[Adapted from the book by Moulana Hafiz Muhar Muhammad]
O Ammar! My companions will not kill you. You will be murdered by a Fi’at al-Baghiyyah (group of rebels). [Hadith]
Hadhrat ‘Ammar ibn Yasir (radhiyallahu anhu) was an illustrious Sahabi. He was amongst the first few to embrace Islam and is counted amongst the senior Muhajirin. His entire household underwent great suffering for the cause of Islam. When Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would see their suffering, he would say:
Exercise patience, O family of Yasir! Your abode will be Jannah.
First his father, Yasir (radhiyallahu anhu), was martyred. Thereafter his mother, Sumayyah (radhiyallahu anha), was martyred at the hands of Abu Jahl (La’natullah), who thrust his spear in the most private parts of her body. They were from a poor family, and the other Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum) were weak and few in number, therefore they too could not defend them.
Once the disbelievers cornered Sayyiduna ‘Ammar ibn Yasir (radhiyallahu anhu) and threatened to kill him if he does not renounce Islam. In order to save his life, he uttered these words, but immediately thereafter regretted and came before Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) in tears: “Iman is firmly embedded in my heart but I was forced to utter those words, what will happen to me?” These verses were then revealed:
“He who becomes a disbeliever after having accepted Iman (will be severely punished) except for those who are compelled to do so and their hearts are content with Iman.”
Virtues of Sayyiduna ‘Ammar ibn Yasir (radhiyallahu anhu)
1. Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) addressed him on the above occasion saying: “O ‘Ammar! Glad tidings for the likes of you, Allah has made matters easy for you.”
2. Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) loved ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) dearly. ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) requested permission to meet Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), upon which Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said: “Allow this tayyib mutayyab (one who himself is pure and his deeds and actions are also pure) to enter” [Tirmidhi]
3. ‘Aa’ishah (radhiyallahu anha) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said: “’Ammar chose the best of the two options placed before him.” [Tirmidhi]
4. A person from Iraq came to Abu al-Darda’ (radhiyallahu anhu) in Syria to ask him a certain Islamic regulation, upon which he told him: “Is there not amongst you ibn Umm ‘Abd (‘Abd Allah ibn Mas’ud) and ‘Ammar ibn Yasir whom Allah has protected from shaytan, according to the testimony given by Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)? And Hudhayfah who was the confidant of Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)?” [Bukhari]
During the construction of al-Masjid al-Nabawi, the Sahabah were carrying large rocks, one at a time. They jokingly gave ‘Ammr (radhiyallahu anhu) two to carry on which ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) said to Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam): “Your companions have killed me!” Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) replied: “O son of Sumayyah! My companions will not kill you rather you will be killed by a group of rebels.” [Wording from Sirah ibn Hisham vol. pg. 497; also in Al-‘iqd al-Farid of ibn ‘Abd Rabbihi (d. 328 A.H), Wafaʼ al-Wafa of Samhudi (d. 911 A.H. vol. 1 pg. 235]
This hadith appears in the Sihah Sittah, but certain narrators did not make mention of the construction of al-Masjid al-Nabawi and the phrase “my companions will not kill you”; they mentioned “he will invite them to Jannah and they will invite him to Jahannam.”
Virtues of Sayyiduna ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu)
The virtues of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) are being mentioned since ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) had great love for him.
1. Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said: “Whoever is my close friend, ‘Ali will also be his close friend.” [Tirmidhi]
2. “O ‘Ali! You are of me and I am of you (an indication of the close relationship they had)”
3. ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) says: “When I would ask then Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would answer; and when I would be silent, then Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) himself would strike up a conversation.”
4. “May Allah have mercy upon ‘Ali, just as He has had mercy on Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman. O Allah! Let haqq (truth) follow them wherever they move.” [Tirmidhi 2/213]
5. “O ‘Ali! You are my brother in this world and the next.”
6. “Allah has instructed me to love four Sahabah, and they in turn also love me: Abu Dhar, Miqdad, Salman and ‘Ali”
7. Once Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) summoned ‘Ali, Fatimah, Hasan and Husayn (radhiyallahu anhum) and said: “These are from my household. O Allah! Whoever loves me, these two (children) and their parents, will be together with me in Jannah.”
This is the reason why ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) stood alongside ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) during the Battle of Siffin and was also martyred therein.
Many people claim that he was killed by Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) and his supporters, in a misconstrued sense of love for ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu), whereas love for ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) should be based upon his own inner perfections and virtues, regardless of whether he has enemies or not.
Such love which is dependent upon the concept of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ is the product of the followers of ‘Abd Allah ibn Saba’ and his followers, who in actual fact were his true enemies.
In light of the above narrations you might have also gauged the extent of misunderstanding that has arisen on account of the narrator not reporting the words in full, as well as not mentioning the circumstances in which the statement was made. The actual criminals responsible for this heinous crime escape scotfree, while the innocent have to bear the brunt of it.
‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu)’s murderers are none other than the Saba’iyyah rebels
In this article, we wish to expose, in light of historic narrations, who the true murderers of ‘Uthman, ‘Ali, and ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhum) are. We will prove that this authentic hadith (which states that ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) will be killed by a group of rebels) does not refer to any of the two groups of Sahabah who were present at Siffin, but rather to the Saba’iyyah rebels.
In Arabic, the word baghiyyah (rebel) is the sifat (adjective) of the noun Fi’at (group). This noun along with its adjective become the faʼil (active participle, the one performing the action) of the verb “Killed”, and the fa’il has to be in existence before the action occurs. In other words, the doer of the action (i.e. the killer) will be a rebel group, who will already be established as rebels before the actual killing takes place. It does not mean that they will be declared to be rebels on account of them murdering ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu).
This group’s first act of rebellion took place against the Khalifah ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu), and the meaning of fi’at baghiyyah, according to the dictionary, is explained as “The group which revolts against a just ruler.” [Misbah al-lughat pg. 67]
The Saba’ites are the ones who murdered ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) and thereby earned for themselves the title of “rebels”.
Virtues of Sayyiduna ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu)
1. Murrah ibn Ka’b (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates:
Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was mentioning the trials which were soon to come, when a person wrapped in a sheet passed that way. Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) then remarked: “At that time this person will be on the truth and upon guidance.” I jumped up and went to see who the person wrapped in the sheet was. It was ‘Uthman. I approached Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), faced him directly, and asked: “Is it this one?” Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) replied: “Yes, it is him.” He also mentioned that the murderers will be rebels, astray and on falsehood.
2. Abu Hurayrah (radhiyallahu anhu) Inarrates that Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said: “Soon you will be faced with a trial and with differences.” One of the Sahabah asked: “Who will be our leader at that time or who do you command us to follow?” Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) replied: “Hold on to and obey your leader” gesturing towards ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu)” [al-Bayhaqi in Dala’il al-Nubuwwah– as reported in Mishkat pg.563]
If obedience to ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) was necessary, then without a doubt his murderers and mischief mongers will be classified as insurgents and rebels.
3. Once Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) addressed ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) saying: “Allah will honour you with a mantle (of khilafah). If the hypocrites desire that you remove that mantle, do not remove it! Do not remove it!”
4. ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar (radhoyallahu anhu) narrated that Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said: “’Uthman will be martyred in a strife or trial which will take place. He will be the oppressed one.” [Tirmidhi]
From these narrations we clearly understand that the killers of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) were the true mischief mongers and oppressors, as well as hypocrites and rebels, since their intention was to remove the mantle of khilafah from ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu), which Sayyiduna Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) instructed not to remove or hand over.
‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) also declared these people to be rebels and compared them to the disbelievers of jahiliyyah (the pre-Islamic period of ignorance)
The following sermon of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) has been recorded in Tarikh al-Tabari (vol. 3 pg. 507), Sirat al-Khulafaʼ of al-Khudri (pg. 78) and other books as well: After praising Allah, ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) said:
“After experiencing the misfortunes and wretchedness of jahiliyyah, Allah has honoured us with the fortune of Islam. After the demise of Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), Allah kept the entire ummah united behind the three khulafaʼ. Today the situation we are facing has been brought upon the ummah by those who are seekers of the dunya (world). These people look at the favours bestowed upon this ummah with jealousy, and they are bent on destroying and annihilating Islam. They wish to bring back the days of jahiliyyah. Listen attentively! Tomorrow I am returning to Madinah. Everyone is to join me, with the exception of those who had raised objections against ‘Uthman I or anyone who had assisted in killing him. Such foolish ones should only curse themselves.”
