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Hazrat Ali (R.A.) part 2 (Biography)

Hazrat Ali (R.A.) part  2
The insurgent's shameful act of assassination of the Khalifah could never have been imagined by Hadrat Ali (R.A.) or any other eminent Companion at Madinah. It came as a total surprise to Hadrat Ali (R.A.) whose two sons, Hasan and Husain (R.A.) were guarding the gate of Uthman's residence. The insurgents after climbing the back wall of the residence had assassinated the Khalifah. The assassination of Hadrat Uthman was really due to creation of faction among the Muslim community which was the goal of Abdullah Bin Saba and his followers (the insurgents), and they achieved it.

After the assassination of Hadrat Uthman, the insurgents virtually controlled the Capital, Madinah for several days. The Muslims were frightened and sat behind closed doors. After the assassination of Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) an unprecedented calamity had fallen on the Muslims and for three days, Madinah was without any government.

Afterwards the insurgents approached Hadrat Ali (R.A.) to be the Khalifah. Egyptians led by Ibn Saba and Ghafqi were the main group of insurgents behind the proposal for the Khilafat of Hadrat Ali (R.A.). Hadrat Ali first declined to bear the responsibility of this great office. But the insurgents pressed him to accept it. As a matter of fact Hadrat Ali wanted to approach Hadrat Talha (R.A.) and Hadrat Zubair (R.A.) who were included in the panel of the six persons appointed by Hadrat Umar (R.A.) to select a Khalifah. He wanted to take pledge of loyalty (Bai'at) at the hands of any of these two gentlemen. But at the end, pressed by the threats of the regicides he decided to put the matter before Muslim public in the Mosque of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa Sallam). Most of the Companions in Madinah considered him, to be the fittest person for "Khilafat" after Hadrat Uthman (R.A.). He then agreed to take the responsibility and gave his consent.

On 21st Dhul-Hijjah 35 A.H. pledge of loyalty took place at the hands of Hadrat Ali (R.A). First of all the leading insurgents took the pledge of loyalty on his hands, followed by the general public, at Madinah. Hadrat Talha and Zubair (R.A.) did not want to take a pledge (Bai'at) until the case of Hadrat Uthman's (R.A.) assassination was decided. Before that Hadrat Ali (R.A.) had offered the office of Khilafat to both of them but they had declined. However under the threats of insurgents they took the pledge of loyalty at Hadrat Ali's hands, on the condition: "You (i.e.' Ali) have to decide matters according to the Holy Qur'an and Sunnah (ways of the Holy Prophet) and would punish the guilty according to Islamic Law." Hadrat Ali (R.A.) agreed to their conditions. Hadrat Sa'd bin Waqqas (R.A.) said that he would take pledge when all the Muslims had done so. The following Companions did not take pledge at the hands of Hadrat Ali (R.A.): Muhammad bin Muslimah, Usamah bin Zaid, Hassan bin Thabit. Ka'b bin Malik, Abu Sa'eed Khudri, Nu'man bin Bashir, Zaid bin Thabit, Mughirah bin Shu'bah and 'Abdullah bin Salaam (Radiyallahu Anhum). Most of the members of Banu Umayyah (Uthman's family) also did not take pledge of loyalty at Hadrat Ali's hands. Some of those companions who did not take Bai'at went to Syria.

However the majority of the Muslims in Madinah took pledge at the hands of Hadrat Ali. According to the "Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama'ah", Hadrat Ali was the most suitable and the fittest person for Khilafat after Hadrat Uthman (R.A.). If some of the Companions did not take pledge on his hands, because of the political situation of that time, it did not mean that his Khilafat was not accepted by the Muslim majority. Besides Hadrat Ali (R.A.) nobody including Hadrat Mu'awiyah (R.A.) claimed to be the Khalifah at that time. The difference between them was the question of punishment to the assassins, which took the shape of various battles. As it would be seen afterwards Hadrat Amir Mu'awiyah (R.A.) declared his Khilafat only after the death of Hadrat Ali (R.A.). Hadrat Ali was declared to be the Khalifah not only by the insurgents, but by the Muslim public as well including the leading Ansar (Helpers) and Muhajirin (Emigrants). This could also be noticed with the fact that in the first battle which took place between Hadrat Ali and Hadrat 'Aisha (R.A.) (and her group) about 800 of those Companions who had participated in the Treaty of Hudaibiyah were with Hadrat Ali besides other Companions. As a matter of fact Hadrat Ali (R.A.) was the most popular figure at that time and was the most appropriate person to be the fourth Khalifah.

