Tuesday 3rd of October 2023
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The Election of the Imam Ali


Had Quraish (Meccan Community) remained in control of the political affairs during the first few days after the death of Othman it would have prevented the Imam Ali Ibn Abu Talib from coming to power. Had Tallah Al-Zubeir and their supporters expected Ali to come to power they would not have opposed Othman or called for his assassination. Each of the two companions was hopeful that he rather than Ali would be the fourth caliph and Quraish was determined to use all its power to keep Ali away from the caliphate. You may remember that the Imam said to the Hashimites when the Second Caliph issued his instructions concerning the Electoral Convention: "Should your people (the Qureshites) be obeyed in matters pertaining to you you will never be given the leadership."( 1 )

Fortunately Quraish lost the political initiative for a

few days after Othman's assassination. The Qureshites

were astonished and numbed and they did not know what

to do. It is true that the non-Omayad Qureshite leaders instigated the uprising against Othman and called for his

assassination. Yet the people who made the revolution

were from outside Mecca and Medina. They were Egyp tians Bassrites and Kufites. These revolutionary elements were in control of the political affairs having what the 

( 1 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 33 Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 239.

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Qureshites did not have of influence during that short period.

The reign of the Third Caliph exhibited to the Muslims that Quraish had committed a classical error when it diverted the caliphate from Ali to Othman. The natives of Medina found in the few days following his death a breathing time and an opportunity to liberate themselves from the Qureshite influence and its despotic role in directing the caliphate and giving it to whomever it chose.

Thus Quraish for the first time was not obeyed in a matter pertaining to the House of the Prophet. Therefore the House of the Prophet was given the leadership and Ali who was the head of the House was elected.

It was ironic concerning the caliphate that Ali desired to be the elected caliph when Abu Bakr was elected when Omar was appointed and when Othman was selected.

And at each time Quraish used to stand in his way and divert the caliphate from him to others. Yet his desire and the Qureshite desire did not clash when he was offered the caliphate after the death of Othman. The Qureshite leaders were wishing out of jealousy that Ali would not be given the leadership. Ali on the other hand wished that the caliphate would be diverted from him because he expected to face tremendous difficulties which could not be surmounted by a man of principle such as Ali.


A Drafted Caliph

Al-Tabari reported that the Meccan and the Medinite

companions including Talhah and Al-Zubeir met with the

Imam Ali and told him: "We have to have an Imam." He

said: "I have no desire for your leadership. I would be

satisfied with whomever you choose." They said: "We

shall choose none but you." They came to him time after

time saying: "We know of no one who has more right or

precedence in Islam or closer relation to the Prophet than

you." He said: "Do not do it. I would like to be an as-

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sistant rather than a leader." They said: "By God we shall not desist until we elect you."( 2 )

Al-Tabari reported also that the people remained five days after the death of Othman without an lmam. The revolutionary people gathered the people of Medina and told them: You are the people of the counsel. You are the makers of the caliphate and your decision would be honored by the nation. Look for anyone whom you choose and we will follow you. The majority said: We choose Ali Ibn Abu Talib. We will be satisfied with him. The revolutionaries gave the people of Medina two days to choose a leader. People came to Ali saying to him: "We want to elect you; you are witnessing what happened to Islam and what we are exclusively (from among the rest of the people) facing of difficulties.".


A Gloomy Expectation

Ali said: "Leave me out and seek other than I. Certainly we are facing a crisis with many faces and colors. The hearts will not stand for it and the minds will not rest on it." They said: We ask you in the name of God. Can't you see what we are facing? Can't you see what happened to Islam? Can't you see the crisis? Do you not fear God? He said: "I accept and you should know that if I accept I will follow only my knowledge in administering your affairs. If you leave me out I would be only one of you yet I would be of the most obedient to whomever you elect."( 3 )

They left him after they made an appointment with him for the following day..

The following day (Friday) people came to the Mosque and Ali mounted the pulpit and said: "O people upon mutual counsel and permission this affair is yours.

No one has the right to lead you except the one you 

( 2 ) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 427 Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 98.

( 3 ) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 434 Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 99.

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choose. We parted yesterday on an agreement. If you choose I will sit for you; otherwise I will not have any ill feelings against anyone (if you change your opinion)." They said: "We are still on the same principle as yesterday."( 4 )

People elected him. It is said that Talhah was the first one who gave him his allegiance.( 5 ) The people of Kufa said that Malik Al-Ashtar was the first one who gave Ali his allegiance.

Unachievable Goals

The Imam reluctantly accepted the election although he wished that the caliphate had been diverted from him to another person. The caliphate in his view was not an end.

He viewed it only as a means of spreading justice among people realizing brotherhood among the followers of the Islamic message and leading the nation to a life ruled by principles of the Holy Qur'an and the instructions of the Holy Prophet. All evidence was pointing to the fact that the achievements of these goals had become impossible.

The unity of the nation had come to an end during the reign of the Third Caliph. His saddening death was expected only to increase the division of the nation and magnify the flame of dissention. Ali's program called for implementation of equality in distribution of public funds executing justice removal of corruption and elimination of discrimination. This was expected only to meet the strongest opposition from elements of strong influence who were not willing to relinquish their acquired privileges.


Quraish's Hostility

Quraish the community that blocked Ali's way to the 

( 4 ) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 435 Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 99.

( 5 ) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 435 Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 99.

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caliphate for twenty-five years (thinking that if he comes to power the caliphate will remain in his house) will do all it can to destroy his caliphate.

The Privileged Companions

The class of companions who were preferred in salary by the Second and Third Caliphs and acquired wealth through investment of the surplus fund which they received will oppose Ali because he believes in distributing the public funds equally among the Muslims.

Those who enriched themselves by accepting huge sums of money and vast pieces of land from the Third Caliph and his appointed governors will also oppose the Imam because he intends to recover what they received illegally and put it back in the Islamic treasury.


The Promoted Companions

Talhah and Al-Zubeir members of the Electoral Convention were representing a new class of companions and endeavored to bring the reign of Othman to an end (hoping that one of them will replace him). They were expected to try to fight Ali with all their power. The two companions were extremely powerful. The fortune of each had amounted to tens of millions of dirhams.( 5a ) They had the support of the Qureshite clans and a great number of the people of Bassrah and Kufa. And above all they were supported by Ayeshah Mother of the Believers who enjoyed a great influence and a high prestige.

In fact this important lady was one of the tremendous obstacles which the Imam had to face because she

was extremely hostile to the Imam. She was effective

and influential because of her high position. She was the one who fermented a revolution against Othman in order to 

( 5a ) Ibn Saad mentioned in his Al-Tabadat part 3 p. 110 that Al-Zubeir's wealth amounted to forty million dirhams and in p. 222 that Talhah's wealth amounted to thirty million dirhams.

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replace him by her cousin Talhah or her brother-in-law Al- Zubeir.

The Omayads

More dangerous than all these elements were the Omayads members of the clan of the assassinated Caliph whose influence was escalated during his reign and one of them Muaweyah became the strongest man in the Muslim World.


What made the Omayads extremely dangerous was their exploitation of the tribal spirit in the Arab society which compelled the members of any tribe regardless of their number to obey their chief under any condition.

Such a spirit produces evil when the chief of the tribe is greedy putting his worldly interest ahead of his religion.

It is very easy for a ruler who controls a national or state treasury to purchase the loyalty of a tribe by purchasing the loyalty of its chief. There is nothing that corrupts man's conscience like money. The Omayads were masters in the art of purchasing people's loyalty and corrupting their conscience. They were the rulers of the important Islamic provinces and this enabled them to have a great number of proteges and purchase the loyalty of many tribes by pleasing their chiefs.


The Absence of the Military Draft System

The aforementioned difficulties would be accentuated when compulsory military service is absent. The Faith of Islam makes it mandatory to the Muslims to defend the nation and the sacred principles of Islam. Yet the performance of this duty was left during the time of the Prophet and the first three Caliphs to the conscience of the Muslims. The Islamic Army was composed of volunteers.

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When the nation is united and people are conscious of their religious duties it would be easy for the government to gather task forces in order to meet any threatening danger. But when the nation is divided and people are confused by the slogans of various parties it would be most difficult to meet arising dangers and subduing subversive elements.

This is much harder when subversive elements already exist and military forces acquired through purchasing the loyalty of chiefs of tribes through public funds. This was the situation when the Imam was elected. There was no national military establishment. People were divided and confused and Muaweyah the governor of Syria had established in that province during the eighteen years of his governorship a viable military power by gathering the tribes of Syria around him and putting all their forces under his command.

The caliphate was diverted from the "Brother of the Messenger" when the nation was healthy and united and religion was its main concern. Then the caliphate was forced upon him when the nation was divided and the caliphate became bloody.

Ali was not the man who runs away from his responsibilities even in a desperate situation where the elements of evil and anarchy which shall stand in his way are much stronger than the good elements which support him.

The Imam was fully aware that the Omayads were to acquire the authority of the Muslim World and transform the caliphate into a despotic Kingdom. The Imam was aware of this because he was aware of the prevalent corruption in the nation and because of the information which he received from the Prophet about the future of the nation.

His awareness of this future would not justify in his eyes a passive attitude. As a matter of fact his expectation of the future success of the Omayads made him more determined to fulfill his duty after he found some good elements determined to assist him and desirous to combat injustice in the Islamic society and purify it of corruption.

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The Imam expected the Omayads to control the Muslim World but this expected control was not inevitable or predestined from Heaven where man has no choice. On the contrary what was expected to happen was to be a result of failure of the Muslims to combat injustice and stand for the truth.

Had the Imam refused to lead the nation after the righteous companions and their good followers offered him assistance he would have assisted the Omayads in reaching their evil goals.

It was his duty to stand up and to do all he could to prevent them from coming to power. If the nation supports him justice will prevail and he would avoid the Muslims a great danger that threatened their religion and future as a nation of a great mission. If the nation let him down he would have fulfilled his duty and pleased his Lord and his conscience. He would be following the examples of the prophets who entered into struggles which they did not hope to win.


Blood and Tears

As the Muslims put the Imam face to face with his responsibility and forced the caliphate upon him he tried also to make them face their responsibility. He warned his electors that they will face very insane crises which will demand heavy sacrifices and that they should not expect but blood and tears. He told them that they are about to face a crisis of manifold faces and colors with which neither hearts stand nor minds rest with certainty.

He told the people of the acquired privileges who enjoyed self enrichment at the expense of others that he will re-direct the nation and will not listen to criticism by people who are opposed to justice. "If I respond to your call I will follow only my own knowledge."

The good companions of the Prophet and their

followers gave the Imam their allegiance (while they had a

clear idea about what they will face) with an unequaled 

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zeal. His election was truly an election by the people whose hearts were filled with faith without being corrupted by politics and quest of prestige. These people believed that they were electing the Brother of the Prophet the most knowledgeable of his message and the Prophet's choice from his nation.

As to the people of political ambition and material greed from the members of the preferred classes they were unable to resist the tide of enthusiasm of the masses of the people. They had lost political control during that short period. The death of Othman stunned them and they could not gather themselves to resist the Imam. They gave him their allegiance as other people did. Marwan Ibn Al-Hakam one of the most hostile persons to the Imam was among those who elected him. Talhah and Al-Zubeir elected the Imam though each of them was hopeful to become the caliph after Othman.



A Qureshite woman of great influence and high voice was not stunned by the sequel of the events. Ayeshah wife of the Prophet and a Mother of the Believers was completely present-minded capable of thinking planning and working for her political goal. She declared her opposition to the Imam the moment she received the news of his election.

Ayeshah was the most outspoken person against Othman. Her propaganda against him was one of the main factors in bringing the rebels to Medina and besieging the Caliph. When he was besieged she was calling for his assassination.

Al-Balatheri in his history recorded that when the

situation became serious for Othman he ordered Marwan

Ibn Al-Hakam and Abdul Rahman Ibn Attab Ibn Oseid to

meet with Ayeshah. They came to her and she was preparing

herself for pilgrimage. They requested her to stay in

Medina that God may protect the man (Othman) through 

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her. She said: "I shall not do what you are requesting." The two men stood up and Marwan recited a verse of poetry indicating that Ayeshah started the fire and when the fire grew she was leaving! At this point she told him: "Marwan I wish that Othman were in one of my sacks and I could carry him so I may throw him in the sea."( 6 )

Abdullah Ibn Abbas while on his way to Mecca (after Othman appointed him "Ameer" (leader) of the pilgrimage) met Ayeshah on the road and she said to him: "Ibn Abass God has given you wisdom intelligence and eloquence. Beware do not try to dissuade the rebels to save that tyrant." ( 7 )

Sudden Reversal

Her hostile attitude towards Othman was immediately changed when she received the news of Ali's election after Othman's death. While at "Saraf" coming back from her pilgrimage Ayeshah met Obeid Ibn Abu Selema (who was related to her through her mother). The following dialogue took place:

Ayeshah: What do you know?

Obeid: Othman was killed and the people remained eight days without a caliph.

Ayeshah: Then what did they do? Obeid: They elected Ali.

Ayeshah: May Heaven fall on earth if your man succeeds. Return me to Mecca.

She turned her face towards Mecca saying "By God Othman was killed unjustly. By God I shall avenge for his blood.".

Obeid: By God you are the first one who discredited him. You used to say about him: Kill Naathal (likening Othman to a 

( 6 ) Al-Balatheri Ansabul-Ashraf part 4 p. 45.

( 7 ) Ibn Abu-Al-Hadeed his Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah part 2 p. 506.

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heavily bearded Arab Jew named Naathal) because he deserted the faith.

Ayeshah: They made him repent then they killed him. They said and I said and my last saying is better than my first saying. ( 8 )

Thus the Mother of the Believers turned in one hour from an enemy of Othman urging people to kill him to an avenger of his blood and she did not lack the argument for her opinion in both situations for both attitudes.


Campaigning for War at the Sacred Mosque

She went to Mecca and when she arrived at the Sacred Mosque of Mecca she delivered a fiery speech urging people to avenge the blood of Othman.( 9 ) She forgot and through her influence as a wife of the Prophet and daughter of the First Caliph she made her audience forget that she was the holder of the biggest share of the responsibility of his death.

She forgot and made people forget that Islam had forbidden and abolished the pre-Islamic traditions which allowed people to wage bloody wars for revenge and that the punishment of a killer is not in jurisdiction of any one but a true Islamic government.

She forgot and made people forget that God had commanded her and all the wives of the Messenger to stay at their houses and that she should not display herself as women used to do during the pre-Islamic days.( 10 )

Her audience in Mecca were the Qureshites who shared with her the hatred of Ali since the days of the Prophethood. These people made continuous efforts to keep Ali away from leadership for twenty-five years. He was

elected caliph only when the Qureshites lost the political 

( 8 ) Abn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 106.

( 9 ) Abd Al-Fattah Abdul-Maqsoud Al-Imam Ali Ibn Abu Talib part 2 p. 297.

(10) The Holy Qur'an chapter 33 verse 33.

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control after the death of Othman. Now Mother of Believers was trying to gather the Qureshite anew in order to destroy his leadership after the believers elected him.

Mecca is the Sacred City whose sanctity Ali would not violate. Therefore it was a safe place for the conspirators.

They gathered there from various places after Ayeshah preceded them raising the banner of rebellion towards "Ameer Al-Mumineen" (the Leader of the Believers)


A Preparation for War Under Way

The first one to respond to her call was Abdullah Ibn Amir Al-Hadrami who was Othman's appointed governor of Mecca. ( 11 He said: "I am the first one to seek revenge for the blood of Othman." When the Omayads knew about the attitude of Ayeshah they left Medina secretly to Mecca.(12)

Talhah and Al-Zubeir stayed in Medina for a while then decided to go to Mecca to join the Mother of Believers.(13)

They left Medina pretending that they were going for Omrah (a brief visit to the ancient House of God in Mecca)

The Two Companions Joined

Talhah and Al-Zubeir were most expected to join the camp of Ayeshah because her goal was to cancel the caliphate of Ali in order to replace him with one of the two companions.

She instigated people against Othman and ordered them to kill him for the same purpose.(14) She wanted to replace him with her cousin Talhah as her prime choice or with her brother-in-law Al-Zubeir as a second choice. (15)

(11) Al-Tabari his History part 4 pp. 449-450.

(12) Al-Tabari his History part 4 pp. 448-450.

(13) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 452.

(14) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 459.

(15) Ibn Abu Al-Hadeed his Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah part 2 p. 506.

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The Omayads Were Still to Be Reckoned with

The meeting of the conspirators and their dialogue in Mecca indicate that the Omayads after Othman were still something to take into account. People of Mecca were with them; the former governor Abdullah Al-Hadrami was in the front line and they did not encounter any opposition from the Meccans. Yaala Ibn Omayah (he is Ibn Munyah) Othman's former appointed governor of Yemen pillaged what was under his control of the Islamic treasury in Yemen before the arrival of Obeidullah Ibn Al- Abbas the Imam's appointed governor of Yemen. Ibn Omayah brought for the conspirators six hundred thousand dirhams and six hundred camels. (16) This enabled them to implement a portion of their unholy project.

Abdullah Ibn Amir who was Othman's appointed governor in Bassrah brought a great amount of funds. ( 17 ) He informed them that they had many proteges in Bassrah. In fact everyone of Othman's appointed governors had many proteges. The purchase of the Arab tribes' loyalty was the Omayad art. They excelled in that art and bought many chiefs and tribes in order to erect the pillars of the Omayad Kingdom.

Rassrah the Chosen Target

When the conspirators tried to decide to which city

they should go in order to begin the revenge for the blood

of Othman they realized that all of Syria was under the

control of an Omayad governor Muaweyah who was

more hostile to the new Caliph than they were. Finally

they decided to go to Bassrah in spite of the presence of

the Imam's appointed governor. They chose Bassrah

because it had many Omayad proteges.(18) They hoped that

the words of Mother of the Believers will influence the ma-

(16) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 106.

(17) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 106.

(18) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 106.

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jority of the people of its population to repudiate the Imam.

United Only Against the Imam

The Omayads and their previous enemies: Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubeir had agreed to stand against the Imam who was their common enemy. The destruction of his leadership was their first goal. They were divided on their ultimate goal namely: Who is to rule after the destruction of the Imam's caliphate? The Omayads were working for returning the caliphate to them while Ayeshah and Talhah and Al-Zubeir were opposed to that. The Omayads were wiser than Talhah Al-Zubeir and Ayeshah. The Omayads were hopeful to eliminate them after using them. To them the three leaders were partners in shedding the blood of Othman and dangerous to the Omayads. The following story shows the extent of their difference in goals.

Sa-eed Ibn A-Auss Othman's former appointed governor of Kufa came to Marwan Ibn Al-Hakam and his group while the caravan was at the beginning of its journey to Bassrah. He asked them: "Where are you going and leaving alive the people from whom you should seek revenge? (He meant Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubeir)

Kill them and go back to your homes. They retorted: We hope that we will be able to kill all the killers of Othman.

Sa-eed met Talhah and Al-Zubeir privately and asked them the following question: If you prevail against Ali whom are you going to make a caliph? Tell me the truth! They told him that the caliphate will be for one of them.

Either of them that would be chosen by the people shall be

the caliph. Sa-eed suggested to them that they should give

the caliphate to one of the children of Othman because

they were going to avenge his blood. They said: We are not

going to pass over the elders of the Meccan companions

and give the leadership to the orphans. Sa-eed said: "I

would not endeavor to take the leadership away from the 

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children of Abd-Munaf" (whose descendants are the Hashimites and the Omayads). He went back and so did Abdullah Ibn Khalid Ibn Useid. ( 19)

Sa-eed was hasty. Marwan and his group were trickier than Sa-eed. They were trying to weaken or destroy the caliphate of the Imam and then eliminate the three leaders.

The Omayads were much more intelligent than the three leaders Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubeir. They wanted to use these leaders in order to reach their goal and then sacrifice them. But the three leaders were not aware of what was planned for them. History informs us that Marwan killed Talhah in the Battle of Bassrah.(20) Had Al- Zubeir remained alive he would not have escaped the avenge of the Omayads.

Talhah and Al-Zubeir did not have any legitimate excuse in their rebellion against the Imam. Talhah was the first one who gave allegiance to the Imam and Al-Zubeir was one of the electors. Yet when they started their unsuccessful venture both claimed that they were forced to give their allegiance to the Imam.



The Imam was most aware of the human and Islamic

rights and he was too righteous to deprive people of their

rights. Every Muslim is entitled to exercise his political

freedom and authorize or refuse to authorize another

person to govern in his name. Every human has the right

to refuse to pledge his allegiance to any candidate even if

he is elected by the majority. However such an abstainer

should not try to prevent such an elected person from exercising his right to administer the affairs of the people as long as he governs according to the Islamic laws. A ruler 

(19) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 107.

(20) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 124.

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who is elected by the majority is not permitted to force a person to change his vote from "no" to "yes.".

The Imam Did Not Force Any Companion to Elect Him

The Imam himself faced difficulties and was subjected to injustice when companions tried to force him to elect Abu Bakr.(21) Other companions warned him after they selected Othman that he should not incur harm to himself by refusing to vote for Othman. (22) The Imam believed that such attempts are violations of his natural rights. The Imam is not expected to do what he used to criticize.

He believed that the Messenger of God had chosen him to lead the nation and that the duty of the nation is to follow the choice of the Messenger. Yet he refused to use violence as a means of acquiring leadership when Abu Sufyan offered him to fill Medina with horses and men against Abu Bakr.(23)

Saad Ibn Abu Waqass who was a member of the Electoral Convention refused to elect the Imam and said to him: By God you will see no harm from me. The Imam did not force him to pledge his allegiance to him.(24) He did not force Abdullah Ibn Omar to elect him and he was not less important than Talhah and Al-Zubeir. The Imam asked from him to bring a surety and when he refused to do that the Imam said to the people: Leave him I am his surety. Then he said to him; "You are as far as I have known you a man of ill manner in your youth and adult- 

(21) Abdul-Fattah Abdul-Maqsoud Al-Imam Ali Ibn Abu Talib part 1 p. 190.

(22) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 37.

(23) Abdul Fattah Abdul-Maqsoud Al-Imam Ali Ibn Abu Talib part 1 p. 185 Al-Tabari in his History part 4 p. 428.

(24) Dr. Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra part 2 p. 22 Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 428.

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hood. 25) When he asked him to bring a surety he wanted only to be sure that the one who refuses to elect him will not try to revolt against him. Osamah Ibn Zeid Ibn Harithah refused to elect the Imam and the Imam did not try to force him.

Individuals from the natives of Medina also refused to elect the Imam. Among these were Zeid Ibn Thabit Hassan Ibn Thabit Muslimah Ibn Mukhlid Mohammad Ibn Muslima Naaman Ibn Basheer (who became a supporter of Muaweyah later) Kaab Ibn Ujrah and Kaab Ibn Malik (who was sent by Othman to collect the Zakat of Muzainah then he granted him what he collected).(26) All these were loyal to Othman and opposed to the Imam. Yet the Imam did not force any of them to elect him. The Imam would not have given an exceptional treatment to Talhah and Al-Zubeir if they had refused to elect him. The most he could do to them was to ask them to offer a guarantee that they would refrain from any subversive activity.

I do not rule out that the rebels or their leaders had exercised some pressure against the two companions and made them elect the Imam. But such pressure would not have prevented the two companions from saying to the Imam: We are forced to elect you. Had they said that to him he would not have accepted their election. He was the most knowledgeable of the fact that their election cannot be sound when it is done by force.


The Imam Could Not Force His First Elector

Furthermore to expect an Imam to force people to

elect him he had to have certain elements: A strong desire

to come to power and a military power through which he

could force people to elect him or tremendous wealth with 

(25) Dr. Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra part 2 p. 22 Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 428.

(26) Al-Tabari his History part 4 pp. 429-430.

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which he may try to purchase the loyalty of the people.

Our Imam was not desirous to come to power and he did not make himself a candidate. He seriously tried to divert the leadership from himself. He did not accept the caliphate except when it was forced upon him. He did not have a military power or a material wealth through which he could exercise any pressure against individuals or masses of people.