When the followers of ‘Abd Allah ibn Saba’, such as ‘Albaʼ ibn Haytham, Salim ibn Tha’labah ‘Absi, Ashtar Nakha’i, etc., heard this announcement, they were convinced that if this reconciliation were to go ahead then it would result in them facing the death penalty. They therefore secretly instigated the fight that very night. [Ibn Khaldun]
History also bears witness to the killers of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) being the rebels
‘Abd Allah ibn Saba’ was a Jew from Yemen and the founder of the extremist Shi’i faction known as the Saba’iyyah. His mother was of African origin. He had outwardly embraced Islam and then proceeded to travel to various regions of the Muslim world, with the sole purpose of inciting people to rebel against the Khalifah, thus sowing the seed of mischief and strife amongst the Muslims. He began with Hijaz and then proceeded to Baṣrah and Kufah. In the latter years of ‘Uthman’s (radhiyallahu anhu) khilafah he went to Damascus, but was unable to influence the people there and was subsequently forced to leave. He then proceeded to Egypt where he established a small following, to whom he would present his deviated beliefs and ideas. He would say: “I am astonished at those Muslims who believe that Nabi ‘Isa (alayhissalaam) will return to the earth prior to Qiyamah, but they do not believe the same regarding Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), whereas the Qur’an states: “Indeed, He who has made the Qurʼan incumbent upon you will take you back to your place of return (i.e. Qiyamah)” He would assert that Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) is more entitled to this honour than Nabi ‘Isa (alayhissalaam). A few from Egypt accepted this belief (known as Raj’ah).
‘Abd Allah ibn Saba’ fashioned this belief in such a way that people began debating and defending the belief of Raj’ah. He then went a step further and said: “Thousands of messengers came and they all had deputies whom they appointed and bequeathed should be followed, known as a wasi. Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was the seal of the ambiyaʼ and ‘Ali was khatam al-awsiyaʼ (the seal of the deputies)”.
His devious beliefs did not end there but went on to proclaim: “Who is a greater oppressor than he who does not implement the bequest of Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), but instead usurps the right of leadership given to ‘Ali by Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) himself, and takes control of the matters of the ummah himself?” He continued: “’Uthman has amassed a lot of wealth which he has taken possession of unlawfully, and here is ‘Ali, the wasi of Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) who has been deprived of his right as the khalifah. It is your duty to rise up and ensure that he receives what is due to him. Begin with raising objections against your local leaders and governors. Outwardly adopt the stance of “Calling towards good and prohibiting evil”. Attract people’s attention to yourselves. Sow the seeds of revolution.”
‘Abd Allah ibn Saba’ then sent his agents to various other areas and he began corresponding with the mischief mongers in those places. Secretly he was inviting the people to join him, but outwardly it seemed like he was calling towards good. He attributed faults to the governors and wrote about it to his associates in other areas. These rumours spread to such an extent, that people would remark on hearing about it: “All praise be to Allah, we are better off than them. How difficult has things become for them due to their governors.” They might have drawn upon them the garb of piety but their true agenda was malevolent. [Tarikh ibn ‘Asakir vol. 7 pg. 431, Tarikh al-Tabari vol. 3 pg. 378,379, ibn Khaldun, Rijal al-Kashi, Tanqih al-Maqal]
In actual fact, these seeds of rebellion would later grow to become what is today known as Shi’ism.
These efforts culminated into close on to two thousand five hundred rebels assembling and marching on Madinah during the days of Hajj, ultimately resulting in the martyrdom of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu). The Sahabah of Madinah wished to forcefully expel these insurgents but ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) prohibited them from spilling their blood. Hadhrat Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) requested permission to dispatch an army from Syria for the protection of the Khalifah, but again ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) said that there is no need for it; it will unnecessarily burden the people of Madinah and the bayt al-Mal (public treasury).
‘Aa’ishah, Talhah and Zubayr’s (radhiyallahu anhum) love for ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu)
Each of these rebels were from different backgrounds and entertained different ideas. Those from Egypt were mostly criminals and hoodlums, consisting of the likes of Kinanah ibn Bashir, ‘Amr ibn Humq, ‘Umayr ibn Dabi, Sowdan ibn Hamran, Aswad Tujaybi, Khalid ibn Muljim (the brother of ibn Muljim, the murderer of ‘Ali radhiyallahu anhu), etc. These were the murderers of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) and they wished for ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) to be appointed as the khalifah. On the other hand, those from Basrah were more in favour of Talhah (radhiyallahu anhu) to be the khalifah, while those from Kufah were in favour of Zubayr (radhiyallahu anhu).
It should be noted that Talhah and Zubayr (radhiyallahu anhum) were dear friends of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) from the very inception of Islam. They pledged their allegiance to Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu anhu) on the third day along with ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu). During the consultation which appointed ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) as khalifah, Zubayr (radhiyallahu anhu) surrendered his right to khilafah to Hadhrat ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu).
After ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) had been martyred, Ahnaf ibn Qays asked the entire congregation in al-Masjid al-Nabawi who allegiance should be pledged to, and it was Talhah and Zubayr (radhiyallahu anhu) who replied that it should be ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu). [Fath al-Bari vol. 13 pg. 34] When a few rebels and others wished to pledge their allegiance to them (Talhah and Zubayr), they instructed them to return home, saying: “We will pledge allegiance to ‘Ali .”
‘Abd Allah ibn Budayl ibn Warqa’ al-Khuza’i asked Sayyidah Aa’ishah (radhiyallahu anha) who he should pledge allegiance to since ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) has been martyred and she replied:
“Stick closely to Ali!” [Fath al-Bari vol.13 pg.57]
You might have gauged the extent of love these great personalities (‘Aa’ishah, Talhah and Zubayr radhiyallahu anhu) had for ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu), as is apparent from these narrations. They regarded him as the leader and the rightful khalifah after ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu). Their lips were moist with the praises of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu).
How inaccurate is it to now paint a picture of opposition and ill will existing between these three illustrious personalities and ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu); this is but one of the worst alterations and distortions of historical facts. This picture was painted by the rebels who had murdered ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) , since it was these three great personalities who were persistent that qisas (death penalty) be carried out against the murderers immediately. Qisas refers to the death penalty for a murderer, the incumbency of which is described in the Qurʼan:
Qisas is has been made incumbent upon you in the case of murder
These three noble personalities were of the opinion that qisas be taken immediately and in so doing the murderers will be brought to justice. However, the state was not in a position to do so. The rebels had taken control of Madinah and matters were in their hands. They would not ready to submit even to ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu), but were bent on forcing him to accede to their demands. ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) even presented to his close friends, Talhah and Zubayr (radhiyallahu anhum), his excuse for not being able to carry out the qisas in the following manner:
O my brothers! I am also aware of that which you desire me to carry out, but I do not have the power and ability to do it now. Those who have mobilised these rebels have the upper hand. At the moment they are controlling us and we have no say over them. [Nahj al-Balaghah pg. 456 translated by Ja’far Husayn, Tarikh al-Tabari vol. 3 pg. 458]
Dawud ibn Abu Hind narrates from Imam Sha’bi (rahmatullah alayh):
After ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) was martyred, they approached ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) who was sitting in the market place, requesting to put forward his hand so that they can pledge allegiance to him. ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) replied:
“Wait until I discuss the issue with the people.” Some people then remarked: “If people return to their areas after ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) has been killed, and there is no leader of the Muslims in place, then there is great fear of disunity and strife breaking out.”
Ashtar then took hold of the hand of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) and all the rebels pledged allegiance to him. [Fath al-Bari vol.13 pg.54, vol.3 pg.455]
What do you understand from this narration? ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) wished to consult with the Muhajirin and Ansar of Madinah, but the rebels insist on taking the lead and in doing so they would ensure the safety of their own lives first and then maintain their authority over the people of Madinah by becoming the advisors, ministers and commanders of the Khalifah. What far thinking! What a deep plot! In short, they thought that by them appointing the khalifah, the people of Madinah will not have the courage to appoint anyone else who will save the ummah from this dissension and strife as a khalifah. It will be us, i.e. the rebels, who will be in control of their affairs and we will have the final say in all matters.
The Saba’iyyah rebelliousness and force
It is sad to say that history is replete with their evil deeds and plots which resulted in the blood of many Muslims being spilt. What was the extent of their influence and the force they commanded? Let us examine.
They issued a threat to the people of Madinah, giving them two days in which they were to select a khalifah. If they fail to do so then ‘Ali, Talhah and Zubayr (radhiyallahu anhum) will be executed. This is what prompted the people of Madinah to take the pledge of allegiance on the hands of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu). [Tarikh al-Tabari vol. 3 pg. 456]
Moulana Mu’in al-Din Nadwi writes in Siyar al-Sahabah (vol. 2 pg. 91) while discussing the life of Sayyiduna Zubayr (radhiyallahu anhu):
Even after ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) was appointed the khalifah, the situation in Madinah did not return to normal and peace and safety was not established. The Saba’iyyah, who were the architects and masterminds of this revolution, were introducing new trials and turmoil at every step. The ignorant Bedouins, who were always on the lookout for such opportunities of strife and anarchy, also joined the Saba’iyyah. ‘Ali’s (radhiyallahu anhu) desire was for these people return to their home towns and for the Bedouins to leave Madinah, but due to the persistence and stubbornness of the Saba’iyyah, he was not able to do fulfil it. [with reference to Tarikh al-Tabari pg. 3081]
Thus arrived the crossroads, where each vehicle took a different path. However, the Saba’iyyah did not allow each to traverse alternate paths, and instead were determined to ensure that these vehicles collide with each other. They placed the obstacles needed to achieve this aim. It was on account of these plots by the very same murderers of Hadhrat ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) that two major battles took place with Muslims on both sides. Here we are forced to mention the details from the books of history.