On his third day as the Khalifah, Hadrat Ali asked all the Sabaites (insurgents) to return to their places. Some of them started to go back but a party headed by Abdullah bin Saba did not obey the Khalifah pretending all the while to be his friends. In the history of Islam this was the first incident of disobedience of a Khalifah. Their aim was to be with him in order to create mischief as it would be observed later.

Hadrat Ali (R.A.), faced a very difficult situation. His three main problems were:

(i) To establish peace in the State and to set right the deteriorating political situation.

(ii) To take action against the assassins of Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) who had gone underground after he took the office. Actually some of them were among the persons who requested Hadrat Ali (R.A.) to take office of the Khilafat, but neither he nor any other Muslim at that time knew the real assassins. It was the hardest job at that time to find out the real assassins because the persons who recognised them had already left Madinah, and those among the Sabaites, who were present there did not tell Hadrat Ali the truth. All of the Sabaites told Ali (R.A.) that they did not want to assassinate Hadrat Uthman, that was done only by some of the wicked persons whom they did not recognise. Some time, therefore, was required to investigate the matter and that was possible only after a peaceful atmosphere was restored in the state which, unfortunately, never occurred during the Khilafah of Hadrat Ali (R.A.), as the situation continued to worsen.

(iii) The third problem was the attitude to be adopted towards those Companions (R.A.) who would not pledge loyalty at the hands of Hadrat Ali unless he either handed over the assassins to them or punish them according to Islamic Law. Though we cannot criticise the sincerity of their intention but in fairness to Ali, it has to be said that it was rather an impossible job for Ali (R.A.) to fulfil their demands immediately in that situation.

Hadrat Ali (R.A.) was a very straight-forward man who considered the "Khilafat" (Caliphate) as a great trust. His aim was to establish peace in the State which should be the first aim of every good ruler in such a place where certain elements try to destroy the order. According to leading Islamic Jurists it is quite right for a Muslim ruler to delay the cases of murder etc. in order to establish peace in an Islamic State (as mentioned by Qadi Abu Bakr Ibn al-Arabi in his book "Ahkam-ul-Qur'an". Hadrat Ali (R.A.) was quite right in his decision to tackle the assassins on restoration of normally. The Majority of the Muslims, specially Ahlus Sunnah wal- Jama'ah had agreed with him on this point.

The events which took place during the caliphate of Hadrat Ali (R.A.) in the form of various battles will be discussed in the light of the above facts.

After assuming office, Hadrat Ali (R.A.) tried to find out the assassins of Hadrat Uthman (R.A.). He called Marwan bin al-Hakm, the chief secretary of Hadrat Uthman (R.A.), who was present, in the house at the time of assassination, but he had already left for Damascus along with a number of Banu Umayyads.

The only other witness was Hadrat Nailah, wife of Hadrat Uthman (R.A.). But she was a housewife who used to live under "Hijab" (Pardah) in accordance with Islamic custom and as such she could not tell the names of the persons present at that time except the features of some of them. She could only name Muhammad bin Abi Bakr who had entered the house but as stated before he had left the house before Hadrat Uthman assassination. Moreover Muhammad bin Abi Bakr took an oath (in accordance to Islamic Law) that he was not an assassin and he had left the house as soon as Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) recognised him and said, "0h my dear nephew, if your father (Abu Bakr) were alive you would have not committed this." Hadrat Nailah gave her evidence in favour of Muhammad bin Abi Bakr and had confirmed that he was not one of the assassins. In spite of his efforts Hadrat Ali could not locate the assassins.

