NAME AND PARENTAGE
Sayyadina Ali (RA) was born some thirty years after the birth of the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaiha wa Salam). He belonged the most respectable family of Quraish, the Banu Hashim (i.e. Hashmites). His father Abu Talib was the real uncle of the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) who brought him up after the death of the Noble Prophet’s grandfather. Ali’s mother was Fatimah bint Asad, who belonged to Banu Hashim. Sayyadina Ali’s patronymic name was “Abul Hasan”. The Noble Prophet gave him another name, “Abu Turab” which was most liked by Ali RA. The Noble Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Salaam) took Ali RA in his childhood from his father, Abu Talib, and brought up him like his own son.
FIRST YOUTH TO ACCEPT ISLAM
When the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) started revelations Sayyadina Ali (RA) was about ten years old. The Noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) disclosed his mission before Ali RA and he accepted it immediately, thus he became the first youth to enter the folds of Islam. When the Noble Prophet(Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) started to preach openly, he invited all of his family members to a feast and announced his mission before them. Nobody listened to him, but young Ali stood up and said. “Though my eyes are sore, my legs are thin and I am the youngest of all those present here yet I will stand by you, 0 Messenger of Allah.” Hearing this all the leaders of Quraish laughed but Ali proved his words to be true after supporting the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) in his mission from the beginning till the end.
The Noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) loved him very much. The night when the Noble Prophet(Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) was migrating to Madinah, his house was surrounded by the bloodthirsty tribesmen, who had plotted to assassinate him. They were ready to kill any person who came out of the house. In such a situation, the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi we Sallam) asked Sayyadina Ali (RA) to sleep in his bed. He followed the command gladly and immediately jumped in the bed.
Although the Makkahns did not accept his mission, they considered the Noble Prophet the most trustworthy man of Makkah and continued keeping their trusts (cash and gold etc.) with him. It was Ali (RA) to whom the Noble Prophet gave the deposits to return to the owners, when he was leaving Makkah for Madinah. Ali (RA) migrated to Madinah after returning the deposits.
LIFE IN Madinah
Sayyadina Ali (RA) was very close to the Noble Prophet, and the closeness was changed to a permanent relationship when he married his most beloved daughter, Fatimah (RA) to Ali (RA).
Sayyadina Ali (RA) also had the distinguished honour that the progeny of the Noble Prophet continued through Sayyadina Ali’s sons from Fatimah (RA) namely Sayyadina Hasan and Husain (RA). The two children were the most beloved of the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam).
When the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam) went to the expedition of Tabuk in 9 A.H. he left Sayyadina Ali in charge of Madinah. On this some hypocrites remarked that the Noble Prophet did not like Sayyadina Ali. On this the Noble Prophet remarked, “You are in the same position in relation to me as Aaron was with relation to Moses. But the only difference is: there is no prophet after me.”
HIS BRAVERY AND THE “DHULFIQAR”
Sayyadina Ali (RA) was a very brave man. He participated in almost all the battles against the non-believers during the time of the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam). The stories of his bravery are famous in history.
In the first battle of Islam at Badr, he was holding the flag of Islamic army. When three famous warriors of Quraish challenged the Muslims, according to Arab tradition, Sayyadina Ali (R.A) along with Sayyadina Hamzah and Abu Ubaidah (RA) accepted the challenge. He killed his opponent, Walid only with one thrust of his sword and cut him in two pieces. Then he helped Sayyadina Abu Ubaidah (RA) to kill the next Quraishi warrior.
In the battle of Uhud when Sayyadina Mus’ab bin ‘Umair, the bearer of the Islamic standard, was martyred, it was Sayyadina Ali (RA) who held it up. Seeing this one of the non-believers, Abu Sa’d challenged him. Sayyadina Ali attacked him and he fell down on the ground naked. Ali (RA) felt pity on him and left him in that condition.
In the battle of the Trench, all-Arabia fame warrior, ‘Abdwood challenged the Muslims after jumping on his horse across the trench. Nobody dared to accept his challenge except Ali. The Noble Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi we Salaam) warned Ali about ‘Abdwood but Ali insisted on going and fighting with him. Then the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam) gave him his famous sword “Dhulfiqar” and put a turban on his head before he went to fight with ‘Abdwood. A few minutes later people saw ‘Abdwood’s head was cut off from his body by Ali.
THE TITLE OF ASADULLAH
Because of his bravely Sayyadina Ali was popularly called “Asadullah” (The Lion of Allah).
In the battle of Khaibar against Jews, the Muslims tried to conquer the strongest Jewish fort, Qumus, but were not successful in the beginning. Then the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi we Salaam) said, “I will give the command and the standard tomorrow to such a brave person who loves Allah and His Prophet and whom Allah and His Prophet love. Everybody was desiring to be that fortunate man. The people were rather surprised when the next morning the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) called Ali who was sick and his eyes were sore. The Noble Prophet applied his finger, wet with his saliva, over the eyes of Ali (RA) and they were cured immediately. Then he gave the standard, and advised him. “First of all call them towards Islam. Even if one man is guided towards Islam because of you, it would be better than red camels.”
Following the advice of the Noble Prophet Sayyadina Ali invited the Jews towards Islam. Instead of accepting the Right Path they sent their commander Marhab, the great warrior of Arabia and one of the bravest men of his time. He challenged Sayyadina Ali RA to fight. Ali (RA) accepted the challenge and slew him in one attack. His famous sword cut Marhab’s body into two pieces.
He showed great bravery in each and every battle he fought and earned fame. He was counted as one of the great warriors of Arabia.
ALI (RA) THE GREAT SCHOLAR OF ISLAM
Ali (RA) was not only a great warrior but a great scholar as well. The Noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said about him, I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate.” He was one of the great jurists among the Companions. The Noble Prophet appointed him as the Qadi (Judge) of Yemen during his life time. He was a master of Arabic and his writings were as effective as his speech. More about his scholarly services to Islam would be mentioned at the end.
SPECIAL MESSENGER OF THE Noble Prophet
In 9 A.H., the first Hajj of Islam took place. Sayyadina Abu Bakr (RA) was appointed as the leader of the Hajj group. After he left Madinah revelation came to the Noble Prophet (Chapter IX. few verses in the beginning of the chapter) according to which the treaty with the non-believers had to be dissolved and they were given four month’s notice. The announcement was to be made on the great day of Hajj. The Noble Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi we Salaam) asked Sayyadina Ali to carry the message of Allah on his behalf. He gave Sayyadina Ali (RA) his own she-camel, Qaswa on which Sayyadina Ali rode and went to Makkah to read out the message before the crowd on the occasion of Hajj.
EXCELLENCE OF ALI RA
There are so many virtues and services of Ali (RA) that it is difficult to mention them all in this short book. On many occasions the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam) had prayed for him. When he sent Ali to Yemen in Ramadan 10 A.H. he blessed Ali (RA) with the following prayer: “0 Allah put truth on his tongue, and enlighten his heart with the light of guidance.” Then he himself put turban on his head and gave the black standard.
On one occasion the Noble Prophet said to Ali, “You pertain to me and I pertain to you,” He also said, “When I am patron of anyone, Ali is his patron also.” Once the Noble Prophet said, “Only a hypocrite does not love Ali and a believer does not hate him.”
According to a Hadith transmitted by Imam Ahmad the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam) said to Ali RA, “You have a resemblance to Jesus whom the Jews hated so much that they slandered his mother and whom Christians loved so much that they placed him in a position not rightly his. Ali afterwards said, “Two (types of) people will perish on my account, one who loves me so excessively that he praises me for what I do not possess, and one who hates me so much that he will be impelled by his hatred to slander me.”
SHOCK OF THE Noble Prophet’S DEATH
The death of the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) was a great shock to Sayyadina Ali (RA). He had attended him day and night during his illness, and after his death he gave bath to the Holy Corpse and enshrouded it.
PLEDGE OF LOYALTY (BAI’AT) TO THE FORMER KHALIFAHS
Sayyadina Ali (RA) had taken pledge of loyalty on the hands of all the three past Khalifahs. However he was late in taking pledge at the hand of Sayyadina Abu Bakr (RA).
The reason why he was late in taking pledge on the hands of Sayyadina Abu Bakr (RA) was the serious illness of his beloved wife, Sayyadina Fatima (RA) and that he was busy in collection of the Holy Qur’an. It is mentioned in the famous history book, Tabaqat ibn Sa’d: When Sayyadina Abu Bakr (RA) enquired of Ali (RA) why he was so late in taking pledge of loyalty and whether he disliked his “Khilafat”, Ali (RA) replied, “I do not dislike your leadership but the fact is that I had taken an oath after the death of the Noble Prophet not to put on my sheet (i.e. not to engage in any work) except for performing Salat until I have collected all the parts of the Holy Qur’an.” The Sayyadina Ali (RA) took pledge of loyalty on the hand of Abu Bakr and helped him throughout his Khilafat. He was very active during the time of Sayyadina Umar and also married his daughter, Umm-i-Kulthum to him. In the matter of Sayyadina Uthman’s election he voted in his favour as has been mentioned before.
Sayyadina Ali (RA) was one of the very important members of “Shura” (Advisory Council) during the time of the first three Khalifahs. He was also the great jurist (Mufti) of Madinah during the time of past Khalifahs. He was among the panel of six persons who had to select the Khalifah amongst themselves after Sayyadina Umar (RA). Sayyadina Uthman had great regard for him and consulted him in all the matters. His sons were the main guards at Uthman’s residence when the rebels laid siege to his house.
Thus we conclude that Sayyadina Ali (RA) gave his fullest possible support to all of his predecessors.
ALI (RA) AS THE FOURTH KHALIFAH
The insurgents’ shameful act of assassination of the Khalifah could never have been imagined by Sayyadina Ali or any other eminent Companion at Madinah. It came as a total surprise to Sayyadina Ali (RA) whose two sons, Hasan and Husain (RA) were guarding the gate of Uthman’s residence. The insurgents after climbing the back wall of the residence had assassinated the Khalifah. The assassination of Sayyadina Uthman was really due to creation of faction among the Muslim Community which was the goal of ‘Abdullah Bin Saba and his followers (the insurgents), and they achieved it.
After the assassination of Sayyadina Uthman, the insurgents virtually controlled the Capital, Madinah for several days. The Muslims were frightened and sat behind closed doors. After the assassination of Sayyadina Uthman (RA) an unprecedented calamity had fallen on the Muslims and for three days, Madinah was without any government.