The causes which led to and the outcome of the Battle of Jamal
The Battle of Jamal, and likewise the Battle of Siffin, were fought due to the planning and plotting of the rebels, and were based upon difference of opinion or ijtihad amongst the Sahabah and Tabi’in. However, the ummah has not recovered from the wounds caused by the sectarianism and disunity which resulted from it to this very day.
When ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) was asked by his companion Qays ibn ‘Ubbad about what transpired, he replied: “I did not receive any instruction from Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) regarding it. It was based upon my own judgement and opinion.” [Abu Dawud vol. 2 pg. 294]
‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) was of the opinion that everyone, including those who were demanding qisas should first pledge allegiance to him, even though besides the rebels, the Muhajirin and Ansar in general along with Talhah (radhiyallahu anhu) and Zubayr (radhiyallahu anhu) had already pledged allegiance to him. It was only Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) and the people of Syria who had not yet pledged their allegiance. They insisted: “The rebels are part of your army, take the qisas from them and then we will pledge allegiance, since you are most worthy and are the rightful khalifah.” If the rebels were sincere followers of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) and were truly well-wishers of Islam and the Muslims, they would have handed over the handful of people who murdered Hadhrat ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu), so that qisas could be taken. In doing so, everyone would have been pleased. This would have resulted in the Muslim army advancing just as it had during the era of the first three khulafaʼ, and the pages of history would have told a different story.
Some historians put the blame solely on the shoulders of Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu). Why did he confront them? Why did he not just suffice by not allowing their army to enter Syria, just as he had previously, during the reign of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu), expelled Ibn Sabaʼ from Syria? This was despite the Saba’iyyah threatening him. [Tarikh al-Tabari]
On the other hand, if Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) did not intervene then these rebels would have spread anarchy in the entire Muslim empire, as is understood from the speech of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu), when he urged the Muslims to take up arms against the Khawarij. He said:
You had the courage to march towards Mu’awiyah and the people of Syria, yet you leave these rebels to roam freely. They will take possession of your children and property. These are the ones who unlawfully spilled blood, killed and plundered the people. Move in the name of Allah and attack them. [Abu Dawud vol. 2 pg. 309]
These Khawarij comprised of the depraved from Egypt, Basrah, and Kufah, as well as elsewhere. Hundreds of the Banu Umayyah clan, heirs and family members of ‘Uthman fled to Syria because the rebels had taken control of Madinah, and they feared being killed. Amongst them was ‘Ubayd Allah, the son of ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu). He fled because of the rebels issuing special instructions for him to be the first to be killed. The reason being that twelve years prior to this, he killed Harmuzan, an Iranian prince, for being instrumental in the killing of his father, ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu). Harmuzan was a dhimmi (non-Muslim living under Muslim rule). The blood money was paid by ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu), according to the unanimous decision of the Muhajirin and Ansar.
Below is a list of those senior Sahabah, who did not pledge allegiance to ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu), and this too was not on account of some enmity or hatred towards ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu), but only because the rebels were not leaving Madinah and in their presence, did not want to be present in the court of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu). They instead chose to remain in their homes. Furthermore, their lives were in danger which is why they chose to remain in their homes. These Sahabah were:
Muhajirin: Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas, Sa’id ibn Zayd, ‘Amr ibn Nufayl, ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar, Muhammad ibn Maslamah, Abu Bakrah Nufay’ ibn Harith, Qudamah ibn Math’un, Usamah ibn Zayd, Salamah ibn Salamah, Suhayb (radhiyallahu anhum)
Ansar: Hassan ibn Thabit, Ka’b ibn Malik, Maslamah ibn Makhlad, Abu Sa’id, Nu’man ibn Bashir, Zayd ibn Thabit, Rafi’ ibn Khadij, Fudhalah ibn ‘Ubayd, Ka’b ibn ‘Ujrah (radhiyallahu anhum). [Jarir from Madaʼini, in al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah vol. 7 pg. 227]
If only these senior Sahabah presented themselves in the court of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) or ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) himself had called upon them and included them in his counsel, the ummah would have been saved from a much strife and conflict.
The Saba’iyyah are in actual fact munafiqin
‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) was in a complicated situation. He was not aware of what was going to transpire, neither was he aware of the hypocritical plots and schemes of the Saba’iyyah. As Allah Ta’ala told Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam):
You do not know them (but) we know them.
Before continuing, let us examine the manner in which Allah Ta’ala describes the actions of the hypocrites in the noble Qur’an:
1) Amongst the people are those who say: “We believe in Allah and the Last Day”, whereas they are not believers. They try to deceive Allah and the believers.” [Surah Baqarah: 8]
2) And when they meet the mu’minin they say: “We believe!” and when they are in private with their shayatin, they say: “We are actually with you. We are only joking!” [Surah al-Baqarah:14]
3) And from the people there are those whose speech is pleasing to you in this world (the likes of Akhnas ibn Shariq and Ashtar al-Nakha’i) and they make Allah a witness to (the sincerity) in their hearts, whereas they are the worst of arguers (enemies) [Surah al-Baqarah: 204]
4) And when the munafiqin speak, you listen to their talks. They are as wooden pillars who regard every sound (of the discussions of the Muslims) to be against them. These are the enemies (of the Muslims) so be very wary of them. Allah will destroy them. How have they gone astray? [Surah al-Munafiqun: 4]
5) May Allah forgive you! Why did you grant them permission? (If you did not grant them permission) then it would become apparent to you who are the truthful, and you would come to know the liars. [Surah al-Taubah: 43]
According to our understanding, Talhah and Zubayr (radhiyallahu anhum) pledged allegiance to ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) contentedly, with the intention of I’laʼ Kalimat Allah (raising the word of Allah). During the next five months that ensued, from the 20 Dhu al-Hijjah up until the end of Jamad al-Ula, they tried their utmost to convince the rebels to return to their hometowns, so as to ease the process of executing the laws of qisas and bring the murderers to justice. They even requested to be appointed as governors of Kufah and Basrah respectively, in order to keep a check and control of the rebels in those areas.
The renowned tactician of the Arabs, Hadhrat Mughirah ibn Shu’bah, ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas and Hasan (radhiyallahu anhum) also forwarded their opinions that they should be appointed to these posts; their potential and abilities should be utilised and they should be allowed to leave Madinah. [Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah vol. 7 pg. 235]
‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas (radgiyallahu anhu) was also of the opinion that Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) should not be dismissed at this point in time and advised: “Everything is in your control at the moment. Deal with these mischief-mongers and bring them to justice; everyone will gladly follow you thereafter.” [Tarikh al-Tabari vol. 3 pg. 461]
These opinions and counsel rendered by the Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum) did not bode well for the Sabaʼiyyah and was tantamount to signing their death warrant; they challenged each of these suggestions. In fact, Hasan (radhiyallahu anhu) also exclaimed: “O my beloved father! So-and-so and so-and-so have overpowered you in making decisions.” [Tarikh al-Tabari]
Moulana Shah Mu’in al-Din Nadwi writes:
Ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) said to ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu): “Listen to my advice! Bolt the door of your house and remain indoors or move to the property you own in Yanbu’. The people will search the entire earth but they will not find anyone more suitable for the khilafah than you. I take an oath by Allah! If you associate and stand by these Egyptians (who made up the majority of those who murdered ‘Uthman), then tomorrow you will also be accused of having a hand in the killing of ‘Uthman.” ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) replied: “Now it is impossible for me to step aside.” Ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) said: “Leave Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) in his post, and continue efforts to win him over.” ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) replied: “By Allah, this can never happen.” [Tarikh al-Tabari pg. 3085 as reported in Siyar al-Sahabah vol. 2 pg. 240]
This is the reason why, even up to this day, those who look upon the Egyptian rebels with admiration do not show any regard for these three sincere advisors of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu).
Ultimately, Talhah and Zubayr (radhiyallahu anhum) became despondent and left Madinah. When they reached Makkah, they related to Sayyidah ‘Aa’ishah (radhiyallahu anha) and the people of Makkah the painful conditions of Madinah: “We have fled Madinah due to fear of the Bedouins, and we have left behind a people who are so confused that they do not recognise the truth, neither do they abstain from falsehood, nor do they protect themselves.” [Tarikh al-Tabari vol. 3 pg. 469; Siyar al-Sahabah vol. 2 pg. 92]
In order to rectify the situation, the motivation of which was to assist Sayyiduna ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) and dispel the rebels from his ranks, the people of Makkah prepared an army under the leadership of Talhah and Zubayr (radhiyallahu anhum), consisting of one thousand men. [Tarikh al-Tabari vol. 3 pg. 472 ]
Ya’la ibn Umayyah, who was appointed by ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) as the governor of San’aʼ, sent four hundred thousand dirhams and seventy young Qurayshi soldiers. He also purchased a camel by the name of ‘askar’ for Sayyidah ‘Aa’ishah (radhiyallahu anha) for eighty dinars. When news of this reached Sayyiduna ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) he commented to his supporters: “Do you know who I am faced with? ‘Aa’ishah whom the people obey more than anyone else, Zubayr who is the strongest, Talhah who is the most intelligent, and Ya’la ibn Umayyah who is the wealthiest.” [Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, Fatḥ al-Bari vol. 3 pg. 55]
Talhah and Zubayr (radhiyallahu anhum) then proceeded to meet the people of Basrah, who were inclined to them respectively, and it was hoped that this would strengthen their cause. After a small skirmish with the governor they took control of Basrah. However, before a message could be sent to ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) informing him that they had taken control of Basrah and beckon him to come there so that the problem of the rebels and how to deal with them could be discussed; the rebels of Basrah had already reached Madinah and began inciting ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) against them. “Since Basrah has already been taken over, the next city to be attacked will be Madīnah. In order to put an end to this, you need to mobilise your army in that direction.” The rebels exhorted. ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) accepted their proposal.