In the opinion of Hadrat Ali (R.A.) the governors appointed by Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) were basically responsible for all the events. They did not pay much attention to check the subversive activities of the insurgents. So he dismissed all the governors appointed by Hadrat Uthman (R.A.). Some of the Companions did not agree with Hadrat Ali (R.A.) on this. Among such persons were Hadrat Mughirah bin Shu'bah and Hadrat Ibn Abbas (R.A.). They advised Hadrat Ali not to take such a hasty action. According to them it was not wise to dismiss them unless they pledged loyalty to Hadrat Ali, because Uthman's assassination could be an easy excuse for them to refuse the pledge of loyalty to Hadrat Ali's. Hadrat Ali (R.A.) did not listen to their advice because he believed that expediency should not be the guiding factor. Hadrat Mughirah bin Shu'bah (R.A.) was totally against Ali's action. He left Madinah and went to Makkah.

He appointed Hadrat Abdullah bin Abbas (R.A.) as the governor of Yemen; Uthman bin Hanif as the governor of Basrah; Ammarah bin Hassan of Kufa, and Qais as the governor of Egypt. Hadrat Sahl Bin Hanif was asked to take charge of governorship of Syria from Hadrat Amir Mu'awiyah (R.A.).

When the governors went to take charge they were faced with difficulties. Egypt was one of the provinces in favour of Ali (R.A.) but when the new governor, Qais reached there the public was divided in three groups. Some of them accepted him but others demanded that the assassins must be punished first. There was a third group, belonging to Sabaites and the insurgents, who demanded that the assassins must not be punished in any case. Some difficulty was faced by the newly appointed governor of Basrah. A group of people was in favour of the insurgents while the other was against them. While the governor of Kufa was on his way a spokesman of Kufis came and asked him to return to Madinah because they did not want to change their governor Hadrat Abu Musa Ash'ari (R.A.) in any case. So Hadrat Ammarah bin Hassan(R.A.), the governor designate, returned to Madinah. The new governor of Yemen, Hadrat Abdullah bin Abbas did not face any difficulty because Ya'la, the old governor had already left Kufa for Makkah before Hadrat Ibn Abbas (R.A.) reached there. When Hadrat Sahl bin Hanif, the governor designate of Syria, reached Tabuk (the out-post of Syria), Amir Mu'awiyah's cavalry men stopped him from proceeding any further and asked him to go back to Madinah. Thus Kufa and Syria were the two provinces which had openly flouted Hadrat Ali's authority.

Hadrat Ali sent his special messengers to Kufa and Syria. The governor of Kufa, Hadrat Abu Musa Ash'ari (R.A.) sent a satisfactory reply and assured Hadrat Ali (R.A.) of his loyalty to him. Not only this he also wrote to him that he had already taken pledge of loyalty for him from the people of Kufa.

The case of Hadrat Mu'awiyah (R.A.) was entirely different.

After the assassination of Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) his family except his wife Nailah, reached Damascus and told Amir Mu'awiyah (R.A.) the details. They also carried with them the blood stained shirt of Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) and the chopped off fingers of his wife Hadrat Nailah. Amir Mu'awiyah, a kinsman of Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) was shocked on hearing the news, and when it was made public, all the Muslims of Syria were greatly perturbed. Hadrat Amir Mu'awiyah (R.A.) was a great statesman and was in Syria for about 20 years. He hung the blood stained shirt and the chopped off fingers of Hadrat Uthman's wife on the "Mimber" (pulpit) of the Jami' Mosque of Damascus because of which the Syrian Muslims got inflamed. This was the situation of Syria when Sahl bin Hanif, the governor designate of Syria was forced to return to Medina from Tabuk.

