Ali's mental capability and the integration of his life with the life of the Messenger enabled him to think as a philosopher while he was ten years old. He was able to arrive at a logical conclusion. The overwhelming majority of the Meccans had for thirteen years refused to open their eyes to the light of Islam and prevented the Messenger of God from reaching their ears. They could not free their minds because they took the attitude of: "We have found our fathers on a road and we are following their footsteps." The inclination to walk in the path of the ancestor was and still is the main guarantee against the change of religion. This inclination stood and is still standing as a barrier between great thinkers of Western Society and the acceptance of the Islamic teaching. But Ali at the tenth year of his age took the logical attitude.
While Mohammad and Khadijah were praying Ali entered their room. He stood until the Prophet finished his prayer. "To whom do you prostrate?" Ali asked. "We prostrate to God the One Who commissioned me as a Prophet and commanded me to invite people to Him " the Prophet replied.
The Messenger recited verses from the Holy Qur'an
then invited his cousin to embrace Islam. Ali was fascinated.
He asked the Prophet to give him time to consult his
father. He spent his night excitedly and on the following
day he came to declare his Islam. He embraced the new
faith without taking the advice of his father Abu Talib
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reasoning: "God had created me without consulting Abu Talib. Why should I need his counsel to worship God?" ( 1 )
It is a short statement but it announces a great deal of independent thinking capability of forming opinion and depth in faith. It is a logic which is not marred by contradiction. Ali loved his father and believed that a child owes his father a genuine obedience. But he knew that the obedience of the father is not absolute. It has its own limitation .
His counsel ought to be sought only when the matter is not clear. When truth becomes evident consultation becomes useless. To Ali the truth of Mohammad was as clear as the daylight. And it had become the duty of Ali to respond to Mohammad's call and to respond to it immediately .
The message is new and he does not know what the attitude of his father will be toward the new faith. Abu Talib may believe in what his small child believed in.
Should this be the case it would please the father to see his son preceding him in accepting the truth. But Abu Talib may hesitate to accept the new faith and Ali cannot delay his response to the call of His Lord. The Creator of Abu Talib and of his son has much more right than Abu Talib to be obeyed.
It is well known that Ali was the first Muslim. lbn Husham recorded that Ali Ibn Abu Talib was the first male to believe in the Messenger of God and that he prayed with him while he was 10 years old. (2) It is reported that when the time of prayer came the Messenger used to go outside Mecca accompanying Ali to offer their prayer then come back in the evening.
It is reported that Anas Ibn Malik said: "The Messenger was commissioned on Monday and Ali believed in him on Tuesday." ( 3)
Mohammad lbn Majah in his Sunan and Al-Hakim in
( 1 ) Dr. Mohammad Hussein Haikal Hayat Mohammad (Life of Mohammad) p. 138.
( 2 ) Ibn Husham Al-Searat (Biography of the Prophet) Part 1 p.245.
( 3 ) Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p. 112.
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his Mustadrak reported that Ali said: "I am the servant of God and the brother of His Messenger and I am the greatest believer in his Prophethood. No one says this after me but a liar. I prayed seven years before the rest of the people." ( 4 )
Al-Hakim reported that Salman Al-Farisi said that the Messenger of God said: "The first one of you to drink from the Basin on the Day of Judgement is your first Muslim Ali son of Abu Talib." ( 5)
Imam Ahmad Ibn Hunbul recorded that Maaqal Ibn Yasar said that the Messenger of God said to his daughter Fatima: "Would it not please you that I have married you to the first Muslim in my nation their most knowledgeable and their wisest?" ( 6 )
How Valuable Was His Islam?
Those who argue about his being the first Muslim are not numerous. But there are those who argue about the value of his early adoption of the new faith compared to the conversion of other prominent companions whose Islam was preceded by that of Ali. Ali was still a child in the tenth year of his age they argue. It would not be expected from such a child to think like a man and base his opinion on logic and wisdom in choosing between alternatives he faces. He rather is expected to adopt Islam not because of a sound thinking but because of his attachment to the Holy Prophet for he was brought up by the Prophet as a member of his family.
Had Ali been an ordinary child this argument would be sound. But Ali was not an ordinary child during his childhood nor was he an ordinary man during his manhood. All evidences show that he was one of the genius type of individuals who reached the maturity in their early years and surpassed the average men in understanding the truth and high ideals.
( 4 ) Ibn Majah Sunan Ibn Majah Part 1 p.44 (hadith 120)
( 5 ) Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p. 112.
( 6 ) Imam Ahmad Al-Musnad Part 3 p. 136.
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Had Ali been motivated by his attachment to the Holy Prophet he would not have asked the Prophet to give him time to consult his father. The Prophet was his guardian and teacher and Ali was ready to follow his ethical instructions. The Prophet used to raise for him every day a banner of his ethics and Ali used to follow him as a child follows his mother. He did not ask the Prophet to give him time to consult his father or to think by himself whether he will follow any of his ethical teachings. Yet when he offered him a new religion he asked the Prophet to give him time to consult his father.
He spent his night thinking and when the truth became clear to him he decided not to consult his father after all and immediately accepted the invitation of the Holy Prophet. He came to the Messenger declaring his Islam and uttering his wise words which neither the ordinary children nor the ordinary men can think of.
The invitation of the Messenger to Ali by itself tells us that the Messenger did not consider him an ordinary child.
We did not find in history that the Messenger ever invited any of the children except the Imam Ali. He used to invite only men and women expecting their children to follow them because children cannot think for themselves or distinguish between right and wrong. He privileged Ali by inviting him to adopt the new faith while he was ten years old.
In fact he bestowed on him two exclusive honors: He was the only child whom he invited to the faith and above all he invited him before he invited any of the men.
I would like to say that casting doubt on the importance of Ali's adoption of the faith because of his young age does not accord with our belief in the wisdom of the Messenger and soundness of his opinion. The event which we shall consider in the following chapter indicates that the opinion of the Messenger about Ali does not agree with the opinion of those who argue to the contrary.
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Al-Jahith and other scholars tried to belittle the value of the Islam of Ali because of his young age. They ignored the fact that the Holy Prophet took him as his minister and brother while Ali did not exceed the thirteenth year of his age. This took place at the conference which he held with his close relatives at his house in Mecca. He not only bestowed on him these honors but also told the attending men to obey him.
Brother and Minister
During the first three years of the Prophethood the Prophet did not call people publicly to the new faith. The message remained an unannounced conversation for its announcement would necessarily lead to a confrontation with the clans of Mecca. The Prophet knew that the Meccan clans and the Masses of Arabia would not hesitate to use any violent means against him if he demanded from them to change their religion.
Yet this confrontation was inevitable and expected to be fraught with danger. The message was not revealed in order to be kept secret. It came down to reform mankind and to change the beliefs of the people and the ways of their lives. This could not be realized except by calling to them loudly warning them openly and informing them about the message.
For a new religious message or a new ideology to succeed the man of the message and his followers have to have freedom of speech and practice. Average individuals do not have the courage to embrace a new ideology when its embracement causes them to confront a society that does not sanctify the individual's freedom. Such a society by its nature is inclined to violence and there are not many individuals who are ready to suffer the loss of position wealth and life for ideals. Just to make the spread of the new ideology feasible in such a society the freedom of speech and practice must be protected and secured for the potential converts. Otherwise they would be too terrified to change their religion. This means that the new
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ideology will have only a limited success if any. Only the heroes of an unusual courage would rise above fear and these are not many.
As to the man of the message the chance of his success is very slim when his life and relative freedom are not protected though he may be a big hero. His rise above fear does not secure success in a violent society. His death by assassination or other means before establishing his religion will bring his whole mission to an end.
Thus the first requirement for the success of a new religion in a non-democratic society is a protective shield around the life of the man of the message and his relative freedom. He needs strong supporters who will be ready to give their lives for protecting their leader and his message.
If such people are not available it would be necessary to have at least one supporter of an unusual quality who is similar to the Messenger in sincerity courage and strength.
Such a person would be expected to be found among the relatives of the man of the message since the relatives are expected to be more sympathetic to him than others.
The Holy Qur'an informs us that when Moses received the Command of God: "Go to Pharaoh certainly he has exceeded the limit " he asked his Lord to strengthen him through a minister from his own family! "He (Moses) said: O my Lord expand my breast.
Ease my task for me and remove the impediment from my speech. So they may understand what I say. And give me a minister from my family Aaron my brother.
Add to my strength through him and make him share my task." ( 1)
Mohammad is the final of the prophets. His message is the conclusion of all heavenly messages. His message therefore must succeed and stay forever.
God runs the affairs of the world usually according to the law of cause and effect and through natural courses.
Therefore He did not order His Messenger Mohammad to
( 1 ) Chapter 20 verses 25-32.
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face the whole society at once with the invitation to Islam because this might lead to the failure of the mission rather than to its success. Wanting him to go gradually in his invitation He issued to him a command (after three years from the beginning of his Prophethood) to begin with his close relatives. From the Holy Qur'an: "And warn thy nearest kinsmen. And lower thy wing to the believers who follow thee." ( 2 )
When this command came down the Messenger of God invited the descendents of Abdul-Muttalib (they were forty men) to a banquet which contained little amounts of food and milk. They ate and drank until they became full.
Then the Messenger spoke saying: "O children of Abdul-Muttalib by God I do not know any young man from among the Arabs who has ever brought to his people better than I brought to you. I brought to you the goodness of this world and of the Hereafter and God has commanded me to invite you to it. Who is among you willing to be my minister in this mission and he will be my brother my executor and my successor in you?"
None of them responded but Ali who was the youngest among them. He stood up and said: "Messenger of God I will be your minister in this mission."
The Prophet repeated his invitation but none responded except Ali who repeated his words. The Prophet put his hand on the neck of Ali and said:
"This is my brother my executor and my successor in you. Listen to him and obey him."
They laughed saying to Abu Talib: "He ordered you to listen to your son and to obey him."( 3 ) Thus the Messenger
( 2 ) Chapter 26 verses 214-215.
( 3 ) This hadith is recorded by the following authors: A. Ibn Al-Atheer Al Kamil Part 2 p. 22.
B. Al-tabari History of Nations Messengers and Kings Part 2 p. 217.
C. Abu Al-Fida in his History Part 1 p. 116.
D. Imam Ahmad Al-Musnad Part 1 pp. 111-119.
E. Ibn Is-haq Al-Baihgai in Al-Dala-il (Al-Muttaqi Al-Hindi Muntakhab Kansul-Ummal in the margin of Musnad Ahmad Part 5 pp. 41-42 printed in Beitut by Sader)
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of God inivited his close relatives to embrace Islam but his main purpose was to find among them a person who would assist him in spreading the message.