In addition to this it may be possible for a caliph who has already been elected by the majority to try to force an opponent to vote for him. But it is not conceivable that a candidate tries before he is elected by a majority or a minority to force the first voter to elect him. The story which tells us that Talhah and Al-Zubeir were forced to elect the Imam mentions that Talhah was the first one to pledge his allegiance to the Imam. It tells also that a man called Habib Ibn Thu-aib who was present at that time interpreted the incident to be ominous saying that the Imam will not succeed because the first hand to give him allegiance was paralyzed (Talhah had a paralyzed finger since the Battle of Ohod).(27)


The Imam Refuted the Allegation

The Imam refuted the allegations of the two companions in a message he sent to both of them after they left Mecca to Bassrah. In that message he left no excuse for the two companions. "Certainly you have known " he said "though you have concealed the fact that I did not seek the people until they sought me; nor did I solicit their election but they elected me. You were from the people who sought me and elected me. The masses of the people did not elect me for a prevailing authority nor for any material wealth. If you had elected me voluntarily you ought to reverse your attitude and repent to God quickly.

If you had elected me unwillingly you have given me the 

(27) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 428.

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right to demand your obedience when you exhibited your free election and concealed your intention." ( 28 )

If the two companions had elected the Imam under pressure from the rebels or other people they should have at least informed the Imam at the time of election or at least before they left Medina that they had elected him unwillingly. They stayed in Medina months after the election and never claimed any coercion. Their silence for the duration of that period is evidence that they elected him voluntarily. They did not refrain from mentioning that because of fear of punishment.

It is one of the known facts in history that Saad Ibn Abu Waqass who was their colleague in the membership of the Electoral Convention and Abdullah Ibn Omar did refuse to elect the Imam and neither of them was punished or threatened by the Imam. Talhah and Al-Zubeir were wealthier and more powerful than Saad and Abdullah.

Therefore the Imam said in his message to the two companions: "Certainly you were not the most entitled from among the 'Migrants' (the Meccan companions) to keep silent out of fear. Your refusal to enter into my election could have been easier for you than to exit out of it after acknowledging it..."(29)


The Guilty Accused the Innocent

However the two companions did not only claim that they were forced to elect the Imam but also accused the Imam of the murder of Othman. Yet they and Ayeshah Mother of the Believers were the ones who urged people to besiege and kill Othman and the Imam was the defender of Othman among the Migrant companions. Since people of Medina were aware of this the Imam concluded his message by the following words: "And you have alleged that I had killed Othman.

(28) Al-Imam Ali Nahjul-Balaghah part 3 p. 111-112.

(29) Al-Imam Ali Nahjul-Balaghah part 3 p. 111-112.

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Those who stayed in Medina and did not join you or me ought to be questioned about this matter. Then everyone of us will be burdened with his own action. You the two old men ought to reverse your attitude. The most you may suffer now is shame; but if you continue your way you will add to the shame the Divine punishment."(30)

The story of the coercion of Talhah and Al-Zubeir to elect the Imam was obviously untrue. Ali was not the man who would try to force any voter to elect him while he was not yet an elected caliph. The two companions invented the story of coercion to justify their rebellion against the Imam. The two companions who allowed themselves to fight Ali and to kill thousands of Muslims for their own interests would not be expected to refrain from telling untruth deliberately.

The Battle of Bassrah

The period at which the Qureshite community was overwhelmed and lost the political control had elapsed.

Quraish woke up after the Brother of the Messenger was elected. Now this community went on gathering its forces determined not to let Ali enjoy his leadership and to demolish that leadership regardless of what it may cost the Muslims in blood unity and religion.

The Qureshite parties (though neither of them had good intentions towards the other) agreed to wage war against Ali the Imam of the truth. One of the two parties was led by three leaders who had a high religious position: Ayeshah the politically-minded wife of the Holy Prophet Talhah and Al-Zubeir who were among the early Muslims with a brilliant record in their endeavor during the days of the prophethood along with a long companionship of the Holy Prophet.

The other party was the Omayads led by Muaweyah

(governor of Syria). The Omayads were known (with the

exception of a few) to be less religious than other Muslims

as they were known for their long and strong hostility

towards the Prophet. That hositility continued for most of

the years of the prophethood and the signs of it did not

disappear except during the last two years of the life of the

Messenger.(1) In spite of that this party had a tremendous 

( 1 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 2 pp. 165-166.

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material power which made it the more dangerous of the two parties.

A Third Party Governor of Kufa Both parties declared their open defiance to the Caliph. Both parties made out ot the revenge for the death of Othman a slogan with which they were trying to deceive millions of ignorant Muslims. The two parties were joined by Abu Musa Al-Ashaari in a covered and camouflaged way. As the Imam's appointed governor of Kufa Abu Musa was able through his malicious method to offer to the two parties tremendous assistance.

However the three leaders of the first Qureshite party were faster than the second party in their violent hostility.

They took the strategy of offense while Muaweyah took the strategy of disobedience and defiance.

The three leaders took the law in their hands and appointed themselves as the high magistrates of the nation and the administrators of its affairs. They went on shedding the blood of the Muslims ( 2 ) though they were neither heirs nor relatives of the assassinated Caliph. Nor were they elected by the nation.

History recorded the names of the killers of Othman and their number did not exceed five: Soudan Ibn Hamran Al-Ghafiqi Qutairah Kinanah Ibn Bishr Al- Tajeebi and Amr Ibn Al-Hamiq.( 3 ) History records that three of them: Kinanah Ibn Bish Al-Tajeebi Soudan Ibn Hamran and Qutairah were killed at the same time Othman was murdered.( 4 ) Thus only two of them survived Othman. But the three leaders did not go after these two.

( 2 ) Dr. Taha Hissein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra part 2 p. 39 Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 111.

( 3 ) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 391-and pp. 393-394.

( 4 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 89-90 Al-Tabari in his History part 4 p. 431 Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 102 Ibn Abu-Al-Radeed Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah vol.2 p. 506.

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They considered all who attended the besiegement of the Third Caliph from Bassrah Kufa and Egypt to be of his killers. Yet most of these came asking the Caliph to make changes and did not come to kill him. They came only to pressure him to change his policy towards handling the public funds and towards his relatives. The few who killed him made their attack on him while the majority of the rebels were unaware of what the few did. His death probably was a shocking surprise to most of those who besieged him.

The three leaders considered all who attended the besiegement partners in his assassination because their presence was an assistance to the murderers. If this logic is sound then it would have been the duty of the three leaders to go to the Imam and ask him to give them what they deserved of punishment because they were among the biggest agitators against the Caliph.( 5 )


A Sweeping Condemnation

The three leaders were not satisfied to kill only the ones who besieged Othman whose number did not exceed twelve hundred from Egypt Kufa and Bassrah. Evidently the three leaders considered every loyal person to the Imam a partner in the murder of Othman. They went to Bassrah and turned thousands of its inhabitants against the Imam then used them to fight whomever they could reach of the Imam's followers in Bassrah or Kufa. The participants in the siege of Othman from the people of Bassrah did not exceed two hundred persons and none of them participated directly in killing the Caliph.

The Qureshite war followed a pre-Islamic method. Its purpose was not to kill the killers of Othman but to destroy the caliphate of the Imam. How would they avenge the blood of Othman when they were the ones who urged people to kill him?

( 5 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 506 Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 431.

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A Warning Prophecy Not Heeded

The three leaders went to Bassrah accompanying three thousand persons including a thousand Meccans. Othman's former appointed governors supplied them with funds and means of transportation through what they stole from the public funds before they left their posts.

Their procession arrived to a water where dogs at that water barked at them. Mother of the Believers Ayeshah asked about the name of the place. When they told her it was the water of Al-Hou-ab she realized that she was deviating from the right road and the prophecy of the great Messenger had been fulfilled. She said "Return me return me (to Mecca)."( 6 ) Al-Zubeir and his oldest son Abdullah confused her by bringing witnesses testifying falsely that the water is not the water of Al-Hou-ab.

It is also reported that she was told that Ali is about to overtake them and they ought to hurry out. Thus she continued her journey to Bassrah. ( 7 ) Yet she knew that the Imam does not fight anyone that does not fight him. She was too intelligent to believe in the testimony of witnesses who were brought to her by people who justified every means for reaching their end. The voice of the Messenger was still ringing in her ears: "I wish I knew which one of you will be the rider of the huge camel to be barked at by the dogs of Al-Hou-ab and she would be deviating from the right road." (He was addressing Ayeshah and Om Selema) and he turned to Ayeshah saying: "Humairah I have warned you." ( 8 )


Dividing Killing and Truce

Finally the procession arrived in Bassrah and the wife 

( 6 ) Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra part 2 p. 34 Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 407 Al-Hakim in his Al-Mustadrak part 3 pp. 119-120 Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 39.

( 7 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 107.

( 8 ) Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak part 3 p. 120.

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of the Messenger was able (through her position with the Messenger of God and her father being the First Caliph) to divide the people of Bassrah after they had given their allegiance to the Imam. The three leaders' party and the party of the governor of Bassrah Othman Ibn Huneif fought each other then agreed on a temporary truce. This truce was violated by the three leaders when they attacked the followers of Ibn Huneif then forced him out of the leadership of the prayer at the Mosque and slaughtered many of his guards then occupied the governor's office and massacred their opponents.( 9 ) Their opponents were not the killers of the Caliph Othman but they were loyal to the Imam.


The Contents of the Truce Agreement

Al-Tabari in his History reported that the truce pact which was made between Ibn Huneif on one hand and Talhah and Al-Zubeir on the other hand contained the agreement to send a messenger from Bassrah to Medina seeking information from its inhabitants whether Talhah and Al-Zubeir elected Ali voluntarily or by force. If people of Medina testified that the two companions were forced to elect Ali the city of Bassrah shall be under control of the two companions and Ibn Huneif should leave his post. If people of Medina testify that the two companions elected the Imam voluntarily the governor Ibn Huneif would stay in his post and Talhah and Al-Zubeir could stay in Bassrah under the control of the Imam if they want and if they choose to leave Bassrah they could. (10)

The messenger of the two parties to Medina was Kaab Ibn Soor a former judge of Bassrah. When he asked people of Medina about the two companions' election of the 

( 9 ) Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra part 2 p. 39 Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 468 Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 111.

( 10) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 467.

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Imam people did not answer his question except Osamah Ibn Zeid Ibn Harithah. He stated that they elected Ali unwillingly and under coercion. Sahl Ibn Huneif (brother of Othman Ibn Huneif governor of Bassrah) and others attacked Osamah Ibn Zeid but Osamah was defended by a few people who were from the opposition of the Imam and Osamah was taken to his home without being hurt.( 11 )

Al-Tabari recorded that when the Imam knew about what took place in Medina he sent to Othman Ibn Huneif a message in which he blamed him for his inefficiency and told him in the message: "By God they were not forced for a division. They were forced for unity and good. If they want to declare their disobedience they have no excuse; and if they want something else we may consider the matter.'' ( 12)

When the message of the Imam came to Othman Ibn Huneif and Ibn Soor came with his news from Medina Talhah and Al-Zubeir sent to Othman Ibn Huneif to leave his post and his office. Othman refused to do so saying that what the Imam brought up is different from what they had agreed upon. Upon this Talhah and Al-Zubeir and their supporters made their attack at the Mosque then they attacked the governor and prevailed against him.

They occupied his office and the city of Bassrah then took over the treasury. This was followed by a massacre.(13) The three leaders aimed at liquidating their opponents. Ibn Huneif was taken prisoner. They tortured him and pulled the hair off his beard and wanted to kill him.

Al-Tabari in reporting these events relied on the narration of Seif Ibn Omar who alleged to have taken his information from Mohammad (Ibn Oun) and Talhah.

Knowing the Imam's method of conducting himself we ought to discredit this report. The Imam was not a man who would take a pledge of loyalty from a person who was forced to give it.

( 11) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 468.

( 12) Al-Tabari his History part 4 pp. 468-69.

( 13) Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra part 2 p. 36.


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We have already substantiated that the claim of coercion by Talhah and Al-Zubeir was unfounded. The reporter of this story was Seif Ibn Omar who was discredited by many historians and hadith recorders and some of them declared him as one of the forgers of the history and some of them accused him of being a heretic.(14) We shall deal with this in the following chapter.

Forcing Two Persons Does Not Nullify the Election

Assuming that the two companions were forced to elect the Imam this would allow them only to withhold from the Imam their assistance if he seeks it. It would not allow them to hinder the Imam from exercising his rule as the administrator of the affairs of the nation after he was elected by the overwhelming majority from the companions of the Prophet.

Forcing two persons to elect an Imam does not cancel the whole election or the legitimacy of his caliphate. Al- Zubeir was forced to give his allegiance to Abu Bakr when Abu Bakr was elected. Historians reported that Al-Zubeir came out from the house of Ali drawing his sword in the faces of the attackers saying. "Ali has the right more than anyone to the caliphate." The attackers took the sword from his hand and led him to Abu Bakr and made him give his allegiance to him by force. (15) Forcing Al-Zubeir at that time did not cancel the legitimacy of Abu Bakr's election in spite of the fact that his election was a "Faltah" (an incident that came without preparation or planning) according to the testimony of Omar Ibn Al-Khattab.( 16 )

Would it have been legitimate at that time for Al- 

( 14) Sayed Murtadah AI-Askari Abdullah Ibn Saba second edition p. 26.

( 15) Ibn Abu Al-Hadeed his Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah part 6 p. 11 (printed in 1965 by the House of Resurrection of the Arabic Books.

( 16Al-Bukhari his Sahih part 6 p. 195 Imam Ahmad his Musnad part 1 p. 17.

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Zubeir to go to Mecca for example and occupy it and drive Abu Bakr's appointed governor from Mecca by force? I do not believe that Al-Zubeir could claim that this was legal for him to do. I do not think that anyone from the companions would agree with him if he had claimed the right to do that. Had he done this he would have been fought and considered to be a divider of the Muslim community. Why should it be legitimate for him and Talhah to fight the Imam and drive his appointed governor out of Bassrah and occupy a city whose people pledged their allegiance to him?


I llegal Agreement

If Ibn Huneif had agreed with the two companions voluntarily on the contents of the alleged pact of the temporary truce he would have committed a grave mistake.

This is because his agreement with the two companions represents a negligence of the trust which the Imam put in the hand of Ibn Huneif and because it is an agreement on dividing the nation. This is abhorable to God and His Messenger.

Granted that Ibn Huneif agreed on that. This could not make it legitimate for the two companions and for the Mother of the Believers to implement the contents of the agreement because it contained a pledge to commit a major sin. If Ibn Huneif had breached the pact between him and the two companions after the Imam reprimanded him he would have only fulfilled his duty. This is because the contents of the pact are unjustifiable in Islam.

If the two companions wanted out of their occupation

of Bassrah to make one of them a caliph the Faith of

Islam does not allow them to do so. Muslim reported in

his Sahih that Abu Sa-eed Al-Khidri said that the Messenger of God said: "If two caliphs are elected kill the latter of the two."(17) Muslim reported also that the Messenger said: "Whoever stood in open disobedience and parted 

( 17) Muslim his Sahih part 6 p. 195.

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with the bulk of the community then dies he would die d pre-Islamic death."(18)



Muaweyah declared his open defiance to the Imam and the Imam found his confrontation with Muaweyah inevitable. Therefore he went on trying to mobilize an army in order to subdue this dangerous rebellion. While he was dealing with this crisis he received the news of the journey of the three leaders to Iraq. He changed his plan. The Imam found it necessary to give priority to the crisis of the three leaders. The providence of Iraq was the most important among the Islamic provinces for the caliphate. Should the three leaders occupy Iraq while the Syrian province is controlled by Muaweyah the Imam would have lost most of the moral material and military forces in the Muslim World.

The Imam facing this crisis was fifty-eight years old.

His relatively old age did not diminish his determination bravery and his fast response to the big problems and facing them with proper solutions. During the days of the Messenger he was his right arm the one who solved his probelms and subdued his enemies. Now after twenty-five years during which he was in actual retirement he returns with his well-known capabilities to face crises but on a larger scale. The forces he had to face at this period were uncomparably greater than what he used to face in the days of the Prophet.

Unprecedented Test

The struggle between right and wrong was and still is difficult for the followers of the truth. People of the right

camp are usually in the minority. The wrong side has its

own attraction as it has fruits which the people of its camp

can pick quickly. The truth is not tempting and the 

(18) Muslim his Sahih part 6 p. 195.

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strength of its followers springs from their belief in God the Day of Judgment and their determination to sacrifice.


The difficulties which the camp of truth faces increase greatly when people are confounded unable to distinguish between right and wrong. Under such circumstances the truth loses the assistance of people with good intention who would be helpful if the right road were clear to them.

On the other hand the wrong camp wins certain forces which could have been antagonistic to it if they had known that it is the wrong camp. People of good intention may stay neutral because they do not know which side is right.

Their neutrality decreases the number of the supporters of truth and the wrong party would be relieved of the burden of combating these good people due to their neutrality.

This is what happened to the camp of truth which the Imam was leading. It was the first time it took place in the Islamic history. It never happened during the days of the Prophethood nor did it happen during the days of the Three Caliphs who preceded the Imam.

The Holy Prophet faced many enemies but the separation between him and his enemies was as clear as the separation between day and night. He is the Messenger and his followers are the believers in his message and his enemies are the pagans and the rest of the unbelievers who declared their disbelief in his message. There was no possibility to lose the distinction between right and wrong.

Abu Bakr faced at the beginning of his reign forces that declared their desertion of the Faith of Islam. Thus there was no room for any confusion between right and wrong. When the war of desertion ended the First Caliph had to face forces that did not believe in Islam and declared their animosity towards its message. And so was the situation during the days of Omar and Othman. Right and wrong distinguished from each other like day and night.

The Imam Ali on the contrary had to face hostile forces which belonged to the Faith of Islam and declared their belief in its Book and offered the five prayers and paid Zakat. Furthermore one of the camps of those forces 

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was led by three people whom tne Muslims highly respected because of their companionship to the Prophet or for being related to him by marriage.

Thus it became difficult for the masses of the people and even for some of the knowledgeable people to distinguish between the camp of the truth and that of falsehood. The history of the three leaders attracted tens of thousands of people and made them side with them against the well-guided Imam while they were thinking that they were right and that he was wrong.

Had Ali come to power immediately after the death of the Holy Prophet his confrontation with Talhah Al- Zubeir and Ayeshah could have been easier than his confrontation with them twenty-five years later. During the early years after the Prophet people still remembered the distinctions of Ali his great endeavor in the way of God and his position with the Holy Prophet and the Prophet's declarations about him. By the passage of more than two decades after the death of the Prophet people had forgotten Ali's distinctions. He was away from the political arena and in actual retirement.

People of Bassrah and Kufa probably knew about Talhah and Al-Zubeir more than they did about the Imam Ali. Talhah and Al-Zubeir had many properties and big investments in both cities. Even Al-Zubeir forgot that the Holy Prophet had told him that he will fight Ali while unjust to him. This explains the word of the Imam which he uttered before he was elected: ". . . For we are facing a crisis with many faces and colors. The hearts do not stand to it and the minds do not rest with it." As the crisis which was precipitated by the movement of the three leaders had such great dimensions it was the duty of the Imam to face it with all his forces. Therefore he left Medina with a few hundred volunteers hoping that he will overtake the leaders and their followers before reaching Iraq and prevent them from implementing their plan.

When he arrived to Rabatha he realized that they had already passed it and gone towards Bassrah. However he 

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believed that their invasion of Bassrah was less harmful than invading Kufa where the most important Arab forces were settled.

He went on until he arrived to Thee Qar. He sojourned there after he sent a message to the people of Kufa urging them to join him for the sake of bringing peace preventing evil and supporting truth.

The three leaders were already in control of Bassrah.

They drove Othman Ibn Huneif out of his office. Othman came to Thee Qar. When he met the Imam he told him:

"Ameer Al-Mumineen when you sent me to Bassrah I was bearded but I returned to you without a beard." The Imam said to him:

"May God reward you for what you have suffered.

Two persons before me ruled the people and both followed the Book; then the third one followed them. People spoke about him and dealt with him the way they did.

Then they elected me. Talhah and Al-Zubeir elected me then they breached their covenant with me and instigated people against me. It is one of the wonders that they obeyed Abu Bakr and Omar and now they antagonize me.

By God they know that I am not less than any of those who passed away. God I ask Thee to untie what they knotted and abort what they plotted and make them meet the evil consequences of what they have done."(19)



After the three leaders' party occupied the City of Bassrah Ayeshah Mother of believers took a further step. She wrote to the leaders of Kufa informing them that her party had already occupied Bassrah urging them to avenge the blood of Othman and discouraging them from supporting the Imam.(20) Of course she wrote to Abu Musa (the Imam's appointed governor of the city) and asked him to use his influence in preventing the Kufites from sending any recruits to the army of the Imam. Abu 

(19) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p.480.

(20) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p.480.

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Musa did not need anyone to urge him to do that. He was not loyal to the Imam; nor was he a believer in his right.

The messages of the Mother of Believers to the Kufites had their effects. It divided them. Some of them called for the support of the Imam and some of them called for staying out of the dispute or for supporting the three leaders. Abu Musa spoke to the people repeatedly warning them and advising them not to enter into any battle for the support of the Imam. He reported to them that he heard the Messenger of God saying: "There shall be a faith-testing crisis in which the less participation the better." Then he told them: "Sheath the swords give refuge to the oppressed until people are united and the cloud of crisis clears up." ( 21)

Had the Kufites obeyed Abu Musa the Imam could not have faced the crisis with any considerable strength.

He had only a small army when he arrived to the area of Thee-Qar. It is amazing that history did not record that Abu Musa ever criticized the three leaders for invading and occupying Bassrah and pushing people to the Faithtesting crisis which he used to mention so often. Evidently . Abu Musa shared with the three leaders their opinion and he wanted the Muslims to approve their usurping the authority from the Imam and breaching their covenant with him after they pledged their allegiance to him.

Abu Musa used to report the hadith of the crisis as if he had a special knowledge of it. Yet the Holy Qur'an declared the following:

"Do the people think that they will be left alone when they say: 'We have believed' without being tested? Certainly We have tested generations before them. Thus God would know the people of truth and the untrue ones."(22)

(21) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p.116.

(22) The Holy Qur'an chapter 29 verses 2-3.

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Abu Musa Misinterpreted His Own Report

It seems that Abu Musa reported a statement he attributed to the Prophet but he did not understand what it meant. If the Messenger had uttered the words which Abu Musa reported the Prophet had meant that there will be a devious and confusing movement in the Muslim society and that the duty of the Muslims will be to discourage its people and to let the people of that innovation down by denying them any support.

The Messenger did not mean that the good believers should not resist the people of innovation when their movement becomes dangerous to the unity of the nation and when they shed the blood of the Muslims. Otherwise the Prophet would be calling upon the nation to approve the devious movement and let them succeed in reaching their goal and usurping the power and administering the affairs of the Muslims after they acquire what they seek of power.


Abu Musa Disagreed with the Qur'an

Had Abu Musa understood the words of the Messenger he would have known that those who entered Bassrah and usurped from the Imam his authority and drove his appointed governor out of Bassrah are the people of the devious movement who should be denied all support. He should have known that when those people divided the Muslims the duty of the Muslims was to fight them because they are people of invitation to an un-Islamic movement and to a rebellion against the legitimate Imam in whose name Abu Musa was ruling Kufa. Abu Musa reported the hadith which he claimed to have heard from the Prophet and forgot what the Holy Qur'an clearly declared that the nation is dutybound to fight a Muslim party that commits an aggression against another Islamic party:

"If two parties among the believers fall into a quarrel make ye peace between them; but if one of them trans-

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gresses beyond bounds against the other then fight the one that transgresses until it complies with the command of God. But if it complies then make peace between them with justice and be fair. For God loves those who are fair and just." (23)

Abu Musa also forgot another verse which makes it mandatory to obey the Imam and support him:

"O ye who believe obey God and obey His Apostle and the people of authority among you. If ye differ in anything among yourselves refer it to God and His Apostle if ye do believe in God and the last Day. That is best and most suitable for finer determination."(24)

This verse makes it mandatory for Abu Musa and every Muslim to obey the Imam.