On receiving the special messenger from Hadrat Ali, Amir Mu'awiyah (R.A.) did not reply for about three months and detained the messenger. Then he sent his own messenger to Hadrat Ali (R.A.) in Rabi'ul Awwal, 36 A.H. The messenger handed over the letter to Hadrat Ali addressed as "From Mu'awiyah to Ali". When the letter was opened it was a blank paper on which only "Bismilla-Hir-rahmanir Rahim "(In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful) was written. Hadrat Ali (R.A.) was amazed to see the letter, which was in fact, an insult to the office of the "Khalifah". The messenger also told Ali (R.A.) that 50,000 sheikhs of Syria were bemoaning the death of Hadrat Uthman and were determined to fight until the assassins were handed over to them. Hadrat Ali replied, "0 Allah! You know it well that I am free from any charge of Uthman's assassination. I swear by Allah that the assassins have escaped . "

The Sabaites pretending to be friends of Hadrat Ali, tried to create another disturbance by trying to kill the messenger, but Hadrat Ali (R.A.) did not allow it. However exchange of hot words took place between them and the messenger.

Amir Mu'awiyah's reply was a clear indication of his intention. The matter was not going to be settled without force. Therefore Hadrat Ali decided to use force against Mu'awiyah (R.A.) and started preparations for it. Hadrat Ali's elder son, Imam Hasan (R.A.) was a man of rather mild temper. He requested his father to give up the Khilafat and not to think of fighting against Muslims (i.e., to start a civil war). But there was no other way and Hadrat Ali (R.A.) had to handle the situation with an iron hand in order to keep the provinces under the centre as they were since the time of Hadrat Abu Bakr (R.A.).

This was the first time in the history of Islam when the Muslims were preparing to fight against each other. As a Khalifah Hadrat Ali was quite right in his decision. Not to pledge loyalty was an open revolt against his authority and he had to deal boldly with any type of internal rebellion. Hadrat Amir Mu'awiyah (R.A.), as a matter of fact, was over-excited on the tragic assassination. The family of Uthman (R.A.) which had reached there after the assassination was also a cause of this attitude. Moreover some of the Sabaites, whose only aim was to divide the Muslim community, had reached Syria and incited the Muslims against Hadrat Ali. They were playing double role. On the one side a group of them was with Hadrat Ali (R.A.) to stir him up against Mu'awiyah; (R.A.), while on the other side some of them went to Syria only to inflame the feelings of Muslims over there. Under such conditions Mu'awiyah (R.A.) had no alternative but to insist upon his demand for punishment of the assassins before pledging loyalty to Hadrat Ali (R.A.).

While Hadrat Ali (R.A.) was preparing for war against Amir Mu'awiyah another difficulty arose. After the assassination of Hadrat Uthman (R.A.) some members of his family went to Hadrat Aisha (R.A.) who was in Mecca to perform the Hajj. They and a number of Medinites informed her about the tragedy while she was on her way from Mecca to Medina after the Hajj. Hearing the news of assassination of Hadrat Uthman she returned to Mecca and appealed to the people over there to avenge the death of Hadrat Uthman (R.A.). Hundreds of people including the governor of Mecca came out at 'Aisha's call. The governor of Yemen, Ya'la bin Munabbah also joined her in Mecca. Among Banu Ummayyads who joined Hadrat 'Aisha in Mecca were Sa'id bin 'As, Walid bin 'Uqbah and Marwan bin Hakam.

In the meantime Hadrat Talha and Zubair (R.A.) demanded Hadrat Ali to punish the assassins. He told them, "Please wait. I will do my duty as soon as conditions allow me." Hadrat Talha and Zubair were not satisfied with Hadrat Ali's reply and left Medina for Mecca to join Hadrat Aisha (R.A.). They had not correctly assessed the delicate situation in Medina. The city was not free from the grip of Sabaites and there was a general feeling against Umayyads in the public. Hadrat Ali (R.A.) was anxious to restore peace first so that the assassins could be punished.

In Mecca Hadrat 'Aisha (R.A.) started to march to Medina at the head of about two thousand men with the object of dealing with the assassins. Hadrat 'Abdullah bin Zubair was also there. They also asked him to join but he declined to do so and remained neutral.

When Hadrat 'Aisha was about to march to Medina, proposals came to visit Basrah first to collect more supporters. She decided to go to Basrah.

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