualities of his forefathers, but his living with them at the same place casts a great influence on them.
Besides the prophet Husayn also saw his revered father. He saw his perseverance, steadfastness, justice, sympathy, help for the oppressed and anger for the oppressors as well as good treatment and kindness shown to the enemies. He accompanied his father in the Battles of Camel, Siffin and Nahrawan, and saw his astonishing bravery, and learnt from him the ways of fighting for the sake of goodness, and also knew from him how to sacrifice
one's life to protect the oppressed and helpless from tyranny.
Husayn's revered mother was a very tender-hearted and kind lady. On account of this very tender-heartedness she was always grieved to see the hardships to which her father, the prophet, and his companions were subjected by the Quraysh. She was extremely sad on the day of the Battle of Uhad when many Muslims were killed at the hands of the polytheist Quraysh and their dead bodies were cut to pieces. It was a very depressing scene for her to see her father weeping for his uncle Hamzah.
It is said that after the death of the prophet, Anas bin Malik went one day to see lady Fatima and requested her to control her grief in the interest of her own health. She said only this reply: "O Anas! How did you tolerate to entrust the pure body of the prophet to the grave?"
Then she burst into tears, and Anas too began to weep. He came back with a heart, which was shattered by the grief of Fatima.
Husayn used to see his grief-stricten younger sister Zainab and felt extremely sad for her.
Husayn looked at his mother and sister and then imagined the sufferings and hardships which time had in store for himself, his sister and their descendants. He felt that very soon he and his sister would have to shed tears on the death of their mother and then to mourn the martyrdom of their father, and their descendants would have to face great hardships.
A few days later Husayn heard his mother making the following recommendations to his sister Zainab: "Do not leave Hasan and Husayn. Take complete care of them. After me perform the duties of their mother".
His mother breathed her last after three months of the death of her father. Husayn was standing by her side and saying goodbye to her. At times he glanced at his sister who was stunned with grief. Then he looked at his father and brother who were crying bitterly on the passing away of lady Fatima.
Husayn spent his childhood in such an atmosphere of
sorrow and grief. When he grew up he saw the people contending with, and blocking the way of his revered father at every step. The attitude of the mother of the Faithful Ayesha and her supporters made him all the more sad. He also saw the treachery committed by Mu`awiya, Amr bin Aas, and their henchmen with his father. This increased his grief all the more and he felt that unless evil was suppressed with that bravery and force with which his father endeavoured to suppress it, life would be meaningless.
The most grievous day was that on which the hand of a criminal and a sinner wounded the forehead of his illustrious father when he was offering his prayers in the Masjid Kufa. Imam Ali could not survive this injury and breathed his last after two days. Thus the impediment in the path of the oppressors and tyrants to establish their authority was removed.
After some time his brother Hasan met martyrdom due to poisoning. And his grief and wonder knew no bounds when he saw that Bani Umayyah and their suppor- ters were shooting arrows on the funeral bier ofhis brother. He also came to know that Mu`awiya had ordered that Husayn's father and brother should be abused from the pulpits. In fact he heard Mu`awiya doing so himself. In short new causes for his grief continued to appear. These were the very causes which culminated in the tragedy of Karbala-the place where the most heinous crime was committed with the co-operation of mean Soldiers of Yazid and his wicked officers. They committed atrocities on Husayn and a small group of his companions and members of his family which one shudders to imagine.
This was how Husayn was reared from the point of view of inheritance and training and these were the causes of his grief which he had to experience from the very time of his birth. As he had observed the sufferings of his grand- father, father and mother, grief and sorrow were ingrained in his nature.
It was on account of the qualities inherited and acquired by Husayn that he used to say: Forbearance is a ladder, fidelity is manliness, pride is folly and weakness
and association with the wicked is something which makes one doubt and waver.
Try to acquire that thing which you deserve. It is humiliation and abasement to live with the oppressors. Truth is dignity and falsehood is helplessness.
* * * * * * * *
Who was Yazid?
Yazid was a man who had inherited all the bad qualities of the Umayyad Family. His disposition, beliefs, way of thinking and the manner of looking at various matters were exactly the same as those of Bani Umayyah in general. Besides the evils inherited by him from his ancestors he had other mischievous tendencies and satanic qualities as well. He did not possess the apparent qualities of his father which are considered to be his (i.e. Mu`awiya's) merits although they were only tools to strengthen his rule. In fact it may be said that whereas all the bad qualities of his family had combined in him he did not at all possess any good quality. There has been no other reveller amongst Bani Umayyah like Yazid and it was on account of his being wildly festive that he lost his life. It is said that one day, while mounted on a horse, he was trying to out-pace a monkey. During this competition, however, he fell down from the horse and died. His contemporaries have drawn a very precise and concise picture of his in these words: "He was a drunkard. He used to wear silken clothes and played on a tambourine".
If Husayn proved to be a model of virtue and good morals Yazid proved to be the worst specimen of his ancestral vices. If Husayn was sympathetic towards others as magnanimous persons usually are, Yazid had no human sentiments and was absolutely shameless.
Yazid had been brought up in a family which consi- dered Islam to be a political movement. According to Bani Umayyah the prophethood of the prophet was only a pretext to acquire power and authority and Islam meant transfer of power from the hands of Bani Umayyah to the
hands of Bani Hashim. Yazid considered his countrymen to be only an army whose duty it was to remain faithful to the ruler. In his eyes the object of the existence of his countrymen was that they should pay land revenue and taxes and increase the wealth of the treasury which was to be spent according to the sweet will of the ruler.
As Yazid was born and brought up in such a family it was necessary that he, too, should adopt the ways which were adopted by his forefathers and other members of his family during the age of ignorance and after the advent of Islam. Furthermore, he was brought up in the house of a father who spent large sums of money of the public treasury at his pleasure. When wealth and ignorance are combined the result can be nothing else except profligacy and debauchery.
It was for this reason that like every ignorant person who possesses wealth Yazid was a drunkard and was fond of a life of pleasure and played with dogs. As soon as he ascended the throne he began spending money lavishly to lead a life of debauchery and sensual pleasure. He gave enormous sums to his asociates, slaves, slave-girls, singers etc. He had a large number of dogs who slept by his side and were made to wear ornaments of gold and silver and silken dresses, while the poor people, from whom taxes were realized under coercion, starved and suffered hard- ships. He ruled for three and a half years only but during this short period he combined in him all the disgrace, absurdity and impudence which were the result of Umayyad politics.
Besides the above-mentioned revelry and debauchery which Yazid inherited from his ancestors he also committed other most heinous crimes. During the first year of his reign he murdered Imam Husayn and his companions and made the people of his family captives. During the second year he plundered Madina without caring in the least for its sanctity. He permitted his soldiers to do whatever they liked with the people of the city for a period of three days. Consequently eleven thousand persons including seven hundred companions of the prophet from amongst the
Muhajirs and Ansar were killed and the modesty of more than one thousand virgins was outraged.
It was the natural disposition of Imam Husayn that he should fight against injustice and oppression following the example set by his grandfather and father. He used to say: "It is humiliation and disgrace to live with the oppressors". On the contrary Yazid always bestowed honours on cruel and wicked persons and gave them large presents for committing heinous crimes. He also asked others to respect and honour such persons. For example, one day when he was engaged in feasting and drinking along with his friends and Ubaidullah Ibn Zaid, the chief actor of the tragedy of Karbala, was sitting on his right hand side he addressed the cup-bearer as under:
"Give me such a wine that it should make my heart cool. Then give the same wine to Ibn Ziad who is my confidant and trustee and the source of my acquiring war booty and winning the battles".
(This incident took place only a few days after the martyrdom of Imam Husayn).
The honouring of Ibn Ziad by Yazid resembles the honouring of the greatest tyrant and criminal, Hajjaj.
In short if during the time of Mu`awiya `divine army' consisted of poisoned honey the `divine army' during the days of Yazid was only poison without the admixture of honey. During the reign of Yazid the Umayyad party-spirit of the days of ignorance was fully revived. None of the events of history can produce a man more ignorable than Yazid - the same Yazid who was the author of the tragedy of Karbala. And similarly none of the events of history can produce a person who should possess as lofty a character as Husayn - the same Husayn who was the martyr of Karbala. The pages relating to Yazid are absolutely black whereas those relating to Husayn are replete with dignity and honour. On the one side there were the trade and chiefship of Umayyah and his slaves and executioners; and on the other side there were the lofty character and bravery of the Family of Abu Talib and their free and zealous persons and martyrs in the path of truth and justice.
Logic and reasoning are not so successful to prove a reality as are the events which are related to it. As events contain conclusive arguments within themselves there is no doubt about the fact that all those events which Husayn had to go through prove that from the point of view of moral character he occupied the loftiest rank, all the events through which Yazid passed are an evidence of the fact that he was at the lowest layer of degradation. The tragedy of Karbala is a sufficient proof for this fact. This event speaks volumes for, and shall always be pointing to the most noble character of Husayn, and the wickedness of the vilest of the vile Yazid.
Before the tragedy of Karbala there occurred another event, in which there was on one side Husayn the model of sincerity and human sympathy, and on the other there was Yazid who was an embodiment of debauchery and licen- tiousness. This event, besides bringing to light the respective characters of Husayn and Yazid, also reminds one of the pact made by Bani Hashim, which was called `Hilfal-Fuzul'. This pact was made by them with the co-operation of some Arab tribes. One of its items purported to say that the signatories of the pact would support the oppressed, and realize their rights from the oppressors, and would restrain the powerful persons from doing injustice to the weak and helpless. The ancestors of Yazid had opposed this pact and those of Husayn had lent it whole-hearted support.
Of course, one character of this event is Husayn and the other is Yazid. Yazid son of Mu`awiya came to know about the beauty of Urainab daughter of Ishaq who was the wife of the Qurayshite Abdullah bin Salam. Urainab was the most beautiful and accomplished woman of her time and possessed enormous wealth. Yazid fell in love with her without having seen her. He lost all patience and mentioned the matter to Mu`awiya's favourite slave named Rafiq. The slave informed Mu`awiya about this love and told him that his son was very keen to marry Urainab. Mu`awiya called Yazid and enquired from him about the matter. Yazid admitted that whatever Mu`awiya had been told was correct. Mu`awiya said: "Be calm and patient.
Something will be done in this behalf". Yazid said: It is no use consoling me now because the matter is already finished. She has already been married. Mu`awiya said: My dear son! Keep the secret to yourself, because if it is divulged it will do you no good. God completes what He ordains and what has already happened cannot be helped.
Mu`awiya began thinking of solving the problem and meeting the wish of Yazid to marry Urainab. Abdullah son of Salam, the husband of Urainab was at that time the Governor of Iraq. Mu`awiya wrote a letter to him saying: "I have an urgent business with you. Please come and see me as early as possible. The matter is beneficial to you"
On receiving Mu`awiya's letter Abdullah proceeded to Syria at once and met Mu`awiya. The latter received him with great honour and respect. At that time Abu Darda and Abu Huraira, two companions of the prophet were also available in Damacus. Mu`awiya called for them and said to them: "Such and such daughter of mine is now of age and I am anxious to give away her hand in marriage. I think Abdullah son of Salam is a good man and I wish that she may marry him".
Both of them praised Mu`awiya for his intelligence and devoutness and said that whatever he had thought of was absolutely proper.
Mu`awiya said to them: "Both of you should meet Abdullah and mention the matter to him and find out his opinion about it. Although I have authorised my daughter to marry a man of her choice, but I am sure that she will like Abdullah bin Salam and will not refuse to marry him"
Abu Darda and Abu Huraira went to see Abdullah. In the meantime Mu`awiya went into his palace and said to his daughter: "Dear daughter! Just hear what I have to say. When Abu Darda and Abu Huraira come to you and tell you that I want to get you married to Abdullah bin Salam, you should say: "Of course, Abdullah is a good man and a near relative and of equal status with us. However, he has already married Urainab daughter of Ishaq and I am afraid that if I marry him I may also become jealous of her like all other women. If, in that event, I say something un-
becoming about Abdullah I am afraid that I may invite the wrath of God by doing so. However, if Abdullah divorces Urainab I am agreeable to marry him".
When Abu Darda and Abu Huraira conveyed the Message of Mu`awiya to Abdullah bin Salam he was over joyed and told them to inform Mu`awiya that the proposal was acceptable to him. When they informed Mu`awiya of the developments he said to them: "As I have already told you I would like this marriage. However, I have authorised my daughter to marry a man of her own choice. You should, therefore, go to her and ask her whether she is ready to marry Abdullah bin Salam".
When they approached the girl she gave them the same reply which Mu`awiya had taught her to give. They then conveyed her reply to Abdullah.
When Abdullah son of Salam came to know that it was not possible to marry Mu`awiya's daughter unless he devorced his wife he was overpowered by avarice and divorced Urainab. He said to Abu Darda and Abu Huraira: "Bear witness to the fact that I have divorced Urainab. You should inform Mu`awiya about this and also convey my proposal to him".
When they came to Mu`awiya and told him what had happened he said: "Oh! What has Abdullah done? Why has he divorced his wife? He should not have been so hasty. Had he waited for a few days I might have arranged his marriage with my daughter without allowing things to come to such a pass. Anyhow, you should go now and ask my daughter whether she is agreeable to this marriage".
Abu Darda and Abu Huraira approached Mu`awiya's daughter once again and told her that Abdullah had divorced his wife. They also stated that Abdullah was a very noble-minded and competent person and enquired from her whether she was prepared to marry him.
Mu`awiya's daughter replied: "Abdullah no doubt enjoys a high position amongst the Quraysh. However, as you are aware marriage is not something trivial so that one may agree to it without seriously pondering over the matter. It is a contract for one's whole life. You gentlemen
may, therefore go now. I shall think over the matter and give you a reply later".
Both of them blessed her and departed. They then went to Abdullah bin Salam and informed him about what the girl had said. Abdullah said: "All right. Let us wait. If it is not settled today, it will be settled tomorrow'.
It was the talk of the town that Abdullah bin Salam had divorced his wife and had proposed to Mu`awiya's daughter. As all were aware of the cunning of Mu`awiya and the loose character of Yazid they blamed and censured Abdullah for having divorced his wife without first winning the consent of Mu`awiya's daughter.
After a few days Abdullah sent Abu Darda and Abu Huraira again to the daughter of Mu`awiya. They advised her to give a final reply whereupon she said: "I am sure God has decided well for me, because He does not forsake one who relies upon Him. I have pondered over the matter and have come to the conclusion that my marrying Abdullah bin Salam will not be a successful one. I have also consulted my well-wishers in the matter. Some of them have approved the marriage but others have opposed it".
When Abdullah came to know about the reply which had been given by Mu`awiya's daughter he became sure that he had been duped. This grieved him very much. The news spread was the talk of the town. The people blamed Mu`awiya for having defrauded Abdullah and making him divorce his wife so that she might later marry Yazid.
Mu`awiya was successful at the first stage of his scheme to fulfil the desire of his son but eventually the divine will frustrated his program. His plan failed owing to the interference by Husayn who had grown up on the pattern of life of his illustrious father. Helping the oppressed had become his second nature.
When the waiting period (Idda) of. Urainab expired Mu`awiya sent Abu Darda to her to convey to her proposal for marriage on behalf of Yazid. Abu Darda left Damascus and reached Kufa. It so happened that Husayn son of Ali was also in Kufa at that time. Abu Darda considered it proper to pay his respects to the son of the prophet in
the first instance. He, therefore, presented himself before the Imam. Imam Husayn enquired from him the reason for his visiting Kufa. Abu Darda informed him that he had been sent by Mu`awiya to propose to Urainab daughter of Ishaq on behalf of his son Yazid. He then related to the Imam in detail the events which had already taken place. Imam Husayn said: "I also thought that Urainab would marry some other person and intended to propose to her after her "Idda" ended. Now that you have arrived here it will be better if you convey my proposal to her. She may choose whomsoever she likes. However, I am prepared to give her dower equal to that which Yazid has promised her"
Abu Darda promised to convey the Imam's message to Urainab. Then he took leave of Imam Husayn and reached her house. He said to her: "Madam! It was destined that Abdullah son of Salam should divorce you. You are not going to be a loser on this account. Yazid son of Mu`awiya and Husayn son of Ali wish to marry you. Both of them have conveyed their proposals to you through me. You may choose whomever you like".
Urainab kept quiet for some time and then said: "If some other person had brought these two proposals to me I would have called you for consultation and would have acted according to your suggestion. Now that you yourself have brought these proposals I leave the final decision to you".
Abu Darda replied: "It was my duty to convey the proposals to you, but you are yourself the best judge in the matter". Urainab said: "No; that is not so. I am your niece and cannot act in this matter without your advice".
When Abu Darda saw that she was bent upon obtaining his opinion he said: "I feel that the son of the prophet is a better choice". Urainab said: "I agree with you. Also I like him".
Imam Husayn then married Urainab and paid her the stipulated amount of dower.
When Mu`awiya came to know what had happened he was very angry and abused Abu Darda. Then he said to himself: "Abu Darda has not been at fault. It was my own
mistake. If a person entrusts such a difficult task to a simpleton he must fail".
At the time of his departure for Damascus Abdullah bin Salam had entrusted a large sum of money to Urainab. Later when he divorced her and Mu`awiya's daughter also refused to marry him it became known to the people that Abdullah had been deceived by Mu`awiya and made to divorce his wife. This was a matter of disgrace for Mu`awiya and he held Abdullah responsible for it. He, therefore, dismissed him from service and stopped his stipend. Abdullah became penniless. He, therefore, returned to Iraq with the hope that he might get back from Urainab the money which he had left with her. He was, however, afraid that she might decline to return the money on account of his misbehaviour and for his divorcing her without a just cause.
After his return to Iraq he met Imam Husayn and said: "As you must be aware I was duped and made to divorce Urainab. While leaving for Damascus I left some money with her as a trust".
Then he praised Urainab much and said: "I shall be grateful if you speak to her and ask her to return that money to me. It is possible that with that amount in hand I may be saved from indigence".
Imam Husayn went to Urainab and said: "Abdullah bin Salam came to see me. He praised you very much for your honesty which pleased me much. He also told me that he entrusted some money to you at the time of his departure for Damascus. It will be only proper that you should return that money to him because I think that what he has stated is correct".
Urainab replied: "It is true that he left some bags with me, but I don't know what they contain. They are still lying sealed, as they were. I shall bring them to you and you may return the same to him".
Imam Husayn praised Urainab on hearing this and said: "Will it not be better if I call him here so that you may return the bags to him yourself?".
Then he met Abdullah bin Salam and said to him:
I have conveyed your message to Urainab. She admits your having left some bags with her; they are still lying sealed, as they were. It will be better if you come to Urainab and take back the bags from her".
Abdullah felt very much ashamed and said: "I would request you to make arrangements for the return of money to me". (i.e. I feel ashamed to face Urainab). Imam Husayn replied: "No. That cannot be. You should take back the money from her in the same manner in which you gave it to her".
He, therefore, brought Abdullah to his house and then said to Urainab: "Abdullah son of Salam has come and demands the things which he entrusted to you. Return the same to him in the same manner in which you took them from him".
Urainab brought the bags and placing them outside the curtain said to him: "Here it is what you entrusted to me". Abdullah thanked Urainab and praised her for her honesty. Imam Husayn then left the place leaving them alone. Abdullah broke the seal of the bag, took out some dinars from it and presented them to her requesting her to accept the same from him. Thereupon tears trickled from their eyes and they began to cry loudly. Imam Husayn heard the sound of their crying. He then re-entered the room and said with great kindness: "Just hear me. I call God to witness that I have divorced Urainab just now. I call God to witness that I did not marry her for the sake of her beauty or wealth.What I had desired was that it might become lawful for her to re-marry her first husband.
Thus Urainab became the wife of Abdullah bin Salam once again and Mu`awiya's scheme failed.
After re-marrying Urainab Abdullah said to her: "You should return the amount of dower which Imam gave you".
She brought the money and gave it to Abdullah to give it to the Imam. However, Imam Husayn declined to accept the mnoey and said: "The spiritual reward which I shall get in the Hereafter for this good deed is much better than worldly wealth".
The Hashimite Ali son of Abu Talib said: "I swear by God that I have not accumulated a treasure from your world like others and have not collected wealth and property. I have not used any dress other than this worn out cloak. If I had desired I could have eaten honey and wheat and could also wear silken dress. However, it is impossible that passions may overpower me and greed may make me eat dainty food. It is possible that there may be a person in the Hijaz and Yamama who may not hope for even one morsel of food and may not have eaten his fill throughout his life. Should I satiate myself with food and sleep a sound sleep when there may be around me many persons who may be starving? Should I be the Commander of the Faithful only in name and should not share the difficulties and sorrows of the people.
He wrote to the Governor of Ahwaz: "I swear by God that if I come to know that you have misappropriated anything big or small which belongs to the Muslims I shall award you such a severe punishment as will make you indigent, burdened and disgraced".
On the contrary Mu`awiya son of Abu Sufyan used to say: "The earth belongs to God and I am His caliph. I may take whatever I like out of the property of God and am also entitled to what I leave".
Mu`awiya, Yazid, Marwan son of Hakam and other Umayyad rulers spent public money on their supporters and friends in order to strengthen their government and perpetuate their authority. They cut off the heads of the people. They had an army of honey mixed with poison and also of poison without honey. Both the parties i.e. Ali and his descendants as well as Mu`awiya, Yazid and other Bani Umayyah had their respective supporters.
# Supporters of the two parties
The chief characteristic or the best attribute of the supporters of the Family of Abu Talib was their magnani- mity. The object of their lives was that they should always help the oppressed, promote true beliefs and sacrifice their lives in the path of truth. Their number was no doubt small. This did not, however, constitute a shortcoming, because magnanimous and noble-minded persons are always small in number, but the deep impressions which they leave behind are never obliterated and the result of their efforts is always far-reaching. The smallness of their number is a proof positive of the greatness of their object, and the loftiness of their aim. At times it so happens that a single person performs a feat which cannot be performed by thousands combined together. The supporters of the descendants of Abu Talib too were firm in their beliefs, and steadfast in promoting them, although their number was small.
These very friends of Imam Ali were offered wealth and positions by Mu`awiya so that they might abuse Ali and his descendants, but they declined to do so. He then threatened them with torture. They however, preferred to bear all hardships rather than abuse Imam Ali.
One day Mu`awiya was sitting with his associates and Ahnaf bin Qais was also present. In the meantime a Syrian came and began delivering a speech. At the end of his speech he abused Ali. Thereupon Ahnaf said to Mu`awiya: "Sir! If this man comes to know that you are pleased if the prophets are cursed, he will curse them also. Fear God and don't bother about Ali any longer. He has since met his
Lord. He is now alone in his grave and only his acts are with him. I swear by God that his sword was very pure and his dress too was very clean and neat. His tragedy is great". The following conversation then took place between him and Mu`awiya:
Mu`awiya: O Ahnaf! You have thrown dust in my eyes and have said whatever you liked. By God you will have to mount the pulpit and curse Ali. If you do not curse him willingly you will be compelled to do so.
Ahnaf: It will be better for you to excuse me from doing this. However, even if you compel me I will not utter any such words.
Mu`awiya: Get up and mount the pulpit.
Ahnaf: When I mount the pulpit I shall act justly.
Mu`awiya: If you act justly what will you say?
Ahnaf: After mounting the pulpit I shall praise the Almighty God and shall then say this:
"O People! Mu`awiya has ordered me to curse Ali. No doubt Ali and Mu`awiya fought with each other. Each one of them claimed that he and his party had been wronged. Hence, when I pray to God all of you should say `Amen'. Then I shall say: O God! curse him who, out of these two is a rebel and let Your angels and prophets and all other creatures curse him. O God! shower Your curses on the rebellious group. O People! say `Amen'. O Mu`awiya I shall not say anything more or less than this even if I have to lose my life.
Mu`awiya: In that case I excuse you (from mounting the pulpit and cursing). (`Iqd-al-Farid, vol.2 p.144 and Mustatraf, vol.1, p.54).
At times it so happened that Mu`awiya, in order to express his hatred against Ali, persecuted his supporters. Those persons could not tolerate this (i.e. cursing of Ali) and abused Mu`awiya and his descendants. They did so in spite of the fact that at that time Ali was in his grave, and no benefit could be expected from him, and the cruel and despotic Mu`awiya was the ruler of the time.
History has recorded many incidents which go to show that the people hated very much this attitude of
Mu`awiya. He executed Hujr ibn Adi, a distinguished companion of the prophet and his friends for the only reason that they refused to curse Ali and his descendants from the pulpit. We shall give details of this incident later.
The followers of Ali zealously kept on looking after the high morality and good qualities which were planted by him in their hearts till they bore fruit. All of them, whether men or women, big or small, were alike.
During his rule Mu`awiya once came to Mecca to perform Hajj. He enquired about a woman named Darmiyah Hajuniyah who belonged to the tribe of Kananab and was informed that she was alive. Darmiyah was a black-coloured well-built woman. He called her and on her arrival the following conversation took place between them: Mu`awiya: O daughter of Ham![*] How have you come here? Darmiyah: If you are calling me `daughter of Ham' by way of ridicule I may tell you that I am not a descendant of Ham. I belong to the tribe of Kananah.
Mu`awiya: You are right, however, do you know why I have summoned you?
Darmiyah: Only God knows the hidden things.
Mu`awiya: I have called you so that you may tell me why you loved Ali so much and were inimical towards me.
Darmiyah: I would request you to excuse me from answer- ing this question.
Mu`awiya: No; that cannot be. You must give me a reply.
Darmiyah: If you insist on having a reply then hear what I say. I loved Ali because he was a just ruler and gave every person what was his due. And I was against you because you contended with a person who was more deserving than yourself to be ruler, and you desired a thing which you did not deserve. I obeyed Ali because the prophet had appointed him as our Amir and ruler. He loved the poor and the needy and respected the true
[*] Prophet Noah had three sons named Ham, Sam, and Japheth.
The black-coloured races are the descendants of Ham. Mu`awiya called her `daughter of Ham' by way of ridicule on account of her black colour.
believers. And I despised you because you shed the blood of the Muslims without a just cause, give unjust judgements and decide matters arbitrarily.
Mu`awiya: Is it on this account that your belly is swollen, your breast is protruding and your buttocks have grown so fat.
Darmiyah: I swear by God that these things are said proverbially about your mother and not about me.
Mu`awiya: Just wait. I have said something good. When the belly of a woman is big she gives birth to a healthy child. When her breast is big she can suckle her child properly. And when her buttocks are fat she looks beautiful while sitting. Well, tell me: Did you ever see Ali?
Darmiyah: Yes, by God, I saw him.
Mu`awiya: How did you find him?
Darmiyah: I swear by God that I saw him in such a condi- tion that sovereignty had not made him proud like you and the office of the caliphate had not made him proud like you.
Mu`awiya: Did you hear him talk?
Darmiyah: Yes, by God I did, with his words he used to remove the darkness of the hearts and brighten them in the same manner in which gilding brightens a utensil.
Mu`awiya: That is true. Now tell me what can Ido for you?
Darmiyah told him of her requirement. Thereupon Mu`awiya asked her: "If I meet your need will you treat me at par with Ali?" Darmiyah retorted: "You stand no comparison with him". Mu`awiya met her need and said: "By God, if Ali had been alive he would not have given you so much wealth". Darmiyah replied: "You are right. He never gave even a penny out of the property of the Muslims to any one unless he was entitled to it". (Balaghat al-Nisa, p.72 and `Iqd-al-Farid, vol.1, p.216).
Once Adi son of Hatim came to see Mu`awiya during the period of his rule. Mu`awiya asked him ironically: What has happened to `Tarafat?'[*] Adi replied: "They were killed supporting Ali. Mu`awiya said: "Ali has not been just
[*] Tareef, Tarif and Turfa, the sons of Adi.
to you. Your sons were killed but his own sons remained alive". Adi replied: "I, too, have not been just. Ali has already been martyred but I am still alive. Mu`awiya was cut to the heart on observing this love and devotion of Adi for Ali. He said in a threatening manner: "One drop of Uthman's blood still remains. It can be washed away only with the blood of one of the nobles of Yemen.
Adi did not care for Mu`awiya's threat and said: "I swear by God that the hearts with which we remained your enemies still exist in our bosoms, and the swords with which we fought against you are still on our shoulders. If you step forward towards us treacherously even to the extent of a finger we shall proceed towards you to the extent of a span. It is easier for us that our heads are cut off and our chests are trampled upon as compared with our hearing even a word against Ali. Give the sword to the executioner (so that he may sever my head)".
Mu`awiya then resorted to flattery as was usual with him. Addressing those present he said: "These are words of wisdom. Write them down". (Murooj-al-Zahab v.2, p.309).
Mu`awiya once proceeded to Mecca to perform Hajj. When he reached Madina and met Sa'd son of Abi Waqas he asked him to accompany him. Sa'd agreed. After per- forming the ceremonies of Hajj both of them went to Dar-al-Nadwa and conversed there for a long time. As Sa'd had come to perform Hajj on the suggestion of Mu`awiya the latter thought that Sa'd supported him. In order to find out as to how far Sa'd supported his attitude towards Ali he began cursing and abusing Ali and asked Sa'd flatter- ingly: "Why don't you curse and abuse Ali?" Sa'd got annoyed and said: "You have made me sit on your carpet and then you began abusing Ali. I swear by God that if I had possessed even one of the many attributes possessed by Ali it would have been dearer to me than anything else on earth. I swear by God that I shall not come to see you so long as I live". Then he left that place in a state of extreme anger". (Murooj-al-Zahab, vol.2, p.317).
Amr bin Humq was also one of the staunch supporters
of the Family of Abu Talib. Ziad bin Abih killed him for the only offence that he loved Ali. After killing him he severed his head and sent it to Mu`awiya. In the history of Islam it was the first head which was sent to any one as a present.
Another sincere supporter of Ali was Maitham Tammar. He was a close companion of Ali and was aware of the dignity and high position of the Imam. He remained associated with Ali for quite a long time. It has been said that Ali usually frequented his shop and if he went on some business leaving Ali in the shop he (Ali) even sold dates on his behalf.
When the Comannder of the Faithful Ali and Husayn were martyred and Ibn Ziad had nothing to fear any longer in Kufa he threatened Maitham saying that if he continued to love Ali and praise him for his equity and justice he would kill him. He tried to coax him by saying that if he became a supporter of the Umayyad regime his name would be recommended to the king for his being awarded alarge amount of money and other presents.
This happened at a time when lbn Ziad heard Maitham delivering a speech and was very much impressed by his eloquence and sagacious reasoning. Amr son of Haris, a flatterer of Ibn Ziad's court asked him whether he knew who the man was; and upon his expressing ignorance about him he (Amr) said: "He is the liar Maitham, supporter of the liar Ali son of Abu Talib". Ibn Ziad became attentive and said to Maitham: "Do you hear what Amr says?" Maitham replied: "He is telling a lie. My Imam Ali was a truthful man and the true caliph and I, too, am truthful". Ibn Ziad became angry and said: "Dissociate yourself from Ali and abuse him and express love for Uthman and praise him, or else I shall amputate your hands and feet and hang you". Maitham replied to this threat by narrating publicly the virtues of Ali and began crying recalling his justice and kindness, and then censured and blamed Ibn Ziad and Bani Umayyah for their rebellion and opposition.
Ibn Ziad flew into a rage and said to Maitham: "I swear by God that I shall cut off your hands and feet
but shall spare your tongue so that I may prove that you are a liar and your Imam Ali was also a liar".
The hands and feet of Maitham were cut off and he was sent to the gallows. Even then he said loudly: O people! Whoever desires to hear the prophet's Hadith about Ali should come to me".
The people gathered round him and he began to narrate the superior merits and virtues of Ali. In the mean- time Amr bin Haris passed that way and enquired as to why the people had gathered there. On having been informed that they were listening to the traditions of Ali being narrated by Maitham he hurried to inform Ibn Ziad about the matter and said: "Please send some one imme- diately to cut off the tongue of Maitham, for I am afraid that if he continues to narrate the virtues of Ali the people of Kufa will turn against you and revolt".
Ibn Ziad sent a man to cut off the tongue of Maitham. He arrived at the place and asked Maitham to take out his tongue so that it might be cut off in compliance with the orders of the governor. Maitham said: "Did not that son of a whore say that he would prove me and my Imam to be liars? Now you may cut off my tongue". The executioner cut off his tongue and the blood flowed from it so pro- fusely that Maitham passed away. Ibn Ziad then crucified his dead body.
Another devotee of Imam Ali and martyr in the path of God was Rashid Hujari who was a close companion of his. His story also resembles that of Maitham. Ibn Ziad told him that his life would be spared if he dissociated himself from Ali. He flatly refused to do so. Ibn Ziad enquired of him as to how he would like to die. Thereafter he got his hands and feet amputated.
The greatness and sincerity of the friends of Ali can be assessed from the fact that they loved him whole- heartedly and held him in great reverence without any pressure or coercion. They did not seek any reward or praise for doing so. Their only wish was that they should live and die supporting truth. Their love for Ali was similar to that the early Muhajirs and the Ansar for the prophet.
Ammar Yasir, a zealous supporter of Ali, on seeing the large army of Mu`awiya in the Battle of Siffin truly men- tioned the sentiments of the Shias of Ali in these words: "I swear by God that even if they fight with their arms and push us back upto a far off place we shall remain convinced that we are following truth and they are follow- ing falsehood".
The companions and supporters of Imam Husayn were also like those of his father Ali. They had before them the same lofty object which the devotees of Ali had in view.
During the night of `Asbura when the only alternative left before Husayn was to fight and meet martyrdom and when only a few hours were left before this was to happen he addressed the small group of his friends and said to them: "These people want only my head. It is not, there fore, necessary for you to lose your lives. You may depart in the darkness of night so that nobody can see you". It is possible that he had suggested to them to depart at night, so that they might not feel ashamed of leaving him alone in the broad day light, or that they might not be located and arrested. This was a manifestation of Imam Husayn's sublime character. However, his companions said with one voice: "We shall lay down our lives at your feet".
Muslim bin Awsajah Asadi said: "Should we desert you? Why should we not make our excuse clear before God tomorrow by doing our duty to you? I swear by God that I shall not leave you till I break my lance in the breasts of the enemies. So long as the sword is in my hand and I possess strength I shall go on striking them. If I do not have any arms I will stone them and will continue to fight till I lay down my life before your very eyes".
Muslim proved what he had said. He laid down his life bravely before the Imam.
When Muslim, having been wounded grievously, fell down from his horse Habib ibn Mazahir came by his side and said: "If I had not known that very shortly I am going to join you I would have asked you to make a will". Thereupon Muslim replied and those were his last words:
"The only will I have to make is that you should sacrifice your life for the sake of this Imam". When Hoor bin Yazid al-Riyahi saw the evil deeds and malpractices of Yazid and his supporters and observed the lofty character of Imam Husayn and the faith and steadfastness of his companions his conscience was awakened and he forsook worldly gains and offices.
This Hoor was one of those commanders of the army of Bani Umayyah who had been promised great rewards for fighting against Imam Husayn and killing him and his supporters. Ubaidullah son of Ziad, the Governor of Kufa had specially entrusted this task to Hoor. However, when he approached the camp of Imam Husayn he showed such perplexity and anxiety that his companions became doubt- ful (of his fidelity to the Umayyah regime). Eventually he galloped his horse, reached in the presence of Imam Husayn and said: "O son of the prophet of God! I am very much ashamed for what I have done and pray to God to forgive me. I shall fight for you till I lay down my life at your feet".
Hoor achieved his martyrdom before Imam Husayn. All the supporters and companions of Imam Husayn were of the same calibre. Their number was very small but they faced the enemies who were thousands and thousands in number. They were overpowered by thirst and were in peril of their lives but the only thing they were fond of was the death of a martyr. These valiant persons laid down their lives at the feet of Imam Husayn. Everyone of them longed to achieve martyrdom. They considered this death to be a great honour for themselves.
Husayn son of Ali was martyred and the government of Yazid and his associates became an established fact. There was now no hope that the caliphate would return to the Family of Abu Talib. Their supporters became sure that the bounties of the earth would no longer be distributed among the people through them. However, the Family of Abu Talib and their helpers and supporters neither sat still nor was their spirit curbed. In fact it got more awakened that before, and they became more active.
For example, when the news of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn and his companions reached Kufa Ibn Ziad collected the people for congregational prayers. In a speech after offering prayers he said: "Praised be God who has mani- fested truth and granted victory to the truthful people. He helped the Commander of the Faithful Yazid and his people and killed the liar son of the liar father - Husayn son of Ali and his associates".
He had not yet completed his sentence when an old man named Abdullah son of Afif Azadi, who was a com- panion of Ali and had fought valiantly along with him in the Battles of the Camel and Siffin, got on his feet and said loudly: "O son of Marjana! You kill the descendants of the prophets and then dare stand on the pulpit, which is the place meant for the truthfulness! You are a liar and your father was a liar and he too is a liar who conferred rulership on you and your father". Although as a result of this the old man was hanged the following day in the ground of Kufa, this incident goes to prove that the cruelty and oppression of Bani Umayyah did not curb the spirit of the supporters of Ali. Rather their will and determination gained momentum all the more.
The well-known poet Farazdaq recited openly and in the very presence of Bani Umayyah, the qasidab (panegyric) which he had composed in paise of Imam Zain-al-Abedin. At the time the rule of Bani Umayyah was at its zenith and none could dare utter even a word against them. However, Farazdaq did not care for his life. He did not praise the Imam to get a reward or to win favour. It was only a manifestation of love and an ardent desire for obedience to him, which roused him to compose the panegyric. The story runs as follows:
The Umayyad caliph Hisham son of Abdul Malik went to Mecca to perform Hajj when he was a prince. After circumambulation of the Ka`abah he wished to kiss the Black stone but could not reach it. Partly it was due to the hatred which the people had in their hearts for Bani Umayyah that they did not make a way for Hisham, and partly it was because the number of the Hajis (pilgrims)
was so large that he could not reach there. Hisham had, therefore, no alternative but to go back and sit in a chair. In the meantime Imam Sajjad son of Husayn came and proceeded towards the Black stone. The people immediately stepped back and made way for him and he kissed the Black stone without any inconvenience. Those who had come with Hisham from Syria asked him as to who that respectable person was. Who was he for whom all the Hajis had stepped back? Hisham knew who he was, but fearing that the Syrians might be influenced by the Imam he said: "I don't know who that man is". Farazdaq could not tolerate this disrespect for the Imam by Hisham. He, therefore, stood up and said: "I know him". Then he occupied an elevated place and recited with great zeal and courage the entire qasida which will for ever remain a lasting monument in the literary history of Arabia. Its first verse says: "He is that great personality whose foot-prints are known to Mecca, the Ka`abah, the Harem and its surroundings".
Hisham was very much annoyed to hear the qasida and imprisoned Farazdaq. While in prison Farazdaq wrote a satire against Hisham and Bani Umayyah without caring for the atrocities they might let loose on him. In that satire he said about Hisham: "He turns the head which is not the head of a chief. He is squint-eyed and his defects are evident".
We have mentioned only a few instances which throw light on the conduct of the supporters of the Family of Abu Talib. They, however, show very clearly that they were steadfast in their love and reverence for that illustrious family and were prepared to lay down their lives for the sake of Ali.
* * * * * * * * *
However, as regards the supporters of Bani Umayyah they could be divided into two groups. To the first group belonged those whose consience had been purchased by the Umayyads through bribes. And the second group
consisted of those who were born criminals. Mean persons are by their very nature inimical towards those who are noble-minded and magnanimous. As they lack good qualities they nurse a grudge against those who are virtuous and befriend and support those who are base and ill-natured like themselves.
The persons who became the adherents of Bani Umayyah by means of bribes were the helpers and suppor- ters of Abu Sufyan. The concept of bribe is different in respect of each individual. Each person is bribed in accor- dance with his position and status. Abu Sufyan bribed some persons by means of wealth and others by promising them freedom. For example, he promised Wahshi, an Ethiopian slave (the murderer of Hamzah) that he would be granted freedom if he killed anyone of Muhammad, Ali, and Hamzah.
Some persons were offered high position as bribe. There were many who sided with Bani Umayyah and fought against the prophet and his companions with the hope that the offices and position held by them during the age of ignorance would remain in tact.
One of the supporters of Mu`awiya was Amr son of Aas who was his right hand. We shall speak about him in detail later.
The Syrian soldiers whom Mu`awiya sent to Siffin to fight against Ali also belonged to this group. Their object was to serve the man who paid them their wages and made attractive promises of wealth and position in the event of victory.
To this group also belonged the army of Yazid. These persons had been bribed heavily by Yazid and his courtiers, who had promised them security of life in case they sided with them. Many of these soldiers had come to fight against the Family of Ali because they feared that if they declined to do so they would be subjected to harassment and torture. Evidently every person does not possess the spirit of sacrifice.
History records that while going from Mecca to Kufa Imam Husayn met the poet Farazdaq and enquired from
him about the attitude of the people of Kufa. Farazdaq replied: "The hearts of those people are with you but they will draw their swords against you tomorrow".