Afterwards the insurgents approached Sayyadina Ali (RA) to be the Khalifah. Egyptians led by Ibn Saba and Ghafqi were the main group of insurgents behind the proposal for the Khilafat of Sayyadina Ali (RA) Sayyadina Ali first declined to bear the responsibility of this great office. But the insurgents pressed him to accept it. As a matter of fact Sayyadina Ali wanted to approach Sayyadina Talha and Sayyadina Zubair (RA) who were included in the panel of the six persons appointed by Sayyadina Umar (RA) to select a Khalifah. He wanted to take pledge of loyalty (Bai’at) at the hands of any of these two gentlemen. But at the end, pressed by the threats of the regicides he decided to put the matter before Muslim public in the Mosque of the Noble Prophet(Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam). Most of the Companions in Madinah considered him, to be the fittest person for “Khilafat” after Sayyadina Uthman (RA). He then agreed to take the responsibility and gave his consent.
On 21st Dhul-Hijjah 35 A.H. pledge of loyalty took place at the hands of Sayyadina Ali (R.A). First of all the leading insurgents took the pledge of loyalty on his hands, followed by the general public, at Madinah. Sayyadina Talha and Zubair (RA) did not want to take a pledge (Bai’at) until the case of Sayyadina Uthman assassination was decided. Before that Sayyadina Ali had offered the office of Khilafat to both of them but they had declined. However under the threats of insurgents they took the pledge of loyalty at Sayyadina Ali’s hands, on the condition: “You (i.e.’ Ali) have to decide matters according to the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah (ways of the Noble Prophet) and would punish the guilty according to Islamic Law.” Sayyadina Ali (RA) agreed to their conditions. Sayyadina Sa’d bin Waqqas said that he would take pledge when all the Muslims had done so. Following Companions did not take pledge at the hands of Sayyadina Ali (RA): Muhammad bin Muslimah, Usamah bin Zaid, Hassan bin Thabit. Ka’b bin Malik, Abu Sa’id Khudri, Nu’man bin Bashir, Zaid bin Thabit, Mughirah bin Shu’bah and ‘Abdullah bin Salam. Most of the members of Banu Umayyah (Uthman’s family) also did not take pledge of loyalty at Sayyadina Ali’s hands. Some of such persons who did not take Bai’at went to Syria.
However the majority of the Muslims in Madinah took pledge at the hands of Sayyadina Ali. According to “Ahli Sunnah wal Jama’ah”, Sayyadina Ali was the most suitable and the fittest person for Khilafat after Sayyadina Uthman (RA). If some of the Companions did not take pledge on his hands, because of the political situation of that time, it did not mean that his Khilafat was not accepted by the Muslim majority. Besides Sayyadina Ali (RA) nobody including Sayyadina Mu’awiyah (RA) claimed to be the Khalifah at that time. The difference between them was the question of punishment to the assassins, which took the shape of various battles. As it would be seen afterwards Sayyadina Amir Mu’awiyah (RA) declared his Khilafat only after the death of Sayyadina Ali (RA). Sayyadina Ali was declared to be the Khalifah not only by the insurgents but by the Muslim public as well including the leading Ansar (Helpers) and Muhajirin (Emigrants). This could also be noticed with the fact that in the first battle which took place between Sayyadina Ali and Sayyadina ‘Aisha (and her group) about 800 of those Companions who had participated in the Treaty of Hudaibiyah were with Sayyadina Ali besides other Companions. As a matter of fact Sayyadina Ali was the most popular figure at that time and was the most appropriate person to be the fourth caliph.
DISOBEDIENCE OF ABDULLAH BIN SABA AND OTHER SABAITES
On his third day as the Khalifah, Sayyadina Ali asked all the Sabaites (insurgents) to return to their places. Some of them started to go back but a party headed by Abdullah bin Saba did not obey the Khalifah pretending all the while to be his friends. In the history of Islam this was the first incident of disobedience of a Khalifah. Their aim was to be with him in order to create mischief as it would be observed later.
Ali (RA), faced a very difficult situation. His three main problems were:
(i) To establish peace in the State and to set right the deteriorating political situation.
(ii) To take action against the assassins of Sayyadina Uthman (RA) who had gone underground after he took the office. Actually some of them were among the persons who requested Sayyadina Ali (RA) to take office of the Khilafat, but neither he nor any other Muslim at that time knew the real assassins. It was the hardest job at that time to find out the real assassins because the persons who recognised them had already left Madinah, and those among the Sabaites, who were present there did not tell Sayyadina Ali the truth. All of the Sabaites told Ali (RA) that they did not want to assassinate Sayyadina Uthman, that was done only by some of the wicked persons whom they did not recognise. Some time, therefore, was required to investigate the matter and that was possible only after peaceful atmosphere was restored in the state which, unfortunately, never occurred during the caliphate of Sayyadina Ali as the situation continued to worsen.
(iii) The third problem was the attitude to be adopted towards those Companions (RA) who would not pledge loyalty at the hands of Sayyadina Ali unless he either handed over the assassins to them or punish them according to Islamic Law. Though we cannot criticise the sincerity of their intention but in fairness to Ali, it has to be said that it was rather an impossible job for Ali (RA)to fulfil their demands immediately in that situation.
Sayyadina Ali (RA) was a very straight-forward man who considered the “Khilafat” (Caliphate) as a great trust. His aim was to establish peace in the State which should be the first aim of every good ruler in such a place where certain elements try to destroy the order. According to leading Islamic Jurists it is quite right for a Muslim ruler to delay the cases of murder etc. in order to establish peace in an Islamic State (as mentioned by Qadi Abu Bakr Ibn al-Arabi in his book “Ahkam-ul-Qur’an’?. Sayyadina Ali (RA) was quite right in his decision to tackle the assassins on restoration of normally. The Majority of the Muslims, specially Ahli Sunnah wal- Jama’ah had agreed with him on this point.
The events which took place during the caliphate of Sayyadina Ali in the form of various battles will be discussed in the light of the above facts.
ALI (RA) SEEKS TO ASCERTAIN THE NAMES OF Sayyadina UTHMAN ASSASSINS
After assuming office, Sayyadina Ali (RA) tried to find out the assassins of Sayyadina Uthman (RA). He called Marwan bin al-Hakm, the chief secretary of Uthman, who was present, in the house at the time of assassination, but he had already left for Damascus along with a number of Banu Umayyads.
The only other witness was Sayyadina Nailah, wife of Sayyadina Uthman (R.A). But she was a housewife who used to live under “Hijab” (Pardah) in accordance with Islamic custom and as such she could not tell the names of the persons present at that time except the-features of some of them. She could only name Muhammad bin Abi Bakr who had entered the house but as stated before he had left the house before Sayyadina Uthman assassination. Moreover Muhammad bin Abi Bakr took an oath (in accordance to Islamic Law) that he was not an assassin and he had left the house as soon as Sayyadina Uthman (RA) recognised him and said, “0 my dear nephew, if your father (Abu Bakr) were alive you would have not committed this.” Sayyadina Nailah gave her evidence in favour of Muhammad bin Abi Bakr and had confirmed that he was not one of the assassins. In spite of his efforts Sayyadina Ali could not locate the assassins.
ALI (RA) DISMISSES THE GOVERNORS
In the opinion of Sayyadina Ali (RA) the governors appointed by Sayyadina Uthman (RA) were basically responsible for all the events. They did not pay much attention to check the subversive activities of the insurgents. So he dismissed all the governors appointed by Sayyadina Uthman (RA). Some of the Companions did not agree with Sayyadina Ali (RA) on this. Among such persons were Sayyadina Mughirah bin Shu’bah and Sayyadina Ibn Abbas (RA). They advised Sayyadina Ali not to take such a hasty action. According to them it was not wise to dismiss them unless they pledged loyalty to Sayyadina Ali, because Uthman’s assassination could be an easy excuse for them to refuse the pledge of loyalty to Sayyadina Ali’s. Sayyadina Ali did not listen to their advice because he believed that expediency should not be the guiding factor. Sayyadina Mughirah bin Shu’bah (RA) was totally against Ali’s action. He left Madinah and went to Makkah.
He appointed Sayyadina ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas as the governor of Yemen; Uthman bin Hanif as the governor of Basrah; Ammarah bin Hassan of Kufa, and Qais as the governor of Egypt. Sayyadina Sahl Bin Hanif was asked to take charge of governorship of Syria from Sayyadina Amir Mu’awiyah (RA).
When the governors went to take charge they were faced with difficulties. Egypt was one of the provinces in favour of Ali (RA)but when the new governor, Qais reached there the public was divided in three groups. Some of them accepted him but others demanded that the assassins must be punished first. There was a third group, belonging to Sabaites and the insurgents, who demanded that the assassins must not be punished in any case. Same difficulty was faced by the newly appointed governor of Basrah. A group of people was in favour of the insurgents while the other was against them. While the governor of Kufa was on his way a spokesman of Kufis came and asked him to return to Madinah because they did not want to change their governor Sayyadina Musa Ash’ari (RA) in any case. So Sayyadina Ammarah bin Hassan(RA), the governor designate, returned to Madinah. The new governor of Yemen, Sayyadina Abdullah bin Abbas did not face any difficulty because Ya’la, the old governor had already left Kufa for Makkah before Sayyadina Ibn Abbas reached there. When Sayyadina Sahl bin Hanif, the governor designate of Syria, reached Tabuk (the out-post of Syria), Amir Mu’awiyah’s cavalry men stopped him from proceeding any further and asked him to go back to Madinah. Thus Kufa and Syria were the two provinces which had openly flouted Sayyadina Ali’s authority.
Sayyadina Ali sent his special messengers to Kufa and Syria. The governor of Kufa, Sayyadina Abu Musa Ash’ari (RA) sent a satisfactory reply and assured Sayyadina Ali of his loyalty to him. Not only this he also wrote to him that he had already taken pledge of loyalty for him from the people of Kufa.
The case of Sayyadina Mu’awiyah (RA) was entirely different.
AMIR MUAWIYAH’S DEMAND FOR ASSASSINS
After the assassination of Sayyadina Uthman (RA) his family except his wife Nailah, reached Damascus and told Amir Mu’awiyah (RA) the details. They also carried with them the blood stained shirt of Sayyadina Uthman (RA) and the chopped off fingers of his wife Sayyadina Nailah. Amir Mu’awiyah, a kinsman of Sayyadina Uthman (RA) was shocked on hearing the news, and when it was made public, all the Muslims of Syria were greatly perturbed. Sayyadina Amir Mu’awiyah (RA) was a great statesman and was in Syria for about 20 years. He hung the blood stained shirt and the chopped off fingers of Sayyadina Uthman’s wife on the “Mimber” (pulpit) of the Jami’ Mosque of Damascus because of which the Syrian Muslims got inflamed. This was the situation of Syria when Sahl bin Hanif, the governor designate of Syria was forced to return to Madinah from Tabuk.