The inhabitants of Madinah begged ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) not to depart with an army. ‘Abd Allah ibn Salam (radhiyallahu anhu) said: “If you proceed with an army, then the ruler of the Muslims (referring to ‘Ali) will not be able to return to Madinah. Rather go alone and discuss the matter with them, hopefully a solution will be reached.” However, this was of no avail and ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) left for Basrah, while the majority of the people of Madinah remained behind.
Nevertheless, ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) proceeded with an army of nine hundred towards Basrah, comprising of very few Sahabah. Imam Sha’bi reports that aside from Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu), there were only six Badri Sahabah; Abu al-Ḥaytham ibn Tayhan, Abu Qatadah al-Ansari, Ziyad ibn Hanzalah, Khuzaymah ibn Thabit (radhiyallahu anhum) to name a few. [see: Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah vol. 7 pg. 234] Sadly, these great personalities did not get the opportunity to meet each other before this and discuss the issue, perhaps the entire episode could have been avoided as the solution was quite simple.
In order to reinforce their army, one of the rebels – Ashtar – proceeded to Kufah. This was the city that looked up to Zubayr (radhiyallahu anhu), and as a result no one joined him. Abu Musa al-Ash’ari (radhiyallahu anhu) – the governor of Kufah – sent him back empty handed. Thereafter, ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) sent two such personalities to Kufah, whom all the Muslims rightfully held in esteem: ‘Ammar ibn Yasir (radhiyallahu anhu) and the grandson of Rasulullah Hasan (radhiyallahu anhu).
‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) addressed the people in the Jami’ Masjid:
O people! The matter has become very delicate and touchy. On the one side we have Umm al-Muʼminin ‘Aa’ishah Siddiqah, the wife of your Nabi in this world and in the hereafter, and on the other side is ‘Ali, the cousin of your Nabi. Who are you going to obey, the wife of Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) or ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu)?
People were confused. Who to obey, who to accept and who to reject? Nonetheless, this speech of ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) was not fruitful. Hasan (radhiyallahu anhu) then stepped forward, who resembled Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) in manner and appearance, with gentleness and wisdom he won over the hearts of the people. The governor was opposed to the idea of taking sides and was thus removed from the masjid. ‘Ali’s (radhiyallahu anhu) forces were strengthened and he advanced towards Basrah with an army of nine thousand six hundred and fifty.
The rebels secretly incite the fighting
If ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) were to have met with Talhah and Zubayr (radhiyallahu anhu) in private, they would have quickly come to realise that they were not enemies to each other. Each of them only wished to uphold the commands of Allah and they all had one common enemy, namely the Sabaʼiyyah, who were set upon sowing disunity amongst the ummah. We have already quoted the words of ‘Ali (from Tarikh al-Tabri and Sirat al-khulafaʼ of al-Khudri) when he announced after the reconciliation for the mischief mongers to separate from his army. According to all historical sources, these mischief mongers then held a secret meeting that very night, wherein they decided to split into two groups and each spend the night in opposing camps, and begin the fighting the next day. A few extracts are given below:
1) Ashtar Nakha’i, who was a commander in ‘Ali’s (radhiyallahu anhu) army, said:
I swear by Allah, their discussions are revolving around one issue, their reconciliation will be upon taking our blood. Let us send Talhah to join ‘Uthman (i.e. kill him also) so that they will be pleased with us in the peace we grant them.” (It is apparent from this narration that the reports which mention Marwan ibn Hakam having fired the arrow on Talhah (radhiyallahu anhu) is false). Ibn Saba’ commented: “Talhah and his people are five thousand strong and we are only two thousand five hundred. This is not a wise move.” (We can also gauge the exaggeration with regards to the numbers present in this battle as well as the number slain, here mention is made of two thousand five hundred with five thousand on the opposite side, then reports claim that ten thousand were slain. The numbers reported increase even more drastically to five, ten, and even twenty thousand by the time they reached Siffin, where the number slain is then reported to be seventy thousand).
In Tarikh al-Tabari (vol. 3 pg. 507) there is an addition:
Ashtar Nakha’i then said: “Talhah and Zubayr’s position and what they desire is clear, but till now we have not understood clearly what is the policy and position of ‘Ali, so let us attack and join ‘Ali with ‘Uthman (i.e. kill him), then he will also be pleased with us in the peace we grant him. It will also create a major uproar and turmoil amongst the Muslims.”
‘Abd Allah ibn Saba’ rebuked him harshly saying: “Then we will be exposed and the fact that we are the enemies of the Muslims will be open to all”. (In other words: “We need to remain secretive, since we still have a greater mission to accomplish).
2) ‘Albaʼ ibn Ḥaytham said: “Let us leave both groups and move on our own until we appoint our own leader. ‘Abd Allah ibn Saba’ remarked: “I swear by Allah! This will be exactly what they want. If this happens, they will snatch us like hawks.”
3) ‘Abd Allah ibn Saba’ then spoke: “O my people (of the Saba’iyyah)! The only way to succeed in our mission is to join both sides, then tomorrow in the early part of the morning before they meet, we raise the cry of “the opposition has been treacherous” and start the battle from both sides. In this way, they will be forced into fighting and Allah will cause ‘Ali, Talhah and Zubayr to wage war against each other.”
Agreement was finally reached and so they split up and spent the night in opposite camps. The following morning, at pre-dawn, they began the battle. [ibn Khaldun vol. 2 pg. 107]
The martyrdom of Talhah and Zubayr, and the grief of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu)
Both parties slept that night without any real concern, since the announcement of reconciliation had already been made, thus when battle began people were not able to protect themselves and many lost their lives in this sudden attack.
[This intense battle led to a large number of people being killed, but there are differing reports as to the actual numbers. Al-Mas’udi said that these differences were due to the bias of the narrators. (Muruj al-Dhahab, 3/367) Qatadah stated that the number of people killed at the Battle of the Camel was twenty thousand. (ibid) It seems that this is greatly exaggerated, because the number of the two armies put together was close to this or less. The Rafidi Shi’ah liar Abu Mikhnaf exaggerated greatly because of his bias, and he did wrong when he thought that he was doing right. He said that the twenty thousand were from among the people of Basrah. (Tarikh Khalifah ibn Khayyaṭ, 186) Sayf stated that the number was ten thousand, half from among the companions of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) and half from among the companions of ‘Aaʼishah (radhiyallahu anha). According to another report, he said: “It was said that the number was fifteen thousand: five thousand from among the people of Kufah and ten thousand from among the people of Basrah; half of them were killed during the first battle and half during the second.” But these two reports are weak because of the interruptions in their chains of narration and other faults; they are also grossly overstated. ‘Umar ibn Shaybah mentioned, with his chain of narration, that the number of slain was more than six thousand, but this report is also weak in its chain of narration. (Tarikh Khalifah ibn Khayyaṭ,186) Al-Ya’qubi exaggerated further and gave a higher figure; he put the number of slain at thirty-two thousand. (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, 7/546; Fatḥ al-Bari, 13/62) This figure is highly inflated, the reasons for this overstatement include the following:
a. The desire of the enemies of the Sahabah, namely the Saba’iyyah and their followers, to deepen the dispute and division among the members of the ummah who are united by the love of the Sahabah and who are following their example, after that of Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).
b. The contribution of some poets and ignorant people from numerous tribes to inflating and magnifying the number, so as to match the poetry that they attributed to some of their leaders and knights. In addition to that, the storytellers wanted to attract people’s attention with the exciting events of which they spoke.
c. The building of confidence for the followers of the thugs and Saba’iyyah in order to prove the success of their plans and arrangements. (al-Insaf, pg. 455)
As for the true number of people slain in the Battle of the Camel, it is probably very small, for the following reasons:
• The short duration of the fight. Ibn Abi Shaybah narrated with a sound chain of narration (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, 7/546; Fath al-Bari, 13/62) that the actual combat started only in the afternoon and that by the time the sun set, no one who had been defending the camel was still there.
• The defensive nature of the fighting, since each side was merely defending itself and doing no more than that.