Husayn made a similar enquiry from Majm`a son of Ubaid Aamari, Majm`a replied: "The distinguished and influential persons have been bribed heavily. They are your fell enemies. As regards others they are your supporters in the heart but their swords will be drawn against you tomorrow".
As regards the other group of the supporters of Bani Umayyah i.e. those persons who sided with them on account of their inherent meanness their number was very large. Had these sinners and criminals been the enemies of the descendants of Abu Talib for the only sake of pleasing their chiefs they could be excused to some extent, and it could he said that these were worldy-minded persons who fought against the descendants of Abu Talib for wordly gains. Their enmity with this family was not, however, on account of wealth or position which they wanted to acquire. Their enmity was basic and natural just as darkness is opposed to light, deviation is opposed to guidance and falsehood is opposed to truth, and oppression and tyranny is opposed to justice and equity. They were more hard- hearted and cruel than the ferocious animals. They were the deadly enemies of every virtuous person on account of their inherent wickedness. Only such mean persons can amputate the bodies of the dead, slaughter the children and harass the helpless women.
One of these tyrants was Busr son of Artat who has been given the name of executioner by the historians. When one studies his character the mentality of the second group of the supporters of Bani Umayyah can very well be realized. He was the right hand of Mu`awiya in the matter of tyranny and oppression. He committed atrocities which one shudders even to imagine. He killed old men whose backs were bent. He pulled out children from the laps of their mothers and slaughtered them. And all this was done by him to strengthen Mu`awiya's rule. When Mu`awiya sent him to Yemen with an army to loot and plunder he
displayed such tyranny and cruelty as is unparalleled in history. Before his departure Mu`awiya called him and said: "Adopt the Hijaz route and reach Yemen passing through Mecca and Madina. If you pass through a place whose residents are supporters of Ali threaten them so much that they may become convinced that their lives are not going to be spared. Then compel them to take oath of allegiance to me. Kill those who decline to do so. Kill the supporters of Ali wherever you find them".
Having obtained these instructions Busr departed and reached Madina. The Governor of Madina was Abu Ayyub Ansari, the first host of the prophet in that city. Finding it difficult to oppose Busr he left Madina. Busr entered the city and delivered a speech. He hurled abuses on the people and said: "May your faces become black! " Then he addressed the Ansar in particular and said: "O Jews and descendants of slaves! I shall torture you in such a way that the believers will come to their senses. He then put many houses to fire. Thereafter he reached Mecca. Qasham bin Abbas, the Governor of Mecca, ran away. There also Busr abused and threatened the people.
Kalbi says that on his way from Madina to Mecca Busr killed and plundered a large number of people. When the people of Mecca came to know about it they flew away from the city. Two sons of Ubaidullah bin Abbas also left the city. Busr caught them and put them to death. Some women of the tribe of Kanana also came out. One of them said: "I can understand the killing of men but I do not know what offence the children have committed. The children have never been killed either during the age of ignorance or after the advent of Islam".
Then, passing through Taif, Busr reached Najran where he killed Abdullah bin Abdul Madan and his son Malik. This Abdullah belonged to the family of the in-laws of Ubaidullah bin Abbas. Then he assembled together the people of Najran and addressed them thus: "O Christians! O brothers of apes! If I am informed of any such act of yours as I do not like I shall mete out such a treatment to you that your race will become extinct, your fields will be
destroyed and your houses will become desolate".
Thereafter he reached San`a and killed a large number of people in the city. A deputation of Ma'arib waited on him but he killed all its members. On departing from San`a he again killed thousands of the inhabitants of the city. He again came to San'a and killed some aged persons who belonged to Persia. (Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, Ibn Abi'l Hadid vol. 1, p.271).
Historians say that Busr killed as many as thirty thousand persons. They do not include those whom he burnt alive. (Ibn Abi'l Hadid vol. 1 , p. 30). The poets composed many verses about the atrocities committed by this hard-hearted criminal. Yazid son of Muzr`a says: "To whichever place Busr goes he plunders it and sets it on fire. His entire life history is full of such crimes".
Another criminal belonging to this group was Ziad bin Abih who massacred and plundered the people of Iraq in a very dreadful manner. In the first instance Mu`awiya acknowledged him to be his brother and gave him the name of Ziad son of Abu Sufyan to win his support. Then he appointed him as the Governor of Basra. On reaching Basra he delivered his well-known speech called `Khutbah- al-Batra'. Then he busied himself in strengthening the Umayyad rule. He killed some and awarded punishments to others on mere suspicion and doubt.
There was nothing easier for the supporters and agents of Bani Umayyah than to amputate the hands and feet of their opponents, to hang or imprison them, to plunder their property, burn them alive, and to humiliate them during their life and also after their death. During the rule of Ziad people suffered untold miseries and hardships. None excelled him in cruelty and tyranny from among the deputies and agents of Bani Umayyah except Hajjaj who was even a greater criminal than he.
Commenting on his own policies and modus operandi Ziad said thus in the above-mentioned Khutbah-al-Batra. "I swear by God that I shall arrest the master in lien of his slave, the person available instead of one who has run away, the obedient one instead of the disobedient, and the
healthy one instead of the invalid till one of you will say to the other: "O Sa`d! Run away for Sa`id has been killed. I shall not eat or drink anything till I set you right and destroy Basra and burn and pull down its houses. Beware! None of you should come out of his house during night. Whoever does so shall be beheaded. I swear by God that many of you will be killed at my hands. Everyone should take care that his blood is not shed by me".
After Basra he became the Governor of Kufa. On the very first day sitting at the gate of the Masjid and got the hands of eighty persons cut off. He followed the policy of oppression and terrorism to please Mu`awiya. Madaini writes: "He kept searching the Shi`a of Ali and, as he had been one of them during the time of Ali, it was easy for him to find them out. He found them out from everywhere. He harassed and intimidated them, amputated their hands and feet, made them blind, hanged them on date-palm trees and expelled them from Iraq. The result was that no distinguished Shi`a remained there. We shall shortly narrate the story of Ziad and Hujr Adi, who was one of the supporters of Ali".
To this very group of criminals belonged Ubaidullah son of Ziad, the founder of the tragedy of Karbala and murderer of Amr son of Hamq, Maitham Tammar, the aged Abdullah son of Afif Azdi and thousands of other innocent persons. It was the most ordinary thing for him to arbitrarily hang, kill and amputate others. Muslim son of Aqil said about him: "Merely on account of anger, enmity and suspicion he kills those whose killing has been forbidden by God. And this does not affect his merry- making and enjoyment. He feels as if he had done nothing. The worst type of cruelty and hard-heartedness manifested itself on the day on which he martyred Imam Husain. Even after the holy Imam's martyrdom Ibn Ziad's shame- lessness, wickedness and meanness knew no bounds".
Shimr son of Zil Jaushan, too, was as nasty in his meanness and wickedness as his master lbn Ziad. He had a distinguishing quality of nursing grudge and enmity against all noble and magnanimous person. He made many
small children of Husayn die of thirst, although the Euphrates was flowing just in front of them. He ordered his soldiers to trample the body of Imam Husayn with the hooves of their horses as a consequence of which his back and many of his ribs were broken to pieces. His dress, which was torn on account of arrow shots and strokes of the swords, had already been looted. If the small children of the Imam's family had come out of the tents, the Syrian soldiers would have cut them also to pieces.
Another such criminal was Hasin ibn Numayr. Imam Husayn had been deprived of water since the seventh day of Muharram. On the tenth of Muharram he reached the bank of the Euphrates after fighting with the enemies and took some water in the palm of his hand to drink and quench his thirst. This despicable person suddenly shot an arrow which struck the Imam's mouth and as a conse- quence of this his mouth and palms were filled with blood. On observing this the wicked person laughed shamelessly and went back.
Another such sinner was Amr Sa`d. He obeyed his wicked master Ubaidullah bin Ziad and made his best efforts to carry out his orders, although he could choose not to participate in the tragedy of Karbala (because Ubaidullah had not compelled him to assume the command of the Umayyad forces but had told him that he was pre- pared to entrust the expedition to some other commander).
After the martyrdom of Imam Husayn and his com- panions Amr Sa`d made the ladies of the prophet's family captives and made them pass by the dead bodies of the martyrs whose heads had been severed.
Amr Sa`d was the first to shoot an arrow on Imam Husayn's forces and initiate the battle. He then said to the soldiers: "Bear witness to the fact that the first arrow has been shot by me".
Amongst these criminals was also a Syrian who pointed towards Fatima daughter of Husayn and said: "This slave-girl may please be given to me".
Another supporter of Bani Umayyah was Muslim bin Uqbah who committed the most dreadful and abominable
atrocities. Yazid sent him to Hijaz in the capacity of the commander of an army. He displayed extreme savagery there. In Madina he killed so many persons that blood began to flow in the streets of the city. He made it lawful for his soldiers to commit any unlawful act in Madina for three days.
As a consequence of this men and women were killed indiscriminately and their property was looted. The modesty of the women was outraged. Children were pulled away from the laps of their mothers and thrown on the walls so that their bones cracked and they died. Houses were razed to the ground. The descendants of the Muhajirs and the Ansar of the prophet were not spared. During these three days seventeen hundred Muhajirs and Ansar were killed besides ten thousand other men and women.
Here we reproduce some sentences of the letter which Muslim bin Uqbah wrote to Yazid after this event. In this letter he has indulged in self-glorification on account of his achievements and has surprisingly enough associated all his crimes and atrocities to the will and determination of God. He says: "I have to inform the Commander of the Faithful - may God preserve him - that I left Damascus. The preparations which we made before departure were seen by you. Marwan bin Hakam also returned from Damascus and accompanied me. He proved to be very useful for combating our enemies. May God accord dignity to the Commander of the Faithful. Marwan behaved excellently and was so harsh with our enemies that I hope that his services will not remain unrewarded by the Imam of the Muslims and the vicegerent of God.
May God keep the supporters of the Commander of the Faithful hale and hearty! None of them was inconve- nienced and none of the enemies faced them during day time. I did not offer my prayers in the Masjid of Madina until thousands of persons had been killed and their property had been freely looted. Every person who came before us was put to sword. Whoever tried to escape was pursued. He who was dying of wounds was done away with. As the Commander of the Faithful had ordered we
plundered Madina for three days. I thank God who cured me of my worry when I killed the old opponents and hypocrites. Their stubbornness had exceeded all bounds and they were old rebels".
The greatest criminal amongst the supporters of Bani Umayya was Hajjaj bin Yusuf Saqafi.
In compliance with the orders of the Umayyad caliph Abdul Malik bin Marwan, Hajjaj proceeded to the Hijaz to fight against Abdullah bin Zubayr. He besieged Mecca where Abdullah had taken refuge. He threw stones and fire on Mecca by means of catapults and consequently a part of the Ka`abah was burnt. When he achieved victory he cut off the heads of many opponents of Bani Umayyah and sent them to Abdul Malik at Damascus. He severed Abdullah's head and then sent him to the gallows. Not only this but he allowed the dead body to remain on the gallows for many days. Asma, daughter of Abu Bakr, who was the mother of Abdullah was very old at that time and her son's death had grieved her much. Her eyesight had also grown weak. She came to the place where the dead body of Abdullah was hanging and said: "Has the time not yet come when this rider should dismount?". This displeased Hajjaj much and he insulted and rebuked the poor old woman.
As a reward for this achievement Abdul Malik appointed Hajjaj as Governor of Hijaz. He then killed innumerable persons and inflicted very harsh punishments upon others. Hajjaj praised himself in these words: "I am very quarrelsome, extremely revengeful and highly jealous". It is not possible to asses how much this man hated mankind.
After some time Abdul Malik appointed him as Governor of Iraq to suppress disturbances in that region and restore law and order. Hajjaj reached Kufa accom- panied by only twelve soldiers. However, he sent one man in advance so that the people might become aware of his impendingarrival. Everyone began waiting for him in the masjid. It was the month of Ramazan. While the people were expressing their displeasure and hatred on his
appointment as the governor, he arrived on the scene. He was wearing a red silken turban on his head with which a large part of his face was covered, and was holding a sword and a bow in his hand. He walked on step by step silently. The gathering was also silent. Eventually he mounted the pulpit and ordered the people to be called. The people of Kufa came into the masjid.
Hajjaj kept sitting silently on the pulpit for quite some time. The people got tired of waiting and began abusing him in low tones. Some of them even picked up pebbles to throw on him. Suddenly, however, he began speaking and the pebbles fell down from the hands of the people on account of fear.
Removing his turban from his head Hajjaj said: "I am the son of a very brave and terrible person who plunged himself into dangers with closed eyes. When I remove the turban from my face you will come to know who I am. "By God I am observing the raised looks, and stubborn necks, and the heads the time for whose chopping off has arrived, and it is I who will chop them off. I can see only blood between the heads and the beards. Look here! The Commander of the Faithful (Abdul Malik bin Marwan) spread his quiver and examined its wood. Then he found me to be the most solid wood and has sent me to you. "O people of Iraq! I swear by God that you are the sources of rebellion and treachery; you are the people of most immoral character. I shall peel you in the same manner in which a wood is peeled and shall beat you as the alien camels are beaten. You are like the people of a village whose inhabitants were leading comfortable lives and had enough to eat and drink, and when they showed ingratitude in respect of God's bounties, He subjected them to fear and hunger. O people of Iraq! O slaves of sticks and sons of slave-girls! I am Hajjaj bin Yusuf. I swear by God that when I swear to do something I do it. Now these groups are before me. You should follow the right path for I swear by Him who controls my life that I shall make you such that everyone of you will remain busy with his own body (i.e. I shall give you such a beating that it will take
you sufficient time to recover from its effects). You should, therefore, accept justice and forsake injustice before I mete out such a treatment to you that your women should become widows and your children orphans. I swear by God that if all of you do not go and join Mohlab's army within three days I shall kill those who are found here and shall confiscate their property and demolish their houses". These were not empty threats. He treated the people of Kufa more harshly than what he had threa- tened them with.
Hajjaj was an equal partner in all the heinous crimes committed by Bani Umayyah as detailed above. He killed innumerable innocent persons. He himself used to say: "The thing which I enjoyed most was bloodshed, and doing things which none else can pick up courage to do, and which have not been done by anyone earlier. (Murooj- al-Zahab Mas`udi, Vol.3, p.67).
As soon as his name is mentioned one automatically is reminded of cruelty and oppression. It appears that Hajjaj and injustice are concomitants of each other.
The historians say: After Ubaidullah ibn Ziad, - the murderer of Imam Husayn, came Hajjaj bin Yusuf. He killed the supporters of Ali one by one on mere suspicion and groundless charges. He liked it more that a person might be called an infidel and an atheist in his presence rather than a supporter of Ali. In fact in his view the infidels and atheists deserved indulgence and even presents and prizes, but the supporters of Ali were fit to be killed.
Hajjaj began his rule in this oppressive manner and was never satiated with the horrible atrocities which he indulged in.
In Kufa he conscripted the people into the army for three days and sent everyone of them to the theatre of operations. There was none who did not go to the battle- field. So much so that children who had not yet come of age were also recruited and sent to fight. In the meantime Umayr bin Zabi Hanzali came to him and said: "May God bless the Amir! I am an old man. My son is young and quite strong". Hajjaj said: "This son will prove to be
better than his father". Then he asked: "Who are you?" Umayr replied: "I am Umayr bin Zabi Harzali". Hajjaj said: "Are you not the same man who fought against Uthman bin Affan?" Umayr said: "Yes. I am that man". Hajjaj said: "O enemy of God! Why did you do so?" Umayr replied: "I did so because Uthman had imprisoned my father who was old and weak. He did not release him till he died in the prison". Hajjaj said: "Did you not compose this verse: "I wished to kill him but I did not. O that I had done so, so that Uthman's wives might have mourned his death". Then he added: "I think the two cities namely Basra and Kufa will benefit, if you are killed. Your excuse is quite clear and your senility is evident. However, I am afraid that if I spare you others may also have the courage of disobeying my orders".
He was then beheaded in accordance with the orders of Hajjaj, his property was looted and his house was razed to the ground.
Hajjaj appointed Abdur Rahman bin Ubayd Tamimi, who was a very harsh person, to serve as his deputy in Kufa. When he was satisfied with the conditions prevailing in Kufa he proceeded to Basra. At Basra great opposition prevailed against Bani Umayyad dynasty and the city was in a riotous condition. There he delivered a speech and abused the people of Basra very much. He also threatened them in the same manner in which he had threatened the people of Kufa. He told them that if they did not join Mohlab's army within three days they would be punished severely. When he descended the pulpit it so happened that an old man named Sharik bin Amr Yashkari who was one-eyed and was suffering from hernia came to him and said: "May God bless the Amir! I am a patient of hernia. Bushr bin Marwan, the brother of the caliph and the former Governor of Basra, had also excused me from military service". Hajjaj said: "I think you are speaking the truth". However, immediately after saying this he ordered his head to be chopped off. The result was that every young and old man of Basra joined Mohlab's army.
One day this very Hajjaj was taking his meals and
some associates of his were also present at his dinning table. In the meantime the police-men brought a man and said that he was disobedient. The man was trembling with fear. He said to Hajjaj: "For God's sake do not take my life. I swear by God that I have never borrowed money from anyone nor have I joined any army. I am a weaver and I was arrested and brought here while I was at my loom". Hajjaj ordered the man to be beheaded at once. When the poor man saw the sword he prostrated himself and his head was severed while he was in that posture.
Hajjaj continued eating as if nothing had happened. However, his associates stopped eating. They were asto- nished to see this cruelty. Hajjaj got annoyed and said. "What has happened to yon? Why has the colour of your faces changed and why have the morsels of food fallen from your hands? Is it because one single person has been killed? A disobedient person sets an example for others to disobey. The ruler is entitled to kill him or spare him''.
According to Hajjaj the people of Kufa and Basra could be brought to their senses only when they were subjected to tyranny and cruelty of this kind.
What we have mentioned here is only a very brief account of the atrocities committed by him, otherwise a voluminous book is needed to record his cruel acts and the murders which he committed in different ways.
Ibn Jarood revolted against the cruelty and oppression of Hajjaj but the revolt did not succeed and Hajjaj was victorious. He cut off the heads of a large number of the rebels and sent them to Mohlab asking him to display them extensively so that those who might be thinking of rebellion might ponder over the consequence of such an act.
Then he conscripted hundreds of thousands of the people of Kufa and Basra to fight against the enemies of Bani Ummayyah. By doing so he wanted to take revenge on the followers of Ali, and at the same times he used those soldiers to serve his own interests. As a consequence of this there was not a single young man left in those two cities who was not compelled to meet death. They were killed either at the hands of Hajjaj or with the swords of his enemies.
The people of Iraq revolted against Hajjaj time and again but these revolts were weak and the rebels were soon overpowered by Hajjaj and became target of his indignation. Most of them were killed, their houses were set on fire, and their properties were confiscated. I Hndereds of people were put to death evcrvday. The men and women who were imprisoned in the prisons of Iraq were subjected to extreme torture and awaited their turn to be killed. If Hajjaj or his soldiers did not find time to do away with them they died of hunger.The people were spending their days in great distress.Their condition became worse when Hajjaj was victorious in the Battles of Zawiah and Dayr Jamajam. As a consequence of the Battle of Zawiah in which Hajjaj was victorious and Muhammad bin Ash'ath was defeated he captured eleven thousand Iraqis. In the first instance he promised that their lives would be spared, but, when thev surrendered their arms, he beheaded all of them. As a result of the Battle of Dayr Jamajam the Iraqis were completely vanquished. Besides there being shortage of food plague also broke out. All the rebels were captured by Hajjaj and he did not spare even one of them.
Even after all this widespread destruction, havoc, and loot, Kufa and Basra did not enjoy peace. Hajiaj continued to harass them and the number of those killed increased day after day. Before killing them he wildly insulted and humiliated them and ridiculed their views and beliefs. Just as his slaughtering the people knew no bounds, his insulting and humiliating them also was at its extreme, so much so that whenever people met in the masjids and bazars they did not talk of anything except that such and such person was killed the other day, such and such would be sent to gallows that day, and how someone was maltreated before his being put to death.The well-known sentence of Hajjaj: "Soldier! chop off his head" was common talk of the town in Iraq.
He had such a spite against the Shi'a of Ali that he killed those persons who bore the names of anv of the members of the Family of Abdu Talib) (e.g. Ali, Husayn) Many persons came and offered excuse for their names.
It is said that a man came before him and said: "O Amir! My parents have been very unjust to me. They named me Ali, although I am a poor and helpless man and need your kindness and assisstance".
In short the cruelty of Hajjaj had become proverbial and the supporters of Ali were his special target. When those who were killed in compliance with his orders were counted, it transpired that they numbered 120 thousand. At the time of his death fifty thousand men and thirty thousand women were in prisons.
However, the Umayyad caliph - Abdul Malik bin Marwan made this recommendation to his sons: "Honour Hajjaj, because it is he who has trampled upon the pulpits, destroyed the cities and subjugated the enemies for your sake". This recommendation was fully acted upon. After Abdul Malik's death his son Walid allowed Hajjaj to continue as Governor of Kufa, Basra and the eastern regions.
Before ending this chapter it seems necessary to mention an extremely tragic event. This event shows appa- rently the traits and characteristics of Bani Umayyah and the descendants of Abu Talib and of their respective supporters. If on the one hand it displays the greatness and dignity of the supporters of Ali it manifests on the other hand the meanness and wickedness of Bani Umayyah.
Briefly the story is this: Hujr bin Adi Kandi was a sincere devotee of Ali. When Imam Hasan was obliged to make peace with Mu`awiya Hujr also along with others took oath of allegiance. But this did not make him forsake his love for Ali, and express hatred for him. Rather he wished to follow in the footsteps of Ali. He wanted his character to be a specimen of Ali's character.
Hujr was was a very sincere and upright person. He liked peace and hated fighting and conflict. He whole- heartedly supported social justice. He did not consider authority to be anything other than a source of public service. In all these matters his views were the same as those of Ali. If a ruler helped the people he supported him, but otherwise he was his sworn enemy. Hence it was natural that he should not like Bani Umayyah abusing Ali
from the pulpits and should openly express his resentment against this practice even though he might have to suffer hardships at the hands of the ruler of the day.
History says that once Mughayrah bin Sho`ba, the Governor of Kufa abused Ali from the pulpit. Hujr bin Adi rose to his feet and said loudly: "What is all this extra- vagant talk. Pay us the stipends which you are withhold- ing. The money is not for you, and the previous governors never coveted it. You abuse the Commander of the Faithful and praise and eulogize the criminals. Many other persons supported Hujr and consequently Mughira had to descend the pulpit without finishing his speech. Hujr continued to criticize Bani Umayyah and did not sit quiet as and when he saw the religious laws being infringed.
In the meantime Mughayrah died and was succeeded by Ziad bin Sumayyah. At one time Ziad and Hujr were friends, but their friendship came to an end on account of an incident. It so happened that a Muslim Arab killed a Zimmi unbeliever. The case came before Ziad who decided that the Muslim need not be punished for the crime but should pay blood-money. The heirs of the Zimmi declined to take blood money. Their stand was that:
In Islam all the people are the family of God.
Every human being is the brother of another human being whether he likes it or not.
No Arab is superior to a non-Arab. It is only piety and doing good which can make one superior to others.
Hujr believed in the justice which Imam Ali had made his motto and for the sake of which he laid down his life. He, therefore, disliked Ziad's decision. He could not keep silent. He insisted that in the matter of retaliation the Muslims and the non-Muslims were equal. Many other Muslims lent support to Hujr. Ziad and his men feared that a disturbance might take place. Ziad, therefore, ordered reluctantly that the criminal might be awarded punishment. Thereafter he wrote to Mu`awiya complaining about the conduct of Hujr and his companions. Mu`awiya advised Ziad to watch the activities of Hujr and his companions so that he might find something done by them which
might serve as a proof against them. From that time onwards the differences between the two parties increased.
Ziad sent some residents of Kufa to Hujr so that they might advise him to refrain from his activities. They came back after meeting Hujr and said that he was adamant in his views. Ziad then summoned Hujr but he declined to come. Eventually Ziad deputed a police-officer to arrest Hujr. A fight however took place between Hujr and the police-party, and Hujr went underground. Ziad was very much annoyed. He called Muhammad bin Ash`ath bin Qais who was a supporter of Hujr and a distinguished personality of the Kandi tribe and threatened him that if he did not introduce Hujr he would put him into prison, and his hands and feet would be cut off and he would be executed. Hujr did not like that another person should suffer on account of him. He, therefore, came before Ziad but before doing so he obtained an undertaking from him that he would not molest him but would instead send him to Mu`awiya with whom he would settle the affair himself.
however, as soon as Hujr came he was arrested and thrown into the prison. Thereafter a search was made for his supporters. After some bloodshed some of them were arrested and also put into the prison.
Ziad then called the people of Kufa and asked them to give evidence against these persons and threatened them. Some of them however deposed that Hujr and his friends loved Ali and none else, and they criticized Uthman and abused Mu`awiyah. Ziad was not satisfied with what they said because he required some decisive evidence. In the meantime Abu Burdah bin Abu Musa Ash`ari prepared an evidence deed against Hujr: "This is the evidence which Abu burdah son of Abu Musa Ash`ari has given for the sake of God. He deposes that Hujr and his companions have ceased to be obedient and have left the paty. They have ceased to have any affinity with the caliphate of Mu`awiya and have decided to start fighting once again".
When Abu Burdah finished writing the deed, Ziad
asked the people of Kufa to affix their signatures on it. About seventy persons signed it. Ziad fraudulently wrote on it the names of some such persons who were neither present at that time nor had affixed their signatures. One of them was the Judge Shurayh. He at once sent a message to Mu`awiya dissociating himself from the evidence deed and said in clear terms: "I testify that Hujr is a pious person and is one of the distinguished personalities of the age".
Hujr and his friends were then taken to Mu`awiya. Ziad's letter and the evidence deed also reached him. He read out the two documents before the people. Thereupon some persons advised him to imprison the persons con- cerned. Others suggested that they might be kept in different cities of Syria and might not be allowed to go back to Iraq. Mu`awiya corresponded with Ziad on the subject. He replied: "If you want to keep Iraq in your hands you should not let them come back here".
After a few days Mu`awiya sent a man to Hujr and his companions and offered that if they dissociated themselves from Ali and abused him and praised Uthman, their lives Would be spared, but those who declined to do so would be killed".
Hujr and his friends turned down the offer and were consequently put to death. This tragic story is also recorded in all the history books. It shows the loftiness of character, the steadfastness ot these brave men, for they could see their graves with their own eyes and the swords hanging on their heads and yet they could not for a moment forsake their love for Ali.0 What Mu`awiya and his men had done in their case was that they had dug a grave in front of each of them so that whoever declined to show disgust against Ali might be beheaded and thrown down into the grave.
Some historians have also stated with regard to these persons that two of Hujr's companions were terrified when they saw the swords and the graves and asked Mu`awiya's guards to take them to the caliph, saying that they had no difference with Mu`awiya about Ali and Uthman. They were, therefore, taken to Mu`awiya. One of them expressed hatred against Ali outwardly, but the other praised Ali and
his companions, abused Mu`awiya and his supporters and said extremely harsh words about Uthman,which Mu`awiya could not tolerate. He ordered the man to be sent back to Ziad with instructions that he should be killed in a manner in which none had ever been killed in the Muslim world till that time. Ziad buried him alive.
It is said that when Hujr was going to be killed he uttered only this sentence: "There is God between us and these Muslims. The Iraqis gave evidence against us and the Syrians killed us".
There is no doubt about the fact that the example of despotic and dictatorial rule set by the Umayyads dynasty and the atrocities committed by them were unparalleled and the lives of Ali and his descendants were on the other hand the best specimens of purity of intellect and action, and of democracy. They did not exploit the people like the Umayyads but considered the produce of the land to be the right of common men rather than that of the rich and the influential persons.
The nature of the followers and supporters of Bani Umayyah had a sharp contrast with that of the descendants and followers of Ali. The worldly-minded influential persons, therefore, inclined towards Bani Umayyah for the sake of material gains and the common people also became their adherents in large numbers. This happened because at that time the people did not assess the moral values and did not understand what would be beneficial for them in future and what would be harmful to them. They, therefore, thought of immediate gains and did not realize what sort of people they were supporting. And when they did realize it the time had already passed and it was too late.
On the other hand the persons whose nature, morals and ways and manners resembled those of Ali and his descendants, inclined towards them, and remained stead- fast on the path of truth. They were subjected to severe persecution and torture by Bani Umayyah and their supporters but they never wavered or faltered. Following the example of their Imam, the Commander of the Faithful Ali, they laid down their lives but did not tolerate the
extinction of social justice.
Just as the supporters and friends of Ali and his des- cendants became virtuous and acquired the high qualities of magnanimity, mercy and piety, in the same manner the followers of Bani Umayyah became the victims of vices like egotism, obstinacy, oppression and exploitation.
* * * * * * * * *
It will be better if we mention once again the views expressed by some Arab writers without commenting on them because what we have said in this chapter completely refutes their idle talk. Out of these Arab writers we may take Muhammad Kurd Ali and what has been stated by him about the importance and greatness of Bani Umayyah may be treated as a specimen of the praises showered upon them by others.
Praising Mu`awiya and his blood thirsty army officers who committed innumerable atrocities as detailed in the foregoing pages Muhammad Kurd Ali says in his book entitled "Al-Islam wa al-Hazarat al-Arabiyah": "The most important action which Mu`awiya took was that he increased the salaries of the army and due to his good luck he also acquired the support of some very efficient persons like Ziad bin Abih, Mughira bin Sho`ba, Zuhhak bin Qais, Muslim bin Uqbah, Busr bin Artat etc".
Praising these blood thirsty persons Kurd said that they were very efficient and great personalities of the country although it was necessary for him to explain that Islam has nothing to do with such tyrants and oppressors and all civilized people, whether Arabs or non-Arabs, hate such cruel persons.
It is very surprising that Muhammad Kurd Ali does not feel the prick of conscience while writing such things, nor does he do justice with those living in the 20th century by falsifying historical facts. He also fails to remember that earlier he himself has written in his book: "During the days of Mu`awiya a pious person was asked: "In what condition have you left the people?" He replied: "I have
left them in two conditions - the oppressed who do not get justice and the oppressors who are not tired of injustice".
# Murderers of Uthman
The brief account which we have given of the nature and habits of Bani Umayyah and the descendants of Ali and their respective supporters shows clearly that love for authority and sovereignty, and egotism and selfishness had taken deep roots in the hearts of Bani Umayyah, and their followers, who possessed habits and nature similar to their masters were also as ambitious as they.
As we have stated earlier Bani Umayyah and their supporters opposed the prophet and Islam, because they possessed the mentality of the chiefs of Quraysh who could not tolerate that Islam should restrain them from their evil acts and destroy their social laws which were no doubt beneficial for the traders and the rich persons, but were death warrants for the poor and the helpless.
From the day on which the prophet announced his appointment to the prophetic mission till the conquest of Mecca the chiefs and dignitaries among Quraysh had embraced Islam but the hopes and objects of each of them were different. The events show that these persons can be divided into three categories as detailed below:
Firstly there were persons who considered Islam to be a true religion and embraced it willingly. Their number amongst the chiefs of Quraysh was the smallest.
Secondly there were those who were watching as to which of the two parties - the Muslims and Quraysh was going to succeed. They wanted to join the successful party. To this category belonged Amr Aas. We shall explain later the circumstances in which he embraced Islam.
Thirdly there were persons who embraced Islam
reluctantly. They had lost their dignity and honourable position and had joined the ranks of the Muslims with the intention of replacing Islam by ignorance as soon as an opportunity arose. To this category of the chiefs and elders of Quraysh belonged Mu`awiya's father Abu Sufyan bin Harb and those tribal chiefs who became apostates immediately after the death of the prophet.
The chiefs and elders of Quraysh who belonged to the first category remained steadfast in their faith but their Islam was unconsciously mixed up with their sentiment of belonging to high families.
As regards the persons belonging to the other two categories the pivot of their politics was only the economic aspect and its social aggression. The chiefs of Quraysh belonging to these categories united for their personal advantages. If their interests were common they helped one another but if they were divergent they worked separately.
The responsibility for corruption and mischief devolves on the chiefs belonging to all the three categories although the chiefs belonging to the last two categories had a larger hand in it. They did not wish to miss any opportunity of gaining wealth and money and did not care as to how many responsibilities rested in those days on the shoulders of the Muslims in connection with the promotion of Islam. Signs of love for wealth and profit had begun appearing from beginning of the period of the caliphate of Abu Bakr. An evidence of this is the incident of Khalid bin Walid and the harsh words exchanged in that connection by Abu Bakr and Umar. The story in short is that Khalid killed Malik bin Nuwaira cruelly and unjustly to acquire booty, and outraged the modesty of his wife, who was very beautiful. When the news reached Abu Bakr he was asto- nished and also felt grieved and uttered this well-known sentence. "War booty has made the Arabs greedy and Khalid has disobeyed my orders".
When Khalid came to see Abu Bakr he had three arrows in his turban. When Umar saw him he said: "O enemy of God! All these acts of yours are hypocritical. By God if I
gain control over you I shall stone you to death. He then pulled the arrows from Khalid's turban and broke them. Khalid could not pick up courage to say anything as he was under the impression that Umar was acting in accor- dance with the instructions of Abu Bakr.
Later Khalid saw Abu Bakr and put up excuses before him. Abu Bakr believed him and accepted his excuses. When Umar came to know about this he incited Abu Bakr against Khalid and suggested that Khalid must be punished for killing Malik. Abu Bakr said: "O Umar! You had better keep quiet. Khalid is not the first person who has committed a mistake in the matter of interpretation (of law)".
During the days of Umar the distinguished persons of Quraysh also coveted worldly gains and there are innumer- able instances which go to prove this fact. The best proof of it are the verses which a poet composed and sent to Umar. In those verses it had been said that in some cities and provinces the distinguished persons and dignitaries misappropriated public property and took care that he (Umar) should not come to know about it. It was added that the people were very much distressed owing to this exploitation.
The poet says: "When they determine we also deter- mine. When they perform jihad we also perform jihad. Then where have they acquired wealth from, while we are empty-handed?
When an Indian trader brings musk it is found flowing in the heads of these dignitaries. Obtain God's property from whomever you can. These persons will remain satisfied even if you let them retain half of their wealth".
Umar ordered some of these persons not to leave their places or residences and dismissed others from their posts. He also made some of them render accounts of their earnings and confiscated their wealth.
Uthman gave complete freedom to the dignitaries and the curbs which had been imposed by Umar on their greed were removed. These dignitaries became victorious under the leadership of Bani Umayyah which appeared at one time and disappeared at another. The result was that the
people had to suffer great hardships and the dignitaries indulged in such nefarious activities as had never been observed during the time of prophet or during that of Abu Bakr and Umar It will not be out of place to mention here what Ali said about Uthman and Bani Umayyah before Uthman became caliph. He had said to his uncle Abbas: "I am sure the Quraysh will make Uthman occupy the caliphate, and Uthman will introduce innovations. If he lives I shall remind you of these words of mine and if he is killed or dies Bani Umayyah will keep the rulership revolve around themselves". How true the prediction of Imam Ali proved in the matter of Uthman!
When Uthman occupied the caliphate he had to face problems which were very intricate. Bani Umayyah, instead of assisting Uthman in solving them, made them more complicated. Furthermore, they took as much advantage of Uthman's mildness as they could, and based their policies on family bias, personal influence and authority and disregard for public welfare. Utilizing all resources of governmental authority they reserved all posts and positions for themselves and converted the Islamic system of government into a pure capitalistic system and the caliphate into kingship. All resources of the State became the monopoly of their friends and slaves.
Immediatelty on assuming the caliphate Uthman began making the people subservient to Bani Umayyah. He made Bani Umayyah rulers of all Islamic cities and provinces and gave them large tracts of land. He made the property of the Muslims a plaything for the wealthy, and openly supported the capitalist class which had been crushed by Islam earlier. The result was that the dignitaries and powerful persons grew much richer and the common men became their slaves.
We narrate below a few instances which will go to show what position Bani Umayyah enjoyed during the days of Uthman and how the state had become a plaything in their hands.
Uthman gave one-fifth of the war booty received from the conquest of African countries to his cousin
Marwan bin Hakam. This innovation was resented very much by the people! Abdur Rahman bin Hanbal represent- ing the views of the public says: "I swear by God that God has not left anything in vain, but you O Uthman have created a mischief for us. It is a test for you or maybe a test for us".
Fadak, which had in fact been inherited by Fatima, was given by Uthman to Marwan. Uthman also gave him one hundred thousand dirhams out of the public treasury. The Umayyad - Abdullah bin Khalid bin Usayd requested him for assistance and he gave him one hundred thousand dirhams, although there was no justification for such extra- vagance. He was specially kind to Hakam bin Aas who was a sworn enemy of Islam, and the prophet had expelled him from Madina. Uthman gave him one hundred thousand dirhams.
There was a bazar named Mehzool in Madina which was endowed by the prophet upon the Muslims. Uthman gave it away to Harth bin Hakam.
There were around Madina pasturages, which had been declared by the prophet to be the common land for grazing the animals belonging to all Muslims. Uthman snatched away those pasturages from the Muslims and reserved them exclusively for Bani Umayyah. From then onwards only the camels belonging to Bani Umayyah could graze there. The entire amount of taxes received from the African region i.e. from Egypt to Tangiers was given by him to Abdullah Bani Sarah. The day on which he gave one hundred thousand dirhams to Marwan bin Hakam, he also gave two hundred thousand dirhams to Abu Sufyan bin Harb. Upon this Zaid bin Arqam, the treasurer, came to Uthman and, with tears in his eyes, threw the keys of the Public Treasury before him. Uthman said: "Why are you weeping? I have shown regard to these persons on account of our kinship". Zaid said: "Even if you had given one hundred dirhams to Marwan it would have been too much, but you have given him one hundred thousand dirhams!" Uthman said: "Let the keys remain here. It will be possible for me to find many treasurers".
A large quantity of wealth was received from Iraq. The whole amount was distributed by Uthman amongst Bani Umayyah. When he gave his daughter Ayesha in marriage to Harth bin Hakam he gave him one hundred thousand dirhams besides what he had already given him. He also gave Harth a large number of camels which were received from various Islamic countries. He also deputed him to collect zakat from the tribe of Qaza`ah and gave him the entire amount collected by him. It was three million dirhams. (Sharh Nehjul-Balaghah, Vol. 1, p.98).
Once some distinguished companions who were headed by Ali met Uthman and had a talk with him about Harth. Uthman said: "He is my near relative". The companions said; "Did Abu Bakr and Umar not have near relatives? Why didn't they bestow favours on them?" Uthman replied: "Abu Bakr and Umar sought recompense from God by keeping their relatives deprived, whereas I seek recompense from God by bestowing favours on them". The companions said: "We prefer their conduct to yours".
Uthman did many such things as encouraged the persons in position to accumulate wealth by unlawful means. He left the influential persons free to do whatever they liked; rather he made matters easy for them so that they might become participants in the crimes of Bani Umayyah and might not get any occasion to criticize their activities.
Talha bin Abdullah erected a lofty palace in Kufa which became known amongst the Arabs, after three centuries, as Dar al-Talhatain. As regards his income Mas`udi has said in Murooj al-Zahab that only from Iraq he received daily grains worth a thousand gold coins, rather more than that. An equivalent amount was received from Kanas. The income from Sirat and its suburbs was even larger. In Madina he built a magnificent palace which resembled that of Uthman.
Abdur Rahman bin Auf erected many large and spacious palaces and buildings. He had many stables and in everyone of them one hundred horses were kept. He also owned one thousand camels and ten thousand goats.
Besides all this wealth he had three million gold coins.
Zaid bin Thabit left behind so much gold that it had to be cut into pieces with an axe to be distributed among his heirs. Besides this he left behind a large quantity of other properties.
Laila bin Umayyah left behind half a million gold coins. Mas`udi writes about Zubayr bin Awam that during the time of Uthman he owned one thousand slaves and one thousand slave-girls. He built splendid palaces at various places like Basra, Kufa and Alexandria and owned fifty thousand gold coins in cash and one thousand horses.
After writing all this Mas`udi says: "It needs volumes to narrate how the wealth of the rich increased during the period of Uthman. This was not the position during the days of Umar.
The wealth of a person with whom Uthman and other Umayyads were pleased knew no bounds. The common people starved while the relatives and friends of Uthman rolled in wealth. They collected so much wealth that the people had never seen or heard of it. He himself was also very rich. At the time of his assassination his treasurer had one hundred and fifty thousand gold coins and thousands of dirhams. He had property worth about one hundred thousand dirhams in the valley of Qura' and Hunayn. He also possessed innumerable camels and horses (vide the book entitled `Uthman' written by Sadiq Arjun, printed in Egypt).