On receiving the special messenger from Sayyadina Ali, Amir Mu’awiyah (RA) did not reply for about three months and detained the messenger. Then he sent his own messenger to Sayyadina Ali (RA) in Rabi’ul Awwal, 36 A.H. The messenger handed over the letter to Sayyadina Ali addressed as “From Mu’awiyah to Ali”. When the letter was opened it was a blank paper on which only “Bismilla-Hir-rahmanir Rahim “(In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful) was written. Sayyadina Ali (RA) was amazed to see the letter, which was in fact, an insult to the office of the “Khalifah”. The messenger also told Ali (RA) that 50,000 sheikhs of Syria were bemoaning the death of Sayyadina Uthman and were determined to fight until the assassins were handed over to them. Sayyadina Ali replied, “0 Allah! You know it well that I am free from any charge of Uthman’s assassination. I swear by Allah that the assassins have escaped . “
The Sabaites pretending to be friends of Sayyadina Ali, tried to create another disturbance by trying to kill the messenger, but Sayyadina Ali (RA) did not allow it. However exchange of hot words took place between them and the messenger.
Amir Mu’awiyah’s reply was a clear indication of his intention. The matter was not going to be settled without force. Therefore Sayyadina Ali decided to use force against Mu’awiyah (RA) and started preparations for it. Sayyadina Ali’s elder son, Imam Hasan (RA) was a man of rather mild temper. He requested his father to give up the Khilafat and not to think of fighting against Muslims (i.e., to start a civil war). But there was no other way and Sayyadina Ali (RA) had to handle the situation with an iron hand in order to keep the provinces under the centre as they were since the time of Sayyadina Abu Bakr (RA).
This was the first time in the history of Islam when the Muslims were preparing to fight against each other. As a Khalifah Sayyadina Ali was quite right in his decision. Not to pledge loyalty was an open revolt against his authority and he had to deal boldly with any type of internal rebellion. Sayyadina Amir Mu’awiyah (RA), as a matter of fact, was over-excited on the tragic assassination. The family of Uthman (RA) which had reached there after the assassination was also a cause of this attitude. Moreover some of the Sabaites, whose only aim was to divide the Muslim community, had reached Syria and incited the Muslims against Sayyadina Ali. They were playing double role. On the one side a group of them was with Sayyadina Ali (RA) to stir him up against Mu’awiyah; (RA), while on the other side some of them went to Syria only to inflame the feelings of Muslims over there. Under such conditions Mu’awiyah (RA) had no alternative but to insist upon his demand for punishment of the assassins before pledging loyalty to Sayyadina Ali (R.A).
AISHA’s RA DEMAND FOR CHASTISEMENT OF ASSASSINS
While Sayyadina Ali (RA) was preparing for war against Amir Mu’awiyah another difficulty arose. After the assassination of Sayyadina Uthman (RA) some members of his family went to Sayyadina Aisha (RA) who was in Makkah to perform the Hajj. They and a number of Medinites informed her about the tragedy while she was on her way from Makkah to Madinah after the Hajj. Hearing the news of assassination of Sayyadina Uthman she returned to Makkah and appealed to the people over there to avenge the death of Sayyadina Uthman (RA). Hundreds of people including the governor of Makkah came out at ‘Aisha’s call. The governor of Yemen, Ya’la bin Munabbah also joined her in Makkah. Among Banu Ummayyads who joined Sayyadina ‘Aisha in Makkah were Sa’id bin ‘As, Walid bin ‘Uqbah and Marwan bin Hakam.
In the meantime Sayyadina Talha and Zubair (RA) demanded Sayyadina Ali to punish the assassins. He told them, “Please wait. I will do my duty as soon as conditions allow me.” Sayyadina Talha and Zubair were not satisfied with Sayyadina Ali’s reply and left Madinah for Makkah to join Sayyadina Aisha (RA). They had not correctly assessed the delicate situation in Madinah. The city was not free from the grip of Sabaites and there was a general feeling against Umayyads in the public. Sayyadina Ali (R.A) was anxious to restore peace first so that the assassins could be punished.
In Makkah Sayyadina ‘Aisha (R.A) started to march to Madinah at the head of about two thousand men with the object of dealing with the assassins. Sayyadina ‘Abdullah bin Zubair was also there. They also asked him to join but he declined to do so and remained neutral.
When Sayyadina ‘Aisha was about to march to Madinah, proposals came to visit Basrah first to collect more supporters. She decided to go to Basrah.
AISHA RA GOES TO BASRAH
While Sayyadina ‘Aisha was on her way to Basrah more people joined her in the way. By the time she reached Basrah, there were three thousand men under her flag.
The governor of Basrah, Uthman bin Hanif (appointed by Sayyadina ‘All), sent some men to find out the object of her visit. She and other Muslims told them that they wanted to tell people of their duty towards the late Khalifah so that proper action would be taken to punish the assassins. The messenger of the governor asked Sayyadina Talha and Zubair for what reason they were breaking the Bai’at on the hands of Sayyadina Ali. They told them that the pledge (Bai’at) was taken from them at the point of sword, and that they would have kept the pledge if Sayyadina Ali had avenged Uthman’s assassination.
The governor of Basra decided not to allow them to enter the city till he got help from Sayyadina Ali. He called a public meeting and asked people to fight against them. In the meeting some people favoured the governor while some of them supported Sayyadina ‘Aisha, Talha and Zubair. The supporters of Sayyadina Ali (RA) and the governor came out to fight.
AISHA RA TAKES OVER BASRA
Sayyadina ‘Aisha gave a stirring speech before the Muslims. It was so impressive that half of the supporters of the governor left him and joined Sayyadina ‘Aisha. Seeing this she tried to settle the matter peacefully instead of fighting. But there were same agents of Abdullah bin Saba (Sabaites) specially his famous disciple, Hakim bin Hublah, who did not allow any settlement. He attacked Sayyadina ‘Aisha’s army before the governor gave him permission to do so.
The fight took place but no result came out till the evening. In the meantime the governor got instructions from Sayyadina Ali to resist Sayyadina ‘Aisha’s army if they did not agree to pledge loyalty to him. Then a furious battle took place in which Uthman bin Hanif, the governor, was defeated and captured. Hakim bin Hublah and some of his followers were killed, and Basra was occupied by Sayyadina Aisha and her supporters.
MARCH TO BASRAH
The capture of Basrah by Sayyadina ‘Aisha (RA) made the situation very grave. The Islamic state was really on the verge of serious civil war. Sayyadina Ali (RA) never wanted to start war against the Muslims but the internal situation at that time compelled him to do so. War was unavoidable.
The Khalifah, therefore, postponed his march to Syria for the time being in order to set things right in Iraq. He decided to march on to Basrah. A number of Ansar and other Companions were not in favour of Sayyadina Ali (RA) leaving Madinah, instead they asked him to send his army. When Sayyadina Ali (RA) was leaving Madinah, Abdullah bin Salam (RA) took hold of his camel and said, “0 Amirul-Mu’minin (Leader of the believers) don’t leave Madinah. If you leave it at this moment, you would never come back and the Capital would be changed.” But he decided to go ahead with his mission because of the seriousness of the situation.
Some of the Companions remained neutral and did not join Sayyadina Ali (RA) even though he asked them to do so. Among such persons were: Abdullah bin Umar, Muhammad bin Muslimah, Sa’d bin Waqqas and Usamah bin Zaid (RA)
Sayyadina Ali started for Basrah towards the end of Rabi’ul Awwal, 36 (A. H.) i.e. Nov. 656 A.D. Abdullah bin Saba and his followers were accompanying Sayyadina Ali.
HELP FROM BASRAH
Ali (RA) asked Abu Musa Ash’ari to send help but he got no response because Sayyadina Abu Musa (RA) dreaded a civil war. Therefore Sayyadina Ali (RA) sent his eldest son, Hasan (RA) to Kufa who addressed the people and pleaded for Ali (RA). The people were stirred on the appeal and about nine thousand men marched on to join Ali (RA).
ALI (RA) SEEKS PEACE
Sayyadina Ali (RA) assured all the people accompanying him that he would try his best to avoid blood-shed and to set the things right peacefully. On reaching Dhi Oar, a place near Basrah, Sayyadina Ali, with his characteristic aversion to blood-shed sent his cousin ‘Abdullah bin Abbas and Qa’qa bin Amr (RA) to negotiate peacefully with Sayyadina ‘Aisha, Talha, and Zubair (Rid. A.) who were preparing to face Sayyadina Ali (RA) with a big army.
The messengers of Sayyadina Ali (RA) assured Sayyadina ‘Aisha, Talha, and Zubair (Rid. A.) that Sayyadina Ali would avenge the assassins of Sayyadina Uthman (RA) as soon as peace was established in the state. Hearing this they were satisfied and there were hopes for a peaceful settlement.
But in the army of Ali (RA) there were Abdullah bin Saba and his henchmen to whom peace was fatal. At the possibility of peaceful settlement they were much disturbed. They met in a secret council and whispered to each other that Ali (RA)was prepared to avenge the death of Sayyadina Uthman (RA). They were determined to make the peaceful settlement a total failure. They sent their agents to Basrah to incite the Muslims population by saying that if Ali (RA) entered Basrah he would enslave all the inhabitants and would kill all the youths. The Basrites, therefore, must check and fight him back.
Ali (R.A) hoping for a peaceful settlement, marched towards Basrah to talk personally with Sayyadina Talha and Zubair (R.A). The two armies were facing each other. Sayyadina Ali gave an address to Basrites in which he said, “I am but your brother……..I will avenge Uthman’s assassins,” Sayyadina Talha, Zubair and Basrites were fully satisfied with what Sayyadina Ali (R.A) told them. Ali (R.A) also returned to his camp very satisfied. He gave strict orders to his men not to fight in any case, and prayed all the night to Allah.
But Ibn Saba and his henchmen had planned otherwise. In the darkness of night they made a sudden attack on Sayyadina ‘Aisha’s army. Sayyadina Talha and Zubair were startled by the sudden attack and said that Ali (RA)could not desist from shedding Muslim blood and he has ordered a night attack. On the other hand Sayyadina Ali (RA) was shocked when he was told by Sabaites that Talha and Zubair had taken them by surprise. He also remarked in the same way that they did not stop from taking the blood of Muslims. According to Tabari the following Sabaites were the leaders behind this plan: Ashtar Nakh’i Ibn Sauda, Khalid bin Muljam, Alba bin Haitham and Shuraib bin Aufa. Ibn Saba was the ring leader.
THE BATTLE OF CAMEL (JAMAL)
Soon a full scale war started. Hundreds of Muslims fell on each side. Sayyadina Ali (RA) was greatly pained at the situation. He tried to stop the battle but the battle had already flared up.
In the dawn the troops of Sayyadina ‘Aisha (R.A) apprised her of the situation and suggested that she should mount on a camel in Hijab (Pardah) so that the situation might ease. But it worked the other way and Basrites thought tfiat Sayyadina Aisha came in the field to fight with them. During the fight Sayyadina Ali reminded Talha and Zubair(RA) the words of the Noble Prophet: “One day you (Talha and Zubair) will fight Ali wrongly.” They remembered the saying and left the battlefield but when Talha was leaving the field somebody rained arrows on him and he was killed.