Embracing Islam is very important but more important is to find among the converts a person who will be willing to pay a high price for its success. And how many millions of Muslims of today are unwilling to pay the least for Islam!
* * *
The two sheikhs: Al-Bukhari and Muslim did not mention this important event though it was reported by many historians and hadith-recorders. Muslim and other hadith-recorders reported an event that took place after this event.
They reported the appearance of the Messenger on Al-Safa and his call to the Qureshite clans (the Meccans) and his invitation to them to believe in the new faith. Muslim and these reporters mentioned this late event and tied it with the verse of the warning of the closest relative of the Holy Prophet. Muslim recorded that Abu Huriarah reported the following: When this verse was revealed: "And warn thy closest relatives " the Messenger of God called the Qureshites and they came together. He addressed them in general and in particular. He said: "O children of Kaab Ibn Lu-ay save yourselves from Hell. O children of Murrah Ibn Kaab save yourselves from Hell. O children of Hashim save yourselves from Hell. O Fatima save yourself from Hell.
For I do not possess any protection for you from God except that you have relations to me which I would like to observe." ( 4)
It is amazing that God commanded His Messenger to
( 4 ) Muslim Sahih Muslim Part 3 pp. 79-80.
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warn the closest of his relatives who were the children of Abdul-Muttalib but the Prophet called upon the children of Kaab Ibn Lu-ay and the children of Murrah Ibn Kaab who are from the remotest of his relatives. It is inconceivable that the Messenger of God disobeys what his Lord commanded him to do .
And what is more amazing is that the messenger called upon his daughter (Fatima) publicly to save herself from Hell yet she was the purest Muslim girl whose father and mother were the purest parents .
Fatima at the time of the revelation of the above verse was according to the historians either two years or eight years old. ( 5 ) It would be illogical that the Prophet addresses himself to a two year old child or that he put a pure Muslim girl (who was still a minor not exceeding eight years of age) on the same level with the pagans of Banu Kaab and Banu Murrah.
And more curious is the hadith of Ayeshah which Muslim recorded in his Sahih as follows: "When the verse of warning was revealed the Messenger of God said: 'O Fatima daughter of Mohammad Safia daughter of Abdul-Muttalib I have nothing in my power to protect you against God. Ask me from my wealth whatever you want.' " ( 6 )
This hadith does not agree with the previous one. For this hadith reported that the Holy Prophet addressed himself to the children of Abdul-Muttalib alone while the other hadith reported that the Holy Prophet publicly addressed himself mostly to other than the Prophet's clan And most curious in this hadith is that the Messenger addressed himself publicly while on the Safa mainly to his youngest daughter Fatima while she was living with him where he sees her every hour. It is also curious that the address which he directed to her and to the other members of the children of Abdul-Muttalib did not contain any
( 5 ) Al-Hakim in his Mustadrak Part 3 p. 61 reported that she was born 41 years after the birth of her father .
( 6 ) Muslim in his Sahih Part 3 pp. 79-80.
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message such as calling upon them to worship God or to avoid idol-worshipping .
Furthermore Ayeshah was not born at the time of the event. The Messenger died when she was still eighteen years old.( 7 ) And this event took place ten years before the Hijrah (twenty years before his death). Abu Hurairah also was not an eye-witness to the event because he saw the Messenger for the first time when the Messenger was coming back from Khaibar. (In the 7th year after the Hijrah).( 8 )
And more curious than all is that Al-Zamkh-Shari reported that Ayeshah daughter of Abu Bakr and Hafsa daughter of Omar were among the ones whom the Holy Prophet addressed after the revelation of this verse of warning (which was revealed before the birth of Ayeshah) . ( 9 ) This clearly indicates that recorders or the reporters of these hadiths were seriously confused. They overlooked the fact that the verse commands the Prophet to warn his closest relatives who were the children of Abdul-Muttalib and that the Holy Prophet is not expected to disobey the order of God. What these hadiths reported is opposed to the verse itself and whatever disagrees with the Holy Qur'an has to be disregarded.
The event which the historians and many hadith re-corders reported of holding a conference with his immediate relatives is the only logical course which the Holy Prophet was expected to follow after the revelation of the verse.
* * *
THE OFFERED REWARD
The Prophet was about to come to a confrontation with
the idol-worshipers. Therefore he needed a minister who
had his courage sincerity and firmness. Forty men from
( 7 ) Ibn Saad Al-Tabaqat Part 8 p. 61.
( 8 ) Al-Tabaqat Part 4 p. 327.
( 9 ) Ali Ibn Burhanuddeen Al-Halabi Al-Seerat Al-Halayah (Bio- graphy of the Prophet) Part 1 p. 321.
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the children of Abdul-Muttalib would be an important asset for Islam if they adopted it. But if they were ordinary people they would not be able to face the masses of Mecca and Arabia.
God will soon command His Messenger to extend his invitation to all of the Arabs then to other nations as well and they will violently resist the invitation for years to come.
Forty average persons will be terrified by the hostiles of Mecca and Arabia; yet one man of high courage will be able to face whatever the Messenger will face.
For this the Prophet spoke to them about this important goal after a very short introduction saying:
"Who is among you willing to be my minister in this mission? (Whoever is willing to be so) will be my brother executor and successor."
How Could the Prophet Make Such a Promise? Suppose all or most of them had accepted Islam at the meeting and promised him their assistance. What could he do? It may be conceivable that all of them would become his brothers but it is very hard to conceive that all of them would be his executors. And if this is probable it is not conceivable that everyone of them would be his successor.
With a little analysis one may know the answer .
The Messenger was well aware that the majority of them would not have the courage to pledge to him a genuine support of Islam. For such a pledge would put them face to face with the whole society and draw them into a war which might end with the loss of their lives. A true assistant of the Messenger must be an unusual person and the majority of the attendants were just average people .
What happened at the meeting clearly substantiates the truth of what the Prophet expected. None of them was willing nor had the daring spirit to pledge to him assistance except one person and the following years proved that he was the man for the job .
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Why These Specific Rewards? The Prophet evidently wanted to follow the footsteps of Moses. Moses asked his Lord to give him a minister from his own family and here the Prophet Mohammad gathered his close relatives seeking from among them a minister. The minister of Moses was his brother Aaron .
The Prophet Mohammad did not have a brother because he was the only child of his parents Abdullah and Aminah.
To follow the course of Moses he wanted to make his minister also his brother.
The same applies to the position of successor. Aaron was the successor of Moses among his people when Moses went to the mountain to hear the words of his Lord and secluded himself for forty nights. Before going to the mountain he said to Aaron according to the Holy Qur'an: "Be my successor among my people and do good and follow not the path of mischief makers." ( 10 )
What the Prophet said to Ali many years after this event supports this understanding and confirms its soundness. Leaving him in Medina when he took his long journey to Tabouk he said to him:
"Ali will it not satisfy you to be to me like Aaron to Moses except that there will be no prophet after me?" ( 11)
Giving Ali all the ranks of Aaron with the exception of the Prophethood means that Ali was like Aaron in the rest of the ranks: The ministry the brotherhood and the succession. The statement of the Prophet at the above mentioned conference and this statement are consistent with each other and they aim at one purpose .
Why Such a Big Reward for a Ministry?
It may be said: Why should the Holy Prophet give Ali
( 10 ) Chapter 7 verse 142.
( 11 ) Muslim in his Sahih Part 15 p. 175; Al-Bukhari reported it in his Sahih Part 5.
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such a big reward for his ministry? Is not the rank of assistant (or minister) to the Prophet a high reward by itself? The answer is that the ministry of Ali is not a reward from the Prophet as much as it is a gift from Ali. This ministry or assistance is a tremendous sacrifice on the part of the minister. To make this clear I would like to say that there are two types of ministry:
1. A Ministry of Administrating the Affairs of an established state. The man of such a ministry is a counselor to the head of the state by authorization from his superior or from the congress or from the people.
2. A Ministry of Founding and Establishing a State.
The minister here would be the assistant of his superior in bringing into being a state which did not exist yet or in spreading a new faith which is not yet known to the people. The mission of a minister of this kind is to carry with his superior the tremendous responsibility of establishing a faith and a state and to face with him all dangers. He would be his protective shield constantly ready to sacrifice himself for the safety of his superior.
A ministry of the first kind is a gift from the head of the state to his minister and a great honor bestowed on him by elevating him to a high office.
The ministry of the second kind is not a gift from the superior as much as it is a gift from the minister. It is a tremendous sacrifice which the minister offers continuously for the protection of his superior and for making his mission a success. A minister of this kind faces with his superior dangers and difficulties which could not be faced hy a human multitude .
The minister whom the Holy Prophet was seeking from among the members of his clan was from the second rather than from the first kind. There was no established state nor was there yet any Muslim community. The Messenger of God was not (and even after the Islamic State was established) in need of a counselor to advise him how to spread the message or to found a state. He was in need of a person of unusual sincerity and heroism with an absolute obedience to God and His Messenger .
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A person that deserves to be the brother of the Messenger of God and his successor after his absence from this world must have a soul that is virtuous enough to be an extension of the soul of the Prophet himself. He must resemble him to a high degree in knowledge wisdom and rise above self interest. In other words he must be a replica of the great Prophet.
Yes the Messenger of God was not in need of a person who advises him about the wise course he should take. The Messenger was the most intelligent and the wisest. He only was in need of a minister who would assist him by his big action sacrifices and heroic work. That minister would be the recipient of his knowledge and when the need arises he will be able to represent the Messenger and sit on his chair after him.
The Prophet Wanted to Have No Excuses
One should not doubt for a minute that the Messenger of God was aware of who will be his minister before he spoke to the members of his clan. He knew that there was none among the group that had the quality of the needed minister but Ali .
However the Messenger would not choose Ali to the high offices without leaving no excuse for the rest of his relatives. He would not let the coming generations say that if he had asked someone other than Ali he would have found many qualified persons. He would not let us wonder whether the Messenger had a favoritism towards Ali and distinguished him without a clear reason. It was necessary to give the rest of the members of his clan the opportunity to make them show their attitude and to make the merit of Ali evident.
* * *
THE OUTCOME OF THE CONFERENCE OF THE HOUSE OF THE PROPHET
The conference to which the Messenger called the children of Abdul-Muttalib produced a unique pact; history
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has never witnessed its like nor has it witnessed its equal in nobility and high aim. It is a covenant between the final Prophet of God the Conveyor of the Message of the Heaven and his minister Ali Ibn Abu Talib who at the time of the covenant was not above the thirteenth year of his age.