Jewels and ornaments of the Iranian emperors which were acquired as war booty during the time of Umar were kept in the Public Treasury. During the time of Uthman, however, they were seen shining on the bodies of the daughters of Uthman. The people saw with their own eyes their rights being trampled upon. The persons in authority ridiculed the poor subjects who could not dare say any- thing in reply.
Mas`udi says about Uthman in Murooj al-Zahab: "Uthman was very prodigal. His governors and other persons also followed his example. Uthman built in Madina, a palace, whose doors were of teak wood. He also acquired
large properties, gardens and springs in Madina.
Uthman gave an open licence to Bani Umayyah to appoint or remove the officers. They accumulated wealth and created zones of influence and authority for perpe- tuation of their rule. The source of all these evils was Marwan bin Hakam who was appointed by Uthman as his minister. Uthman followed his advice in all matters.
Similary Uthman divided the people financially into two classes. One class consisted of the officers and relatives of Uthman who rolled in wealth and committed all sorts of atrocities, and the other class belonged to the common people who were deprived and helpless.
Previously the practice was that the revenue which was collected from a certain city or province was spent in the first instance to assist the needy persons belonging to those very places and the surplus amount was sent to the capital, so that the caliph might spend it on the needy persons there. Uthman ordered that the entire amount should be sent to the capital. The self-seekers took much advantage of this change in policy".
Dr. Taha Husayn says: "The first trouble which arose on account of this practice was that capitalism spread in Iraq and other provinces on a large scale. This practice benefited those who were big capitalists and could purchase the property of the persons belonging to less priviledged class. Thus Talha and Marwan bin Hakam purchased large properties. From then onwards began the practice of purchase and sale, mortgage, lease etc. not only in Hijaz and Iraq but also in other Arab countries and conquered areas, and the large estates came into existence. In the circumstances all sorts of people got engaged in making money as a result of which a class of rich rulers came into existence. It was more distinguished than the class which possessed ancestral estates.
The second trouble which arose was that the persons who purchased properties in the Arab cities in general and in Hijaz in particular endeavoured to gain maximum profit from their lands. They purchased a large number of slaves. Very soon Hijaz was like a paradise. Thus a class
of landlords came into existence in cities like Madina and Ta'if. They did not work themselves, and spent their time in merry-making, and the entire work was done by their slaves. All the affairs of these masters were managed by their servants. These masters were in fact the slaves and the slaves were the real masters. On the other side there were the bedouin who were deprived of all amenities of life. They did not possess any land in Hijaz which they might sell to purchase land in Iraq and they did not also have any land in Iraq which they might sell to purchase land in Hijaz.
These actions, resorted to by Uthman of his own, or on the suggestion of his advisers, produced very evil political and social results.
The political result was that only a few persons became the owners of enormous wealth. Every capitalist drew the people towards himself by means of his wealth, organized a group of his adherents and began thinking of becoming a ruler. Such persons endeavoured to take advan- tage of the disunity of the people.
From the social point of view the people got divided into various classes.To one class belonged the persons who were wealthy and enjoyed influence and authority and to the other class belonged the poor and the helpless. Persons belonging to the former class had big estates and slaves and servants who worked for them on their lands and rendered other services. In between these two classes was the middle class. Those who belonged to this class lived in far offcities. They attacked the enemies and defended the frontiers. The lives and property of the people were safe because of this class.
The rich persons made these middle class people their tools. They created dissensions among them and divided them into various groups. The history of the Muslims shows that dissensions first appeared among the affluent persons. In the first instance the capitalists opposed one another, and later differences appeared between the middle class people and the rich people. As regards the third class those belonging to it served the rich and worked on their lands. Apparently they did not wield any influence in the
society and did not take part in the dissensions of others. Their differences appeared at a later stage. (AI-Fitnatu'l Kubra, Vol.1, `Uthman'p. 105 - 109).
Till that time the Arabs were not accustomed to class distinctions and none had been seen enjoying a distinctive position or receiving special gifts without proper justifica- tion. It had also not happened till that time that the welfare of particular persons should have been given priority over the welfare of the masses. The character of the prophet, his justice and generosity were deeply imprinted on their minds. They were habituated to the government which was the government of the people and not of a few persons, the government of justice and not of tyranny - the government which shared the woes of the people and not the one which created disorder and chaos.
When Uthman succeeded Umar as caliph and adopted the policies mentioned above the people were greatly perturbed. They complained against these policies to Uthman time and again and also expressed disgust against the Umayyad governors and officers who followed those policies. At times it so happened that Uthman felt ashamed on account of the malpractices of the Umayyad rulers, heard the complainants patiently and promised to remove the corrupt officers. Soon afterwards, however, those officers prevailed upon Uthman and continued to occupy their positions, indulged in greater malpractices and ruthlessly took revenge on their opponents.
Very often the Arabs approached Uthman in the form of deputations and complained against the Umayyad officers. Uthman promised them that their grievances would be redressed. However, when they returned to their home-towns, the governors and officers concerned put their leaders to death. Those who escaped punishment went to Madina again and complained to the distinguished companions of the prophet. The companions approached Uthman and supported the cause of the complainants. Uthman issued orders dismissing the oppressive ruler and appointing a new one in his place. However, before the new nominee proceeded to his place of duty a messenger
was sent to the dismissed ruler with a letter containing instructions that the new appointee as well as the persons who had approached the caliph in the form of adeputation should be put to death as soon as they arrived. Conse quently the old ruler remained at his post and carried out the orders of the caliph meticulously and bec!e more violent in his oppression.
These were the policies which Uthman adopted on the advice of influential persons to ensure their welfare and safeguard their interests. The common people were subjec ted to great oppression during his period. Some times they remained silent and at other times they opposed and criti cized the regime openly. Some poets have drawn very true pictures of the capitalists of that time.
There were some magnanimous persons also in the society, who possessed enlightened minds and speaking tongues and enjoyed great respect among the Muslims. They were also extremely frightened like other persons on account of the prevailing conditions. However, they strongly opposed the plutocracy of Bani Umayyah and the policies adopted by Uthman and his associates. Their opposition was, nevertheless, based on principles and without any bad intentions whatsoever. Their objections were quite sensible and free from personal bias.
We shall see later how cruelly these well-intentioned, truthful and pious critics were dealt with.
# The volley of criticism
As we have explained above, Bani Umayyah and their supporters and the wealthy and influential persons of the time were responsible for the shortcomings in the adminis- trative, political and financial policies of Uthman which resulted in great evils, disturbances, and chaos. Uthman himself was responsible for this state of affairs in no lesser a degree because he relied on Bani Umayyah and favoured them, ordered whatever they desired and forbade what they disliked. In fact they were the real rulers and Uthman was their obedient servant. Imam Ali has drawn a very true picture of the caliph by saying: "He is like a man who is choked by drinking water" (because the remedy for being choked is drinking water, but if a person is choked owing to drinking water there can be no remedy for him). He further says: "A person whose favourites and confidants are corrupt is like one who is choked by drinking water".
Just as Uthman had given complete freedom to Bani Umayyah to acquire influence and authority and allowed the dignitaries to accumulate and hoard wealth by exploiting the common people, he had also permitted his advisers to curb the freedom of the distinguished companions of the prophet if they raised any objection, and asked them to do justice to the public. It so happened very often that only placing restrictions on the truthful and justice-loving believers was not considered sufficient but Uthman awarded them severe punishment either of his own accord or on the suggestion of Marwan. He considered them to be his enemies as if they wanted to deprive him of the goodness of Marwan and his brother Harth. Uthman in all matters,
whether big or small followed the advice of Bani Umayyah who were his chief advisers and had eventually lost his life on account of them. They took all powers in their own hands, whether with or without Uthman's willingness, and made him helpless. They really wanted his death, and secretly revolted against him, so that another Umayyad might become the caliph. All their supporters helped them in this matter and when Uthman got encircled by his enemies they (i.e. Bani Umayyah) flew away leaving him in the lurch just as his other supporters had slipped away.
Uthman kept away from himself all those well wishers of his with whose help the conditions could improve, and made Bani Umayyah his confidants and advisers. They advised him to keep at arm's length all those persons who were considered to be his enemies although in fact they were not his enemies.
A mischievous and ill-natured person, Marwan, was his chief adviser, but he did not consider Ali fit to be trusted, although if his views had been accorded weight he would have given Uthman sincere and far-sighted advice and would have stopped him from nepotism and showing special favour to his friends. He would have set the govern- ment on a stable and profitable path, and preference would have been given to welfare of common people, who have been protected from oppression and tyranny.
Marwan enjoyed such an influence on Uthman that he never acted then, went up to Uthman and told him that Ali and other distinguished companions were conspiring against him. He used to say: These people are instigating the public against you. The only way to maintain law and order and to save the caliphate is that you should kill Ali and all other distinguished companions of the prophet so that the affairs of the State should be set up according to the advice of Bani Umayyah. It is they who are your relatives and real well-wishers who would like your rule to continue.
When general revolt against Uthman took place in all the cities he called a conference to consider ways and means to restore law and order. Only Bani Umayyah and
their supporters were invited to attend this conference.
It was these very Bani Umayyah against whom the companions of the prophet and the public had complaints and it was on account of them that the people had revolted. However, instead of calling the companions of the prophet and holding consultations with them to improve the situation Uthman called those, who were the root-cause of all troubles, and because of whom the people had became the enemies of Uthman.
All those who participated in the conference expressed their views and suggested ways and means of tackling the situation. It would appear that some of them wanted disturbances to continue because their interests could be served better by this. Others wanted the trouble to flare up for the same reason. Still others wanted improvement of the situation provided that their own influence and authority did not suffer.
All those who participated in the conference were inimical towards Ali. They were afraid that his justice, truthfulness and piety might spoil their own game and repress their oppressive activities, and his policy of equity and equality might make their capitalist government fall to the ground. The most active members of the conference were Mu`awiya, Marwan and Amr Aas. It can, therefore, well be imagined what the result of those consultations should have been.
Ali did not care if Uthman did not consult him in those difficult circumstances. He was anxious that the conditions of the Muslims should improve and justice and equity should be established, even though Uthman and his supporters might become his enemies. He continued to advise Uthman till the last moment to redress the grievances of the people and compensate them for the oppression suffered by them so that his caliphate might not be endan- gered. Once when the people became furious and wanted to attack Uthman he pacified them, and also advised Uthman in these words:[*] "People are waiting for me outside and
[*] In order to Make the bitterness of advice palatable Imam Ali
they have sent me to you to settle the differences between you and them. I swear by God that I cannot understand what to tell you when I do not know anything of which
spoke at the outset in such a way that instead of getting irritated Uthman should feel his duties and responsibilities. Ali wanted to draw his attention towards his obligations, and with that purpose in view he mentioned his (Uthman's) companionship of the prophet as well as his importance and proximity to the prophet on account of kinship. Otherwise this was evidently no occasion to praise him and these words should not be treated to be a panegyric ignoring the latter part of the remarks of Ali. The opening words simply go to show that whatever Uthman did was done by him intentionally.
It was not that he committed unintentionally mistakes, which might be overlooked. If it be a virtue that even after remaining in the companionship of the prophet and knowing all the rules and regula- tions of Islam a man should act in such a way that the entire world of Islam should begin to cry on account of his oppression, these remarks may be treated to be a praise. If it is not a merit, then its being mentioned cannot be termed as praise. In fact the words that have been used as praise are a proof of the seriousness of his offences. An offence committed intentionally is much more serious than the one committed inadvertently.
It is said that Uthman is entitled to great honour in the capacity of the son-in-law of the prophet as the prophet married to him, his two daughters named Ruqayya and Umm Kulthum one after the other. Before considering these matrimonial alliances a source of honour, however, the nature of this son-in-lawship should be looked into. History tells us that Uthman did not enjoy precedence in the matter. Ruqayya and Umm Kulthum were previously married to Atba and Ateeba, the son of Abu Lahab. In spite of this these two persons were not treated to be entitled to any honour or respect even before the advent of Islam. In the circumstances how can this relationship be treated to be a source of honour for Uthman without taking into account his personal qualities?.
Furthermore, it is also not an established fact that the two
you are not aware, and have not to communicate to you any news which has not already reached you. I know what you know. I did not know anything which I might tell you nor have I heard anything in private of which I might inform you. You saw as I saw and you heard as I heard. You have been in the company of the prophet as we have been. The responsibility to act rightly did not rest more on the sons of Abi Quhafa and Khattab than it rests on you. In fact you are nearer to the prophet on account of kinship than they were, and you are in a way the son-in-law of the prophet, while they were not so. You must feat God, I swear by God that I am not tendering you this advice because you cannot see anything and I am not telling you all this because you do not know it. And there
ladies were the real daughters of the prophet. There are some who do not admit them to be his real daughters but say that they were the daughters of lady Khadijah's sister named Hala or her own daughters from her former husband.
Alkuti (died 352 A.H.) says: "A short time after lady Khadijah getting married to the prophet her sister Hala died and left behind two daughters named Ruqayyah and Umm Kulthum. They were brought up by Khadijah and the prophet. It was customary before the advent of Islam that if an orphan was brought up by someone it was called his son or daughter". (Kitab al-Istighatha, p.69).
"Before marrying the prophet lady Khadija was married to Abi Hala bin Malik and had one son named Hind and one daughter named Zainab from him. Earlier than that she was married to `Atiq bin `Aa'ez and had one son and one daughter from him". (Seerah lbn Hisham, Vol.4, p.293).
This shows that lady Khadijah had two daughters before she married the prophet. As mentioned above, according to the custom then prevailing, they were to be called the prophet's daughters and their husband was to be called his son-in-law. However, his position as son-in-law would be commensurate with the position of the daughters. Hence, before treating these marriages to be a source of honour the actual position of the daughters (i.e. their real parentage) must be kept in view.
is no question ot your ignorance because the path of religious law is quite evident and clear. Take it to your heart that out of His slaves God likes most the just ruler, who is a guided person himself and guides others also, strengthens known practices and destroys unknown innovations. And the most despicable of the people before God is that unjust ruler who remains misguided and others too are misguided on account of him. I have heard the prophet saying that on the Day of Judgment an oppressor will be brought in such a manner that there will be none who will help him or intercede for him and he will be thrown into the Hell straightaway".(Nahj al-Balaghah)
Uthman was nonplused when he heard logical remarks of Ali. He only said: "I have done nothing wrong. I have been only kind and benevolent to my kith and kin".
Truth was intermingled with falsehood and good with evil. The malpractices of Bani Umayyah went on increasing. Uthman gave them plenty of rope and himself became helpless before them. Ali has drawn a concise and precise picture of the caliphate of Uthman in these words: "He supported his kinsmen in the most absurd manner".
About his Umayyad Kinsmen he says: "With him stood up Bani Umayyah, the descendants of his father, and they began to munch God's property just as a camel grazes spring grass".
Thus Bani Umayyah and their supporters brought Uthman on a path which was the path of annihilation and ruin. It was for his nepotism that he lost his life. His wife Na`ela also knew to what direction Bani Umayyah were carrying him. She also knew that Ali was the most sincere and truthful person and the real well-wisher of Uthman. She, therefore, insisted upon him persistently that he should consult Ali. However, the wicked and mischievous advisers who were constantly hovering around Uthman opposed Na`ela's suggestion and said that she was an imprudent woman and he should not lend ears to what she suggested.
Once Marwan said to Uthman: "I swear by God that it is better to stick to your sins and apologize to God, than that you should repent with fear".
It means that Marwan admitted that Uthman's policy was wrong and his methods were the methods of wrong- doers, but according to him (i.e. Marwan) it was better to stick to one's sin and evil-doing than to feel ashamed and repent of it.
No advice could reach the ears of Uthman except that which was uttered by Marwan. Uthman agreed imme- diatley to what Marwan said but did not listen to what was said by others.
Marwan spoke to the people in the name of the caliph and what he said consisted of nothing except censure, threats and obstinacy, and was sufficient to create an uproar against Uthman. Once he said, addressing the insurgents who had besieged Uthman's house: ``What has happened to you people? Why have you gathered here? Do you want to take away the government from us?'' This sentence of Marwan is sufficient to indicate the way of thinking of all the Umayyads, according to them all those oppressed persons who had come to get their grievances redressed had come only to loot and plunder.
Demand for the restoration of usurped rights and a just government, and stopping oppression and taking action against those, who had violated the rights of the people, and similar other things in connection with which the people had come to lodge their complaints, were things which, according to Marwan, did not deserve any attention. According to him the caliphate, sovereignty and rulership were the means of displaying power and authority and had nothing to do with the protection of the rights of the people or the safeguarding of the faith and the religious law. According to him it was the kingship of Bani Umayyah which they had been waiting for a long time to sieze, and thus re-establish their power and authority which had been destroyed by Islam. And that being so he could not understand why the people should endeavour to deprive Bani Umayyah of their hereditary government.
* * * * * * * *
All those persons who disliked the financial and administrative policies of Bani Umayyah and criticized them sincerely became the target of Uthman's wrath on the suggestion of Marwan and his other associates and advisers. One of those persons who opposed these policies and methods was Abdullah bin Mas`ud, a distinguished companion of the prophet. In order to explain how much the people were grieved on account of the oppression to which this companion of the prophet was subjected, it appears necessary to give a brief account of his life history.
Abdullah bin Mas`ud was one of those persons who embraced Islam first of all. It is said that his number was sixth on the list. He had the honour of migrating twice in the first instance to Ethiopia and then to Madina. He always remained in the company of the prophet. He was one of those whom the prophet loved and respected for their truthfulness, honesty and piety.
The Muslims of the early era considered Ibn Mas`ud to be one of the greatest scholars. It was on account of his profound knowledge that Umar sent him to Kufa to guide and educate the people of that city, although he himself needed his advice in Madina. While sending him to Kufa Umar sent a letter to the citizens of Kufa. He wrote: "I am sending Abdullah bin Mas`ud to educate you. By sending him to Kufa I have given you preference over myself. You should acquire knoweldge from him".
Many Kufans benefited from Ibn Mas`ud. The number of his pupils increased day after day and they became renowned scholars. The famous Tabe`i (companion of the companions of the prophet) Sa`id bin Jaybar used to say: "The pupils of Abdullah bin Mas`ud were the lamps of this city". (i.e. Kufa).
All the Muslims acknowledged Abdullah bin Mas`ud to be an erudite scholar. So much so that during the time of Umar it was he to whom the Kufans referred their religious problems and only his judgments were accepted by them.
In the matter of exegesis also he was one of the top- most authorities, and his rank was almost equal to that of
Abdullah bin Abbas. He had many pupils who distinguished themselves in this branch of learning, such as Qatada and Masrooq ibn Ajda`.
In short Abdullah bin Mas`ud was the most respectable personality of his time. He was honoured in all Islamic cities more than every other companion of the prophet. How did Uthman behave towards this distinguished companion? Ibn Mas`ud was one of those distinguished companions who openly disapproved and fearlessly criti- cized the policies and the modus operandi of Bani Umayyah. On every Friday he used to say in Kufa: "The most correct word is the Book of God and the best guidance is that provided by prophet Muhammad and the worst things are innovations. Every innovation is deviation and every deviation leads one to Hell".
The above statement of lbn Mas`ud contained clear criticism of Uthman and the actions which he took for the benefit of only Bani Umayyah and the wealthy and influential persons ignoring the welfare of the common man.
He said many things criticizing Uthman, for example, he said: "In the eyes of God Uthman does not have even as much value as the feather of a fly".
Walid bin Uqbah, the Governor of Kufa, resented very much the remarks of Ibn Mas`ud about Uthman. This Walid was a brother of Uthman from his mother's side and was a great drunkard and a licentious person. Uthman had appointed him as the Governor of Kufa not- withstanding the displeasure of the residents of that city.
Walid wrote to Uthman informing him that Ibn Mas`ud criticized and abused him (Uthman). Uthman asked him to send Abdullah to him. It has been narrated that when Abdullah left Kufa for Madina many persons came to bid him farewell. Everyone of them requested him not to leave Kufa and assured him that they could not let him suffer any harm. He, however, replied: "There is something which must happen soon".
Abdullah bin Mas`ud reached Madina on Friday night. When Uthman came to know about his arrival he made
the people gather in the masjid and said to them: "Just see a mean animal is coming towards you who tramples on his food, vomits and excretes". lbn Mas`ud said: "I am not like that. Of course, I am a companion of the prophet. I was with him in the Battle of Badr and also participated in Bai`at al-Rizwan (the oath of allegiance taken under a tree at Hudaibiya).
Ayesha said loudly from her house: "Uthman! You are saying these words about a companion of the prophet!" Others also disliked these remarks and expressed their resentment. As ordered by Uthman his officials and slaves turned Ibn Mas`ud out from the masjid in a very rude manner. They dragged him to the gate of the masjid and there they threw him down on the ground. Then they beat him so mercilessly that he broke his bones and from there he was carried home like a dead body.
Uthman was not satisfied with the beating and insulting to which this great companion of the prophet was subjected. He stopped the stipend which he used to get from the Public Treasury and deprived him of all his sources of livelihood. He also ordered the people not to visit him to enquire about his health. Eventually Ibn Mas`ud passed away and Ammar Yasir offered his funeral prayers and buried him secretly. When Uthman was informed about it he became very furious.
Another respectable person who became the target of Uthman's wrath was Ammar Yasir. He was one those great personalities of Islam who are well-known for their virtues, high morals and piety. His worth and value was best known to the prophet and he knew what great merits he possessed. That is why he paid him glowing tributes which he amply deserved. For example he said about him: "When dissensions take place between the people the son of Sumayyah (i.e. Ammar) will be on the side of right"
Many differences arose between the Muslims during the early days of Islam and Ammar always sided with Ali. It was on account of these qualities and virtues that the Muslims loved him and Bani Umayyah and their supporters were his sworn enemies.
The first action of Uthman which Ammar disliked was that he made wealth a plaything in the hands of the affluent persons. As explained by Ammar himself he used to meet Uthman very often and advised him to administer justice, avoid nepotism and refrain from making Bani Umayyah the overlords of the people. Consequently Uthman got annoyed with him as he was annoyed with other virtuous people. It has been narrated that there was a casket in the Public Treasury which contained ornaments and gems. Uthman removed this jewellery from the treasury and gave it to one of his wives to wear. The people objected to this and criticized him severely which made him furious. Speaking in a public gathering he said: "I shall take what- ever I like out of the war booty, and damn care if some one dislikes it". Thereupon Ali said: "In that event you will be restrained from doing so and a wall will be raised between you and the Public Treasury". Ammar said: "I call God to witness that I am the first person to dislike this misappropriation". Thereupon Uthman said: "O Ammar! How dare you speak against me? Arrest him".
Suddenly Marwan got up and said to Uthman: "O Commander of the Faithful! This slave (Ammar) has instigated the people against you. If you kill him others will learn alesson".
Uthman got ready immediately to act on Marwan's suggestion. He picked up his stick and beat Ammar mercilessly. His slaves and other members of the Umayyad Family also helped him. Uthman also kicked him in a very insulting manner and inflicted him so many kicks on his belly below the navel that he developed hernia. Thereafter he was thrown on the road while it was raining and thundering, and he became almost dead.
The third distinguished companion of the prophet who was subjected to dreadful torture by Uthman and other members of the Umayyad Family was the great reformer Abu Zar Ghifari. It was the same Abu Zar who is renowned for his philanthropy and love for justice. He was a supporter and most devoted follower of Ali.
In order to explain the true position of the opponents
of Uthman's policies and the conduct of Bani Umayyah we give below a brief account of the life history of Abu Zar who was one of the greatest men of his time.
During the age of ignorance Abu Zar was an indigent person but in spite of that he was the chief of his tribe. When he heard about the prophet he came to Mecca in such a condition that he was wearing a worn out and tattered cloak. On reaching Mecca he began roaming about on the streets. At last when he got tired he lay down on the ground near the Ka`abah, placing his cloak under his head. In the meantime Ali chanced to pass by him and took much pity on him, because it appeared that he was a poverty-stricken stranger, who was not acquainted with anyone in the city. They got themselves introduced to each other and Ali took Abu Zar to his house. Later he took him to the prophet. On meeting the prophet Abu Zar immediately embraced Islam. He was the fifth to adopt this religion.
Abu Zar was so sincere and brave that after embracing Islam he stood near the Ka`abah where a large number of Quraysh - the fell enemies of Islam - were assembled. There he ridiculed the idols and invited those present to Islam. Till then none had been able to show such a valour. Quraysh assaulted him and beat him so much that he was almost dead.
Abu Zar was the most favourite and dear companion of the prophet on account of his foresight, prudence, wisdom, zeal for reform, and love for the poor. The people also relied upon him and respected him very much. All the companions held him in great respect. Ali has said about him: "Abu Zar has such vast knowledge that none has been able to equal him".
When Uthman attained to the caliphate Abu Zar's astonishment knew no bounds. He could not understand why Uthman had been made caliph in the presence of a learned and pious person like Ali. However, he did not open his lips against this selection because Ali did not want that any disturbance should take place for his sake. Soon afterwards, however, Abu Zar saw that whereas the
common people were leading very miserable lives Bani Umayyah were amassing wealth and living in luxury. He felt that Uthman showering wealth upon his relatives by depriving the common people of their rights, and this disturbed him very much. He openly criticized this policy which had divided the people into two groups - the affluent and the indigent. Abu Zar often addressed the people in these words: "Such things are taking place as were never seen or heard of previously. I swear by God that such actions are neither sanctioned by Qur'an - the Book of God nor supported by the Sunnah of the prophet. I swear by God that I see that truth is being suppressed and falsehood is being encouraged. Things which are right and true are being refuted and impious persons are being preferred. Almighty God says: "Tell those who hoard gold and silver and do not spend their wealth in the path of God that their foreheads, flanks and backs will be branded with fire".
He added: "You have adopted silken curtains and seats and have become habituated to lying in azrabi silk whereas the prophet used to sleep on a mat. You eat food of various kinds whereas the prophet did not eat even barley bread to his fill".
Abu Zar demanded from the party in authority to do justice to the poor people who had been deprived of their rights. He encouraged the people to wrest their rights by force and to put an end to indigence which is the source of humiliation and an enemy of virtue. He used to utter the following sentences often:
"I wonder as to why a person who has nothing in his house to eat, does not draw a sword and attack the people".
"When poverty proceeds towards a town infidelity asks it to take it with itself".
He was so much disgusted with the egotism and profiteering of Bani Umayyah that he left Hijaz and went away to Syria, so that he might not see the extravagance of Uthman and Marwan with his own eyes. However, on reaching there he found that the activities of Mu`awiya
were even more objectionable than those of Uthman and Marwan. (The fact is that Abu Zar did not go to Syria of his own free will. He was exiled there by Uthman). There he said that Mu`awiya's extravagance had far exceeded that of Uthman and Marwan. He saw that Mu`awiyah had become the master of the Public Treasury as well as of the lives and property of the people. He observed that he squandered away the property of the Public Treasury, grabbed the earnings of the Muslims and killed whomsoever he wished to. All this made him too furious. When Mu`awiya constructed the Green Palace Abu Zar sent him a message saying: "If you have built this palace by spending the property of God you have been guilty of misappropria- tion and if you have spent the money from your own pocket you have been very extravagant".
Bani Umayyah could not tolerate such a truthful, freedom loving and out-spoken person, nor could they permit him to mix up with the people. Marwan instigated Uthman every now and then to get rid of him. Uthman asked Mu`awiya to take repressive measures againt Abu Zar.
Mu`awiya turned Abu Zar out of his court and issued orders that none should associate with him. It was at Uthman's behest that Mu`awiya said to that distinguished companion of the prophet: "O enemy of God! You instigate people to be against me and do whatever you like. If I had killed any companion of the prophet without the prior permission of the ruling caliph it would have been you". Abu Zar replied: "I am not an enemy of God or of His prophet. Rather it is you and your father who have been the enemies of God. Both of you embraced Islam only outwardly and infidelity still lies hidden in your heart".
Abu Zar did not attach any importance to Mu`awiya's threats, and continued reforming the Syrian society with so great a zeal and enthusiasm, that Mu`awiya was out of his wits. The rich people of Syria were as scared of his reformative activities as the people of Madina were. They feared that the common people might attack them. They, therefore, considered it necessary that Abu Zar
should be turned out of Syria as early as possible, and should also be restrained from making any speeches so that he might not bring their malpractices to light. In the meantime a man named Jundab bin Fehri came to Mu`awiya and said as a sincere adviser and in a meek tone: "Abu Zar will create trouble for you in Syria. If you need Syria, you should take care of it immediately".
Mu`awiya thought of killing Abu Zar but feared that the people might revolt. As said by Hasan Basri: "Mu`awiya did not refrain from killing a distinguished companion like Abu Zar, because he feared Uthman's displeasure. He did not kill him, because he was afraid of the displeasure of the public. He therefore, wrote to Uthman and sought his advice. Uthman replied: "Send Abu Zar to me mounted on a vicious animal along with a man who should subject him to as much trouble as possible on the way".
Mu`awiya did as he was advised by Uthman. He made Abu Zar mount a camel with a saddle on which there was no cover. By the time he reached Madina pieces of flesh were cut off from his thighs and owing to the long journey he had broken his back. From Damascus to Madina he was accompanied by cruel and savage soldiers who did not care either for the hot weather or for his fatigue. He was very much tired and had become lean and weak when he reached before Uthman.
Immediately on seeing Abu Zar Uthman protested against his activities. Abu Zar replied: "I wished you well but you decieved me. Similarly I wished your friend (Mu`awiya) well but he also deceived me".
Uthman said: "You are a liar. You want to create trouble. You have turned the entire country of Syria against us".
Abu Zar said with great confidence and composure: "You should follow in the footsteps of Abu Bakr and Umar. If you do so none will say anything against you".
Uthman said: "May your mother die! What have you to do with this matter?"
Abu Zar replied: "So far as I am concerned I had no
alternative but to order the people to do good and to restrain them from evil".
Ite contention between Abu Zar and Uthman became much more serious. Abu Zar accused Uthman of being subservient to his wishes was disobedient to God, and unkind to His creatures. Uthman got very much annoyed and cried out: "0 people! Tell me how to deal with this aged liar. Should I beat him or kill him or banish him from the Islamic territories? He has created a split among the Muslims".
At that time Ah was also there. He was very much grieved to see the treatment meted out by Uthman to a great reformer and distinguished companion like Abu Zar. He turned towards Uthman and said: "I heard the prophet saying that between the earth and the heavens there is none more truthful than Abu Zar".
Uthman continued harassing Abu Zar. He ordered the people not to associate with him. Then he thought of becoming reconciled with Abu Zar. He, therefore, sent him two hundred gold coins to meet his needs. Abu Zar asked the man who had brought the money to him: "Has Uthman given the same amount to every Muslim?" The man replied in the negative. Abu Zar returned the money to Uthman and said, "I am a member of the Muslim society and should, therefore, get only as much as others get". When he returned the gold coins there was nothing in his house to eat except a stale loaf of barley bread!
In the first instance Uthman handed over Abu Zar to the executioners. On reconsideration, however, he decided to banish him to Rabazah. It was a barren region where neither man, nor animal nor vagetation could survive.
When the time of Abu Zar's departure drew neat Uthman prohibited the people, in order to grieve, insult and humiliate him, to see him off. None except five persons, therefore, picked up courage to see him off. Itese five persons were Ah, his brother Aqil, Hasan, Husayn ind Ammar Yasir.
The responsibility to supen7ise the departure of Abu Zar rested with Marwan who was the source of
all evils. It was he who had enforced Uthman's order that none should converse with Abu Zar and the members of his family or see them off. He was so bold as to prevent Ali and his companions from seeing off Abu Zar. Ali rebuked him, struck him with his stick and shouted: "Be off from here! May God throw you into the Hell". Then he bade farewell to Abu Zar in these words: "O Abu Zar! You were annoyed with these people for the sake of God. So you should expect your recompense also from Him only. They feared you because on account of your activities they might lose the world (i.e. worldly gains) and you were afraid of them because you wanted to safe- guard your faith. So leave to them that thing on account of which they feared you (i.e. worldly gains) and keep aloof from them along with your faith. See how much they need that faith on which you did not permit them to gain control, and see how much independent you are of the world of which they have deprived you! You will come to know tomorrow (i.e. on the Day of Judgment) who has been the winner and who has displayed envy. Even if a person is precluded from the earth as well as from the heavens but he fears God, the Almighty certainly opens a path for him. You will always remain in love with truth and will shun falsehood. If you, too, had accepted their world they would have liked you and if you had borrowed from this world they would have provided you asylum".(Nahj al-Balaghah).
Then Ali asked Aqil and Ammar to bid farewell to their brother and also asked Hasan and Husayn to say goodbye to their uncle.
When Uthman came to know about this incident he was very much annoyed with Ali.
One may ask as to how it happened that Ali saw Abu Zar being subjected to torture and oppression but took no steps to save him from the tyranny of the caliph of the time? Abu Zar was a distinguished companion of the prophet and a great supporter of Ali and was opposing the caliph not for any personal gain but to ensure the welfare of the people. Then why did Ali remain quiet?
If he had so desired he could restrain Uthman from banishing Abu Zar and could use all his resources to make the people stand up in opposition to Bani Umayyah. And there is no doubt about the fact that the Muslims would have supported Ali whole-heartedly. Then what was the reason for this silence of Ali?
Just as this question occurs to everybody's mind, it occurred to my mind also. I thought that whereas one aspect of Ali's remaining quiet on this occasion is quite clear and evident and the other is very intricate and not understandable by everyone.
The intricate aspect is that Ali's time was not the present one. He lived more than 1300 years ago. Circum- stances and conditions which existed at that time cannot be assessed properly in the present twentieth century nor can we understand all their aspects. Probing the real causes has not been possible in spite of deep investigations conducted by many researchers. Ali knew and understood many subtleties of his own time which were not visible to others, and his line of action was based on the exigencies of the time which were known to him only.
However, the aspect of his quietness which is quite evident is that the spirit of sacrifice was present in the very nature of Ali and he was prepared to suffer any hardship for the sake of the welfare of the people. He was so mindful of the safety of Islam that he did not care for anything except that. The more deeply we study the conduct and character of Ali, and examine all aspects of his life, the more we are convinced of this reality. He could not tolerate that the advancement and propagation of Islam should slacken in the least. He knew very well the mentality of Bani Umayyah before and after their embrace- ment of Islam, but he was afraid that if the Muslims arrayed themselves against them dissensions would take place among the followers of Islam and they would be harmful for this religion.
Ali knew that Bani Umayyah wanted to kill all the true believers who constituted the real support for Islam so that they might free themselves from the restrictions
imposed by Islamic law and there should be none left to object to their activities.
Is it not a fact that Marwan bin Hakam instigated Uthman to kill Ali and other distinguished companions like Abu Zar and Ammar? His object in making this suggestion was that with the removal of these persons from the scene Bani Umayyah should be free to do what they liked, because while these pious and dauntless companions of the prophet were present Bani Umayyah could not create mischief and act as despotic ruler.
Had Marwan's desire been fulfilled it cannot be assessed how much trouble Bani Umayyah would have created. It was, therefore, the height of Ali's foresight and prudence that he expressed only so much resentment in the matter of injustice done to Abu Zar as he used to express in connection with the oppression to which he himself was subjected.
He did this so that the Muslims might not become the enemies of one another.
This had happened earlier also on the occasion of Saqifa. Umar came to Ali's house and dragged him at the point of sword to take oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr. The Muslims were gathered round Ali at that time. Some of them were astonished whereas others were beside them selves with rage. All were expecting a hint from him so that They might fight for his defence. No doubt Ali, who was rhe pillar of Islam, the citadel of justice, and the Imam of all the people, but what did he do for himself?
When the people saw Umar taking Ali before the caliph at the point of the sword, they were much surprised. However when they looked at his face they did not find any sign of anger on it. He neither incited the people nor raised his voice, nor allowed them to draw their swords. The people were surprised all the more when a few moments later they saw Ali standing before them (i.e. Abu Bakr, Umar etc.) very calmly and arguing his case with a view to convincing them about his right. None dared to open his mouth in reply. He was establishing his right with solid arguments but tolerated the usurpation of his right in
the interest of the people. Ali was justified in proving his right through protests and arguments, and was also justified in showing patience, calmness, forbearance and forgiveness. He knew himself very well.
The supporters of Ali were surprised at the attitude adopted by him. But there was one thing which Ali knew but others did not know. And that was the thing which Ali aimed at and which was the source of his peace of mind. This refers to the fact that he had worked with the prophet to lay the foundation of Islam. He equally shared the responsibility of propagation of Islam. How could he tolerate that this religion should suffer destruction? That was the reason why he sacrificed his own rights, and he acted in the case of Abu Zar in the same manner in which he had acted in his own case.
* * * * * * * * *
What happened to Abu Zar after his banishment?
The aged and great companion of the prophet died of hunger. He and the members of his family lived in extremely hard conditions and had to suffer unprece- dented miseries. Their children also passed away due to lack of food.
It has been narrated that after the death of their children Abu Zar and his wife grew very weak on account of hunger. One day Abu Zar said to his wife: "Let us go upto that mound. It is possible that we may find some wild fruits there". They went upto the mound. Inclement winds were blowing and they could not find anything to eat. Abu Zar began to faint. Although very cold wind was blowing but Abu Zar was perspiring and wiped his sweat again and again. When his wife looked at him she realized that he was going to die. She began to weep. Abu Zar asked her why she was weeping. She replied: "Why should I not weep? You are breathing your last on this barren land, and I don't have even a piece of cloth which maybe used as a shroud for you and me". Her words grieved Abu Zar very very much. He said to her: "Go and stand by the
side of the road. It is possible that you may meet a believer who may be passing that way". She replied: "Who will pass this way now? The caravan of the pilgrims has already passed and the road is deserted".
Abu Zar recalled the words which the prophet had uttered about him. He said to his wife: "Go and see carefully. If you find someone coming you will be relieved of your worry. And if you don't find anyone you should cover my dead body and place it by the side of the road. As and when you chance to meet the first rider tell him: "Abu Zar the companion of the prophet has died. Now assist in bathing and shrouding him".
Abu Zar's wife ascended the mound time and again but could not find any human being. After some time, however, she saw some riders at a distance and beckoned them by moving her cloth. They came up to her and said: "O bondwoman of God! What is the matter?" She replied: "Here is a Muslim who is dying;please arrange for his bathing, shrouding and burial. God will recompense you fo this". They asked: "Who is the man?" She replied: "His name is Abu Zar Ghifari".
The men could not believe that such a distinguished companion of the prophet could die in the desert. They, therefore, asked her: "Who is this Abu Zar? Is he the companion of the prophet?" She said "Yes". They said: "May our parents be his ransom! God has granted us a great honour". They then hurried to the place where Abu Zar was lying. Abu Zar was feeling the pangs of death. He fixed his eyes on their faces for some time trying to recognise their faces, and then said: "By God I have not told a lie. By God if I had sufficient cloth for my and my wife's shroud I would certainly have been shrouded in that cloth. I ask you in the name of God that if anyone of you has been a ruler or a government employee or a messenger or a chief at any time he should not shroud me".
Those present were bewildered to hear these words because almost all of them had held these offices at one time or another. Suddenly a young man from amongst the Ansar stepped forward and said: "O uncle! I shall shroud
you with this mantle which I had purchased with the money that I had earned through hard work. I will shroud you with this cloth whose thread was spun by my mother so that I might use it as Ehram (pilgrims garb)".
He said to the young man: "Shroud me with these pieces of cloth, for they are pure". Now he was happy and satisfied. Then he cast a glance at them again and passed away peacefully. Then the dark and thick clouds covered the sky. Strong and severe winds began to blow and the desert sand sprang up and darkened the atmosphere. It might be said that the desert of Rabazah got converted into a roaring ocean.
The Ansari young man stood by the grave of Abu Zar and prayed in these words (The historians have attributed them to Malik Ashtar): "O God! This Abu Zar is one of the companions of Your prophet. He worshipped You amongst the worshippers. He performed jihad against the idol-worshippers. He did not alter any Sunnab (practice) of the prophet nor did he tamper with any law. He saw bad and indecent things being done and expressed his disgust at them with his heart and tongue. As a result of this people oppressed and insulted him and turned him out of his house. They deprived him of his rights and humiliated him and eventually he passed away in a helpless condition. May God break the feet of the person who deprived him (of the amenities of life) and banished him from the sacred city of Madina to which he had migrated".
All those who were present said "Amen!" very sincerely. Blessed be Abu Zar who rose and endeavoured, to establish truth till he breathed his last. He had faith in the greatness of man and his rights. He was a magnanimous and kind man. He was never afraid of death, nor was he never enamoured by life.
The tragic events of Abu Zar and his wife and children stirred the blood of the people and everyone of them sympathised with the oppressed family. While many other actions of Uthman had raised the people against him this one incident added to their resentment against him and Bani Umayyah. It was considered to be a very wicked
policy that anyone who objected to nepotism and family bias should be treated savagely as was done in the case of Abdullah bin Mas`ud, Ammar Yasir and Abu Zar. They were insulted and beaten and their pensions and stipends were stopped. On the contrary, Bani Umayyah were showered with all the benefits, wealth, and ranks. Uthman bestowed honours on them and gave them enormous wealth, although it was necessary for him that he should have ousted them from important positions on account of their nefarious activities.