When the fight did not come to an end Sayyadina Ali (RA) ordered one of his men to cut the hind legs of the camel on which Sayyadina ‘Aisha was mounting in a “howdah”. The order of Sayyadina Ali was carried out and the camel fell on its forelegs. Sayyadina ‘Aisha was taken out of the “howdah” with due respect. The battle came to an end in favour of Sayyadina Ali (RA). Sayyadina Aisha (RA) was sent with due respect to Madinah escorted by her own brother, Muhammad bin Abi Bakr. In this battle about ten thousand Muslims on both sides lost their lives. Sayyadina Ali (RA) felt deeply moved because of the loss of Muslim blood. Sayyadina Zubair who had already left the field after remembering the Noble Prophet’s saying was going to Makkah. He stopped in a valley to perform his Salat, but was slain by a man, named Amr bin Jarmoz while he was busy in his Salat. When Sayyadina Ali came to know, he rebuked the murderer by saying: “I have seen him fight for the Prophet of Allah several times. I give the murderer the news of hell-fire.”
After the battle he took pledge of loyalty from the people of Basrah and appointed Sayyadina Abdullah bin Abbas as the governor of Basrah. He gave general amnesty to all those who fought against him including Marwan bin Hakam and other persons of Banu Umayyah family. The address which Sayyadina Ali (RA) gave at Jami’ Mosque of Basrah before the Bai’at (pledge of loyalty) moved the Muslims, and they were convinced that Ali (RA) was a just Khalifah.
CHANGE OF CAPITAL
Sayyadina Ali (RA) was very much grieved on seeing the disrespect of the “Haram” (Forbidden Place) of Madinah when the insurgents laid siege to the late Khalifah’s house and then assassinated him. He wanted to change the Capital to save Madinah from future political disturbance. After staying for a few days at Basrah, Sayyadina Ali (RA) went to Kufa. There he was given a warm welcome. He got more supporters at Kufa and thought it to be a more suitable place as the Capital of his Khilafat. Therefore in Rajab 36 A.H., he decided to transfer the capital from Madinah to Kufa.
ALI’s RA FINAL INVITATION TO Sayyadina MU’AWIYAH
Sayyadina Ali (RA) now turned his attention towards Sayyadina Mu’awiyah (R.A). He was then ruling over the whole Islamic State with the exception of Syria. The peace minded Sayyadina Ali (R.A) wanted a peaceful settlement. He, therefore, wrote a letter to Sayyadina Mu’awiyah (RA) asking him to take pledge of loyalty at his hand in the interest of Islam and the unity of the Muslims. But Sayyadina Mu’awiyah again demanded of him to avenge Sayyadina Uthman’s assassins first.
The show of Sayyadina Uthman’s blood-stained shirt and the chopped-off fingers of his wife, Sayyadina Nailah, was still going on in the Jami’ Masjid of Damascus. The powerful Syrians had rallied round Sayyadina Mu’awiyah. On the other hand Sayyadina Ali (RA) was still unable to overcome the insurgents. When Sayyadina Amir Mu’awiyah’s messenger came to Sayyadina Ali to put the demand to hand over the assassins, 10,000 men of Sayyadina Ali’s army said with one voice: “All of us are the assassins of Uthman (RA).” Sayyadina Ali (RA) then said to the messengers, Sayyadina Muslimah, “You can see for yourself the situation. I am still unable to find out the real assassins.” But Sayyadina Mu’awiyah was determined not to give up his demand. Sayyadina Ali (RA), finding no other way, was compelled to declare war against Sayyadina Mu’awiyah (RA).
THE BATTLE OF SIFFIN
The above situation forced Sayyadina Ali (RA) to march out against Syria. In the beginning there was not much response for Ali’s RA call. But when Sayyadina Ali explained the position to the Muslims, a large army gathered around Sayyadina Ali and 50,000 Muslims came out under his banner to fight the Syrians. When Mu’awiyah (RA)came to know about Sayyadina Ali’s advance, he too proceeded with a vast army and occupied a better position in the field. Sayyadina Ali (RA) encamped at Siffin, and Amir Mu’awiyah on the other side of Siffin.
Sayyadina Ali’s intention was not to shed Muslim blood in vain. He therefore again tried and sent a deputation of three men on peace mission to Amir Mu’awiyah (RA). Amir Mu’awiyah (RA) again demanded that the assassins of Sayyadina Uthman must be slain before any compromise can be reached and that he was demanding this as a “Wall” (next of kin of a murdered person) of Sayyadina Uthman. The demand was again refused by Sayyadina Ali (RA) on the ground that he was not able to locate the real assassins and it would need some time, and that the Pledge of Loyalty must be taken without any condition.
In the month of Dhul Hijjah 36 A.H., Ali (RA) ordered his troops to take positions. But there seemed unwillingness to fight on both the sides. Muslims were facing Muslims. However in the beginning fighting began with single combats followed by light encounters of single battalions. Thus the whole month of Dhul Hijjah ended without any big fight. When the moon of Muharram appeared Sayyadina Ali and Mu’awiyah made a truce for one month. During this time he again got an opportunity for renewed peace talks. Sayyadina Ali(RA) sent another mission led by ‘Adi bin Hatim Tai to Amir Mu’awiyah (RA). But this time Amir Mu’awiyah (RA) took it as a threat and refused to recognise Sayyadina Ali (RA) as the Khalifah unless he avenged Sayyadina Uthman’s assassination. In this way the last attempt proved to be fruitless.
On the evening of the last day of Muharram, 37 A.H. Sayyadina Ali (RA) gave orders to his army to attack the Syrian forces because they had been given enough time to think. The war started the following morning. Sayyadina Ali (RA) gave strict orders that no person should be killed if he left the field or ran away. Women and old people would be secure. Sayyadina Amir Mu’awiyah (RA) also gave the same order to his army.
The war started on Tuesday 1st Safari, 37 A.H. On the first day a battalion of Sayyadina Ali’s army, led by Ushtar fought with the Syrians led by Habib bin Muslimah. On the second day another battalion led by Hashim bin ‘Utbah from Sayyadina Ali’s side fought with the Syrians led by Abul A’war Salama. On the third day the battalion from Sayyadina Ali side was led by Sayyadina Ammar bin Yasir and the Syrians were led by ‘Amr Bin As (RA). During the battle Sayyadina Ammar bin Yasir (RA) was martyred but no result came out. The martyrdom of Sayyadina ‘Ammar bin Yasir, however, proved that Sayyadina Ali (RA) was right because of the following Hadith mentioned in Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi and other authentic books of Hadith: According to this Hadith the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi we Salaam) said, “‘Ammar bin Yasir would be killed by a group of rebels.” Since Sayyadina ‘Ammar (RA) was fighting in favour of Sayyadina Ali, and was killed by the army of Sayyadina Amir Mu’awiyah (RA), Sayyadina Ali (RA) was in the right and his opponents were the rebels.
For seven days the battle continued in this way. A new battalion used to fight from each side under a new commander. On the 8th day the whole army of Sayyadina Ali (RA) clashed with that of Amir Mu’awiyah (RA). A fierce battle was fought but with no end in sight. According to most of the historians, Sayyadina ‘Ammar bin Yasir was martyred on that day. However no result came out till the evening. The death of Sayyadina ‘Ammar bin Yasir was a shock to Sayyadina Ali (RA). The battle went on the whole night. At one time Sayyadina Ali reached the tent of Sayyadina Mu’awiyah and challenged him to fight personally with him instead of shedding Muslim blood, the winner would be the Khalifah. But Sayyadina Mu’awiyah (RA)did not accept the challenge because Sayyadina Ali was a noted warrior of Arabia.
On the second day of the battle Amir Mu’awiyah (RA) was about to lose the battle. But, Amir Mu’awiyah was a shrewd person and had been the governor of Syria from Sayyadina Umar’s time. He had with him Sayyadina Amr bin ‘As (RA), the conqueror of Egypt and a recognised statesman of Arabia. Seeing the impending defeat he consulted Sayyadina ‘Amr bin ‘As (RA) who advised Amir Mu’awiyah to give orders to the troops of the front ranks to fasten the Holy Qur’an to their lances as a sign that war would cease and that the decision would be referred to the Holy Book.
Seeing copies of the Holy Qur’an on lances, Ali (RA) recognised it as a clever move of the enemy but a good many men of his army did not share his view and stopped fighting. Being helpless he ordered his troops to stop fighting.
Sayyadina Ali (RA) sent his envoy to Sayyadina Mu’awiyah (RA) to find out what he meant by making the Holy Qur’an a judge. Sayyadina Amir Mu’awiyah told him that he wanted an arbitration through judges, one from his side and the other from Sayyadina Ali’s side, and that both the parties should abide by the decision of the judge. Sayyadina Ali RA accepted it. He tried to make Sayyadina Abdullah bin Abbas as the arbitrator from his side, but some of his followers objected to it on the ground that he was related to Sayyadina Ali. They proposed the name of Sayyadina Musa Ash’ari (RA). Sayyadina Ali accepted their proposal and he was appointed as the arbitrator of Ali’s (RA) side. Sayyadina Mu’awiyah appointed ‘Amr bin ‘As (RA) as the arbitrator from his side, and none of his followers questioned his choice although he was related to Amir Mu’awiyah. This shows that the followers of Sayyadina Mu’awiyah were more united than the followers of Sayyadina Ali. There were many Sabaites in Sayyadina Ali’s camp and they were the real cause of such differences. Whenever they saw the Muslims uniting they tried to create confusion with the aim of disuniting them.
In case the two arbitrators could not come to an agreement, the decision was to lie with eight hundred men (four hundred from Sayyadina Ali’s camp and four hundred from Sayyadina Mu’awiyah camp) and it would be settled by the majority. A place named Dumat-ul-Jandal, in between Syria and Iraq, was proposed for the talks. Both the judges with 800 would go there to finalise their award by the month of Ramadan, and to make it public. A temporary agreement was signed on 13th Safari, 37 A.H. between Sayyadina Ali and Sayyadina Mu’awiyah. The two armies then left for their homes leaving about 90,000 men dead in the field of Siffin, which number exceeded the total Muslim casualties in all the Islamic battles against the non-Muslims by the time.
“KHAWARIJ” OR DISSENTERS
Ali (RA) who was almost winning the battle against Amir Mu’awiyah (RA) marched back from Siffin with a sense of loss. There was a tremendous loss of Muslim lives in Siffin. Never before in the history of Islam had the loss of Muslim blood been so heavy. Sayyadina Ali after all wanted a peaceful solution, although the price was heavy.