The substance of the covenant was two items:
1. A pledge on the part of Ali to the Prophet to be his minister in fulfilling his great mission .
2. A promise by the Holy Prophet put in a form of a declaration in which he told the members of his clan while his hand was on Ali's head: "This is my brother my executor and my successor in you. Listen to him and obey him." It is worthy to note that the Messenger fulfilled his promise immediately at the conference. He did not wait for Ali to fulfill his pledge. The Prophet put his promise in a form of an immediate reward to his minister. He declared while he was still at the conference that Ali was his brother and made him his executor and successor. He did not wait for Ali to fulfill his pledge because he knew that Ali's word carried its full meaning and that his word and his deed were united and never would contradict each other. Ali put himself at the disposal of the Messenger from the minute he uttered his pledge. Several years elapsed before the Holy Prophet needed Ali's immediate assistance .
Ali's father was still alive and strong guarding the life of the Messenger; and the believers were not yet permitted by God to fight their adversaries. Also the danger against the Holy Prophet had not reached its peak.
The dangerous hour came ten years after the conference and after Abu Talib departed from this world. The Meccan chiefs in their "Nadwa" (club) conferred and decided to bring to an end the life of the Messenger by assassination.
The Prophet called upon his minister to start fulfilling his pledge. Thus the night of redemption came and Ali was the redeemer of the Messenger and his Trustee.
Ali pronounced his word while he knew the magnitude of the mission in which he pledged to assist the Prophet.
He was fully aware that due to its magnitude the mission
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seemed to be impossible. The mission aimed at changing the beliefs of the society and its ways of life.
It aimed at making the society embrace Heavenly principles that do not agree with its nature. Ali knew that it would be opposed by all forces in society. He knew that the success of this mission could not be achieved unless it prevailed against all adversary forces and that this required the establishment of an Islamic state based on the foundation of the newly revealed principles. Such a state would protect those principles and the freedom of their followers.
Such a mission cannot be accomplished even by a whole nation regardless of what it may muster of forces. This mission is what the Messenger was determined to achieve and it is the mission which Ali promised to support by his assistance and by facing all what the Prophet will face in its achievement.
As the conference yielded this result it was expected that Ali will fulfill his huge pledge as it was expected that the Holy Prophet will declare in the future to all Muslims what he had declared to his immediate relatives concerning Ali. We shall see in the following pages that Ali fulfilled what he pledged to the Messenger and that the Messenger after the birth of the Islamic State had declared to the Muslims what he declared to the forty men from the children of Abdul-Muttalib.
The rapid increase of the number of Muslims in Medina heartened the Medinites and encouraged them to invite the Prophet to move to their city pledging to defend him with all their power. Upon this pledge the Holy Prophet accepted their invitation. The Meccan pagans knew about what took place. They conferred secretly and reached the conclusion that the death of Mohammad was the only means to stop the spread of Islam. From each clan in Mecca a strong and courageous man was selected to attack Mohammad at an appointed night. Thus all the Meccan clans would be participants in his murder.
The Almighty revealed to His Messenger the news of the conspiracy and ordered him to depart from Mecca at the appointed night. His departure while under their surveillance was expected to put him face to face with danger .
Like other Meccan houses the house of the Prophet was not sight proof. An outsider could see its inside. The bed of Mohammad therefore should not be unoccupied; otherwise the enemies would discover his departure and block the roads and search the houses to find him. But whoever occupied Mohammad's bed at that night should be ready to die for the attack was surely coming .
The Messenger revealed to Ali the news of the conspiracy and asked him to lie on his bed. As expected Ali neither declined the dangerous invitation nor did he think of his own fate. He only thought of one important thing:
The fate of the Prophet. "Messenger of God " he asked:
"Will you be safe?" When the Prophet replied in the affir -
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mative Ali went down to the earth prostrating thanking God for the safety of His Messenger.
The Holy Prophet commissioned Ali with another mission: He asked him to deliver to the Meccans in the following days their trusts which were in the possession of the Prophet. The Messenger was the trustee of the Meccans friends arid enemies alike. He was to them the Trustworthy.
No one should deliver those trusts on behalf of the Prophet other than his trustee and representative Ali.
The recorders of the hadith reported that the Messenger commissioned Ali with a third mission that night. Al-Hakim reported that Ali said that the Messenger accompanied him to the Kaaba (on the night of the Hijrah) to try to destroy Quraish's biggest idol. The Messenger mounted the shoulders of Ali in order to reach the roof of the Kaaba but he found some weakness in Ali. He went down and told Ali to mount his shoulders and he did. And the Messenger rose up. Ali felt that if he wanted to reach Heaven he could. Ali went up to the roof of the Kaaba.
He shook the largest idol which was made of copper being bound to the roof. When he took hold of the idol the Prophet told him to throw it down. He did and the idol was broken. ( 1 )
It seemed that this mission was completed before the conspirators surrounded the house of the Prophet and that the Prophet and Ali came back to the house after fulfilling this mission; then the Prophet left when the enemies were surrounding his house. Ali remained to fulfill the other two great missions: Occupying the bed of the Messenger and delivering to the Meccans their trusts.
Ibn Al-Atheer in his history (Al-Kamil) reported that Gabriel came to the Prophet and told him not to lie on his bed that night and that the Prophet ordered Ali to lie on his bed. He also commissioned him to deliver what was in his possession of the trusts to the Meccans and informed him that the enemies would not harm him.
The Prophet took a handful of soil and threw it on the
( 1 ) Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p. 5.
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heads of the enemies who were surrounding his house and left unnoticed reciting the chapter of Yasine. Seeing the bed of the Prophet occupied the enemies believed that Mohammad was sleeping on his bed. They waited until morning and when Ali rose from the bed they recognized him. "Where is Mohammad?" they asked. "I do not know "
Ali replied. "You ordered him to leave and he left." They beat Ali up brought him to the Mosque detained him for one hour then freed him. ( 2)
It is also reported that when the dawn drew nigh they dashed into the house and were surprised to find that the occupier of the bed was Ali rather than Mohammad. Ali stood up and they asked him: "Where is Mohammad?"
He denied any knowledge about his whereabouts. Violence erupted and Ali pressed the hand of their leader making the sword of the man fall from his hand. Seizing upon the sword he was able to drive them out.
The chiefs of Mecca realized that their conspiracy was abortive. The Meccans in groups went in every direction trying to find Mohammad. One group led by a tracker took the right direction until they approached the Cave of Thour. Hearing the rumble of their feet Abu Bakr who was hiding with the prophet was extremely frightened and sweating. As they came to the mouth of the Cave Abu Bakr whispered in the ear of the Prophet: "If one of them looks under his feet he will see us." The Prophet calmly replied: "Be not afraid God is with us."
The Almighty protected His Prophet from his enemies and the historical Hijrah by which the faith of Islam and the Muslims were transferred from a state of weakness to a state of dignity and strength. commenced.
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THE MAGNITUDE OF THE MISSION
Let us try to evaluate Ali's sacrifice and the magnitude of his mission. When the Prophet accepted the invitation of the Muslims of Medina the Muslims in Mecca numbered
( 2 ) Ibn Al-Atheer in his history Al-Kamil Part 2 p.72.
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about 150. The Prophet permitted or rather urged these Muslims to migrate to Medina. He did that in spite of his awareness of the new danger which resulted from his covenant with the Medinites. He knew that the Meccans would not let him depart from their city safely. He could have kept a number of prominent Muslims around him to shield him against the imminent danger. He could also commission any one of them to occupy his bed at such a time. But he did not do that; instead he urged them to leave Mecca ahead of him and kept Ali for the hard task. He chose Ali because he knew that an occupant of his bed that night must have the following qualities:
1. His love to God His Messenger and His religion should be stronger than his love to himself.
2. He must be endowed with a courageous spirit that would enable him to face death for the Divine cause with satisfaction.
3. He should have an indomitable spirit with which he would not be frightened by his aloneness while facing the violent wrath of the Meccan community because he foiled their plot against the Prophet. In addition to this he had to be patient enough to withhold all information about the Prophet regardless of what he might face of torture.
It was extremely difficult if not impossible to find a person other than Ali ready to perform such a role and do it so calmly without fear.
Here we may understand the meaning of the ministry and assistance which Ali promised the Prophet ten years before the time of this event.
Significance of the Delivery of the Trusts
It is worthy to note that the Prophet commissioned Ali
with the delivery of the trusts to the Meccans. This clearly
put in action what he promised Ali of executorship. The
Messenger could have commissioned someone other than
Ali to deliver the trusts. Ali's survival was highly in doubt
because of his dangerous mission. The rest of the Muslims
were in no danger; thus the Prophet would be expected to
commission Abu Bakr or another companion with the
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delivery of the trusts rather than Ali. Yet he chose Ali in spite of the dangers with which he was surrounded.
A Miraculous Prophecy
Choosing Ali to deliver the trusts proves that Ali was the only person representing the Prophet. Deputizing Ali by itself was a unique prophecy. God revealed to Mohammad that Ali would pass the crisis safely and that he would be in a position to deliver the trusts. Had the Prophet not been certain that Ali would survive the crisis he would have commissioned someone other than Ali with the trusts. Their delivery was a duty whose imperativeness compelled the Prophet to choose the surest way in delivering them. Thus it was the duty of the Messenger to choose for such a mission a person who was expected to survive rather than a person who was expected to die .
The reader may think that Ali was certain of his survival and his certainty came from information of the Holy Prophet and from his being commissioned by him to deliver the trusts for this indicates that the Prophet was sure of Ali's survival. If this were the case the event would lose its importance for the occupant of the bed of the Prophet would not be harmed regardless of the magnitude of the danger.
The fact is that the Messenger of God commissioned Ali with the delivery of the trusts after he accepted the mission of redemption without hesitation or concern with what would happen to him during that night. It was equal to Ali to stay alive or to die as long as the Prophet was safe. Ali was the one who used to seek martyrdom as an ultimate goal. He believed that martyrdom is the great gain and the highest form of victory. We know the truth of this when we read what is recorded in Nahjul-Balaghah where he speaks about the revelation of the following verse: "Do men think that they will be left alone saying: 'We believe ' without being tested?".
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The Imam tells us that when this verse was revealed he reminded the Prophet of a statement he made when the Imam was saddened because he did not obtain martyrdom which many other Muslims obtained at the Battle of Ohod.
The Prophet told him at that time: "Be cheerful martyrdom is coming to you." The Prophet confirmed his previous statement saying: "That will be so. How will your patience be at that time?" The Imam retorted: "Messenger of God this will not be a place of patience. It will be a place of cheerfulness and thanks." ( 3)
The Almighty informed the Messenger when he was migrating to Medina that he would come back to Mecca: "Certainly the one who commanded you to deliver the message of the Holy Qur'an will bring you back. . . ."