Another action of Uthman which aroused the anger of the people was his maltreatment of the persons who went to him to complain against Walid bin `Uqba. The details of this incident are as follows:
Uthman dismissed sa`d bin Abi Waqas from the governorship of Kufa and replaced him by Walid bin `Uqba, who was Uthman's brother from the side of his mother. The people of Kufa were very much displeased on account of this appointment. It is said that when Walid arrived in Kufa and passed by the house of Umar ibn Zararah Nakh`i Umar stood up and said: "O Bani Asad! Uthman has treated us very badly. Was it just on his part to remove from amongst us Sa`d bin Abi Waqas, who is a mild and well-behaved person, and to oppoint in his place his brother Walid who is an idiot, a madman and an old debauchee. After the appointment of Walid it was commonly said by the people of Kufa that Uthman had humiliated the followers of prophet Muhammad and had tried to honour his brother.
Many complaints were lodged with Uthman against Walid but he did not remove him from the governship, although most of the complainants were the companions of the prophet. Uthman's conduct in respect of Walid was the same as it was with regard to his kinsfolk. Just as he did not accept any suggestions, or entertained any complaint against his near relations, he never paid any heed to the complaints against Walid as well.
Allama Bin Abd Rabbih quotes Sa`id bin Musayyab in his book entitled `Iqd al-Farid as saying that the
companions of the prophet disliked the caliphate of Uthman very much because most of the officers appointed by him belonged to Bani Umayyah and they did things which were abhorred by the companions. Complaints were lodged against these officers with Uthman but he did not remove those officers.
The poet Hati'ah says about Walid:
"Hati'ah will give evidence on the Day of Judgment that Walid is innocent".
"When the prayers was finished he asked the people in a loud voice: "If you say, I may increase it".
"He wanted to make an increase upon something good. If the people had agreed he would have led the dawn prayers which would have exceeded ten rak`ats (units)".
"But O Abu Wahab, the people refused to agree. If they had accepted your suggestion you would have combined Shaf` with Witr".
"You moved on, but the people held your bridle. If they had released it you would have walked on and on".
A number of men came from Kufa and complained to Uthman against Walid. Uthman, however, rebuked and threatened them instead of paying any heed to their complaints and flogged those who gave evidence against his malpractices, although their only offence was that they brought the evil deeds of Walid to the notice of Uthman.
The most severe treatment meted out by Bani Umayyah to their opponents or to those whom they considered to be in the category of their opponents (because they desired that the masses should have a right in caliphate, and it should not become property of Bani Umayyah) was seen in their treatment with Muhammad bin Abi Bakr and the Egyptians who were going to Egypt. As this incident has a very close connection with the murder of Uthman we shall discuss it in detail in the following chapter.
# Facts about Uthman's murder
Eleven years and many months passed. The resent- ment of the people against the policies of Uthman went on increasing day after day. The citizens of all Islamic territories were deadly against Uthman, so much so that there was tension all round. The thing which frightened the Muslims most was that during Uthman's rule all the ways and practices prevalent in the days of the prophet and Abu Bakr and Umar which they liked most, were made topsy-turvy and nothing of the past period remained intact. They were used to see that the caliph protected their rights and promoted their interests. As and when the governors and the officers oppressed someone or mis- behaved, the caliph dismissed them and redressed the grievances of the people. However, as soon as Uthman became caliph he ignored the rules and regulations based on justice, and founded his government on the policy of nepotism, which the people had never previously seen, and which they could not tolerate.
The thing which disgusted the people most was that Uthman's relatives usurped their rights and became richer day by day and the common man was deprived even of the necessities of life. They also resented the treatment meted out by the caliph to their deputations which approached him to complain against the governors and other officers.
The people were also very much annoyed on account of the insults and humiliation to which the distinguished companions of the prophet like Abu Zar, Ammar, and Ibn Mas`ud, were subjected. They also disliked his policy
of removing reliable and popular governors and officers and replacing them by the persons who were unjust and oppressive.
The pious Muslims did not also like that the rulers should oppress the Zimmis, because, after all, they too were human beings. They did not wish that the society should be poisoned with discrimination and egotism, and incompetent persons should be given preference over honest and competent ones.
During the last days of the caliphate of Uthman the people became so impatient that they revolted against him. This was quite natural because the seeds of revolt were present in his own policies. It is said that one day Uthman chanced to pass by the house of a man named Jabala bin Amr Sa`di. Jabala was sitting amongst the people of his tribe and held a chain in his hand. Uthman saluted them and those present replied to his salutation, with the excep- tion of Jabala. He said to his tribesmen: "Why have you replied to the salutation of a man who has done such and such thing". Then he addressed Uthman saying: "I swear by God that unless you turn away your wicked favourites like Marwan, Ibn Aamir and Abi bin Sarah, I will put this chain round your neck".
Allama Ibn Abi'l Hadid says that the people had become so daring that one day when Uthman was address- ing the people holding in his hand the stick which was held by prophet and Abu Bakr and Umar while delivering sermons, a person named Jehjah Ghifari snatched the stick from his hand, pressed it on his knee and broke it.
In the beginning the people did not pick up enough courage to misbehave towards Uthman. However, when the malpractices of Marwan and others continued to increase and Uthman, instead of restraining them from their evil deeds showed indulgence to them the disturbances and rebellion also became widespread. Till then only the people individually opposed and criticized Uthman and only one or two persons misbehaved towards him. However, as time passed on the entire Muslim nation became his enemy. The people of Madina wrote letters to the Muslims
of other cities on these lines: "If you are desirous of undertaking jihad you should come here, because the religion of Muhammad is being made corrupt by your caliph. Come and remove him from the caliphate".
The residents of all the cities turned against Uthman. By the year 35 A.H. the events took such a turn that the inhabitants of various cities wrote letters to one another suggesting that something should be done to get rid of Bani Umayyah and Uthman and all his governors and officers should be removed from their offices. The news about these activities reached Uthman also. He wrote letters to the residents of different cities and tried to reconcile them. Then he called his governors and senior officers and held consultations with them. Some of them suggested to Uthman that he should rule justly and adopt the policies of Abu Bakr and Umar. Others minced their words and did not give any clear-cut advice. One of those belonging to the latter group was Mu`awiya ibn Abi Sufyan. There were still others who were not fit to tender any sincere advice because their suggestions were always based on selfishness. One such person was Sa`id bin Aas who said that the state of affairs then prevailing was only transitory and the only remedy for them is the unsheathing of the sword.
The conference ended without taking any unanimous decision to tackle with the situation. The reason for this was that all the governors and officers of Uthman liked his policy through which they could encroach upon the people's rights and make as much money as they could. They did not, therefore, give any sincere advice. There were some amongst them however, who thought that their interests would be best served if they could get rid of Uthman and were, therefore, endeavouring secretly, and some of them even openly, to achive this end. Reasons for this attitude of the persons concerned will be explained later. And the most important thing about the conference was that Marwan was keeping a very close watch on all the participants. Hence, even if some of them had made good suggestions they would have been of no use because
the last word on the subject was to be that of Marwan. Uthman always acted on his advice.
Eventually rebellion broke out. The Muslims of all the countries and provinces had turned against Uthman's administration, policy, and caliphate, which were virtually in the hands of Marwan and his associates.
In the meantime some persons from Egypt approached Uthman to complain against lbn Abi Sarah, the Governor of Egypt. Uthman heard them attentively, reproached Ibn Abi Sarah for his malpractices and promised those people that their grievances would be redressed. Then he wrote a letter to Ibn Abi Sarah asking him to mend his ways and threatened him that if he disobeyed his orders he would be punished. Marwan did not like these developments. When the complainants came out of the caliph's palace he too came out and rebuked them. Then he insisted that the caliph should ignore the promises made by him to those persons and should not take any notice of their complaints.
The Egyptians returned with the letter and handed it over to Ibn Abi Sarah. He was very much displeased on reading it and declined to obey the caliph's orders. He became so furious that he killed one of the members of the deputation. This arrogance of Ibn Abi Sarah was due to the fact that he was the foster-brother of Uthman and it was on account of this relationship that he had appointed him the Governor of Egypt. The people of Egypt resented the treatment meted out to them by lbn Abi Sarah. They decided to send another deputation to Madina consisting of one thousand persons. They stayed in the masjid of the prophet and proclaimed that they would not interfere with those who remained within doors and did not take up arms against them. Thereafter some of their distinguished persons met the companions of the prophet. They explained to them the atrocities committed by Ibn Abi Sarah including the murder of an innocent person whose only offence was that he was a member of the deputation which had waited on Uthman earlier. Some companions saw Uthman and discussed with him the state of affairs prevailing in Egypt.
Thereafter many other persons headed by Ali met Uthman in this behalf. They spoke to him in a very rational and logical manner and said: "These people only want that you should remove Ibn Abi Sarah from governorship and appoint some other person in his place. Earlier also they had complained about the murder of an innocent person. You should remove Ibn Abi Sarah from office and also take a decision on their complaint. If lbn Abi Sarah proves to be guilty you should punish him and thus provide justice to these people".
Uthman swore before the people and assured them that he would try his best for the good of the people. He also asked them to suggest the name of a person who might be appointed Governor of Egypt in the place of Ibn Abi Sarah. The Egyptians after due deliberations suggested the name of Muhammad bin Abi Bakr. Uthman appointed him as governor and sent with him a party consisting of the Muhajirs and the Ansar to investigate the malpractices of lbn Abi Sarah.
Three days after their departure from Madina Muhammad bin Abi Bakr and his companions saw on the way an Ethiopian slave who was driving his camel hastily towards Egypt. These people felt surprised. They, there- fore, stopped him and enquired of him why he was running so fast and what was the purpose of his journey. After some questioning he said: "I am the slave of the Commander of the Faithful Uthman and have been sent to go and see the Governor of Egypt". The people said to him: "The Governor of Egypt is here with us". The slave replied: "I don't mean him". When Muhammad bin Abi Bakr was informed of the matter he called for the slave and asked him as to who he was. He said: "I am a slave of the Commander of the Faithful". Then contradicting himself he said: "No, no. I am a slave of Marwan". He thus went on saying contradictory things. Then Muhammad asked him: "Where are you going?" He replied: "I am going to Egypt to see the governor". "What for?" asked Muhammad. The slave replied: "I have to convey a message to him".
Upon Muhammad asking the slave whether he was carrying a letter he replied in the negative. Thereupon Muhammad ordered his person to be searched. After a very minute search a letter was found with him which was addressed by Uthman to Abdullah lbn Abi Sarah. Muhammad opened the letter in the presence of the Muhajirs and the Ansar who were accompanying him. It read as follows: "When Muhammad son of Abu Bakr and other such and such persons arrive in Egypt you should kill them on one pretext or another. Consider the letter which Muhammad is bringing to you as cancelled and continue to occupy your office until further orders. Imprison any person who approaches you with a complaint and then await instructions from me".
When the letter was read out all those present were bewildered and complete silence prevailed. No one could imagine that the caliph could make such a wicked plan to take the lives of his subjects including the Muhajirs and the Ansar.
Muhammad bin Abi Bakr closed the envelope again and affixed on it the seals of the Muhajirs and the Ansar. The party then decided to return to Madina and to show the letter to the companions of the prophet. When the letter was read out in Madina before the companions, including Imam Ali all of them were deeply grieved. This conspiracy against the Muslims and Islam which was unpre- cedented made them furious. The wrath of the people who were already annoyed on account of the treatment meted out to Abu Zar, Ammar Yasir, etc. knew no bounds. A deputation headed by Ali which included Sa`d bin Abi Waqas and Ammar Yasir was formed and they went to see Uthman. They also took with them the letter, the slave and the camel on which he was mounted. The following conversation took place between Ali and Uthman:
Ali: Is this your slave?
Ali: Is this camel also yours?
Ali: Is the seal affixed on the letter also Yours?
Ali: Then does it mean that this letter was sent by you?
Uthman: No. I swear by God that I neither wrote this letter myself nor ordered anyone else to write it, nor sent this slave to Egypt.
The companions got the impression that Uthman was telling the truth. On further scrutiny they realized that the letter was in the hand-writing of Marwan. They, therefore, asked Uthman to call Marwan before them so that they might inquire into the matter, and ask him as to why he wrote the letter. Uthman declined to summon Marwan. Although Marwan was then present with him in the capital he did not have the moral courage to appear before those persons, admit his fault, and thus prove the innocence of Uthman. The companions, therefore, returned to their house in consternation. They believed that Uthman could not swear falsely, but some of them said that they would consider him to be innocent only when he handed over Marwan to them so that they might question him and investigate the matter, and find out the real facts about the letter. They also said that if the letter had been written by Uthman they would depose him, but if it had been written at his behest by Marwan they would ponder over the matter and decide as to how Marwan should be dealt with. However, Uthman did not agree to surrender Marwan. The insurgents now began insisting all the more vehemently that Marwan should be handed over to them, so that they might question him and inquire into his activities. Uthman, however, flatly refused to agree to this demand.
Thereafter many developments which are recorded in the books of history took place. Imam Ali tried his level best to bring about reconciliation between the insurgents and Uthman so that bloodshed might be avoided. He saw Uthman again and suggested to him that he should come before the public and deliver a speech which should be heard by all, and in that speech he should confirm the promises made by him with the people so that they might be satisfied. He also said to Uthman: "I swear by God that all the Islamic territories have turned against you. I am afraid the people of Kufa and Basra may also come to
Madina like the Egyptians and you may be obliged to ask me to cool them down".
Uthman came out of his house and delivered a speech before the gathering. He expressed his regret for his past lapses and promised that such things would not happen in future. He also promised that their demands would be met and Marwan and his associates would be cast aside.
Uthman's speech had a salutary effect. While he was speaking tears trickled from his eyes. Others also began to weep and their beards became wet with tears. When he dismounted from the pulpit of the masjid and went home, he saw Marwan, Sa`id bin Aas, and some other members of the Umayyad Family waiting for him. They had not been present when Uthman was speaking but had become aware of what he had said. When Uthman sat down Marwan asked him: "O my chief! Should I say something or keep quiet?" Uthman said: "Say what you want to say". Marwan then said in a reproaching manner: "You have only encouraged these people and done nothing else". Uthman replied somewhat regretfully: "I have said what I have said. I cannot take back my words". Marwan said: "The people are crowded before the gate of your house like a mountain and this is so because you have encouraged them. If one of them complains of oppression the other demands the dismissal of a governor. You have been very cruel to your caliphate. It would have been better for you if you had remained patient and quiet".
Uthman said: "I feel ashamed of going back on my words. You may, however, go and talk to them".
Having got the permission Marwan came at the gate of the house and said to those who were gathered there: "What is all this crowd? It appears that you have come to plunder the house. May your faces be blackened! Have you come to wrest the government from us? By God, if you intend doing harm to us we shall deal with you in a manner that you will never forget. Go to your houses. We cannot tolerate interference with our authority by anyone".
The people went away in despair, abusing and
threatening the rulers. Some one informed Ali about the new development. As Uthman had ignored his suggestion and acted on the advice of Marwan, Ali could very well refrain from going to Uthman again and tendering him any advice. However, pity for the aged caliph, heart-felt desire for reconciliation among the Muslims, and a slight hope that Uthman might follow the path of prudence compelled him to advise Uthman once again. When night fell and Uthman came to see Ali for consultations on the suggest- tion of his wife Na`ela, Ali said to him: "After making a speech from the prophet's pulpit you went home and then Marwan came out and abused the people. Thereafter what is left to be done and what can I do for you?"
Uthman cursed himself much for his lapse. Ali then said to him: "I swear by God that I have endeavoured more than anyone else to keep the people away from you. However, whenever I suggest to you something which I hope will please you Marwan intervenes. And unfortu- nately you accept what he says and ignore what I suggest". Ali was quite correct in saying this because this time also Marwan had spoiled the case.
The insurgents began insisting on their demands once again. They wanted the fulfilment of all the promises made with them. They also demanded that Marwan, who was the root-cause of all the mischief, should be surrendered to them so that they might take revenge on him. However, Uthman's attitude hardened and he sternly refused to hand over Marwan to them. The insurgents also became adamant. The disturbance and rebellion became acute and the insurgents besieged the house of Uthman.
In fact the insurgents did not want to harm Uthman. All they desired was that he should repent for his lapses and abdicate. This is proved by the fact that a man named Nayyar bin Ayaz who was one of the companions of the prophet took his place in the first row of the insurgents and said to Uthman loudly: "You should abdicate and I assure you that you will remain unhurt". While he was saying this Kathir bin Salat Kandi, who was a supporter of Uthman and was in his house at that time shot an arrow
and killed Nayyar bin Ayaz. The insurgents cried: "Hand over the murderer of Ibn Ayaz to us". Uthman replied: "How can I surrender to you a man who is defending me?"
The insurgents attacked the gate of the house which was closed immediately. They then put it on fire and their archers began to shower arrows on the caliph's palace.
Eventually Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr and his two companions entered the house from the side of the house of Muhammad ibn Abi Khurram Ansari. When they reached near him they found his wife Na`ela with him. The two companions of Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr attacked him with a sharp weapon and put him to death.[*] Then they escaped through the way they had entered the house. Na`ela cried: "The people have assassinated the Commander of the Faithful!"
Uthman met his death in this manner. The people who were responsible for his murder were of two kinds. To one group belonged those who became furious for the sake of truth. They asked Uthman to repent of his lapses and when he declined to do so they besieged his house and killed him. Amongst them were included the people of the Hijaz, Egypt and Iraq and all the Islamic cities. To the
[*] Although it is said that Ali tried to save Uthman and sent his two sons Hasan and Husayn to guard the gate of his house but the factual position is that Ali was not present in Madina when Uthman was killed and the assertions made in this behalf are not correct.
Refuting a similar narration Allama Haithmi says: "It is quite clear that this narration is not authentic. Ali was not present in Madina either when Uthman's house was besieged or when he was killed.
(Majma` al-Zawaid, Vol.7, p.63).
Uthman had himself asked Ali to go to his estate at Yanb`a so that people might not suggest his name for the caliphate. Such a request had already been made many times as has been mentioned by Ali in Nahj al-Balaghah: "Uthman treats me like a camel which carries water to and fro. At times he tells me that I should go to Yanb`a. When I go there he calls me back to solve some problems. And when I have relieved him of his difficulties he again asks me to go back to Yanb`a".
second group belonged those who were mad after the war booty. With them there was a leader who was obeyed and these people left Uthman in the lurch. We have already written about the persons belonging to the first group. As regards the second group we shall speak about them in the chapter entitled. "The greatest conspiracy" because these people are closely concerned with the treatment which was meted out to Ali and the fraud and deception to which he was subjected.
# Some false statements
There are some writers in the world who do not care either for the historical facts or for the conditions and environments of life. They mention strange causes for the revolt which the oppressed persons made agaist Uthman and insist that the events of that time were the result of the will and desire of a particular person who had toured all the Islamic territories and instigated the people to rise against Uthman and his government.
The explanations put forth by these writers will no doubt make you laugh, because their only object is that the persons who were actually responsible for the murder of Uthman should not be censured, or else the people would begin to doubt the very faith of these writers. These writers are like those who try to reverse the direction of the water falling from above. They consider their readers to be simpletons and ignorant.
One of these writers is Sa`id al-Afghani, the author of "Ayesha wa al-Siyasah". He has tried his best to make his readers believe that the events which took place in the lslamic territory leading to the murder of Uthman and thereafter were due to the activities of only one man namely Abdullah bin Saba. [*] This claim and accusation
[*] In the book cntitled "Abdullah bin Saba" (in three volumes) written recently by an erudite scholar namely Allama Murtaza al-Askari (which has fortunately been translated into Urdu, English and Persian as well) justice has been done to the subject in a very competent manner and the veil has been removed from the
leads one to the conclusion that the government of Uthman and his minister Marwan was an ideal one and Bani Umayyah and their governors and officers were the
ambiguous face of this mythical person who has been the real hero of the concocted stories written against the Shia during the span of the last thirteen centuries.
In this book Allama al-Askari has, as a true researcher adopted a correct method for showing the real face ofthis mythical personality. He has commenced his study with the well-known documents like Kamil Ibn Athir, Tarikh lbn Khaldun, Tarikh Tabari, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Asakir and Zahabi and has endeavoured to find out the source of this story. After complete research and study he has found that it is now more than a thousand years that the historians have quoted the story of Abdullah bin Saba and his activities from a person named Saif bin Umar. Many of them like Tabari have quoted from directly and other writes of recent, past and present have quoted this story from Tabari and other historians mentioned above.
Thereafter he has directed his research to the identification of Saif bin Umar because all talks about Abdullah bin Saba culminate in him. As a result of this research he has introduced Saif bin Umar to us in the following terms in the light of clear documentary proof.
He was a person who died after 170 A.H. and handed down two books namely "al-Futuh-wal-Raddah" and "al-Jamal-wa-Masiru Ayesha-wa Ali".
The study of the particulars of Saif in books on biographies and of what has been written about him by scholars from 3rd century upto 10th century Higira shows that he was a forger, a writer of mythical stories and a coiner of Hadith who was sometimes referred to as "Saif bin Umar Zindiq" (Atheist or Dualist) as well.
Study of his two books also confirms the fact that he possessed those qualities, because most of his narrations do not tally with any historical documents and have a perfect air of fiction.
All the documentary evidence collected in this behalf goes to show that Saif bin Umar created a number figures and it is also not improbable that he was commissioned to do so. One of these fictitious figures is this very Abdullah bin Saba.
standard-bearers of human brotherhood and social justice in Arabia, but unfortunately one single person named Abdullah bin Saba brought all their capabilities and good deeds to nought. He toured all the districts and provinces and instigated the people to rise against the governors and officers who were very pious as well as great reformers. But for this man (Abdullah bin Saba) the people would have led happy and peaceful lives under the auspices of the bounties of Marwan, the justice of Walid and the for- bearance of Mu`awiya.
Such a claim amounts to distortion of facts, injsutice to the people and an indecent attempt to support certain points of view. It also amounts to misguiding the people in respect of the basic truths on which history is based, because the object of such a futile attempt is that the responsibility for the events of a period, rather many
In this manner we find with the deepest regret that this man (Abdullah bin Saba) who has, for more than one thousand years, served as a pretext for propaganda against the Shia and has been introduced as a Jew and the founder of Shi'ite Islam has had in fact no real existence and was the creation of the brain of a forger and a visionary person named Saif bin Umar!
We invite the enlightened conscience of the Muslim sages for arbitration and ask: Is it proper that a religion whose root has been watered by the purest sources of inspiration viz. the Family of the holy Prophet should be subjected to such calumnies and unholy remarks may be passed against it on the authority of fictitious stories without any research or study? Is this the justice to which the holy Qur'an invites us to adhere? And is this the meaning of the commandment which we have been given regarding acceptance of statements? "O faithful! whenever a sinner or a libertine brings you a news, verify it, lest you may subject a community to adversity on account of ignorance and repent thereafter." (Sura al-Hujurat:6)
Further details on the subject may be a reference made to Allama Murtaza Askari's masterpiece research work "Abdullah bin Saba".
periods, should be placed on the shoulders of one man who roamed about from area to area and the people of all those areas rose against the government owing to his vicious propaganda and not on account of anything else.
As regards the policies of the government, the deplor- able condition of the economic and social system, the refractoriness of those associated with the government, misappropriation of public funds and adoption of dictato- rial methods by Bani Umayyah and maltreatment of respectable personalities like Abu Zar and Ammar Yasir, the author does not attach any importance to them and does not think that these things were the cause of general revolt of the people. According to him all the uproar against Uthman was due to the activities of Abdullah bin Saba who restrained the Muslims from obeying the religious leaders of Islam and created disturbances and dissensions. What a dangerous mentality it is that important events which were continuos and correlated with one another and had a great bearing on the society and the economic and social system of that time should be explained away by saying that the root-cause of all these things was the conspiracies of one man who according to Sa`id Afghani, roamed about from town to town and sowed the seeds of dissension and mischief in a pure society. And by pure society he evidently means the society which was headed by Marwan bin Hakam.
It deserves notice that Sa`id Afghani attaches such a great importance to Abdullah bin Saba or Ibn al-Sawda in his above mentioned book and he elevates Mu`awiya un- consciously and degrades Abu Zar, though Mu`awiya was Mu`awiya and Abu Zar was Abu Zar. Afgani writes: "Abdullah bin Saba toured the Islamic territories and visited every place. He commenced his nefarious activities in Hijaz and then went to Syria. At that time Syria was ruled by an experienced and far-sighted person namely Mu`awiya ibn Abi Sufyan, who sensed the danger imme- diately and expelled him from there. However, his mischief did cast some effect on him. Ibn Saba assessed the situation and sowed the seeds of mischief. He instigated a distin-
guished companion of the prophet to rise against Mu`awiya.
Abu Zar was a man whose words were believed by the Syrians. Mu`awiya, who was a forbearing person as well as a diplomat, was very much upset. He, therefore, requested Uthman to remove that man from Syria, that distinguished companion was Abu Zar whose story is well known (Ayesha wa al-Siyasah).
What this author purports to say may be summarised thus: During the caliphate of Uthman the people in various provinces were leading very happy and prosperous lives. The province of Syria, in particular, was then governed by a very farsighted and experienced person namely Mu`awiya. As regards the great reformer Abu Zar he was a nonentity and would have remained so if Abdullah bin Saba had not contacted and awakened him. And when he awakened him he did so to make him create mischief, because, according to the author he (i.e. Abdullah bin Saba) was the source of all troublesand his object in touring the Islamic terri- tories was to create mischief. The result was that Abu Zar did what Abdullah bin Saba desired i.e.he created mischief, misguided the people and made them rebel against the leaders.
According to the said author the activities of Abu Zar were dangerous for the Arabs, Islam and history, because he incited the poor to rise against the rich. For this very reason Mu`awiya got fed up with him and he showed kindness to the newly-converted Muslims as well as to history by expelling Abu Zar from Syria.
As is evident the logic of Sa`id Afghani reminds one of the logic of those rulers who declare all truth-loving persons to be rebels and mischief-monagers. Is it not something odd that whereas the old historians should be aware of the reasons of the disturbance, the modern historians should not be able to know it although the sources of information of the latter are much larger. The author of "Ayesha wa al-Siyasah" attributes the revolutionary movement against Uthman to the activities of Abdullah bin Saba, whereas Tabari and the historians of the earlier and the later period explained the events
correctly and give their causes which are quite convincing.
While enumerating the causes of the movement Tabari says: "Those persons who did not enjoy precedence in the embracing Islam, nor had any position in Islam, could not be equal to those who embraced Islam at its early stage and enjoyed great dignity and importance. These very early Muslims found fault with the bestowal of large gifts and considered it to be injustice, as their own share used to be very small. When new converts to Islam or the bedouin Arabs or freed slaves met them they were very much impressed by what they said. The result was that the number of the opponents of Uthman went on increasing. So much so that those who opposed Uthman became larger in number than those who were pleased with him. The result was that the disturbances prevailed.
It is surprising that other contemporary writers have also committed the same mistake. Among others was Ahmad Amin, the author of "Fajr al-Islam". He thinks that Abu Zar Ghifari was a simpleton who was enticed by Abdullah bin Saba into believing in Mazdakite (communist) ideas so that he might prove useful for spoiling the atmosphere of various cities.
And even more surprising is the fact that in order to prove that Abu Zar was influenced by Mazdakite ideas he has mentioned his (Abu Zar's) remark which is quoted by Tabari. Abu Zar is reported to have said, addressing the people of Damascus: "O wealthy people! Sympathise with the poor. Those who hoard gold and silver announce to them a painful chastisement" (Fajr al-Islam p. 110).
Ahmad Amin may very well be asked whether sympa- thetic treatment with the poor by the rich is only a Mazda- kite theory and not a pure Islamic injuction and whether Abu Zar's remark "O wealthy people! Behave sympatheti- cally with the poor" is not closely related with the Quranic verse: "Those who hold up gold and silver and do not spend in God's way, announce to them a painful chastisement".
At another place in Fajr al-Islam Ahmad Amin treating Abdullah bin Saba to be the root cause of mischief says: "This man prompted Abu Zar Ghifari to propagate
communism, and he was the ring-leader of the insurgents who came from different places to attack Uthman. It was he who endeavoured to corrupt the faith of the Muslims. He toured Hijaz, Basra, Kufa, Syria and Egypt extensively. Hence it is possible that he might have acquired the Mazdakite ideas from the Mazdakites of Iraq or Yemen and Abu Zar too might have liked these ideas and adopted them".
It is very unfortunate that the author of Fajr al-Islam does not ponder as to what new thing appeared in the Islamic beliefs of Abu Zar. Does Islam itself not announce that the poor enjoy certain rights over the rich and all Muslims are equal and does the Qur'an not say that the foreheads, flanks and backs of those who hoard gold and silver will be branded in the Hell with the same gold and silver? Then what are those Mazdakite ideas in which Abu Zar began to believe? The fact is that Abu Zar was fighting against those persons with whom Islam itself fought and promised them the fire of Hell.
The question also arises as to whether Abu Zar, who was a distinguished companion of the prophet, foremost among the Shi`ah of Ali, and the fifth person to embrace Islam, did not know himself that all the Muslims were entitled to share the wealth of the nation and not that a few one should hoard it. And could he not realize that during the caliphate of Uthman the public property had been appropriated by a few persons and the people were being subjected to tyranny and oppression and as these things are opposed to the teachings of Islam it was the duty of the Muslims to rise against them?
And then the question is: Was Abu Zar such a simpleton that he had to depend on Abdullah bin Saba to tell him that Uthman was practising nepotism and going the ways of Kaiser and Kisra? Did Abu Zar and the people come to know only on Abdullah bin Saba telling them that the rulers had gone astray and the people had been deprived of their rights and consequently Abu Zar and others expressed resentment?
These writers have understood Abdullah bin Saba
and Mazdak's creed but they have not understood Abu Zar and Islam! They have found the rebellious movement of Abdullah bin Saba and his instigating the people to rise against the caliph to be dreadful. But they have not found to be dreadful those acts of Uthman which annoyed the Muslims - acts which annoy all nations during all ages viz. nepotism, favouritism and adopting a discriminating policy.
Researchers differ about the causes which led to the murder of Uthman. The most prominent event about which there is difference of opinion between them is the letter written from Madina to Ibn Abi Sarah, the Governor of Egypt, who was directed to kill the governor-designate- Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr on his arrival in Egypt. This event has been mentioned in detail earlier.
As regards those who do not consider it to be a true incident it appears necessary to mention the views of one of them namely Dr. Taha Husayn, because he enjoys great respect as a research scholar of the history of Islam and the Arab world. He says thus in the first volume (entitled Uthman) of his book Al-Fitnatu'l Kubra:
"Here the story of the letter is related. The tradi- tionists say that when the Egyptians were returning after having been satisfied with the promises of Uthman they were able to lay their hands on the way on a slave who was carrying a letter to Ibn Abi Sarah. I think this story is fabricated. The greatest proof of this is that the compa- nions of the prophet contended with the Egyptians on this point and asked them: "When you and the people of Kufa as well as those of Basra were going your respective ways how did the people of Kufa and Basra come to know that you had found such a letter?" To this the Egyptians could not give any reply and they said: "Whatever you may be thinking we do not need this man (Uthman). We shall certainly remove him from his office and appoint a new caliph in his place".
"It cannot be believed that Uthman could deceive the Muslims by removing the Governor of Egypt and replacing him by another and then writing a secret letter to the governor to kill them on their arrival".
"It cannot also be believed that Marwan could dare write a letter purporting to be from Uthman and affix his seal on it and then send it through his slave mounted on his camel".
"The matter is, however, quite simple. Uthman might have promised to accept the demands of the insurgents of Kufa, Basra and Egypt and they believed in him. Later they came to know that he had not fulfilled his promises. They, therefore, became furious and returned with great anger to finish the matter and not to return to their homes until they had removed Uthman from his office or killed him and made some other arrangement for the caliphate. When they reached Madina they found that the companions of the prophet were ready to fight with them. They, however, refrained from fighting with the companions and returned from Madina deceitfully. When they became sure that the companions had laid their arms aside and were resting in their houses they (the insurgents) returned and assumed the control of Madina without any bloodshed". (Al-Fitna tu'l-Kubra, Vol.1, `Uthman').
It is time that the historical events about which the writers differ deserve to be doubted, especially those events which serve sectarian interests or support any particular creed. This doubt cannot be removed unless history itself provides a conclusive proof or it is analysed and interpreted in a way which by itself serves as a sufficient proof. The incident of the letter in question is no doubt such that it should make Dr. Taha Husayn doubt its authenticity and the reasons for his treating it as doubtful may also be accepted, provided that certain facts which stand in the way of accepting those reasons as sufficient do not exist.
Dr. Taha Husayn says that when the companions of the prophet asked the people of Kufa and Basra as to how they came to know that the Egyptians had acquired such a letter when each party was going its own way they could not give a reply. This is not, however, something which may make one deny the incident of the letter outright.
According to the narrations as well as the sequence of events it is an established fact that Uthman had appointed
Muhammad bin Abi Bakr as the Governor of Egypt and had also sent a party of the Muhajirs and the Ansar with him. Muhammad and his companions had complete reliance on the letter which Uthman had given them and they, therefore, left Madina for Egypt. However, before reaching their destination they returned to Madina. Now the question arises as to why those people returned very much annoyed? And why did they await an opportunity to enter the city without bloodshed? Neither history nor those who deny the existence of any such letter mention any cause for the return of Muhammad and his companions to Madina. Only one cause is mentioned and that is the letter in question.
Furthermore, the Muhajirs and the Ansar who were sent with Muhammad to Egypt to investigate the activities of Ibn Abi Sarah and to make the atmosphere favourable for the governorship of Muhammad were all obedient to Uthman and some of them, if not all, enjoyed the position of Uthman's supporters and associates. How can one imagine that these persons who were the well-wishers of Uthman, could forge a letter signed by him? And if it is said that the letter was not forged by the Muhajirs and the Ansar but it was signed by someone else, then the question arises as to how these people accepted it as having been written by Uthman. And if it is said that no such letter was found then it must also be admitted that Muhammad bin Abi Bakr and his companions did not return to Madina on account of any letter and the story of the letter was fabricated by the enemies of Uthman after his murder. In that case the question arises as to why Dr. Taha Husayn and other historians and narrators admit the existence of such a letter and say that the companions of the prophet contended with the insurgents on account of the letter and enquired as to how the people of Kufa and Basra came to know about the Egyptians having located the letter when each of the three parties was going its own way?
In the circumstances the existence of the letter cannot be denied. The question, therefore, remains as to who wrote that letter and engineered a plot to kill Muhammad
bin Abi Bakr, the Muhajirs and the Ansar accompanying him, and the opponents of Ibn Abi Sarah?
As mentioned above Dr. Taha Husayn does not believe that Uthman could write such a letter and deceive the Muslims. This view of Dr. Taha Husayn is correct. Uthman could not practise such a deception. Itis,however, a fact that Uthman was of a very mild nature. This very mildness occasionally made him surrender to the wishes of Bani Umayyah and deceit and cunningness of Bani Umayyah is too well known. We learn from the life history of Uthman that at a certain time he issued some orders, later withdrew them, expressed regret for having issued them, and began weeping.
The treatment meted out by Uthman to Abu Zar is a clear example of the way in which Bani Umayyah prevailed upon him to do things opposed to justice and good conscience and then he had to express regret. He subjected Abu Zar to extreme humiliation and torture and then did his best to reconcile him. Soon afterwards, however, he got annoyed with Abu Zar again and banished him as a result of which he and the members of his family died of starvation.
Another such instance was the insult to which Uthman subjected the distinguished companion of the prophet namely Abdullah ibn Mas`ud. In compliance with his orders a man picked up Abdullah and threw him on the ground as a result of which his bones got broken. He also stopped his stipend. Soon afterwards, however, he felt ashamed and apologized to Abdullah.
Uthman's biography also shows that he asked Ali to leave Madina and then sent messengers asking him to return. This happened many times. So much so that Ali had to say: "Uthman wants to make me a camel which carries water so that I may continue to come and go. He asked me to leave Madina and then called me back. Now he again wants me to go away from here".
Uthman gives general licence to Abdullah Ibn Abi Sarah to deal with the people of Egypt as he liked. Ibn Abi Sarah subjects the Egyptians to severe oppression. The
Egyptians come to Madina and complain to Uthman. Uthman addresses them. He praises them, expresses regret, and repents for the past deeds. So much so that he begins to weep and promises that he would replace Ibn Abi Sarah by a governor of their choice. Then he returns to his palace where he meets Marwan. Marwan makes him go back on his word and he does not keep any promise made to the Egyptians!
For Uthman the matter of Abu Zar and Ibn Mas`ud was not easier than that of Muhammad bin Abi Bakr or the Egyptians. The admonitions made by both of them to his kinsmen were more painful to him than the Egyptian's attack once on the capital of Madina and once on the Governor of Egypt. When he could misbehave with Abu Zar and Ibn Mas`ud to comply with the wishes of his own kinsmen, Muhammad and Fgyptians were evidently of no consequence in his eyes. Furthermore, it is an established fact that Muhammad bin Abi Bakr was an opponent of Uthman's politics whereas Ibn Abi Sarah was one of his confidants and liked very much his policies and methods of Government. In the light of these facts it is possible that Uthman might have regretted the appointment of Muhammad bin Abi Bakr instead of Ibn Abi Sarah as well as the promises made by him with the Egyptians and might have decided to go back upon his word under the pressure of Marwan and other Umayyads.
By mentioning the incident of the letter we do not mean to support those who claim that the letter was written by Uthman himself. What we mean to say is that Uthman had such a mild nature that Marwan and the descendants of Hakam who were all in all in Uthman's administration could prevail upon him and dupe him very easily to achieve their own ends. Hence if it cannot be accepted that Uthman could deceive the Muslims it can very well be accepted that Marwan could exert pressure on Uthman to get things done according to his desire.
Now we turn to Dr. Taha Husayn once again. He thinks that for two reasons which we have mentioned earlier the story of the letter is fabricated and baseless.
Then he advances another reason in support of his claim which, in our opinion, is very weak. He says. "It is not something rational and acceptable that Marwan might dare to write a letter as if it was written by Uthman, affix his seal thereon, and send it through his (Uthman's) slave".
We say in reply that it is not surprising that Marwan should have taken such a step. What suprises us is that Dr. Taha Husayn considers Marwan's action to be beyond reason. He holds this view notwithstanding the fact that it was the same Marwan who considered himself to be the master and the people to be his servants and slaves, whom he could allow to live or put to death at his own free will.
Now we should like to comment on Dr. Taha's view that these narrations do not stand to reason. There are narrations which tell that the letter was written by Marwan and the entire plot was the outcome of his policies and methods of administration, because he was the de facto ruler of the Islamic territories.
In this connection it is necessary to keep some points in view.
Firstly all the narrations unitedly say that a depu- tation headed by Ali waited on Uthman. It included Ammar, Talha, Zubayr and Sa`d bin Abi Waqas. Ali held the letter in question in his hand. He also took with him the slave and the camel. He had a talk with Uthman about the letter and then the companions came to know that the letter had been written by Marwan. They then asked Uthman to call Marwan before them so that they might question him. Uthman did not agree to this and the com- panions went away very much annoyed. We have already quoted this narration at length in the foregoing pages.
Secondly Marwan's opinion about Uthman's caliphate must also be kept in view. In this connection the question arises whether, in his eyes Uthman was a caliph like Abu Bakr and Umar or an Umayyad through whom Bani Umayyah were to regain the power and authroty which had been destroyed by Islam.
Marwan was a perfect model of Umayyad opportu- nism. According to him the Caliphate had nothing to do
with the fact that Uthman was a Qurayshite, a Muhajir, a companion of the prophet and a believer in his prophethood. Rather he only considered Uthman to be a member of the Umayyad Family.
According to Marwan the caliphate was not something which meant a just government based on the principles of public welfare and which was expected to follow the Sunnah of the prophet and the conduct of the previous caliphs. It was a kingship which slipped away from the hands of Abu Bakr and Umar because they did not nominate their children as their successors. It was, however, incum- bent upon Uthman, who was an Umayyad, not to repeat this mistake so that the people might imagine that the caliphate belonged to Bani Umayyah only. It was therefore necessary for Uthman that he should behave towards the people in the same manner in which a careful monarch behaves towards his subjects. If Uthman was not able to rule in this way there was Marwan to guide him. The sentences uttered by Marwan while addressing the insurgents which have been reproduced earlier, depict a true picture of his mentality. He had said: "Why have you people gathered here? Do you want to snatch our kingdom?"
During those days the caliphate was in fact the king- dom of Marwan. The subjects were not entitled to raise their voice and claim their sustenance and freedom from the king. Marwan was a king belonging to the Umayyad Family and people were his slaves.