When Ali announced the agreement before his troops, formed of various tribes. Two brothers of the Tribe of ‘Anza stood up and opposed appointment of Arbitrator (“Hakam” or Judge) between the two parties for Allah’s commandments were with them in the form of the Holy Qur’an which is the best “Hakam”. Other people also followed this example and a good many people were against the arbitration. According to them the Arbitration was against the spirit of Islam. Some of these men requested Sayyadina Ali RA to throw away the agreement but he said, “I did not want any agreement at that stage but you forced me to do so. When 1 gave my word of honour, you are forcing me to give them up. I would never do it.” The followers of Sayyadina Ali split into two groups. One group stood by the agreement while for the other the arbitration was un-lslamic.
The second group, which was opposing arbitration, was known as Kharijites (“Khawarij” in Arabic). By the time Sayyadina Ali returned to Kufa, their number reached 12,000. They did not stay with other Muslims in Kufa; instead, they encamped at Harorah and appointed Sheith bin Rabi’i as their commander-in-chief, and ‘Abdullah bin Kawa as their Imam to lead Salats. They announced their policy which was as follows:
“The Bai’at (Pledge of Loyalty) is only for Allah, and He alone is to be obeyed. To spread good and forbid evil according to the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah is our foremost duty. There exists neither a Khalifah nor an Amir. Both Ali and Mu’awiyah are in error. Mu’awiyah in error because he did not accept Ali while Ali is in error because he agreed on arbitration. After gaining power, we will set up a social order based on Allah’s Book (i.e. the Holy Qur’an).”
ALI (RA) SENDS HIS EMISSARY TO “KHAWARIJ”
After returning to Kufa Sayyadina Ali RA sent ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas RA to remove the misunderstanding of the Khawarij (Dissenters). Instead of returning to the right belief, they started a lengthy argument with him. Seeing this Sayyadina Ali RA himself went to them. He gave them all the assurances that the arbitration would only be accepted if it was based upon the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah. He was successful in his efforts after a great difficulty, and the “Khawarij joined him again temporarily.
VERDICT OF THE ARBITRATORS
The two arbitrators thought over the matter for six months then met at the frontier town of Dumat-ul-Jandal in Sha’ban, 37 A.H. (Jan. 658). Each of them was having four hundred men with him. The commander of men from Sayyadina Ali’s side was Shuraih bin Hani, and the Imam Sayyadina ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas. The four hundred men from Mu’awiyah’s camp were under Surjil bin Samah. Besides these some neutral Companions like ‘Abdullah bin Umar, ‘Abdullah bin Zubair, and Sa’d bin Waqqas were also present there.
Sayyadina ‘Amr bin ‘As, the judge appointed by Sayyadina Mu’awiyah, was a famous statesman and diplomat of Arabia. On the other hand Abu Musa Ash’ari, the judge from Sayyadina Ali’s side, was a simple Muslim, unacquainted with diplomatic tactics. In the beginning a discussion between the two judges took place. A scribe was ordered to write down the points of agreement during the discussion. They reached on the following agreement after a long discussion:–
“All and Mu’awiyah both withdraw their right for the Khilafat. The Muslims should appoint a third person as their Khalifah.”
According to some historians the discussion was not recorded and the agreement was reached verbally. However they could not reach an agreement on the choice of the most suitable person to be approved as the Khalifah in place of Sayyadina Ali or Sayyadina Mu’awiyah.
After the agreement Sayyadina Amr bin ‘As asked Sayyadina Abu Musa Ash’ari to make it public by announcing it in the mosque before the Muslims. Sayyadina Abu Musa (RA) announced: “We have agreed that neither Ali nor Mu’awiyah would be considered as the Khalifah. You may elect any other man you think fit.” After this Sayyadina Amr bin ‘As (RA) stood up and said, “I do not consider Ali fit for the Khilafat, but in my opinion Mu’awiyah is fit for it.” The statement of Sayyadina Amr not only showed the split of opinion between the Arbitrators but also meant one sided decision according to which Sayyadina Ali (RA) was supposed to lose his power but not Amir Mu’awiyah (RA).
Hearing the statement of Amr ibn As (RA) there was a big uproar. The result of the arbitration was a mere confusion. In this way the arbitration proved to be a futile and the hopes of peace were gone. Both the parties left the place in great disgust. The acceptance of such arbitration, really proved to be disastrous to Ali. Sayyadina Ali lost the case before it opened.
When Ali (RA)heard the result of the arbitration he said, “The judgement is not based upon the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah which was the condition for arbitration. Therefore it cannot be accepted.” He then delivered a lecture in the Jami’ Masjid of Kufa and asked the Muslims to prepare to attack Syria.
SPLIT IN THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY
As soon as the “Khawarii ” knew the result of arbitration they again separated and this time rose in an open revolt. A new group was thus created in the history of Islam which proved to be more dangerous than any other group existing before then.
As it has been discussed in connection with the assassination of Sayyadina Uthman (RA), the Muslim community was divided into four main groups viz, Uthmanis, Shi’an-i Ali, Marhabah and Ahl al-Sunnah wal Jama’ah. Marhabis were absorbed in other groups. The remaining three groups were still existing. Now the fourth group of Kharijites (“Khawarij was formed. Before proceeding further let us see the main beliefs of these groups:
(i) Uthmanis: They were now confined to Syria under the banner of Amir Mu’awiyah (RA). They demanded that until the assassins of Sayyadina Uthman were punished or handed over to them, they would not accept the Khilafat of Sayyadina Ali. But after the so called judgement of the arbitrators, they totally rejected the Khilafat of Sayyadina Ali and took Bai’at (Pledge of Loyalty) at the hand of Amir Mu’awiyah after declaring him as the Khalifah. It would be discussed in more detail later on.
(ii) Shi’an-i Ali (or Shia’s): They called themselves as the friends of Ali (RA) in the beginning but later on they developed their own beliefs and considered Sayyadina Ali as “Wasi” i.e. Administrator of the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam), and the only fit person for the Khilafat. They not only criticised and condemned Amir Mu’awiyah (RA) but also Umar, Abu Bakr, and Uthman (RA) and discarded the authority of the first three Khalifahs. However they did not criticise the first two Khalifahs openly during the time of Sayyadina Ali (RA). As years passed this group became an exponent of a separate school of thought in Islamic Law and Jurisprudence and they wrote their own books of Hadith, History of Islam and Commentaries of the Holy Qur’an based upon their beliefs. They disagreed with most of the works produced by Sunni Scholars.
(iii) Ahl-i-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah: The majority of the Companions, and Muslims at the time were not only in favour of Sayyadina Ali but all the preceding Khalifahs i.e. Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman (RA). They believed that the “Right Path” was to follow the Sunnah of the Noble Prophet .(Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) and the traditions of his pious Jama’ah (i.e. all the Companions), especially the first four Khalifahs who set examples to solve various problems according to the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah. This group was in great majority not only at that time but in all the periods of Islamic History.
They fully supported Ali (RA) during his Khilafat. According to them Amir Mu’awiyah (RA) was not right in not accepting Sayyadina Ali authority. But they considered that mistake based upon “ljtihad”. After all, he was a pious Companion and the sincerity of a Companion must not be questioned. Sayyadina Shah Waliullah, in his famous book, Izalar-ul-Khafa writes: Amir Mu’awiyah (R.A) was an excellent Companion of the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam).Do not criticise or condemn him otherwise you would be committing a “Haram”(unlawful) act because in a Hadith the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said: Do not criticise and condemn my Companions. I swear by Allah, Who holds my life, gold equal to mountain Uhud, spent by you for the sake of Allah, cannot be equal even to the handful of grains spent by a Companion. (Abu Da’ud).
According to a number of Ahadith, it is forbidden for a Muslim to criticise a Companion. In a number of Ahadith the virtues of Sayyadina Mu’awiyah (RA) have been mentioned. Once the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi we Salaam) prayed for Amir Mu’awiyah as follows: “0 Allah, make him a Muslim who would be on Your Guidance and such a Muslim who may guide others.” Ibn Sa’d says that the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) prayed for Amir Mu’awiyah as follows: “0 Allah, give him the knowledge of the Book (i.e., the Holy Qur’an)and make him ruler(king) of the countries, and save him from the punishment (of the Hereafter).” Moreover Amir Mu’awiyah (RA) was one of the scribes of the Revelation (i.e., the Holy Qur’an) during the time of the Noble Prophet. It is necessary, therefore, that we must not question his sincerity. Due to political conditions at that time, he was strict in his demand of chastisement of the assassins of Sayyadina Uthman (RA). Most of the historians agree on this point that he did not declare himself a Khalifah during the life of Ali although people took Bai’at on his hand.
(iv) The “Khawarij’: The Khawarij were more political group than theological. They accepted the authority of Sayyadina Abu Bakr and Umar (RA) but denounced Sayyadina Uthman, Ali, and Mu’awiyah (Rid. A.). They said that the “Hakam” (Arbitrator or Judge for the dispute between Sayyadina Ali and Mu’awiyah) was against the principles of Islam. Only Allah had to be obeyed through the Holy Qur’an and not the Hakam. They also formulated a number of other beliefs as well. In the later period of Islamic history this group became almost extinct.
THE KHARIJITE TROUBLE
The “Khawarij ” set up their centre at Nahrwan and began to preach their cult. Many people gathered around them and they gained sufficient strength. They were very harsh to those who differed from them and regarded such Muslims as rebels against Islam and murdered them. Loyalty to the Khalifah was a great crime in their eyes and they called it “the cult of personality”.
The Khariljites seemed to be very pious as far as their appearance was concerned. They used to offer long Salats, wore simple dress and were honest in their dealings. But they were misguided in beliefs and killed all those who said that they were the followers of the Khalifah.
After the failure of arbitration Sayyadina Ali (R.A) wanted to march to Syria but the Kharijite movement diverted his attention. It was a great danger not only to the Muslim unity but to the Islamic beliefs and practices as a whole. It was an urgent need to wipe out such a movement in its early stage. Therefore he set out for Nahrwan, the centre of “Khawarij” instead of Syria.
Reaching there Sayyadina Ali tried to negotiate with them peacefully. He sent some prominent Companions to persuade Khariii leaders but they did not listen to them. Then Sayyadina Ali asked them to hand over such people who have murdered innocent Muslims. He told them that he would leave the rest if they handed over the murderers. To this he replied to the Khalifah, “All of us are murderers and we want to murder all of your followers. We would never stop from this.”
The stage reached when there was no other way than to fight with them. Before declaring war against them Sayyadina Ali declared that those who would be loyal to him or those who left Nahrwan and did not fight would be given amnesty. On his appeal 3000 Kharijites repented and again took Bai’at at his hands. The rest did not move from their position.
The battle began. A fierce fight took place. Kharijites fought desperately but were defeated. Most of their leaders were slain. After the battle Sayyadina Ali searched the slain body of the man about whom the Noble Prophet had prophesied, and had given some of the signs which were, really the forecast of Khariiite trouble. Sayyadina Ali (RA) found the body with all the signs told by the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) and remarked, The Noble Prophet was very true in his prophecy.”