This revelation was a promise from God to His Prophet to make him survive all difficulties until he returns him to Mecca regardless of any battles he attends. Thus the Prophet had attended numerous battles while he was certain of his safety. This did not diminish the value of his endeavor for he was determined to do that even if he were not promised with a Divine protection.
This is true also concerning Ali. His belief in his survival until he delivered the trusts does not diminish the magni tude of his sacrifice because he was ready to make that sacrifice and to redeem the Prophet whether he was informed of his survival or his martyrdom The history of Ali after the Hijrah substantiates this conclusion. The Prophet did not inform Ali that he would survive the battle of Ohod but that did not prevent him from staying with the Messenger protecting him by himself and combating the regiments one after another and forcing them to retreat after all companions ran away .
The Almighty protected His Messenger from the Qureshite conspirators and enabled him to arrive in Medina safely where he found strength and support. But Quraish was not expected to adopt a peaceful attitude or to sleep while Mohammad was alive. To them his very existence
( 3 ) Nahjul Balaghah Part 2 p.5.
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was a tremendous danger threatening their religion and influence. They expected his power to grow by the passage of time and that he would come back accompanying an army that Quraish could not face .
Certainly the survival of the Messenger made the Qureshites more eager and determined to kill him and more violent in combating him. They were expected to wage a long war against him and his followers. They were ready to use whatever they had of power and influence to fight him and to stir up the pagans and non-pagan tribes against him. They wanted to succeed in accomplishing by confrontation what they could not accomplish through attempts of assassination .
Ali's redemption of the Holy Prophet at the night of the Hijrah was a fulfillment of the pledge which he made at the conference of the House where he promised the Holy Prophet to be his minister. The events which followed the Hijrah demanded from Ali assistance to the Prophet much more and greater in size and magnitude year after year until the victory of the Heavenly message was realized.
The Faith of Islam could not have continued and spread unless the followers of Islam were liberated from fear and enabled to enjoy religious freedom. This could not be realized unless a powerful state based on the principles of the new faith is established. Such a state could not be established unless the evil forces which were threatening the faith are defeated .
We shall see in the following pages that Ali was that unique minister who was great enough to assist the Prophet to achieve these goals .
Thus Ali earned the two honors of being the Redeemer of the Final of the Prophets and the honor of being the executor of the Prophet (in action) whom he deputized to deliver to the Meccans what was in his possession of their trusts. Both honors were unique .
When his two missions were so successfully fulfilled Ali set out towards Medina. As he arrived to Qoba he found the Holy Prophet waiting for him to enter with him the city which was destined to be the capital of Islam.
Ali's Role in Building the Islamic State
Self-determination is an inalienable right of every nation and every nation therefore has the right to establish a state and institute a national government.
Such a state has the right to unite all its people under one banner unless legitimate governments for sections of one nation had been already established. These rights are natural and no power has the right to prevent a nation or a people of a country from exercising them.
The Arab nation at the time of the Messenger was no exception. It had the right to establish a state and institute a government. This was not only a right but also the duty of the Arab nation. Yet due to unusual circumstances the Arab people in Hijaz Najd and Tuhama were living without government of any kind. There was no power to stop a public offender and enable people to live in peace and security for their wealth lives and honors.
The Arab tribes were reciprocating hostilities. No honor blood or property of a tribe was sacred to other tribes. Anarchy to them was a matter of course and no change was necessary; and if anyone thought of a change he did not have the means to realize it.
The rest of the Arab people in Yemen Syria and Iraq were ruled by foreign powers who did not have the right to rule them.
It was a duty of any new government to try to liberate these people from foreign domination and unite them with the rest of the Arabs regardless of any religious principles.
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But there was no one to fulfill this duty or exercise these rights.
The Almighty wanted to deliver the Arabs and other nations and liberate them from their social political and religious anarchies. He sent Mohammad to lead mankind to the right road and wanted the Arab nation to be the starting point. Probably the Arabs were the most needy for such a guidance and should they be guided by a heavenly leader they would be well qualified to carry His message to other nations.
The Messenger tried to deliver His message and to establish a state. The forces of anarchy from pagans and non-pagans tried with all their means to prevent him from fulfilling his mission waging against him a relentless war.
It was impossible for him to fulfill his mission without accepting their challenge and meeting them at the battle field and defeating them completely.
It was the right as well as the duty of the Holy Prophet to defeat the adversary forces in order to establish a new state from a new and ideal kind.
The Islamic State which he was trying to establish was not a subduing force which ruled people against their own will and imposed itself above them. The Messenger wanted to found a state and a government in which the ruler and the ruled are equal and brothers to each other.
A strong individual or group in this state would not be respected for strength nor would the weak be deprived of his right because of his weakness. The government the Prophet wanted to establish was projected to direct mankind to the Creator of the Universe and make the nations as well as the individuals realize that He is their True Ruler. Thus they would obey His command and obtain the projected worldly and spiritual happiness in His obedience. The Projected government would develop as a spontaneous outcome of their adherence to a set of principles which elevated people to make them live spiritually above their own human level.
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THESIS VERSUS ANTITHESIS
The anarchic and evil forces of Mecca and other Arab communities did not only deny Mohammad the right to establish a state and a government but also tried to prevent him and his followers from exercising their religious devotion. They denied him and his tollowers the right to live as long as they believed in One God.
These forces drove Mohammad and his followers out of their homes and properties. They wanted to shed his blood and the blood of his followers. Had these forces done nothing other than preventing him from establishing a state he would have had the right to combat them and defeat them for the continuation of their power meant the continuation of injustice towards the weak and the absence of security in society; above all that the Almighty would not be worshiped and His Oneness would not be acknowledged.
The adverse elements were the opposite barriers the removal of which was a necessary requirement for establishing the projected state. It was impossible to bring such a state into existence without destroying its opposite. Thus the Heavenly state was destined to be born on the battlefield when the founder of the state and his followers were accepting the challenges of the evil forces one after another. Had these forces been able to prevail on the battlefield the Islamic state could not have been born or continued to exist.
Quality Versus Quantity:
Muslims at the beginning of the Hijrah were a very small minority compared to the rest of the Arab forces which stood against them. They were overwhelmingly outnumbered and poorly equipped .
For the Faith of Islam to triumph and establish a state it had to have one of the two following methods:
1. A Divine intervention through which the evil forces would be miraculously destroyed. God is able to do that and nothing is beyond His power. Whenever He wants to
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do anything He only says: "Be and it is." However it is evident that this was not to happen.
The Almighty runs the events of the world through the natural courses. He tests the believers and they do not pass the test unless they try to fulfill what He commands them to do offering in His way what they possess of resourcefulness and power.
2. The other way by which the small Islamic minority could obtain victory was to have a superior quality which enabled it to prevail against opponents with quantitative superiority. This is what took place.
The Unique Hero
Here we find Ali Ibn Abu Talib next to the Messenger .
He proved to be a unique hero and a giant; mankind had never witnessed his equal in the history of "Jihad." The reader may remember that the Messenger of God gathered his close relatives after the commencement of his Prophethood seeking from among them a minister to assist him in his difficult mission. None of the Hashimites other than Ali responded to his call. "Prophet of God " he said "I shall be your minister." The Prophet upon hearing this told the Hashimites: "This (Ali) is my brother executor and successor.".
This event took place ten years before the Hijrah when Ali was thirteen years old. During the ten years which followed the event Ali's manhood reached its unequalled strength. This became crystal clear at the night of Hijrah when he lay on the bed of the Messenger giving the highest example in the history of Islamic redemption. This manhood was destined to be transformed into a unique heroism when the Messenger and his followers accepted the challenge of their enemies and went on defending their sacred freedom trying to bring about the birth of the Islamic State which was conceived to carry the torch of guidance for mankind .
No one other than the Messenger expected the word "Wazeeruk" (your minister) which Ali uttered at the historical conference to be so full of its meaning and flowing
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with so much of heroism. The Messenger was the only one who expected from Ali all his future record.
The Messenger was the architect and the founder of the Islamic State. His minister Ali was the eliminator of the obstructive forces which stood in the way of its establishment for he was the hero and the bearer of the banner of the Messenger in every decisive battle. ( 1 )
The Messenger made him the commander-in-chief of every expedition he attended. He never placed him under any command other than his. Whenever he carried the banner of the Messenger he came back with an impressive victory and history. His leadership was unique in style. He was not a commander who was defended by his soldiers.
He was rather the leader who stood in the front line literally leading his soldiers. On more than one occasion his soldiers took refuge in him and he was their protector at more than one battle. On occasions the bulk of the companions ran away leaving the Messenger alone and Ali stood along with him compensating him through his heroic performance for what the Prophet missed of their defensive actions.
Ali attended eighteen battles with the Messenger. In addition he led numerous expeditions. It suffices to mention briefly his indispensable contributions in four decisive battles: Badr Ohod the Moat and Kheibar. These four battles were truly the battles of destiny for Islam and Muslims.
The future of Islam was dependent upon their outcomes.
The Battle of Badr was the most important among the Islamic Battles of Destiny. For the first time the followers of the new faith were put into a serious test. Had victory been the lot of the pagan army while the Islamic forces were still at the beginning of their developments the faith of Islam could have come to an end.
No one was as aware of the importance of the outcome of the Battle as the Holy Prophet. We might read the depth of his anxiety in his prayer before the beginning of the Battle when he stood up supplicating his Lord: "God this is Quraish. It has come with all its arrogance and boastfulness trying to discredit Thy Apostle. God I ask Thee to humiliate them tomorrow. God if this Muslim band will perish today Thou shall not be worshiped!" ( 1 )
At this battle in which the pagan army consisted of 950 fighters and the Muslims did not exceed 314 (including the Messenger) the Islamic defense was a combination of three elements resembling three defensive lines:
1. The personality of the Messenger his leadership and his unequalled firmness. He was to the Muslims the final refuge at Badr and at every battle he attended .
2. The Hashimites (the clan of the Prophet) led by Ali Ibn Abu Talib who entered this Battle relatively obsecure and came out of it with unequaled military fame .
His military performances became the popular subject of the Arab caravans' conversations throughout the Arabic Peninsula
( 1 ) Ibn Husam Biography of the Prophet Part 2 p. 621.
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3. The hundreds of companions of the Messenger whose hearts were filled with faith and readiness for sacrifice. Many of them viewed martyrdom to be a gain equal to life and victory. These good companions were the army of Islam its first line of defense and the thick wall behind which the Messenger used to stand. They were defenders and they were attackers .
As to the clan of the Messenger they were the ones whom he used to call before any one else to offer the heavy sacrifice. They used to stand in the first line of defense opening for the army the way through their thrusts in the lines of the enemies. When the general offensives began and every companion present participated the clan of the Messenger were the most damaging to the enemies. They were so at Badr and at the following battles.