Obedience of the leader of the believers is mandatory to every Muslim unless the leader calls upon people to disobey God. The verse also commands that a matter of dispute should be referred to the Book of God and the instruction of the Messenger. The Imam Ali was the leader of the Muslim nation and he did not invite people to disobey God. He rather called upon them to obey Him.

His aim was to unite the Muslims and the aim of his opponents was to turn people against him and to divide the nation.

which Faith-testing Crisis?

However there were many confounding crises that took place in the history of Islam before the election of the Imam and after his departure from this world. The Prophet in the statement which Abu Musa attributed to him did not name that crisis. How did Abu Musa know that the crisis which the Prophet meant was the crisis which took place during the days of the Imam's reign?

It is not reported that the Prophet ordered Ali to be in-

(23) The Holy Qur'an chapter 49 verse 9.

(24) The Holy Qur'an chapter 4 verse 58.

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active in the face of confounding crises which were to take place during the days of his reign. On the contrary he commanded him to fight and commanded the believers to follow him. Al-Hakim in his Mustadrak (part 3 page 139) recorded that Abu Ayyoub Al-Ansari reported during the days of Omar that the Messenger ordered Ali to fight the breachers (of the pact of allegiance) the Unjust party and the Seceders' party; and that Abu Ayyoub asked the Messenger saying: "With whom shall we fight these parties?" The Messenger replied: "With Ali Ibn Abu Talib." Al-Hakim recorded also that Abu Sa-eed Al-Khidri reported that the Messenger of God said that Ali shall fight for the interpretation of the Holy Qur'an as I fought for its revelation.

Abu Musa Appointed Himself a Counselor to the Nation and the Imam

His words indicate clearly that he accused the Imam of being a partner in the confounding crisis about which he spoke. His words indicate also that he accused the Imam with either the lack of knowledge of the instructions of the Messenger or disobedience of the Prophet's instructions or with both lack of knowledge and disobedience. Yet the Messenger said: "I am the city of knowledge and Ali is the gate of that city; whoever wishes to enter the city should come through its gate."(25)


Abu Musa Persisted in His Error

It may be said that Abu Musa was following Abdullah Ibn Omar whom he used to love and whom he recommended for leadership. Abdullah Ibn Omar stood neutral in the dispute between Ali and his opponents. He did not support the truth. Nor did he fight the untruth. But then he found himself failing to follow the Book of God.

Therefore he repented and changed his attitude towards 

(25) Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak part 3 p.127.

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Ali. Al-Hakim recorded in his Al-Mustadrak through his channel to Al-Zuhri who reported that Hamzah said the following:

"While he (Hamzah) was sitting with Abdullah Ibn Omar a man from Iraq came to Ibn Omar. He said: Abu Abdul-Rahman (a code name of Ibn Omar) by God I have been seriously trying to follow you and take an attitude similar to yours towards the division of the nation and be neutral as far as I could. Yet I have read a verse from the Holy Qur'an which occupied my mind and I would like you to inform me about it. I mean the Word of God: 'If two parties among the believers fall into a quarrel make ye peace between them; if one of them transgresses beyond bounds against the other then fight ye (all) against the one that transgresses until it complies with the command of God. But if it complies then make peace between them with justice and be fair. For God loves those who are fair and just.'

"Please inform me how to comply with this verse. Abdullah said: 'You have nothing to do with this. Go away.' The man left and when he disappeared Abdullah turned to us saying: 'I never found in my heart something as I felt about this verse that I did not fight the aggressor party as God commanded me to do.' "(26)

Al-Hakim commented on this report saying: "This is an important hadith reported by many outstanding tabi-is (good religious scholars who did not witness the Prophet and took their knowledge from his companions). I have chosen the channel of Shu-aib Ibn Abu Hamzah to Al- Zuhri because the two Sheikhs (Al Bukhari and Muslim) used this channel which indicated that this is truly authentic.".

Thus Abdullah Ibn Omar repented for his wrong stand in the quarrel between Ali and his opponents but Abu Musa did not repent.

(26) Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak part 3 p.115.

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Abu Musa Did Not Distinguish Between Hadith and Qur'an

However I am not confident that Abu Musa conveyed the statement of the Messenger as the Messenger pronounced it. And we find that Abu Musa reported to the people of Bassrah when he was their governor something contrary to the truth and denied by all Muslims. Muslim in his Sahih reported the following:

"Abu Musa Al-Ashaari summoned the readers of Bassrah. Three hundred readers of the Holy Qur'an came to him. He said to them: "You are the righteous men of Bassrah and the readers of the Qur'an. Let not the passage of time make you forget the truth. Thus your hearts will be hardened. We used to read a chapter similar to the chapter of Bara-ah in length and seriousness and I have forgotten it. However I remember of that chapter only the following verse:

'Should Ibn Adam acquire two valleys full of money he would seek a third valley. And the abdomen of Ibn Adam would not be filled but by soil.' "And we used to read a chapter which was similar to the chapters which are begun with the word: "Sabbaha " and I have forgotten it. I remember of it only the following: 'O you who believe why do you say what you do not do? Testimony will be written on your necks then you would be questioned about it on the Day of Judgement."(27)

The words which Abu Musa reported are certainly not from the Holy Qur'an; nor do they resemble the Qur'anic words in the least. The best guess is that Abu Musa was disturbed in his thinking unable sometimes to distinguish between the Qur'an and the hadith. And when he reported a hadith he was not accurate nor could he understand it.

I believe that Abu Musa was a part of the conspiracy

of Talhah Al-Zubeir Ayeshah and Muaweyah Ibn Abu

Sufyan. He was trying his best to destroy the caliphate

(27) Muslim Sahih Muslim part7 (Book of Zakat) p.139-140.

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of the Imam. Had he succeeded in convincing the Kufites to sit and refrain from supporting the Imam the reign of the Imam would have ended in the first year after his election. It is obvious that the Imam did not trust Abu Musa and that he knew his negative attitude towards the members of the House of the Prophet in general and towards him in particular.

When the Imam was elected he sent Imarah Ibn Shihab one of the companions as a governor of Kufa to replace Abu Musa. But Imarah came back to Medina after Tulaihah Ibn Khuwailid threatened him before his arrival to Kufa . . . (28) (During the short period that took place after the death of Othman there was no security for people.) The Imam then kept Abu Musa upon the request of Al-Ashtar. Abu Musa was a Yemenite and most of the Kufites were Yemenites.

The Imam sent Muhammad Ibn Abu Bakr and Muhammad Ibn Jaafar to the Kufites asking them to join him in his journey to Bassrah and to be supporters and helpers to the religion of God. He told them also that he wanted to bring peace and reunite the nation. The two messengers did not succeed and the attitude of Abu Musa was the biggest obstacle in the way of their mission.

When they challenged him he spoke his mind saying: By God your man and I still owe allegiance to Othman. If fighting is inevitable then we should not fight anyone until we finish the killers of Othman wherever they may be. (29)

Thus Abu Musa believed that he owed allegiance to

Othman even after Othman died but he did not believe

that he owed any loyalty or obedience to the living Imam

and that he did not have to respond to his call. He believed

that if the fight is necessary they had to fight the killers of

Othman. But the three leaders who were the first to call for the murder of Othman should not be fought even if 

(28) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p.103.

(29) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p.482.

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they usurp the authority of the Imam in Bassrah and people should not challenge them.

Abu Musa spoke his mind also on another occasion when Abd Kheir Al-Haiwani said to him: "Did Talhah and Al-Zubeir not give Ali a pledge of Allegiance?" When Abu Musa replied in the affirmative Abd Kheir asked him: "Did Ali commit any wrong-doing which allows the two companions to breach their covenant with him?" Abu Musa replied: "I do not know." Abd Kheir said: "We leave you until you know."(30) He took this attitude in order to preserve for the three leaders their gains against the Imam. Had he spoken the truth he would have admitted that the two companions had breached their covenant with the Imam without any justification. But this would damage his interest and their interest. It is also reported that the two messengers sent Hashim Ibn Utbah Ibn Abu Waqass to the Imam to inform him of what took place. The messenger returned to Thee Qar where the Imam was and informed him of what had taken place.

The Key to the Solution

It became clear to the Imam that Abu Musa was the

biggest obstacle and that his dismissal is the key to the

solution of the problem. The Imam could not lead a

respectable army as long as the Kufites listened to Abu

Musa. Therefore he sent to him a letter with Hashim Ibn

Utbah saying to him: "Send people to me. I did not appoint you governor except to have you as my assistant for

establishing the truth." Abu Musa refused to do so and

Hashim wrote to the Imam the following: "I have come to

a man who is a radical disputer open in hatred." The Imam sent Al-Hassan and Ammar Ibn Yasir to urge people

to join the Imam. He wrote to Abu Musa: "I have sent

Qurthah Ibn Kaab as governor of Kufa. Leave your post

blamed and defeated. If you defy him and he prevails

against you I commanded him to execute you. Abu Musa 

(30) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p.486.

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left his post and Al-Hassan and Ammar went on in their mission and people of Kufa responded to their call.(31)

It is reported also that Abu Musa did not leave his post and persisted in his defiance until Al-Ashtar joined Al- Hassan and Ammar because he felt that he was responsible for keeping Abu Musa in his post when he requested the Imam to keep him in that post. When Abu Musa unveiled his malicious intentions Al-Ashtar said to the Imam: "Ameer Al-Mumineen may God honor you With your permission I would like to join them (Al-Hassan and Ammar); I believe that the Kufites are very obedient to me. If I go there I hope that none of them will disagree with me." The Imam honored his request. He went there and called upon everyone he met to join him in his march on the mansion of the governor. He entered the mansion with a large group while Abu Musa was standing at the main mosque speaking to his audience discouraging them from supporting the Imam and reporting to them what he claimed to have heard from the Prophet concerning the confounding crisis and that the one who does not participate is better than the one who does. Ammar Ibn Yasir was responding to him by saying: The Messenger of God told only you that not taking part in it is better than your participation. Then Ammar said: God prevails against those who try to fight Him.

The servants of Abu Musa came running to the mosque saying: Abu Musa Al-Ashtar entered the mansion beat us up and drove us out. When Abu Musa came down and entered the mansion Al-Ashtar shouted: "Get out of our mansion. May God get your soul out of your body. By God you are of the early hypocrites." Abu Musa said: Give me a respite only this evening. Al-Ashtar granted him that saying: You will not stay tonight at the mansion. People entered into the mansion trying to loot Abu Musa's belongings but Al-Ashtar prevented them saying: I granted him my protection.(32)

(31) Al-Tabari his History part 4 pp.499-500.

(32) Al-Tabari his History part 4 pp.486-487.

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Thus the Imam needed to use force in order to remove Abu Musa from his post because Abu Musa was not like the rest of the appointed officials. He was a conspirator against the Imam disguised as his appointed governor.

Had he been really scrupulous about war and blood shedding he should have sided with the Imam because the Imam was still far from entering a battle. He was seeking peace and unity while the three leaders had already shed a great deal of blood. Abu Musa approved what the three leaders did and tried anxiously to preserve for them their bloody gains by urging people of Kufa not to join the Imam. Yet the Imam was asking people to come to him in order to assist him if he is right and to correct him if he is wrong.

Thus we can easily conclude that Abu Musa was not a man of peace or against war. He was rather against the Imam collaborating with his enemies. The Imam was trying to prevent war while the three whom Abu Musa was trying to protect had already started their bloody battle before the Imam's arrival to Thee Qar. Of the words which the Imam said to the people of Kufa when they met him at Thee Qar are the following:

"I have invited you to witness with us the behavior of our brothers in Bassrah. If they change their attitude this is what we want. If they persist in their wrong way we shall not agree with them but we shall try peaceful avenues prefering them to the avenue of war (unless they force it upon us). There is no power but that of God."(33)

I have given Abu Musa this lengthy discussion because his hostile stand toward the Imam was a factor in shaping the events of that period. He performed a very dangerous role whose consequences were detrimental to the Muslim World.

Finally a group of Kufites (numbering twelve thousand) came to join the Imam. Al-Tabari Ibn Al-Atheer

and other historians along with a number of hadith

recorders reported that the Imam said before the arrival of 

(33) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p.118.

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the Kufites:" Twelve thousand and one men will come to you from Kufa." Abu Al-Tufail a companion who reported this hadity said: "I stood at Thee Qar counting those men. I found them to be twelve thousand and one men.(34)

Kufa was able to send to the Imam tens of thousands of its men if it were not for the stand of Abu Musa and the messages of Ayeshah. Her religious place and the place of Talhah and Al-Zubeir in the minds of the Muslims were factors in discouraging the Kufites from joining the camp of the Imam. When the Imam neared Bassrah a group from Abdul Qeise joined him. (35) And after all that the Imam's army did not exceed twenty thousand while the three leaders' army according to estimates was a minimum of thirty thousand. (36)


As expected the Imam did not start a battle against his opponents in Bassrah. All legitimate avenues of peace must be explored although his opponents had shed enough blood to justify fighting them. He wanted to confine the crisis and bring it to an end. Thousands of Muslims were confounded and confused because of the religious position of his opponents; therefore he wanted to leave no excuse for his opponents and to make the right path clear to the masses of the Muslims.

Historians recorded that the Imam sent Al-Qaaqaa Ibn

Amr as his special envoy to the three leaders to speak to

them and offer them peace. Al-Qaaqaa was a man of wis-

dom and prestige and he was not accused of anything

concerning Othman. He went on his mission and it ap-

peared to him that he convinced the three leaders to accept 

(34) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p.500 and p.501 and p.505 in sequel.

(35) Al-Tabari his History part 4 pp.500-501 and p.505 in sequel.

(36) Al-Tabari his History part 4 pp.500-501 and p.505 in sequel.

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peace and give the Imam a pledge of allegiance and reunite the Muslims after the death of Othman and the events of Bassrah had divided them. As for what the three leaders spoke of concerning the killers of Othman the Imam was supposed to consider it at a later stage.(37)

The ambassador came back to the Imam and informed him of the result of his negotiations with the three leaders and the Imam hoped that some good will come out of the negotiations. Thus he went to Bassrah. To his disappointment he found his opponents closer to war than to peace and that their military preparation was bigger than his.

They had already gathered an army of thirty thousand fighters. (38)

Al-Zubeir Lost Determination

The determination of Al-Zubeir to fight was shaken up when he learned that Ammar Ibn Yasir was with the Imam's army. When a man informed him that he saw Ammar Ibn Yasir with the Imam's army and that he spoke to him Al- Zubeir refused to believe that. But the man assured him time after time that Ammar was there. Al- Zubeir sent a member of his family to see whether this was true. When his messenger came back confirming the truth of the information Al-Zubeir said: "This broke my back." He lost his nerve and a tremor violently shook his body. Even the weapons which he was carrying started to shake. It was well known to Al-Zubeir and the rest of the companions that the Prophet said to Ammar: "Ammar be cheerful. The aggressor party will kill you and your last drink from this world is a drink of milk." Realizing that Ammar was with the army of the Imam Al-Zubeir became frightened.(39)

(37) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 pp.119-120 Al-Tabari his History part 4 pp.488-489.

(38) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p.501.

(39) Al-Tabari his History part 4 pp.510-511.

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The Imam in Dialogue with His Opponents

In spite of this Al-Zubeir stayed with his party. The Imam wanted to make it clear to him and to his colleague Talhah that they were wrong. He met them between the two camps while each of them was riding his horse and people were looking at them. The Imam was completely unarmed and Al-Zubeir was fully armed. The Imam wanted to show people that his goal is peace rather than war. His opponents declared their rebellion against him under the pretext of avenge for Othman for the sake of God. The Imam tried to remind them of God and the following dialogue occurred:

The Imam: "Certainly you have prepared arms horses and men " he said to the two companions while he and they were on their horses. "I do not know whether you have prepared an excuse when you meet your Lord on the Day of Judgment. Fear God and be not like a woman who unspun her strands after she had strongly spun it.

Was I not your brother and you used to believe in the sanctity of my blood and I believed in the sanctity of your blood? Did I do anything that makes it legitimate for you to shed my blood?" ( 40)

Then he said to Al-Zubeir: What brought you here? Al-Zubeir: You have brought me here and I do not believe that you are qualified to be caliph. You have no more right than we have to be caliphs. And you killed Othman.


Reminiscence of a Prophecy

The Imam: "You believe that Othman was more

qualified than I? We used to count you from the children

of Abdul-Muttalib (Al-Zubeir was the son of Safeyah

daughter of Abdul Muttalib) until your son Abdullah

the evil son separated you from us. Zubeir do you hold

me responsible for the blood of Othman while you were

his killer? May God punish today our harshest to Oth- 

(40) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p.501.

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man." Then the Imam said to him: "Do you remember the day when you were with the Messenger of God passing through the area of Banu Ghunam and he smiled at me and I smiled at him then you said to him: 'Ibn Abu Talib is always conceited.' The Messenger of God said: 'He is not conceited and you shall fight him unjustly.'"(41)

Al-Zubeir: By God yes I remember that now and had I remembered that before I would not have come here. By God I will never fight you.

Talhah was expected to take the same attitude as Al- Zubeir. The Messenger foretold Al-Zubeir that he will fight Ali while he is unjust and that certainly goes to Talhah whose stand towards the Imam was like that of Al- Zubeir but more violent and unjust. But Talhah was not affected by all that. He stuck to his hard line.(42)

The Bassrah camp began to shoot and kill men from Ali's camp. The followers of the Imam began to ask and beg him to permit them to fight and the Imam refused time after time.


The Imam Offered the Arbitration of the Qur'an

Finally the Imam held a copy of the Holy Qur'an and asked: Who is willing to hold this Qur'an and invite the other camp to follow what is in it and he should know that he will be killed? A young man from Kufa volunteered to take the mission and the Imam turned his back to him. He repeated his question and no one was willing to take that mission except the young man. The Imam gave him the Qur'an and commanded him to tell the opposite camp:

This is the Book of God between us and you from its

beginning to its end. Fear God for our blood and your

blood. The Kufan youth did what the Imam told him to do

and the Bassrites shot and killed him. With this flagrant 

(41) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p.511.

(42) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p.509.

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aggression the Imam declared: "Now it is legal for us to fight them."(43)



"By God I did not commit any sin for which they could criticize me; nor did they put between them and me a fair judge. They are seeking a right which they have neglected and trying to avenge a blood which they have shed. Certainly they are the aggressor party which was predicted by the Prophet to include a man and woman who are related to each other through marriage.

"By God I shall prepare for them a basin which I will fill. They will drink out of it without quenching their thirst and it will be their last drink. God the two men (Talhah and Al-Zubeir) have faced me with open hostility dealt with me unjustly breached their pledge of allegiance to me and instigated people against me. God I ask Thee to untie what they knotted and invalidate what they plotted and make them meet disappointment in their expectation and action. I have tried to secure their repentance to prevent hostility and gave them a respite before the battle began. They ignored the gracious overture and rejected peace." (The Imam Ali Nahjul-Balaghah part 2 page 19)

The Imam was not a man to be intimidated by war

nor frightened by the quantity of enemies. Talhah and Al-

Zubeir and their thirty thousand soldiers would not terrify

him. He was still the same hero who brought the Arabs to

their knees during the days of the Holy Prophet and the

years did not increase in him but bravery and determination. He had known through information from the Messenger that this battle was coming and that his enemies

were the aggressor party which the Prophet described to

include the man and the woman who are related to each 

(43) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 511.

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other through marriage rather than birth (Al-Zubeir was married to Asma sister of Ayeshah)

The Imam Knew His Killer's Description

When he faced Al-Zubeir unarmed the Imam was asked: How did you face Al-Zubeir unarmed and he was well armed knowing his bravery? "Al-Zubeir is not my killer " he replied. "My killer is obscure from a low family.


He will kill me but not on a battlefield. Woe to his mother.

He will wish that his mother had been bereaved by his death. Certainly he is as wicked as the killer of the Female Camel of the Prophet Salih." (The Camel of Salih was created miraculously and was killed by one of the most wicked men in history.)

Although he knew that his opponents shall fight him he offered them peace and called upon them to change their attitude. He was determined to use all means available to him in order to prevent bloodshed.

Should they refuse his peaceful proposal and persist in their hostile way he was determined to prepare for them a deadly basin which he will fill. He would be the one to fill it and they would come out of it without quenching their thirst. Then he asked the Almighty to untie what they knotted and to show them the evil consequences of their deed and the disappointment in what they expected; and God responded to his prayer.

Historians disagree about the duration of the Battle of Bassrah whether it was one day or more. Whatever the time of its duration it was one of the ugliest and most violent battles. It was unique in its effect in dividing the Muslims. For the first time history witnessed the Muslims standing in two camps fighting each other and thousands of them fell by the swords of each other.

The battle started and appeared to be short and the

losses seemed to be light. The general offense which the

army of the Imam started was stormy. It shook the Bass-

rite camp and compelled the thousands of the soldiers of 

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the three leaders to run away before the middle of the day.

Talhah was shot by a deadly arrow which made him bleed to death. It is reported that Marwan Ibn Al-Hakam killed him. ( 44)


Talhah's Death

Jundab Ibn Abdullah Al-Azdi reported that he witnessed Talhah accompanied by a band of fighters and many of them were wounded and they were overwhelmed by people. Talhah himself was wounded. He was holding a sword and his followers were leaving him one after another and he was saying. "Servants of God patience there is only victory and reward after patience."

I told him: "May your mother be bereaved by your death.

Go away to safety. By God you would not be victorious nor would you have any reward. You have only sinned and lost." Then I shouted at his followers and they were surprised and left him. Then I told him: By God if I want to I can kill you here. He replied: By God if you do that you would perish in this world and in the Hereafter. I said: By God your blood has become legal to us and you are of the regretters. Then he left accompanied only by three people and I do not know what happened to him after that except that I know he perished. ( 45)

Al-Qaaqaa Ibn Amr witnessed Talhah urging people to fight even though he was bleeding from a wound. He told him: Abu Mohammad you are wounded and you are too sick to continue your way. Enter these houses.(46)


The Killer of Talhah

Historians reported that Marwan Ibn Al-Hakam is the 

(44) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 509 Abdul Fatah Abdul-Maqsoud Al-Imam Ali Ibn Abu Talib part 3 p. 222.

(45) Ibn Abu Al-Hadeed Commentary on Nahjul Balaghah part2 p. 431.

(46) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 513.

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one who shot him with a deadly arrow. Yet Talhah was his commander. Marwan and the rest of the Omayads believed that Talhah and Al-Zubeir were two of the main agitators against Othman but they were delaying their avenge of the two men until they obtain victory against the Imam. When Marwan witnessed that the battle was lost he did not want Talhah to escape death because he was to the Omayads the actual killer of Othman. Thus the Omayad strategy was to use the three leaders as a means to retrieve the authority which they lost by the death of Othman. They were ready to sacrifice the three leaders as easily as one would spend a dirham. But the three leaders did not know what they were doing. Had Al-Zubeir not been killed after his departure from Bassrah he would not have escaped the avenge of the Omayads.

Al-Zubeir Left the Battlefield

The Imam as we mentioned above reminded Al- Zubeir of the word of the Messenger when he told him that he will fight Ali while he is unjust to him. Upon that Al- Zubeir promised not to fight the Imam.

His determination to fight was already weakened when he knew that Ammar Ibn Yasir is within the army of the Imam. In spite of this he remained at the camp and participated in the battle for a short time. He did so because his son Abdullah accused him of being a coward filled with fear when he witnessed the flags of Ali carried by brave men. When Al-Zubeir informed his son that he took an oath not to fight Ali his son counseled him to break his oath and make an atonement for that by liberating one of his servants. He did that and fought.(47)

(47) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 509 Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra part 2 pp. 48-49.