UNWILLINGNESS TO MARCH TO SYRIA
After the battle at Nahrwan Ali (RA) wanted to march on to Syria but his men were in no mood for that. They asked for some rest when he was encamping at Nakhila, some miles away from the Capital. Sayyadina Ali (RA) allowed them to take some rest over there but they started to slip away to their homes, and only a few of them were left with him. Seeing the situation Sayyadina Ali was also forced to return to Kufa.
After some time Ali again asked the Kufis to march on to Syria. He gave a stirring address in the Jami’ Masjid of the Capital but the leaders of Kufa did not show any inclination. Despite many efforts Sayyadina Ali was not successful in raising another army against the Syrians.
LOSS OF EGYPT
Sayyadina Ali (R.A) appointed Qais bin Sa’d (RA) as the governor of Egypt. He took pledge of loyalty from the Egyptians for Sayyadina Ali (R.A). The inhabitants of the town of Khartaba were not loyal to Sayyadina Ali. He left them alone on the condition of a peaceful conduct. Some friends of Sayyadina Ali, who were having an eye on the governorship of Egypt, started to doubt loyalty of Qais to Sayyadina. They told Sayyadina Ali that Qais was more sympathetic to Sayyadina Mu’awiyah and must be sacked.
When Sayyadina Mu’awiyah noticed that the position of Qais was doubtful in the eyes of Sayyadina Ali, he declared him as his man. Hearing this Sayyadina Ali (RA) dismissed him and appointed Muhammad bin Abi Bakr as the governor of Egypt. Muhammad bin Abu Bakr was a young man and was not able to control the Egyptians in a tactful way. He forced the people of Khartaba to pledge loyalty for Sayyadina Ali and remained busy with them for a long time. In the meantime the battle of Siffin took place but he was so busy with the internal affairs of Egypt that he could not send any army to help Sayyadina Ali (R.A).
After the battle of Siffin Sayyadina Ali appointed Malik bin Ushtar as the governor of Egypt. Ibn Ushtar was a strong man, but he could not join his duty and passed away in the way. Muhammad bin Abi Bakr, therefore, continued as the governor of Egypt.
After the award of the arbitration, the Syrians declared Sayyadina Mu’awiyah as their Khalifah and took Bai’at on his hands. According to a number of historians, Amir Mu’awiyah did not declare himself as the Khalifah during the life of Sayyadina Ali (RA). However he tried to extend his control over the Islamic state after the award. The first step was to send his army under the command of Sayyadina ‘Amr ibn ‘As to attack Egypt. Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, the governor of Egypt wrote to Sayyadina Ali for help. But before he got any help ‘Amr ibn ‘As (RA) reached Egypt with six thousand men. Ten thousand inhabitants of Khartaba also joined his army. They easily beat back two thousand men of Muhammad bin Abi Bakr. He himself took shelter in a house but was caught and slain. In 38 A.H. Sayyadina Amir Mu’awiyah (RA) became the master of Egypt. He appointed Sayyadina Amir ibn ‘As as the governor.
UNREST IN BASRAH AND IRAN
Sayyadina ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (RA) was the governor of Basrah controlling the whole of Persia and other parts of the Islamic State in the East. Basrites were pro-Ali but there were Uthmani (pro-Mu’awiyah) elements as well over there. In 38 A.H. Abdullah ibn Abbas went to Kufa to pay a visit to the Khalifah. Abdullah ibn Hadrami, and Uthmani (pro-Mu’awiyah) was in Basrah in those days. In the absence of Ibn Abbas he saw his chance and incited the people to avenge the assassination of Sayyadina Uthman. He got support and was able to raise an army which invaded Basrah. The governor’s deputy, Ziyad ibn Abi Sufyan, could not face him and fled. Hearing the rising Ali RA sent Jariah ibn Qudamah who belonged to Bani Tamim tribe. He went to Basrah with fifty people and negotiated with Basrites, most of whom were from Bani Tamim tribe. He was successful in his mission and the rebellion was put down. Ibn Hadrami and seventy of his followers shut themselves in a house which was burnt by pro-Ali Basrites.
When the people of Eastern Persia and Kirman heard the burning of Ibn Hadrami they refused to pay Kharaj Revenue in protest. However their rising was put down by police action.
After consulting with ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (R.A), Sayyadina Ali appointed Ziyad ibn Abi Sufyan as the governor of Basrah to control Persia and other Eastern parts of the State.
PRO-MU’AWIYAH PARTIES INVADE VARIOUS PARTS
After the award, Uthmanis tried to create general unrest in the country. During the year 39 A.H. strong parties were set out from Syria. Sayyadina Ali (RA) tried to stir his friends in Kufa but they would never come out at Ali’s call. Neither they were prepared to fight the Syrians again nor they tried seriously to check the invading parties of Uthmanis.
One of such parties went to ‘Ain al-tamr under the command of Nu’man ibn Bashir but he was defeated by Ali’s governor, Malik ibn Ka’b. Another party of six thousand men under Sufyan ibn ‘Auf went to Ambar and Mada’in (Midian). They killed the officer in charge of Ambar. Sayyadina Ali sent Sa’id ibn Auf with an army but they ran away. Another party of three thousand men under Dahak ibn Qais came as fairest as the neighbourhood of Basrah. Sayyadina Ali sent four thousand men under Hajar ibn ‘Adi. A fight took Place in which 19 Syrians (Uthmanis) were killed. Rest of them ran away in the darkness of the night.
In the same year (i.e., 39 AH) Ali RA sent his deputy ibn ‘Abbas, to lead Hajj. Amir Mu’awiyah also sent his deputy, Yazid ibn Sanjar to lead the Hajj. A tussle between the two men took place. At the end it was settled that a third person, Shaibah ibn Uthman ibn Abi Talha, would lead the Hajj. In this way Sayyadina Ali lost this symbol of Khilafat as well.
Sayyadina Ali’s hold weakened day by day. His most effective and eloquent speeches could not arouse his friends to action. Each day that passed witnessed the Khalifah growing more and more helpless.
A number of other incidents between pro-Mu’awiyans and pro-Alis also took place in the same year the details of which are ignored here.
LOSS OF HIJAZ AND YEMEN
Hijaz and Yemen were still under the control of Sayyadina Ali (RA). In the year 40 A. H., Amir Mu’awiyah sent Busr ibn Abi Artat with three thousand men to Hijaz. First of all he went to Madinah. The governor of Madinah, Abu Ayyub was not able to check the Syrians and he left for Kufa. Busr took pledge of loyalty from the Medinites forcibly for Amir Mu’awiyah (RA), and exclaimed, “Had Mu’awiyah not forbidden me, I would not have left a single adult in Madinah alive.”
After taking over Madinah, Busr reached Makkah and occupied it unopposed. There too he took the pledge of loyalty from the Makkahns for Amir Mu’awiyah forcibly.
From Makkah Busr went to Yemen. At that time Sayyadina ‘Ubaidullah ibn ‘Abbas was the governor of Yemen. Hearing of the Syrian army he fled to Kufa. Busr occupied San’a, the capital of Yemen and killed two little sons of Ubaidullah. He also slew a number of Ali’s supporters in Yemen.
Hearing the cruelty of Busr Sayyadina Ali sent Jariah ibn Qudamah with two thousand men. But before he reached Yemen, Busr fled to Syria. He also sent Wahb ibn Mas’ud with another two thousand men to Hijaz. Jariah ibn Qudamah, after establishing Ali’s rule in Yemen, was advancing to Makkah. As soon as he reached the Holy city, he received the news of Sayyadina Ali’s assassination which ended his campaign.
According to Ibn Jarir at the end of the year 40 A.H. a treaty was signed between Amir Mu’awiyah and Sayyadina Ali, on the request of Amir Mu’awiyah to avoid blood shed among the Muslims. Under that treaty Syria and Egypt remained under the control of Amir Mu’awiyah and the rest of the state under the control of Sayyadina Ali. Thus the conflict between the two parties ended. This civil war which ended to the detriment of Sayyadina Ali was the end of Islamic democratic rule.
But according to some other historians, no treaty took place between Sayyadina Ali and Mu’awiyah. While Sayyadina Ali (R.A) was preparing to attack Syria, (for which he had issued an ordinance compelling each and everyone under him to march to Syria) he was assassinated.
The civil war did not allow Sayyadina Ali (RA) to launch Jihad (Holy War) and the Islamic Empire saw no further extension. However some parts of Sistan (near Kabul) were conquered during this period. According to some histories Muslims made a naval attack on Kohan (near Bombay, India) in the year 38 A.H
ASSASSINATION OF ALI (R.A)
After the battle of Nahrwan the “Khwarij” had gone underground. As a matter of fact they were as much against .Sayyadina Ali (RA)as they were against Sayyadina Mu’awiyah (RA). They were still working against the Khilafat and they were greatly disgusted with the civil war that seemed endless.
To end this state of affairs, they worked out a dangerous plot. According to them Muslims were divided because of differences between Sayyadina Ali and Amir Mu’awiyah. They also disliked ‘Amr ibn ‘As and considered him as chief planner for Amir Mu’awiyah. They decided, therefore, to assassinate all the three of them. It was planned that the three personalities would be struck at the same time on the same day.
Three persons, appointed to assassinate Ali, Mu’awiyah, and ‘Amr ibn ‘As (RA) were Abdur Rehman Muljam, Bark ibn ‘Abdullah, and ‘Amr ibn Bark respectively. Early hours of the 17th of Ramadan, 40 A.H., was fixed for the assassination.
After the Fajr Salat of the 17th Ramadan in :he year 40 A.H. (661 A.D.) the three appointed Kharljis struck the three men. Amir Mu’awiyah escaped with a scratch, Sayyadina Amr ibn ‘As did not turn out for the Imamat because he was sick that day, thus was unhurt, but Sayyadina Ali (RA) was mortally wounded with the poisoned sword of Ibn Muljam. He passed away in the evening of Ramadan 20, 40 A.H.
Ibn Muljam was caught by the people after he had struck Sayyadina Ali. Sayyadina Ali asked the Muslims to slay him if he died. At the same time of his death Sayyadina Ali called his sons and advised them to serve Islam and to be good with the Muslims. When somebody asked him should the Muslims take pledge of loyalty at the hands of his elder son, Sayyadina Hassan, he replied, “I leave this decision to the Muslims.” He also advised people not to kill any person other than the assassin to avenge him.
He was sixty three years old at the time of his death and had ruled for four years and nine months as the Khalifah.
According to a number of historians his real grave is not known because his son Hasan took out his body from the grave after he was buried because of the fear of Kharijis and buried him at an unknown place.