The battle began when Utbah Ibn Rabi-ah his son Al-Waleed and his brother Sheibah (all from Omayad) stood in front of their pagan army and asked the Prophet to send to them their equals for a duel. Hundreds of companions were around him and many of them were expecting to be called upon by the Prophet but he chose to start with his own family. The load was heavy and the heavy load could be carried only by the people to whom it belonged. He called upon Ali Al-Hamzah and Obeidah Ibn Al-Harith (all from the clan of the Prophet) to face the three warriors. Ali destroyed Al-Waleed and Al-Hamzah killed Utbah; then they both assisted Obeidah against his opponent Sheibah. Sheibah died immediately and Obeidah was the first martyr at this battle. He died after he lost his leg.
When the general offensive began hundreds of companions participated in the battle. They offered sacrifices and pleased their Lord. But the members of the House of the Messenger distinguished themselves. Ali's endeavor was unique at this battle. When Hanthala Ibn Abu Sufyan faced him Ali liquified his eyes with one blow from his sword. He annihilated Al-Auss Ibn Sa-eed and met Tuaima Ibn Oday and transfixed him with his spear saying: "You shall not dispute with us in God after today.".
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The Messenger took a handful of gravel when the battle was extremely heated. He threw it at the faces of the pagans saying: "May your faces be disfigured. God terrify their hearts and invalidate their feet." The pagans ran away turning their faces to no one.
The Muslims went on killing them and taking prisoners.
Seventy pagans met their death and the Muslims took from them seventy prisoners. History preserved in its records only fifty of the names out of the seventy pagan losses. Twenty 2 or twenty-two 3 of them died at Ali's hands.
This battle laid the foundation of the Islamic State and made out of the Muslims a force to be reckoned with by the dwellers of the Arabic Peninsula.
However we should not overlook the fact that it took three hundred and twelve companions to achieve sixty percent of the outcome of the battle while Ali alone achieved at least forty percent of it. It is not an exaggeration to say that his endeavor was a very substantial factor in bringing the battle to its victorious conclusion. Should we subtract his forty percent the outcome of the battle might have changed. On the other hand if we subtract any other single companion in that battle the outcome of the battle would not have changed .
The Qureshites came out from the Battle of Badr with an astonishing result which tney did not expect. They were confident of their capability to annihilate the Muslims easily. For the Qureshites were more numerous and with a bigger reserve and more logistics. Yet they suddenly found themselves losing seventy of their warriors and leaders along with seventy captives in a one-day battle. And above all the resounding defeat which they received was at the hand of a group whom they used to belittle.
The Qureshites were unwilling to admit a final defeat.
They lost a battle but they believed that they would never lose the war. All they needed was to mobilize forces to which the Muslims would not be able to stand. The burning hatred in the hearts of Qureshites and their desire to wash away the shame of the defeat at Badr and their eagerness to avenge their lost leaders added to their physical superiority a tremendous psychological strength.
The Qureshites mobilized for the battle of avenge three thousand fighters compared to nine hundred and fifty fighters at the Battle of Badr. This army was financed and its logistics were secured through the gross income of the commercial caravan which was allotted to the battle of avenge. Thus the community of Quraish one year after the Battle of Badr marched towards Medina to annihilate the Muslims their religion and their Prophet. The Meccan army arrived at the area of Ohod which is five miles away from Medina. There the expected battle took place.
The Holy Prophet went on deploying his forces placing them in strategic positions. He placed fifty marksmen at
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the slope of the Mount of Ohod directing them to protect the back of the Muslims against the pagan cavalry (which was led by Khalid Ibn Al-Waleed). He commanded them not to leave their position whether the Muslims defeated the pagans or the pagans defeated the Muslims.
The Elements of the Islamic Defense
In this second battle of destiny for the Muslims the Islamic defense consisted of the same three important elements which played their roles at the Battle of Badr:
1. The ideal leadership of the Messenger and his firmness.
2. The members of the House of the Holy Prophet and their heroism.
3. An Islamic army consisting of seven hundred companions the hearts of many of them were filled with faith and readiness for sacrifice.
The start of the Battle of Ohod followed the method of the beginning of the Battle of Badr. Talhah Ibn Abu Talhah (from Banu Abdul-Dar clan) the bearer of the banner of the pagans challenged the Muslims saying:
"Are there any duelers?" The respondent to his call was the same respondent of the Battle of Badr. Ali came to him and when they faced each other between the two hosts Ali swiftly dealt him a blow by his sword through which his head was split. The Holy Prophet was pleased.
He exclaimed: "Allahu Akbar" (God Is Great) and so did the Muslims for the biggest hero of the pagan army had died.
Abu Saad Ibn Abu Talhah (brother of Talhah) carried the banner and challenged the Muslims saying: "Companions of Mohammad you allege that your dead go to Paradise and our dead go to Hell. By 'Al-Lat ' you lie. If you were so confident some of you could have faced me. Let one of you come to fight me." (Dr. M. Haykal Life of Mohammad p. 289)
Ali came to him and Abu Saad was not luckier than his brother Talhah. The men of Abdul-Dar continued replacing the bearers of their banner with their men and the
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Muslims continued annihilating them. Ali destroyed Artat Ibn Sharhabeel Shureih Ibn Qaridh and their servant Sawab .
Historians reported that Al-Hamzah killed Othman Ibn Abu Talhah. Assim Ibn Thabit shot by his arrows Musafi and Al-Harith two sons of Talhah Al-Zubeir killed their brother Kilab and Talhah Ibn Obeidullah killed their other brother Al-Jallas .
Ali and the Banner Bearers
However Ibn Al-Atheer reported that Ali alone destroyed all the standard bearers at the Battle of Ohod and said that Abu Rafi reported that. ( 1 ) And so did Al-Tabari.
The death of the bearers of the banner heightened the morale of the Muslims and shook the hearts of the pagans.
Following the death of the banner bearers the Muslims undertook a general offensive led by Ali Al-Hamzah Abu Dujanh and others. The Islamic offensive terrified the pagan army but the Muslims lost during this operation a giant hero Al-Hamzah Lion of God and uncle of the Messenger of God. Wahshi an Abbysinian transfixed him with his dart while he was fighting. However the pagans were forced to flee and leave their camps. The Muslims entered the pagan camps and went on collecting what they found of equipment and material without meeting any resistance from the pagans.
Defeat After Victory
This scene watered the mouths of the fifty marksmen whom the Prophet placed at the slope of the Mount of
Ohod to protect the back of the Muslims against the pagan
cavalry. The majority of these marksmen left their place
and joined the collectors of the spoils. They did not heed
the word of their leader Abdullah Ibn Jubeir who reminded them of the instructions of the Messenger which made it
mandatory for them not to leave their place. Not more than
( 1 ) Ibn Al-Atheer. Al-Kamil. Part 3 p. 107.
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ten of them heeded his words. Noticing the small number of the marksmen Khalid Ibn Al-Waleed and his horsemen killed them then started a general offensive .
The fleeing pagans beheld their horsemen fighting and attacking. They came back to the battle while the Muslims were preoccupied collecting the spoils.
The Muslims were astonished and confused. They started to fight but they did not know whom they were fighting .
Many Muslims were killed by the Muslims themselves then they fled turning their backs and refusing to look behind while the Messenger was calling upon them to come back to the battle. The Holy Qur'an informs us of the situation of the Muslims in this terrifying hour:
"God certainly made good His promise unto you when you routed them by His leave until the moment when your courage failed you and ye disobeyed after He had showed that for which ye long. Among you are some that hanker after this world and some that desire the Hereafter. Then did he divert you from your foes in order to test you. But He forgave you: For God is full of grace to those who believe. Behold ye were climbing up (the high ground) without casting a side glance at anyone and the Apostle was calling you back. There did God give you one distress after another by way of requital to teach you not to grieve for what ye miss or for (the ill) that had befallen you. For God is well aware of all that ye do." ( 2 )
WHO REMAINED WITH THE PROPHET?
The companions fled away being concerned with their own safety. History recorded seven exceptional Meccans
(Ali Abu Bakr Abdul-Rahman Ibn Ouf Saad Ibn Abu
Waqass Talhah Ibn Obeidah Al-Zubeir Ibn Al-Awam Abu Obeidah Ibn Al-Jarrah); And Seven exceptional Medi nites (Al-Hubab Ibn Al-Munthir Abu Dujanah Sahl Ibn
Huneif Assim Ibn Thabit Saad Ibn Mu-ath As-ad Ibn
( 2 ) Chapter 3 verses 151-152.
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Hudheir or Saad Ibn Abadah and Mohammad Ibn Muslimah). These men according to some historians remained with the Prophet when the other companions deserted him. ( 3 ) From what we read in Al-Mustadrak by Al-Hakim we understand that Ali Ibn Abu Talib was the only defender who stayed with the Prophet for the duration of the battle. The other companions who were mentioned to be among those who remained with the Prophet were actually the first ones to come back to the Messenger of God after they left him. Al-Hakim recorded that Ibn Abbas said:
"Ali has four distinctions no one shares with him: He was the first male who prayed with the Messenger of God. He was the bearer of his banner in every battle and he was the one who stayed with him at the Battle on the day of Al-Mihras (the Battle of Ohod where there is gathered water called Al-Mihras) and he is the one who washed his blessed body and laid him in his tomb."( 4 )
Al-Hakim reported also that Saad Ibn Abu Waqass said: When people left the Messenger on the day of Ohod I went aside and said to myself I shall defend myself .
then Al-Miqdad told him: "Saad this is the Messenger." ( 5 )
Al-Hakim reported also that Al-Zubeir said about the Battle of Ohod "And they exposed our back to the horsemen so we were attacked from behind and a man shouted:
Mohammad has been killed. We retreated and the enemies pursued us." ( 6 )
He also reported that Abu Bakr said: When people left the Messenger of God on the day of Ohod I was the first one to come back to the Messenger of God . . . then he mentioned in the hadith that Abu Obeidah Ibn Al-Jarrah followed him." (Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak Part 3 p.78)
( 3 ) Al-Waqidi Al-Maghazi (conveyed by Ibn Abu Al-Hadeed in his Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah Vol. 3 p. 388)
( 4 ) Al-Hakim in his Al-Mustadrak, Part 3, p.111.
( 5 ) Al-Hakim recorded it in Al-Mustadrak, Part 3, pp. 26-28.
( 6 ) Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak, Part 3, pp.27-28.
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The Prophet Participated
The Messenger stayed at the battlefield with full determination and firmness after the pagans came up to him. He himself fought vigorously. Saad Ibn Abu Waqaas reported that he witnessed a man whose face was covered and he did not know who he was. The pagans came towards him and Saad thought that they were going to overpower him.
