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Mu‘awiyah’s purpose for annihilating Bani Hashim

By trying to eliminate Bani Hashim, Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan was endeavoring to achieve two main aims: one of his goals was to annihilate the very roots of the religion and in this way nip Islam in the bud.

The other objective was to avenge the blood of his polytheist forefathers and the other elders of Bani Umayyah who had been sent to perdition by the holy sword of Imam ‘Ali (as). It was for this reason that during the Battle of Siffin, Imam ‘Ali (as) refused to allow anyone of the family members of Bani Hashim to enter the battlefield and gave orders preventing them from engaging in one on one battle with the enemy.45

Apart from employing savage methods, including assassination, terrorism, imposition of wars on his enemies, plunder and robbery, Mu‘awiyah also engaged in other tactics with the aim of annihilating and destroying Islam and the Ahl al-Bayt (as).

We will now mention some of these tactics:
a. Obstruction of knowledge of the virtues of the Ahl al-Bayt (as)

In his book called “Al-Ihdath”, ‘Ali ibn Muhammad ‘Abd Allah Mada’ini writes, “After usurping the caliphate, Mu‘awiyah announced to all his government officials and workers that for anyone that recounted the virtues of Abu Turab (Imam ‘Ali) or praised his household, neither his life nor his property would be secure.”46
b. Initiating enmity and cursing of Imam ‘Ali (as)

The insurgence that took place against ‘Uthman was, in all truth, a peoples’ revolt and uprising. The people came to Medina from all the corners of the Islamic world except Sham and Hams, because these lands were under the control of Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan.

The injustice, intimidation and oppression imposed upon the people by ‘Uthman’s government officials had caused a state of complete annoyance and utter frustration among the common people. It was this weariness of harassment which persuaded them to revolt and rebel and this insurgency led to the death of ‘Uthman.47

After ‘Uthman’s death, Nu‘man ibn Bashir Ansari took ‘Uthman’s blood soaked shirt to Sham.48 Mu‘awiyah was quick to exploit this opportunity. He gave orders that this shirt must be hung on the pulpit of the Sham’s A‘zam Mosque.

White haired old men were either compelled by force or paid to gather and hold mourning ceremonies next to the shirt. They continued mourning in this way for over one year. News of the event reached all the cities and towns that were under the domain of Mu‘awiyah.49

In his first speech after this event, Mu‘awiyah endeavored to portray ‘Uthman as an innocent martyr and introduced Imam ‘Ali (as) as the responsible party for ‘Uthman’s death. From then on, Mu‘awiyah’s politics took the form of creating unfounded charges against Imam ‘Ali (as). On a daily basis, he sketched new plans to cause spite, animosity and malevolence against Imam ‘Ali (as).50

The people of Sham and Hams were bombarded with heavy propaganda as regards the issue of ‘Uthman’s death. Imam ‘Ali (as) was being used as a scapegoat for a killing which he had personally renounced and condemned. The issue of revenge was falsely presented under the guise of religion.

The plea that the caliph had been oppressed and unjustly killed excited the emotions and sentiments of the common people. Some who were gullible to state propaganda believed the lie and thus the people’s feelings and emotions were vehemently raised against the people of Kufah and Imam ‘Ali (as).

Mu‘awiyah and the Umayyad government did not stop at this in their devious propaganda games, but undertook all possible means to cause lasting hatred and animosity against Imam ‘Ali (as). They hoped to gain maximum benefit from the people of these two large provinces by resorting to such tactics.

‘Amir, the son of Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas recounts, “One day Mu‘awiyah invited my father to his palace and said to him, ‘Why don’t you curse and insult Abu Turab (Imam ‘Ali)?’ Sa‘d said, ‘As long as I remember the three things which the Holy Prophet (S) said in favor of him, I will never say anything unpleasant against ‘Ali.

This is because if anyone of those three things had been said about me, it would be far more beloved for me than owning a host of fine red camels. During one of the battles, Allah’s Prophet (S) appointed ‘Ali (as) to be his representative in Medina. ‘Ali said, ‘O Prophet of Allah! Are you appointing me to be your representative and deputy among the women and children?’

The Holy Prophet (as) answered, ‘Are you not pleased that with respect to me you hold the position which Harun (Aaron) held with respect to Musa (Moses), with the exception that there will not be a Prophet after me?’ Secondly, on the day of Khaybar, I heard the Holy Prophet (S) saying, ‘I will give the Islamic banner and commandership to a man who loves Allah and the Prophet dearly and whom Allah and the Prophet also love very much.’ We all waited anxiously and were turning our heads to see who that lucky person was.