PERIOD OF HIS KHILAAFAT
The period of Sayyadina Ali’s Khilafat extending to four years and about nine months, was marked by civil war. His rule was characterised by a series of revolts for the first time in the history of Islam. He was elected as the Khalifah in the most critical period of Islamic history. The martyrdom of Sayyadina .Uthman was an extraordinary event about which the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) had already prophesied. Sayyadina Ali was in a very difficult situation. On the one hand the assassins and the insurgents were creating endless trouble for him, and on the other hand Banu Umayyah (Uthman’s family) fled to Syria and incited Amir Mu’awiyah to stick to his demand for avenging Sayyadina Uthman’s assassins. Sayyadina Ali faced these problems and difficulties with extraordinary courage and presented before us an exemplary character. He never had full support even from his friends in Kufa but still remained firm in his position.
As it has been described before, he could never locate the real assassins of Sayyadina Uthman and this could not be achieved until peace was established. Therefore his first task was to create an atmosphere of peace in the state. But the Sabaites (insurgents) never wanted peace. They worked on both sides. On the one side they made it difficult for Sayyadina Ali to find out the assassins, and on the other hand they sent their agents to Syria to incite the people (especially Umayyads) against Sayyadina Ali. Their main aim was to let the Muslims fight among themselves so that they might prosper. Although Sayyadina Ali knew all this but he was unable to take any firm action because of the civil war.
The third problem faced by Ali (R.A) was the Kharijite movement. They were extremists and misled a number of innocent Muslims. They did not hesitate to use sword against persons who do not agree with them. They developed many beliefs foreign to Islam, although they appeared to be very pious but very politically, they were corrupt. Sayyadina Ali dealt with them with an iron hand. He realised that if they were not wiped out in the beginning they would mislead future generations. He was successful in destroying their strong hold. However some of them, who escaped, went underground but they were never in a strong position.
Ali (R.A) tried his utmost to unite the Muslims and bring them back on one platform but he was not successful. The tragic death of Sayyadina Uthman (RA) signal for blood shed among the Muslims. The Companions were not to be blamed for it at all. This was caused by anti-Islamic elements in the form of Sabaites, (‘Abdullah ibn Saba and his followers). Historical facts bear it out that Abdullah ibn Saba became the greatest enemy of Islam. It was he who shattered the unity of Muslims forever. After completing their mission the Sabaites made a pretence of being Ali’s friends but they never helped him nor the cause of Muslim Unity. No sooner had Sayyadina Ali assumed Khilafat than a group of the same miscreant Sabaites who had brought about the cold-blooded assassination of Sayyadina Uthman (RA) began to demand due retribution for the murder of the Khalifah and started to incite Muslims only to create division among them. Thus they played a double role. A group of them showed themselves as friends of Ali and another group (much smaller than the first) went to Syria and other parts of Islamic State to incite the Muslims against Sayyadina Ali (RA).
Ali (R.A) faced all these problems with courage and never lost heart. He was a man of strong will power and determination and was quite right in his decisions.
CHARACTER, PIETY AND EXCELLENCE
Ali (RA) was a model of simplicity and self denial. He led a simple life from the cradle to the grave, and was a true representative of the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Salam). Ali (RA)had neither a servant nor a maid when Fatima (RA) the most beloved daughter of the Noble Prophet was married to him. She would grind corn with her own hands. Purity of motives and selflessness were the keynote of his life. He was a wise counsellor, a true friend and a generous foe. He did not have a desire for the Khilafat after Sayyadina Uthman’s assassination, but when he was selected he tried his best to fulfil his responsibility.
He was very honest and trustworthy. His trustworthiness can well be imagined from the fact that the Noble Prophet entrusted to him all the cash and other things, he was having in his trust, at the time of his migration to Madinah so that Ali (RA) would return them to the owners. Once some oranges came to Bait-ul Mal, Sayyadina Hasan and Husain took one orange each. When Sayyadina Ali saw them having the oranges he took the fruit away from them and distributed them among the poor. Whenever any booty came to be distributed according to the Islamic law, he distributed it very honestly. Once he distributed all the revenue of the Bait-ul Mal (Public Treasury), then broomed it and offered two rak’at Salat in the room.
He did not leave his simplicity even though he was the Khalifah and the ruler of a vast state. Once a person named ‘Abdullah ibn Zarir had an opportunity to take meals with him. The meal was very simple. ‘Abdullah asked, “0 Amirul Mu’minin, don’t you like the meat of birds?” Sayyadina Ali replied, “The Khalifah has a right in Muslim (Public) property only to the extent sufficient for him and his family.”
Sayyadina Ali was a very generous Muslim. He never refused a beggar. Sometimes he gave all of his property to the poor and sold his arms to get food. Once he said during his lecture, “I went to sell my sword. I swear Allah, had I only that amount of money for which I could buy a “Sirwal” (i.e. a trousers), I would never have sold my sword.” Hearing this one person stood up and said, “I give you a loan.” There are many stories about his generosity which for lack of space are not being mentioned.
Ali (RA) was a great worshipper and used to offer long Salats. He was Hafiz of the Holy Qur’an. He was so punctual for the “Tasbih” (the famous Tasbih-i-Fatima) i.e. remembrance of Allah that he never left it, even during battles.
He was very kind to others. He showed his kindness even to his enemies. Once one of his enemies fell down naked because of his attack. Seeing his condition he did not kill him and left him so that he might not be ashamed of his nakedness. After the battle of “Jamal” against lady Aisha, he treated lady ‘Aisha (RA) very respectfully. He himself went to see her and when she told him that she would like to go to Madinah he asked her brother Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr to escort her. He never mistreated his enemies. During the time of the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi we Salaam) once he overcame a Jew in a fight, and sat on his chest to kill him. The Jew spat at his face. Sayyadina Ali at once left him. Seeing this the Jew was very much surprised and asked the reason. Ali (RA) said, “I was killing you for Allah’s sake but when you spat on my face, my sincerity was endangered because of the personal feelings.” Hearing this the Jew immediately accepted Islam.
His character and morals were so high that even Amir Mu’awiyah praised them. Once Amir Mu’awiyah asked Dirar Asadi, one of his friends, to tell some of Ali’s high quality. Dirar Asadi refused first but when Amir Mu’awiyah insisted Dirar said, “He was a man of strong will power and determination. He always gave a just judgement, and was a fountain of knowledge. His speech was full of wisdom. He hated the pleasure of this world and loved the darkness of night to cry before Allah. His dress was most simple and he liked simple meals. He lived like a common man and when anybody put any question before him, he replied with outmost politeness. Whenever we asked him to wait for us he waited like a common man. Although he was very near to us because of his high morals, we were afraid of him sometimes of his grandeur – and eminence due to his nearness to Allah. He always respected a pious man and a scholar. He was nearest to the poor. He never allowed a powerful man to take advantage of his power. The weak were never disappointed of his justice. I bear witness that in many battles he woke up during the night and took hold of his beard and started to cry and weep before Allah as though he was in a state of commotion and exclaimed: “0 world! do not try to betray me. I have divorced (left) you long ago. Do not have any desire for me. I hate you. Your age is short and your end is despised. 0! the provision is very little and the journey is too long (i.e., the journey to hereafter), and way is full of danger …..” Hearing this Sayyadina Amir Mu’awiyah started to weep and cry and said, “May Allah bless Abul Hasan (i.e. Ali). I swear by Allah he was a person of the character, you described.”
At this point it should be noted that the differences of the Companions were not like that of us. They differed with each other for the sake of Allah but always admired each other’s good habits. Although Amir Mu’awiyah was having differences with Sayyadina Ali, he admired the excellence of Ali throughout his life and often said that he could never be equal to Ali (RA). As a matter of fact the degree of their sincerity could not be imagined. We think every thing in terms of worldly benefit, they considered every matter in terms of love with Allah, love with the Prophet of Allah and the success in the hereafter.
TASAWWUF (MYSTICISM OR SPIRITUAL SCIENCE) AND Sayyadina Ali
The genealogical chain of “Sufis” (Islamic Mystics) ends at Sayyadina Ali (RA) and through him it is linked to the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Salam) in most of the orders. Thus Sayyadina Ali (RA) has been considered as the great Imam of Tasawwuf (Spiritual Science or Mysticism).
As it has been mentioned in the Urdu book of the author, “Tasalsulat-i-Imdadiah”, Sayyadina Shah Wali-‘ullah of Delhi holds the view that the genealogical chain of the great “Sufis ” is linked to the Noble Prophet through all the first four Caliphs among whom Sayyadina Ali (RA) stands like a gateway between the “Sufis” on the one hand and the first three caliphs and the Noble Prophet on the other hand. Spiritual secrets were transferred by the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) to Sayyadina Abu Bakr. From Abu Bakr (RA) the secrets were transferred to Sayyadina Umar; and from Umar (RA) to Sayyadina Uthman; and from Uthman (RA) to Sayyadina Ali and from Sayyadina Ali to “Sufis” through Imam Hasan Basri (RA) as it is believed in most of the Schools of Thoughts of Tasawwuf.
Historically there are not enough proofs that Sayyadina Hasan Basri had only tutelage under Sayyadina Ali. However it has been confirmed that Hasan Basri met Sayyadina Ali at the age of 15. In the science of Tasawwuf training under the Shaikh (“Murshid” or “Pir” or Spiritual Guide) is not necessary and spiritual secrets can be transferred even in a single meeting from the “Shaikh to the “Murid”(the spiritual disciple). Therefore the great “Sufis” do not doubt the fact that Sayyadina Ali (RA) transferred spiritual secrets to Hasan Basri (RA), from whom they were passed on to the succeeding generations.
Therefore Sayyadina Ali (RA) and Imam Hasan Basri are the most important links in the genealogical orders (“SHAJRAHS”) of most of the Schools of Thought of Tasawwuf.
ALI (RA) THE GATE OF THE CITY OF KNOWLEDGE
The Noble Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Salam) said: “I am the City of Knowledge and Ali is its gate.” No doubt – Sayyadina Ali (RA) was a great scholar and jurist of Islam. He had memorised whole of the Holy Qur’an during the time of the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Salam) and knew its commentary including the order of descent and the time of revelation of various verses. It is given in Tabqat Ibn Sa’d that Sayyadina Ali said, “I could tell for each and every verse of the Holy Qur’an why and when it was revealed.” Sayyadina Ali has been counted among the top most commentators of the Holy Qur’an. Nobody among the Companions with the exception of Abdullah ibn Abbas was so learned in the Holy Qur’an as Sayyadina Ali (RA). His commentaries of various verses of the Holy Qur’an have been given in a number of books like “Ibn-i-Jarir,” “Ibn Abi Hatim”, “Ibn Kathir” etc. He had confined himself to his home for six months after the death of the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa Salam) only to collect various parts of the Holy Qur’an. He was excellent in deducing law from the verses of the Holy Qur’an. When he argued with “Khawarili” on the question of Arbitration they could not stand before him. He was also very learned in the knowledge of “Nasikh” and “Mansukh” i.e. the knowledge of such verses of the Holy Qur’an outdating the laws given in Other verses.