But that man took a handful of gravel and threw it at their faces and they retreated. . . Finally Saad discovered that that man was the Prophet. ( 7 ) He used his bow and expended all his arrow until his bow could not be used any longer.
When the Prophet was exposed to the enemies by the retreat of his army Obay Ibn Khalaf tried to attack him .
Some of his companions tried to bar Obay from reaching the Prophet but the. Prophet prevented them from doing that. He faced Obay with a blow which did not seem to be effective. But Obay said: "By God Mohammad has killed me. . . ." He told me in Mecca: "I shall kill you. By God if he spits on me he kills me." Obay died in "Saraf" while returning to Mecca .
Al-Tabari reported that Abu Rafi said: The Messenger of God witnessed a group of pagans coming to him. He said to Ali: Charge them. Ali charged them and forced them to retreat and killed Amr Ibn Abdullah Al-Jumahi .
The Prophet beheld another group coming and told Ali to charge them and he did. He scattered them and killed Sheibah Ibn Malik one of the children of Amir Ibn Lu-ay .
Amazed by Ali's sacrifice Gabriel said: "Messenger of God what a redeemer Ali is!" The Prophet replied: "He is from me and I am from him." Gabriel said: "And I am from both of you." ( 8 ) They heard at that time a voice saying:
( 7 ) This is reported also by Ibn Husham in his Biography of the Prophet Part 2 p.78.
( 8 ) Sayed Muhsin Al-Ameen in his Aayan Al-Shi-ah Part 2 p. 195. Al-Fairoozbadi recorded this in his book: Fada-il Al- Khamsah Part 2 p.317 (conveying from Al-Tabari). And Ibn Al-Atheer in his History Al-Kamil Part 2 p. 1O7 reported similar to this.
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"There is no youth (full of manhood) but Ali and no sword comparable to Zulfiqar (Ali's sword)
A regiment arrived from Kinanah in which four of the children of Sufyan Ibn Oweif were present: Khalid Abu AI-Sha-atha Abu Al-Hamra and Ghurab. The Messenger of God said to Ali: "Take care of this regiment." Ali charged the regiment and it was about fifty horsemen. He fought them while he was on foot until he scattered them.
They gathered again and he charged them again. This was repeated several times until he killed the four children of Sufyan and added to them six more. . . . ( 9 ) Ibn Husham reported that the Messenger fell into one of the pits which were excavated and covered up by Abu Amir who expected the Muslims to fall in them. The knee of the Messenger was cut. Ali held the hand of the Messenger and pulled him up and Talhah Ibn Obeidullah helped him until the Prophet stood up. ( 10)
Muslim in his "Sahih" (Authentic) reported that Sahl Ibn Saad said the following: "The face of the Messenger was cut and one of his teeth was broken and the protective dress of his head was broken. Fatima daughter of the Messenger was washing the blood and Ali was pouring water he brought by his shield from Al-Mihras. Beholding that the water increased the flow of blood she burned a mat put some of its ashes on the wound and the blood stopped." ( 11 )
It would not be difficult for the reader to infer the following:
1. The Battle of Ohod was one of the battles on which the future of Islam depended.
( 9 ) Ibn Abu Al-Hadeed in his Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah Vol. A p.372.
( 10 ) Ibn Husham Biography of the Prophet Part 2 p.80.
( 11 ) Muslim in his Sahih Part 12 p. 148.
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2. The death of the bearers of the banners of the pagan army at the beginning of the battle had its important effect in raising the morale of the Muslims and breaking the morale of the pagans who were four times more numerous than the Muslims. The bearers of the banners in the eyes of the warriors in those days were the leaders of the army. Their death had a great effect on the morale of the army. History recorded that Abu Sufyan said to Banu Abdul-Dar: "O Banu Abdul-Dar we recognize that you have more right than any other Meccan clan to carry the banner (because the Meccan tradition gives the clan of Abdul-Dar the right to carry the banner at war). We were defeated in Badr because of the banner. Hold your banner firmly and protect it or hand it to us." This infuriated the clan of Abdul-Dar. As they refused to surrender their right of carrying the banner Abu Sufyan said: "Let another banner be added to it." They said: "Yes but the additional banner will be carried also by a man from Banu Abdul-Dar and nothing other than this will be accepted." The Meccan pagans witnessed at the beginning of the battle their banner fallen ten times and their hearts fell with the banner ten times. They found to their astonishment that they are facing a tremendous power. Ali was the one who destroyed the banner bearers or most of them.
This signalled the defeat of the Meccan army in the first round.
3. When the Muslims were defeated in the second round no one remained with the Prophet except Ali and thirteen others of the companions of the Messenger. These thirteen were the first to come back to the Messenger after their flight. It is clear that Ali's defense in that decisive hour was much more valuable than the defense of the thirteen companions put together.
The Messenger of God became the target of the pagan's attacks. Whenever a regiment aimed at the Prophet Ali charged the regiment and forced it to retreat .
Thus we would not be erroneous if we say that Ali in
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this decisive battle had the exclusive honor of being the main defender of the Messenger and his Message against the forces which no one other than Ali could face successfully. The Battle of Badr laid the foundation of the Islamic state but the Battle of Ohod was about to destroy the foundation had not a small number of heroes headed by Ali been present .
The pagans found that the Battle of Ohod ended in their favor. They defeated the army of the Prophet and the Muslims lost seventy companions among them the giant hero: Al-Hamzah uncle of the Messenger and Lion of God. But the pagan victory was not decisive. Their target was Mohammad and Mohammad was still alive. He was the biggest danger to them. Therefore it was necessary for them to have another decisive battle in which they would realize the goal that they could not realize at the Battle of Ohod .
The Battle of Ohod took place during the third year after the Hijrah. Two years later the third decisive battle in which the pagans gathered their biggest task force took place.
The Qureshite community had one important dream: The destruction of Mohammad and his religion. Pagan tribes outside Mecca were sharing with them the same dream. Like the Meccans these tribes considered Mohammad a serious menace to their religion. This belief brought these tribes and the Muslims into military confrontations in which the Muslims had the upper hand. These tribes therefore were like the Meccan community full of resentment and rancour towards Mohammad and his religion.
There were clashes between the Muslims and some of the people of scripture who were neighboring Medina caused by their breaching of covenants with the Holy Prophet. Tribes from among them such as Banu Al-Natheer and others were exiled by the Prophet.
A delegation from these people went to Mecca and other Arab communities during the fifth year after the Hijrah propogating war against the Prophet and attempting to mobilize the Arab forces for the proposed war. They did not need much effort to persuade the Meccans to a military undertaking against the Prophet. Their response to the invitation was prompt and without hesitation they mobilized four thousand fighters. This army was supplemented with six thousands from Ghatafan Saleem and other tribes. Thus ten thousands strong marched towards Medina.
The Holy Prophet received the news of the imminent invasion a few days before their arrival at Medina. He
( 1 ) Chapter 33 verses 1O-13.
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consulted his companions and Salman Al-Farisi (the Persian) advised the Prophet to dig a moat around Medina to prevent the invaders from entering it. The Messenger commanded the Muslims (who were about three thousands) to implement the plan. The moat was dug within six days.
Witnessing the moat the invaders were surprised and realized that it had become difficult for them to enter Medina. Thus they found it necessary to besiege Medina instead of invading it directly. Banu Quraidhah a community from the followers of the Scripture joined the pagan army after its arrival. This community had a covenant of peace with the Prophet. Their treacherous action was a frightening surprise to the Muslims. By breaching the covenant this community gave the pagan army additional forces and equipment. It became the duty of the Muslims to add to their defensive lines another line .
The Muslims In Horror
There were many hypocrites among the Muslims who circulated frightening rumors which added to the fear of the Muslims. The Holy Qur'an tells us of the psychological crisis with which the Muslims lived during that period: "Behold! They came upon you from above you and from below you and when the eyes grew wild and the hearts gaped up to the throats and ye imagined various (vain) thoughts about God! In that situation the believers were tried: They were shaken with a mighty shock. And behold! The hypocrites and those in whose hearts there is a disease (even) say: God and His Apostle promised us nothing but delusion! Behold! A party among them said: O people of Yathrib (Medina) you cannot stand (the attack) therefore turn back! And a band of them ask for leave of the Prophet saying: Truly our houses are bare and exposed though they were not exposed; they intended nothing but to flee." ( 1 )
The pagan army on the contrary was enjoying an ex-
( 2 ) Holy Qur'an. Chapter 33 verse 23.
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tremely high morale. Victory to them was certain. Medina was under their siege and its inhabitants did not possess the courage to come out of it. Their confidence in victory and morale went higher when Banu Quraidhah joined them .
This made them change their strategy from the siege of Medina to a direct invasion .
Amr Ibn Abd Wodd accompanied by Dhirar Ibn Al-Khattab Akramah Ibn Abu Jahl and others sought and found a narrow place in the moat. Their horses leaped above the moat to the other side. Had this adventure succeeded many pagan fighters were expected to follow them and make it feasible for the whole army to pass through that narrow place for they could have spanned the two sides of the ditch by filling that narrow gap with soil .
The Muslims were in a state of shock and horror before the passage of these pagan soldiers to their side. The new danger which was presented by their passage made the morale of the Muslims much lower than before.
Men of Strong Faith
Though the hearts of most of the Muslims were filled with fear some of them were unshaken by the new danger .
It rather made their faith stronger in God His Messenger and the promised victory. These individuals were ready to sacrifice themselves and one of them certainly was determined to try to confine the danger then to remove it. The Holy Qur'an tells us of the morale of these believers.
"When the believers saw the confederate forces they said: This is what God and His Apostle had promised us. And God and His Apostle told us what is true. And it only added to their faith and their zeal in obedience.
"Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with God: Of them some have completed their vow (to the extreme) and some (still) wait; but they have never changed (their determination) in the least." ( 2)
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The Holy Qur'an does not inform us of the number of those believers whose faith was increased by the increase of the danger. These believers may have been scores or just a few. However faith sometimes remains only as a state of mind without being transformed into action. Some of the faith is active flowing with vitality and moving the faithful to face the danger and to rise to its level and above its level .
The number of these distinguished believers remained unknown.
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However history informed us of one of them because of his outstanding achievements at this battle in confining and removing the danger which shook the very foundation of the Islamic state. That man was no other than Ali Ibn Abu Talib .
Amr Ibn Wodd who crossed the moat was well known among the Arabs. He attended the battle boastfully making his place known to people. His very passage from one side to the other side of the moat accompanied only by a small number of fighters indicates that the man was extremely courageous. He was the only one from among the ten thousand fighters who tried to invade the Muslims directly and challenge them totally while he was with them on one side .