• The true number of those slain at the Battle of the Camel is regarded as very low in comparison to the number of Muslim martyrs at the Battle of Yarmuk (3000) and the Battle of Qadisiyyah (8500), and those were battles that went on for a number of days. This is also taking into account the ferocity and intensity of those other battles, which were decisive battles in the history of nations.
• Khalifah ibn Khayyat narrated a list of those among the slain of the Battle of the Camel whose names were known; there were approximately one hundred names. (Tarikh Khalifah, p. 187, 190) If we assume that the total number was double that, this would mean that the number of people slain at the Battle of the Camel was no more than two hundred. This is what Dr. Khalid ibn Muhammad al-Ghayth suggests is most likely, in his dissertation Istishad ‘Uthman wa Waq’at al-Jamal fi Marwiyat Sayf ibn “Umar fi Tarikh al-Tabari – Dirasah Naqdiyyah (The martyrdom of ‘Uthman and the Battle of the Camel in the reports of Sayf ibn ‘Umar in Tarikh al-Tabari – A critical study) – taken from Sirah Amir al-Mu’minon ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib by ‘Ali Muhammad al-Sallabi ]
‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) reminded Zubayr (radhiyallahu anhu) of a certain hadith (the status of which needs to be verified), due to which he left the battlefield. He was performing salah when ibn Jurmuz attacked and killed him. Regrettably, ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) could not protect Talhah and Zubayr (radhiyallahu anhum) from his army. When he saw the martyred body of Talhah I he gasped and exclaimed: “If only I had died twenty years before this!” He then took hold of Talhah’s (radhiyallahu anhu) paralysed hand, kissed it and said: “This is the same hand which protected Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) during the Battle of Uhud.” He then burst into tears over the bodies of his two close friends, Talhah and Zubayr (radhiyallahu anhu). ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) was then informed: “The killer of Talhah wishes to meet you (which establishes that it was one of the Saba’iyyah and not Marwan) but ‘Ali replied: “Give him glad tidings of Jahannam!” ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) then said: “O Allah! I have nothing to do with the murderers of ‘Uthman.” [ibn al-‘Asakir vol. 7 pg. 89]
When ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu), in accordance to the hadith of Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), gave glad tidings of Jahannam to ‘Amr ibn Jurmuz -the killer of Zubayr (radhiyallahu anhu), his cousin – ‘Amr remarked:
We kill your enemies and you give us glad tidings of Jahannam!
He later committed suicide, upon which Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) said: “Verily Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) had spoken the truth; that this person is destined for Jahannam (and also those who praise him).”
During the course of the battle ‘Ali, and ‘Aa’ishah (radhiyallahu anhuma) as well, were cursing the killers of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) and their supporters
O Allah curse the murderers of ‘Uthman and their supporters. [ibn al-‘Asakir vol. 7 pg. 88, 89]
‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) also recited the following verses regarding Talhah and Zubayr (radhiyallahu anhu):
And We will remove whatever is in their breasts of resentment, (so they will be) brothers, on thrones facing each other.
A number of soldiers surrounded the camel of ‘Aa’ishah (radhiyallahu anha) in order to protect her. They too were mercilessly attacked by Ashtar Nakha’i and his people. When ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) saw this, he was alarmed and commanded Ashtar to draw back. This was to no avail. ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) therefore instructed that the legs of the camel be cut, causing the camel to drop, and ‘Aa’ishah (radhiyallahu anha) would be saved from being martyred. The people of Basrah were thereby defeated, and ‘Aa’ishah (radhiyallahu anhu) was saved. ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) then honourably sent her to Madinah saying: “O people this is the wife of your Nabi in this world and in the hereafter, and she will be accorded the same respect which was accorded to her before this, except for the fact that she has erred and confronted us.” Then ‘Aa’ishah (radhiyallahu anha) also praised ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) and said “My difference with him was the same as that of any mother with her son.”
Outside the tent were two of the Saba’iyyah, who began criticising Sayyidah ‘Aa’ishah (radhiyallahu anha) despite referring to her as “Mother”. ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) ordered Qa’qa’ ibn ‘Amr to punish each with a hundred lashes.
The causes which led to the Battle of Siffin
On account of Sayyiduna Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu), the cousin of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) with whom ‘Uthman’s (radhiyallahu anhu) son had also taken refuge, stipulating that he would only pledge his allegiance to ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) if the rebels were brought to justice; preparations were already underway to march on Syria before the Battle of Jamal occurred. The Battle of Jamal only strengthened the resolve of the rebels. Ashtar Nakha’i was unable to sway the people of Kufah and it was only after Hasan (radhiyallahu anhu) delivered his speech – and due to his family ties with Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) – did they manage to get nine thousand five hundred people to join them. Yet we find that historical narrations claim that within a month or two later, they were able to muster an army of about ninety thousand? Ja’far Husayn (a Shi’i scholar and translator of Nahj al-Balaghah into Urdu) writes:
So the people of Kufah and its surroundings began arriving in droves and the number of the army began swelling, till it surpassed eighty thousand. [Nahj al-Balaghah pg 356]
Nevertheless, this army camped on the eastern side of Aleppo, close to the Euphrates River. Their mission: to render a lesson of obedience to all those who do not pledge their allegiance, to those who do not step down after being dismissed, to those who still demanded qisas. It is reported in Tarikh al-Tabari that the following people proceeded to meet Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu): ‘Adi ibn Hatim, Yazid ibn Qays Arhabi, Shabith ibn Rab’i, Ziyad ibn Hafsah. They mentioned to Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) the virtues of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) and implored him to unite the Jama’ah by pledging allegiance, but at the same time issued him with a threat:
O Mu’awiyah! It should not happen that Allah sends upon you and your followers a day similar to the Day of Jamal.
Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) replied:
…. It seems as if you have come here only to threaten me and not with the intention of reconciliation.
Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) then said: “You are the same people who attacked ‘Uthman.”
If only the envoy that met with Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) had not comprised of the very rebels who had incited all this turmoil but rather one of the senior Sahabah, such as Ibn ‘Abbas or Abu Ayyub al-Ansari (radhiyallahu anhum), then perhaps they would have convinced Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) to unite with ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu). On the contrary, the threats issued by the envoy was met with increased conviction:
You are inviting me to obey and join the Jama’ah? We also have a Jama’ah on our side. As for obedience to your leader (‘Ali), we cannot submit to him, since he had killed our Khalifah ‘Uthman (note: this was based on a misunderstanding, Nahj al-Balaghah reports ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) saying: “I had no hand in the murder of ‘Uthman), he has split the Jama’ah, he has given refuge to the murderers of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) and those who wish to attack us. If he claims he is not the murderer of ‘Uthman then we will also regard it to be such. But tell me, are the murderers of ‘Uthman amongst you? You know who they are, since they are your companions and they form part of your army. Hand them over to me so that we may execute them in lieu of their crime, then we will obey him and join the Jama’ah.
In reply to this, Shabith said to Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu): “O Mu’awiyah! Are you then prepared to execute ‘Ammar as well in retaliation for ‘Uthman?” [Tarikh al-Tabari vol. 4 pg. 2, 3]
The rebels portrayed ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) to be one of the murderers of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu)
It is glaringly apparent the manner in which these rebels – who were the true enemies of the Sahabah (ridhwanallahu anhum) and Islam – were attempting to shift blame off themselves by claiming that ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) was one of the killers of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu), whereas he played no part in the murder of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu). Those responsible for his murder were the Saba’iyyah and no one else.
If the demands of Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) were to have been met and qisas taken, then these rebels would have been brought to justice and executed, and this was something the army of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) was not prepared to accede to. On the other hand, Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) was not able to change his stance and submit, since just a few months previously he had been threatened by these same rebels: “If you do not give us free reign to carry out our mission (to muster support against the Khalifah) in Syria, then our authority is coming soon, and we will deal with you.” [Tarikh al-Tabari – events of the year 35 A.H.]
In summary, those who apply the verse of baghawah (rebellion) to Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu), should first apply it to these rebels, since they were the first to do so, and it was they who prevented the command of Allah (qisas) to be implemented. And if two factions among the believers should fight, then reconcile between the two. But if one of them rebels against the other, then fight against those who rebel until they return to the ordinance of Allah. And if they return, then reconcile between them with fairness and act justly. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly. This verse in no way applies to Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu), since he did not embark on and march towards any group to attack them. He remained in his area, protecting himself. Furthermore, those people who are the true implications of the verse above – the murderers of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) – they now threaten to attack the people of Syria. Mu’awiyah (radhiyalpahu anhu) did not forget the threats they had made previously and now they to threaten to kill him in his own land. Also now playing on his mind was what had happened to Talhah, Zubayr (radhiyallahu anhum) and the other innocents who lost their lives at Jamal. Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) felt he should not make the mistake of bowing before these rebels. This was Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu)’s ‘crime’, due to which those historians who supported the true rebels declared him to be the “rebel”. Thereafter, other historians and authors borrowed this incorrect attribution (of him being a baghi – rebel) and included it in their books.