How could a person, who viewed the caliph and the caliphate in the manner explained above and issued orders according to that conception, be expected to tolerate that the people should put up their demands before the govern- ment of his relative Uthman (which was as good as Marwan's own government) and the king should surrender before their wishes and dismiss the governor who was an impor- tant member of the Umayyad regime and appoint in his place Muhammad bin Abi Bakr who was an opponent of Uthman's government and a staunch supporter of Imam Ali?
We cannot also ignore the fact that it was the
insurgents and the companions of the prophet who were annoyed with Uthman and had recommended the name of Muhammad for appointment as governor and Marwan had not been consulted in the matter. Of course, Marwan could not tolerate that his authority should be violated in this manner.
When Marwan's views about the caliphate are known it becomes evident that he could not ignore the superiority which had returned once again to the Umayyad Family. And when it is realized that instead of considering Uthman to be the caliph of the Muslims Marwan treated him to be member of the Umayyad Family and a representative of Umayyad Government it should not be difficult to under- stand that he could be presumptuous vis-a-vis Uthman. However, if he was presumptuous he was so from our view-point. So far as Marwan himself was concerned he was only acting for protection of his rights.
Dr. Taha Husayn's saying that Marwan could not dare write a letter in the name of Uthman and affix his seal on it, does not stand to reason. History tells us of many ins- tances in which he showed presumption and boldness. For example, he suggested to Uthman to kill those companions of the prophet who criticized his government (viz. Ali, Ammar, Abu Zar etc).
He suggested to Uthman that he should not give a chance to lbn Mas`ud to turn Syria against him as he had already made the people of Kufa his opponents. Uthman readily accepted his suggestion.
He tried to obstruct Ali, his sons, and Aqil and Abbas from saying good bye to Abu Zar, and did not desist from doing so until Ali struck his animal of riding and was about to strike him also.
He was presumptuous on very delicate occasions. He abused and turned out of the capital members of various deputations which had come from other places. Uthman heard and saw what he did but said nothing. He openly suggested to Uthman to kill Ammar.
In many other matters also Marwan was much more presumptuous. He spoke impudently to Na`ela, Uthman's
wife, in the presence of her husband, but Uthman kept silent. This incident was as follows:
Na`ela was a wise woman. She disliked Marwan's policies very much and repeatedly suggested to her husband to act on the advice of Ali. When Uthman delivered a speech before the representatives of Egypt, Basra and Kufa he promised them to accede to their demands and then returned to his house, Marwan said to him: "O Commander of the Faithful: "Should I speak or keep quiet?" Thereupon Uthman's wife said: "You better keep quiet. I swear by God that you people will kill Uthman and make his children orphans. It is not proper that Uthman should go back on and violate the promises made by him". Marwan said to her: "What have you to do with these matters. By God, your father who is now dead did not know how to perform ablution correctly".
Evidently when Marwan could speak in such an impudent manner to the caliph's wife in his presence one should not be suprised on his having written a letter with the name of the caliph without his knowledge.
During the period of Uthman's caliphate also people knew how Marwan misbehaved towards him and how presumtuous he was in dealing with the caliph. The people did not conceal his presumptuousness but reprimanded him and also warned Uthman against him. Even then Uthman did not disregard the suggestions made by Marwan. Representing the views of the public Imam Ali had said to Uthman: "You will be pleased with Marwan and he will be satisfied with you only when he deprives you of your faith and reason and drives you to any place he likes like a tame and weak camel".
Marwan's presumptuousness also encouraged others to misbehave towards Uthman. We have already narrated in the foregoing pages the story of Jabalah ibn Umrah Sa`edi. It was the presumptuousness of Marwan which encouraged Jabalah to tell Uthman: "I swear by God that I shall put this chain round your neck unless you turn away your wicked kinsmen from around you".
Dr. Taha Husayn may well be asked whether this presumptuousness of Jabalah is more against reason or that of Marwan who wrote a letter as if it was written by Uthman when he was a favourite son-in-law of Uthman and enjoyed great influence on him!
# A great conspiracy
Persons Responsible for the Assassination of Uthman
We have explained fully in the foregoing pages that people developed hatred in their hearts against the policies of Uthman in Madina as well as in other Islamic territories. Originally the people became dissatisfied at heart, but later began complaining and thereafter the complaints assumed the shape of disobedience which ended in the siege of the house of Uthman and his murder. We have also mentioned that those who criticized Uthman's policies and gave him good and useful advice were not ordinary persons but distinguished companions of the prophet. However, instead of Uthman abandoning his wrong policies and nepotism he and his kinsmen subjected the companions to harassment and torture and severe punishment. If these companions criticized the methods and policies of Uthman it was not due to their desire for any personal gain but on account of their love for justice and faith. They were the pick of the bunch. They knew fully well their responsibilities, which resembled those of the prophets.
If Ali criticized Uthman's policy of granting big estates to his relatives without any justification it was not because he himself wanted any estate. And if he objected to his financial policies it was not because he was himself inclined to gain wealth. Everyone knows that he never cared for wealth. If he found fault with the nepotism of Uthman and his Umayyad mentality it was not because he wanted the welfare and superiority of his own family. It is impossible even to imagine that Ali could be prompted by such motives. Ali was a pillar of Islam, the cousin and
son-in-law of the prophet and the father of his dear grand- sons. It was he who uttered this sentence: "The worth and value of every person is judged by his actions. One whose actions are better will enjoy more worth and dignity". This sentence of his demolished the edifice of family and tribal dignity which one inherits.
The opposition to and hatred against Uthman's policies by Ammar and Abu Zar was based on the same reasons on which Ali's opposition was based. Hence, their opposiuon did not mean that it should have culminated in Uthman's death. What they desired was that he should abandon Umayyad mentality and nepotism and equity and justice should prevail. None of them wished him to be killed.
The Islamic State during the days of Uthman had covered vast areas and it was natural that in such a big State opposition of another kind should also take place. This opposition was from those persons who coveted power and authority and more gains, and wanted to expand the area of their influence. They opposed Uthman with the hope that if he was removed from office and was succeeded by another person more favourable to them, their dignity and influence would increase. Opposition of this type takes place in every region and in every age. The associates of every ruler change their attitude from time to time to achieve their personal ends.
The opponents of this kind during the time of Uthman were not all alike. His favourites who were accu- mulating wealth as a consequence of the gifts bestowed by him were opposed to him, and so also were those who were deprived of such bounties. And similar was the case with his relatives, officers and supporters, whom he had permitted not only to control the people but himself as well. These people were his real murderers.
We have already explained in the foregoing pages how Uthman provided the means of his own death and how Marwan and his favourites turned the Islamic world against him by their nefarious activities.
The reality was understood very clearly by those persons who had close connections with Uthman. One of
them was Muhammad bin Muslimah. When he was about to die someone said: "Uthman has been killed". Thereupon he (Muslimah) said: "Uthman himself has been responsible for his death". Uthman's wife Na`ela said to Marwan and other favourites of her husband: "I swear by God that you will kill Uthman and make his children orphans". And addressing Uthman she said: "If you act on Marwan's advice he will kill you".
As regards the Umayyad governors, officers, and his supporters, whom Uthman had allowed to subjugate the people, and some of whom availed of his bounties and others, who were dissatisfied with him, we shall discuss them one by one soon, because a large number of these people hatched a great conspiracy against Ali- a conspiracy which was unprecedented in the East.
The conspiracy was engineered by those very persons who instigated the people against Uthman and thus bes- meared their own hands with his blood. The conspiracy was that they accused Ali of the murder of Uthman. They took away the blood-stained shirt of Uthman and said that they wanted to avenge Uthman's murder.
Mu`awiya who ostensibly wanted to avenge the murder of Uthman was in reality keen to strengthen his own rule as well as that of his descendants. His efforts were directed towards strengthening his rule in Syria in the first instance. Then he wanted to expand his kingdom by grabbing other countries and eventually to hecome the despotic ruler of all the Islamic territories. He did not pay any heed to Uthman either during his lifetime or after his death. All that he wanted was that Uthman might make him powerful day after day so that he might eventually achieve his final goal. Thus he desired that Uthman should allow him maximum freedom of action and should become a shield for him, so that he might achieve his objectives.
Even when Uthman was killed Mu`awiya did not care for his death. He only wanted to avail of the opportunity to claim to be the caliph's heir, and to get rid of the new caliph. What did he do with the murderers of Uthman when he himself became the sole ruler of the Islamic
territories? Had he really been grieved on account of the murder of Uthman he could then locate and kill everyone of his murderers. However, he completely forgot Uthman's murder and revenging him, although it was on this very pretext that he had revolted against the new caliph and thus became the cause of bloodshed of hundreds of thou- sands of the Muslims.
Furthermore, he could send a large army from Syria to defend Uthman when his house had been besieged by the insurgents. He was the permanent Governor of Syria and Uthman had allowed him maximum freedom. He could do what he liked and there was none who could call him to account. Thus he could send a large Syrian army to Madina before as well as after the house of Uthman was besieged. In fact he could also advise Uthman not to be adamant to public opinion. However, he did not do any of these things, because he was keen to grab the caliphate after Uthman and could not think of anything else.
From the very day on which Uthman called a con- ference of his confidants, which was also attended by Mu`awiya, and which ended without taking any decision, Mu`awiya decided finally to seize the caliphate, because he became sure that Uthman would be killed. As Syria was in his hands and the inhabitants of that region were obedient to him, he realized that if Uthman was killed he would acquire the best weapon (viz. vengeance of the murder of Uthman) to achieve his purpose. He also knew that amongst the governors of Uthman none was as powerful and as competent to mobilize an army by threatening the elders and chiefs of the tribes as he himself was. Hence, on that very day he decided to become the caliph one day and became active towards achieving his goal. He himself said once: "None is as powerful and as competent to rule as I am. Umar appointed me as governor and was also satisfied with my conduct".
Mu`awiya was sure of Uthman's murder and he also possessed sufficient power in Syria to seize the caliphate.
Allama Ya`qubi writes that when the insurgents tightened the siege of Uthman's house he wrote a letter
to Mu`awiya asking him to come to his help. Mu`awiya left Damascus with a large army, but when he reached the Syrian border he left the army there, saying that he would in the first instance meet the Commander of the Faithful himself to assess the situation. He then reached Madina and met Uthman. The latter asked him as to where his army was. He said in reply: "I have left the army behind because, in the first instance, I wanted to hold consultations with you. I shall now return and shall meet you again along with the army". Upon this Uthman said: "O Mu`awiya! That is not true. The fact is that you want me to be murdered so that you may be in a position to claim that you are entitled to avenge my blood. Go at once and bring the people to help me".
When quite some time had passed since the murder of Uthman, Mu`awiya came to Madina and visited Uthman's house. Uthman's daughter Ayesha then remembered her father and began crying. Mu`awiya consoled her and began crying. He said: "Dear niece! The people have become obedient to me and I have given them peace. I have displayed forbearance under which anger was hidden and they showed obedience which had enmity and rancour under it. Every man has a sword in his hand and he also knows who his supporters are. If we deceive them they too will deceive us and it cannot be said as to who will win. You should be satisfied that at present you are called the daughter of the Commander of the Faithful Uthman and niece of the Commander of the Faithful Mu`awiya. If I rise to take revenge on your behalf and consequently I am deprived of government you will become an ordinary woman.
Hence, when Mu`awiya himself became the Comman- der of the Faithful and consequently Uthman's daughter became the niece of the Commander of the Faithful he ceased to think or talk about Uthman, although, so long as the caliphate remained with Ali, Uthman's murder was the most burning topic with him. Now the government was with Mu`awiya and he had acquired an opportunity to fulfil his father Abu Sufyan's wish which he had expressed when Uthman had assumed the caliphate. Abu Sufyan had
said: "O children of Umayyah! Play with this government as children play with a ball. I swear that I have always been desirous of this government for you. Now it will go down to your children as inheritance".
Evidently, after Mu`awiya the caliphate was to go to Yazid and then to other children of Bani Umayyah.
In the letters written by Ali to Mu`awiya he has mentioned clearly that when Uthman sought help from Mu`awiya he did not accede to his request. He neither came himself nor sent any army to defend Uthman. In a letter to Mu`awiya he says:
"Then you have mentioned the matter about me and Uthman. You are entitled to get a reply in this behalf, because you are related to him. Well, then tell me (correctly) as to who out of us two was more inimical towards him and who provided means for his death? He who offered help which was refused by Uthman, or he from whom he sought help and who failed to help him and provided means of his death till death overtook him in the manner in which it was destined for him".
In another letter Ali writes: "You helped Uthman when helping him served your own interests and refrained from helping him when Uthman was likely to benefit". (What is meant by Ali's above remarks is that Mu'awiya stood in support of Uthman after his death, because he could collect people in his own interest by raising the slogan of vengeance of Uthman's murder but when Uthman was alive and his help could be beneficial to him he with- held it. Uthman remained besieged and Mu`awiya did not allow his army to proceed to Madina to defend him).
Whatever has been said above about Bani Umayyah and their prominent persons like Mu`awiya and Marwan in connection with Uthman's murder can also be said about other persons mentioned above. In fact the same things can be said about the enemies of Ali and those who conspired against him. Those persons were responsible for Uthman's murder and not Ali. It is possible that there might be some persons who did not smear their hands with Uthman's blood but it is an undeniable fact that they were
pleased when he met his death. Amr Aas, who had a great hand in hatching conspiracies against Ali and slandering him, had instigated everyone he met to rise against Uthman and had encouraged the people to kill him, because he had dismissed him from the governorship of Egypt. He himself used to say: "Not to talk of the dignitaries and the chiefs I instigated even the herdsmen to rise against Uthman".
When the disturbances broke out in Madina he went away to Palestine where he had built a palace. One day while he was sitting in his palace with his two sons named Muhammad and Abdullah a rider was seen coming from the side of Madina. People made enquiries from him about Uthman and he told them that he had been assassinated. Thereupon Amr Aas said: "I am Abdullah. When I scratch a wound I ensure that blood comes out of it"! (He meant to say that he instigated the people to rise against Uthman as a result of which he (Uthman) lost his life).
Talha bin Ubaidullah, who first took oath of allegiance to Ali, and then fought against him on the pretext of avenging Uthman's murder was another such person. He took an active part in inciting the people to rise against Uthman. It has been narrated that Uthman sought assistance from Ali against Talha a number of times and Ali always acceded to his request. On one such occasion Ali went to Talha and saw that a large number of insurgents were gathered round him. He felt that Talha had a great hand in Uthman being besieged and he (Talha) was thinking of doing away with him.
Ali reprimanded him and said: "O Talha! What treatment have you meted out to Uthman?"He also endea- voured to restrain Talha from his activities but he declined to act on Ali's advice. Ali then went to the Public Treasury and desired that it might be opened. Keys were not, however, available. The door of the treasury was then broken under his instructions and he divided the entire money found in it, amongst those whom Talha had collected to kill Uthman. When Uthman came to know about it he was very happy and realized (although at a very late stage) that none else was as sympathetic and sincere, and capable
of solving the problems of the Muslims, as Ali.
Then Talha came to Uthman and apalogized to him and said: "I repent before God. I had decided to perform an act but God intervened". Uthman said: "You have not come as a repentant, but like one who has become helpless. May God punish you!" (Tarikh al-Kamil, v.3, p.7. Tarikh Tabari, v.6, p. 154. Tarikh Ibn Khaldun, v.2, p.297).
Tabari narrates that as soon as the insurgents besieged the house of Uthman Talha began getting ready to become the caliph. He was certain that after Uthman the people would choose him as the next caliph. The first action taken by him was that he assumed control over the Public Treasury, obtained its keys, and appointed his watchmen to guard it.
When the siege of his house became serious Uthman said, "God! Help me against Talha. He has incited the people to revolt against me. I swear by God that I hope, he will not attain to the caliphate and will lose his life also". This sentence uttered by Uthman shows that Talha wanted to finish him and to become the caliph himself. Uthman had given freedom to Talha to utilize the property of the Public Treasury in any manner he liked, but he was a man who could not be satisfied with anything lesser than the caliphate. Uthman used to utter this sentence time and again during the last days of the siege of his house: "Woe betide Talha! I gave him so much gold and now he is thirsty for my blood".
Those who have recorded the events related to the siege of Uthman's house have said that on the day on which Uthman was killed Talha had veiled his face and was shooting arrows secretly towards Uthman. It has also been related that when the besiegers could not find a way to enter the house, Talha arranged their entry from an adjoining house belonging to an Ansar and then they killed Uthman.
Tabari has narrated through Hakim bin Jabir that when Uthman's house had been besieged Ali said to Talha: "I ask you for God's sake to save Uthman from the people". Talha replied: "By God this is not possible until and unless
Bani Umayyah liquidate the entire debt". (Tarikh Tabari, Vol.5, p.139).
After Uthman's assassination Ali used to say: "May God curse Ibn Sa`abah (Talha)! Uthman gave him so much and he (in return) behaved towards him like this".
A remark of Ali about Talha shows that he was the person who incited the people most to revolt against Uthman and he was more keen than anyone else to see Uthman killed. He says: "By God Talha hurriedly put forth a demand for avenging the murder of Uthman lest revenge might be taken on him, because he, too, was involved in the matter. None was more thirsty for Uthman's blood than he. By ostensibly claiming revenge he tried to mislead the people so that the reality might remain hidden and the people might be involved in doubt".
As regards zubayr bin Awan it has been narrated that he did not do anything to turn away the insurgents from Uthman, rather it is said that his sympathies were with the insurgents. The policy adopted by him with regard to Uthman shows that he too desired that he might be finished as early as possible and he was very hopeful of becoming the next caliph. He told Ali openly that he wanted the caliphate for himself. When Ali asked him a few moments before the commencement of the Battle of the Camel as to how he had come there he replied: "You have been the cause of my arrival here. I do not consider you fit to be a caliph nor do I consider anyone else to be more deserving for this office than myself".
Every student of history knows how vehemently Ayesha instigated revolt against Uthman. She often criti- cized him very severely and incited the people to kill him. She was annoyed with him from the very day he reduced her stipend and was always seeking an opportunity to harm him. One day she heard him delivering a speech from the pulpit of the prophet. She immediately took out a shirt of the prophet and showing it to the people said with a loud voice: "O Muslims! The shirt of the prophet has not yet worn out and Uthman has corrupted his Sunnah".
Ibn Abi'l Hadid says on the authority of his contem-
porary scholars that Ayesha instigated every person she met to rise against Uthman. He further says: "Ayesha took out a piece of the prophet's dress and suspended it on a wall in her house. Whoever came to see her she said to him: "The dress of the prophet has not yet worn out but Uthman has polluted and ruined his Sunnah".
Balazari says: "Once Ibn Abbas chanced to meet Ayesha. That year Uthman had appointed him as the Amir of Hajj. Ayesha said to him openly: "O Ibn Abbas! God has given you intellect, wisdom and power of speech. Make the people turn away from this rebel (Uthman)".
Balazari has quoted a sentence of Ayesha which shows that she hated Uthman more than anyone else can hate another human being. She said to Marwan: "O Marwan! I wish that Uthman had been in one of my bags so that I might have picked up that bag myself and drowned it into the sea". She used to say very often: "Kill Na`athal. Na`athal has become an infidel".
Ayesha so much wished Uthman's death that she began asking the people openly to kill him. It was because of this that she was sure that after Uthman's death Talha and not Ali would become the caliph. This is proved by the fact that when the news of Uthman's assassination was communicated to her at Mecca she said at once: "A curse upon Na`athal! Very good O man with the fingers! Very good Abu Shabal! What a great man you are O my cousin! It appears as if I can see with my own eyes his fingers and the people taking oath of allegiance to him".
The man with the fingers means Talha. His fingers were cut off in the Battle of Ohad and from that day onwards he was called the man with the fingers.
When Talha's son Muhammad was questioned about the details of Uthman's murder he accused his father as well as Ayesha of being involved in it. The author of Al-Badr wa al-Tarikh says: "The greatest enemies of Uthman were Talha, Zubayr and Ayesha".
There were many other dignitaries who instigated revolt against Uthman and thus participated in his murder. For instance when Abdur Rahman bin Awf whose wealth
had increased many times during the period of Uthman fell ill, and the people went to enquire about his health he said to them: "Do away with Uthman before he assumes strength". Among the enemies of Islam who instigated the people to rise against Uthman were also included many persons who later fought against Ali, and demanded revenge on him for the murder of Uthman.
The author of `Halif Makhzum' writes in his book: "Those of the Quraysh who were Uthman's fell enemies became his supporters after his death, and possibly the role of Ayesha in this tragedy is a clear example of being more dreadfully contradictory as compared with that of the greedy Qurayshites. She openly instigated the people to kill Uthman because she hoped that the government would then return to the Family of Tayim (Ayesh's Family) and her cousin Talha would become the caliph.
Uthman was killed by Talba, Zubayr and Sa`d bin Abi Waqas. He was killed by Mu`awiya and his party through their wealth and conspiracies. They left him in the lurch. He was killed by Marwan and his descendants and the friends of Bani Mu`iz, on account of their egotism, and their failing to give any importance to Uthman's affairs.
However, when Uthman was killed and the Muslims selected Ali unanimously as the new caliph all these persons suddenly changed their attitude. The same Uthman who was called a tyrant and an infidel during his lifetime begun to be called by them an oppressed person and a martyr after his death".
It will not be out of place to mention here the sen- tences which were uttered by Sa`id bin Aas and Mughayrah bin Sho`ba when they met Ayesha and her army at Khybar while she was going from Mecca to Basra to fight against the army of Ali. What they said shows clearly that Talha and Zubayr were fully responsible for Uthman's murder. On that occasion Sa`id met Ayesha and the following coversation took place between them:
Sa`id: O Mother of the Faithful! Where are you going?
Ayesha: I am going to Basra.
Sa`id: What for?
Ayesha: To take revenge on the murderers of Uthman.
Sa`id: The murderers of Uthman are already with you.
Why don't you kill them?
Then Sa`id addressed Marwan and they conversed as follows:
Sa`id: Where are you going?
Marwan: I am going to Basra.
Sa`id: What will you do there? Marwan: I shall take revenge on the murderers of Uthman.
Sa`id: The murderers of Uthman are already with you.
He has been killed by Talha and Zubayr. They coveted the caliphate themselves. However, when they were vanqui- shed (i.e. when people took the allegiance to Ali) they said: "We shall wash away blood with blood and atone for our sins with repentance".
Then Mughayrah addressed the people thus: "If you have come to accompany the Mother of the Faithful it will be better for you if you return along with her. And if your anger is on account of Uthman's murder, you should know that these very chiefs of yours have killed Uthman.
And if you are annoyed with Ali for some cause let me know what that cause is. I ask you for God's sake not to create two disturbances in one year". (Al-Imamat wa al-Siyasah, Vol.1, p.58).
* * * * * * * *
This was the method and the conduct of the persons who instigated revolt against Uthman and caused his death. And when Uthman was murdered they procured his shirt and rose to claim revenge on Ali. As regards Ali we have already explained his position during the episode, described earlier.
As we have stated above Uthman was pessimistic about Ali. Marwan advised Uthman time and again to kill Ali and other companions as soon as an opportunity was found. His object was that these magnanimous persons who watched and criticized the nefarious activities of Bani Umayyah should depart from the scene so that they (i.e.
Bani Umayyah) might do what they liked and there should be none to find fault with them. However, Ali was too magnanimous and noble-minded a person to entertain personal grudge in his mind for anyone.
Ali was much above those petty considerations, that he should have entertained grudge against Uthman on account of his not consulting him, and should have become happy if Uthman favoured him. Distance from Uthman and his proximity were immaterial to him. The things for which Imam Ali was anxious were Islam and public welfare. He always avoided contention, unless it was necessary to resort to it to get rid of tyranny and establish equity and justice.
Hence, whenever it was possible for Ali to give useful advice to Uthman he did not withhold his sincere advice, even though it might have been unpleasant to Uthman's favourites. Nor did he show laxity in helping Uthman, turning away his enemies from him and saving him from the jaws of death. People approached Ali many times with the request that he might assume the caliphate himself but he turned down their request very sternly and dismissed them from his presence. He restrained people many times from creating disturbance, and saved Uthman from his own favourites and associates who were themselves the root-cause of all the troubles.
We have already explained in the foregoing pages how Ali assisted Uthman when the latter's house had been besieged by the insurgents although Ali's action must have displeased the advisers and associates of Uthman.
It was Ali's ardent wish that the gulf of differences between the insurgents and Uthman should not widen and no untoward incident, which might harm the Muslims should take place. He sincerely believed that bloodshed was not the only remedy for improving the conditions. They could achieve their purpose without resorting to bloodshed.
It is not possible to imagine how magnanimous and noble-minded Ali was. When Uthman's house had been besieged by the insurgents he at times asked Ali to leave
Madina and after his departure he felt ashamed and sent a messenger to call him back. Ali complied with his instruc- tions every time and never asked him why he wanted him to leave Madina and why he wanted him to come back. It was Ali's spiritual loftiness that he was always kind to others.
Uthman asked Ali to go away from Madina so that he might not be present before his devotees, and they might not hear his name. He called him back so that he might advise the insurgents and save him from them. This happened a number of times Once when Ibn Abbas was deputed to convey the caliph's message to Ali to leave Madina Ali said: "O Ibn Abbas! Uthman wants to make me a camel which carries water to and fro. He first asked me to leave Madina, and then he asked me to come back. And now he has sent a message that I should go away from here. By God I have defended him so much that I fear I may be treated to be a sinner".
Muhammad bin Hanafiya reports him to have said: "If Uthman orders me to go away I shall obey him". He said this only to protect Islam and to eliminate the causes of mischief.
The following sentence appearing in a letter written by Imam Ali to Mu`awiya fully depicts his innocence as regards Uthman's murder. "You want to take revenge on me for something in which neither my hands nor my tongue are involved. I gave him suggestions and showed him the right path. If that is my offence then it often happens that one is blamed unjustly for the sins which have not been committed by him".
Ali helped Uthman during his lifetime and was very sympathetic to him even after his death. However, when Uthman was killed some persons accused Ali unjustly of having taken part in his murder. Muhammad bin Sirin has remarked very correctly when he says: "I am not aware whether anyone accused Ali of having participated in the murder of Uthman till the oath of allegiance was taken to him. Such a blame was levelled against him when the oath had been taken".
# Revolt against Ali
Silence prevailed in Madina for many days after the assassination of Uthman. The residents of Madina, the Muhajirs and the Ansar, as well as those persons who had arrived there from other places were on the look-out for a new caliph. The Egyptians specially insisted that Ali should become the caliph but he declined to accept this office. During this struggle of insistence and refusal he addressed the people and said inter alia: "Leave me and find out someone else for this caliphate. If you leave me alone my position will be the same as yours. In that event it is possible that I may be more attentive and submissive to the ruler whom you choose than you are. It is better (from the point of view of your material interests) that I should be an adviser rather than a ruler".
He continued refusing to accept the caliphate till the entire population of Madina gathered at his door and insisted that he should accept the office. The crowd was so huge that he feared some of them might be trampled upon by others. All of them were saying with one voice: "We cannot find anyone more deserving of this office than you, and we do not choose any other caliph. Kindly accept our oath of allegiance. Thereafter there will be no diffe- rences or grouping among us".
Malik Ashtar Nakhai's held Ali's hand in his own hand and took the oath of allegiance and all others also followed suit. Everyone of them was saying: "None except Ali is fit for the caliphate".
Every person was repeating the name of Ali and all were filled with joy. They were happy because they knew
that they had taken oath ofallegiance to aperson who knew their needs and recognized their rights and was sincere, learned and wise, and was like a father to them. They were happy that Ali had accepted the caliphate. As they had suffered great hardships for a long time during the dark Umayyad rule, they had pinned high hopes on him.
The Commander of the Faithful himself draws a picture of the oath of allegiance taken to him by the people in these words: "The people were so happy when the oath of allegiance was taken to me that the children began to rejoice, the old men came forward with trembling legs to take the oath, those who were unwell also managed to come somehow, and even the young girls came out of seclusion".
When Ali mounted the pulpit on the first Friday those who had not been able to take the oath of allegiance earlier did so on that day. On that day Talha was the first to take the oath and he was followed by Zubayr. They were the same Talha and Zubayr who said later: "When we took the oath of allegiance to Ali the conditions were such that a sword was hanging on our necks".
It may very well be asked as to what did Talha and Zubayr mean by saying this.
It may be said in this connection that this was not the view of Talha and Zubayr only but the majority of Quraysh had similar ideas about the caliphate of Ali.
They did not like Ali's caliphate on account of envy, or because they feared that Ali would not allow them the power and authority to which they had become accustomed, and would not tolerate their making unlawful gains. They knew that he did not consider it permissible to be impro- perly kind to incompetent persons or to give money to undeserving persons. He could not waste the property of the Public Treasury which was meant for the needy and the poor. Now consider the fact that all the persons of dignity and rank among them were desirous of attaining to the caliphate. Ali has mentioned in unambiguous terms the grudge which Talha and Zubayr and other Quraysh nursed against him in their hearts. He says: "What relation do
I have with Quraysh? In the past I had to fight against them on account of their infidelity, and now I shall have to fight against them because of their being rebellious. For them I am the same today as I was yesterday".
The majority of Quraysh disliked Ali and many of them rebelled and conspired against him. The foremost of his opponents among Quraysh were Talha and Zubayr. These persons could not, however, avoid taking oath of allegiance to Ali because the inhabitants of all Arab and non-Arab conquered lands and especially the Egyptians were not prepared to accept any other persons as caliph. It was only Ali who possessed the qualities which the oppo- nents of Uthman wanted to see in their ruler.
Talha and Zubayr were the two great rivals of Ali in the matter of the caliphate. They were most keen to attain to this office. However, none of the attributes which the opponents of Uthman wanted to see in their caliph were found in them. Both of them, just like Uthman, and those things which made the people revolt against him were present in them. They were dying for power and authority. In the foregoing pages we have already quoted Uthman as saying about Talha: "May Talha be cursed! I gave him so much gold and still he wants to take my life".
The people were fully aware of these things in the aspirants to the caliphate and had no doubt about their unsuitablity for that office. That is why all of them inclined towards Ali and compelled Talha and Zubayr also to take the oath of allegiance to him. (We have already discussed in detail under the caption `Hazrat Amir al-Mo'mineen' part III), whether Talha and Zubayr took oath of allegiance to Ali willingly or unwillingly and have also quoted the verdict of the Egyptian scholar Dr. Taha Husayn that both of them took the oath voluntarily with the hope that Ali would make them his partners in the affairs of the caliphate but when he declined to fulfil their wishes they broke the oath and joined Ayesha, saying that the oath was obtained from them under duress.
As regards their taking the oath of allegiance to Ali and then breaking it and revolting against him Ali says:
"These two entered the allegiance with the faces of the sinners and went out of it with the faces of the disbelievers". (It means that whereas other people took the oath of allegiance to Ali so that the matters might be set right but these two did not take the oath with that object in mind and when they broke the oath it was mere unfaithfulness and treachery with Ali's creed which was based on truth and justice).
From the very first day Ali assumed the reins of the caliphate he became busy making reforms. He removed the oppressive and unjust governors and officers from their offices and started investigations regarding the wealth taken. by various persons unlawfully from the Public Treasury. In taking these steps he did not care for the enmity of those who were opposed to him and to the reforms which he intended to introduce.
During the period of his caliphate Imam Ali had to face very difficult situation. All the influential persons had united against him. Same was the case with the self-seekers whose number was very large. Ali decided to fight on both the fronts. He decided to establish justice and destroy oppression. He also decided to establish a government based on true economic, social and moral values. And he fought on these two fronts with bravery and steadfastness which was unparalleled and unusual. He made a firm resolve that he would remove all darknesses and that his knowledge like the rays of the sun will illuminate all the corners of the globe.
As soon as the people elected Ali as their leader to reform the society Bani Umayyah and their friends in Madina and other cities collected their wealth and arms and went underground. Later, as soon as they got an opportunity, they went away to Mecca, where they could indulge in subversive activities against Ali's government, and instigate the people to revolt against him, and if they did not meet success there they could also go to Syria and join Mu`awiya. If these people had thought of public welfare and had not coveted the caliphate it was not at all necessary for them to make all this planning.
However, they indulged in such activities with the hope that they would regain the caliphate and if they were successful in removing Ali from their path this office would never slip off their hands. Futhermore, they had accumu- lated fabulous wealth during the days of Uthman and this also prompted them to go beyond the reach of the just caliph, because they could utilize this wealth to strengthen themselves for the achievement of the objective.
Ali was not unaware of the plan of Bani Umayyah. He knew with what object they had run away with their wealth and arms. He, therefore, imposed restrictions on their leaving Madina so that they might not become a danger to the new government.
During these difficult circumstances some companions of the prophet, including Talha and Zubayr, came to see the Commander of the Faithful and said: "We took the oath of allegiance on the condition that penal laws would be enforced. You should, therefore, punish those persons who revolted against Uthman".
Ali replied to them: "Dear brethren! As you are aware I am not unmindful of this matter. However, the question is whether I possess sufficient strength to achieve this purpose. At present the insurgents are very powerful. It is they who dominate us (at present) and not we who dominate them. Huthermore, your slaves and the desert Arabs have also joined them and they are in a position to do you every harm. In the circumstances is there any possibility of achieving what you desire?" All of them replied in the negative. Ali then continued: "I swear by God that I do not think as you do. When this matter is discussed the people will have different views about it. Some of them will have the same view which you have, whereas others will have a view opposed to yours. And there will be still others who will be neutral. You should, therefore, wait till the conditions settle down, the people get peace of mind and it becomes easy to acquire rights. So far as I am concerned you should rest satisfied and await my orders. It is only then that you should come to me".
These persons had come to see Ali with doubts in
their minds regarding his government and its attitude towards the people. He, however, gave them a reply which changed their doubts into certainty. They had laid down a condition for his holding the office of caliph that he should punish those persons over whom neither he nor they themselves had any control. Their own slaves and the desert-Arabs were among the opponents and murderers of Uthman. He gave them such a convincing reply that they had to acknowledge that he had a better knowledge of the conditions than they had, he was making greater efforts to improve the matters, and he understood the delicacy of the situation better than they did. Unfortunately,however, these persons were oblivious of the reality which the Commander of the Faithful had perceived very clearly and while it was necessary to remain patient, they wanted him to take a hasty action.
These persons were under the wrong impression that all the Muslims viewed the murder of Uthman alike, and considered that his blood must be avenged. However, as Ali had a better knoweldge of the situation than they had he removed their misunderstanding by saying that if the question of punishing Uthman's murderers was taken up at that stage the opinions of the people on the issue would be divided.
Those people had come to Ali with their sentiments, desires and personal aims. However, Ali faced them with arguments and logic. Instead of addressing him as `Amir al-Mo'mineen' (Commander of the Faithful) they said: "O Ali!" The harshness and boldness of these words are quite apparent whereas the word brethren used by Ali for them carried the sense of love and affection.
They came in connection with the claim of revenge for the murder of Uthman, although many of them were themselves responsible for his murder. However, in reply to their demand Ali displayed the unparalleled forgiveness which was inherent in his nature.
Ali began keeping Quraysh under strict observation lest they might create disturbance. Of course, this action on his part was perfectly correct and based on farsighted- ness and prudence.
Ali began removing Uthman's governors from office one by one. There was no question of retaining any of them and dismissing others because they were all alike in the matter of corruption, oppression and disrespect for the Islamic law. It was because of oppression and corruption that unrest took place in various parts of the Islamic territories as a consequence of which Uthman had to lose his life. Ali did not agree to allow these people to continue in their offices even for a short period of time because truth and falsehood cannot go together and tyranny injustice and corruption cannot be eliminated unless the root-cause of these evils is removed. Ibn Abbas and many others suggested to Ali to allow the former governors to occupy their position till his government was firmly established but he did not agree to resort to political contrivances or to strengthen his government by pleasing the self-seekers. He, on the contrary, relied upon his responsibilities, reason and sword, and remained steadfast in his determination to eradicate all evils.
Syria was his greatest worry. We have already mentioned in the forgoing pages the opinion which Ali held about Mu`awiya. He decided to remove Mu`awiya from the governorship, and Mu`awiya was adamant that he would not take oath of allegiance to him. One day Ziad bin Hanzala met Ali to find out what decision he had taken about Mu`awiya so that he might inform the people about it. Imam Ali said to Ziad: "O Ziad! Get ready". Ziad asked: "O Commander of the Faithful! For what should I get ready?" Ali replied: "To mobilize the forces to attack Syria". Ziad said: "O Commander of the Faithful! It will be better to be mild and forbearing". Thereupon Ali recited a verse which meant: "You will become free from injustice only when a mind with quick understanding, a sharp sword, and a nose possessing sense of honour combine".
Ali started making preparation to advance against Syria and punish Mu`awiya. On observing his enthusiasm the people also became active and got ready to support him. However, there were also some persons who were bent upon opposing him and Talha and Zubayr belonged
to this group. They came to see him and said: "O Comman- der of the Faithful! Permit us to go to Mecca and perform Umra. If you are still here till we have performed the Umra ceremonies we shall return and join you. And in case you accompany us we will follow you".
Ali looked at their faces for sometime and then said: "Your real purpose is not to perform Umra, but to commit treachery against me. However, you may go wherever you like". Talha and Zubayr then left for Mecca.
Bani Umayyah, Talha and Zubayr combined to cons- pire against Ali. They practised every kind of deception and fraud and spent money lavishly to turn the people against him. The governors who were appointed by Uthman, and had been removed by Ali helped these persons in every manner. They had already shifted their wealth and arms to Mecca which was now their headquarters. Ayesha, daughter of Abu Bakr and wife of the prophet was busy making preparations for war against Ali from the day she received information about his being chosen as caliph. How she received this news and what her reaction was can very well be assessed from the incident narrated below.
Allamah Tabari says that when returning from Mecca Ayesha reached a place named `Sarf'. She met a man named Abd ibn Umm Kilab who was a relative of hers from her mother's side. She enquired from him about the conditions prevailing in Madina. The following conversation took place between them:
Abd ibn Umm Kilab: The people killed Uthman and then waited for eight days.
Ayesha: What did they do then?
Abd ibn Umm Kilab: The entire population of Madina found a way out unanimously. All of them agreed to Ali becoming the caliph.
Ayesha: If what you say is true I wish that the sky may fall on the earth. Take me back. Take me back.
Ayesha was going from Mecca to Madina after performing Hajj. However, when she heard about Ali having become the caliph she immediately returned to Mecca saying: "Uthman has been killed unjustly. By God I shall avenge his murder".
Abd ibn Umm Kilab: What is all this? I swear by God that you were the foremost in accusing him. You used to say: "Kill Na`sal. He has become an infidel".
Ayesha: The people killed him after he had repented.
I did utter these words but what I am saying now is better than what I had said earlier.
Abd ibn Umm Kilab: O Mother of the Faithful: It is a very lame excuse.
Here Tabari has quoted some verses of Abd ibn Umm Kilab, who has thrown the entire responsibility for the murder of Uthman on Ayesha. He says: "It was you who took the initiative. The changes were brought about by you, and all the trouble started from your side. You ordered us to kill Uthman. You said that he had become an infidel. We obeyed you and killed him. We hold the view that Uthman's murderer is the person who ordered that he should be killed. Neither the sky fell upon us nor the sun and the moon were eclipsed". (Tarikh Tabari, Vol. 5,p. 140).
Ayesha returned to Mecca and was engrossed in her own thoughts. When she reached Mecca Talha met her. He told her how Ali became caliph and what the people did with him (i.e. with Talha). He said: "The people took the oath of allegiance to Ali and then came to me and pressed me so hard that I, too, had to take the oath".
Ayesha said: "How can Ali exercise control over us? So long as his government exists in Madina I shall not return to that city".
From that moment onwards she started a mischievous movement against Ali. She began instigating the people to avenge the murder of Uthman and kill Ali.
On scrutinizing the attitude adopted by Ayesha at this juncture one can very well realize the grudge she had been nursing against Ali in her heart. To understand this attitude of hers it is necessary to know the reasons for her enmity against Ali.
Ayesha's hatred and enmity against Ali was very old, and according to many historians it commenced from the very day on which she entered the prophet's house as his
wife. One great reason for her enmity against him was that he was the husband of Fatima. Fatima was the daughter of Khadijah and Khadijah was the lady who was highly esteemed by the prophet during her life as well as after her death for her sincerity, magnanimity, and excellent morals and manners. In spite of all her best efforts Ayesha could not make the prophet forget Khadijah. In this connection the following extract from the magazine `Al-Azhar' which is the organ of Al-Azhar University deserves consideration:
"Besides other qualities which Ayesha possessed she was very courageous and was keen to attain the highest degree of greatness She was not contented with the superior position which she enjoyed in the heart of the prophet vis-a-vis his other wives, but wished to find a place in his heart equal to that of lady Khadijah. The first truthful one, whom he loved most. The prophet was never tired of talking about lady Khadijah and praising her. It was on account of her that he also showed consideration to the women, who had been her friends. With all her attributes and accomplishments Ayesha made vain efforts to make the prophet believe that God had given him a better wife than lady Khadijah. She ought to have acknowledged the superiority of Khadijah and should have realized that it was useless to contend with the prophet on account of the wife who was the greatest amongst all the noble and distinguished women, was the most truthful one, and was the first to embrace Islam. This jealousy of Ayesha did no harm to Khadijah. On the contrary it made her greatness known to the entire world and gave her a lasting fame". (The Magazine Al-Azhar May 1956).