The passage of Amr and his companions presented to
the Muslims a new and serious danger and a frightening surprise which they never expected. The door was about to be opened widely and hundreds and thousands were expected to follow. The surprise however did not frighten or astonish Ali. History informs us of Ali's present-mindedness and fast response for he immediately moved to confine the danger then to remove it. Leading a small number of believers he went immediately
to the point where the Islamic defense line was broken
by the passage of Amr. He had his companions
stand there preventing others from attempting
( 3 ) Ibn Husham Biography of the Prophet Part 2 p. 224.
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to follow Amr. ( 3 ) And after be confined the new danger he managed to remove it completely . .
While mounting his horse Amr went around the area of Sal'a facing the Muslims and challenging them: "Is there any dueler?" He repeated this call but there was no response on the part of the companions. This compelled Ali to leave his place where he was deterring the pagan forces from following Amr by crossing the Moat. Responding to Amr's challenge he left that place temporarily to be defended by the few who were with him.
He neared Amr and asked him to face him in a duel.
Amr arrogantly replied: "Why son of my brother (Amr was a friend of Abu Talib father of Ali)? By God I would not like to kill you." Ali replied: "But by God I would love to kill you." A short but extremely violent duel between the two heroes took place. Ali killed Amr immediately and Amr's companions ran away trying to re-cross the moat from the Islamic side to the pagan side.
Ali exclaimed: "Allahu Akbar " (God is Great) and so did the Muslims. The death of Amr was the end of the new danger. Those who were with him ran away trying to save their skin; but most of them were killed before they could cross to the other side .
Ali made a great contribution in the defense of Islam at this battle during which the danger against the new Faith reached its peak.
At this battle the Muslims faced a greater danger than ever before. The elements of the Islamic defense were the same three elements which played their roles during the two battles of Badr and Ohod: The firmness of the Messenger and his ideal leadership: the heroism of Ali; and the determination of the Islamic army .
A fourth element was added at this battle: The role of Salman Al-Farisi (the Persian) who counseled the Prophet to dig the moat around Medina .
The role of the Islamic army during the Battle of Ohod was smaller than its role during the Battle of Badr. And it
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was less important at the Battle of the Moat than it was at the Battle of Ohod for the Muslims during the Battle of the Moat did not even dare face the enemy. They only dug the moat around the city before the arrival of the pagan army then stood behind the moat until the end of the battle.
The roles of the first two defensive elements were similar to their roles at Badr and Ohod and probably bigger .
The firmness of the Messenger his leadership his war strategy and his speed in digging the moat were most essential in making the Muslims pass the crisis safely .
Ali's role at this battle was outstanding in the history of the Islamic defense.
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THE MAGNlTUDE OF ALI'S CONTRIBUTiON
It would not be logical to say that the Muslims were unable collectively to kill Amr who could not by himself prevail against thousands of Muslims. But this was not the cas. Amr was calling for a duel. A duel could only be between two persons. It was considered to be shameful for two men or more to have a duel with one man. Amr challenged all the Muslims to send one of them to have a duel with him. None of them was willing to face him except Ali .
Nor would it be logical to say that Amr was the entire power of the pagan forces and that his death was a defeat for the whole confederate army. But it would be logical to affirm two important matters:
1. Ali's initiative to block the passage point and prevent others from following Amr had stopped the danger and confined it. Had the passage point remained open a great number of the pagan soldiers would have followed Amr and their passage could have resulted in establishing a bridge between the two sides of the moat. Such a bridge would enable the whole army to cross.
One hour of negligence could have led to a decisive defeat of the Islamic army. This did not happen because Ali was fast in his response to the new danger present minded calm and collective and ready to deal with the serious crisis .
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2. The death of Amr proved to the pagan army that they were unable to pass the moat again and that what Amr could not accomplish could not be accomplished by others.
By this the pagan army had to face one of two alternatives: Withdrawal or continuation of the siege until the Muslims surrender or were forced to cross the moat and fight the pagans. The continuity of the siege of Medina was beyond the ability of the pagan army. It did not have the food supplies for ten thousand fighters and their horses and camels which could enable them to continue the siege for several months or weeks. In addition a hurricane-like wind went on causing the pagan army many damages and making its life miserable. The hurricane was preceded by an argument between the pagans and their Jewish allies which made their co-operation in the battle highly difficult.
Thus there was only one alternative for the pagan army to take after the failure of Amr and his death: The withdrawal and that is what they did.
We ought not to forget an important matter! The death of Amr and most of his companions raised the morale of the Muslims. Their hope in continuity of life and in victory was revived. All this was a result of Ali's endeavor and by this we can understand the meaning of the declaration of the Prophet. "The duel of Ali Ibn Abu Talib against Amr Ibn Abd Wodd at the Battle of the Moat outweighs the good deeds of my whole nation until the Day of Judgement." ( 4)
The Confederate Army withdrew and the Muslims passed the crisis safely. They regained their confidence concerning the future because of failure of the Confederate forces after their biggest mobilization. The Messenger said after their withdrawal: "After today we shall invade them and they will not invade us." ( 5 )
Many non-pagan Arab tribes of the inhabitants of Hijaz refused to join the Faith of Islam. The faith itself prevented the Muslims from imposing it on the tribes because they were from the people of the scripture.
At the dawn of the Islamic State in the beginning of the Hijrah the Messenger signed a document by which he regulated the relationship between these tribes (around and in Medina) and the Muslims giving them rights equal to those of the Muslims. In that document the Holy Prophet wrote the following: "Whoever joins the signatories of this scripture would be entitled to our help and would not be subject to any injustice nor should the Muslims cooperate against them.
The children of Ouf are a community of believers. The people of the scripture are allowed to follow their religion as much as the Muslims are allowed to follow theirs and so are their allies except the one who commits injustice or sin. For he does not harm but himself. The people of the scripture from Banu-Al-Harith and Banu Al-Shateebah have rights equal to that of Banu Ouf.
"The people of the scripture shall spend on themselves and the Muslims shall spend on themselves. They shall help each other against anyone that wages war against the people of this document. The signatories of the document are entitled to mutual advice sincerity and assistance rather than fighting each other. . ." ( 1 )
( 1 ) Ibn Husham Biography of Prophet Part 1 p. 503.
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This document is truly the first of its kind in the history of religious freedom and a cornerstone in declaring the human rights which mankind strove for centuries to acquire.
I do not think any religious minority ever acquired such a security or rights under any government before the recent centuries.
This religious minority was expected to appreciate this generous attitude toward its faith. They should have taken such an attitude towards a religion that respects the message in which they believe and considers it heavenly with undiminished values. For the faith of Islam supports the messages of Jesus and Moses and completes them.
This religious minority had forecast to its pagan neighbors an anticipated Prophet who is mentioned in its book.
They used to threaten their pagan neighbors with the nearness of his advent and promise themselves to be of his followers. When the anticipated Prophet appeared and God showed them in him what they expected they took a hostile attitude towards him and rewarded his tolerance with breaching all covenants they signed with him.
This religious minority evidently was expecting the new Prophet to share with them their hostile attitude towards the Messiah and his followers. When they found the Holy Qur'an spoke of the holiness of Jesus his truthfulness and the purity of his mother they turned against the Messenger.
Probably they did not like something else in Islam. This faith prohibits usury and stands against exploitation and monopoly of the market. This frightened them because it was their way to charge high interests on their loans to their neighbors. The anarchy which was prevalent in the Arabic Peninsula was a fertile land for them. They were able to move between the tribes seeding and growing hostilities between them. Establishing a strong government with definite rules and regulations would deprive them of benefits they were enjoying.
This religious minority chose to join the pagan camp in order to keep the Arab nation in a state of ignorance
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poverty and injustice where people lacked security of life honor and property.
Like pagans this minority did not like to see the Arab nation exercising its right of establishing a government unifying the Arab communities and directing them along with other nations to the Creator of the Universe.
This religious minority represented to the new Muslim State a menace equal to that of the pagan tribes. The reader may remember that a delegation from this religious minority was able to mobilize at the Battle of the Moat ten thousand fighters from Mecca and other communities through their war propaganda. You may remember also that Banu Quraidhah (from this minority) broke their covenant with the Holy Prophet. They joined his enemies when they witnessed the pagan army having the upper hand at that battle maximizing the biggest crisis he ever faced.
The Messenger punished Banu Quraidhah severely after the withdrawal of the Confederate Army from around Medina. He made them pay dearly from their blood and wealth for their flagrant crimes.
However the bulk of this minority was settling in Kheibar and its numerous fortresses which were about eighty miles from Medina. This community represented a danger to the safety of the Islamic State and the time came to subdue these Kheiberites after the Messenger made his temporary truce with the pagan Meccans at Al-Hudeibeyah .
* * *
THE PROPHET BESIEGED KHEIBAR
When the Messenger came back from Al-Hudeibeyah he stayed in Medina only fifteen days. Turning his attention to this minority he marched towards Kheibar accompanied by only the sixteen hundred volunteers who attended Al- Hudeibeyah. After traveling three days he and his army camped around fortresses of Kheibar at night.
Leaving to their farms in the morning the Kheiberites were shocked to see the Muslim army. They recoiled back exclaiming: "Mohammad and the army.".
It is worthy to note that this war was not religious. It
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did not aim at forcing the people of Kheibar to adopt the Islamic Faith. The Holy Prophet never forced any of the followers of the scripture to change his religion. We have already mentioned that the document which was written by the Prophet during the first year of the Hijrah had secured to the religious minority inside and around Medina their religious freedom along with their civil rights if they abode by the contents of the document. Unfortunately they did not live up to the letter or spirit of that document.
They rather became a menace to the safety of the State and freedom of the Muslims. Thus the Messenger was duty-bound to try to subdue them.
The reader may remember that the elements of the Islamic defense in the previous three battles were three:
1. The ideal leadership of the Holy Prophet with all it possessed of unequaled firmness and wisdom along with his personality whose holiness commanded the obedience of every volunteer.
2. The heroic actions of the members of the House of the Prophet and.
3. The hundreds of sincere believers whose number was continuously on the increase.
You may remember that the Messenger lost a member of his clan Obeidah Ibn Al-Harith at the Battle of Badr then he lost his uncle Al-Hamzah at the Battle of Ohod. It is reported that the Messenger at the Battle of the Moat prayed to God to preserve Ali for him after He took from him Obeidah at Badr and Al-Hamzah at Ohod.
Ali attended the previous three battles and was the hero of every one of them. He was the first and the foremost among the fighters in both defensive and offensive actions.
His actions in each of the three battles were essential factors in directing the course of the battle bringing the battle to a good end and extinguishing its flame.