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Al-Zubeir Freed a Slave in Order to Fight the Imam's Camp

It is amazing that Al-Zubeir was too scrupulous to break his oath without an atonement but he was not too scrupulous after the atonement to participate in a battle in which he may kill whomever he faces of the Muslims. Yet he knew that killing a believer deliberately would bring eternity in Hell. (48)

Finally Al-Zubeir left the battlefield and he did not leave until Ammar Ibn Yasir met him and started driving him out of the battlefield by his spear. Afraid to kill Ammar or to be killed by him Al-Zubeir asked him repeatedly: "Abu Al-Yaqthan (Ammar's code name) do you want to kill me?" Ammar repeatedly answered him: "No Abu Abdullah (Al-Zubeir's code name) but you have to leave. (49) It was known to the companions that the Messenger said that the aggressor party shall kill Amar.

Al-Zubeir was expected to fear a fight against the Imam more than a fight against Ammar. For fighting Ali according to the testimony of the Messenger is like fighting the Messenger himself. The Prophet said to Ali Fatima Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein: "I am at peace with whomever you are at peace and I am at war with whomever you are at war." (50)

Al-Zubeir met his death after leaving Bassrah. Amr Ibn Jurmooz killed him while he was on his way to Medina. (51)

Under the Leadership of Ayeshah

The camp of the three leaders was shaken up. Talhah died and Al-Zubeir left the battlefield; but Mother of the Believers took over after the two and proved that she was 

(48) The Holy Qur'an chapter 4 verse 94.

(49) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 124.

(50) Ibn Majah his authentic Sunan part 1 p. 143.

(51) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 510-511.

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a braver leader and more capable of commanding the masses. She was more hostile than the two companions to the Imam. She had through her relationship to the Messenger and to her father Abu Bakr a halo of holiness in the eyes of the masses of the Muslims. She was placed in an armored canopy on the back of her camel (Askar). She called upon the people to come and fight and they came back to her with great zeal. They probably felt that to let the wife of the Messenger down is to let the Messenger himself down. They decided to offer their sacrifices for her. They attacked the right and left wings of the Imam's army and forced the two wings to retreat. The two wings joined the heart of the army where the Imam was standing. At that moment the Imam showed a bravery unparalleled in the history of wars. (52)


The Unique Courage

The Imam personally moved towards the camel leading what was called the "Green Division" which consisted of the Migrant and Medinite companions. He was surrounded by his children Al-Hassan Al-Hussein and Mohammad. He gave the banner to Mohammad and Mohammad told his soldiers to slow down until the rain of the arrows stopped. The Imam sent word to Mohammad urging him to advance and commanding him to start the decisive battle. When Mohammad hesitated the Imam came from behind and put his left hand on the right shoulder of his son. He reprimanded him and commanded him to advance. (53)

The Imam then compassionately took the banner

from him and carried it in his left hand while his sword

was drawn in his right hand. Then he charged the opposite

camp hitting them with his sword then came back when 

(52) Abdul-Fattah Abdul-Maqsoud Al-Imam Ali Ibn Abu Talib part 3 pp. 214-216.

(53) Ibn Abu Al-Hadeed Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah 1 p. 86.

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his sword was twisted. He straightened it with his knee.

His children and companions including Ammar and Al- Ashtar surrounded him and tried to prevent him from repeating his action but he kept looking at the opposite camp. Then he returned the banner to his son Mohammad and charged again entering into the midst of the hostile camp hitting them with his sword. Witnessing people falling by his sword men started to run away from him to the right and to the left. He returned after he moistened the soil with their blood and his sword was twisted; so he again had to straighten it with his knee.(54)

His companions surrounded him and asked him in the name of God not to continue reminding him that it was their duty to protect him and do what he was doing. He said: By God I do not want out of what you are witnessing (of his action) anything except to please God. Then he said to Mohammad: "Son of Al-Hanafeyah (his mother): This is the way you should fight."


Ta-if's Honey

A man brought him honey. When he tasted it he said to the man who brought it: "Certainly your honey is from Al-Ta-if " (a city in Hijaz) and the man said: Yes it is.

But "Ameer Al-Mumineen " by God I am amazed how could you distinguish the honey of Al-Ta-if from others today when the hearts are jumping to the throats?" The Imam replied: "Son of my brother by God no fear touched the heart of your uncle nor is he concerned with anything (but the truth). ( 55)

The Imam's Thrust Changed the Battle

The two charges of the Imam had their expected effect.

They represented a thrust in the camp of the enemy and raised the morale of the Imam's army. He ordered Al- 

(54) Abdul Fattah Abdul-Maqsoud Al-Imam Ali Ibn Abu Talib part 3 p. 219.

(55) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 127.

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Ashtar to attack with his division the left wing of the Bassrite army and he did and killed Hilal Ibn Wakee-a who was the commander of the left wing. The fight was fierce and Al-Ashtar forced the left wing to retreat towards Ayeshah. They formed a circle around her and most of them were from Banu Dhubbah Banu Oday Banu Asad Banu Najiah and Banu Bahilah. All these surrounded the camel and started to compete with each other by holding the rein of the camel one after another.

The camel became the banner of the Bassrites and Mother of the Believers was urging her sons to fight and her hope of victory did not diminish.

Abdullah Ibn Khalaf Al-Khuza-i chief of the people of Bassrah and their wealthiest came and asked for a duel saying that no one should meet him but Ali and the Imam came to him and immediately hit him with his sword and split his head. Abdullah Ibn Abza held the rein of the camel then attacked the army of the Imam saying: "I hit them but I do not see Abu Hassan (Ali). This certainly is saddening." The Imam met him and struck him with his spear and left the spear in him saying: "You have seen Abu Hassan. How did you see him?"

About seventy warriors from Quraish were killed while they were holding the rein of the camel and many non-Qureshites also died. (56) Abdul-Rahman Ibn Attab Ibn Oseid from Omayad was from the top of the Qureshites.

Al-Ashtar attacked him and killed him. Al-Ashtar also attacked and killed Khabbar Ibn Amr Al-Rasibi when he heard him challenging the Imam.

Ammar the Ninety- Year-Old

Ammar Ibn Yasir who was ninety years old fought like a lion. It is reported that he had a duel with Amr Ibn Yathri who was the bravest one among the Bassrites. Amr Ibn Yathri killed a number of companions of the Imam.

Ammar challenged him saying: Certainly you have taken 

(56) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 126-127.

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refuge in a safe place. Leave your place and come to me.

People worried about Ammar because of his old age and because of the reputation of Amr as a warrior. But Am- mar prevailed against him and dragged him by his feet to the camp of the Imam. ( 57)

A man said to the Imam: "Ameer Al-Mumineen " what a great "Fitnah" (faith-testing trial)!! The Badrians (companions who attended the Battle of Badr with the Holy Prophet) are attacking each other with swords. The Imam replied: "Woe to you; Would this be a "Fitnah" when I am its leader? By the One Who sent Muhammad with the truth and honored his face I never lied; nor was I devious from the right road and no one ever was deviated from the right road through me. I am on a clear evidence from my Lord who made it clear to His Messenger and His Messenger made it clear to me. I shall be summoned on the Day of Judgment and I will be guiltless. And if I had sinned what I am doing now would be an atonement for my sin."(58)

Hamstringing the Camel

Beholding that death is around the camel and realizing that the war will not come to an end as long as that camel was standing the Imam drew his sword and advanced towards the camel while the rein of the camel was in the hands of the Dhubbites. The killing continued and many of them fell down. The Imam reached the camel with a group from Nukhaa and Hamdan. He said to one of his companions (named Bujair): Hit the camel. Bujair hit the back of the camel with his sword. The camel fell down on his side and roared terribly. As soon as the animal fell the army of Bassrah ran away as if they were locusts in a strong wind.

(57) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 519.

(58) Taha Hussein Al Fitnatul Kubra part 2 p. 53.

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The Imam Spoke

Muhammad Ibn Abu Bakr and Ammar Ibn Yasir carried the canopy of Ayeshah and put her aside. The Imam came towards her while he was angry but holding himself.

He hit the canopy with his spear and said to her: Sister of Aram (likening her to a woman that ruled the country of Yemen before Islam). "You have brought people back to fight after they ran away and instigated them and made them kill each other . . . " She said: Ibn Abu Talib you have won be forebearant . . . Then she was taken to the mansion of Abdullah Ibn Khalaf Al-Khuza-i. She stayed days there then the Imam sent her back to Medina in a very dignified way accompanied by women and men. ( 59 ) Ammar came to her when she was about to leave. He asked her: "Mother where does this journey fit with what God had commanded you to do?" She said: "I testify that you were always telling the truth." He said: "Praise be to God the One Who put for me these words on your tongue." ( 60)

The Imam remained three days in his camp then he entered Bassrah. He followed the "Sunnah" of the Prophet in his treatment of the people of Mecca. He forgave their guilty and prevented his followers from taking anything from the properties of the Bassrites. He divided what he found in the treasury of Bassrah among the winners and the vanquished equally. He prayed over the dead of the two parties. People of Bassrah re-elected him and re-pledged to him allegiance. He received that pledge from them while they were under their banners. He received it from the healthy and the wounded.

He addressed his vanquished opponents saying: "You

were the army of the woman and the followers of the

animal. When it roared you responded and when it was

hamstrung you ran away . . . Whoever lives with you

would be bound by his sin and the one who leaves you 

(59) Al-Tabari his History part 4 pp. 547-548.

(60) The Imam Ali Nahjul-Balaghah part 1 p. 44-45.

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receives the mercy of his Lord! By God your city shall be drowned and I visualize its mosque looking like a front of a ship or a sitting giraffe." (61) His prophecy was fulfilled years later when Bassrah was drowned and covered by water and nothing of its buildings remained visible except its mosque. (62)

One of his companions told him after God gave him the victory: I wish my brother was present here to see how God gave you victory over your enemies. The Imam replied: "Is the sympathy of your brother with us?" He said: Yes. The Imam said: "Then he was present with us and others were present who have not been conceived yet whom time shall bring infrequently and through whom the faith will be strengthened."(63)



As we look back at this war retrospectively we find that thousands from the Bassrites met their death believing that they were on the right side. They were confounded and it was difficult for them to believe that a wife of the Messenger and two of his outstanding companions had parted with the truth. People were and still are trying to know the truth through their Leaders rather than to try to know the Leaders through the truth. I do not believe that the people of Bassrah were aware of the brilliant history of the Imam Ali and the declarations of the Messenger concerning him.

The three leaders who led the Bassrites were fully aware of Ali's history and the testimonies of the Prophet for him but they concealed what they knew about him.

They did not want the Bassrites to know it. They tried with 

(61) The Imam Ali Nahjul-Balaghah part 1 pp. 44-45.

(62) Sheikh Mohammad Abdoh his Commentary on Nahjul- Balaghah part 1 p. 45.

(63) The Imam Ali Nahjul-Balaghah part 1 p. 45.

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all their power to minimize his right and merit and accused him of what they themselves committed the murder of Othman knowing that Ali was innocent of their accusation. They added to what they had done to Othman the blood of thousands of victims who died in that battle from both sides. ( 64)

The Omayads Were Less Blamable than the Three Leaders

The responsibility of the three leaders in fighting the Imam and accusing him of the murder of Othman was bigger than the responsibilities of Muaweyah and the rest of the Omayads.

The attempt of the Omayads to avenge the blood of Othman by killing his killers did not have an Islamic justification but it had a pre-Islamic tribal-justification.

They were from the members of the clan of the assassinated Caliph. They did not play a big part in turning people against him. The three leaders of the Bassrite party did not have any justification in avenging the blood of Othman because they were the first to seek his blood. In addition to this they were not from his relatives and they knew that Ali was the most protective of Othman and opposed to his assassination. He offered Othman his help and Othman rejected his offer (65) ; and in spite of this he sent his two sons to do their share in his protection.

(64) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 539 mentioned that ten thousand Muslims died at the battle of Bassrah Taha Hussein in his Al-Fitnatul-Kubra part 2 p. 51 men- tioned this estimate and other estimates came to twenty thousand.

(65) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 82 reported that the Imam mediated between Othman and his opponents and both sides agreed that Othman removed his bad relatives from their offices and stopped giving them and others the public funds. Then Marwan disuaded Othman from fulfilling his promise.


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Talhah's Responsibility

Al-Balatheri reported that Talhah blamed Ali when he hit Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein for their unintended failure in protecting Othman and that Ali cursed Talhah because he insisted to do what Ali disliked (conspiring against Othman). Talhah replied saying: Had Othman handed Marwan to the rebels he would not have been killed." Ali disagreed with Talhah saying: "If Othman were to deliver Marwan to you Marwan would have been killed before he was tried.'' (66)

Al-Tabari reported in his History about the events of the year 36 after the Hijrah that Ali said to Al-Zubeir at Bassrah "Do you want to avenge from me the blood of Othman while you were his killer? May God make our harshest to Othman meet what he dislikes today."(67)

Muaweyah the head of the Omayad party was not from those who pledged allegiance to the Imam. On the contrary he refused to give such a pledge. It is true that the election of the Imam by the people of Medina and the majority of the Muslim nation made it mandatory for Muaweyah to follow the Imam and obey him but he technically is not a breacher of covenant with the Imam as Al- Zubeir and Talhah. The two companions Pledged their allegiance to the Imam then led a devastating war against him. They were duty-bound to obey him as long as he followed the Book of God and the instructions of His Prophet. Ali was the most adherent to the Book of God and the teaching of the Holy Prophet. God ordered the believers to fulfill their covenant in which they give allegiance to a righteous ruler. The Holy Qur'an declared:

"And whoever breaches he breaches against himself and whoever fulfills what he pledges to God God will give him a great reward."(68)

(66) Al-Balathori Ansab Al-Ashraf part 4 p. 70.

(67) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 509.

(68) The Holy Qur'an Chapter 48 verse 10.

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The Messenger of God ordered the nation to kill the breachers of the pledge of allegiance. Muslim reported in his Sahih that the Holy Prophet said: "There shall be events and events. Whoever tries to divide this nation while it is united hit his head with the sword whoever he may be. (69) It is reported also that the Holy Prophet said: "Whoever takes a rebellious stand (against a righteous Imam) and parts with the united community then he dies he would die a pre-Islamic death. And whoever fights blindly under a banner unknown to be a banner of truth siding with a wrong party selfishly then he is killed he dies a pre-Islamic death. And whoever parts with my nation and carries a sword indiscriminately hitting its righteous and transgressor ... and refusing to fulfill a covenant he made he is not from me and I am not from him." (70)

Much more was expected from Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubeir than from Muaweyah who never had a brilliant past in religion; nor was he counted from among the righteous. The three leaders heard from the Messenger of God about Ali what Muaweyah did not hear. Even if the Omayad Muaweyah had heard what the three leaders heard from the Messenger about Ali it would have been expected from them rather than Muaweyah the opportunist to listen to the words of the Messenger and obey him.

Ayeshah Al-Zubeir and Talhah knew that the Messenger said on the day of Ghadeer Khum about Ali: "God love whoever loves him and be hostile to whoever is hostile to him.'' ( 71)

And the Messenger also said to Ali Fatima Al-Hassan 

(69) Muslim his Sahih part 12 p. 241.

(70) Muslim his Sahih part 12 p. 239.

(71) Ibn Majah his Authentic Sunan part 1 hadith no. 145.

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and Al-Hussein "I am at peace with whomever you are at peace and I am at war with whomever you are at war."(72)

These statements indicate clearly that whoever fights Ali fights the Messenger of God and that the enemy of Ali is the enemy of God and His Messenger. Thus the stand of the three nghteous leaders with their hostilities towards Ali was an amazing event for which there is no justification.

Al-Zubeir's Responsibility

Al-Zubeir should be particularly blamed. He is the one who stood up when Abu Bakr was elected drawing his sword and saying "I shall not sheathe my sword until Ali is elected." Omar said to companions who were with him:

Take his sword and hit the rock with it. ( 73 ) Had Ali wanted to fight for the caliphate on that day Al-Zubeir was ready to fight and be killed for the sake of Ali's leadership. How did he after 25 years fight the Imam after the Imam was elected by the companions and he was one of the electors?

Al-Zubeir particularly was to be blamed also because he heard from the Messenger of God that he shall fight Ali unjustly. This was reported by Ibn Al-Atheer in his Al- Kamil and Al-Tabari in his History and a number of historians. Al-Hakim reported in his Mustadrak through four channels that Ali reminded Al-Zubeir on the day of the Battle of Bassrah that the Prophet said to Al-Zubeir that he shall fight Ali while he is unjust to him. And Al- Zubeir acknowledged that and said he had forgotten it.(74)


Ayeshah's Responsibility

Ayeshah particularly was to be blamed much more than the others because she was one of the wives of the 

(72) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 2 p. 220.

(73) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 120.

(74) Ibn Abu Al-Hadeed Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah part 2 p. 78.

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Prophet and she knew the extent of the love of the Messenger for Ali. She received from the Messenger warning and reprimand when she displayed resentment towards the presence of Ali with the Messenger.


Dialogue of Om Selemah and Ayeshah

Ibn Abu Al-Hadeed in his commentary on Nahjul- Balaghah recorded that Abu Makhnaf reported a dialogue between Om Selemah (another wife of the Messenger) and Ayeshah when the latter decided to go to Bassrah and invited Om Selemah to accompany her. Om Selemah reminded her of things which Ayeshah did not deny: She reminded her of what took place when both of them were with the Messenger of God and Ali sat privately with the Prophet and his session with him was long.

Ayeshah wanted to enter and Om Selemah advised her not to do that and she did not listen to Om Selemah. Then she came back crying. Ayeshah at that time informed Om Selemah that she said to Ali Ibn Abu Talib: "I have only one out of every nine days with the Messenger; why don't you leave me alone with my day?" The Messenger turned to her angrily and his face was reddened saying to her: "Go away! By God whoever hates Ali from the members of my family or from other families would be out of the Faith." ( 75)


The Lady of Al-Hau-ab

She reminded her also that they both were with the Messenger of God on a journey and Ayeshah was washing the head of the Messenger and Om Selemah was preparing food for him. Suddenly he raised his head saying

"I wish I knew which one of you will be the rider of the huge camel. The dogs of Al-Hau-ab will bark at her while she is deviating from the right road." Om Selemah said

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"I freed my hand from the food and said 'I seek refuge in God and His Messenger from this.' Then he slapped your back and said: 'Beware not to be that lady.' Then he said to me: 'Daughter of Abu Omayah be not that lady.' Then he turned to Ayeshah saying: 'Humaira (red faced) I have already warned you.' " (76)

The Patcher of the Sole

And the third item of which Om Selemah reminded Ayeshah was that they were with the Messenger on a journey. Ali used to mend the shoes of the Holy Prophet and wash his garments. The shoes of the Holy Prophet during that journey needed to be mended. He took them and started to patch them and sat in the shade of a tree.


Abu Bakr and Omar asked permission to see the Prophet.

Om Selemah said: Ayeshah and I left and sat behind the curtain. The two men entered and chatted with the Prophet for a while. Then they said: Messenger of God we do not know how long you will be with us. We wish that you would inform us of a person whom you want as your successor. He said to the two men: "I see his place. And if I inform you of him you shall part with him as the children of Israel parted with Aaron son of Imran." When the two men heard these words they left without comment.

When we came out to the Messenger you said to him (and you were our most courageous to ask him): Whom would you choose as your successor to lead them? He said: "The patcher of the sole." Then you and I went to see who was the patcher of the sole and we found Ali patching the sole of the Prophet. You said to the Messenger of God: I do not see but Ali and he said: "He is the one." Ayeshah acknowledged all of what Om Selemah reminded her of. Then Om Selemah told her: I am Om Selemah. Yesterday you were agitating against Othman and saying about him the worst words. You named him 

(75), (76), (77) Ibn Abu Al-Hadeed Commentary on Nahjul- Balaghah part 2 p. 78.

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Naathal (a name of a heavily bearded Arab Jew). And you know the place of Ali Ibn Abu Talib from the Messenger of God. ( 77)

A number of historians including Ibn Al-Atheer and Al-Tabari reported the warning of the Messenger to Ayeshah and his prediction that she would be barked at by the dogs of Al-Hau-ab. ( 78)

A number of the recorders of the hadith including Al- Hakim also reported that. Al-Hakim reported in his Mustadrak the following:

When Ayeshah reached the area of Banu Amir dogs barked at her. She asked: Which water is this? They said: Al-Hau-ab. She said: I think I am going back. Al-Zubeir said: No you should continue your journey and let people see you and you will bring about peace. She said: I guess that I am returning. I heard the Messenger of God saying: What would one of you do when the dogs of Al-Hau-ab bark at her? ( 79)

Al-Hakim also reported that Om Selemah said: The Prophet one time mentioned the travels of some of the mothers of the believers and Ayeshah laughed and he looked at her and said: Humaira you should not be that lady. Then he turned to Ali saying: "If you have to deal with her be kind to her." ( 80)

Om Selemah portrayed to Ayeshah her deeds and she

excelled in her presentation. She said: . . . "What would

you say if the Messenger of God faces you while you are in

these deserts riding the camel from one water to another

water? Certainly God witnesses your travel and you shall

meet His Messenger (on the Day of Judgment)." If I were

in your place and I am told: Enter Paradise I would be 

(78) Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak part 3 pp. 119-120.

(79) Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak part 3 pp. 119-120.

(80) Ibn Abu Al-Hadeed his Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah part 2 p. 79.

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ashamed to meet Mohammad after I tore up the screen with which he had hidden me. Make your house your fortress and the screen (of your room) your grave until you meet him while you are in your best obedience to God and help to religion. . ." ( 81)

This sound advice was lost on Ayeshah. She said: "I accept your preaching. The matter is not what you think.

It is a good journey which is requested by two parties fighting each other. If I stay I would not be sinning and if I leave it would be for something I have to escalate."(82) It is amazing that Ayeshah claimed that she was taking the journey because two parties fighting each other resorted to her. Yet one of the two parties (the party of the Imam) not only did not request her to take it but vehemently opposed it. On the other hand the other party would not have stood up to the Imam without Ayeshah's help and instigation. This shows us that when a person determines to do something he would not lack an excuse with which to justify his action.

Ayeshah did all that while she knew that the Holy Qur'an commands the wives of the Messenger to stay in their houses: "And stay in your houses and bedizen not yourselves with the bedizenment of the pre-Islamic State. . . " (Chapter 33 verse 34) All this shows that the three leaders were more responsilbe than Muaweyah in destroying the unity of the Muslims by what they did under the pretext of avenging the blood of Othman while their aim was the destruction of the Imam's caliphate.



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In spite of all this we are not allowed to say about the three leaders but good and ask God to forgive them and say: "Our Lord forgive us and our brethren who preceded us in Faith." What they had done is for God to judge.

But there are certain conclusions which we may draw from these events:

Should We Accept Their Hadiths?

1. Since these three distinguished leaders had legalized for themselves to shed so much blood in order to achieve their ends it would not be logical to take what they had reported of statements and deeds of the Prophet to be authentic. When a person breaches a legitimate covenant divides the Muslims into two camps leads one of the two camps to start a bloody war he would not be righteous and reliable reporter. When a Muslim has the courage to shed the blood of thousands of innocent Muslims in order to serve his own interest he would not lack the courage to tell the untruth.

Criticism is Much Smaller Sin Than Fighting

2. If the Muslims are not allowed to say but good about Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubeir in spite of their war against "Ameer Al-Mumineen" (the Leader of the believers) and the Brother of the Messenger it would not be permissible to say but good about the Muslims who take a critical or an unfriendly attitude towards some outstanding companions. For fighting an outstanding companion is much more abhorable to God than an unfriendly attitude towards him.

The Islamic law does not discriminate among Muslims.

What would be applicable to the three leaders should be applicable to the rest of the Muslims.

The criticism of any companion was never forbidden to people. The Muslims who criticize some of the caliphs 

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do not do that because they deliberately want to defame them. They do that because they have a negative opinion of them. They sincerely believe in what they say.