A critical question: If the ruler of Syria had submitted, would it have brought about peace?
Ponder for a moment, if Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) had acceded to his dismissal as the ruler of Syria, and pledged his allegiance to ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) would this have satisfied the rebels? Would they then hand over the killers of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) to ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu)? Would the murderers then be executed, resulting in the unification of the ummah?
Or would the rebels then cause dissension and disunity amongst the ranks of ‘Ali’s (radhiyallahu anhu) army, as they did on the occasion of tahkeem (arbitration)? Is this not a known fact that whether there was submission or not, the objective of these rebels was to cause disunity amongst the Muslims, resulting in endless civil war? According to historical narrations, whichever delegation went from Iraq to Syria did not speak in an amicable fashion, rather they spoke harshly, brandishing their swords. Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) also too brandished his sword to meet their threats, and they were allowed to return safely, with their dignity, to Iraq. Whenever exhorted by the senior Sahabah, his answer was one: “I am prepared to pledge allegiance. You convince them to bring the killers to justice.” When Sahabah such as Abu al-Dardaʼ, Abu Umamah al-Bahili and Jarir ibn ‘Abd Allah al-Bajali (radhiyallahu anhum) returned with this message of Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu), ten to twenty thousand from the army of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) stood and shouted: “We are all the killers of ‘Uthman. Mu’awiyah should bring us all to justice.” It was due to this attitude that these Sahabah did not join any side. [Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah vol. 7 pg. 254]
It is reported in Tarikh al-Tabri, ibn al-‘Athir, ibn al-Khaldun and Siyar al-Sahabah that Ashtar al-Nakha’i repeatedly rebuked Jarir ibn ‘Abd Allah (radhiyallahu anhu) and disrespected him to such an extent that Jarir (radhiyallahu anhu) – who was one of the governors of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) – eventually left the army.
Due to these conflicting viewpoints and the plotting of the rebels, no reconciliation could be reached, and battle was unavoidable. Five months the Muslims honoured each other’s blood and life, with only a few minor skirmishes taking place or someone deciding to show-off his bravery, other than that they performed salat al-Janazah together, partook of meals together, performed salah behind one Imam. It was only in Muharram 37 A.H. that preparations for battle began and the battle itself in Safar 37 A.H. ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) gathered his army on this night – known as layl al-harir and exhorted his army to prepare for battle. The battle began but here the Syrians were not unprepared like those at Jamal. They too were prepared for an attack, and they retaliated in kind. It is sad to note that many Muslims lost their lives in this battle.
[The number of participants in Siffin and the number of those slain
Amir al-Muʼminin ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) prepared to go on the campaign to Syria, and he sent word to mobilise the people. (al-lsabah, 1/123, 124) He prepared a ‘huge army’; the reports differ concerning the size, but they are all weak reports (Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, 7/260; al-M’arifah wa al-Tarikh, 3/13, Tarikh Khalifah ibn Khayyaṭ, p. 193) apart from one with a reliable chain of narration, which states that he set out with fifty thousand men. (Tarikh Khalifah, pg. 193) Also shedding light on the size of Amir al-Muʼminin ‘Ali’s (radhiyallahu anhu) army is the following exhortation from ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas (radhiyallahu anhu) when preparing the Syrians for battle. He stood up to address and encourage the army, saying: “The people of Iraq are divided and weak. The people of Basra are opposed to ‘Ali because he killed some of them, and the strongest of the people of Kufah were killed in the Battle of the Camel. ‘Ali is marching with a small group, among whom are those who killed your Khalifah, so do not fail in your duty to bring them to justice.” (Tarikh al-Tabari, 5/601) A few points should be noted:
1. The Iraqi people were divided in their allegiance to ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) and all of them did not join the army of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu).
2. The army of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) was referred to as a small group, whereas an army of fifty thousand would be considered to be a large force, especially when considering the numbers with which the Muslims had faced the mighty Roman and Persian armies.
3. ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas (radhiyallahu anhu) did not refer to ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) as the killer of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) but clearly stated that the killers were present in his army.
As for the number of the Syrian army, Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) also set out with an army, and here too reports differ on the number, but they all have interrupted chains of narration; they are the same reports that estimated the size of ‘Ali’s (radhiyallahu anhu) army. The number was put at one hundred and twenty thousand, (Khilafat ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, p. 194; al-Ma’rifah wa al-Tarikh, 3/313) or seventy thousand, or much more than that. (Khilafat ‘Ali, p. 194; Tarikh Khalifah; p. 193) The closest to the truth is a report that they numbered sixty thousand. Although the chain of narration of this report as well is interrupted, its narrator is Safwan ibn ‘Amr al-Saksi, a Homsi from Syria who was born in 72 A.H and is proven to be trustworthy. He met a number of those who had been present at Siffin, as is clear from studying his biography. (Siyar ‘Alam al-Nubala, 6/380) The chain of narration to him is sound (Khilafat ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, p. 194). On account of the uncertainty or obscurity of the number of participants in this Battle, the reports regarding the number slain are even more incongruous and obscure. Thus, the scholars have conflicting views concerning the number of people slain at Siffin. Ibn Abi Khaythamah said that it was seventy thousand: twenty-five thousand of the people of Iraq and forty-five thousand of the people of Syria. Ibn al-Qayyim said that it was seventy thousand or more. (al-Sawa’iq al-Mursalah, 1/377) Undoubtedly these numbers are not accurate; they are wildly inflated. The real fighting and all-out battle lasted for three days, during which the fighting was stopped at night except for the Friday evening, so the total period of fighting was approximately thirty hours. (al-Dawlah al-Umawiyyah, p. 360-362) No matter how violent the fighting was, it could not have been more intense than Qadisiyyah, where the number of martyrs was 8500. (Tarikh al-Tabari, 4/388) Logically, it is difficult to accept the reports that mention these huge figures and there are no distinct reliable reports in this regard. Adapted from Sirah Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib by ‘Ali Muḥammad al-Sallabi]
Allamah ibn al-Kathir (rahimahullah) writes that Imam Ahmad ibn Hambal (rahmatullah alayh) narrates from Muhammad ibn Sirin (rahmatullah alayh) that when this trial began during the reign of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu), there were tens of thousands of Sahabah alive, but not even one hundred participated in those Battles. In fact there numbers do not even reach thirty. [Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah vol. 7 pg. 252]
According to ibn Battah, who narrated from Bukayr ibn al-Ashajj, those Sahabah who had participated in the Battle of Badr remained in their homes after the martyrdom of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) and all them (except for a handful) only left their homes when proceeding to their graves (i.e. they stayed aloof from participating until death). [Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah vol. 7 pg .254]
The impressions of Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and the Sahabah (ridhwanallahu anhum)
The Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum) understood the great loss and harm which the Muslims suffered in this battle to be destructive to the deen of Islam. According to a report in Bukhari and Muslim, Sahl ibn Hunayf (radgiyallahu anhu), one of ‘Ali’s (radhiyallahu anhu) governors, remarked upon returning: “O people! Look at your opinions with eyes of suspicion (i.e. do not regard this slaying of Muslims as an act of reward). I had seen Abu Jandal (in chains) on the occasion of Hudaybiyyah. If there was a time when I was close to disobeying the command of Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) it was only then (but I did not). I swear by Allah! Since we embraced Islam, we always felt no difficulty lifting our swords, except in this battle. We tried to seal a hole on one end but another opened on the other. We did not know how to remedy the situation.” [Bukhari vol. 2 pg. 602]
Sayyiduna Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) praised the stance of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu), which he would take in the Battle of Nahrawan, saying:
The one who is closer to the truth will fight the Khawarij. [Bukhari]
(The Khawarij refers to those who disbanded from ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) and then attacked him. They comprised of the same rebels and murderers of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) from Egypt and Iraq) It should be borne in mind that there is no narration from Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) praising any side of those who participated in the Battles of Jamal and Siffin. In fact, all the muhaddithin report these incidents under the chapters of fitan (trials and tribulations).
Undoubtedly, those who totally refrained from joining the battles were praised in abundance, such as Muhammad ibn Maslamah. It is narrated: “Two large groups of the Muslims will fight each other. Their claim will be the same (implementing the law of Allah). The one standing will be better than the one walking, and the one sitting will be better than the one who is standing. (i.e. to abstain from killing a Muslim is the greatest virtue.)”
Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) also praised his grandson, Hasan (radhiyallahu anhu), saying: “He is a sayyid (leader) whom Allah will use to bring together two large groups of the Muslims.” It is for this reason that Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) once seated Hasan (radhiyallahu anhu) together with Usamah ibn Zayd (radhiyallahu anhu) on his lap and said: “O Allah! I love them. You also love them and love those who love (follow) them.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
Usamah (radhiyallahu anhu) said: “If you wish, you can throw me to the lions, but I will never lift my sword against a Muslim.”