Ayesha herself says: "I never felt as much jealous of any other wife of the prophet as of Khadijah, although I had not even seen her. The prophet talked about her every now and then. At times he slaughtered the sheep and sent pieces of meat to her friends as presents. I told him many times that (from the manner in which he talked about Khadijah) it appeared that there was none else in the world except Khadijah. He, however, replied that she
had such qualities and she also bore him children".
Thus Ayesha admits that the prophet preferred Khadijah to all his other wives and this made Ayesha jealous of her. And naturally enough as this extreme love of the prophet for Khadijah, was the cause of Ayesha's jealousy against her. She also felt jealous of Fatima and also hated her husband Ali and her sons Hasan and Husayn.
Another reason for Ayesha's nursing grudge against Ali was the suggestion made by Ali to the prophet at the time of the incident called Ifk (false accusation). On that occasion he had said: "O prophet of God! There is no scarcity of women for you. You can marry many other women besides Ayesha".
Furthermore, it is also a fact that Ayesha was confi- dent that after Uthman was murdered the caliphate would return to her own family (i.e. Bani Tayim) and Talha would become the caliph. We have already mentioned before, how happy she felt on hearing the news of the assassination of Uthman, hoping that Talha must have been chosen as the caliph in his place.
Immediately on her arrival in Mecca Ayesha began recruiting an army to fight against Ali and his government. Her open enmity with Ali strengthened the hands of Bani Umayyah as well as those of Talha, Zubayr and their supporters. All were united on the issue of waging war against Ali. At this juncture the members of the Umayyah Family had gone underground in Hijaz etc. On Ali's having become caliph they reappeared. They tried to make the maximum profit from the revolt of Quraysh against Ali. They joined hands with Ayesha, Talha and Zubayr, and placed at their disposal the wealth which they had grabbed during the period of Uthman; so that they might utilize it to make preparations for war, and the government of Ali might be nipped in the bud. They left the places where they were hidden and reached Mecca to assist Ayesha.
The stand taken by them was that Uthman had been killed unjustly and as Ayesha, Talha and Zubayr had risen to avenge his murder it was necessary to support them. Mu`awiya considered the situation very favourable to him.
However, his interests differed from those of Talha and Zubayr because each one of them aspired to become the caliph. Mu`awiya wished that Talha and Zubayr should fight with Ali, because as a a result of the clash one party was sure to be defeated and the party that won would also become weak and it would be easy for him (Mu`awiya) to subdue it.
It was due to her own personality and because of being the wife of the prophet that Ayesha was able to mobilize a very large army in Mecca. However, when the army was ready differences arose between Talha, Zubayr etc. as to where they should proceed and what the next step should be.
If the activities and affairs of the persons who were acting as the leaders of this gathering are scrutinized and an effort is made to find out their motives for mobilizing such a large army the real position will become clear. It will then become known that they had not gathered to avenge the murder of Uthman, as claimed by them, nor for correcting the prevailing conditions, which according to them, Ali had not been able to do, nor for any other thing about which they talked in their speeches to instigate the people to revolt against Ali. In fact they had aims and objects different from one another. If one of them was against Ali, because, on account of him, he could not attain to the caliphate, another had joined this gathering on account of some old grudge against the new caliph and still another wanted to regain the lost glory and power of his family which was not possible in the presence of Ali in the capacity of caliph.
Ayesha was of the view that the army should march towards Madina so that the capital might be conquered before Ali was in a position to defend it, and his caliphate brought to an end. Some others suggested that they should go to Syria which was a safe place. Bani Umayyah, however, opposed this suggestion. They were of the view that the security of a region in which they were already firmly established should not be endangered. They knew very well that Mu`awiya had been ruling Syria for a long time
and the people were obedient to him. They did not, therefore, wish that Syria should become the theatre of war. Furthermore, Bani Umayyah considered Syria to be their last resort in case they were defeated by Ali and they did not, therefore, consider it in their interest to create problems for Mu`awiya, who was busy establishing a kingdom there, and to make it a battle field.
Talha and Zubayr rejected the idea of going either to Madina or to Syria and suggested that they should go to Basra, because they had a large number of supporters in Kufa and Basra. By suggesting that they should proceed to Basra, Talha and Zubayr had a deep plan in their mind. They knew that if they succeeded against Ali with the help of the poeple of Kufa and Basra one of them would be chosen as caliph, because the caliphate would naturally go to a person whose supporters were more in number.
The Umayyads also supported this suggestion. All of them, therefore, went to Ayesha and said to her: "O Mother of the Faithful! You had better abandon the idea of going to Madina, because the people with us will not be able to fight against the insurgents successfully. You should, therefore, accompany us to Basra. It is possible that the people of that place may disagree with us and put forward the excuse that oath of allegiance to Ali has already been accomplished. In that event you should prepare them to avenge the murder of Uthman in the same manner in which you have prepared the people of Mecca for this purpose".
Bani Umayyah spent large sums of money for the procurement of war equipment. A public announcer made the following announcement in the streets of Mecca: "The Mother of the Faithful Ayesha, Talha, and Zubayr are proceeding to Basra. Whoever sympathises with Islam, desires its glory, and wants to fight against the enemies and avenge the murder of Uthman, should accompany them. If a person has no animal of riding and other necessary equipment, he should take it from them".
When Ayesha had mobilized the army and was ready to depart for Basra, Umm Salamah, another wife of the
prophet, met her and remonstrated with her. She said: "Till recently you used to instigate the people to revolt against Uthman, and spoke ill of him. You did not call him with any name other than Na`asal".
Then she insisted upon Ayesha that she should stay at home and not lead an army against Ali. However, when she realized that Ayesha was bent upon waging war against Ali she sent her son Umar bin Abi Salamah to Ali with a letter which read as follows: "O Commander of the Faithful! if it had not amounted to disobeying God and if I had not also been sure that you would not like my accompanying you, I would have accompanied you in this battle. I am sending my son Umar. I swear by God that he is more dear to me than my own life. He will remain with you and will participate in every battle on your side".
Ayesha also invited other wives of the prophet to accompany her to Basra. All of them, except Hafsa daughter of Umar, declined to accede to her request. Hafsa got ready to join her to fight against Ali. However, her brother Abdullah bin Umar prevented her from doing so saying: "You must stay in like other wives of the prophet".
Hafsa, therefore, sent a message to Ayesha to excuse her as her brother was not agreeable to the proposal.
The entire army proceeded to Basra under the com- mand of Ayesha. When they reached Khybar, Ayesha, Talha, Zubayr and Marwan met Sa`id bin Aas and Mughayrah bin Sho`ba. We have already reproduced their conversation in the foregoing pages.
Then according to the general plan of Bani Umayyah Sa`id bin Aas endeavoured to divide these people and make them fight with one another so that by doing so they might lose their strength and the government should revert to Bani Umayyah. He, therefore, conversed privately with Talha and Zubayr as follows:
Sa`id: Tell me solemly, whom will you make caliph if you are successful?
Talha and Zubayr: Whosoever from among us two is chosen by the people.
Sa`id: No. You should give this office to one of the sons of
Uthman, because it is his murder which you propose to avenge.
Talha and Zubayr: Pooh! Should we elevate a youngster to this position in the presence of so many distinguished pesons?
Sa`id: Of course, then I must endeavour that the caliphate should not go out of the hands of the descendants of Abd Munaf.
Marwan also tried time and again, like Sa`id bin Aas, to divide these people. He did so with the machinations which were the best specimens of fraud and deceit.
Imam Ali also came to know that a large army had proceeded from Mecca to Basra on the pretext of taking revenge on the murderers of Uthman. He was very much disturbed on account of the differences and dissensions between the Muslims. It also pained him that owing to these differences and dissensions it would not be possible to continue and accomplish the reformatory program introduced by him, because following the example of these rebels others would also be encouraged to revolt and various governors appointed by Uthman might also follow in the footsteps of Mu`awiya and refuse to acknowledge the authority of the central government. As soon as he heard this news he gathered the people of Madina, and addressed them in these words: "Almighty God has pro- mised forgiveness for the unjust of this nation and success and salvation for those who are obdient and firm. Only that person who cannot bear truth resorts to falsehood. You should know that Talha, Zubayr and the Mother of the Faithful Ayesha have combined against my government and caliphate and have imited the people towards reformation. So long as I do not feel any danger from them to you and myself I shall remain patient and so long as they withhold their hands, I, too, shall withhold mine. And I am contenting myself with the news about them which I have received so far".
Imam Ali considered it necessary to nip the mischief in the bud and to stop the Meccans on the way before they should reach Madina, because this was the best way of
avoiding disturbance and bloodshed. He, therefore, appoin- ted Sehl bin Hanif as his representative in Madina and proceeded to Mecca along with the army which he had previously collected to attack Syria.
On the way many persons belonging to Kufa and Basra also joined him. When Ali reached Rabazah along with his army he came to know that Zubayr and Talha had left Mecca and had already crossed Rabazah on their way to Basra. He stayed in Rabazah for a few days and made necessary preparations. In the meantime he made all possible efforts that the conditions which had deteriorated on account of the activities of Talha, Zubayr and Ayesha might improve. He, therefore, sent a letter to Ayesha saying: "You have disobeyed God and His prophet by stepping out of your house. You are aspiring something with which you do not have the least concern. You also claim that you want to reform the people. Will you please tell me as to - what women have to do with the command of the armies? You also claim that you want to avenge the murder of Uthman. Now Uthman was an Umayyad whereas you are a woman of the tribe of Taym Bani Murrah. I swear by God that the crime of those who have tempted you into adopting this course of action and made you disobey God and His prophet is much greater and more dreadful than that of the murderers of Uthman. You did not become indignant yourself but you were made indignant. You did not get excited yourself but other persons have been instrumental in exciting you. Ayesha! Fear God and return to your house and remain indoors. Good wishes to you".
Ali wanted to treat Ayesha as excusable in the matter of her revolting and commanding an army. That is why he said: "You have not become indignant yourself but you have been made indignant, and you did not get excited yourself but other persons have been instrumental in exciting you". The regard for the sentiments of women and the respect for Ayesha which this sentence contains is evident. By saying that she was disobedient at others behest he also provided her a path for dissociating herself
from revolt and mischief. He held at fault those people who had incited her to be disobedient and made her leave her house. He also declared their action to be a much greater and dreadful sin than that of the murderers of Uthman. In the end he advised her to fear God and return to her house, because only in that case peace could be restored in the country and the people would also have liked such a development.
Ayesha did not, however, pay any heed to Ali's advice. She stuck to the decision already taken by her. In reply to the letter of Ali - the Commander of the Faithful, she wrote only one sentence which, though brief, indicates fully the personal enmity and the grudge which she nursed against Ali in her heart. She wrote: "O son of Abu Talib! No room is now left for reconciliation. We shall never submit to you. You may do whatever you like. And peace (be upon you)". Talha and Zubayr too, sent him similar replies.
When Ayesha's army reached near Basra the comman- ders held consultations as to whether or not they should enter the city. They knew very well that the number of the supporters of Ali in Basra was not small. Hence they considered it expedient to hold mutual consultations and to correspond with the people of Basra to find out to what extent they were faithful to Ali. Eventually it was decided that before entering the city the elders and distinguished persons should be instigated to rise against Ali and efforts should be made to win their sympathies. Talha and zubayr, therefore, wrote a letter to the judge Ka`b bin Soor saying: "You are a distinguished person of Basra and a chief of the Yemenites and were appointed as judge by the caliph Umar. You were angry with Uthman on account of the injustice done by him to you. Now you should be angry with those who murdered Uthman".
Ka`b bin Soor wrote back in reply: "If Uthman was killed because of his being unjust why are you anxious to avenge his murder, and how does he deserve that his murder should be avenged? And if he was killed without justification there are others who deserve more than you
to take revenge on the murderers. And if the matter of Uthman was difficult for those who were present at the time of his murder it is more difficult for those who were not then present".
These two (i.e. Talha and Zubayr) wrote a letter to Manzar bin Jarood also which read as follows: "Your father was the head of your tribe during the age of ignorance and also a chief in Islam. Your position vis-a-vis your father is the same which a horse which stands second in a horse race enjoys as compared with a horse which stands first. Uthman has been killed by people who are inferior to you, and those people who have become angry on account of the murder of Uthman are better than you And peace (be upon you)".
Manzar bin Jarood said in reply: "I shall associate with the righteous persons only if I can remain better than the evil-doers. Uthman's right was as much essential and mandatory yesterday as it is today. He was you but you left him undefended and did not help him. When have you made this new discovery and how has this new idea occurred to you?"
Ayesha wrote a letter to Zaid bin Sauhan on these lines: "From Ayesha, daughter of Abu Bakr, Mother of the Faithful and the beloved wife of the prophet to her sincere son Zaid bin Sauhan.
"Rush to my help immediately on receiving this letter of mine and even if you do not come restrain the people from supporting Ali".
Zaid bin Sauhan wrote in reply: "I am, no doubt, your sincere son, provided you dissociate yourself from this affair and return to your house. Otherwise I shall be the foremost among your opponents".
In `Iqd al-Farid, Jamhra Rasail al-Arab and Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah of Ibn Abi al-Hadid the reply of Zaid bin Sauhan has been quoted in these words: "Peace be upon you. Almighty God has given you one order and has given us another. You have been ordered not to leave your house and we have been ordered to fight so that evil may be suppressed. You have, however, abandoned what you were
ordered to do and are restraining us from doing what we have been ordered to do. Your wishes will not be complied with and your letters will not be replied to. And peace (be upon you)".
Bani Umayyah did not write letters to their supporters openly like Ayesha, Talha and Zubayr. They conducted secret correspondence with those, who, as they expected, would be ready to oppose Ali and assist them in pulling down the edifice of his caliphate. This secret correspondence fully explains their psychological condition. If these people rose to avenge the murder of Uthman it was not necessary for them to contact their individual supporters secretly, and in case they had revolted against Ali only to assist Ayesha, Talha and Zubayr, even then it was not necessary for them to consider their own affairs separately from others. The fact is that all their efforts were directed towards creating favourable conditions for themselves and they contacted only those persons about whose support they had no doubt in their minds. That is why their correspondence was usually secret.
When the commanders of Ayesha's army were carrying on correspondence with the people of Basra, the son of Abu Sufyan, sitting in Damascus, was watching the condi- tions of all those who had revolted against Ali as well as of those who had declined to fight against him. He had made separate assessment in regard to both the parties and also knew the fate which both of them were destined to meet. It was his earnest desire that Talha and Zubayr should weaken Ali's government by fighting against him. It was only then that he could convert the Islamic government into Umayyad dynasty because he knew that as regards other Bani Umayyah none of them was as powerful and influential as he himself was.
Mu`awiya began instigating secretly every person to revolt against Ali particularly those who were not already opposed to him. He was well aware that as soon as Ayesha, Talha, Zubayr and other ring-leaders of their army were successful in gaining a victory, they would start fighting with each other. All this contention and mobilization of
forces against Ali was only for the sake of the caliphate. After his defeat Talha and Zubayr were bound to quarrel with each other to become caliph, and then Mu`awiya, whose strength had been safe throughout, could very well step in and grab the caliphate,
Mu`awiya wrote a letter to Sa`d bin Abi Waqas saying: "It was incumbent upon the members of the consultative council to assist Uthman because it was they who had elected him as caliph. Talha and Zubayr assisted him, (by claiming revenge for his murder). Both of them were the members of the council like you, and the impor- tance which you enjoy in Islam is also enjoyed by them. The Mother of the Faithful Ayesha has also decided to assist Uthman. Hence you should not dislike the thing which they have liked and should not reject that which they have accepted".
It can very well be observed how dexterously an effort was made to instigate Sa`d bin Waqas (who was one of the candidates for the caliphate nominated by Umar) to revolt against Ali without disclosing the real object. How ever, Sa`d bin Abi Waqas sensed the deceit and was not trapped. After all he too was one of Quraysh and was fully aware of machination which Bani Umayyah always em- ployed to achieve their ends. He, therefore, sent Mu`awiya a blunt reply which he must not have expected. He (Sa`d) praised Ali for his virtues and attainments and declared that none else could equal him. He also told Mu`awiya that the intention with which he was instigating the people to revolt against Ali was known to him and it was obviously that he wanted to attain to the caliphate. He, however, added that all his efforts in this behalf were useless because it was not permissible for a man like him (Mu`awiya) to hold that office. He wrote: "Umar nominated to the consultative council only those persons, who were elegible to become caliph. None of us had a prior right to that office vis-a-vis others except that we might have selected one of us as the caliph. Of course Ali possessed all the qualities which we possessed, but he also possessed some special attributes which none of us possessed. As regards
Talha and Zubayr it would have been better for them to stay at home. And as regards the Mother of the Faithful may God forgive her". This reply sent by Sa`d to Mu`awiya clearly shows what views Sa`d held about those who had risen to fight against Ali and create mischief in the land.
The letters, which were exchanged between the people of the camel and the citizens of Basra and also between the citizens of other cities, some of whom were the supporters of the people of the camel and others were not, make it clear that the people were fully aware of the causes of the disturbance. They also manifested the personality of Ali. It also becomes known that the righteous persons loved Ali very much and considered his words and deeds to be true and correct. Another important thing also becomes known and that is that the supporters of Ali tried their level best to prevent the people of the camel from creating mischief and disorder and to act according to wisdom and reason. This shows that they thought and spoke on the same lines on which Ali did. Ali had impressed upon them with his words and deeds that creating disturbance and disorder is a satanic action and peace and tranquillity is the best thing. Hence, the attitude adopted by him before as well as after assuming the office of caliph keeping in view the exigencies of time was considered by them to be absolutely correct.
One could very well ask: What did these people of the camel want Ali to do when his newly-formed government was not yet fully established? What action of Ali could they dislike when they had displayed great enmity with him and started inciting people to revolt against him immediately on hearing the news of his selection as caliph? Why were they annoyed with him when they could not face his rational arguments? And how could they treat him to be responsible for Uthman's murder when they them selves were his murderers?
These questions were asked by the supporters of Ali time and again in their correspondence with the people of the camel. Furthermore the representatives of the citizens of Basra who came to see them also asked them these questions again and again When Ayesha's army had not
yet reached the surroundings of Basra, and the persons carrying the letters written by her and Talha and Zubayr to the people of Basra were still on their way, Uthman bin Hanif sent Abu'l Aswad Dueli and lmran bin Hasin to Ayesha to find out from her as to why she had revolted against Ali and to advise her to refrain from pursuing the object with which she had come out from her house. He then sent a deputation to Talha and Zubayr also with the same purpose but they repeated what they had been saying and tried to enter Basra forcibly.
However, Uthman bin Hanif could not tolerate their entry into the city. He collected the people, equipped them with arms and proceeded to the quarter called Marbad where Ayesha's army had encamped.
When the two armies stood face to face with each other Talha stepped forward and delivered a speech. Standing between them he praised God and then spoke about Uthman. He enumerated his virtues, stated how he was murdered unjustly and asked the people to avenge his murder after peace was restored. Then Zubayr stood up and delivered a similar speech. After both of them had spoken, their supporters said from his right hand side: "Whatever you have said is true". However, the people with Uthman bin Hanif said from the left side: "Whatever you have said is wrong. You took oath of allegiance to Ali and then violated it and formed a front against him". This resulted in an uproar and everyone started shouting. Then Ayesha stood up to speak. She said: "The people criticized Uthman and found faults with his officers. They used to come to Madina and consulted us. When we pondered over the complaints of the people against Uthman we found him to be innocent, pious and truthful, and those, who created disturbance, to be sinners and liars. They had something else in their hearts. When their numbers increased they entered into Uthman's house without any justification, for he was not at fault, and shed the blood which it was not lawful to shed. They looted the property unlawfully and desecrated the land which they were duty bound to respect".
The people of Basra got annoyed and interrupted her speech by making a noise. She, however, cried: "O people! keep quiet". Thereupon the people became silent.Continu- ing her speech she said: "Of course, the Commander of the Faithful Uthman did make innovations but he continued to wash his lapses with repentance till he was slaughtered unjustly like a camel. You can see that Quraysh shot arrows on the targets and wounded their own faces. They gained nothing by killing Uthman and they did not also pursue the policy of moderation. I swear by God that they will have to face very violent afflictions - afflictions which will awaken those who are asleep and make those who are sitting stand up. And they will be dominated by a people who will not take pity on them and will subject them to the severest torture".
"Look here! Uthman has been killed unjustly. Find out his murderers and when you have them in your grip kill them. Then let the consultative council take a decision regarding the selection of a caliph. The members of the council should be the same as were nominated by the Commander of the Faithful Umar, with the exception of that person who may have participated in the murder of Uthman. You have taken oath of allegiance to Ali ibn Abi Talib under coercion and sentimentally without consulting the nation".
Ayesha thus began instigating the people to assassinate Ali. She said that the oath of allegiance taken to Ali had been taken under coercion and sentimentally without consulting the nation. She added that Ali deserved to be killed as he had taken part in the murder of Uthman and on that score it was necessary to select a new caliph through the committee constituted by Umar of which Ali could no longer be a member.
The hearers were bewildered to hear the speech of Ayesha. Many of them including Ahnaf bin Qais and Jariyah bin Qadamah Sa`di asked her some very incisive questions. When she finished her speech Jariyah said to her: "O Mother of the Faithful! I swear by God that Uthman's murder is not at all important as compared with
the dreadful situation that a personality like yourself should step out of her house to fight against the Muslims. You have torn the veil which God had provided you, and have violated the sanctity which He had ordained. You should just reflect that whoever decides to fight against you will certainly also intend to kill you. In case, therefore you have accompanied this army voluntarily you had better return to Madina and if they have brought you forcibly you should seek help against them from the public. I shall then be with you".
Talha and Zubayr were also asked many questions by various persons, to whom they could not reply. Prolonged debate took place but without any result except that Ayesha, Talha and Zubayr got very much annoyed and became more determined to fight.
Ayesha herself was the Supreme Commander of her army and she commanded it mounting on a camel. It was for this reason that the battle fought at Basra came to be known as the Battle of the Camel. She appointed the junior commanders and wrote letters in her own name to those persons who were expected to help her. We have already reproduced above one of her letters addressed to Zaid son of Sauhan. Ayesha's letters were mostly of this kind: "From Ummul Mo'mineen Ayesha daughter of Abi Bakr, to such and such of his sons: "As soon as you receive this letter you should get up and come to help me and if you are unable to come to my help, you should at least prevent people siding with Ali".
Many persons responded to her call and there were also many who declined to follow her.
# God! be a witness
Ayesha's army forced its way into the city of Basra during a very cold night. They killed many citizens in the masjid. Then they entered the house of Uthman bin Hanif and maltreated and insulted him.
Talha and Zubayr resented very much the treatment meted out by the soldiers to Uthman bin Hanif because he too was one of the distinguished companions of the prophet. (We have already written in detail in "Hazrat Amirul Mo'mineen" part III that the ill-treatment with Uthman bin Hanif at Basra was done on Talha and Zubayr's orders). They went to Ayesha and expressed their grief over that incident. In reply she ordered that Uthman bin Hanif might be put to death. The order was about to be complied with when a woman cried: "O Mother of the Faithful! For God's sake take pity on the son of Hanif. Just have regard for his being a companion of the prophet".
Ayesha thought over the matter for a while, and then said: "All right. Do not kill him but make him a prisoner". (Tarikh Tabari etc.)
An officer of Ayesha's army however said: "Beat him (Uthman bin Hanif) severely and pull the hair of his beard".
The soldiers beat him mercilessly, pulled the hair of his head, beard, eyebrows and eyelashes and then made him prisoner.
Talha and Zubayr began roaming about in both the armies and delivered speeches asking the people to take revenge of Uthman's murder on Ali. While zubayr was delivering one such speech a man belonging to the tribe of Abd al-Qais stood up and said to him: "Please keep
quiet for a while because I want to say something". Then he addressed the Muhajirs who formed part of the people of the camel in these words: "O Muhajirs! You are the people who embraced Islam earlier than others and are, therefore, superior to them in this respect. After the prophet's death you chose a man for the caliphate without consulting us. After his death you chose another man as caliph without consulting us and we accepted him. After the second caliph the question of selecting his successor was decided by a six-man committee and you took the oath of allegiance to Uthman without consulting us. Then you were dissatisfied with him and killed him without consulting us. Now you have taken oath of allegiance to Ali without consulting us. We have not declined to accept either of them as Head of the State and have endorsed your choice. Now you should tell us why you have got ready to fight against Ali. Has he misappropriated the war booty, and deprived you of it? Has he done anything unlawful? Has he committed any offence which has dis- qualified him for the caliphate? And then the questions: Why are you so keen that we, too, should join you in fighting against Ali?" He ended his speech with these words: "When no such thing has happened why have you created all this nuisance?". None could give any reply to his speech. All were dumbfounded. However, brute force follows no logic. The supporters of Talha and Zubayr attacked the man but his kinsmen came to his help. Fierce fighting took place and eventually the speaker was killed along with seventy persons of his tribe.
The people of the camel gained control over all the key points and took hold of the amount of revenue as well as the Public Treasury. Zubayr and his son Abdullah distributed the entire property of the Public Treasury among their supporters.
Hakim bin Jabalah who was obedient and faithful to the Commander of the Faithful was very much disturbed on account of the activities of these people. He gathered many of his supporters and attacked the people of the camel. He said about Talha and Zubayr: "They took oath
of allegiance to Ali voluntarily and promised to obey him. Now they have come to fight against him as his opponents and want to avenge the murder of Uthman. They have created differences between us although we belonged to the same city and were the neighbours of one another. O Lord! It is not the intention of either of them to avenge the murder of Uthman".
Hakim was killed and so was his son and brother. Thereafter Talha and Zubayr mercilessly put the people of Basra to sword.
The people of the camel had now full control over Basra, and had become its despotic rulers. The people of Basra took oath of allegiance to Talha and Zubayr - some of them voluntarily and others in duress. After having subdued Basra, the people of the camel became over-joyous. Zubayr said: "If I had one thousand horsemen I would have proceeded to meet Ali and I am sure that I would have killed him before he arrived here."
Ayesha conveyed the good news of her success to Hafsa who was in Madina. She wrote: "I have to inform you that Ali has halted at a place called Zi Qar. He is very much afraid because he has received news about our large army and equipment. At present his position is that of a camel whose feet would be cut off if it steps forward and who would be slaughtered if it goes backward".
Talha and Zubayr now resorted to mean and indecent propaganda against Ali . Propaganda really means that news are spread according to one's own wish. Truth is shown to be falsehood and vice versa, and they make a mountain of a mole-hill.
As has been narrated by Ibn Abi'l Hadid on the authority of Madaini and Waqidi they (Talha and Zubayr) began addressing the people thus: "O people of Basra! If Ali is victorious he will kill you one by one, and destroy your honour and dignity. He will kill your children and enslave your women. You must, therefore, defend your dignity and honour and fight against him like one who is prepared to lay down his life for the sake of his honour and family."
Notwithstanding this open enmity and organised attack the Commander of the Faithful did not take any immediate steps against them, but waited for them to take the initiative. He hoped that they might even then forsake rebellion and avoid bloodshed, because the pretext on which they wished to fight against him was absolutely flimsy. He hoped that they might realize that the path which they were pursuing would deprive the caliphate of its dignity and the public who had pinned high hopes on the justice, piety and steadfastness of Ali would be disheartened.
From Rabazah Ali sent letters to the people of Kufa and invited them to join him against the people of the camel. Abu Musa Ash`ari, the Governor of Kufa, refrained from assisting him and also prevented others from rendering him any assistance. The Commander of the Faithful dismissed him immediately from his office.
After the people of the camel had occupied Basra the people belonging to the tribe of Abd al-Qais left the city and gathered at a place between Zi Qar and Basra. They were waiting for Ali to arrive there so that they might join his army. Nine thousand Kufans also joined him. Imam Ali delivered a lengthy speech before them. He said inter alia: "I have called you to assist me against the people of Basra. My only object is reconciliation. If the people of Basra desist from their activities my object will be fulfilled. However, if they persist in their stubborn- ness we shall deal with them mildly and shall refrain from fighting till they commit oppression and resort to fighting. We shall leave no stone unturned to achieve reconciliation and shall prefer peace to disturbance in all circumstances".
From what has been stated above it becomes evident as to what a great difference there was between the two parties. On the one side there were the people of the camel who accused Ali of something of which they should have accused themselves. Ali was absolutely innocent of any such accusation. These persons accused him unjustly, violated their oath of allegiance to him, and rebelled against him. They decided to fight against him and also
incited others to do so, although those persons had sworn allegiance to him. They raided one of his cities under his control, insulted and beat the governor, maltreated and killed the citizens and divided the property of the Public Treasury among themselves although it belonged to all the Muslims. They also thought of attacking Ali with one thousand horsemen and assassinating him.
On the other side was the Commander of the Faithful the true Imam to whom all the people had taken the oath of allegiance. Of course, he was not prepared to accept their oath but they insisted upon it, and said that they could not find anyone else fit to be their leader and if he agreed to accept the office of caliph their differences would come to an end. These people then asked others also to take the oath. Ali accepted the allegiance of those who took the oath and let go those who did not. He never compelled anyone to swear allegiance to him. A few days later, however, he saw that some persons were instigating others to revolt against him and were trying to create mischief and disorder. They were attacking his treasurers, governors and followers and planning to remove him from the caliphate and to assassinate him. He received news about all their activities, but he did not nurse any grudge against them in his mind. He addressed his supporters in words which show what a high regard he had for humanity. He said: "O People of Kufa! I have called you to assist me against our brethren in Basra ........".
He did not content himself with the manifestation of this kindness but also sent messages to Ayesha, Talha and Zubayr asking them to refrain from rebellion and oppression and invited them to help him towards unity and good will.
Here we quote an incident which will go to show what idea he had about his opponents, and what responsi- bilities he felt after his being selected as caliph, about equity and justice, and why the people were inclined towards him.
When the Commander of the Faithful reached near Basra the people of that city sent to him a man named Kulaib Jarmi to find out the causes of differences between
him and the people of the camel, so that the position which was till then doubtful in their minds might become clear.
Ali explained to him the entire position. He told him how those people had taken oath of allegiance to him but later violated it in order to grab the caliphate themselves. Kulaib was convinced that Ali's stand was just, and he admitted it before the Commander of the Faithful. Thereupon Ali asked him to swear allegiance to him. He, however, said in reply that he had come as the representa- tive of the people of Basra and could not take any such action till he returned to the city and submitted a report to those who had sent him.
The Commander of the Faithful then said to him: "Suppose those people had sent you to locate vegetation and water and you had informed them that these things were present at such and such place, but they had declined to go there and had gone instead to a barren place, what would have been your line of action? Would you have gone to the place where a spring and vegetation were there, or followed those people to the barren land?" Kulaib replied: "I should certainly have gone to the place where there was water and verdure". Thereupon Ali said: " Then stretch your hand and take oath of allegiance to me". The man said: "By God! After being reduced to silence by your convincing argument there is no reason for my opposing you. Now stretch your hand and I swear allegiance to you".
When the people of the camel arrayed themselves against him the Commander of the Faithful Ali said to his army: " O People! Control yourselves and do not attack them, nor say anything with your tongue. They are your brethern-in-faith. Bear injustice with patience, and do not begin fighting because whoever quarrels today will have to account for it on the Day of Judgment".
Ali continued to make efforts for peace in this manner. At the time of leaving for Basra with twenty thousand men his real intention was to advise the people of the camel to refrain from mischief and rebellion and to invite them to peace and unity.
He loved peace so much that even when the two armies were arrayed against each other and there was no hope for reconciliation, he made an earnest effort at the last moment to avoid bloodshed. On seeing Talha and Zubayr he stepped forward absolutely unarmed, to indicate that he wanted peace and not war, and called out "O Zubayr! come to me". Zubayr came forward fully armed. When Ayesha saw this she shouted with fear "No fighting!" because she was aware that fighting with Ali meant sure death for Zubayr. She believed that Ali's enemy however strong and brave he might be would surely meet his fate.
However, when Ayesha and her supporters saw that Ali and Zubayr were embracing each other they were very much perplexed.
Ali kept Zubayr stuck to his bosom for a long time and began conversing with him in a very kind and affec- tionate manner. He said: "Woe be upon you! Why have you revolted against me?" Zubayr replied: "We want to avenge the murder of Uthman". Ali said: "May God kill that one from among us two whose hands have been besmeared with Uthman's blood".
The part played in the murder of Uthman by Talha and Zubayr was as much known to themselves as it was known to Ali and others like Ibn Abbas who had made the following suggestion to him on his assuming the office of caliph: "Appoint the son of Talha as the Governor of Basra and that of Zubayr as the Governor of Kufa, and allow Mu`awiya to continue as the Governor of Syria, till the conditions become normal and the people feel safe and secure, and the murderers of Uthman and those who want to avenge his blood are pacified".
Ali had all these things in view and the following words of Talha and Zubayr were also ringing in his mind: "We are taking the oath of allegiance to you subject to the condition that we shall be allowed to participate in the affairs of the caliphate". As such all their activities were only means of securing the caliphate, none had in view the revenge for the murder of Uthman.
Before the two armies came face to face with each other Ali ordered his troops to array themselves. Then he gave them instructions: "Look here! Don't shoot an arrow and don't attack with a spear or a sword to start the battle, so that you may not be blamed (for starting the battle)".
A few moments later the people of the camel killed a soldier of Ali's army with their arrows. Ali said loudly: "O God! Bear witness". Then another man was killed and the Commander of the Faithful again said: "O God! Bear witness". Then Abdullah bin Badil was killed and his brother brought his dead body before Ali. Thereupon he said again: "O God! Bear witness", and ordered his army to attack. Then fierce fighting started.
With sword in hand Ali attacked the rebels. His sword flashed like a flame of fire. He drove back the Quraysh and put their centre as well as the right and left wings in disorder. The infantry which was being commanded by Zubayr flew away. Zubayr became encircled by the soldiers of Ali's army, but none attacked him and allowed him to escape. Ammar Yasir launched a severe attack. When Zubayr felt that Ammar might strike him with his sword he said: "O Abul Yaqzan! (Kunyah of Ammar) are you going to kill me?" "Not at all, O Abu Abdillah!" said Ammar, and stepped aside.
Ammar's treatment of Zubayr was just like that which was meted out by Ali in the Battle of Siffin to Amr bin Aas. Its details will be given later. In fact Ammar and his compatriots had been trained by their teacher Ali - the real Commander of the Faithful, to respect human life, as far as possible, even in the battlefield.
Zubayr quitted the battlefield and went away to a valley called al-Saba`. It has been said by some narrators that ever since Ali had embraced him and reminded him of old love and affection his conscience had heen awakened and he was not inclined to fight. However, Ayesha and his son Abdullah reproached him on this account and he was obliged to stay on in the battlefield. After Ammar had spared his life he decided to go away.
Ayesha tried her best to keep up the morale of her
army which consisted of thirty thousand men. She called the members of various tribes by name and asked them to fight bravely to avenge the murder of Uthman. The result was that the fighting became all the more intense. Some of the warriors threw away their weapons and attacked each other with their hands.
Ayesha's standard was fixed on the back of her camel and her supporters were guarding it with great zeal. When one of them was killed another took his place. There were no signs of either party winning the battle. Ayesha's supporters were also fighting very bravely. Slogans in favour of Ayesha and against Ali and vice versa could be heard from both the sides. The fighting was so intense that it is difficult to find its example in history.
So many persons were killed in the battle that the whole battlefield was strewn with dead bodies. This state of affairs worried Ali very much. He, therefore, thought of a plan which, when implemented, might ensure the safety of those who were still alive. He ordered his soldiers to cut off the feet of Ayesha's camel. Some brave men rushed forth at once and struck their swords on the feet of the camel. The camel staggered and fell down. Thereupon all those who were guarding it ran away and the entire army followed suit. Talha and Zubayr were also killed. As regards Zubayr's death the versions differ. One of them is that a man named Amr bin Jazmooz pursued him upto the valley of al-Saba` and killed him there with his spear. Talha was killed by Marwan with an arrow, although he had been fighting side by side with him so long as the battle lasted. It is reported that while shooting the arrow Marwana had said: "After this time I may not get an opportunity to avenge the murder of Uthman".
Those who are aware of the mentality and past actions of Marwan can very well understand that this action of Marwan was not something unusual for him. He acted according to the general policy of Bani Umayyah viz. to remove from the path everyone who aspired to become a caliph, so that there should be none left to contend with Bani Umayyah on this account.
As regards Marwan himself he was made captive and brought before the Commander of the Faithful. He hoped to be forgiven and his hope was fulfilled. Ali forgave him.
The result of this battle was very dreadful. Seventeen thousand supporters of Ayesha and one thousand and seventy persons belonging to the army of Ali were killed. All these poor men fell victims to the greed of the opponents of Ali.
When some companions of Ali thought of killing Ayesha (as she was responsible for all this trouble), Ali at once stopped them and issued the following proclama- tion: "None who is wounded should be killed and none who flees should be pursued. Whoever lays down his arms or remains indoors shall be safe".
The entire history of warfare in the world goes to show that Ali was the most magnanimous, noble-minded and forgiving person and the treatment which he meted out to his opponents was extremely gentle.
After the hostilities were over Ali looked at the battlefield and tears trickled down from his eyes when he saw the human misery and bloodshed which could not be avoided in spite of his best efforts. He then prayed to God in these words: "O God! Forgive us and also forgive these persons who were our brethren, although they had been unjust to us".
Then he performed funeral prayers for the dead of both sides. As regards Ayesha he sent her back to her house in Madina in a very honourable way.
# Two impostors
The organized conspiracy which was afoot against the Commander of the Faithful did not come to end even after the defeat of his opponents in the Battle of the Camel, because the aspirations of his opponents and the causes of their enmity against him were still there. If one group of those who conspired against him was in Hijaz the other was in Syria and both of these groups had many supporters of Ayesha, Talha and Zubayr. The ring-leaders of these people were the governors and other officers who had accumulated large wealth illegally during the period of Uthman and did not expect any such indulgence from Ali.
The supporters of Ali in Hijaz were all indigent belie- vers or the pious companions of the prophet. His position in Hijaz was similar to that of his cousin, the prophet and if there was any difference it was only due to the time and circumstances. The similarity is proved by the fact that his enemies were mostly the Quraysh, who had been the enemies of the prophet earlier. Ali says: "Let the Quraysh involve themselves in deviation and do not bother about the dissensions which they create or the egotism which they display. They have united to fight against me just as they had united to fight against the prophet of God".
In Syria Mu`awiya was busy in his nefarious activities against Ali - the lawful caliph. He was spending enormous sums of money and making very attractive promises to win the support of the people. He had also a large army of which he was the despotic head. This army may briefly be described thus: "They were foolish mercenaries. They were paid by Mu`awiya who took care that as far as possible they should remain devoid of intellect".
We mention below an incident which explains the nature of the soldiery of Mu`awiya and also shows that he was convinced that his rival Ali was on the right, and it was not difficult for him to achieve success against him because he was to face Ali having with him (Mu`awiya) the soldiers, who did not possess the capability of differentiating between injustice and justice or in other words between Mu`awiya and Ali.
After the army of Ali returned from Siffin a Kufan came to Damascus mounted on his camel. One of the Syrians claimed that the she-camel belonged to him and had been snatched away from him by the Kufan during the Battle of Siffin. The matter came up before Mu`awiya and the Syrian produced fifty witnesses to prove that the she-camel was his. Mu`awiya, therefore, decided the case in his favour. The Kufan said to Mu`awiya: "May God forgive you! It is a he-camel and not a she-camel. Mu`awiya said that as the decision had been taken it was not possible to reverse it. When the court was dispersed and there was no one there, he called the Kufan secretly and enquired from him about the value of his camel. When he mentioned its cost Mu`awiya gave him double the amount and some- thing more and said: "When you reach Kufa tell Ali that I will bring to fight against him one hundred thousand such persons who don't differentiate between a he-camel and a she-camel".
Jahiz has also confirmed these remarks of Mu`awiya and has explained as to why the Syrians were so obedient to him. He says: "The reason for the Syrians being so submissive was that they were very stupid and foolish. It was in their nature to follow others blindly and to stick to the views once formed by them. If someone was slandered before them in his absence, they never cared to verify if it was true or false.