The three leaders on the other hand had fought the Imam while they knew that they were wrong. If we have to respect these leaders and say only good about them it would not be right for us to be hostile to the millions of Muslims for what is much less than killing and fighting.

Critics of the companions are not necessarily devious or transgressors. It is neither logical nor fair for the Muslims to condemn each other because of their opinions pertaining to the events and personalities of the Islamic history as long as those opinions do not contradict the Holy Qur'an or the well known instructions of the Holy Prophet. Nor is there anything in the known instructions of the Holy Prophet that prevents the Muslims from criticizing companions whose deeds or words disagree with the Qur'an or the Prophet in word or deed.


The Three Leaders Open the Door of Wars Among Muslims

3. The three leaders are the ones who opened on the Muslim society the doors of the civil wars. They started the first bloody battle in which thousands from both sides fell and through which the unity of the Muslims was destroyed and never restored. It is difficult for our minds to understand how these righteous leaders have the courage to shed so much blood while the Holy Qur'an declares that killing one believer would bring an eternal Divine punishment to the killer:

"And whosoever slays a believer deliberately his reward is Hell forever. God's wrath is against him. He has cursed him and prepared for him an awful doom." (Chapter 4 verse 93)

4. The Battle of Siffeen with all its violence and ugliness was only a consequence of the Battle of Bassrah. Had 


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Mother of Believers Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubeir assisted the Imam and gone throughout the Islamic provinces urging people to obey the Imam and to walk under his banner Muaweyah would not have dared to fight him.

Had these leaders done that Muaweyah would have realized that if he fights the Imam he would be waging a losing battle that will end with his destruction and the destruction of his camp and he would have humbly surrendered to the Imam. But when he witnessed a portion of the people of Iraq sharing with him his opinion and taking an attitude similar to his and that leaders from the outstanding companions preceded him in combating the Imam his hope of a victory against the Imam was heightened.

The Battle of Bassrah was in fact a main factor in Muaweyah's continued defiance of the Imam and his victory at the end. It is true that the Imam obtained a clear victory against his opponents at the Battle of Bassrah but the losses which both camps suffered had weakened the Imam's camp a great deal. The tribes of the defeated camp remained unfriendly to the Imam carrying grudges against him because of the thousands of men whom they lost in that battle. The tribes of the Imam's camp also were weakened and lost a great deal of determination to wage a decisive campaign against Muaweyah because of their losses in the battle of Bassrah. Muaweyah remained outside the battle waiting and increasing in material and manpower.

Probably the Qureshites had forgotten through the passage of time what they had suffered of losses at the hand of the Imam in the battles of Badr Ohod and Moat.

However the Battle of Bassrah in which the Qureshites lost seventy of their chiefs had not only revived but also increased their rancor and hatred.

It is an understatement to say that the action of the three rebellious leaders had led to the transformation of the Righteous Caliphate into the despotic rule of the Omayad dynasty.

Had these three leaders not waged that sinister war the 

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Imam could have uprooted the Omayad plantation from the Syrian land and the Righteous Caliphate could have continued for generations. Having internal peace the Imam could have faced the external adversaries of the Muslim World with his unusual bravery.

The three leaders waged their campaign against Othman because they feared that the caliphate would be transferred from him to one of his relatives and that would mean the caliphate will rest with the Omayads. By this a rule of dynasty would be established and Talhah and Al-Zubeir would be deprived of the caliphate. To prevent this they managed to kill Othman. But the death of Othman did not make them closer to their goal. So they waged their bloody campaign to destroy the Imam's caliphate. This also brought them no closer to their goal. They destroyed themselves and the caliphate of the Imam and transformed the caliphate to a rule of Omayad dynasty the least religious tribe rather than the close relatives of Mohammad whom God purified of all sins.

The Alleged Conspiracy

Al-Tabari recorded through a channel including Saif Ibn Omar that Mohammad (Ibn Oun) and Talhah (two reporters) reported that Ali sent Al-Qaaqaa Ibn Amr (a Kufite leader) to Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubeir after they occupied Bassrah. Al-Qaaqaa spoke to them and convinced them to make peace with the Imam and that the two parties should try to seek the killers of Othman and punish them after the situation calms down and peace prevails.

The report says that the Imam agreed to the proposal and that he left Thee Qar area after he delivered a sermon in which he mentioned the grace of God that was bestowed on the nation by unity after the Messenger of God through the First Caliph then the one who followed him then the one who followed the Second Caliph.( 1 )

The Imam according to the report said also: "Then this event (the assassination of Othman) took place. It was brought on this nation by groups who sought the material of this world envying those who obtained it by their own merit and they wanted to turn the affairs regressively. God will fulfill His will and He will punish whom He wants to punish. I would like to inform you that I shall be leaving tomorrow and none from those who assisted in anyway against Othman should accompany us. Let the fools stay away from me..." ( 2 )

( 1 ) Al-Tabari, his History, part 4, p. 493.

( 2 ) Al-Tabari, his History, part 4, p. 493.

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The report continues to say that individuals from those who participated in the siege of Othman including Al-Ashtar Alba Ibn Haitham Oday Ibn Hatam Salim Ibn Thaalabah Al-Absi and Shuraih Ibn Dubai-ah held a secret meeting and Abdullah Ibn Saba (titled Ibn Al- Souda) was with them. (This man is said to have been a Yemenite from Sana-a born from a Jewish father and an Abyssinian mother adopted Islam during the days of Othman and instigated people against him.) The conferees realized that they will pay the price of peace with their lives and that Ali shall be harsher with them than Talhah Al-Zubeir and Ayeshah because he knows more about the Book of God than the three leaders and he was much more adherent to the Divine law especially the laws which deal with criminals. ( 3 )

The report continues reminding us (as Dr. Taha Hussein said) of the conference of the Qureshite pagans when they conspired against the Messenger of God and Satan attended their conference disguised as an old man from Najd. There was only one difference: The Devil in this report was Abdullah Ibn Saba. The conferees made several proposals but finally "Ibn Al-Souda" (Abdullah Ibn Saba) advised them to make the two camps lose the opportunity of agreement by starting a fight at night. By this each of the two camps would accuse the other of starting the fight. The report says that the conferees implemented their strategy with precision and succeeded in inflaming the Battle of Bassrah. ( 4 )

Many historians after Al-Tabari gave this report great importance and chose it over other reports in spite of the fact that Al-Tabari himself mentioned a number of reports which contradict this report.

Contradicted by Better Reports

He reported that Ammar Al-Duhani reported that Ali 

( 3 ) Al-Tabari, his History, part 4, pp. 493-494.

( 4 ) Al-Tabari, his History, part 4, pp. 493-494.

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took a copy of the Holy Qur'an on the day of the Battle of Bassrah and went through his camp saying: Who shall hold this Qur'an and invite the Bassrite camp to agree that both camps should comply with the contents of the Qur'an? Then he said: The one who makes this invitation should know that he will be killed by the Bassrites. A young Kufite man said to him: "I shall do it " and the Imam ignored him. Then he repeated his call and the same man repeated the same answer. The Imam gave him the Qur'an and the Kufite youth extended the invitation and the Bassrites shot him to death with a hail of arrows. The Imam said: "Now it has become legitimate to fight them." ( 5 )

Al-Tabari reported also that Al-Zuhri said that when Ali received the news of the death of the seventy men from Abdul-Qais (a branch from the tribe of Rabee-ah) he set out hurriedly until he came to Bassrah saying: "I am saddened by the tragedy of Rabee-ah the listener the obedient who was attacked before my arrival." When the two camps faced each other Al-Zubeir came on his horse and Ali called upon Al-Zubeir. They faced each other and Ali asked Al-Zubeir: What brought you here? Al-Zubeir said: "You. And I do not believe that you are qualified for the caliphate; nor do I believe that you have more right to it than we and you killed Othman." Ali said to Al-Zubeir:

Do you ask me for the blood of Othman while you were his killer? May God make our harshest to Othman meet today what he dislikes. He reminded Al-Zubeir of the word of the Messenger of God: That he will fight Ali while he is unfair to him. Al-Zubeir left the scene and promised the Imam that he will not fight him. ( 6)

Al-Tabari reported that the Imam said to Talhah: You have brought the wife of the Messenger of God trying to fight with her while you have hidden your wife at your house (in Medina). Did you not pledge your allegiance to 

( 5 ) Al-Tabari his History part 4 Events of 36 H. p. 509.

( 6 ) Al-Tabari his History part 4 Events of 36 H.

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me? Talhah said: I pledged my allegiance to you while the sword was over my neck. Ali said to his camp: Who shall display this Holy Qur'an and invite the opposite camp to agree with us to abide by its contents and the one who does that should know that he will be killed? A Kufite youth said I. The Imam said to him: Offer them this (the Qur'an) and say to them it is between you and us from its beginning to its end and fear God by refraining from shedding our blood and your blood.


The Kufite youth did what the Imam told him to do and he was killed. Ali at that time said: Now the fight is legitimate.

They started fighting and seventy men died and each one of them was holding the rein of the camel. ( 7 ) This report like the report that preceded it is evidence that the fight did not begin until the Imam offered the other camp peace and surrender of the matter to the Book of Cod. This was after the Imam and his two opponents Talhah and Al-Zubeir faced each other and after he debated with them. All this was in front of people and the two camps were witnessing it. This was of course in the daytime. Thus there was no secret conspiracy and no battle that the conspirators started during the night.

Al-Tabari reported also that Al-Shi-abi reported that the battle of Bassrah started during the height of the day till the afternoon. (8) Ammar Al-Duhani and Al-Zuhri and Al-Shi-abi narrated witnessable events and consistent with the logic of the events. Yet these reports were not chosen by the historians who came after Al-Tabari because these reports seem to convict the three leaders and place the responsibility of the Battle of Bassrah upon their shoulders. The historians chose Saif's report of the conspiracy though it reports something that was not witnessable and at the same time was not consistent with the logic of the events.

( 7 ) Al-Tabari his History part 4 Fvents of 36 H. p. 509.

( 8 ) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 512.

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The three leaders did not come to Bassrah for a picnic or for spreading peace. They came to start a war against the Imam and they started the battle before his arrival to Bassrah. They killed scores of people and occupied the city before the arrival of the Imam to the city. ( 9 )

Saif reported a conspiracy that was made in a secret conference attended by Abdullah Ibn Saba and that conspiracy resulted by starting the battle at night according to the plan of the conspirators. The historians chose this report and gave it high importance though Mohammad (Ibn Oun) and Talhah (whom Saif claimed to be the source of his report) did not claim that they witnessed the conference. These historians did not even ask how Mohammad and Talhah knew about this conspiracy.

History mentions that the Meccan pagans had a secret conference at the "Nadwa" (club in Mecca) in which they conspired to kill the Messenger. The Prophet knew about it through a Divine Revelation. Saif Ibn Omar and Mohammad and Talhah on the other hand did not receive a Revelation from God.

hat report vindicates the three leaders.

Since this report was given so much importance it is necessary to try to investigate it and see whether it is worth all that credence which it was given by the historians. Therefore I would like to record the following observations: (1) This report presupposes that Ayeshah Mother of Believers Talhah and Al-Zubeir were serious in seeking the avenge for the blood of Othman. Yet the instigation made by the three leaders against Othman and their admission of making it is a well

known fact in history. The three leaders urged the

Muslims to kill Othman and when he died and

Ali was elected they used his blood only as a 

( 9 ) Dr. Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubrah part 2 pp. 36-37.

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means of combating the Imam. Since this was their intention they would not be ready to change their attitude if he agrees with them to punish the killers of Othman because their target was Ali rather than the killers of Othman.

(2) Saif's report mentioned that the Imam said before his departure from Thee Qar: "I will be leaving tomorrow and you should leave with me. None of the people who assisted in the crisis of Othman should accompany me and let the fools stay away from me." If the Imam had uttered these words it would be evident that he did not mean by assistance in the crisis of Othman a direct participation in his assassination because none of the direct participants in Othman's murder were in the Imam's army.

The ones whom he meant by these alleged words are those who agitated against Othman and started the march against him and particularly those who urged people to kill him or participated in his siege. Some of these people were in the Imam's army. If the Imam had issued this order he should have prevented those instigators and participants in his siege from accompanying him (the Imam) to Bassrah but this was not the case.

Mohammad Ibn Abu Bakr

The Imam did not prevent Mohammad Ibn Abu Bakr from accompanying him though he knew that Mohammad was one of the leaders of the agitators against Othman and of the participants in his siege. He was also one of those who climbed the wall and entered his mansion to kill him though he did not participate in his killing.

Historians agree that he held the beard of Othman and insulted him and called him "Naathal" and that he said to him: "What did Muaweyah and Ibn Abu Sarh and others from your relatives avail you? (10) The Imam knew all that yet

he kept Ibn Abu Bakr in his company. Mohammad at-

tended the Battle of Bassrah with the Imam. He is the one 

( 10 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 89-90.

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who removed the canopy of his sister Ayeshah from the back of her camel when the camel fell down. ( 10a ) Mohammad Ibn Abu Bakr was so close to the Imam that the Iman used to consider him as one of his children. Mohammad lbn Abu Bakr was killed while he was the Imam's appointed governor of Egypt.



It was clear to the Imam that Malik Al-Ashtar was an outstanding agitator against Othman. He participated in his siege but he was not a participant in his murder.

Othman exiled him from Iraq to Syria twice. Al-Ashtar led after that a group of Kufites to prevent Sa-eed Ibn Al-Aus (Othman's appointed governor) from coming back to Kufa.

Al-Ashtar was the first revolutionary leader who called for Ali's election after the death of Othman. He remained with the Imam and accompanied him to Thee Qar then he went to Kufa and came back with the Kufan army to meet the Imam in Thee Qar. Then he departed with the Imam to Bassrah and he was the top general in the Imam's army.

It is from the well known facts of history that Al-Ashtar was extremely close to the Imam for the duration of his reign until Al-Ashtar died. He was the Imam's right hand in both battles of Bassrah and Siffeen. Al-Ashtar died by poison plotted by Muaweyah while Al-Ashtar was on his way to Egypt. It was the Imam who sent him as his appointed governor of Egypt. ( 11)


Oday Ibn Hatam

Oday Ibn Hatam who was mentioned in Saif's report as a conspirator and a part of the conference which was at- 

( 10a ) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 533 and he mentioned that Ammar Ibn Yasir aided Mohammad Ibn Abu Bakr in the removal of the canopy.

( 11 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 178.

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tended by Ibn Saba was also close to the Imam and an outstanding supporter. He attended the battles which the Imam faced during his caliphate. Oday accompanied the Imam from Thee Qar to Bassrah and the Imam did not prevent him from going with him even after the alleged order that the participants against Othman cannot accompany him. ( 12)


Ammar Ibn Yasir

We ought to mention particularly Ammar Ibn Yasir who was an outstanding companion. He was from the leaders of the opposition to Othman. He called for his removal. His voice was the loudest in criticizing his policy.

He shared with Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubeir their opinion which called for Othman's assassination. In spite of all that Ammar was one of the outstanding leaders in the Imam's army. Those who attended the Battles of Bassrah and Siffeen used to follow Ammar as if he were an Islamic banner. ( 13 ) It is well known in history that the presence of Ammar at the Battle of Bassrah on the side of the Imam was one of the main factors which contributed to the departure of Al-Zubeir from the battlefield. ( 13a ) Al-Zubeir knew that the Messenger of God said to Ammar: "Ammar the aggressor party shall kill you." ( 14 ) Had the Imam ordered those who assisted with anything against Othman not to accompany him to Bassrah he would have prevented Ammar from going with him.

Thus as the report of Saif is opposed to the reports

of Ammar Al-Duhani Al-Zuhri and Al-Shi-abi it is also

opposed to the well known facts of history that the

Imam was accompanied to Bassrah by Ammar Ibn Yasir Mo- 

( 12 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 4 p. 119 Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 525 mentioned that Oday Ibn Hatam and Al-Ashtar were the ones who reached the camel of Ayeshah in order to end the Battle of Bassrah.

( 13 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 157.

( 13a ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 107.

( 14 ) Al-Termathi his authentic Sunan part 5 pp. 323-333.

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hammad Ibn Abu Bakr Malik Al-Ashtar and Oday Ibn Hatem. These distinguished individuals were with him and they were extremely close to him. When a report is opposed to well known facts in history it should be disregarded.

(3) In addition to the aforementioned the Imam was not in need of anyone to ask him to punish anyone who killed a believer unjustly. Had the Imam known the killer (or killers) of Othman he would have punished him immediately without waiting for any agreement with Talhah Al-Zubier and Ayeshah as a price for his peace with the three leaders.

It is well known in history that the Imam was most observant of criminal punishment. He was the one who counseled Othman to kill Obeidullah Ibn Omar when he killed Al-Hirmizan without any evidence that substantiates his involvement in the murder of his father Omar.(15 ) The Imam threatened Obeidullah with punishment because of this while still out of power.

His strong adherence to the Islamic principles forced him to enter into the war of Siffeen the bloodiest in the history of Islam until that time. It was possible for him to avoid himself that costly war by keeping Muaweyah as governor of Syria. But he said: "I would not compromise in my religion." He chose that rather than to deviate from his principles in the least.

Such a leader does not need an agreement with Talhah and Al-Zubeir in order to enforce the Islamic law by punishing killers of a prominent Muslim. Had he viewed that Mohammad Ibn Abu Bakr Al-Ashtar and those who instigated people against Othman deserved punishment he would have done that without delay. The caliphate in his view was only a means for executing justice and enforcing the Islamic laws. The least of what the Imam would have done to them is to keep them away from him and not make them a part of his army. Since he did not do

that and did the opposite by making them his closest 

( 15 ) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 239.

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associates we infer that they did not deserve any punishment for their attitude towards the Third Caliph and their agitation against him.


The Three Leaders

If he had believed that they were criminals deserving punishment it would not be conceivable that he would agree with Talhah and Al-Zubeir to punish them and leave Talhah Al-Zubeir and "Om Al-Mumineen" (Mother of Believers) unpunished while they were the outstanding agitators against Othman. They were the first to do that and they continued their way until Othman died. The Imam would not give different treatments to people of equal crimes.

It seems that the Imam used to believe that only the ones who participated directly in the assassination of Othman were punishable. We have already mentioned that three of those who participated in his murder were killed at the same hour he was killed. The three were Qutairah Soudan Ibn Hamran and Kinanah Ibn Basheer Al-Tajeebi.

If there were other participants the Imam did not know.

He said in a letter to Muaweyah: "I do not know specifically any killer of Othman. I thought deeply about this matter and I did not see it permitted for me to hand you anyone you accuse from among those who are around me." ( 16)

(4) The sermon of the Imam which Saif's report mentioned speaks clearly that the Imam believes in the soundness of Othman's policy and his administration of public funds and that he approved Othman's appointment of his relatives. The report mentioned that the Imam said in his sermon: "God has bestowed His grace on the nation by the unity through the three Caliphs one after another.

Then this event (assassination of Othman) took place. It was brought on this nation by people who sought the material of this world. They were envious of those who were 

( 16 ) Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra part 2 p. 68.

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given it by God meritoriously for their virtues. These material seekers were trying to turn the affairs of the nation regressively." Thus the Imam according to this report was speaking of the soundness of the policy of Othman and accusing those who opposed him of trying to turn the national affairs regressively. They did what they did just for the sake of the worldly material and out of jealousy of Othman and his appointed officials to whom God had given the materials of the World meritoriously and for their virtues.

There is no doubt that this is in conflict with what was known in history with utmost certainty that the Imam did not approve Othman's policy in handling the public funds; nor did the Imam approve Othman's appointments of his relatives. The Imam mediated many times between Othman and his opponents asking him to dismiss his relatives and change his policy and many times Othman promised to change and reform in response to his mediation then Marwan would prevent Othman from fulfilling his promise. ( 17)

Had the Imam believed in the soundness of Othman's policy and the policy of his appointed governors the Imam would not have insisted on the dismissal of Muaweyah and waged for his dismissal the Battle of Siffeen which had no equal in the history of Islam before that time.

All these aspects substantiate clearly that the report of Saif Ibn Omar was a fabrication made up for covering the reality and acquitting the three leaders of the responsibility of the Battle of Bassrah. It aimed also at ruining the reputation of the supporters of the Imam such as Al- Ashtar and others by accusing them of starting the war for their selfish purposes and upon the counsel of a hypocrite who was alien to the Islamic nation. Any serious student of the Islamic history

knows that Al-Ashtar and the rest of the

revolutionar leaders were among the most noble 

( 17 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 81-82.

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Muslims in their intention and adherence to the ideals of Islam and who gave their souls for the pleasure of God.



However there are reasons to doubt the very existence of Abdullah Ibn Saba. I do not think that this man was but a fairy-tale and was admitted into the history of Islam for covering undesirable informations. The defenders of Othman and his policy wanted to attribute the revolution which was made against him to a Jew who is alien to Islam.

They alleged that he organized through secret conspiracies elaborate cells in Bassrah Kufah Egypt and Damascus for a revolution against the Caliph.(18) They said that this alleged man claimed that the Prophet Mohammad will come back and that he tried to substantiate the return of the Holy Prophet to this world by comparing it to the return of Jesus to this world in the future. Since Mohammad is more important than Jesus he would be more entitled than Jesus to return. They said that Ibn Saba supported the idea of the return of the Prophet by the following verse:

"Certainly the One Who commanded you to convey the Qur'an (to mankind) shall return you to a new coming ..."(Chapter 28 verse 85 (19)

Who Was the First to Speak of the Prophet's Return?

I would like to state clearly that attributing the idea of the Prophet's return to the imaginary Ibn Saba is an obvious distortion of the truth. Was not Omar the first one who proclaimed the doctrine of the Prophet's return? 

( 18 ) Al-Tabari his History part 4 (Events of the 36th year H.) pp. 340-341.

( 19 ) Al-Tabari his History part 4 (Events of the 36th year H.) pp. 340-341.

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History testifies and no historian or hadith-reporter would deny that Omar stood at the Mosque of the Prophet when the Prophet died and said:

"Some hypocrites allege that the Messenger of God died. The Messenger did not die. He only went to his Lord as Moses son of Imran went to his Lord. He left his people for forty nights then he returned to them after it was said that he died. By God the Messenger of God will return as Moses returned. He will sever the hands and legs of the men who alleged that he died." (The Brother of the Prophet Mohammad vol.1 p. 161 (and Ibn Husham in his Biography of the Prophet part 2 p. 655)

Would any Muslim accuse Omar of learning this doctrine from Abdullah Ibn Saba?

If anyone after Omar believed in the return of the Prophet we should assume that he learned that from Omar rather than from Ibn Saba.

They also mentioned that this imaginary Jew was the one who spread the doctrine of Ali's executorship and successorship to the Messenger.(20) They said also that he taught Abu Tharr while in Damascus the theory that prohibits treasuring gold and silver and that what is collected from Zakat and other Islamic taxes are Muslims' fund rather than God's fund. (21) They also said that Ammar Ibn Yasir went to Egypt and met Ibn Saba and that Ibn Saba turned him against Othman. ( 22)

These allegations contradict well known historical facts and very substantiated truths. From these facts is that Othman did not follow the policy of the Two Caliphs before him though he pledged to Abdul-Rahman Ibn Ouf and the nation at the time of his selection that he will follow their policy.

It is well known in history that the Messenger exiled Al-Hakam Ibn Abu Al-Auss and his family and said: Al- 

( 20 ) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 340.

( 21 ) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 283.

( 22 ) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 341.

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Hakam shall not live with me in Medina forever. Othman brought back the exiled of the Prophet and his children.

He gave them large amounts from the public funds. (23) He gave them hundreds of thousands of dirhams. He made Marwan Ibn Al-Hakam his main advisor and actually he was the real caliph.