Problems facing ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu)
The major problem which ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) faced was the rebels who had concealed themselves in his army. These were the real hypocrites and his true enemies. They left no stone unturned in spreading anarchy and keeping the Khalifah occupied with internal strife instead of allowing him to turn his attention to borders and furthering the successes of his predecessors. This was the ultimate objective of the hypocrites; to halt the forward march of the Muslims and forced them to consume themselves through civil war. However, ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) soon saw through the charade, albeit after these two Battles had been fought, and realised who his true enemies were. They were the very ones who were all along posing as his aids and assistants. It was the same rebels who murdered ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu). It was then that ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) began cursing them repeatedly: “May you never be guided.”, “May you never be shown the straight path.”, “If only I had never met you and distanced myself from you”, “As long as the northerly and southerly winds blow, I will never call for you again.” [Nahj al-Balaghah sermon: 117]
Nahj al-Balaghah, the general history books and the books of the Shi’ah as well, lament over the fact that every step taken by ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) had an adverse effect and resulted in more harm coming about, such that all the lands under his control began to slip away, one by one. The true cause of this is now apparent to you, it was the work of the ‘dark moles’ from within.
In order to remove a great administrator and tactician such as Qays ibn Sa’d ibn ‘Ubadah from his post, the rebels used their tried and tested plan; carrying tales to Egypt, Hijaz and on to Yemen. ‘Ali’s (radhiyallahu anhu) great assistant, his cousin ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu), was dismissed from his post as the governor of Basrah. ‘Ali’s (radhiyallahu anhu) elder brother, Aqil ibn Abi Talib (radhiyallahu anhu) was accused of making unlawful requests from the public treasury, and this subsequently sent him to Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu). The purpose behind these conspiracies was to remove the trustworthy from the inner circle of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu). Since it was on the insistence of these sincere followers that ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) accepted the arbitration. It was then that the Khawarij separated from his army, and his own ‘followers’ chose to fight him instead.
Nevertheless, ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) fought against these Khawarij in the Battle of Nahrawan and defeated them. This is the battle which was praised by Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) (as had been quoted earlier). Ja’far Husayn (a Shi’i scholar), commenting on ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) not gaining victory in Siffin, and attacked the faith and actions of the army of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) in the following words:
1. Due to the battle continuing for such a long time, some of them got tired and stopped fighting. They found this to be a solution to stopping the battle.
2. Some joined ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) because they were under his authority, although their hearts were not really with him. They did wish him victorious.
3. Some hoped and anticipated for Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) to be victorious.
4. Some had been conspiring with Mu’awiyah began. [Nahj al-Balaghah – urdu translation pg. 584]
(No. 3 and 4 are blatant lies. If this was the case, they would have met with Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) before.)
These are the Saba’iyyah rebels who murdered ‘Uthman, Talhah and Zubayr (radhiyallahu anhum). Now they wished to kill ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) as well. Why is it so farfetched to be accept that they are the same ones who killed ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu)?
When this Shi’i scholar, for his own benefit, is willing to tarnish the reputation of his own people in this manner, and regards it to be the height of scholastic scrutiny; then why is it regarded as indecorous to prove the enemies of these Sahabah to be evil and the most depraved of society?
The Saba’iyyah killed ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu)
Let us look at what these rebels have done so far:
Let us look at what these rebels have done so far:
» In their In their secret meeting before the Battle of Jamal, Ashtar al-Nakha’i forwards his opinion that ‘Ali and Talhah (radhiyallahu anhum) should be killed.
» Once the agreement for reconciliation was reached, it was they who instigated and caused the fighting to break out.
» Prior to Siffin, they prevented discussions and dialogue to take place, which could of led to reconciliation.
» Whenever the Syrians demanded the killers of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) be brought to justice, they would shout: “We are all the killers of ‘Uthman. Mu’awiyah should bring us all to justice.”
» They threatened to kill ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) as well.
» They then separated from ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) and became the Khawarij, and fought against ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu).
» Eventually the wretched ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Muljim murdered ‘Ali (radhoyallahu anhu)
» According to reports from Tarikh al-Tabari, when ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) intended to search for the murderers of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu), demanding they be handed over; they immediately threatened to kill him.
There are numerous incidents which point to the fact that the killers of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) were the rebels, and the killers of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) also the same. Thus, according to the words of the hadith, if they are proven to also be the killers of ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu), then there is no sort of proof, not aqli (rational), nor naqli (traditional) or even nafsi (psychological), which could prove them otherwise.
Seriously ponder over this for a while, we have a strong indicator to the fact that they killed ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu). When according to the Shi’i scholar, Ja’far Husayn, the Battle of Siffin was dragging on such that some tired and stopped fighting, and were searching for a strategy to end the battle and still be able to claim victory. Thus, they conceived to kill ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) and then mourn his death. The blame would then fall squarely on the shoulders of Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu), thus the label of rebel would shift to him, since the hadith, which was known to all and sundry, mentions that ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) will be killed by a group of rebels.
The research of Moulana Safdar
Our respected Ustadh, Shaykh al-Hadith Moulana Sarfaraz Khan (rahimahullah), mentioned a few pertinent points regarding this hadith of Bukhari:
1. It was the movement of ‘Abd Allah ibn Saba – the Jew – and his followers – the Saba’iyyah – which had gained momentum and caused great harm to Islam.
2. This movement attempted to rear its ugly head during the era of ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu), but was unsuccessful (but they did manage to martyr ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu), and the door blocking the fitan [trials and tribulations] was flung open).
3. It has been clearly stated in the commentary of Muslim by Imam al-Nawawi (vol. 2 pg. 72) and in Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah (vol .7 pg. 239) that none of the Sahabah participated in the killing of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu).
4. In those days, there was no procedure for screening and enrolling in the army, neither was there any formal military training. Also there was no special register or record of the soldiers, etc. Whoever desired, joined whichever army or faction he so wished. This was how these hypocrites managed to join the army of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) and carried out their horrific agenda of massacring Muslims.
5. Although Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) was a very cautious far-sighted general, it is highly possible that when the Battle of Siffin dragged on for so long – with about 70 skirmishes taking place – these hypocrites found an opportunity and slipped into the army of Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu). Thereafter, these same mischief mongers, who were the “al-fi’at al-baghiyyah” (the group of rebels mentioned in the hadith) and “inviting towards Jahannam”, got the opportunity to kill ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu).
6. There was no Sahabi or any person who was known to be “a caller to Jannah” involved in the killing of ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu), neither was he killed upon the instruction of Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu), nor was Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) pleased with it, since according to the narration of ‘Uthman and Umm Salamah (radhiyallahu anhum), Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) classified the killer of ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) as a dweller of Jahannam. [Kanz al-‘Ummal vol. 11 pg. 725]
7. According to a famous narration of ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas (radhiyallahu anhu), the killer of ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) and the one who takes possession of his belongings is destined for Jahannam. [Mustadrak vol. 3 pg. 378] So the narrator of this hadith is none other than ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas (radhiyallahu anhu) himself, so how can it be that he, Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) and the other Sahabah are the killers of ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) and thus dwellers of Jahannam?
This is the actual answer and explanation of this hadith.
However, if those who believe and regard historical narration to be as authentic as the Qurʼan, insist that it was the army of Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) who killed ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu), than let them regard this as Sabab al-Qatal (indirect killing or becoming the means of the killing), just as a person who gives false testimony or when a judge is bribed and this results in the accused being killed. Although the Sahabah who were part of Mu’awiyah’s (radhiyallahu anhu) army never intended to kill ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu), it was the plot of the ignorant Sabaʼiyyah, who accused ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) of being one of the instigators against ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu), and thus were responsible for his killing. The actual people responsible for the killing are the ones who brought him there (like the false witness or the judge who accepted the bribe).
Nevertheless, (the reason why it is impossible for the Sahabah to have killed ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) is because the quality which was negated from the Sahabah and they were declared free of is the same quality which was established for and attributed to the rebels. If we were to assume that ‘Ammr (radhiyallahu anhu) was killed by a pile of stones falling on him, then too we would not attribute his dying to the stones, rather to the one who brought and piled up the stones. So since the rebels brought ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) to the battlefield and it was they who accused him of being the killer of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu); they will be classified as his killers. This was mentioned by Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) also when he said: “The killers of ‘Ammar are the ones who brought him here, not us.” [Tarikh al-Tabari vol. 4 pg. 29] ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) might have responded spontaneously saying: “In that case the killers of Ḥamzah were the Muslims and not the disbelievers.” However, the difference between Uhud and Siffin is that in Uhud seven hundred true sincere Muslims stood against the kuffar, after the leader of the munafiqin, ‘Abd Allah ibn Ubay ibn Salul, returned with three hundred of his followers, leaving only the faithful and sincere alongside Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). On the other hand, in the Battle of Siffin there is consensus that the hypocrites and rebels had sought refuge in the army of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu), and thus the act of killing ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) will be attributed to them, directly or indirectly.
