Did ʼAmir Muʻāwiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) curse or order the cursing of ʻAlī (radhiyallahu anhu)

By Shaykh Mumtāz al-Ḥaqq Mālik
Edited byʻAbd Allāh al-Afrīqī 

Shīʻahs [and many amongst the Sunnī’s] are led to believe that ʼAmīr Muʻāwiyah (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) started the despicable innovation of cursing and ordering the cursing of ʻAlī (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) – (Na’audhubillah) Allāh forbid!

There is absolutely no authentic proof found in Sunni sources to support this idea. This is purely a Shiʻah accusation against a noble Companion of Rasūl Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʻalayhi wasallam), a scribe of revelation (waḥy), the uncle of believers, ʼAmīr Muʻāwiyah (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu).

The only Ṣāḥīḥ narration in Sunnī literature is that by Saʻd ibn ʼAbī Waqqaṣ (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu), one of the ʻAsharah Mubasharah, as reported in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim. Shīʻahs often misquote this ḥadīth to prove their point. The actual ḥadīth is,

حَدَّثَنَا قُتَيْبَةُ بْنُ سَعِيدٍ، وَمُحَمَّدُ بْنُ عَبَّادٍ، – وَتَقَارَبَا فِي اللَّفْظِ – قَالاَ حَدَّثَنَا حَاتِمٌ، – وَهُوَ ابْنُ إِسْمَاعِيلَ – عَنْ بُكَيْرِ بْنِ مِسْمَارٍ، عَنْ عَامِرِ بْنِ سَعْدِ بْنِ أَبِي وَقَّاصٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، قَالَ أَمَرَ مُعَاوِيَةُ بْنُ أَبِي سُفْيَانَ سَعْدًا فَقَالَ مَا مَنَعَكَ أَنْ تَسُبَّ أَبَا التُّرَابِ فَقَالَ أَمَّا مَا ذَكَرْتُ ثَلاَثًا قَالَهُنَّ لَهُ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَلَنْ أَسُبَّهُ لأَنْ تَكُونَ لِي وَاحِدَةٌ مِنْهُنَّ أَحَبُّ إِلَىَّ مِنْ حُمْرِ النَّعَمِ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ لَهُ خَلَّفَهُ فِي بَعْضِ مَغَازِيهِ فَقَالَ لَهُ عَلِيٌّ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ خَلَّفْتَنِي مَعَ النِّسَاءِ وَالصِّبْيَانِ فَقَالَ لَهُ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ أَمَا تَرْضَى أَنْ تَكُونَ مِنِّي بِمَنْزِلَةِ هَارُونَ مِنْ مُوسَى إِلاَّ أَنَّهُ لاَ نُبُوَّةَ بَعْدِي ‏”‏ ‏.‏ وَسَمِعْتُهُ يَقُولُ يَوْمَ خَيْبَرَ ‏”‏ لأُعْطِيَنَّ الرَّايَةَ رَجُلاً يُحِبُّ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَيُحِبُّهُ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ فَتَطَاوَلْنَا لَهَا فَقَالَ ‏”‏ ادْعُوا لِي عَلِيًّا ‏”‏ ‏.‏ فَأُتِيَ بِهِ أَرْمَدَ فَبَصَقَ فِي عَيْنِهِ وَدَفَعَ الرَّايَةَ إِلَيْهِ فَفَتَحَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَلَمَّا نَزَلَتْ هَذِهِ الآيَة{‏ فَقُلْ تَعَالَوْا نَدْعُ أَبْنَاءَنَا وَأَبْنَاءَكُمْ‏}‏ دَعَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَلِيًّا وَفَاطِمَةَ وَحَسَنًا وَحُسَيْنًا فَقَالَ ‏”‏ اللَّهُمَّ هَؤُلاَءِ أَهْلِي ‏”‏ ‏.‏

Saʻd ibn ʼAbī Waqqaṣ (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) said, “Muʻāwiyah ibn ʼAbī Sufyān (radhiyallahu anhu) said (to him) , “What prevents you from making sabb of ʼAbū Turāb (ʻAlī (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu))?” So He (Saʻd) said, “Because I remember three things Rasūl Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʻalayhi wasallam) said about him. So I will never make sabb of him. Even one of those things would have been more dear to me than red camels…” to the end. (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim)

The above narration is about a meeting between ʼAmīr Muʻāwiyah (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) and Saʻd ibn ʼAbī Waqqaṣ (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu), which occurred at Ḥājj after ʻUthmān (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) had been martyred and ʻAlī (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) had been appointed Khalīfah. ʻUthmān’s (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) killers were amongst the supporters of ʻAlī (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu).