It is a well known fact of history that Abdullah Ibn Abu Sarh deserted the Faith after he declared his Islam and that the Messenger of God ordered his execution.(24) It is also known in history that Waleed Ibn Aqabah Ibn Abu Mo-eet was a transgressor and used to drink intoxicants. (25) The Holy Qur'an testifies to his transgression. (26) Yet Othman appointed Ibn Abu Sarh as governor of Egypt. He gave him the fifth of the spoils of North Africa. (27) Othman also appointed Waleed governor of Kufa. He did not dismiss him until the Muslims testified that he was found drunk while he was leading the congregational prayer at the main Mosque of Kufa.(28)

It is also known that Othman exiled Abu Tharr(29) and beat up Ammar Ibn Yasir until Ammar fainted.(30) He also ordered Abdullah Ibn Mas-ood to be thrown out of the Mosque and his ribs were broken.(31) He penalized these three outstanding companions only because they were critical of his policy.

Othman also exiled a number of good people from Kufa to Syria because they criticized his policy and that of his appointed officials from the Omayads.(32) There are no prescribed punishments in Islam for critics who demand 

( 23 ) Al-Balathori Ansab Al-Ashraf part 4 p. 28.

( 24 ) Ibn Husham Biography of the Prophet part 2 p. 409.

( 25 )   Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 53-69.

( 26 ) Ibn Husham Biography of the Prophet part 2 p. 296.

( 27 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 46.

( 28 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 53.

( 29 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 56 and Al-Tabari his History part 4.

( 30 ) Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra part 1 p. 161.

( 31 ) Taha Hussein Al-Fitnatul-Kubra part 1 p. 161.

( 32 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 70-71.

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reform from a ruler. The masses of the people resented punishment of these people by exile. Exile according to the Holy Qur'an is a punishment for those who are at war with God and His Messenger and those who spread corruption in the land. These exiled Muslims were neither at war with God and His Messenger nor were they from the corruptors of the land. They were only critics of the Caliph because he used to give any member of his clan tens or hundreds of thousands of dirhams from the public funds and grant them vast pieces of land from the public property. (33)

It was only expected that the companions and the rest of the Muslims would frown at these arbitrary actions after they witnessed the way of the Messenger and the two Caliphs after him. It was only a matter of course that resentment would grow and that people would demand from the Caliph to change his policy and dismiss his appointed officials who were his relatives. It was also expected that the resentment would be transformed into a revolution after he refused to change.

The companions and other outstanding Muslims were not in need of an alleged Jew to call for a revolution. The existence of such a Jew in relation to the causes of the revolution was of no effect and similar to the existence of a fifth leg of a chair. To say that Othman adopted the policy that was approved by the companions and the rest of the Muslims and that Abdullah Ibn Saba is the one who instigated people against him is an invitation to the denial of well established facts of history.

The attribution of the revolution against Othman to Abdullah Ibn Saba cannot be true unless we say that Abdullah Ibn Saba is the one who counselled the Caliph to commit the numerous violations which he committed and which

brought about the revolution. Thus we ought to ask the

following questions: Did Ibn Saba advise the Caliph?

Did he persuade the Caliph to give his relatives 

( 33 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 49.

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the public funds and make Marwan Ibn Al-Hakam his prime minister? Did he convince him to exile companions such as Abu Tharr and other prominent Muslims such as Malik Al-Ashtar? Did Ibn Saba counsel him to beat up outstanding companions?

These and other illegal actions are the true causes of the revolution. Unless Ibn Saba is the one who convinced Othman to commit all these mistakes and refuse to change them he could not be a cause of revolution. Of course the historians who adopted the report of Saif Ibn Omar (which created the tale of Ibn Saba) would not accept any relationship between Othman and Ibn Saba.


Was Ibn Saba in Medina?

The people who accepted the report of Saif Ibn Omar have forgotten that the agitation against Othman did not start in Bassrah or Kufa or Egypt. It rather started in Medina and that Ayeshah and Talhah and Al-Zubeir were the most outstanding agitators against Othman. Was Ibn Saba the motivator of these people to oppose Othman and to call for his murder?

The report of the conspiracy of Ibn Saba says that Ibn Saba met Abu Tharr in Damascus and urged him to oppose Othman and Muaweyah. But Abu Tharr started his critical campaign while in Medina before he went to Damascus. He was exiled to Damascus because of his critical campaign against the Caliph. (34)

Saif's report says also that Ibn Saba is the one who taught Abu Tharr to say that the revenues of Zakat and other Islamic taxations are the revenues of the Muslims rather than the revenues of God. Yet history tells us that when Abu Tharr was brought back to Medina from Damascus he was still saying that these revenues are revenues of God.

( 34 ) Ibn Abu Al-Hadeed Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah vol.1 p. 240.

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It is reported that when Abu Tharr came to Medina he faced the Caliph and he reported in the presence of other companions that he heard the Messenger of God saying:

"When the men from the children of Abu Al-Auss become thirty they will make the revenue of God rotate among them the servants of God their slaves and the religion of God interpolated."(35)

However saying that Abu Tharr learned some religious doctrines from an alien hypocrite seems to be extremely ugly and obviously fabricated. Abu Tharr was an outstanding companion of the Prophet. He embraced Islam before all the Medinite and most of the Meccan companions. (36) He accompanied the Holy Prophet and his companionship was long. He memorized the Holy Qur'an and he heard from the Messenger and understood what he heard. He reported the statements of the Messenger and his deeds accurately. He was well aware of what he was reporting. He was extremely true and devoted and the Holy Prophet loved him very much.

Al-Termathi reported that the Messenger said: "Neither did the Heaven shade nor did the earth carry truer than Abu Tharr." ( 37 He reported also that the Holy Prophet said: "Neither did the Heaven shade nor did the earth carry truer and more loyal than Abu Tharr. He walks on earth with the immaterialistic attitude of Jesus son of Mary''(38)

It is reported by Ibn Majah that the Messenger said:"God commanded me to love four persons and He informed me that He loves them. When he was asked: Who are they? The Prophet said; Ali is from them (repeating that three times) and Abu Tharr Salman and Al-Miqdad." (39)

( 35 ) Ibn Abu Al-Hadeed Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah vol. 1 p. 241.

( 36 ) Taha Hussein Al-Fitnatul-Kubra part 1 p. 133.

( 37 ) Al-Termathi his authentic Sunan part 4 p. 334 (hadith no. 3889)

( 38 ) Al-Termathi his authentic Sunan part 5 p. 334 (hadith no. 3890)

( 39 ) Ibn Majah his authentic Sunan part 1 p. 53 (hadith no. 129)

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Abu Tharr was so concerned with the purity of the Islamic teaching to a degree that he did not allow Kaab Al- Ahbar to give a verdict in Islamic law though Kaab Al- Ahbar was highly respected by Omar Ibn Al-Khattab and Othman. Many times the two Caliphs asked him about things in religion and they used to listen to what he said.

It is reported that Abu Tharr said to Othman after he came back from Damascus to Medina: "It is not sufficient for a man to pay only Zakat. He should add to that by helping the needy and feeding the hungry and spending in the way of God." When Kaab Al-Ahbar commented that "Whoever fulfills his prescribed duty does not have to add anything to it " Abu Tharr became angry and said to Kaab: Son of the Jewish lady who are you to say this? Do you want to teach us our religion? Then he hit him with his rod on his neck. (40)

A man that does not allow Kaab (who was highly regarded by Omar) to give a verdict in religion is not expected to follow the opinion of a Jew who adopted Islam during the time of Othman and did not see the companions of the Messenger nor did he know the Islamic instructions.

If Abu Tharr and Ammar agreed with Ibn Saba Ibn Saba must be right. The Holy Prophet testified for the truth of these two companions.

It is reported that Ayeshah said that the messenger of Cod said: "Whenever Ammar is given the choice between two alternatives he always chooses the most righteous of the two alternatives." (41) Abdullah lbn Mas-ood was consulted: Whom should we follow when the Muslims are divided? He said: "Follow Ammar. He will never part with the

truth..." ( 42) The Prophet told Ammar: "Ammar be

cheerful the aggressor party will kill you.'' ( 43 ) He 

( 40 ) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 284.

( 41 ) Al-Termathi his authentic Sunan part 5 pp. 332-333.

( 42 ) Yousof Ibn Abdul-Barr Al-Istea-Ab part 3 p. 1139.

( 43 ) Al-Termathi his authentic Sunan part 5 p. 332-333.

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also said: "Paradise longs for three persons: Ali Ammar and Salman." ( 44)

When the Messenger of God testified for the distinction of a companion of this kind such companion must have been right. And if these two companions had agreed with any person about a religious matter the one with whom they had agreed must have been right. If the two companions agreed with a person who was a new convert he and not they must be the learner. He would be learning from the two companions.

If Ibn Saba were in existence and if he had met Abu Tharr and Ammar (as Saif's report alleged) it would be logical to assume that he did not teach the two companions anything and that he learned from them. If he had spoken of Ali's executorship and his succession to the Messenger he would be only following the two companions. Ibn Saba did not hear the Messenger but Abu Tharr and Ammar heard him saying at Chadeer Khum: "Whoever I am his "Moula" (leader) Ali is his Moula." (45) The two companions heard the Messenger saying: "I am leaving for you that which if you uphold you will never go astray: The Book of God and the members of my House.

Beware how you shall treat them after me.(46) These two companions no doubt understood from the statement of the prophet that the Messenger was appointing Ali his successor.


As we conclude our discussion and analysis of Saif Ibn Omar Al-Tameemi's report we come to the following conclusions:

( 44 ) Al-Termathi his authentic Sunan part 4 p. 332 (Hadith no. 3884)

( 45 ) Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak part 3 p. 110.

( 46 ) Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak part 3 p. 109.

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1) The subscribers to Saif Ibn Omar's report who are trying to smear the Shi-ite Muslims are actually smearing Abu Tharr and Ammar Ibn Yasir before they smear the contemporary Shi-ites.

2) The two companions were following the line of the Prophet because he testified to their righteousness truth and rightfulness. The Shi-ites follow the same line.

3) This means that he who discredits the two companions actually discredits the Prophet himself.

I do not believe that Ibn Saba ever existed. I believe that he was only a fabricated story to ruin the reputation of the "Shi-ites" (the followers of the members of the House of the Holy Prophet)

Dr. Taha Hussein observed that what was reported about "Ibn Al-Souda" (Abdullah Ibn Saba) was obviously made up and fabricated. It was invented when the debate between the Shi-ites and other Islamic schools was in progress. The enemies of the Shi-ites wanted to admit into the teaching of this school a Jewish element for the sake of destroying their reputation. Taha Hussein said: Ibn Al- Souda was nothing but an imagination. And if he had truly existed he was not that important as the historians try to portray him and describe his activity during the days of Othman and in the first year of the caliphate of Ali. He is an imaginary person treasured by the enemies of the Shi-ites in order to harm the Shi-ites. (47)



The source of the story of Abdullah Ibn Saba or Ibn Al-Souda was Saif Ibn Omar Al-Tameemi who lived in the second century after the Hijra. Al-Tabari Ibn Asakir and Ibn Abu Bakr took the story of Ibn Saba from Saif Ibn Omar. The rest of the historians such as Ibn Al-Atheer Ibn Kutheyer Ibn Khaldoon and Abu Al-Fida took the story from Al-Tabari.

( 47 ) Taha Hussein Al-Fitnatul-Kubra part 1 pp. 98-99.

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This Saif Ibn Omar was one of the forgers of the hadiths and the reports of the events of history. The Muslim scholars who are specialized in Hadith have expressed their opinion about Saif: Ibn Mu-een (died in 277) said: Saif is a weak reporter.

Al-Nisa-i (died in 303) said: Saif is a weak reporter.

Abu Dawood (died in 317) said: Saif is nothing.

Al-Hakim (died in 405) said: Saif is abandoned and accused of being heretic.

Ibn Hayyan said: Saif reportedly forged stories and attributed them to reliable reporters and he was accused of being heretic.

Al-Dar Qutni (died in 385) said: Saif is a weak reporter and was abandoned.

Ibn Hajar (died 850) said: Saif is a weak reporter.(48)

This Saif reported many Hadiths which are opposed to the well known facts of history and to the facts which are reported by numerous reliable reporters. He also reported events which are inconceivable.

The resentment of Ali towards the election of Abu Bakr was reported by outstanding hadith-reporters and this is known to the students of history. What Al-Tabari reported through Saif Ibn Omar about Ali's election of Abu Bakr is the following:

"Ali was at his house when he was informed that Abu Bakr is receiving the pledge of allegiance. Ali hurriedly left his home without having his cloak on him because he did not like to lose time. He came to the mosque and pledged his allegiance to Abu Bakr then sat with him and sent after his cloak. When it was brought to him he put it on and remained with Abu Bakr." (49)


It is a well known fact of history which was reported 

( 48 ) Sayed Murtadha Al-Askari in his book Abdullah Ibn Saba p. 26.

( 49 ) Al-Tabari his History part 3 (Event in the 11th year A.

H.) p. 201 (conveyed by Sayed Al-Askari Abdullah Ibn Saba)

( 392 )

by numerous reliable sources that Ali did not accept the caliphate of Abu Bakr at the beginning and refused to give him the pledge of allegiance and he continued to do so until his wife Fatima Al-Zahra died. Al-Bukhari and Muslim through their channels to Ayeshah reported the following:

"... Fatima daughter of the Messenger of God sent to Abu Bakr asking him for her inheritance from her father out of what God has given him in Medina Fadak and what remained from the "fifth of Kheibar" . . . ; Abu Bakr said: The Messenger of God said: "We (the Prophets) are not to be inherited (materially); what we have left is (or as) charity." Abu Bakr refused to give Fatima anything. She was outraged by what he did and she refused to speak to him until she died. She lived six months after the Messenger of God. When she died Ali buried her at night and did not inform Abu Bakr of her death. Ali prayed on her. People were warm towards Ali when Fatima was still living. When she died Ali lost that warmness. Thus he sought to make peace with Abu Bakr and he pledged his allegiance to him." ( 50)

Of Saif's reports of events which are inconceivable are the following: Al-Tabari reported that Saif said that Abu Bakr sent Al-Ala Ibn Al-Hadrami to fight the deserters of the faith in Al-Bahrain and that he and his army went through Al- Dahna and that their camels ran away from them in the desert during the night and that they became thirsty. Then water appeared to them. They drank from it and washed then their camels came back.

Abu Huraira filled a container of his with water but he left it near the water. When they departed from that place they came back to it. They did not find the water but Abu Hurairah found his container.

Saif also reported that Al-Ala and his army went to Dareen traveling by sea on their camels for twenty-four 

( 50 ) Al-Bukhari his Sahih part 5 p. 177 (chapter of Battle of Khaibar). Muslim also reported it in his Sahih part 12 p. 77.

( 393 )

hours and the water of the sea did not cover the hooves of the camels. He mentioned also that after the army passed through the sea it was able to obtain victory against the people of Dareen. ( 51)

But Al-Balathori on the other hand reported the invasion of Al-Bahrain through a source other than Saif and mentioned that Al-Ala invaded Zarah and Dareen during the reign of Omar (rather than the reign of Abu Bakr). He reported that the inhabitants of Zarah made a peace treaty with Al-Ala and that they agreed to give him a third of the city and a third of what was in it of gold and silver; that he would take half of what belongs to them outside the city and that Al-Akhnas Ibn Al-Amiri said to him that they did not include in the peace treaty what they had in Dareen.

Thus he advised him of a shallow passage between

Zarah and Dareen in the sea and that Al-Ala and his

army went through that shallow passage and invaded

Dareen.( 52 ) Al-Tabari reported through Saif that

when Saad Ibn Abu Waqass and his army arrived to a

place called Othaib Al-Hijanat he sent Assim Ibn Amr

to the lower part of the Euphrates. Assim came to Maisan

seeking sheep or cows but he did not find any. The cows

fortified themselves by going into a wooded area. Assim

went and looked until he found a man near the area. He

asked him about the cows and the sheep and the man swore

to him that he did not know anything about their location.

But the man was the shepherd of those animals. Upon this

a bull spoke clearly in Arabic saying what means: "By

God he lied to you; We are here." Assim went in and

drove the cows out and brought them to the camp.(53)

Thus we find that Saif reports in the two stories what

is unbelievable. A water appears and the whole army drinks from it. Then it disappears shortly after they leave it; an 

( 51 ) Al-Tabari his History part 3 conveyed by Al-Askari Abdullah Ibn Saba.

( 52 ) Al-Balathori Futooh Al-Buldan pp. 92-93 (conveyed by Al-Askari Abdullah Ibn Saba p. 117)

( 53 ) Al-Tabari his History part 3 p. 12.

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army goes throngh the sea for twenty-four hours and the water of the sea does not cover the hooves of the camels and a cow speaks the grammatical Arabic language.

This is only some of Saif's fabricated lies. It is amazing that Al-Tabari who was an outstanding Muslim historian relied upon Saif's reports while his own reports testify to Saif's incredibility.

Ibn Saba was nothing but one of his fabricated lies. He tried to cover up the truth by alleging that the revolution against Othman was not caused by Othman's mishandling the public funds and giving it to his relatives and friends and appointing his transgressor relatives as governors of the Muslims.

He tried to say that the cause of that revolution was the conspiracies of Abdullah Ibn Saba who never was mentioned by any reliable historians before Saif Ibn Omar.

Saif wanted to acquit Ayeshah Mother of Believers Talhah and Al-Zubeir from the responsibility of the Battle of Bassrah. Thus he invented the story of a conspiracy by Ibn Saba and his followers for starting the Battle.

Al-Tabari and the historians who followed him in recording the story of Saif Ibn Omar should have asked themselves the two following questions: 1. If Ibn Saba had existed and had such revolutionary and destructive activity why did not Ayeshah mention him and his activities when she went to Bassrah trying to turn people against Ali and his followers? Why did she not mention that those who made the revolution against Othman and those who killed him were followers of a Jewish Arab that was conspiring against Islam and that these conspirators were the followers of Ali and the callers for his election? She did not mention that though she came to Bassrah for the sole purpose of turning its inhabitants against Ali. Had the story of Abdullah Ibn Saba been truthful Ayeshah would have mzde it the main theme of her speeches. Had she mentioned that she would have hurt Ali and his followers a great deal.


It could be said that Mother of the Believers was not aware of the intrigues and conspiracies of Ibn Saba 

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because he used to work secretly. But the report which speaks of Ibn Saba says also that he came to Bassrah and formed a revolutionary cell in it and that Abdullah Ibn Amir who was the Omayad governor of Bassrah expelled him from Bassrah when he discovered his subversive activities. ( 54)

Abdullah Ibn Amir was with Ayeshah when she departed from Mecca and he was with her when she came to Bassrah. Why did he notgive her that information about Ibn Saba if Ibn Saba had really existed? Tens of Omayads were with Mother of the Believers and these people were fully aware of the situation of the Islamic cities and communities and what was taking place in them.


These Omayads were the rulers of the cities during the time of Othman and they were not simple people.

Ayeshah did not mention Abdullah Ibn Saba and his activity before the Battle of Bassrah nor on the day of the Battle. Nor did she mention anything about Ibn Saba and his activities after the Battle though she lived a good number of years afterwards. None of the Omayads who accompanied her (such as Abdullah Ibn Amir and Marwan Ibn Al-Hakam who were arch enemies of the Imam) ever mentioned anything about Ibn Saba and his activiies.

Had the story of Ibn Saba been true the voices of these people would have filled the Muslim World.

2. Cranted that Ayeshah did not mention Ibn Saba because she did not know about his intrigues and conspiracies but why did Muaweyah refrain from mentioning that? The report which speaks of Ibn Saba mentioned that he went to Damascus and that he turned Abu Tharr against Muaweyah and Othman and that Ibn Saba spoke of his destructive opinions to two other companions of the Prophet: Abu Al-Darda and Abadah Ibn Al-Samit. The report added that Abadah resented the statements of Ibn Saba and took him to Muaweyah and informed Muaweyah 

( 54 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 72.

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that Ibn Saba is the one who turned Abu Tharr against him . . . and with this information Muaweyah drove Ibn Saba out of Damascus. ( 55 Ibn Saba later went to Egypt and Abdullah Ibn Abu Sarh (the governor of Egypt) also knew about Ibn Saba. ( 56)

Muaweyah used to give large amounts of money to people in order to defame the Imam by inventing stories that would damage his reputation and the reputation of his followers. Muaweyah was the one who decreed that the Imam Ali should be cursed every Friday at every Islamic Mosque. This order was issued after the death of the Imam. Had the story of Ibn Saba been true Muaweyah would have considered it most important and would have held it by his two hands and he would not have failed to mention it every day.

Yet history does not mention that Muaweyah or anyone of his appointed governors ever spoke one word concerning Ibn Saba.

History has preserved numerous messages from Muaweyah in which he directed whatever he could of false accusations towards the Imam. His main goal in those messages was to smear the Imam by saying that he protected the killers of Othman and those who participated in the revolution against him. Yet he did not mention in any of those messages that the killers of Othman or the participants in that revolution had any relation with a man named Ibn Saba. Had the legend of Ibn Saba had any truth to it the pen of Muaweyah would have flown with it and it would have come on his tongue and the tongues of his followers during the days of his reign and the reign of the rest of the Omayads.

The truth is that Ibn Saba was not dangerous to the

unity of the Muslims or a cause in dividing the Muslims

because Ibn Saba did not exist. The fact is that one of the main reasons for dividing the Muslims and spreading 

( 55 ) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 283.

( 56 ) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 341 (Events of 35th year A.H.).

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animosity among them was Saif Ibn Omar who invented the story of Abdullah Ibn Saba.

Saif elaborately fabricated the story and Al-Tabari accepted it. Thus it was spread and became popular among the Muslim masses. This fabrication brought a mutual hatred among the Muslims and divided them into two parties separated by considerable distance. Only God knows how many innocent Muslims lost their lives as a result of the poison with which Saif Ibn Omar sprayed the Islamic atmosphere through his fabrications.

The Battle of Siffeen

The Imam came to Kufa after the end of the Battle of Bassrah and he made Kufa his capital. The people of Kufa were the builders of his army whose support was indispensable in defeating his opponents in Bassrah. There were no other people upon whom he could rely. The majority of the people of Bassrah were against him and they were not expected to become sincere towards him after the war of Bassrah had eliminated many of their loved ones.

People of Hijaz were not reliable because they were few compared to the people of the rest of the Islamic provinces. People of Syria were followers of his enemy Muaweyah. The Muslims of Egypt were incapable of offering what he needed of an army for subduing the secessionists.

The Imam stayed about four months in his new capital preparing what he needed to meet Muaweyah the most dangerous among his opponents to the unity of the nation.

He was the most capable among them to challenge the authority of the Imam and their least scrupulous in religion. Muaweyah had declared before the Battle of Bassrah his refusal to join the electors of the Imam and his challenge to his authority. By this he actually separated Syria from the

body of the Islamic State and declared its secession.

He added to this his hostility to the central authority

and that he was at war with that authority using 

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revenge for the blood of Othman as an excuse. His secessional movement started before the movement of the three leaders.

The Imam sent after he was elected a message to Muaweyah which was carried by his messenger Subrah Al- Juhani informing him of his election by the companions and asking him along with his followers to join his electors. Muaweyah after a long silence sent Qubaisah Al- Absi and gave him a sealed letter addressed from Muaweyah to Ali. He ordered him to enter Medina raising the letter and holding its lower part and told him what to say.

When Qubaisah entered Medina people knew that Muaweyah was defiant. He gave what was in his hand to the Imam. The Imam opened it and did not find anything in it and the following dialogue took place: The Imam: What did you leave behind you (in Damascus)?

Qubaisah: (after he asked for and was given immunity): I left behind me angry people who would not be satisfied but with a death punishment for Othman's blood.

The Imam: Whose death? Qubaisah: Yours! I left also sixty thousand old men crying under the shirt of Othman which is hung on the pulpit in Damascus.

The Imam: Do they want me to pay for the blood of Othman? Am I not bereaved by the death of Othman? God I declare to Thee my innocence of the blood of Othman. By this the killers of Othman have been spared unless God wants the opposite. For if He wants something He would necessarily have it.( 1 )

The answer of the Imam to this obvious challenge was 

( 1 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 104.