The one who falsely accused ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) of being one of the killers of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) was Shabath ibn Rab’i [see Tarikh al-Tabari vol. 4 pg. 13] This is what Hafiz ibn Hajar (rahimahullah) has said regarding this murderer of ‘Uthman and ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhum), who kept changing his alliance and loyalty:
Shabath ibn Rab’i al-Tamimi al-Kufi was a mukhadram (he was born in the pre-Islamic era but only embraced Islam after the demise of Rasulullah sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). He was the mu’adhin of Sajjah (the lady imposter who claimed nubuwwah after the demise of Rasulullah sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). He then accepted Islam and went on to assist in the murder of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu). Thereafter he joined the ranks of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) (on the occasion of Siffin he came as an envoy to Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) and claimed that ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) was one of the killers of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) and then joined the Khawarij. He then repented, and would be among those who invited Husayn (radhiyallahu anhu) (to Kufah) but joined the army that fought and killed him. Subsequently, he joined Mukhtar al-Thaqafi and fought to avenge the death of Ḥusayn (radhiyallahu anhu). He was appointed as a police officer in Kufah and later assisted in the killing of Mukhtar al-Thaqafi. He eventually died in Kufah in 80 A.H. [Taqrib al-Tahdhib vol. 1 pg. 411]
It is very sad to note that ‘Alī (radhiyallahu anhu) and the Ahl al-Bayt would always have such supporters who seemed outspoken and brave but were truly hypocrites and mischief mongers. They might have apparently appeared to be supporters of the Ahl al-Bayt but it was under this guise that they carried out their heinous crimes of massacring Muslims.
The explanation of the Hadith: “You will invite them to Jannah and they will invite you to Jahannam.”
Hadhrat ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) was never the killer of Sayyiduna ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) and neither did he assist the rebels in any way. In the year 35 A.H. – the year in which ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) was martyred – he sent his special and most trustworthy companions to various parts of the Islamic world, to investigate the allegations made against his governors and the activities of the Sabaʼiyyah movement. ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) was sent to Egypt, which was the headquarters of ‘Abd Allah ibn Sabaʼ. All others returned with a detailed report of what was transpiring, except for ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) who was held back by the Sabaʼiyyah. ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) wrote to the governor of Egypt, ‘Abd Allah ibn Sa’d ibn Abi Sarḥ, enquiring the reason for ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) not returning with his report. The governor wrote back informing him that the Egyptians have put pressure on him and have surrounded him. Amongst them were ‘Abd Allah ibn Sabaʼ, Khalid ibn Muljim (the brother of the one who killed ‘Ali radhiyallahu anhu), Sowd!n ibn Ḥamd!n, Kinanah ibn Bishr (all historical narrations are unanimous on the fact that they were the murderers of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu). Kinanah was extremely brave and was a general of ‘Alī’s (radhiyallahu anhu) army. He had killed many Syrians in the battle for Egypt. Finally, Mu’awiyah ibn Khadij gained the upper hand in the battle and killed him. Mu’awiyah ibn Khadij was also responsible for the execution of Muḥammad ibn Abi Bakr (radhiyallahu anhu). ‘Abd Allah ibn Sa’d ibn Abi Sarḥ, the governor of Egypt, continued: “They are trying to influence ‘Ammar to accept their views. They believe that Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) will return to the world. They are also trying to influence ‘Ammar to disassociate himself from ‘Uthman. They also claim that the people of Madinah have the same beliefs as them.” [Tarikh Dimashq of Ibn al-‘Asakir vol. 7 pg. 433]
The governor of Egypt enquired from ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) whether he should execute these Sabaʼiyyah heretics but ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) replied that he should not kill them, Allah Ta’ala will deal with them. [Ibid] Thus, it was these kuffar masquerading as Muslims who took undue advantage of the gentle nature, nobility and modesty of ‘Uthman and ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhum), and created dissension in the ummah. It was they who drove a wedge into this ummah which led to such senseless loss of life.
We come to know from the above narration that it was these very Sabaʼiyyah who took advantage of ‘Ammar’s (radhiyallahu anhu) old age and held him back. They even invited him to rebel against and kill ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu); in other words: “They were inviting him to Jahannam.” Despite the temptation of their speech, the likes of which is described in the Qurʼan:
There are some whose speech captivates you in this worldly life, and he even makes Allah a witness to (the truth of) what is in his heart, whereas he is the greatest mischief-monger.
Sayyiduna ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) did not accept their beliefs, which contradicts the fundamental tenets of Iman, neither did he join them in their sinister activities. In fact, ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) admonished them for what they were doing and after the ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) was martyred, he rebuked them and in so doing “Ammar invited them to Jannah.”
Sayyiduna ‘Ammar (radhiyallahu anhu) would say to those who rebelled against ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu): “We had pledged allegiance to ‘Uthmān and we were pleased with him. Why did you people then kill him?” [Tarikh al-Islam – Nadwi vol. 2 pg. 233]
We terminate this article with mention of the ‘aqaʼid (beliefs) of a Muslim and the virtues of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu). The Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jama’ah believe that ‘Ali was the fourth rightful khalifah and the Amir al-Muʼminin. The majority of the Sahabah and Tabi’in of Madinah Munawwarah pledged allegiance to him, just as they had pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu). This was also the proof that ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) presented to Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) as proof for the legitimacy of his khilafah. [Nahj al-Balaghah]
There are innumerable ahadith mentioning the virtues of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu), hereunder we make mention of but a few:
1. Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) instructed ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) to remain in Madinah during the expedition of Tabuk, on which ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) asked: “Will you leave me behind with the women and children?” Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) consoled him saying: “Are you not pleased that you are to me as Harun was to Musa , except that there is no nabi after me.” [Bukhari]
2. Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) mentioned with regards to ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) in Khaybar: “I will give the flag tomorrow to one at whose hand Allah will grant victory. He loves Allah and His Rasul and Allah and His Rasul love him.” [Ibid]
3. Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) included ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) among his Ahl al-Bayt and had the honour of being his son-in-law. [Muslim]
4. Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said: “Whoever is my close friend then ‘Ali is also his close friend.” [Tirmidhi]
5. Hadhrat ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) came in tears to Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) after migrating to Madinah and said: “O Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)! You have created bonds of brotherhood between your Sahabah (amongst the Muhajirin and Ansar) but have not appointed a brother for me.” Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) replied: “I am your brother in this world and the next.”
In light of the many narrations regarding the virtues and merits of Hadhrat ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu), it is impossible for any Muslim to harbour hatred or malice for ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) or to reject his khilafah. During his lifetime, not a single person claimed to have a greater right to the khilafah, neither did anybody reject his worthiness of it. Even a staunch extremist Shi’ah like Baqir al-Majlisi has written: “Even Mu’awiyah acknowledged the virtues of ‘Ali. All he desired was for ‘Ali to retain him as the governor of Syria, and he would pledge allegiance to him.” [Haqq al-Yaqin]
If you were to ask: “What is this painful heart rendering historical account you have presented before us?” My response is: “This is actually an explanation of the statement of ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu), “They (the rebels) control us but we do not control them.” [Nahj al-Balaghah, Tarikh al-Tabari vol. 3 pg. 458 ] In other words, they are enforcing their policies through us, but we cannot get them to do what we want. This explanation could never be given by the Sabaʼiyyah commentators of Nahj al-Balaghah. While we Muslims, out of respect for the Sahabah, remained silent regarding their disputes, these hypocrites, under the guise of taqiyyah (dissimulation) were painting a dark image of the Sahabah and Tabi’in being the rebels.
They were the very same people who conspired with the Tatars in the seventh century to destroy Baghdad. They attacked Egypt and misled the Muslims with deviant rituals and practices of polytheism and innovation, to such an extent that its stench even crept into some books of belief and fiqh. There are abundant proofs for the nobility and piety of the Sahabah, which also prove that not one amongst them was fasiq (a flagrant transgressor). The following verse applies to each one of them:
Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens of Jannah…
We will not deride or degrade any of them; rather we will mention only their virtue and nobility.
Imam al-Bukhari (rahmatullah alayh) said:
Whoever finds fault and criticises Mu’awiyah and ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas (as well as Talhah, Zubayr, ‘Aaʼishah and Mughirah ibn Shu’bah (radhiyallahu anhum), who are superior than them in rank), his heart is sick and he is classified as a Raafidhi. [Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah vol. 8 pg. 139]
It was the Sabaʼiyyah who forced the hand ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) at every juncture, and separated from him when he attempted to reconcile and end the fighting by accepting the arbitration. It was there insistence that prompted him to leave Madīnah and confront Talhah and Zubayr (radhiyallahu anhum) it was they who urged him to march on the Syrians, thus leaving the ummah in disarray within a short period of eight months, wherein it was only Muslim lives that were lost.
This was the ‘fruit’ which these Saba’i conspirators were able to yield. O My fellow Muslims! Regard ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) to be absolved from all of this and his hands unstained by the blood that was spilt.
‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) regarded those who were demanding the qisas of ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) to be excused and would say: “O people! Do not speak evil of them. We thought they were wrong and they thought we were wrong.” [Tarikh al-Tabri]
In the end, we all desire that our mistakes should be forgiven…
And for those who came after them, saying: “O our Rabb, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith and put not in our hearts (any) resentment toward those who have believed. O our Rabb, indeed You are Kind and Merciful.”