As mentioned above the conspiracies of the enemies of Ali were not limited to the Battle of the Camel but it was only a link of the chain of even greater conspiracies againt him. After defeating the army of Ayesha, Talha and Zubayr, he started making preparations to bring Mu`awiya
to his knees. His sole object was to guide the people towards high morals and good deeds, to prevent them from committing oppression and to establish a government which should consider the protection of their rights to be its foremost duty.
Ali's method was quite different from those who flatter the powerful, forgive the rebels to seek their assistance, and approach the influential persons to help them in establishing their rule.
We have already mentioned before that Ali did not seek any recompense from the people for the services rendered by him to them except that they should obey him. He often uttered this sentence: "If knowledge, wisdom and justice could be measured I would have measured them for you gratis. However, what is necessary for it is that I should get competent persons and intelligent brains".
Mu`awiya was not a receptacle in which knowledge, wisdom and justice could be contained. justice and public rights were not safe in his hands and if they were left with him there was no surety that he would pass them on to the people. That was why Ali did not allow him to continue as the Governor of Syria. If Ali had been lax in administering justice it was possible that he might have practised simulation with Mu`awiya.
Mu`awiya did not take oath of allegiance to Ali and did not obey his orders. This shows that he was planning to establish a kingdom of his own. Opposition to Ali by Ayesha, Talha and Zubayr and the consequent Battle of the Camel provided him an opportunity to strengthen himself.
After the Battle of the Camel was over Ali wrote letters to Mu`awiya impressing upon him to refrain from antagonism and asking him to take oath of allegiance to him as had been done by others. Mu`awiya replied to him as follows: "I swear by my own life that I do not mind whosoever may have sworn allegiance to you. You would have been like Abu Bakr and Umar if you had been innocent of the murder of Uthman. However, you instigated the Muhajirs to revolt against him and restrained the Ansar from helping him. The ignorant people obeyed you and
the weak became powerful because of you. The Syrians will not refrain from fighting against you unless you hand over to them those persons who murdered Uthman. Thereafter the question of the caliphate will be decided through a consultative council. The people of Hijaz were the rulers of the people so long as they supported truth. They have now forsaken truth and consequently the Syrians now deserve to rule. The argument advanced by you against Talha and Zubayr does not hold good in the case of the Syrians. They took the oath of allegiance to you but we have not done so.
As reagrds your excellence and greatness in Islam and your kinship with the prophet it is something which I cannot deny. And peace (be upon you)".
The letter reproduced above makes the intention of Mu`awiya quite clear. He wanted to avoid taking oath of allegiance to Ali on one pretext or another. He knew that he could not deceive Ali with his words. He was also aware that Ali had nothing to do with the murder of Uthman. He, therefore, said that even if those persons who had taken oath of allegiance to Umar and Abu Bakr had also taken such oath to him and he deserved to become the caliph it was incumbent upon him to hand over to the Syrians the murderers of Uthman who had been given asylum by him.
However, even Ali's innocence in regard to Uthman's murder was proved Mu`awiya was not prepared to acknowledge him as the lawful caliph but wanted the matter to be referred to the consultative council. Furthermore, he was not prepared to allow the people of Hijaz and Iraq to select the caliph, because, according to him this right had been transferred to the Syrians because they were the rightful rulers.
It is evident that if all these conditions were fulfilled none other than Mu`awiya could become the caliph.
Ali showed unusual patience. However, this patience was not due to any lack of resolution or laxity on his part. The position was that at that time the Arabs were divided into two groups and one of them was bound to be
defeated in spite of the differences between them. On the one side were the weak and helpless persons who wanted a life of peace and security for themselves as well as for their brethren. There were also the pious companions of the prophet who longed for a country where justice should prevail. And on the other side were those who wanted to exploit the helpless people and to accumulate wealth by all possible means.
The first group was headed by Ali ibn Abi Talib. All those who desired justice were his supporters and well wishers. The chief of the second group was Mu`awiya bin Abi Sufyan, and all those who were accustomed to oppress others were his followers. The recompense for the first group was their clear conscience and the gift for the second group was Mu`awiya's treasure. There were numerous truth-loving persons who left Mu`awiya and joined Ali and similarly there were many worldly-minded persons who left Ali and went over to Mu`awiya. We mention here some cases in which some persons left Ali and joined Mu`awiya. It will become clear what sort of people they were and why they sided with Mu`awiya.
A man named Yazid bin Hujiyah Tamimi was appoin- ted by Ali as Governor of Ray and the adjoining areas.
He accumulated a large amount of wealth and misappro- priated it. When Ali came to know about it he called him back and imprisoned him. He appointed a man named Sa`d as a sentry. When Sa`d went to sleep Yazid slipped away from the prison. He mounted his animal of riding and reached Damascus where he joined Mu`awiya. He composed the following verses with regard to his escape: "I mounted my animal of riding deceiving Sa`d and came over to Damascus. I chose a superior person".
"When Sa`d went to sleep I escaped. Sa`d is nothing more than a misguided and perplexed slave".
This Yazid satirized Ali in his verses which he sent to Iraq and made it known to Ali that he (Yazid) was his enemy. Mu`awiya gave him a large sum of money where- upon he praised him and the people of Syria, and said that Syria was a sacred land and the Syrians were true believers.
He said: "I loved the Syrians in preference to others and wept bitterly for Uthman".
"Syria is sacred land and its inhabitants are the true believers and the followers of the Qur'an".
Another man named Za`qa` bin Sa`d was appointed by the Commander of the Faithful as the ruler of Kaskar. He accumulated a large quantity of wealth by all possible means and spent it lavishly. So much so that he married a woman and gave her one hundred thousand dirhams as dowry. When he came to know that Ali had become aware of his malpractices he left for Syria taking away as much money as he possibly could.
Ali punished a man named Najashi for drinking wine. He was one of the supporters of Ali and, therefore, thought that he deserved indulgence as compared with others. He did not like that Ali the Commander of the Faithful should punish him as he had punished others. When Mu`awiya promised him asylum he, therefore, ran away to Syria. On arriving there he composed this verse satirizing Ali.
"Who will convey this message of mine to Ali that I am safe now and do not feel any danger".
When Najashi was punished many Yemenites were annoyed, as he, too, was one of them. They, therefore, deserted Ali and joined Mu`awiya.
Just as the worldly-minded people are numerically larger than others the number of those who deserted Ali and joined Mu`awiya was also large.
Every person is not capable of tolerating the truth or of saying or doing the right thing. Therefore every person could not love Ali who was very strict in the matter of truth and justice and could not deviate from truth and righteousness even for his very near relatives. In the circum- stances why should that governor have not left him and joined Mu`awiya whom Imam Ali wrote as under: "I swear by God that if I come to know that you have misappro- priated the property of the Muslims even to a very small extent I shall award you a punishment which will make you indigent, heavy-laden and disgraced".
Similarly why should that governor not have deserted him when he addressed in these words: "I know that you have made the Public Treasury empty and have grabbed whatever you could lay your hands on. You have mis- appropriated whatever came into your hands. Will you please send me the account that you have maintained?"
How could mean persons attain to the heights of piety and the truthfulness and how could such a ruler like the following message of the Commander of the Faithful?
"If the information which I have received about you is correct, your camel and the lace of your shoe are better than you".
How could the powerful capitalists and their unjust associates tolerate that Ali should be the caliph - the same Ali who wanted to spend the wealth for the welfare of the common man and was always at war with the oppressors and their associates? How could they like a caliph who said: "I swear by God that it is preferable for me to lie on the thorns and be chained rather than that I should oppress anyone or usurp even the most ordinary thing".
Why should these people not have rebelled against him who openly said: "It is my duty to wage a war against oppression and the oppressors, and against those who unlawfully grab the wealth of others, and I shall have to account for it on the Day of Judgement. Had Ali not considered this responsibility essential, he would have left matters as they were. He would have left the people to their own fate. Some would have been the oppressors and some the oppressed. He says: "If the Almighty God had not taken a promise from the rulers that they will not sit quiet in the event of the oppressor becoming over- satiated with food and the oppressed one remaining hungry, I would have thrown the reins of the caliphate on his shoulders (i.e. would have allowed the affairs to continue to take the turn they had already taken) and would have satisfied its last one like the first one. You would then have found your world to be more worthless in my eyes than the sneezing of a goat".
How could the treacherous persons let such a person
assume the administration of their affairs when Ali held the following view about them and his contemporaries: "A person who knows how he will have to render his account cannot be treacherous. We are living during a time in which the people commit treachery and deceit considering it to be prudence, and the ignorant persons treat it to be a good policy".
That is why a large number of powerful persons who opposed Ali were those who had amassed large quantities of wealth by unlawful means and wished Mu`awiya to make them richer at the cost of the common man and through the Public Treasury. As regards persons other than these capitalists who were against Ali they were those foolish persons who did not know what was good and what was harmful for them.
As we have mentioned above the Arabs of that time were divided into many groups. Evey group was obedient to a chief. They obeyed their chiefs blindly and did not ask them as to why they were pleased or displeased with someone. Ali has referred to his contemporaries of this kind, time and again. In his remarks about them there is grief as well as annoyance of a kind father with regard to the children who disobey him and provide intentionally or unintentionally, the means of their own ruin. He says about them: "I complain to God against those people who are spending their lives in ignorance".
Addressing those people he says: "Your enemies are not unmindful of you whereas you have forgotten everything on account of your heedlessness".
Explaining how such people feel when they are called upon to fight against the rebels he says: "Some of them come unwillingly, others make false excuses and still others withhold assistance intentionally".
He adds: "The questioner from amongst them tries to confuse and one who gives a reply gives it without reflecting on it. Usually the sentiments of pleasure and displeasure make a man holding correct views deviate from the right path. As regards that person from amongst them whose intellect is mature it is possible that one look may
impress him and one word may bring about a revolution in his mind".
In his last sentence the Commander of the Faithful has described the mental condition of the distinguished personalities of his time in a very lucid manner. He says: "During this time if there are some sensible pesons there sensibility is subservient to their greed and avarice and their views depend on their pleasure and displeasure. If they are pleased with somebody they take decisions in his favour without any justification; if they are displeased with someone they give wrong decisions in his case simply on account of their displeasure. As regards those with mature intellect one look at the things which they like is sufficient to make them deviate from the path already being followed by them, and one word of an influential and powerful person or a briber is sufficient to make them support injustice and assist the oppressor".
* * * * * * * *
When, after the defeat of the people of the camel, the centre of conspiracies against Ali shifted to Damascus, Mu`awiya bin Abi Sufyan the leader of Bani Umayyah intensified his preparations to fight against Ali and topple down his government. On the receipt of the first letter of Ali wherein he had asked him to take the oath of allegiance to him like others, he summoned to Damascus for consultation all those persons, from whom he could expect assistance. The most prominent among them was Amr Aas. On receipt of Ali's letter Mu`awiya wrote immediately to Amr:
"You must have come to know the fate which Talha, Zubayr and Ayesha have met. Marwan, after having left Basra, has since joined me. Now Jarir bin Abdullah has brought to me a letter from Ali. I do not wish to send him a reply without consulting you. You should, therefore, come as early as possible".
On receiving Mu`awiya's letter Amr called his sons Abdullah and Muhammad to consult them about the reply
which might be sent by him. Abdullah said: "I think that when the prophet breathed his last he was pleased with you, and Abu Bakr and Umar were also pleased with you when they died. In case you corrupt your faith now by siding with Mu`awiya, you and he both will go to Hell on the Day of Judgment".
Then Amr asked his second son Muhammad to express his views in the matter. He replied: "You should go expeditiously and join Mu`awiya. It is better to reach early and become a chief rather than go later and become a camp-follower".
In the morning Amr Aas called his slave named Durdan and asked him to saddle his animal of riding. Then he asked him to unsaddle it. He got it saddled and unsaddled thrice. Durdan asked him: "Sir! What is the matter? I hope you won't mind if I tell you what is in your heart". Amr said: "Speak out what you have to say". Thereupon Durdan said: "At present this world and the hereafter have created a storm in your mind. You reflect that the hereafter is with Ali but not this world and this world is with Mu`awiya but not the hereafter. You are wavering between these two. My suggestion is that you should stay at home. If the believers succeed, you may pass your day amidst them and if the worldly-minded are victorious, they will certainly need your assistance".
However, the promises made by Mu`awiya to Amr Aas were not so insignificant that he might have ignored them and might have stayed at home acting on the advice of his son Abdullah or his slave Durdan. He decided to oppose Ali and joined Bani Umayyah and Mu`awiya.
As Amr Aas was active in plotting against Ali in no lesser a degree than Mu`awiya it is necessary to give briefly his life sketch so that we may know the reason why he left Ali and joined Mu`awiya's company and what the value he had for his company.
Before he adopted Islam Amr Aas was well known for his bargaining and profiteering. This is a fact which cannot be denied. He has himself explained clearly this trait of his in these words: "On return from the Battle
of the Ditch I gathered together some men from amongst the Quraysh who usually accepted my views and heard me attentively. I said to them: "I swear by God that I can foresee that Muhammad is going to succeed. In the circum- stances it will be better for us to migrate to Ethiopia per- manently and settle there. It is better to live under the Negus than to submit to Muhammad. If Muhammad over- comes our people we shall remain beyond his reach and if our people overpower him we shall stand to gain much. They agreed with me and said: "Whatever you have said is absolutely correct. Then I asked them to procure some presents for the Negus............".
Dr. Hasan Ibrahim Hasan of Egypt who is a great admirer of Amr and has obtained a doctorate from the London University on the basis of his thesis entitled "Amr son of Aas" writes thus while commenting on the nature of his Islam:
"When we look into the affairs of Quraysh that in the beginning everyone of them was bent upon destroying Islam. Every victory of the prophet and every defeat of the Quraysh instead of dismaying them, made them more furious. However, after they had suffered successive defeats and all their chiefs and distinguished men were killed the young men felt very uneasy and began thinking about their future line of action. They could see darkness on one side and a ray of hope on the other. They knew that even if they sided with the ever-increasing strength of Islam at that stage they would stand to gain. However, they also feared that by doing so they would lose the honour and dignity which they enjoyed among their people and they would also lose their former freedom. Some of them ignored all these misgivings and reaching Madina took the oath of allegiance to the prophet . Others who could not take any decision desisted from opposing Islam and when it became perfectly clear to them that in any case Muhammad was going to gain victory over Quraysh they also decided to avail of the opportunity before it was too late and adopted Islam. This happened before the conquest of Mecca. The foremost persons among the two
respective groups were Khalid bin Walid and Amr Aas. Amr had gone away from Arabia to Ethiopia to study the conditions there. However, when he realized that very good relations existed between the prophet and the Negus, and in Arabia Islam was going to reach the height of success and the fall of Mecca was a matter of days only, he decided to join those who had already embraced Islam and to do voluntarily what he would have to do willy nilly later". (Amr Aas by Dr. Hasan Ibrahim Hasan Egyptian also Urdu translation published by Idara Maktaba Jadid, Lahore. p.43-44).
Opportunism remained alive in the heart of Amr Aas throughout his life. In this respect he was just like the chiefs of the tribes and other distinguished persons against whom Abu Bakr, Umar and Ali had to wage war. We have explained in the foregoing pages that when, Amr Aas was the Governor of Egypt, he accumulated a large amount of wealth. Umar ordered him to surrender half of it to the Public Treasury. He tried to evade payment on different pretexts but Umar was not satisfied. He wrote to Amr Aas saying: "I swear by God that I am not going to be deceived by your fraudulent words. You people have amassed wealth and are not afraid of anything.......Look here! You collect disgrace and leave fire behind you as inheri- tance. I am sending Muhammad son of Muslima to you. You should hand over half of your wealth to him".
When Muhammad son of Muslima met Amr with the letter in question he got very sumptuous dishes prepared for him, but Muhammad declined to eat them. Amr asked him: "Do you consider it unlawful to take meal in my house?" Muhammad replied: "If you had placed before me the food which is ordinarily offered to the guests I would not have refused to eat it. However, the food which you have arranged for me is a prelude to corruption (i.e. it is nothing short of bribe). You should, therefore, remove this food from here and surrender to me half of your property. Amr, therefore, handed over to him one half of everything belonging to him. A pair of shoes was left with him out of which Muhammad took one shoe also, and let the other
shoe remain with him. Amr Aas could not tolerate this. He, therefore, said to Muslima: "Woe be to the time when I was appointed as governor by Umar. By God I am aware of the condition of Umar's father Khattab when he used to carry a bundle of firewood on his head and Umar too carried another bundle. Both of them did not have enough clothes to hide their bodies. Each of them wore a loin-cloth which did not reach even upto their knees. And I swear by God that my father Aas lived such a luxurious life that he was not satisfied even with a silken coat with gold buttons on it".
This incident shows how keen Amr Aas was to avail of every opportunity to acquire wealth. It also shows the complex mentality of the distinguished persons. Amr could not find any fault with Umar and his father except that they were poor and did not have enough clothes to wear and worked with their hand and carried bundles of firewood on their heads and he could not mention any quality of his own father except that he used to wear silken clothes.
It would be wrong to imagine that what Amr Aas said about Umar was occasioned by sudden agitation and anger. No. That was not so. The fact is that he had always been thinking that as Umar and his father were poor and his own father Aas was a rich man his father was better than Khattab and he himself was better than Umar. Amr's point of view was that all human beings were not equal. According to him some persons were mean and others were noble and the criterion of nobleness was one's descent and nothing else. Whoever belonged to a noble and rich family was noble and one was low-born was despi- cable. The noble persons possessed rights which were not admissible to others and it was the duty of the people to obey them. All historians agree that as regards the adminis- tration and government of Egypt Amr's view was that it was necessary for one who wanted improvement and development not to lend ears to the complaints made against the nobility by the persons belonging to the lower classes". (Al-Islam wa al-Hazarat al-Arabiyyah).
In this way Amr Aas was completely occupied with greed for indulgence and luxury. He believed that exploita- tion of the lower classes was the birth-right of those who belonged to the noble families. At times his mind wavered as to whether he should keep his conscience alive or to kill it for worldly gains, but he soon decided in favour of luxury and wealth. As mentioned above the same thing happened when Mu`awiya called him. He reflected for some time as to whether he should side with Ali or with Mu`awiya, but eventually he decided to proceed to Syria.
The historians and narrators attribute some verses to Amr Aas. He composed them while he was going to Mu`awiya. In these verses he has clearly expressed his views about Ali and Mu`awiya. In his eyes Ali was a very great man and Mu`awiya stood no comparison with him. It might he said that he had two hearts in his bosom. One of them stopped him from going to Mu`awiya whereas the other ordered him to go and see Mu`awiya. He concludes his poem with the following verses:
"I adopted the world intentionally on account of avarice, although there was no sound reason for adopting the world".
"I know very well the losses involved in adopting the world, but it is also a fact that I possess various worldly desires".
"The real thing is that my mind desires to lead a life of honour and dignity. Who can agree to lead a life of humiliation".
According to Amr Aas life of honour and dignity was confined to immediate worldly gains and Umayyad promises. Just as in the days of Umar the criterion of dignity in his eyes was such that his own father used to wear silken clothes, the standard of humiliation, according to him, during the time of Ali was assisting who neither did any bargaining himself nor allowed others to do it. This standard of humiliation was like that of the poor clothing of Umar and his father.
When Amr Aas reached Mu`awiya's court the latter said to him: "O Abu Abdillah! I invite you to perform
jihad against that man (i.e. Ali ibn Abi Talib) who has disobeyed God created dissension among the Muslims and dispersed the nation". Amr Aas said: "What will you give me if I join you to fight against Ali knowing as you do that the matter is so dangerous".
Mu`awiya said: "I shall give you whatever you ask for". Amr Aas said: "I want the Governorship of Egypt".
Thereafter a long deceptive conversation took place between them. Each of them tried to dupe the other. Each of them had his personal gain in view.
Their deceptive conversation, however, ended with bargaining with each other. Amr Aas acknowledged Mu`awiya as the caliph and took oath of allegiance to him and in return Mu`awiya gave him absolute authority over Egypt and its inhabitants and promised non-interference from his side. Ali has drawn a picture of this bargaining in the following words:
"He did not swear allegiance to Mu`awiya until he agreed to pay the price of his allegiance. May the hands of one who swore this allegiance be not victorious and successful! And may the purchaser of this allegiance be disgraced and humiliated! (The time has now come that) you should get ready for war and procure the necessary equipment".
Ali further says about this bargaining: "I have been given to understand that Amr Aas has not taken oath of allegiance to Mu`awiya for nothing. He made him agree beforehand that he would have to pay its price - that he would have to give a present for forsaking the faith".
Amr Aas did not content himself with the afore- said bargain. His motive was something else. He advised Mu`awiya to organize a propaganda movement against Ali so that it might be useful in connection with a war which might be fought later. He said to him inter alia: "Send reliable persons to different cities to propagate that it is Ali who has killed Uthman".
Amr Aas did all this in spite of the fact that he knew very well that Ali was not at all involved in the murder of Uthman and in fact the party to which he himself
belonged had a great hand in the matter, as we have explained in an earlier chapter.
When at the time of the Battle of Siffin Mu`awiya asked Amr Aas to array the forces he did not comply with his wish until he had obtained a promise from him once again that when Ali was killed and his (Mu`awiya's) govern- ment was established he would give him the Governorship of Egypt.
Another proof of the fact that Amr Aas was very skilled in bargaining and safeguarding his own interests is that when he and Abu Musa Ash`ari sat together in connection with the well-known event of Arbitration and those who were representing the two parties suggested the names of different persons for the caliphate, Abu Musa put forth the name of Abdullah bin Umar al-Khattab. Others also supported him saying that Abdullah was the most deserving person for the caliphate. Abu Musa said time and again: "I would like to revive the name of Umar al-Khattab) if I could. Thereupon Amr Aas said to Abu Musa: "If you want to make Abdullah bin Umar the caliph for his religiousness why don't you select my son Abdullah for that office? You are well aware of his merits and competence".
This was how Amr Aas used to bargain. He had come as an arbitrator nominated by Mu`awiya but as soon as he felt that there was a possibility of his son becoming the caliph he tried to avail of the opportunity and put forward his name for that office. At that time he also forgot that in the Battle of Siffin he was the Commander-in-Chief of Mu`awiya's forces and in the event of success he had promised him the Governorship of Egypt, and ignored the fact that he was the arbitrator from Mu`awiya's side and the arbitration was also taking place on account of his machinations and deceit.
The fact is that both Mu`awiya and Amr Aas knew that they were doing injustice to Ali. In the heart of their hearts they were aware that Ali was better than them. Both of them were endeavouring to achieve their own purpose. Apparently they were friends and well-wishers
of each other but in reality they were very much inimical and their enmity became manifest from the colour of their faces and from the sentences they uttered. After the Battle of Siffin was over Mu`awiya asked his courtiers one day: "What is the most surprising thing?" Everyone of them expressed his views on the subject. When the turn of Amr Aas came he said: The most strange thing is, that falsehood should gain victory over truth". By saying this he alluded to Mu`awiya and Ali.
Mu`awiya said in reply at once: "No. The most strange thing is that a man may, without fearing another man and knowing that he can do him no harm, give him something which he does not deserve". He meant that he had given the Governorship of Egypt to Amr Aas although Amr could do him no harm and did not also deserve to be the governor.
The views held by Amr Aas about Ali and Mu`awiya become manifest from the acknowledgement made by him in these words: "I have been deceived. It was a great mis- take to leave Ali and to support Mu`awiya". This admission and acknowledgement by Amr shows the extreme moral degradation of Mu`awiya's associates and supporters. They were deceiving themselves intentionally.
When Ali was martyred and soon afterwards Mu`awiya became the sole ruler of the Islamic territories he began to adopt dilly-dallying tactics in appointing Amr Aas as the Governor of Egypt. Amr demanded that Mu`awiya should fulfil his promise. However, when Mu`awiya did not comply with his request he wrote a long poem and sent it to him. Some of its verses are as under:
"O Mu`awiya! Do not forget the prize which you promised me. Do not deviate from the right path".
"O son of Hind! I assisted you against the greatest and the most distinguished chief (i.e. Ali ibn Abi Talib) on account of my ignorance".
"What comparison do you bear with Ali? How can a sword be compared with an axe, the Milky Way with the last layer of the earth, or Ali with Mu`awiya".
On receiving this poem Mu`awiya immediately appoin- ted Amr Aas as Governor of Egypt.
How much Mu`awiya and Amr Aas, whom their personal interests, and give and take matters had brought together, hated each other is also proved by the following incident:
When Mu`awiya deputed Amr Aas to strengthen the plot of Arbitration and to take advantage of the foolish- ness of Abu Musa Ash`ari, he (Mu`awiya) said something which displeased Amr. He, therefore, recited a satirical verse about Mu`awiya which is well-known. Thereupon Mu`awiya asked one of his courtiers named Abdur Rahman bin Umm Hakam to reply to that verse and write a satire on him. Abdur Rahman satirized Amr in a number of verses wherein he threatened and cursed him and also censured him for having run away from the battlefield of Siffin while he was facing Ali. Abdur Rahman said: "You should give up rebellion and stubbornness because a rebel is an accursed person. Did you not run away on the day of Siffin while facing Ali? You were very keen to save your life and feared you might have to face death, although every person has to die one day".
Evidently both of these persons possessed a strange mentality. On the one hand they had joined hands to claim revenge for the murder of Uthman and to declare Ali to be an oppressor and take revenge on him, and on the other hand they threatened, abused and censured each other.
There was a sect among the Muslims who decided most of the matters according to the dictates of reason and good conscience. They have treated both Mu`awiya and Amr Aas to be treacherous, because they fought against Ali who was the lawful caliph. The Mu`tazilah held this view. The Mu`tazilah were more bold as compared with other Muslim sects in the matter of analysis and criticism of the actions of the people. As explained by the author of al-Munyah wal-Amal, most of the Mu`atazilites have dissociated themselves from Mu`awiya and Amr Aas and declared them to be thieves and robbers, who looted public property. (See Fajr al-Islam p.240).
Mu`awiya was exactly as depicted by Ali. He says: "He is a man with a big mouth and a swollen belly. He ate
what he could find and was on the look-out what he could not get".
As regards Amr Aas he says: "He told lies and broke promises. If he wanted to borrow something from another person he pestered him for it, and if someone else asked him for something he showed stinginess. And if he made any pact or promise he violated it".
All these qualities were common in Mu`awiya and Amr Aas and that is why they joined hands with each other. When a man with a big mouth also possesses a big belly he naturally eats what he finds, and remains on the look-out for more. He does not care whether the thing being utilized by him is lawful or unlawful nor is he acquainted with the sense of equity and justice, cruelty and oppression, good and bad, and virtue and meanness. And when a person is a liar he breaks the promises made by him. When he wants to borrow something from another he presses him hard but shows stinginess when he himself is asked for something. He violates the pacts and promises made by him. He does all these things for his personal gain. What Ali has said about both of them means that their actions were based on their selfish motives. In the circumstances nothing could prevent them from collabora- ting with each other on treachery and rebellion especially when both of them stood to gain by it, although in the heart of their hearts they hated each other. Ali refers to this fact when he says:
"I have read the letter of these two evil-doers (Mu`awiya and Amr Aas) who have joined hands to disobey the orders of God".
* * * * * * * *
The enemies of Ali plotted against him with great dexterity. The conspirators were many and their aims and objects were also different from one another. They were, however, united on one point and it was that Ali should not be their ruler. Mu`awiya had a great hand in organizing and strengthening the conspiracy. He was the
ring-leader and all others were his supporters and followers. In fact it was he who caused the Battle of the Camel also. If he had not provided equipment to the insurgents, without himself coming into the forefront, this battle would not have taken place. This claim is also proved by the fact that immediately on receiving information about Ali's having assumed the caliphate he sent a letter to Zubayr through a man belonging to the tribe of `Amis. The letter read as follows:
"From Mu`awiya bin Abu Sufyan to the Commander of the Faithful Abdullah al-Zubayr. After salam (greetings) I have to inform you that I have obtained the oath of allegiance to you from the people of Syria and they have promptly acknowledged you as their caliph. Now it is necessary for you to endeavour that the people of Basra and Kufa should also join you, because if the citizens of these two cities submit to you, the matters will become very easy for you. After you I have obtained the oath for Talha bin Ubaydullah. Now you claim the revenge of the murder of Uthman on Ali and should invite the people to yourselves. Both of you should make utmost efforts in this matter and quickly too. May God grant you success and destroy your enemies".
When Zubayr received the said letter he was very happy and showed it to Talha also. Both of them were deceived by Mu`awiya's show of sincerity. They immediately broke their allegiance to Ali, acting on the advice of Mu`awiya, and decided to fight against him. Consequently the Battle of the Camel took place. Mu`awiya's desire was fulfilled as he wanted that the caliph of the time Ali and the aspirants of caliphate Talha and Zubayr should fight together so that their strength might be weakened.
When the Battle of the Camel was over Mu`awiya spent enormous sums of money to bribe those about whom he felt that they would assist him or would not at least support Ali. And if he knew that someone would neither help him nor would remain a silent spectator when he (Mu`awiya) revolted, he adopted novel methods to deceive and misguide them. Amr Aas was Mu`awiya's
chief adviser and helper in all these conspiracies. Ali did not try to coax or flatter Amr Aas and to win him over even when he came to know that he was collaborating with Mu`awiya. He remained as upright and truthful as ever and even the alliance of Amr Aas and Mu`awiya did not affect his steadfastness. He, therefore, wrote a letter to Amr Aas as follows:
"You have made your faith pursue the world of a man, whose deviation is not something hidden, it is known to all. He is one who brands even a noble-minded who sits with him, and befools one who is judicious and forbear- ing. You have followed him and crave for his crumbs just as a dog followed a lion looking at its claws greedily and expecting to get the remains of its prey. By doing so you have ruined your present world as well as the hereafter, although you would have gained your object even if you had stuck to truth. Now if God grants me victory over you and the son of Abu Sufyan I shall punish both of you properly for your misdeeds and even if I cannot gain control over you and you continue to live after me your fate will be extremely bad".
# The disaster
Soon afterwards Mu`awiya left for Iraq along with one hundred and twenty thousand men and encamped near the bank of the Euphrates in the valley of Siffin near Raqqa. He marched on and occupied-an open and even tract of land. Sitfin is a valley near the Euphrates. During those days there were many water springs in that valley as well as a large number of trees between it and the Euphrates.
Ali also left Kufa along with his army and reached Siffin after having passed through Mada`en and Raqqa. His intention was to prevent Mu`awiya from rebellion by means of advice and kindness and to resort to fighting only if he showed stubbornness. When he reached Siffin he saw that a huge army which had encamped on the bank of the river had blocked the way of his own army to have access to water. Ali sent a message to Mu`awiya saying: "We have not come here to fight for water. If we had arrived here earlier than you we would not have prevented you from taking water".
Amr Aas advised Mu`awiya not to block the way of Ali's army to the water. He said: "Ali's courage and valour is well-known to the world and he is accompanied by a large army of brave warriors. It is not possible that they will accept the present position and remain thirsty". Mu`awiya replied: "By God this is my first success. May God not satiate me from the fountain of Kauthar if these people drink the water of the river. In case, however, they are victorious the matter will be different". The compa- nions of Mu`awiya had been so much emboldened that
they told Ali to his face! "You will not get a drop of water until you are dead".
Strategically the position of Ali was very weak. He, however, sent Malik Ashtar to acquire control of the bank of the river. He put Mu`awiya's men to flight with his unusual valour. Now the bank was under the control of Ali's forces. According to Allamah Ibn Qutaibah Amr Aas felt happy over this defeat of Mu`awiya and said to him: "O Mu`awiya! Just tell me one thing: Suppose they also stop water for your army as you stopped it for them, can you fight against them to get the control of the bank of the river? However, it is certain that Ali will not allow the same thing which you considered permissible".
Some of the companions of Ali wanted to pay Mu`awiya and his army back in their own coin and to stop the supply of water to them, but that great man turned down their suggestion and allowed free use of the water to the enemies. His companions insisted very much saying: "O Commander of the Faithful. Stop water for them as they had done for you. Don't let them drink a drop of water. Let them die of thirst. There will be no need for fighting. You can catch them with your own hands". Ali replied: "I can't do what they did. Let them have access to water".
Had Mu`awiya's supporters been of noble character they would have understood the difference between Ali and Mu`awiya and would have realized as to who was on the right path and who was on the wrong. They would then have known that to assist Mu`awiya against Ali was just like helping a thief or a dacoit, or one who was fighting against a prophet.
Whatever faith Amr Aas had he had already sold it to Mu`awiya for the Governorship of Egypt. Otherwise there could be no justification for his helping Mu`awiya when he knew that he stood no comparison with Ali.
In the Battle of Siffin the Syrians abused and imprecated on Ali. Mu`awiya was delighted to hear all this. Most probably he himself instigated and ordered them to do so in the same way in which he had ordered during the
period of his own rule that Ali should be abused from the pulpit. This villainous act is an indelible mark of disgrace on his fate, and for that reason he will be looked down upon by others for ever.
When the Iraqis heard the Syrians using such abusive language they also wished to reply in the same manner. But when Ali came to know about it he considered it a slur on the nobleness and good name of his army. He, therefore, delivered before his men a speech, which made a brilliant addition to the lofty principles of his government. He told them to behave honourably towards everyone - whether he was a friend or an enemy. He said: "I don't like that you should begin abusing them. If you point out their misdeeds and mention the true facts about them it will be something justifiable and you will have done your duty. Instead of using abusive language you should say: O Lord! Protect our faith as well as theirs. Make our reconciliation possible and guide them from ignorance to wisdom so that they may be able to distinguish between truth and falsehood and forsake deviation and rebellion. As was usual with Ali he made his best efforts to avoid bloodshed and bring about reconciliation, but he did not succeed in this task. He kept the door of goodwill and generosity open for quite some time but the Syrians were so muddle-headed that they did not develop the capacity of distinguishing between good and evil.
Ali's companions were surprised to see that he was delaying the commencement of the battle, and was not permitting them to fight. To them he said: ``As regards your asking whether I am delaying the commencement of the battle because I abhor death and want to avoid it, I swear by God that I do not care at all whether I proceed towards death or death proceeds towards me. And similarly as regards your saying that I am doubtful about the justification of jihad against the Syrians, I swear by God that I have not delayed the battle even for one day except for the reason that I thought some of these people might join me and be guided through me and see my light with their dazzled eyes. I prefer this to killing them while they are in
a state of ignorance, although, to all intents and purposes they themselves will be responsible for their sins".
When Ali became sure that the Syrians would not at all come to the right path, and fighting was unavoidable, he took his place between the two armies and said: "O Lord! If I had known that You would be pleased if I placed the point of the sword on my belly and bent over it, and pressed it so hard that it might pierce my body and come out of my back, You are well aware that I would have done so. O God! I know only that which You have taught me. Today I cannot think of anything better than performing jihad against these wicked people. If any other act had been more pleasing to You I would certainly not have refrained from performing it".
Then he said: "O Lord of the earth which you have made an abode for the human beings and the place for roaming about of the reptiles and the animals and other countless visible and invisible beings! O Master of the solid mountains which you have made as nails for the earth and as the means of life for the creation! If you make us donimate over our enemies guard us from injustice and keep us steadfast on the path of truth, and if you make our enemies victorious, grant us martyrdom and protect us from the temptations of life".
A little before the battle started Amr Aas composed some verses and sent the same to Ali. One of them read as follows:
"O Abul Hasan! Do not remain unbothered about us. When we take a matter in hand we make it absolutely firm''.
One of the companions of Ali gave a reply to this in the following words:
"Beware of Abul Hasan who is the lion of the wood of bravery and the father of the lions. He is always wary and extremely vigilant. He will crush you just as something is crushed with a pestle in a mortar. O ignorant man! How foolish you have become that you bite your hands and gnash your teeth!"
Most of the members of the Rabiyya and Mazar tribes
were the supporters of Ali. Addressing one another they said: "Woe betide you! Are you not fond of Paradise?" Saying this they attacked the Syrians and dispersed their rows. They killed so many enemies that a considerable reduction in the Syrian army became clearly visible. The entire army was turned topsyturvy. Mahraz bin Saur who belonged to the Rabiyya tribe recited this epic verse:
"I kill the Syrians with my sword, but I do not find Mu`awiya who is squint-eyed and with a big belly. The fire of hell has devoured him. There the barking dogs are his neighbours. He is extremely wicked and misguided".
The tribesmen of Rabiyya and Mazar were fully convinced that they were supporting truth. One of their poets said:
"The people of Rabiyya tribe hurried post-haste to support truth. Truth is their highway".
A fierce fighting took place and many persons were killed. Ali attacked them like sudden death; whoever was attacked by him was sent to hell. He was not using the sword, but Fate was using the sword. When he attacked a revolting leader, the latter saw death on his head and ran away with fear. They were extremely terror-stricken.
The Syrians suffered great losses due to the bravery and the firm faith of the Iraqis. The battle lasted for three months and twenty days during which ninety encounters took place. However, the most fierce fighting took place for two weeks. This very fighting is known as the event of Harir. In this battle one hundred and twenty thousand men belonging to both the sides were killed. Those fighting from the two sides were brothers, friends and relatives of one another and they killed their dear and near ones with their own hands. People of Azd tribe said at this juncture: "We are cutting off our hands with our own hands. These persons whom we are killing are our hands and arms".
During the battle Ali's soldiers reached the tent of Mu`awiya four times and were about to arrest him. When Mu`awiya saw that his defeat was imminent he became very much afraid. He, therefore, decided to run away and ordered a horse to be brought for him. On the other side
Ali continued cutting the Syrians to pieces. However, Mu`awiya ordered his soldiers to fight on, hoping that Satan for him and for Amr Aas would be able to find a way of safety.
Terrible fighting started again and continued for three days. Historians say that the loss of life during these three days was unparalleled in any battle in the history of Islam. Ibn Qutaiba says that at midnight Ali got a proclamation made in his army for departure. When the sounds of the camels reached Mu`awiya's ears he called Amr Aas and enquired from him as to what the matter was. The latter replied: "I think Ali is preparing to quit the field. However, when the sun rose they saw that Ali had reached quite near them. Mu`awiya then said to Amr: "You told me that Ali was planning to run away but the position is quite the reverse of that". Amr laughed and said: "This was also a part of the war strategy of Ali". Mu`awiya then became sure that his death was imminent. In the meantime, how- ever, the Syrians shouted: "There is the Book of God between you and us".
The Syrians had become very much demoralized and had no competence left to fight. They tied copies of the Qur'an on the spears, ascended a hill and began crying: "O Abul Hasan! Do not reject the Book of God. You are more entitled to act upon it and to obey its judgment". This scheme had been engineered by Amr Aas. Ali's compa- nions hated that man very much because he had sold his faith for material gains and had preferred Mu`awiya to Ali.
Ali knew very well that this scheme had been acted upon by the Syrians to save their lives, because otherwise they had nothing to do with the Qur'an. He, therefore, rejected this offer of arbitration but differences appeared between his followers on this point. Some were of the view that as the battle was being fought to ensure obedience to the Book of God and the Syrians were putting forward that very Book to decide the point at issue, their offer might be accepted and fighting stopped forthwith. Others had, however, realized that an effort had been made to deceive them when they were going to be victorious.
They, therefore, insisted that fighting should be continued. None of the two groups was prepared to abandon the stand taken by it.
Ali suffered more troubles at the hands of his friends than at the hands of his enemies. As Ji bran Khalil says he was like a prophet sent for a nation other than his own and during a period other than that to which he belonged, because even his closest companions could not understand him properly. There were always some rough and hot- tempered persons in his army who violated the promises made by them and created trouble. Those who were devoted to him and those who had joined him half-heartedly were alike in this matter. One such person was Ash`ath bin Qais. He was very greedy and treacherous at heart. He betrayed Ali many times but the betrayal committed by him at Siffin was the worst.
When Mu`awiya's soldiers raised the Qur'an on the spears and said that the Book of God was between them, and it should decide the point at issue, this man (i.e. Ash`ath) approached Ali and said: "It appears that these people are ready to agree with the Syrians and to accept the Qur'an as the arbiter. If you agree I may go and see Mu`awiya to find out what his intention is".
At this moment the contention between the two groups of Iraqis (i.e. those who wanted to continue the fighting and those who wanted to stop it) became acute. Ash`ath came to Ali again and insisted that the offer of arbitration by the Qur'an should be accepted. Ali and his companions were not ready to accept the proposal, but gradually the number of Ash`ath's supporters increased and some of them became so bold as to threaten Ali saying: "O Ali! You should respond to decision by the Qur'an to which you are being invited, failing which we will kill you with the same swords with which we killed Uthman, or will surrender you to Mu`awiya. Mu`awiya has asked us to act according to the Book of God and we have agreed to do so. By God you too will have to agree, other- wise we shall deal with you in the manner which we have mentioned already".
Now Ali's position became very critical. There were two alternatives before him - either to act in such a way that a split might take place between his followers or to agree to what the rebels said.
The situation became extremely dangerous when the rebels headed by Ash`ath son of Qais asked Ali to call back Malik Ashtar, the Commander of his army, from the battle- field and threatened him that they would depose and assassinate him if he failed to do so. Ali called back Malik Ashtar from the battlefield reluctantly and accepted the proposal of arbitration under coercion.