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to start mobilization of soldiers for subduing this dangerous defiant. He gave the banner to his son Mohammad Ibn "Al-Hanafeyah" (the mother of Mohammad)

He gave the leadership of a portion of his army to Abdullah Ibn Abbass. He gave Omar Ibn Abu Selemah the leadership of another portion of his army. He appointed Abu Leila Al-Jarrah the commander of his advancing division. He appointed Qutham Ibn Abbass his successor in Medina. He wrote to Qais Ibn Saad his appointed governor of Egypt Othman Ibn Hunaif his appointed governor of Bassrah and Abu Musa Al-Ashaari his appointed governor of Kufa to try to mobilize people for a march on Syria. ( 2 ) He called upon the people of Medina to participate in that Holy mission. He spoke to them saying:

"Certainly our safety would be secured within the authority of God. Give Him your obedience truthfully and willingly. By God you either do that or God will remove from you the authority of Islam; then He will not bring it back to you until the authority of Islam shrinks and recoils in Medina. Stand up to these people who want to divide your nation. May God reform through you what people of other areas had corrupted and by this you would be paying only what is due from you." ( 3 )

The Imam went on preparing for the march on Syria trying to mobilize all that which was within his reach for the confrontation with this aggressor party. But the news of the departure of Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubeir to Bassrah came to the Imam. Thus he was forced to delay his march on Syria until after the conclusion of the emerging crisis. ( 4 )

The Imam did not delay his march on Syria because the three leaders were more dangerous to the caliphate than Muaweyah. He did that because the departure of the three leaders to Iraq added to the danger of Muaweyah a 

( 2 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 104-105.

( 3 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 105.

( 4 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 5.

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new danger. If this could not be dealt with soon the Imam would be deprived of all military and financial assistance which he needed to subdue the main enemy Muaweyah.

The three leaders with all their forces would not represent a great danger against the unity of the nation if they were alone challenging the authority of the Imam. The Imam would be able to subdue their forces easily if they were alone without Muaweyah. Their rebellion was extemporaneous. They did not have what Muaweyah had of resourcefulness strong army and wide popularity in a large Islamic province. As a matter of fact people of Bassrah were divided in their loyalty towards them and a party from the people of Bassrah fought them as soon as they entered and before the Imam came to confront them.

Muaweyah on the contrary was dangerous by himself even if the three leaders were not with him. He was wily and resourceful. His movement was not extemporaneous. He prepared for it for two decades. He was in a province whose inhabitants were obedient to his order. He had a huge and well organized army ready to comply with his command. He was capable of challenging the authority of the Imam even if he did not have any helpers from outside Syria.

Therefore the biggest concern of the Imam after he finished the Battle of Bassrah was to prepare for facing this enemy who was dangerous to the unity of the nation and its future.

To leave no excuse for Muaweyah the Imam sent him a message with Jareer Ibn Abdullah Al-Bajali inviting him to join the majority of the Muslims who elected him.

He mentioned in that message that those who elected him were those who elected Abu Bakr Omar and Othman and that the right of the decision about the caliphate was only for the migrant and the Medinite companions. If they elected a man their election would be binding to the rest of the Muslims. If anyone tries to break away by accusation or innovation they would bring him back. If such a person persists

in his secessional way they have to fight him

for taking a road other than the road of the 

( 403 )

believers. The Imam also said to Muaweyah in this message the following:

"Talhah and Al-Zubeir elected me then they broke their covenant with me. Their breach of covenant is like their faith desertion. I fought them after I left no excuse for them until the truth came and the cause of God prevailed while they were averse.

"I invite you to join the Muslims by pledging your allegiance to the new administration. I prefer peace but if you persist in your opposition I will fight you seeking the help of God against you..."

The excuse which Muaweyah used in his deceptive movement for reaching the caliphate was the blood of Othman and that the Imam did not punish the killers of Othman though they were around him. The Imam therefore included in his message what refutes his argument.

"And you have spoken repeatedly about the killers of Othman. Join the rest of the Muslims who elected me then ask me to try the ones whom you accused. I will judge between you and them according to the Book of God..

"Muaweyah if you look at the matter through your mind rather than your selfishness you will find me the most innocent in relation to the blood of Othman and that I was completely isolated of his affairs unless you deliberately make false accusations. You may do that if you want to. You ought to know that you are from the ones who were freed by the Prophet at the conquest of Mecca who are forbidden from reaching the caliphate. They cannot be a factor in deciding the leadership. Nor would they be consulted in the Islamic affairs or elected by the Muslim electors. I have sent to you Jareer Ibn Abdullah Al-Bajali. He is faithful and a migrant with a good past.

Pledge your allegiance to me through him and there is no power but by God." ( 5 )

Jareer carried the message to Muaweyah and added his 

( 5 ) Abdul Fattah Abdul-Maqsoud Ali Ibn Abi Talib part 4 pp. 31-32.

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own power of persuasion. Muaweyah however refused to answer him positively or negatively trying to gain time in preparation for the future. Finally his expected answer came.

It was not expected that any mediation or means of convincing would succeed in bringing Muaweyah to the right road. Re believed that he is in a strong position to challenge the Imam and he would not do anything else.

He had under his leadership about one hundred thousand fighters and he was still with all his financial and manpower. He did not enter any battle and he did not suffer any loss of property funds or men. The Imam on the other hand was forced to enter the bloody Battle of Bassrah in which his supporters had to pay a great deal of their blood and wealth.

The enemies of the Imam were on the increase and the supporters of Muaweyah were in a continuous increase.

The Syrian treasury was in Muaweyah's hands and he used it as he used his own funds purchasing with it the conscience of the seekers of selfish interests and they were numerous.


The Opportunist Amr

The wily Amr Ibn Al-Auss was most outstanding

among those who sold their principles and conscience. The

co-operation between Amr and Muaweyah was a very

distinguished event in the history of opportunism. History

knew (and Muaweyah who was seeking to avenge the blood

of Othman also knew) that Amr Ibn Al-Auss was from the

outstanding agitators against Othman. ( 6 ) This did

not prevent Muaweyah from covenanting the wily Amr for an

alliance against the Imam with the pretext of seeking the 

( 6 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 141 Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 560.

( 405 )

avenge for the blood of Othman of which Amr was guilty. ( 7 ) The price Muaweyah had to pay to Amr for his alliance with him was the governorship and the tax revenues of Egypt as long as Amr lived if Muaweyah wins the struggle against the Imam. ( 7a)

The Imam was determined to try to subdue Muaweyah and his followers and bring them back to the bulk of the nation and thwart their secessional movement. He led his army to Syria and when he came to the land of Siffeen he found Muaweyah and his army had already occupied the bank of the Euphrates. The Imam was forced to camp away from the water.



Muaweyah would not hesitate to use for his end any means even if it is extremely criminal. He occupied the bank of the Euphrates and thought he could prevail against Ali and his army through the terrible weapon of thirst. He decided to prevent his opponents from reaching the water. ( 8 ) Thus Ali and his army had to surrender or die of thirst. Thirst would make them easy victims and Muaweyah's army in possession of supplies food and water would be able to destroy Ali and his army. Muaweyah thought victory was within his reach. Destroying scores of thousands of Muslims through this method would not shake the conscience of Muaweyah because his conscience was dead.

It would not shake his conscience to kill Ali and his 

( 7 ) Abdul-Fattah Abdul-Maqsoud Ali Ibn Abi Talib part 4 pp. 44-45 And Taha Hussein Al-Fitnatul-Kubra part 2 pp. 62-63 (8th edition) Al-Tabari his History part 4 pp. 460-461.

( 7a ) Al-Tabari his History part 5 p. 39.

( 8 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 145 Al-Tabari his History part 21 pp. 571-572 Taha Hussein Al-Fitnatul-Kubra part 2 p. 71.

( 406 )

two sons Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein members of the House of the Prophet. Nor would it shake his conscience to kill them by thirst though it meant killing by thirst the majority of the companions of the Messenger who were "Badrians" and "Ohodians." Why should the conscience of Muaweyah be shaken for committing such an ugly crime? Is not his aim to defeat the truth and the people of the truth? What is the difference between one death and another death? There is not any difference in the eyes of Muaweyah between reaching victory through the sword or through annihilation by the weapon of thirst.

The annihilation of Ali and his camp through thirst was preferable to Muaweyah over killing them by sword.

Fighting Ali and his camp by conventional weapons does not secure Muaweyah's victory but annihilation through thirst would definitely secure it.

However Amr Ibn Al-Auss his chief advisor counselled him not to try such a terrible weapon yet Amr was not more righteous than Muaweyah. Amr thought that this method in spite of its ugliness would not secure victory. It may bring him only failure and curse. Ali the man of unusual bravery would not die from thirst while he is in command of a huge army. But Muaweyah refused the advice of his ally.( 9 )

The Imam told Muaweyah in a message that he did not come to fight for water. He came to uphold the truth and defeat falsehood. He came to bring the Muslims together after the leaders of falsehood put them in two separate camps. Muaweyah did not take the Imam's message seriously and he did not leave the Imam any open avenue but to fight for water. (10)

The Imam waged a battle for the water and this was his first Holy Battle against Muaweyah and his camp. He

succeeded in occupying the bank of the Euphrates and 

( 9 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 145 Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 542.

( 10 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 145.

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driving the Omayad army away from the river. By this the situation was reversed. Now it became possible for the Imam and his army to do to their opponents what their opponents were trying to do to them. It became possible for the Imam to annihilate his opponents by their own weapons. Would the Imam do that? Here the history of war kneels to glorify Ali Ibn Abu Talib. Here Ali stands among the leaders of nations towering like a mountain as he gives generations of humanity his impressive lesson. The religion of Islam stands against all kinds of wars of genocide and annihilation. The leaders of the nations of the twentieth century have legalized the annihilation of civilians through atomic bombs and so far have failed to prohibit the use of such weapons. The faith of Islam (over fourteen centuries ago) had prohibited what was much less than a nuclear war. It prohibited killing children women elderly people and blind enemies. It prohibits the demolishing of houses of the enemies and destruction of their orchards.(11)

I cannot conceive that anyone after the Messenger could take the attitude of the Imam Ali towards his enemy after his enemy had given him every justification to annihilate him and his army by his own weapon. The leaders of the Imam's army and their soldiers shouted: Prevent them from water as they prevented us from water. The Imam replied: "God has given you victory against them because of their injustice and aggression. Certainly the issue is more important than depriving them of water."(12)

Then he sent to Muaweyah this message: "We shall not treat you as you treated us. Come to the water we are equal." (13)

( 11 ) Al-Hurr Al-Amili Wasa-il-al-Shiah part 11 pp. 43-44 .

( 12 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 145-146 Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 572.

( 13 ) Abdul-Fattah Abdul-Maqsoud Al-Imam Ali Ibn Abu Talib part 4 p. 190.

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The Imam tried again to bring about peace. His aim was to avoid shedding blood and to bring the Muslims back to unity. His ambassadors went to Muaweyah but mediations and negotiations failed to bring any result.

Muaweyah was hoping to be the ruler of the Muslim World and nothing would stop him from trying to reach that end.

Skirmishes between the two camps were started and remained limited. A regiment from one side and a regiment from the other side faced each other on one day. On the following day another two regiments faced each other.

The situation continued this way until the month of Muharram began. All hostilities ceased in observation of the sanctity of the month. The Imam went back to his peaceful efforts during the month of Muharram and the result was not better than in his previous efforts.(14)

As the month of Muharam ended the two camps went back to their skirmishes and limited battles. The Imam wanted to prevent both camps the expected heavy losses if the two armies faced each other in a decisive battle.

These battles did not prevent men from the two camps to meet and debate each other. Most of the tribes were living in both provinces: Iraq and Syria. Thus they had their special blood relationship. Muaweyah contacted a number of leaders of the Iraqi army. He sent them his messengers and spoke to some of them directly trying to persuade them by promising them important rewards if they leave the camp of the Imam and join him.(15) The followers of the Imam also tried to persuade their relatives in Syria to join the camp of the truth. The Imam however did not allow himself to try to buy his opponents with public funds or to promise their ambitious leaders important positions.

There were many people looking for their interests 

( 14 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 149.

( 15 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 148.

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among the followers of the Imam. It would be sufficient to mention men such as Ashaath Ibn Qais about whom Abu Bakr said: Whenever Ashaath sees an evil he assists it.'' History records that Muaweyah sent his brother Utbah to Ashaath trying to attract him. He offered him proposals and Ashaath was not unreceptive.

Finally the Imam decided to meet Muaweyah in a decisive battle. The two huge armies met and the most important battle the Muslims had ever waged until that time began. The two armies fought each other all day and a big portion of the night. They resumed the battle on the following day and the right wing of the Imam's army was defeated and ran away. By this the core of his army was weakened. Thus the Imam had to move from the heart of the army to its left side where the fighters were from the tribe of Rabi-aah. (16) When the Rabi-ites witnessed the Imam among them they realized the magnitude of their responsibility towards the protection of the Imam. They fought bravely fearing that the Imam might be killed while he is among them and that this will put them in an eternal shame. Therefore they decided to prevent that at any cost. (17)

Malik Al-Ashtar went on trying to bring the retreaters back. They heard his voice and came back. The army was back again in action and the war went on with its utmost cruelty and ugliness for the whole day and night. (18)



On that day when the right of the Imam's army retreated an outstanding companion of the Holy Prophet Ammar

Ibn Yasir who was 93 years old stood between the two

camps. He spoke loudly saying: By God if they hit 

( 16 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 152.

( 17 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 152.

( 18 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 152.

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us until they drive us from here to the orchards of Hejar we will continue to believe that we are the people of truth and that they are people of falsehood. ( 19 ) Then he said pointing to the banner of Muaweyah: "By God under the banner of the Messenger I fought the man of this banner three times and the man of the banner is not more righteous now than before." ( 20)

Ammar had an appointment with his martyrdom at the hands of the aggressor party. The Messenger of God said to him in the presence of many companions. "Son of Sumayah (Sumayah was Ammar's mother) the aggressor party shall kill you."( 21 ) This statement was well known to the companions. Amr Ibn Al-Auss was one of the reporters of this hadith and people of Damascus heard that from him. His narration of this hadith caused a deep disturbance in the camp of Muaweyah days before the decisive battle began. ( 22 ) Muaweyah blamed Amr for reporting this hadith. He expected Ammar to be with the Imam and through his presence Muaweyah's followers will discover that they belong to the aggressor party.

Ammar asked for a drink before he entered the decisive battle of Siffeen during which he obtained his martyrdom. A lady brought him milk mixed with water.

When he saw the drink he exclaimed "Allahu Akbar" (God is The Great). This is what my beloved the Messenger of God promised me when he said: Ammar the aggressor party shall kill you and your last drink in this world will be milk.(23) He took his drink then he rushed on saying: Who wants

to go to Paradise? Paradise is under the shades

of the spears. He who is thirsty comes to the 

( 19 ) Ibn Saad Al-Tabaqat part 3 p. 257.

( 20 ) Ibn Saad Al-Tabaqat part 3 p. 257.

( 21 ) Ibn Saad Al-Tabaqat part 3 p. 259.

( 22 ) Ibn Saad Al-Tabaqat part 3 p. 259 Ibn-Al-Atheer also reported this in his Al-Kamil part 3 p. 158.

( 23 ) Ibn Saad Al-Tabaqat part 3 p. 258 Taha Hussein Al-Fitnatul-Kubra part 2 p. 78.

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water and the water will be drunk today. Today I will meet my beloved ones: Mohammad and his party." ( 24 )

Ammar went on fighting and urging Hashim Ibn Utba Ibn Abu Waqass to advance (Hashim was the bearer of the banner of Ammar's regiment. He was of the best of the Qureshite warriors and very beloved by the Imam. He lost one of his eyes at one of the battles.) Ammar sometimes joked with him saying: One-eyed advance.

Then he tells him: Advance I redeem you with my father and mother. And Hashim calms Ammar down saying: Take it easy "Abu Yaqthan" (Ammar's code name). The war makes you move too fast. ( 25 ) But neither the words of Hashim nor the ninety three years could minimize the speed of Abu Yaqthan. He wanted to hurry to Paradise.

He had an appointment with his beloved the great Messenger. He wanted to meet him and he did.

Khuzaimah Ibn Thabit the man of two testimonies (The Prophet had made his testimony equal to the testimony of two men) was with the Imam in Siffeen but he did not fight. When Ammar was killed Khuzaimah realized that the aggressor party is the camp of Muaweyah. He entered his tent. He took a bath and put his armor on then he went fighting until he died. ( 26 )



The war continued with all its violence and intensity during the third day and weakness became obvious in the camp of Muaweyah. The Imam's army almost reached the tent of Muaweyah. He wanted to run away but he felt ashamed and so he stayed. (27)

Before noon while the battle was progressing in its intensity victory became within the reach of the Ima's 

( 24 ) Ibn Saad Al-Tabaqat part 3 p. 258 Taha Hussein Al-Fitnatul-Kubra part 2 p. 78.

( 25 ) Ibn Saad Al-Tabaqat part 3 p. 161.

( 26 ) Ibn Saad Al-Tabaqat part 3 p. 259.

( 27 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 154.

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camp. While his army was about to defeat the aggressor party copies of the Holy Qur'an were hoisted in Muaweyah's camp and voices were heard saying: This is the Book of God. It is between you and us from its beginning to end. Remember God. Remember God for the future of the Arabs. Remember God for the future of Islam. Who shall protect the borders of Syria if the Syrian people perish? Who shall protect the borders of Iraq if the Iraqi people perish? ( 28)

Muaweyah had already despaired from obtaining a military victory. He was facing a decisive defeat on the battlefield. Now he resorted to the Holy Qur'an. The invitation to accept the rule of the Holy Qur'an was not an invention of Muaweyah and Ibn Al-Auss. You may recall that the Imam called upon the camp of Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubier at Bassrah before the beginning of its battle to surrender to the Holy Qur'an. A youth from Kufa volunteered to carry the Holy Qur'an face the people of Bassrah and invite them to accept the rules of the Holy Qur'an. His invitation was rejected and the youth was killed. ( 29)

Muaweyah and Ibn Al-Auss had decided to resort to the invitation of the rule of the Holy Qur'an when they realized that their military defeat was inevitable.

Muaweyah evidently had prepared the atmosphere for such an invitation through his secret contact with some of the leaders of the Imam's army particularly Ashaath Ibn Qais the head of the tribe of Kindah whose members were numerous in Kufa.

Muaweyah was almost certain that hoisting the copies of the Holy Qur'an would lead to a division in the Imam's camp whether the Imam would accept or refuse the invitation. What Muaweyah expected happened. Voices from the Imam's camp were raised asking to stop the fight and accept the rule of the Holy Qur'an.

Those who wanted to stop hostilities were three cate-

( 28 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 160-161.

( 29 ) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 509.

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gories. Each of them had a motive that differed from that of the other two categories. The scrupulous category was made up of religious fanatics. They thought that rejecting the invitation to the rule of the Book and continuing the battle would be a major sin which Muslims are not supposed to commit. They forgot that their Imam is the most knowledgeable of the Holy Qur'an and the Islamic law and that he is the most adherent to the Islamic principles.

This category included a great number of readers of the Holy Qur'an who thought that they knew all the Islamic law and appointed themselves as the protectors of Islam. This kind of religious people are numerous in every generation.

There was another category of people who were anxious to stop the fight led by conspirators who were collaborating with the enemy believing their co-operation with the enemy will bring them some material wealth or high positions.

The third category believed that their obedience to the Imam in the two battles of Bassrah and Siffeen had cost them dearly because they paid with the blood of their children brothers and relatives. Their main concern was to save their lives. They could not care less for what happened to Islam and the Muslims.

The Imam stood up trying to show them the right road saying to them: The resort to the Holy Qur'an is only a conspiracy planned by Muaweyah and his advisors. I know them as young and old. They never were people of the Qur'an or religion. All they wanted was to avoid the catastrophe of defeat. ( 30)

There was within the camp of the Imam some people who had both sincerity and wisdom (these were a minority compared to the others.) These people agreed with the Imam and urged him to continue the war and to ignore the many voices which were calling for cessation of hostility.

These people were led by Malik Al-Ashtar. But their 

( 30 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 161.

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voices were drowned by the voice of the majority who wanted to end the battle.

Al-Ashtar was still pushing hard towards Muaweyah seeing that victory was within his reach but those who wanted to end the war surrounded the Imam. They threatened to desert him and to fight him and even to take him as a captive and hand him to Muaweyah. ( 31 ) They asked him to order Al-Ashtar to discontinue his march. The Imam found himself between two alternatives. If he continued the war he would be forced to fight his enemy and the biggest portion of his own camp with only a minority that was still obedient to him. Otherwise he could discontinue the war and victory would slip from his hand. He chose to discontinue the war feeling that his obedient followers may be annihilated without reaching a result which would improve the just side.

The Imam found himself facing a coup by which his authority came to an end. Al-Ashtar came back from the front and urged him to fight those who disobey him with those who obey him. The Imam said: "Malik I was a leader but now I have become a follower." However the conspiracy was twofold: 1. Discontinuation of war and the acceptance of the invitation to the rule of the Holy Qur'an through two arbiters.

2. The arbiters from the Iraqi camp had to be Abu Musa Al-Ashaari who was the governor of Kufa before the beginning of the Battle of Bassrah. The reader may remember the efforts which this man made to prevent the people of Kufa from joining the Imam in his confrontation with the army of the three leaders at Bassrah.

Muaweyah achieved all that through the stupidity of the religious fanatics along with some traitors in the Imam's army. The collaborators and the fanatic readers acted and sounded as if they were burdening the Imam instead of Muaweyah with the responsibility of the war.

( 31 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 161.

( 32 ) lbn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 163.

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Their efforts were directed at challenging the authority of the Imam and preventing him from choosing any arbiter that inclined to his opinion or thought of resuming the fight.

Muaweyah chose Amr Ibn Al-Auss to be his representative and none of the people of his camp argued with him. The Imam chose Abdullah Ibn Abbas but Al- Ashaath and his followers said: No two men from Mudhar (the Arab tribes who are neither Rabi-ites nor Yemenites) shall rule us (meaning that Amr Ibn Al-Auss and Abdullah Ibn Abbas both are Qureshites non-Yemenites and non-Rabi-ites). The fact is that they did not refuse Ibn Abbas for being a Mudharite. His being a Mudharite was taken by Ashaath as a pretext to cover up his intentions.


Had Ibn Abbas been against the Imam Ashaath would have accepted him.

This became obvious when the Imam nominated Malik Al-Ashtar who was a Yeminite. Ashaath rejected him and so did his tribe saying: Did anyone burn the earth other than Al-Ashtar? They meant that Al-Ashtar was in agreement with the Imam and wants to go back to war in order to defeat the aggressor party. Ashaath and his tribe were actually assistants and collaborators with the aggressor party.

They joined the Imam reluctantly. They did not like his reign or his victory or everything he stood for. In fact these people were more harmful to the Imam and more dangerous to his cause than his own enemy Muaweyah.

The Imam was forced to accept the arbitration. He was forced also to accept Abu Musa as the representative of his camp and the documents of arbitration were written and signed by the two sides. Ashaath was extremely pleased with obtaining such a document and he went from one division to another of the Iraqi army reading it to them. (33)

( 33 ) Al-Tabari in History part 5 p. 55.

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The important points of the document of arbitration were the following:

1. The two arbiters will validate what the Holy Qur'an validates and invalidate what the Holy Qur'an invalidates and that they will follow what they find in it.

2. They should follow the instructions of the Holy Prophet which unite the Muslims and do not separate them.

3. The two arbiters promise God and covenant Him that they will try to bring peace to the nation and will not turn the nation back to division and war.

4. The deadline for their deliberation will be the month of Ramadan (and if they choose to make the decision before that date or choose to delay it for the interest of the nation they could do that.)