Sayyadina Ali (RA) spent thirty years of his life with the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Salam) and knew all the manners and practices of the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Salam). He stood next to Abu Bakr (RA)as far as the knowledge of sayings, practices and orders of the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) were concerned. During the period of the first three caliphs and also during his time he was the great Mufti (Jurist) of Islam. He performed this service for about thirty years after the death of the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam). In the narration of Hadith he was very cautious like three of his predecessors. For this reason only 586 Ahadith, narrated by Sayyadina Ali (RA) have been mentioned in the books of Hadith. He has also mentioned a number of sayings of various Companions as well. Sayyadina Shah Wall Ullah of Delhi says: “Most of the Ahadith in connection with the appearance of the Noble Prophet, his method of offering Salat and praying to Allah etc. have been mentioned by Sayyadina Ali (RA) because of the fact that he was with him not only in his public but also in the private life. Ali (RA) was one of the few Companions who were having collections of Hadith recorded during the time of the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam).
Sayyadina Ali (RA) was not only a great scholar but a great Jurist as well. He was famous for giving correct verdicts of different problems very quickly which were based upon the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam). Great Companions used to visit him for seeking solution of different problems of Islamic Law and Jurisprudence. Sayyadina Umar remarked, Ali is the greatest jurist and judge among all of us”. Sayyadina ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud said, Ali’s decision is the most authentic.” Because of his vast knowledge of the Holy Qur’an and Hadith, he became the greatest jurist of his time, as Islamic Jurisprudence requires knowledge of the Holy Qur’an and Hadith to the fullest possible extent. On many occasions he corrected the decisions given by great Companions like Umar and Uthman (RA). Even though Amir Mu’awiyah was having differences with Ali, he sometimes referred some of the complicated problems of Islamic Law to Sayyadina Ali(RA) and admitted his profundity in this field.
Ali (RA) was a great orator as well. On many occasions mobs of people were changed because of his effective speeches. Arabic knowing persons can note the beauty of his speeches. He was a wonderful master of the Arabic language. His writings were as effective as his speech. He had also composed a few poems as well. He also framed rules of Arabic syntax and appointed Abul Aswad to compose a book on the basis of the rules he framed.
No doubt Ali RA was one of the greatest sons of Islam, Very few Companions equalled him in his closeness to the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi we Salam), which burrished qualities of head and heart. Muslims are forever indebted to him.
WIVES AND CHILDREN
(a) Sayyadina Ali’s first wife was the most beloved daughter of the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Salam), Sayyadina Fatimah (RA). He got three sons (Hasan, Husain and Muhsin), and two daughters (Zainab and Umm-i-Kulthum) from her. The youngest son, Muhsin died in childhood.
After the death of Sayyadina Fatimah he married a number of wives from time to time:
(b) Umm al-Banin bin Hizam from whom he got ‘Abbas, Ja’far, ‘Abdullah and Uthman. All of these except Abbas were martyred at Karbala.
(c) Saila bint Mas’ud who gave birth to ‘Ubaidullah and Abu Bakr. They were martyred at Karbala. (d) Asma bint Umais who gave birth to Yahya and Muhammad Asghar.
(e) Sahba bint Rabi’a who gave birth to Umar and Ruqayyah.
(f) Amamah bint Abil ‘As: She was daughter of Zainab (RA), daughter of the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Salaam). Sayyadina Ali got Muhammad Aswat from her.
(g) Khaulah bint Jalfar who gave birth to Muhammad ibn
(h) Umm-i-Sa’id who gave birth to Ummul Hasan and Ramlah Kubra.
(i) Mahyah bint Ummul Qais, she gave birth to a daughter who died in childhood.
He also had a number of slave girls from whom he bore the following daughters:
Umm-i-Hani, Maimunah, Zainab Sughra, Ramlah Sughra, Umm-i-Kulthum Sughra, Fatimah, Umamah, Khadijah, Umm-i-Salama, Umm-i-Ja’far, Jamanah and Nafisah, According to Ibn-i-Jarir, Sayyadina Ali had 17 daughters and 14 sons. His family continued through five sons: Imam Hasan, Imam Husain, Muhammad ibn Ali, Umar bin Ali, and ‘Abbas ibn Ali.
Sayyadina Ali (RA) followed the administrative pattern set by Sayyadina Umar (RA) and did not make any noticeable changes. He tried to improve the administration of those places where it was not proper during the time of Sayyadina Uthman (RA). He usually gave useful advice to his governors at the time of their appointment. When he appointed Sayyadina Ka’b ibn Malik for supervision of various officers in various provinces he gave him the following instructions: “Check officers of each and every district of Iraq thoroughly so that they may not act wrongly”.
WATCH FOR GENERAL MORALS OF THE OFFICERS
Like Sayyadina Umar (RA), he was very particular for the standard of morals of his officers. He never allowed his officers to neglect their duties or to behave immorally. Once he found that Mundhar ibn Jarud, governor of Istakhr, spent most of his time hunting instead of giving attention to administration. He wrote to him: “I have been informed that you are spending much of your time in hunting and recreation and neglect your duties. If that is true you would be punished for that.” When his negligence was proved, Sayyadina Ali dismissed him. He wrote to another governor for his negligence: “It has come to my notice that you are leading a luxurious life. Your table is provided with different varieties of meals which common people cannot get. You behave un-Islamically while you are alone, but deliver sermons like most pious people (Siddiqin) on pulpits (Mimbars)……….If these complaints are true then remember that you are in loss and I would punish you……….You can not hope for the reward given to righteous people in a position when you have spoiled the wealth of orphans and widows for your pleasure……. Repent for your sins and give the right of Allah due upon you.”
Besides warning them in writing he also sent various commissions to watch the officers of various provinces.
“BAITUL-MAL” (PUBLIC TREASURY) AND ADMINISTRATION OF REVENUE
He took care of “Baitul Mal” in the same way as was done by Sayyadina Umar (RA). Once his cousin Sayyadina ‘Abdullah ibn Abbas (RA) took ten thousand Drahms from Baitul Mal. When he knew about it. he immediately wrote to Sayyadina Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas to return it and warned him for future.
He never allowed his family members to take from the “Baitul Mal” more than what they deserved. Once Sayyadina ‘Amr ibn Salamah brought some fat and honey from Isphahan in “Kharaj” (Land Tax). Sayyadina Umm-i-Kulthum, daughter of Sayyadina Ali took some honey and fat from that. When Sayyadina Ali counted the barrels of honey and fat the next day he found that one barrel of each was missing. Then he was told that his daughter took them. He immediately paid the price of the honey and fat used by his daughter.
Abu Rafi, the slave of the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Salam), once took a pearl from the Baitul Mal for his daughter. When Sayyadina Ali knew about it he not only took it back but also warned him not to do that ever again in future.
Ali (RA) was very strict in the matter of public revenues and its administration. Whenever there was delay in receiving the tax he immediately wrote to the officers. Once Yazid ibn Qais was very late in sending the revenue tax, Sayyadina Ali wrote him: “Explain the delay in sending the Kharaj. I advise you to fear Allah and warn you not to repeat it in future, otherwise your virtues would be lost and your Jihad (Holy War) for the sake of Allah would be spoiled. Fear Allah, and keep away from unlawful wealth. Don’t give me a chance again to warn you for your mistakes……….”
Once Nu’man ibn ‘Ujlan, a revenue officer, did not deposit the revenue in time and went to some other place. Sayyadina Ali wrote to him: “One who embezzles the trust cannot be saved from the punishment of Allah. He destroys his worldly interests and the interests of the hereafter both ……You belong to a righteous family, repent before Allah for your misbehaviour, pay all the revenue you have charged from the public and do not compel me to punish you.”
Ali (RA)improved the taxation system. He imposed land tax on forests the produce of which was not been contributed meet military expenditure or was being marketed.
STIPENDS FROM THE “BAITUL MAL” TO THE POOR
Sayyadina Ali (RA) gave stipends to the needy persons and helped the poor from the “Baitul Mal.” He was very generous in this respect. Even though Persians had revolted against him one time he treated them so generously that they were highly pleased with him and remembered him for a long time, and named him “Arabi Noshairwan” (the Just Arab).
KINDNESS TO NON-MUSLIMS
He was very kind to his non-Muslim population (Dhimmis). He instructed his officers to treat them well and to take special care of their needs. Once he wrote to one of his officers, ‘Amr ibn Muslimah: “It has come to my notice that the non-Muslims (Dhimmis) of your area are complaining about your strict behaviour. Treat them well and don’t be so strict with them. Your strictness may cross limits and can turn into cruelty.” Once a canal for irrigation belonging to non-Muslims was littered with rubbish. When Sayyadina Ali was informed about it, he immediately wrote to the Officer-in charge, Karzah ibn Ka’b Ansari, “The non-Muslims (Dhimmis) of your area have complained that one of the irrigation canals belonging to them has been covered with rubbish. It is your duty to get it cleaned. I swear by Allah that it is better for you that the non-Muslims of your place continue living happily than migrating to other place because of difficulties.”
His justice was equal to both the Muslims and the Non-Muslims, the poor and the rich and officer and subordinate. He had himself once appeared before the Judge (Qadi) and the decision was given against him because of lack of evidence. Once his Armour was lost. After sometime he saw it with a Christian. He filed a suit against him in the court of the famous Judge, Qadi Shuraih. Qadi Shuraih asked him to produce a witness but he could not do so. The Armour was returned to the Christian. The Christian was so impressed that he accepted Islam immediately saying: “This is the example set by Prophets. The Caliph’s case has been rejected because he had no evidence for his lawful claim.”
ADMINISTRATION OF ARMY
Sayyadina Ali (RA) was an experienced army general of Islam. He had fought a number of battles in the company of the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Salaam). During his caliphate he gave a crushing defeat to his opponents in the battle of “Jamal”(Camel). He also defeated “Khawarij’: As has been said before, he had the upper hand in the battle of “Siffin” but accepted arbitration only for the sake of Muslim Unity.
Ali (RA) established a number of new cantonments in the state, and built a number efforts. He built a number of forts in Persia when there was a revolt. Sayyadina Ali took special care of his border with Syria, which was under the control of Sayyadina Mu’awiyah (RA). He established a number of army posts all along the Syrian border.
He built a bridge over the river Euphrates which was very important from the defence point of view. The fort of Askhar, built in Persia was considered to be one of the strongest forts of his time.
PREACHING OF ISLAM
To preach true way of life i.e. Islam, is one of the foremost duties of a Khalifah, He paid special attention to it during his caliphate. Although he was not able to conquer many regions during his caliphate because of the civil war, yet a number of people accepted Islam because of the good treatment meted out to them. In Iran many people accepted Islam due to his kindness with the public. Those who forsook Islam re-joined the Faith because of Ali’s(RA) teachings.
Thus we see that Sayyadina Ali(RA) was a great administrator. He was one of the closest Companions of the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa Salaam) and possessed unparalleled courage, vigour and Faith.