Mu`awiya and the Syrians nominated Amr Aas as the arbitrator from their side. Ash`ath said to Ali: "We nomi- nate Abu Musa Ash`ari as arbitrator from your side".
Amr Aas was a perfect rogue whereas Abu Musa was a mere simpleton - rather a foolish person. Ali knew both of them very well. He, therefore, said: "I don't like Abu Musa Ash`ari. He deserted me at the critical time and pre- vented the people from helping me. Then he ran away to save his life and it was I who provided him asylum. How- ever, I nominate Ibn Abbas to act as the arbitrator".
Ash`ath and his supporters replied: "We wish the arbitrator to be a person who is neutral and has no inclina- tion either towards you or towards Mu`awiya".
This sentence shows how treacherous these persons had been towards Ali. They were either the agents of Mu`awiya or wanted to help him.
The Commander of the Faithful was not at all willing to nominate Abu Musa as arbitrator. He, therefore, said: "All right. If Ibn Abbas is not acceptable to you, you may nominate Malik Ashtar".
However, the rebels did not agree even to this sugges- tion. Ash`ath bin Qais was very jealous of Malik Ashtar.
Malik Ashtar was an embodiment of truth and since- rity. He was a far-sighted person with firm determination. He was a great warrior. Ash`ath did not, however, possess any of these qualities. It was on account of his extra- ordinary virtues that Ali had so much regard for Ashtar. He did not have such regard for anyone else including
Ash`ath. Ash`ath said furiously: "It is Ashtar who has kindled this fire. It is he under whose orders we have been pressed".
Ali and his friends could not prevail upon the rebels, whose number had increased enormously. Possibly one of the reasons for the stubbornness of those persons was that the battle had lasted too long. They had got tired and were no longer in a mood to fight. It was for this reason that they adopted this attitude towards the Commander of the Faithful and supported Ash`ath. When Ali observed their intransigence and also assessed that the number of his supporters had dwindled he said: "Are you bent upon nominating Abu Musa as the arbitrator?" They replied in the affirmative. Thereupon he said: "When I have no say in the matter you may do whatever you like".
In the army of Ali those who had not agreed to arbitration and wanted to continue fighting were very much annoyed that any human being might be appointed as the arbiter in the matter of the Book of God. And why should he be appointed when the matter was quite clear? There was no doubt about the fact that Ali was right and Mu`awiya and his supporters were wrong. This was the basis which the battle had been fought against Mu`awiya. In that battle a large number of the supporters of Ali had been killed. All of them believed that they were supporting truth by fighting from the side of Ali. Hence it was wrong for Ali to entertain any doubt himself about his being on the right and to agree to arbitration.
One of the soldiers coined the slogan: "There is no judge but God". (Later this sentence became the basic slogan of the Kharijites and all their beliefs were con- tained in it).
This slogan penetrated into the entire army within the shortest possible time. Everyone was shouting: "There is no judge but God". Those who opposed arbitration made it the basic principle of their new religion.
These persons began to oppose Ali openly and demanded that he should admit his mistake, rather his apostasy, because of his having agreed to arbitration,
although the decision rested with God. They also demanded that he should forsake the argreement made by him with Mu`awiya. They added that they would support him and fight against Mu`awiya only if he acceded to their demand and failing that they would fight against him (i.e. against Ali).
The Commander of the Faithful did not accede to their demand. An agreement had already been concluded with Mu`awiya and both the parties had agreed to abide by the word of the arbitrators and he was not the person who might have gone back upon his word. He could also not acknoweldge his apostasy, because he had been the most faithful Muslim throughout and had not violated any religious law or wronged any person. If he had been like Mu`awiya and Amr Aas who never cared for any agreements made by them he too would have agreed to the suggestion of the Kharijites, utilized the support offered by them and eventually gained victory over Mu`awiya.
It was in these circumstances that Ali said with much pain, keeping in view his own helplessness and the dis- obedience and rebellion of the Kharijites:
"O you people on whom dishonest trick was played and who suffered deceit! You, who were duped in spite of being aware of the deception and fraud of the deceiver. You, who remained intransigent, followed your passions, lost the way and began to wander hither and thither. Truth was fully manifest, but you turned away from it. The path was clear but you abandoned it and went the wrong way. I swear by Him who split the seed and created the soul that had you obtained knowledge from its origin, collected goodness from its proper place, adopted the clear path and traversed the highway of truth, the paths would have welcomed you and the signs of truth would have become clear to you. Then no one would have been victim of indigence and none of the Muslims or non-Muslims would have been oppressed.
The outcome of arbitration is well-known. The Kharijites revolted against the Commander of the Faithful. As was his wont Ali tried his best that those people might
forsake rebellion, and fighting should not take place. The Kharijites claimed that Abu Musa and Amr Aas had opposed God's orders by acting as arbitrators, and their brothers (i.e. the people of Ali's army) had become infidels by agreeing to arbitration, because they had agreed to the decision by men in the matter of religion. The Kharijites said: "Now we are leaving them and God be thanked that as compared with others we are on the right path"
# Was it justified?
In continuation of what has been stated and before giving an account of the Kharijites, it appears necessary to mention two particular events which took place in the Battle of Siffin. We feel that these two incidents are an abundant proof of the fact that Ali successfully achieved his aim, because real success means winning the hearts and not planting one's standard on the fort of the enemy.
We propose to mention these incidents in detail in particular, because many admirers of Ali think that on these two occasions he did not act expediently and treated Mu`awiya and his army in a manner which they did not deserve.
These persons say that if he had not acted on these occasions as he did he could succeed without actual fighting and even if it had been necessary to fight the battle would not have been so bloody and so lengthy.
The first event was the one we have already mentioned in the foregoing pages viz. when Ali obtained control over the bank of the Euphrates he permitted his enemies to utilize the water of the river like his own army, although earlier, when the bank of the river was controlled by the Syrians, they had declined to allow Ali and his companions access to water, and had said, "We won't give you a drop of water until you die of thirst". But Ali beat them off, and after gaining control over the river, left its bank open for the enemy.
Mu`awiya had treated the control of the bank of the river to be his first success and had vowed that he would not allow the Iraqis to have even a drop of water, unless
they gained control over the bank of the river by torce. However, after Ali had beaten off the Syrians and occupied the bank of the river he said to them: "You can drink water just as we were drinking it".
The second event relates to Amr Aas who was at one moment at the mercy of Ali during the battle, but he did not kill him. Briefly the story is as follows:
When Ali saw that a fierce battle was in progress and so many persons were being killed, he ascended a mound and said: "O Mu`awiya!" Mu`awiya said: "Yes". Thereupon Ali said: "Why should these people kill one another unnecessarily for our sake? Leave them alone and come into the battlefield yourself so that we two should decide the matter by combating each other. Whoever is victorious should be the caliph". Amr Aas said to Mu`awiya: "Right it is! Ali has said a just thing". Mu`awiya laughed and said: "O Amr! you too have become a victim of greed". He meant to say that if he went to fight with Ali he would certainly be killed, and his death would pave the way for Amr to become the caliph. Amr said: "I swear by God that you can save your honour only if you fight against Ali". Mu`awiya replied: "By God you are joking. I shall fight with Ali along with my army. By this he meant that it was not possible to engage with Ali in a single combat.
The historians say that Amr Aas said ridiculing Mu`awiya. "It is a pity that you show cowardice in facing Ali and injure the feelings of your well wisher I swear by God that even if I had to die a thousand times I would not have desisted from fighting against Ali".
Amr came up to fight with Ali. Within the twinkling of an eye Ali attacked him with his spear and down fell the enemy on the ground. Then the sword of the Commander of the Faithful flashed on Amr's head like lightning and Ali was about to kill him, but he (i.e. Amr) became naked. Ali then turned his face and left the place because his inherent modesty and magnanimity did not permit him to glance at the private parts of any person.
Those who admire Ali, and wish that he had been successful, say that on both these occasions he did not act
expediently. They are of the view that when he had gained control of the bank of the river he was entitled to deprive the Syrians of water on two accounts:
Firstly it is permissible in war to resort to a strategy which makes the enemy surrender or weakens him so much that he is not in a position to fight effectively. With these things in view Mu`awiya had gained control over the river and had called it his first success.
Secondly Ali had gained control over the bank of the river after fighting, and now it amounted to war booty. According to military laws, therefore, he would have been justified in refusing its use to Mu`awiya and his army.
Similarly, they say that Ali acted inexpediently when he allowed Amr Aas to run away and spared his life .Amr was the Commander-in-chief of Mu`awiya's forces, a shrewd political intriguer and Ali's sworn enemy. He instigated the people to revolt against Ali and mobilized a large army to fight against him. If he had killed him there and then when his Zulfiqar had reached his head he would have been justified in doing so on three accounts.
Firstly, according to military laws, killing Amr would have meant the killing of one of the dangerous brutes of the Syrians. After his death the enemy forces would have been demoralized and would have run away. Mu`awiya would have lost his right hand man and Ali would have killed his most deceitful, cunning, and influential enemy.
Secondly Amr Aas belonged to an army which did not owe allegiance to Ali and was inimical towards him and his friends.
Thirdly it was Amr Aas who had come to fight with Ali and had challenged him. If he had been as brave as Ali and had got an opportunity to kill him he would certainly not have spared him. That being so if Ali had killed Amr nobody would have blamed him.
In view of the fact that Ali was the Commander of an army and on these two occasions success was at his feet, it was necessary for him not to lose that opportunity, because it is the law of war. The real attribute of a military commander is that he does not lose even the smallest
opportunity of winning the war.
From purely military point of view the objection raised by the critics is correct. But the question is: "Was Ali only the Commander of an army?"
What we have said about Ali so far shows clearly that there was not the least double-dealing or contrariety in his personality. Then how could it be possible that on the one hand he should possess virtues of the highest degree and look at things with broad-mindedness and on the other hand he should be so narrow-minded and selfish that he should forsake all the values and principles only to gain victory? The fact is that he did not desire only victory in a war like other commanders but he also safeguarded rational and human principles and had a great regard for human values.
Ali's virtues and moral principles were the concomitants of his personality and he never abandoned them for even a moment. His conduct was the same in the Battle of Siffin as in the Battle of the Camel. His enemies had blocked his way to the bank of the river and had said that they would not allow him to have even one drop of water till he died. But he advised the people in these words:
"If your brother is displeased with you try to reconcile him by means of goodness, and ward off his mischief by being kind to him".
"Overpower your enemy by means of goodness and kindness. Such a victory is more delicious"
"What is the use of that goodness which is acquired through evil?"
"The rank of one, who performs jihad and is martyred in the path of God, is not higher than one who does not permit his enemy to be harmed after overpowering him. Such a man is very near to the angels".
He is the same Ali who had said about his assassin after the Battle of Siffin: "If you forgive him your act will be nearer to virtue".
Undoubtedly a great personality is not bound by the limits which the admirers of Ali wish to prescribe for him. Ali's qualities were not those of the commander of an
army who wants to achieve victory at any cost. During war high morals and human virtues are usually ignored and no importance is attached to human life. The conscience and reason of great and magnanimous persons, however, have a regard for these things. Of course, Ali was too magnanimous a person to deprive even his enemies of water, although by doing so he could bring them to their knees. He had formulated principles for the dignity and honour of human life which were much superior to the prevalent rules and regulations. His modesty and magnanimity could not permit him to kill Amr Aas when he was subdued by him although it would have been quite in order to kill him in accordance with the rules of warfare.
By adopting on these two occasions the unique behaviour, Ali added a golden chapter in the history of mankind. Magnanimity is one thing and bravery is another. Magnanimity combines the concept of bravery with noblemindedness and love for mankind. A person in whom all these qualities are combined is supernatural as compared with others, and respectable in the eyes of all who are wise and learned.
If bravery means attacking the enemy and gaining victory over him, magnanimity and manliness means all this as well as fear of God, forbearance, love, kindness and sacrifice. The so-called brave man does not believe in any limit or condition in the matter of victory and wants to overpower the enemy by all possible means. A manly and magnanimous person, however, follows some rules and principles in this matter. He is not happy with his victory unless it is in keeping with morality and human dignity. He prefers to die himself rather than to violate human dignity and honour. And if these qualities were ever combined in any person it was Ali son of Abu Talib.
Could it be possible for Ali to deny to human beings, even if they were his enemies, that water which was being utilized even by animals and birds? Could he tolerate killing a man who wanted to live like all others?
Could Ali like to kill a man, who wanted to live with others, look at the sun and the moon like other human
beings, eat bread, and drink water?
Do the admirers of Ali not realize that these two events which occurred at Siffin resemble many others on account of which his critics object to his general policy of government? These critics say that he committed a number of political mistakes. Firstly he dismissed Mu`awiya from the governorship of Syria immediately upon his becoming caliph although it was necessary for him to have delayed this action till his government was firmly established. Secondly, he antoganized Talha and Zubayr. If he had maintained good relations with them the Battle of the Camel would not have taken place and his strength would not have diminished. Thirdly, he was very strict with his governors and officers and did not allow them to accumulate wealth by unlawful means, although he should have been lenient towards them so that they might support him.
These very actions of Ali which are criticized by his critics were in our view his best acts and were the outcome of his tender sentiments and good conscience. We think that his critics raise these objections because they judge his actions according to the standards of the time when honesty and integrity had ceased to exist. His actions may be objectionable in the light of the moral standards of the days of Bani Umayyah and Bani Abbas but they are certainly not objectionable when we keep his own time in view.
In the matter of planning and politics Ali was more prudent and wise than even the greatest Arab politicians. He had a deep insight into political and military matters and knew the inner feelings of the people much better than the hypocrites like Mu`awiya. However, he hated political intrigues and opportunism. He despised everything which made man dishonourable. He did not desire any sucess which was achieved by fraud and deceit. He always liked uprightness. Even when Mu`awiya was notorious for his intrigues and deceit and it was said that Ali was not shrewd like him he said: "I swear by God that Mu`awiya is not more clever than me but he is treacherous and wicked. If I had not despised treachery I would have been the most clever man among the Arabs".
We have briefly discussed the two events of the Battle of Siffin to show that not only the critics of Ali but also his admirers have not been able to understand Ali's personality properly. Some criticize his administration and others say that he did not avail of the opportunity for victory in the Battle of Siffin. In fact both of them have failed to understand Ali fully because in his eyes the origin of the meaning of politics and the rules of warfare was the same or in other words it was the soul of Ali, whose different manifestations were in perfect harmony with one another, and they are the different rings of the same chain. According to him the criterion for goodness and evil, lawfulness and unlawfulness was good conscience and kind manners.
A friend of mine who is a well-read literary man and takes keen interest in the history of Islam said to me once: "You cannot convince me that Ali was well-versed in politics and competent enough to administer the affairs of the people as claimed by you".
I replied to him: "Suppose that Ibn Muljam had not planned to assassinate Ali, and even if he did he had not succeeded in achieving his object on account of the presence of Ali's friends around him and he had remained alive. And suppose that he had then fought against Mu`awiya, as he had already intended and had gained victory over him, as was very probable. Or suppose that the arbitration scheme of Mu`awiya had failed and Ali's army had not been divided into two groups and he had continued the battle and captured Mu`awiya and Amr Aas. In other words the result of this battle had been similar to the Battle of the Camel, and Ali had defeated Mu`awiya as he had defeated Talha and Zubayr. In all these cases much would have depended on the circumstances or luck. Then what would you have said about the administration and war strategy of Ali? Then would you not have said like us that in spite of his oratory, wisdom, nobleness and high morality Ali was a cleverer politician than Mu`awiya and more competent to solve the problems than Amr Aas. Hence if he did not gain victory over Mu`awiya why should it be said that he
was ignorant of politics and war tactics. Why should it not be said that chances were the real cause of his remaining unsuccessful. And what we have said about the politics of Ali in connection with the events of Siffin is equally applicable to the dismissal of Mu`awiya and other governors. Just as his failure in Siffin was due to circumstances in the same way he did not succeed in the case of the dismissal of Mu`awiya and others. The chances of the time, the politics of Uthman and the changed circumstances, provided such weapons of deceit and injustice to the governors as could not be utilized by Ali owing to his magnanimity, nobleness of mind, wisdom, greatness and dignity.
All persons including the critics and the historians have become habituated to look upon various events and give verdicts about them according to the popular opinion, and assess the competence of great personalities in the light of their successes and failures. They do not keep in view the means used by them nor do they take into account the high morality and base qualities of the opposing parties. It has often happened that the greatest politicians and very efficient persons failed because of chances and sudden occurrences, and ordinary persons succeeded because of those very reasons. Neither the efficient politicians could prevent those occurrences from taking place, nor could the ordinary persons cause them to happen by means of their own strength and will.
In short the admirers of Ali wish that Ali too should have adopted diplomacy and a policy of fraud and deceit and should have consequently been victorious. Ali was not, however, prepared to deviate from truth and righteousness. These people desire that Ali should have become Mu`awiya son of Abu Sufyan, when he was Ali son of Abu Taliban embodiment of the attributes of the prophet of Islam.
# The divine will
Now we turn to the events which we had discontinued earlier. The group of persons who were annoyed with Ali (i.e. the Kharijites) left Kufa and settled in a nearby village called Harura. For this reason they are also called `Haruriyah'. And as their slogan was "La Hakam illallah" (There is no judge except God), they are called `Muhakkamah' as well. However, their most well-known name is Kharijites.
Ali proceeded towards them along with his army. He, however, desired that no bloodshed should take place and they might be made to renew their allegiance to him and forsake their false belief by means of discussion. He, therefore, sent a message to them saying: "Send to me from amongst you the one, whom you consider to be most intelligent and judicious, so that he may argue with me. If he is able to convince me I shall do as you want me to. Otherwise you should renew your allegiance to me".
The Kharijites sent their leader Abdullah bin al-Kawa as their representative. Long discussions took place between him and the Commander of the Faithful. Ali gave satisfactory and convincing replies to all the questions asked by him. He went back to his friends, informed them about the matters which had come under discussion and told them that Ali had convinced him fully and he (i.e. Ali) was on the right. The Kharijites, however, remained adamant and did not accept the advice of their leader. They said that as they had already declared Ali to be an infidel it was not possible for them to renew their allegiance to him. They accused Abdullah bin al-Kawa of having shown incompe-
tence in arguing and proving his faith and asked him not to hold any further discussions with him nor disclose to anyone what he had already discussed with him. Thus they continued to be rebellious and inimical towards him and treated him and his companions as infidels and atheists.
Ali was very much grieved to find that his former friends and supporters had become his enemies and were not prepared to listen to reason. They were worldly minded people and were slaves to their carnal desires. He realized that only sword could settle the matters between them and himself. This had become necessary because those people had taken the law into their own hands. They killed those on whom they could lay their hands, and looted and plundered peaceful citizens.
Even then the Commander of the Faithful did not give up advising those people to come to the right path. He also impressed upon his soldiers not to take the initiative in starting the battle. However, the Kharijites suddenly raised their slogan: "There is no judge except God" and attacked Ali's army with full force. Thereupon the Commander of the Faithful and his soldiers also drew their swords and the dreadful Battle of Nehrawan started. When fighting came to an end almost all the Kharijites were killed. Only four hundred persons survived, who had also sustained serious wounds. Had they not been half-dead owing to their wounds it was possible that they too might have died fighting, or would have gained victory. Ali ordered these persons to be dealt with kindness and handed over to their families and tribes, so that they might make arrangements for their proper treatment.
After having dealt with the Kharijites Ali desired to proceed to Syria to punish Mu`awiya. However, this time also Ash`ath bin Qais frustrated his plans by his deceitful activities. He made a large number of soldiers desert the army and hide themselves in adjoining cities. He argued that the soldiers had got tired of fighting for a long time and needed rest. He added that they would rejoin the army after they had taken rest and become fresh.
The Commander of the Faithful returned to Kufa to make preparation for attacking Syria.
Mu`awiya's own army was faithful to him and the Kharijites also helped him unconsciously by fighting against Ali. As regards Ash`ath bin Qais, the historians say that in his heart of hearts he was a supporter and sympathiser of Mu`awiya .Some historians have stated clearly that he went to Damascus, met Mu`awiya, obtained enormous wealth from him and began awaiting future developments.
* * * * * * * *
At this stage fate shot an arrow at Ali to which that great man fell victim and thereby his enemies achieved their object. However, this success of his enemies was not the result of their deceit, cleverness, wisdom, strength or prudence. It was a sheer chance and a sudden accident which paved the way for their success. Some fanatical Kharijites assembled at a place and began talking about their friends and kinsmen who were killed in the Battle of Nehrawan. They expressed the view that the responsibility for the bloodshed lay on the shoulders of three persons who were, according to their belief, the leaders of those who had deviated from the right path viz. Ali, Mu`awiya and Amr Aas. One of the Kharijites named Bark son of Abdullah undertook to kill Mu`awiya; another named Amr bin Bakr promised to do away with Amr Aas; and a third named Abdur Rahman ibn Muljam took the responsibility of assassinating Ali.
The above-mentioned three Kharijites decided to kill Ali, Mu`awiya, and Amr Aas, during one and the same night.
These three persons were very fanatical, revengeful and daring and were prepared to achieve their object at any cost. However, in the case of Abdur Rahman ibn Muljam a strange thing happened which spurred his resolve and made it so firm that even if the other two Kharijites had hesitated in killing Mu`awiya and Amr Aas; there was no likelihood of his wavering in the assassination of Ali. It so happened that he came from Mecca to Kufa and stayed there with a friend of his. There he suddenly met
a woman named Qattam daughter of Al-Akhzar who was a matchless beauty of her time, and whose father and brother were killed in the Battle of Nehrawan. Abdur Rahman fell in love with her and proposed to her at once. She asked him as to what dowry he would give her. He told her that he would give her anything she desired. Thereupon she said: "I want you to give me three thousand dirhams, one slave and one slave-girl and also to assassinate Ali son of Abu Talib". He replied: "It is easy to provide three thousand dirhams, a slave and a slave- girl, but how can I assassinate Ali?" She replied: "Kill him with some trick. If you kill him you will feel satisfied and will also enjoy my company for a long time".
Before having met Qattam and conversed with her Abdur Rahman ibn Muljam was somewhat shaken in his resolution to assassinate Ali, because in spite of all his meanness it was not an easy task for him to kill the Imam for an offence with which he had no concern. Similarly it was also not easy for him to take a dreadful step, whose result was likely to be extremely dangerous. However, fate willed it that Abdur Rahman ibn Muljam should become confirmed in his resolve and get ready to commit the most heinous crime. Fate took out a new arrow from its quiver and gave it in the hand of ibn Muljam to aim it at the Imam's bosom.
Fate took Abdur Rahman ibn Muljam to his friend's house and also brought Qattam at that place. Then there took place the strange conversation about dowry, about which a poet says:
"I have neither seen in Arabia nor anywhere else any person so generous that he should have given to any woman dowry equal to that of Qattam i.e. three thousand dirhams, one slave, one slave-girl and the assassination of Ali with a sharp sword. Howsoever large a dowry may be it cannot be greater than Ali, and every murder is easier as compared with that of Ali, which was committed by ibn Muljam".
The conversation of Qattam and ibn Muljam ended with this remark of the latter: "All right. It will be as you wish. I undertake to assassinate Ali".
The three Kharijites who had plotted against the lives of Ali, Mu`awiya and Amr Aas during an appointed night proceeded to their destinations. And then something strange and possibly unprecedented happened, for which none could be held responsible.
The man who had gone to kill Amr Aas did not succeed in achieving his end. Perhaps fate had willed that he should not overpower Amr Aas. It so happened that during that night Amr became indisposed and this indisposition saved his life. He did not come out of his house either to offer prayers or to perform any other job. He asked the police-officer of the city named Kharija ibn Huzafa to lead the dawn prayers in his place. When the police-officer came out of the house Amr bin Bakr took him for Amr Aas and killed him.
When Amr bin Bakr was captured and taken before Amr Aas the latter said to him: "You wanted to kill me but God willed that Kharija should be killed". Then he ordered Amr bin Bakr to be beheaded.
When Mu`awiya came to the masjid and Bark bin Abdullah saw him he aimed his sword at his head, but the sword actually struck his buttocks and the attack proved to be abortive. Mu`awiya's buttocks served as his shield and his life was saved.
# Let them mourn
A stranger is sitting in a corner of the world, away from the people, in a state of extreme anguish. He is sitting alone and his loneliness weighs heavily on him.
He is a stranger although he is living among his people, but he is extremely grieved on account of them. Time did not recognize him, although he had pervaded it.
The earth did not recognize him, although his sweet and wise sayings continued to ring in it and it saw with its own eyes his great feats.
This stranger used to spend everything he possessed on others but did not seek anything from them. He was subjected to great oppressions, but he never thought of taking revenge. He forgave his enemies after gaining victory over them. He never did any injustice to his enemies and never performed any unlawful act for the sake of his friends. He was the helper of the weak, the brother of the indigent, the father of the orphans and a kind friend of those who were fed up with their lives. They always approached him for the solution of their problems and hoped sympathy from him in all difficulties. He was an erudite, and was extremely forbearing. However, his heart was full of grief. His majesty and loftiness were resounding in all the mountains and deserts. He cut off the heads of big giants but was himself overcome by love and kindness. During daytime he administered justice and enforced the divine laws and in the darkness of night he wept bitterly for the sake of the indigent and the helpless. He was a stranger whose thundering voice made the oppressors tremble as and when any oppressed person approached
him with a complaint. Whenever a man complained to him his sword flashed like lightning and consumed the darkness of the deceitful. Whenever a deprived person called him, love and kindness began to flaw from his heart which quenched the thirst of everything dry and famine stricken.
He was a stranger on the face of the earth whose every word was true and correct. He wore coarse dress and walked meekly and whenever the people went downwards he kept his face high. He was a stranger and a lovely person who suffered all sorts of hardships so that the people might remain happy.
Who was this unique and brave stranger who knew everything and kept his eyes towards all sides? Who was he who sought the welfare of the people in this world as well as in the hereafter although they always grieved and harmed him?
Who was this unique and angelic person whose enemies denied his virtues on account of their envy and avarice and whose friends deserted him on account of fear? He fought alone against corruption and destruction. His behaviour towards the people was constantly based on truth and sincerity. He was never enamoured of victory and was never disheartened by defeat. He was an embodiment of truth and never cared for anything other than truth, whether some persons denied his virtues and some others feared him.
Who could this unique person be except Ali, the vexed and distressed Commander of the Faithful with whose blood a wicked and impure man was going to besmear his hands so that it might serve as dowry for an impure and wicked woman?
It was a dark and terrible night. The sky was overcast. At times the lightning flashed and spread light on all sides.
The eagles were sitting in their nests with their heads cast down, because on the following day their feathers were going to fall and they were to go in mourning for the chief of the world.
The Imam was awake and his eyes were sleepless, because the people were groaning on account of oppression;
some people indulged in luxuries and were ready to revolt. The powerful people were extremely tyrinnical towards the weaker ones. His enemies in collusion with one another were creating mischief and planning to revolt. Among them there were some evil-doers who professed love for one another.
Some of his own followers had also forsaken truth and refrained from helping one another. All this was very painful to Ali. That night he reviewed his entire past life. He recollected that from his very boyhood his sword had made the Quraysh tremble and he did his best to spread Islam. His people considered his activities to be childish, but he remained steadfast and rendered all possible assistance to the prophet to make his mission a success.
He also remembered the night of migration when he slept in the bed of the prophet under the shadow of the swords of the Quraysh with the hope that Abu Sufyan and other polytheists would be mistaken and would not be able to do any harm to the prophet.
He remembered the battles in which he defended the prophet and Islam against the enemies. He could visualize the infidels scattering like the locusts which are scattered by a dust storm. He visualized the prophet embracing him with ardent love and saying: "This is my brother".
He remembered the time when the prophet came to his house one day while he was asleep. Fatima wanted to awaken him but the prophet said: "Let him sleep, because after me he will be deprived of sleep for a long time". And thereupon Fatima wept bitterly.
He recollected the time when the prophet had said: "O Ali! God has adorned you in the best manner. He has endowed you with the love for the poor and the helpless. They will be happy to make you their Imam and you will be pleased to see them as your followers".
He also remembered the time when the prophet cast this last look on his face and then breathed his last. He as well recollected the grief of Fatima which made her pass away forty days after the death of her father.
He also recollected the faces of the companions of
the prophet who used to say: "During the time of the prophet we could identify the hyprocrites because of their enmity with Ali".
The prophet had said not once but many times: "O Ali! Only a hypocrite will be inimical towards you".
At this moment he recollected his comrades who had performed jihad along with him during the lifetime of the prophet. They were united, helped one another, and had maintained the ties of brotherhood. But later, during his own time, some of them joined him whereas others opposed him. Some who had wished to become rulers or to acquire worldly gains had died and others were still alive. Those noble-minded companions who were determined to promote truth and justice (May God bless them!) were strangers in this world. They laid down their lives in the path of justice and fidelity and the oppression of the enemies buried them in the depths of the earth.
One of them was Abu Zar Ghifari - the distinguished companion of the prophet who could not tolerate that human life should be insulted and, therefore, stood up to oppose oppression and injustice. He was a great man who had no friend left on account of his truthfulness except Ali and who met a very tragic end. Ali recollected the time when Abu Zar was in the presence of the prophet wearing a worn-out cloak and placed himself at the disposal of the prophet for any service whatsoever. From that time onwards he remained a staunch supporter of truth, so much so that during the time 9f Uthman he opened a campaign against Bani Umayyah in support of the oppressed and the helpless. As a consequence of this he was exiled by Marwan and Uthman to a barren place called Rabazah, where his children met death before his very eyes. His wife was herself seeing them dying and was praying that she might die before Abu Zar so that she might not survive after him, for otherwise it would be her double death. Abu Zar died of hunger, whereas Bani Umayyah had the entire wealth of the earth at their disposal. He also remembered his pious and faithful brother Ammar Yasir who was martyred during a similar night a
few days earlier by a rebellious and oppressive group in the Battle of Siffin.
Yes! Where were those faithful brothers of Ali who were the followers of the right path - those who neither indulged in idle talk, nor slandered anyone nor practised fraud and deceit? All those righteous men had departed from the world one after the other and only Ali was left to fight a fierce and dreadful battle against the oppressive and wicked persons. If God had granted victory to Ali over the rebels he would have put an end to rebellion and dealt with the rebels in an appropriate manner.
It was a battle in which truth was alone on one side although previously it had many supporters.
It was a battle in which he was opposed by the people whose children were misguided, whose young men were murderers and whose old ones were not used to order others to do good and prevent them from doing evil. They feared only that person, whose tongue could do them harm and respected only him from whom they hope to get something. If he had let them go their way they would not have left him, and if he had pursued them they would have attacked him all of a sudden. They were companions in perversion and slandered one another when they separated.
The battle which Ali was forced to fight against his will was like the wave of a sea which does not care whether a person gets drowned or not, or like a flame of fire which burns anything and reduces it to ashes.
It was a battle between Ali, who wished others to enjoy the bounties of the world, and those persons who wanted to eject their subjects from the fertile lands and throw them into barren deserts and scorching wind.
Oh! What a life Ali led! His life was spent either in performing jihad or in suffering hardships.
Oh! How noble and righteous persons there were in the world! They passed away one after the other and left Ali alone. After their departure the world was filled with tyranny and injustice.
This unique stranger visualized the following day, whose darkness would last longer than the darkness of the
nights of the indigent, and which would be colder than the conscience of those who are unfaithful to their promises. It would tread heavily on the unfortunate only. The following day on which those persons who would become the rulers by deceitful means would not attach any importance to their subjects. Only the flatterers, slanderers and mischief-mongers would gain the favour of those rulers. That will be the day on which the unjust and cruel persons would be made the chiefs and only those persons, who are base and shameless, would lead a peaceful life.
Ali, was visualizing the state of affairs on the next day with his heart and intellect. It was going to be a very sad day. After that night none of the persons in position would prefer truth to falsehood, if falsehood was more profitable to him. After that night there would be no ruler who should be like a father to the people and should love truth in spite of all the hardships which he might suffer leaving all the pleasures emanating from falsehood.
After that night there would exist no such heart and intellect as treats the people justly and follows truth even though the mountains tremble and the earth splits.
Alas! The following is the day when an ignorant person was going to commit the most heinous crime till a boastful tyrant king would come to rule, and the noble man was going to meet death and destruction while fighting against the injustice of the tyrants.
The Commander of the Faithful drew his hand on his beard and kept weeping for a long time.
He looked towards the sky and saw in that dark night the patches of the clouds and the stars which were reflecting light on the palaces of the capitalists and the huts of the poor alike, and were hiding the corruption and mischief of the wicked as well as the afflictions of the righteous. He looked at the world and addressing himself to it said: "O world! Deceive someone else and not me".
The time passed on and the night grew darker and darker. Ali felt himself alone in the world. What a lonely, dreadful and strange place the world is!
He went to sleep for a short while with all the remem-
brances fresh in his mind. While sleeping he had a dream in which he saw the prophet and said to him: "O prophet of God! I have suffered much at the hands of your followers and have had to face acute opposition from them". The prophet said: "Call down curses upon them". Ali said: "O Lord! Provide me better companions than these people and impose on them, in my place, the worst ruler".
When it was dawn light air was blowing and the sky was shedding tears. Ali ibn Abi Talib proceeded to the mosque slowly as if his feet were conversing with the earth and telling it the story of those gloomy moments. The birds were also grieved. He had not yet reached the courtyard of the mosque when the ducks ran towards him and began to cry. Simultaneously with them the cold morning winds also began to moan.
Those who had come to offer their prayers stepped forward and tried to turn away the ducks. However, they neither went away nor stopped crying.
Similarly the wind also continued producing a rustling sound. It would appear that the ducks and the wind had already come to know that the Commander of the Faithful was procceeding towards his last calamity.
The Commander of the Faithful heard the cries of the ducks very attentively and then turning to the people said: "Do not turn them away, for they are mourning".
With these words the Commander of the Faithful foretold the impending calamity which was to befall him.
Why should these ducks not have mourned? Why were the people endeavouring to prevent them from crying? And why should the Commander of the Faithful not have looked upon them with love and affection? He had already seen thousands of mornings but this morning carried in its bosom a secret, which other mornings did not. On that day he was feeling something which he had never felt before. Was this great man not entitled to hear his elegy in the form of the cries of the ducks and the moaning of the winds? Did he not possess the right to say good bye to the sun and the shadow which he was not likely to see again?
Was he not entitled to cast his last look on the places, where he lived a life of indigence to make others well-to-do? These places had seen many sights of his bravery and courage, manifestations of his awe-inspiring personality, and many a hard suffering and tribulation which he had to bear. They had also seen the long long nights which he passed weeping in submission to God.
If the inhabitants of the world had stuck to truth and justice he would not have felt sad on leaving its days and nights. What pained him was that the world had become overfilled with wicked and treacherous people.
The world was groaning under the pressure of those people and its inhabitants had fallen prey to despair. The deprived persons in Iraq, Hijaz and Syria were leading very burdensome lives. The hypocrites were making immense profits.
Of course, the world had lost nothing if it had allowed Ali to take one or two more steps to bring about a change in the state of affairs then prevailing. Unfortunately the world does not like that a change should he brought about in the prevailing conditions.
This great person possessing a celestial soul felt that his feet were making him proceed on a long journey. He stopped at the gate of the mosque for a short while and looked at the mourning ducks. Then he turned to the men who were standing at a distance from him and uttered this sentence a number of times: "Do not turn them away, for they are mourning".
Ali arrived in the mosque and prostrated himself before the Almighty God. Abdur Rahman ibn Muljam also entered the mosque carrying with him a sword with a poisoned blade. He dealt such a blow on the head of the Imam that, as said by him (ibn Muljam) if it had been dealt on the heads of all the residents of the city, none of them would have survived. May the malicious criminal be subjected to divine vengeance and may the curse of God and of all His creatures befall him! May he suffer the severest torture in Hell!
Violent winds began to blow and everything turned
topsy- turvy. Dust storms rose from all sides and caused a havoc. The bright day became dark like a moonless night. It was a terrible sight. The birds wept and the trees trembled. The followers and admirers of Ali were shocked and burst into tears. The lovers of truth and justice will continue to weep over this tragedy till the Day of Judgment.
Everything in the world became broken-hearted and sad except the face of Ali which was perfectly cheerful. He did not express any desire for revenge nor did he express any anger. The people were gathered at the gate of his house with extremely sad faces and were praying to God for his speedy recovery. They attacked Abdur Rahman ihn Muljam and captured him. When he was brought before the Commander of the Faithful he said: "Give him good food and a soft bed".
However, the cheerfulness of his face was more saddening than all the calamities of the world. At that time his face resembled the face of Socrates when the ignorant and stupid people made him drink a cup of poison. It resembled the face of Jesus Christ when the jews scourged him. It resembled the face of the prophet of Islam Muhammad when the ignorant persons of Taif showered stones at him and did not know that they were stoning the greatest human being ever born.
The best physicians of Kufa were called for the treatment of the Imam. Athir bin Amr bin Hani who was the most proficient among them examined very carefully the wound on Ali's forehead and said with extreme grief and despair: "O Commander of the Faithful! You had better make a will whatever you wish to, because the blow dealt by ibn Muljam has penetrated into your brain.
The Imam was not offended by the physician's remark nor did he utter any word of complaint. He resigned himself to the will of God.
Ali called his sons Hasan and Husayn and made some recommendations to them. He also insisted upon them that they should not cause any disturbance nor resort to bloodshed on account of his assassination. As regards the assassin he said: "If you forgive him it will be nearer to piety".
Some of the recommendations made by Ali to his sons Hasan and Husayn were as follows:
I put you on an oath in the name of God that you shall have regard for your neighbours.
I administer to you an oath in the name of God that you shall take care of the needy and the indigent and make them share your sustenance and income. And as ordered by God you shall talk mildly with everyone and say something good whenever you speak and shall not abandon ordering others to do good and restraining them from doing evil.
It is your duty to have good and kind relations among yourselves. You should behave informally and observe simplicity. You should neither sever relations with one another nor live separately.
After a short time he turned to the people and said: "Till yesterday I was your ruler, today I am the means of your taking a lesson from me, and tomorrow I shall leave you. May God forgive all of us!"
Ali received a wound on his head on Friday morning. After that he spent two days in great agony, but he did not complain of pain or inconvenience. He continued to seek God's assistance and to recommend to the people to do good to the needy and the helpless. He breathed his last during the night of the 21st of Ramazan 40 A.H.
That great and unique man, who suffered at the hands of his enemies as well as his friends, passed away. It was that magnanimous person who was a martyr during his life-time and the father of the martyrs at the time of his death.
The martyr of the path of steadfastness, uprightness and sympathy, was dead. The martyr of purity and magnanimity, who never showed the least laxity in the matter of truth and sincerity, departed from the world.
That great man passed away. It is very unfortunate that he did not get an opportunity to establish a government which might have served as a model for the future governments, and the common people might have led peaceful lives with the blessing of his name, and subjected
the mischief-mongers to humiliation and disgrace.
He left the world and left behind a family every member of which met martyrdom in the path of truth. He left behind his grief-stricken daughter Zainab to bear hardships and the people of the world behaved towards her with unprecedented cruelty and meanness. He left behind Hasan and Husayn to the tender mercies of his sworn enemies like the son of Abu Sufyan and others.
The first period of conspiracies against Ali and his children came to an end. It was followed by many other periods which were replete with more dreadful and severe hardships for them.
Consequent upon the martyrdom of the Commander of the Faithful the lofty palaces shone like mirages in barren deserts. The water springs became dry. The fields became waste lands. The government of the rebellious and the deceitful got strengthened. Those persons, who considered treachery and deceit to be permissible for a ruler, became active immediately after Ali's martyrdom. How sinister are the governments whose foundations are laid on the assassination of those who are entitled to reverence!
What a great disappointment the admirers of Ali must have felt owing to the calamity which befell them as a result of his tragic assassination. How grieved the righteous persons must have been for a long time on account of this dreadful event. What a great calamity, for it was due to it that the whole of Arabia remained a theatre of disturbances and corruption for centuries. How great was the grief which continued to increase and became firmly-rooted with the lapse of time and eventually destroyed the power of the tyrant rulers and their supporters. Of what use was the government which was founded on the tears which the oppressed and helpless were shedding to mourn the assassination of Ali son of Abu Talib?
Ali used to console the people. He was kind to the needy and the helpless like a father. The entire wealth of the world and all its treasures could not equal the lace of his shoe. All the oppressive caliphs and their wealth are simply farcical in the face of a sentence of Nahj al-Balaghah
and the views that he has expressed in it. They are worthless even before a drop of his tear.
That great and magnanimous person passed away and those who considered themselves to be great without any justification remained behind. One man died and was honoured, and a nation remained alive and proved to be mean and despicable.
The Imam left his enemies alive in the world, but their Iife was as good as destruction.