Ali however was not able to be the first in leading the battle of Kheibar. For a health reason he was absent at the beginning of the battle and his absence caused a noticeable vacuum. The Messenger laid siege around Kheibar and the siege continued for weeks without bringing any result.
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Skirmishes between the two sides took place one day after another. The Muslims did not have the upper hand in those skirmishes.
The Muslims' supplies were dwindling rapidly. Because of this the Muslims tried at the Battle of Kheibar to cook the meat of donkeys but the Messenger prevented them from eating the meat.
The Messenger gave the banner to Abu Bakr. He led the army towards the fortress of Na-im. The Kheibarites came out and fought the Muslims and the Muslims could not prevail against them and were forced to retreat. The Messenger on the following day gave the banner to Omar and he was not luckier than Abu Bakr .
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The Messenger found himself facing a very serious problem. The siege had already continued more than it should. The food supplies dwindled and became scarce.
The Islamic army so far was unable to subdue any of the fortresses. Should the Prophet continue his siege without result or should he lift the siege against the fortresses and go back to Medina? This would be a monumental failure.
If the reader were unable to evaluate the magnitude of Ali's endeavor in the previous battles the Battle of Kheibar proves beyond a shadow of doubt that Ali's presence was indispensable in bringing the decisive battles to their favorable conclusions .
Ali Is the Solution
The Holy Prophet was saddened to see that his general offensive in two consecutive days had failed. He decided therefore to bring a drastic solution to the problem and Ali's leadership was the only solution. The two sheikhs Al-Bukhari and Muslim inform us in their two Sahihs (Authentics) of what took place. They recorded that Sahl Ibn Saad (a prominent companion) said:
"The Messenger of God said at Kheibar: I shall give this
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banner to a man through whom God will bring the victory.
He loves God and His Messenger and God and His Messenger love him.
"The companions spent the night asking each other: 'Who is the man whom the Holy Prophet meant?' They came in the morning to the Messenger and every one of them was hoping that he would be the man of the banner.
"Where is Ali Ibn Abu Talib?" the Prophet asked. "He is suffering from inflammation of his eyes " they said. The Prophet sent for him. When Ali was brought to the Prophet he treated Ali's eyes with his blessed saliva and prayed for him. Ali's eyes were cured instantly as if they did not have any inflammation.
The Prophet gave Ali the banner and Ali asked: "Messenger of God shall I fight them until they become Muslims like us?" The Messenger said: "Go on until you reach their dwelling. Invite them to Islam and inform them of their duty towards God and Islam. By God if He leads one man through you to the right road it would be better for you than to own a precious wealth." ( 2 )
The Unique Leadership
Ali went on carrying the banner and contrary to the conventional way he literally led the army. Salamah Ibn Al-Akwa said: "By God Ali went out with the banner running and panting. We went following him until he planted the banner into a pile of stones near the fortress." A man from the fortress went up and asked Ali: Who are You? And he replied: I am Ali Ibn Abu Talib. The man said: By what was revealed to Moses you have the upper hand (the name Ali means high). As the Holy Prophet forecast the Almighty granted Ali the victory. He conquered the enemy before he returned to the Prophet." ( 3 )
Salama also said: "Marhab (the outstanding warrior of the Kheiberites) came out boasting and challenging. Ali
( 2 ) Sahih Al-Bukhari Part 5 p. 171 and Muslim in his Sahih Part 15 pp. 178-179.
( 3 ) Ibn Husham Biography of the Prophet Part 2 p. 335. .
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dealt him a blow with his sword splitting his head and victory was accomplished." ( 4)
Abu Rafi a companion of the Prophet said: "We went with Ali Ibn Abu Talib when the Messenger of God sent him with his banner. When he came near the fortress the dwellers of the fortress came out and he fought them. A man from them hit Ali and made him lose his shield. Ali took a door at the fortress and shielded himself with it. He kept it in his hand until the battle ended. I found myself with seven men trying to move that door but we could not." ( 5)
The retreating enemies took refuge in their fortress after a costly battle which did not last long after Marhab's death. They tried to defend themselves by entering into the fortress and locking its door after they lost the battle of confrontation. But this did not avail them. Ali opened the gate and entered the fortress and his soldiers followed him.
How did he open the huge door? Did he or anyone of his soldiers climb above the wall and open the door from inside? Neither the historians nor the recorders of hadiths reported that the Muslims entered the fortress by climbing.
Had Ali through an unusual power dislocated the door as some of the hadiths reported? This is possible and very likely. For another miracle was performed by the Messenger of God on that day in curing the two eyes of Ali through the Messenger's blessed saliva. Dislocation of the door probably was an additional miracle which took place on that day. Probably the door which Abu Rafi informed us that Ali used as a shield was the same door of the fortress.
As Ali entered the fortress he brought the defensive capability of the people of the fortress to an end. They could not win a second battle of confrontation after they
lost the first one. The fortress fell at the hands of the Muslims before the rear of the army joined its front. Other
fortresses followed the fortress of Na-im. They fell one
( 4 ) Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak Part 3 pp.28-29.
( 5 ) Ibn Husham Biography of the Prophet Part 2 p.335.
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after another until the area of Kheibar completely surrendered to the Muslim State.
The reader may easily come to the following conclusion:
1. The Battle of Kheibar was one of the important battles of destiny for the Muslims. It was preceded by two battles in which the Muslims were not in the best conditions. The Muslims were defeated at the Battle of Ohod and ran away from the battlefield except a few of them.
This was followed by the Battle of the Moat in which the Muslims were on the defensive. They were frightened and terrified except those whom the Almighty fortified. Their hearts went up to their throats. The battle ended and the Muslims did not dare face their enemies or cross from their side to the side of the enemies. They remained behind their Moat.
The Muslims at the Battle of Kheibar outnumbered their enemies. Should they fail to subdue them their failure was expected to show their weakness and entice many hostile tribes to attack the Muslims and the Kheiberites will be the nucleus of the future invading forces. in addition the Muslims themselves because of their failure in Kheibar will lose their self-confidence and see that their victory against their numerous enemies is a remote possibility. On the other hand if the Muslims obtain victory against the Kheiberites the opposite will be the result.
Victory heightens their morale eliminates a dangerous enemy and makes the rest of the Arab tribes respect the Muslims and hesitate to attack them.
2. The Messenger was unhappy with the sequence of events of the battle. The siege around the fortresses continued for a long time. The food supplies dwindled. If the siege continued and the Muslims could not prevail against the enemies the Muslims would be forced to withdraw and lift the siege. This would be a disastrous failure. The Muslims upon the order of the Prophet therefore conducted two general offensives in two consecutive days under the leadership of Abu Bakr then Omar.
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As the Muslims were unable to conquer any of the fortresses in the two offensives the Messenger realized that the Muslims were facing an unusual dilemma. He wanted a drastic solution for that problem.
3. Because Ali's leadership in the view of the Messenger was the only solution the Messenger had to perform a miracle in order to enable Ali to fulfill his mission. Ali was suffering from inflammation of his eyes and he would not be able to fulfill his difficult task unless his eyes were cured.
Had there been any other person capable of fulfilling the mission the Prophet would not have commissioned Ali with it. Ali was excused from the duty of Jihad because of his unusual condition but the situation was so grave and there was no one other than Ali capable of facing the danger and prevailing against it.
4. The cure of Ali's eyes by the saliva of the Messenger was one of two miracles. The second miracle was the prophecy of the Messenger: He informed the Muslims that the one who would lead the army on the third day would be able with the help of God to conquer the fortresses. The Prophet as a human could not predict that God would open the fortresses at the hands of Ali. It was possible for Ali to be killed or seriously wounded and that would prevent him from continuing his campaign.
The Messenger did not utter his words in reliance on himself. He uttered them only in reliance on God's revelation. Only God knew what would happen to Ali and that he would come back after God opened the fortress at his hands.
The whole army failed and was unable to conquer the fortress when Ali was absent. The presence of Ali alone was the key to victory. This would substantiate clearly that Ali was the main contributor after the Prophet in founding the Muslim State for he was the implementer of the Prophet's strategy and the eliminator of his adversaries.
To the truth of this statement Omar the Second
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Caliph attested when he said to the man who accused Ali of being conceited: "A man such as Ali has the right to be proud. By God the pillar of Islam could not be erected without Ali's sword. He is the highest magistrate of this nation its earliest Muslim and its most honorable." .
* * *
THE NATURAL MINISTRY.
The Almighty strengthened His Messenger by his cousin Ali who pledged to him ten years prior to the Hijrah to be his Minister in his great mission. Had Ali not pledged to the Prophet at the clan's conference to be his "Wazeer" (minister) he would not have acted differently from what he did. The attachment of Ali to the Messenger was natural requiring no pledge or pact.
He did not pledge to the Prophet his ministry and full assistance in order to gain the important ranks which the Messenger promised him. He gave his word because he believed that his assistance to the Messenger was the mission for which he was created. The love of God and His Messenger filled his heart and therefore he gave all his existence for their pleasure.
A Divine Choice
When the Messenger conferred on Ali the ranks of brother executor and successor he was speaking by the order of God and God chooses for these ranks only the one who merits them.
The Holy Prophet on the other hand did not bestow upon Ali all these honors because of his promised assistance but because Ali was meritorious.
Had the mission of the Messenger been in no need of
Ali's endeavor and sacrifice the Messenger would not have chosen a brother or an executor or a caliph other than
him for Ali was the most resemblant to the Messenger in ethics righteousness and knowledge. He was the first Mus lim and most obedient to God and His Messenger and
therefore he was beloved by God and His Messenger. No
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shining evidence beyond the declaration of the Holy Prophet at Kheibar is needed: "I shall give the banner to a man through whom God will bring victory. He loves God and His Messenger and God and His Messenger love him." Al-Termathi in his Sunan (one of the Six Authentics) ( 6 ) and Al-Hakim in his Al-Mustadrak ( 7 ) reported that the Prophet was presented with a grilled bird. He prayed and in his prayer he said: "God send me your most beloved from among your creatures to eat with me this bird." Ali alone came and ate with him.
Because Ali was the only qualified person to be the brother the executor and successor of the Holy Prophet the Prophet bestowed the three honors upon him before the beginning of his monumental sacrifices. This proves that he was the choice of the Prophet for the above honors regardless of the need of the message for his sacrifice.
When the Messenger conferred these ranks on Ali the witnesses of the event did not exceed thirty or forty men.
All of them were from the clan of the Prophet. It was only a matter of course for him to declare to the rest of the Muslims what he declared to the members of his clan when the opportunity presented itself. The Messenger chose to do that gradually. He started by announcing his brotherhood to Ali at the beginning of the Hijrah.
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