5. The place of their meeting will be equal in distance between Kufa and Damascus and Hijaz. ( 34)

The Holy Qur'an and the hadiths which bring unity to the nation validate the right of Ali who was elected by the companions of the Prophet and who was "brothered" by the Messenger and declared to be the leader of every believer. They invalidate the untruth of Muaweyah who divided the nation and shed the blood of the Muslims for his own interest. Yet the two arbiters were not expected to validate a truth or to invalidate a falsehood. Neither of the two companions was neutral in the dispute about which they came to issue a fair decision. Ibn Al-Auss was the second in command of the camp which was fighting the Imam. Al-Ashaari was one of five people who were opposed to the Imam and his policy before the beginning of the Battle of Bassrah.

( 34 ) Al-Balathori Ansab Al-Ashraaf (conveyed by Taha Hussein Al-Fitnatul-Kubra part 2 pp. 83-84 Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 162-163.

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During that period Muaweyah was preventing the extension of the Imam's authority to his province and declaring his armed disobedience. The Mother of Believers Talhah and Al-Zubeir were occupying Bassrah and hoping to extend their influence to Kufa. While Muaweyah and the three leaders were doing that Abu Musa was preventing people of Kufa from assisting the Imam in retrieving what the three leaders had usurped from the area of his authority. ( 35)

Abu Musa was taking this stand while the Imam was sending to him and to the people of Kufa his messages and messengers asking people of Kufa to come to his assistance in retrieving his right. Abu Musa was satisfied to keep Bassrah under the authority of the three leaders because he was collaborating with them. He actually was in open defiance of the Imam covering his intention with his deceptive methods of calling upon people to avoid fighting. Yet the Holy Qur'an clearly invites the believers to fight any Muslim community that commits aggression against another Muslim community. (36) Had Abu Musa had his way during that period he would have prevented the people of Kufa from joining the Imam and the Imam's reign would have ended in the first year after his election.

Trusting Abu Musa and Amr Ibn Al-Auss on the right of the Imam was in fact trusting an enemy on the right of his enemy.

What was expected finally took place. The two arbiters continued in their deliberation for a long time. The result of their deliberation was that they agreed to invalidate the leadership of the Imam and Muaweyeh. Abu Musa was the first to declare his decision of invalidating the leadership of the two men. Ibn Al-Auss stood after him to declare the invalidation of the leadership of the Imam and the establishment of the leadership of Muaweyah. Abu Musa accused Amr of being treacherous breaching an agreement with him.

( 35 ) See chapter 23 of this book section 3.

( 36 ) The Holy Qur'an chapter 49 verse 10.

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Had Ibn Al-Auss not been treacherous and agreed with Abu Musa to invalidate the leadership of the Imam and Muaweyah their invalidation would have had an adverse effect on the Imam rather than Muaweyah. The Imam was the Caliph and Muaweyah was only the governor of Syria. Thus invalidating Muaweyah's caliphate would be meaningless. What does it mean to overthrow a man from an office he does not occupy?

Had the decision of the two arbiters been in accordance with the stipulation of the document of arbitration the deceptive act of Ibn Al-Auss against Abu Musa would have been considered an assistance to the Imam rather than to Muaweyah. Had not Ibn Al-Auss done that the harm to the Imam from the legal point of view would have been greater because their decision would be binding on the Imam and unharmful to Muaweyah. For invalidating Muaweyah as a caliph does not deprive him of any position he had.

Had their decision been in agreement with the Holy Qur'an and the instructions of the Holy Prophet the deception of Ibn Al-Auss would have been the only barrier from making their decision binding because it proved that they were in disagreement in their ruling.

But the decision of the two arbiters was opposed to the Holy Qur'an and the instructions of the Holy Prophet even if they had agreed. The Holy Qur'an declares the following: "If two parties among the believers fall into a quarrel make ye peace between them. But if one of them transgresses beyond the bounds against the other then fight ye (all) against the one that transgresses until it complies with the command of God. If it complies then make peace between them with justice and be fair. For God loves those who are fair and just.(37)

The party of Muaweyah was the aggressor party which refused to obey the command of God. Ali was the legal 

( 37 ) The Holy Qur'an chapter 49 verse 10.

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Caliph by the appointment of the Holy Prophet according to the followers of the members of the House of the Holy Prophet. He was also the Caliph by a general election which he received from the overwhelming majority of the companions and the inhabitants of Medina Mecca Iraq Egypt Yemen and the rest of the Islamic provinces with the exception of the inhabitants of Syria who were ruled by Muaweyah. Since he was the legal Caliph it was the duty of the Muslims to obey him. The Holy Qur'an commands the Muslims to obey the leaders from among them: "O you who believe (in Islam) obey God the messenger and the people of authority from among you..."(38)

The Holy Prophet declared that Ali is the leader of every believer and prayed to the Almighty that He love whoever loves Ali and to be hostile to whoever is hostile to Ali. ( 39 ) Muaweyah was hostile to the Imam. He fought him and he legalized shedding his blood. And if God responds to the prayer of His Prophet (and no doubt He does) then Muaweyah is an enemy of God by being the enemy of Ali.

Muslim in his Sahih reported that the Holy Prophet said "Whoever comes in an open rebellion and parts with the community then he dies he will die a pre-Islamic death." (40) Muaweyah no doubt was out of obedience to the legal Caliph.

If anyone has hesitated in judging that Muaweyah was the leader of the aggressor party he should remember the authentic hadith (whose authenticity is well established) which reported that the Messenger said to Ammar Ibn Yasir while many companions were listening: "Ibn Sumayah the aggressor party shall kill you." ( 41 ) The party of Muaweyah is the party that killed that outstanding companion who was a beloved of the Prophet.

( 38 ) The Holy Qur'an chapter 4 verse 58.

( 39 ) Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak part 3 p. 110. The Hadith was reported by more than one hundred companions.

( 40 ) Muslim his Sahih part 12 p. 241.

( 41 ) Al-Termathi his authentic Sunan part 5 p. 233.

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This hadith was so well known that Al-Zubeir had a tremor with which the arms he was carrying started to shake at the Battle of Bassrah when he knew that Ammar was in the Imam's camp. He feared that Ammar will be killed at that battle then Al-Zubeir will be from the aggressor party. ( 42)

When Amr Ibn Al-Auss at the Battle of Siffeen was informed that Ammar was killed he refused to believe it and when he witnessed the body of the martyr the color of Amr's face was changed. Then he said: Are we the ones who killed him? The one who killed him is the one who brought him (43) and so Muaweyah said. When the Imam heard of that he ridiculed it saying: "Then the Messenger of God is the one who killed his uncle Hamzah because he is the one who brought him to the Battle of Ohod." There is no doubt that Abu Musa heard the hadith. He knew that Ammar was killed and he knew that Muaweyah and his party were the aggressor party and that Ali is the well guided Imam but all that did not prevent him from deciding to invalidate the leadership of the Imam and overthrow him. This was only because he was an enemy of the Imam. I do not want to say that he did not value what he knew of the Book of God and the words of the Messenger but I would say that his hatred of the Imam blinded him.


Al-Khawarij (The Seceders)

The group of readers of the Holy Qur'an who attended with the Imam the Battle of Siffeen were the first to call for discontinuation of the war. They were the most insistent on accepting the arbitration and the most violent against the desire of the Imam in continuing the war and refusal of the invitation for arbitration. But these readers after the document of arbitration was signed swiftly reversed their attitude and turned one hundred and eighty degrees. They viewed that they had committed a grave error in cessation of hostilities and accepting the arbitration of men concerning the religion of God. They viewed that the duty of the Imam and their duty was to go back to war immediately without waiting for the decision of the two arbiters.

Probably they thought after deliberation that the rule of God was clear. Muaweyah and his camp were the aggressor party which resorted to war to protect its falsehood. They did not resort to the rule of the Holy Qur'an because they wanted to surrender to its rule but because they believed that their defeat was inevitable. The rule of God is clear in this matter. There would be no room for accepting the arbitration of two men and letting them try to deliberate and issue a judgment or verdict in a matter which is so clear that it leaves no place for forming any new opinion.

These fanatics forgot that they were the ones who challenged the authority of the Imam and pushed him by force

to stop the war and to accept the arbitration and to 

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sign its document. Now they were trying to force him to breach that covenant which he signed and made God and people witnesses on his acceptance. These religious fanatics raised the slogan of "La Hukma Illa Lillah" (There is no rule but that of God). They meant by this slogan that Islam does not approve choosing two arbitrators for settling a dispute between two Muslim parties.


Rule belongs only to God and it is not legal for men to issue a rule in religious matters.

It is amazing that this slogan had attracted thousands and thousands of Muslims who claimed adherence to the teachings of the Holy Qur'an and the Holy Prophet. Yet an arbiter of a matter about which two Muslim parties differ is nothing but a judge who is expected to settle that dispute and declare that one of the two sides is right. That the two arbiters are two judges is what the document of arbitration spoke of. It started as follows: "This is what Ali Ibn Abu Talib and Muaweyah Ibn Abu Sufyan litigated for. Ali litigated for the people of Iraq and those who are of their followers of believers and Muslims..." ( 1 )

When did the faith of Islam forbid litigation and appointment of judges and the judges' exercise of their mission in settling disputes? How would disputes be settled if litigation is forbidden? Did the "Khawarij" (Seceders) believe that the Messenger and the Caliphs were not exercising the mission of judges and appointing judges? The legality of issuing a judgment and the necessity of that is only self-evident in our religion.

The Seceders raised the slogan of "There is no Rule but that of God " and I do not think they understood its meaning. Probably they took this slogan from the following Qur'anic verse: "Certainly the rule belongs only to God. He commanded that you shall not worship but Him . . ." (12.4l) 

( 1 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 162.

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Yet what the verse speaks of is one thing and what the Seceders understood from the verse is something else. The verse meant that the Almighty is the One Who reveals the principles and rules of the religion. He commanded that we ( His servants) worship none but Him.

An arbiter or a judge is not the revealer of the religion or a worshipped person. He is only a man whose mission is to apply the rules of God.

If he does that and rules according to what God has revealed the Muslims are supposed to surrender to his rules. If he rules p a way contrary to what God has revealed the Muslims are supposed to disobey him.

It is amazing that this extremist party had forgotten that the Almighty said to His Messenger and to the followers of His Messenger: "And judge between them according to what God has revealed and follow not their il legitimate desires . . ." ( 2 ) The Almighty said also to the people of the Gospel: "And the people of the Gospel should judge according to what God has revealed in it and whoever rules not in accordance with what was revealed would be the transgressors." ( 3 )

He also said to the believers: "Certainly God commanded you to deliver the trusts to whom they belong.

And if you judge among people judge equitably." ( 4 )

Had the document of arbitration imposed on the Muslims to obey the two arbiters even if they were devious judging in contradiction with the Holy Qur'an and the instructions of the Holy Prophet the attitude of the Seceders would have some justification. But the document declared that the arbiters have to validate what the Holy Qur'an validates and invalidate what the Holy Qur'an invalidates. If they do not find in the area of their disagreement an instruction from the Holy Qur'an they should resort to the authentically reported teaching of the Holy Prophet which unites and does not divide. If the two ar-


( 2 ) The Holy Qur'an chapter 5 verse 53.

( 3 ) The Holy Qur'an chapter 5 verse 51.

( 4 ) The Holy Qur'an chapter 4 verse 58.

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biters abide by the stipulation of the document they would be ruling according to what God has revealed.

Had the rebellious extremists said that the two chosen arbiters were not qualified to issue a judgment they would have been right and this was the Imam's opinion. But the extremists were the ones who forced him to accept the two arbiters while he knew they were the worst choice.

Ibn Al-Auss was an arch enemy of the Imam. Abu Musa was extremely limited in knowledge and understanding. His past during the days of Omar and Othman indicates his unscrupulousness in religion. His recent past at the beginning of the reign of the Imam indicates that he was following selfish interests. He hated the Imam and did everything in his power to discourage people of Kufa from supporting the Imam to regain his authority in Bassrah.

The two arbiters undoubtedly were not qualified to decide in a matter about which the nation was divided.

Yet the Imam was not responsible for choosing them. He accepted the invitation for the arbitration and accepted the two arbiters under pressure and unwillingly.

These extremists themselves were a very important part of the power which forced the Imam to do that.

However the lack of qualification of the two arbiters for making a decision does not prevent their commission as arbitrators because the acceptance of their decision was conditioned by their adherence to the teaching of the Holy Book and the instructions of the Holy Prophet.



The truth is that the Seceders never were moderate in any of their stands. At the beginning they were the most zealous for arbitration and they threatened the Imam with war if he insisted upon the continuation of the war.

They considered his continuation of the battle after he was invited to accept the rule of the Book of God an unforgivable major sin and a disbelief in Islam.( 5 )

( 5 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 171-173-174.

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As soon as the document of arbitration was signed the Seceders moved from the extreme right to the extreme left.

They declared that the acceptance of arbitration and the discontinuation of the battle is an unforgivable sin or rather a disbelief in Islam.

They went on moving from one extreme to a bigger extreme. They appointed themselves protectors of the faith and the Islamic law which they did not know. They made themselves inquisitive judges condemning people for their opinions. They put people to death because they disagreed with them. The Declaration of the Faith: "There is no God but the Almighty and Mohammad is His Messenger" (through which the Prophet secured sanctity of the life and property of its pronouncer) was declared by the Seceders to be insufficient. Neither this nor the compliance with all of God's commandments could represent in their views a religious security.

They invented a new law through which they could test the faith of every Muslim namely: The repudiation of Ali and Othman. Whoever repudiates the two Caliphs his life would be protected and whoever fails to do so would be condemned to death. Thus repudiation of the Imam Ali the Brother of the Messenger and the "Moula" (guardian) of every believer became an article of the Islamic Faith in the view of these rebels. ( 6 )

The Imam came back from Siffeen and these extremists also came back separating themselves from his army.

They camped at Harura and to that place they were related afterwards and called: Haruris. The Imam tried to convince them to rejoin his army and he almost succeeded in reaching that goal. They came back to Kufa but they were hoping that the Imam will go back to fight Muaweyah without waiting for the result of the arbitration. But the Imam was too righteous to breach a covenant he signed.

When they knew of his determination to honor the document of arbitration they left Kufa after they wrote to those who shared with them their opinion in Bassrah.

( 6 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 172-173.

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They promised each other to meet at the Land of Nahrawan. ( 7 ) Five hundred from the Bassrites joined them at that place.

The Imam wanted to go back to resume his campaign against Muaweyah after Abu Musa and Amr Ibn Al-Auss ended their mission with disagreement and their deviation from the right path became obvious. He sent to the Seceders a message calling upon them to rejoin him in his new campaign against Muaweyah as they used to urge him to do. But now they refused his invitation accusing him of trying to avenge for himself because the rule of two arbiters did not come in his favor. ( 8 )

The Imam wanted to leave them alone and go back to the battlefield. He called upon the Kufites and the Bassrites to join him in his military campaign. Sixty-two thousand Kufite volunteers responded to his call along with three thousand and two hundred from Bassrah.

The Seceders in the meantime were waging a campaign of terror unprecedented in the history of the Muslims.

They were interrogating people and killing anyone that refused to repudiate the Imam.

They arrested Abdullah Ibn Khabbab Ibn Al-Arath (companion of the Holy Prophet) and his wife. They asked him about Ali before the arbitration and after the arbitration. The man replied saying: "Ali knows more about God than you do. He is more adherent to the religion and more farsighted than you." ( 9 )

They said: "You follow your selfish desire. You glorify men because of their names and not because of their deeds. By God we shall kill you in a way with which we

never killed anyone before." They handcuffed him and took him with his wife (who was pregnant and about to

give birth) to the orchards of Mawaqeerpalm. They

slaughtered him and his blood ran into the river. When 

( 7 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 170.

( 8 ) Taha Hussein Al-Fitnatul-Kubra part 2 p. 104 Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 171.

( 9 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 172-173.

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they came to his wife she asked: Do you not fear God? I am a lady!! They cut her abdomen. (10) They also killed three other women from the tribe of Tay as well as a well-known righteous lady called: Mother of Sinan Al- Saidaweyah. (11)

The Imam received this disturbing news while he was about to leave for Syria to resume his campaign against Muaweyah. He thought that it would be very dangerous to the people of Kufa and the rest of Iraq if he went on his mission and left these cruel terrorists behind him doing to the people what they were doing. He found it necessary to try to deal with the new danger before leaving for Syria.

The Imam led his army to Nahrawan where the Seceders were camping. He sent them a message demanding from them to hand him the killers of the Muslims in order to punish the criminals for their crimes. He told them that if they do that he will leave them and go to face the people of the west hoping that God may change their hearts and their thinking. The defiant answer was: "We all killed them and your blood and the blood of your followers are not sacred to us. (12) The Imam came to face them in person and spoke to them saying: "You the band that was driven out of the right road by the hostility of arguments and stubbornness and were prevented from seeing the truth by your blind emotion..

I warn you not to become in the future objects of curse by this nation laying at this valley . . . without any authority from your Lord or a clear evidence.

"Do you not know that I prohibited you from accepting the invitation of arbitration and informed you that it was a conspiracy against you? Did I not tell you that the leaders of your enemies are not people of religion and you disobeyed me?

(10) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 172-173.

(11) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 172-173 Al-Tabari his History part 5 pp. 81-82.

(12) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3. p. 173 Al-Tabari his History part 5 p. 83.

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"When I did what you wanted I stipulated that the two arbiters shall validate what the Holy Qur'an validates and invalidate what the Holy Qur'an invalidates. They disagreed with each other and disagreed with the rule of the Book and the Holy Prophet. We rejected their decision and we are now on the original position. How did you come to your position?" (13)

They said; "We have accepted the invitation for arbitration and when we did that we committed a sin and by this we became unbelievers. And we repented. If you repent we will be with you and from you and if you refuse to repent we will be against you and we will fight you." He said ". . . Do you want me to call myself an unbeliever after I believed in the message of the Holy Prophet migrated with him and endeavored in the way of God? Should I do what you are asking I would be of the misguided party." (14) Then he left them.

The logic of the Seceders is amazing. They say that they committed a sin by the acceptance of the invitation of arbitration and by this they became unbelievers. Did they mean that whoever commits a sin becomes an unbeliever? If this is what they meant then a person has to be completely sinless in order to be a Muslim. This means that they believed that all Muslim generations were unbelievers.



However what was recorded in the books of history about the battle of Seceders and what the books of Hadith contained indicate that the Imam was not surprised by

what happened to these people. He was expecting the bat-

tle and he knew its location its outcome and its details 

(13) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 173 Al-Tabari his History part 5 p. 84.

(14) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 173-174 Al-Tabari his Histoiy part 5 p. 84.

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before it happened. He spoke of all that as if he were reading from a book.

The Seceders went towards the bridge of the river while the Imam was praying at a place remote from the river.

When some of his companions came to inform him that the Seceders had already crossed the river he said: "They will never pass the river." As he said that one of his companions went to verify the word of the Imam. He looked at them from a distance because he was afraid to come close to them. He thought that they had crossed the river.

He came back to the Imam verifying the news of their passage. The Imam said: "By God they will never cross the river and they will die before coming to the river." (15) People doubted the words of the Imam and some of them became suspicious. When they went towards the Seceders to verify what he said and found them away from the river the companions of the Imam exclaimed saying: "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great). When they informed the Imam of their doubt and what they found he said: "By God I never lied nor has my word ever been disproved." (16)

The Imam did not only have the knowledge of the location of the battle but also he was aware of its minute details. He told his companions before its beginning: "By God you will not lose ten men from among you and their balance after the end of the battle will not amount to ten." And the result of the battle came to show the truth of his prophecy. (17)


He gave Abu Ayyoub Al-Ansari the banner of safety.

Abu Ayyoub called the Seceders saying: "Whoever comes to stand under this banner would be safe and whoever did not commit murder and did not attack people and left this place for Kufa or Al-Mada-in would be safe. Whoever leaves this community would be safe. We do not want to shed

your blood. We want to punish the killers of our 

(15) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 pp. 174.

(16) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 174.

(17) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 174.

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brothers from among yuo." Many of them left the camp and about half their number remained determined to fight. (18)

The Imam ordered his companions not to start the battle against the Seceders but they exclaimed: "Let us travel this evening to Paradis." The Seceders attacked the army of the Imam and the army of the Imam split itself into two portions and they put the Seceders between them.

The marksmen received them with their arrows. The cavalry from the two sides closed in on them. The foot soldiers came to them with their spears and swords. The Seceders perished in one hour as if God told them: "Die " and they died. (19)

It became obvious to the companions of the Imam that his prophecy was completely true. The army of the Imam did not lose more than eight men and the balance of the Seceders did not amount to ten.

There was another prophecy which was more important but the companions of the Imam could not verify it after the end of the battle. The Imam informed his companions before the appearace of the Seceders that a group of Muslims will depart from religion as an arrow departs from its bow. The mark of these people is a man with a defect. When the Imam finished the battle he ordered his companions to seek that person. They did but they did not find the man. Some of his companions said: "The man with the defect is certainly not among the dead." The Imam repeatedly said: "By God he is among them. By God I never told a lie nor has my word ever been disproved." Finally he personally went accompanied by some of his companions searching for the described man.


They found him in a pit on the bank of the river among fifty corpses. When he drew him out he looked at his arm.

(18) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 174 Sheikh Mohammad Abdo recorded in his Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah part 1 p. 107 that only nine of the Seceder survived and only eight of the Imam's army died.

(19) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 175.

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He found a lump of flesh like a woman's brest. When that flesh is extended it extends until it becomes completely parallel to the other hand. If left it shrinks until it takes its original shape! When the Imam found what he sought he exclaimed: "Allahu Akbar " then he said: "By God I never told a lie; nor was I ever proven to be untrue. Had I not feared that you may neglect your devotional duties I would have informed you of what God on the tongue of His Prophet said about the people who fight these Seceders while knowing their deviousness and acknowledging the right on which we are standing." (20)

The historians and the hadith-recorders reported that the Messenger informed his companions about the appearance of these Seceders and that he described them graphically. Al-Bukhari recorded in his Sahih that Abu Sa-eed Al-Khidri said:

"While we were with the Messenger of God when he was distributing some of the public funds among the Muslims Thul-Khuwaissirah (a man from Bani Tameem) came to him and said: "Messenger of God be just. The Prophet said: "Woe to you. If do not execute justice who does? I would have failed and lost if I did not execute justice." Omar asked the Messenger to permit him to kill that man. The Messenger said: "Leave him. A group will follow the path of this man. Your prayer and your fast would look too small compared to their prayers and fasts.

They read the Holy Qur'an but the Holy Qur'an does not go beyond their throats. They depart from religion as an arrow departs from a bow. Their mark is a man one of his two arms looks like a woman's breast or a lump of flesh.

The Seceders antagonize the best group of people.

"I bear witness that I have heard this hadith from the Messenger of God as I bear witness that Ali Ibn Abu Talib fought them and I was with him. He ordered his compan-

(20) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 175 Al-Tabari his History part 5 p. 88.

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ions to seek that man and he was brought out and I saw him exactly as the Holy Prophet described him."(21)

Muslim in his Sahih reported that Zeid Al-Juhani was in the army of the Imam which fought the Seceders. Ali said: "O people I have heard the Messenger of God saying: A group of people part with my nation. They read the Holy Qur'an. Your reading compared to their reading is nothing and so is your prayer and your fast compared to their prayer and fast. They read the Holy Qur'an and think that it is with them but it is against them. Their prayers do not go beyond their throats. They depart from Islam as an arrow departs from a bow. If the army that fights them knows what came on the tongue of the Messenger for them they may neglect their duties in reliance on what God promised them of great reward. The mark of this group is a man who has an upper arm only. There is at the end of his upper arm something resembling the end of a breast with some hair coming out of it.

Ali said: "Seek that defective man." They sought him but they did not find him. Ali had to seek him by himself until he came to a group of corpses lying one above another. He commanded his men to bring those dead men out. They did and found the man they were seeking down at the bottom. The Imam exclaimed: "Allahu Akbar." Then he said: "God has fulfilled His Promise and His Messenger has delivered."(22)


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