Muḥammad ibn ʼAbī Bakr had come with them and brought them to assassinate ʻUthmān (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu). This was due to a grudge he had with ʻUthmān (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu). When Muḥammad ibn ʼAbī Bakr grabbed ʻUthmān’s beard to push and throw him down, ʻUthmān (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) said to him, “If your father saw this, he would not have been happy.”

These words of ʻUthmān (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) shook Muḥammad ibn ʼAbī Bakr and he left ʻUthmān (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) and stepped back. The others who had come with him jumped on ʻUthmān (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) and martyred him. ʻUthmān’s (radhiyallahu anhu’s) wife tried to intervene and was also hurt in this struggle. She later testified to the whole event and the role of Muḥammad ibn ʼAbī Bakr that he had brought the killers with him but then did not take part in the eventual killing.

Muḥammad ibn ʼAbī Bakr’s mother ʼAsmāʼ bint ʻUmais (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhā), after the death of ʼAbū Bakr (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu), married ʻAlī (raḍiyallāhu ʻanhu). So Muḥammad ibn ʼAbī Bakr was his step son.

When ʻUthmān’s (radhiyallahu anhu) wife identified Muḥammad ibn ʼAbī Bakr as a culprit and the killers were known to him as he came with them, so when ʼAmīr Muʻāwiyah (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) and the other Ṣaḥābah demanded prompt justice for the killing of ʻUthmān (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) and ʻAlī (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) felt unable to deliver that justice promptly, ʼAmīr Muʻāwiyah (raḍhiya -llāhu ʻanhu) blamed ʻAlī (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) for this apparent inability to deliver justice for ʻUthmān (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu). Especially as well because the killers were among the supporters of ʻAlī (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) and known to his step son, Muḥammad ibn ʼAbī Bakr.

ʼAmīr Muʻāwiyah (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) then lobbied some of the senior Ṣaḥābah for this. Saʻd ibn ʼAbī Waqqaṣ (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) was amongst the few most senior Ṣaḥābah alive as he was from amongst the ʻAsharah Mubasharah and one of the six members of the committee appointed by ʻUmar (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) to choose the Khalīfah after him and he was also amongst those who had initially appointed ʻUthmān (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) and then ʻAlī (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) to be Khalīfah as well. Hence, Saʻd ibn ʼAbī Waqqaṣ (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) was a powerful figure and a very senior Ṣaḥābī.

When ʼAmīr Muʻāwiyah (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) met him at Hajj , he questioned him, مامنعكانتسباباتراب “What prevents you from making sabb of ʼAbū Turāb? “

Sabb in Arabic does not mean curse. Although it generally means to swear but it also means to blame someone. If ʼAmīr Muʻāwiyah (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) had wanted Saʻd (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) to curse ʻAlī (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) then he would have said, مامنعكانتلعناباتراب “What prevents you from cursing ʼAbū Turāb?” But he does not say that. ʼAmīr Muʻāwiyah (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) only questioned Saʻd (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu), that, “What prevents you from making sabb of ʼAbū Turāb?” He did not force him to do so. When Saʻd (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) replied that he can’t and won’t, and gave his reasons, ʼAmīr Muʻāwiyah (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) stopped, did not pressure him and left him. From this it is clear that there is no compulsion of cursing ʻAlī (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) from ʼAmīr Muʻāwiyah (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu).

The entire issue has been exaggerated and misunderstood. The reality is as explained above. ʼAmīr Muʻāwiyah (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) only wanted Saʻd (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) to blame ʻAlī (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) for not being able to deliver justice for ʻUthmān (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu).

In any case , if ʻAlī (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) was ever cursed by ʼAmīr Muʻāwiyah (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu), then why did Ḥasan and Ḥusayn (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhum) give him allegiance, visit him and stay with him, and accept his gifts? Would anybody behave that way towards someone who cursed their father and especially if that father was ʻAlī (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) and the children were the likes of Ḥasan and Ḥusayn (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhum). Secondly, from the many sons and grandsons of ʻAlī (raḍiyallāhu ʻanhu), did none of them have the courage and respect to stand up in honour of their father and grandfather, if and when ʻAlī (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) was being cursed?

If the Shīʻah version of ʻAlī (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) being cursed had any truth, then it leaves the entire ʼAhl al-Bayt and descendents of ʻAlī (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) as being unable and unwilling to stand up in defence of the honour of their noble father and grandfather, which cannot be defined as a virtuous character trait.

If ʼAmīr Muʻāwiyah (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) used to curse and ordered the cursing of ʻAlī (raḍhiyallāhu ʻanhu) and this evil practice supposedly continued for many years, then we ask:

Where were the Shīʻahs of ʻAlī  during all of this period? Did they simply not exist? Were they not faithful and loyal to ʻAlī at all?

And Allāh – Most High – knows best!

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