Then, the Holy Prophet (S) said, ‘Tell ‘Ali to come here.’ They brought ‘Ali forward and it became clear that he had sore eyes. The Holy Prophet (S) took some saliva from his mouth and rubbed it in ‘Ali’s eyes. ‘Ali (as) instantly got well. Then, Allah’s Prophet (S) gave the Islamic banner to ‘Ali and through him Allah bestowed conquest and sweet victory for the Muslims.

Thirdly, when the following verse was revealed, Allah’s Prophet (S) called ‘Ali (as), Fatimah (as), al-Hasan (as) and al-Husayn (as). Then, he said, ‘O Allah! These people are the ones who belong to me’.”51

    ... فَقَُل تَعالَوا نَدعُ أَبناءَنا وَأَبناءَکُم...

“And whoever disputes with you after what has come to you of the knowledge, then say: Come let us call our sons and your sons and our women and your women and our near people and your near people, then let us be earnest in prayer and invoke the curse of Allah on the liars…”52

‘Ali ibn Muhammad Mada’ini recounts, “After usurping the government and gaining control of the caliphate, Mu‘awiyah wrote orders to all his officials and agents that he was not duty-bound to provide protection or security to anyone who recounted any of the virtues of Abu Turab (Imam ‘Ali) or narrated favorable hadiths about his household members.

Mu‘awiyah commanded that the blood and property of such people should be taken without impunity. Government appointed speakers began distancing themselves from Imam ‘Ali (as), cursing him and speaking ill of his household in every community and from every pulpit.”53

Ya‘qubi writes, “Whenever some Shi‘ahs of Imam ‘Ali (as), among them Hujr ibn ‘Uday and ‘Amru ibn al-Himaq Khuza‘i, heard Mugha­yrah ibn Shu‘bah and his likes cursing Imam ‘Ali (as), they would arise and cast the curses back at them.”54

After the martyrdom of Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba (as), Mu‘awiyah intended to go to Mecca for the hajj. He first went to Medina. There, he requested to curse Imam ‘Ali (as) from the Prophet’s (S) pulpit.

The people told him that Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas was present in the city and that it was very unlikely that he would be pleased or ascent to such an act. The son of Abu Sufiyan then sent someone to ask Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas for permission to curse Imam ‘Ali (as) from the Prophet’s (S) pulpit.

Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas replied, “If you do such a thing, I will leave this Mosque forever and never return to it at all!” As long as Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas was the governor of the holy city of Medina, Mu‘awiyah restrained himself from cursing Imam ‘Ali (as) in Medina.

After the death of Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas, Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan started cursing Imam ‘Ali (as) again and wrote letters to his officials commanding them to revile Imam ‘Ali (as) from the pulpits. They did as they were ordered. Umm Salamah, one of the Prophet’s (S) wives, wrote a letter to Mu‘awiyah complaining that Mu‘awiyah and his agents were cursing Allah and his Prophet (S) from their pulpits because of their cursing of ‘Ali (as) and those who love him. She declared, “I bear witness that Allah and his Prophet (S) love ‘Ali.” Mu‘awiyah did not pay the least attention to this letter.55

Jahiz narrates, “Verily, at the end of his sermons Mu‘awiyah always used to say, ‘O Allah! Abu Turab (Imam ‘Ali) has become an apostate and a hindrance in the way towards you. Therefore, curse him and punish him with painful chastisement.’ He wrote these words and sent them to all the horizons of the Muslim World to be repeated by his agents and public speakers. This curse continued to be said on the pulpits up to the reign of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-Aziz.

Some members of Bani Umayyah told Mu‘awiyah, ‘O Amir! You have attained your ambitions and worldly desires. Why don’t you stop cursing this man?’ Mu‘awiyah answered, ‘I swear by Allah that I will not stop reviling him until I am assured that all the newborn children are brought up on the custom of cursing him, and likewise, all the old ones become grey-haired while vilifying him. I want to make sure that no one ever remembers him kindly’.”56

Zamakhshari narrates, “During the days of the reign of Bani Umayyah, and in accordance with Mu‘awiyah’s custom, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) was cursed and reviled from more than seventy pulpits.”57

Ahmad ibn Yahya al-Baladhuri recounts, “Mu‘awiyah appointed Mugha­yrah ibn Shu‘bah to be the governor of Kufah. Mugha­yrah kept this post for nine years… and he was never negligent in his duty of slandering and vilifying ‘Ali (as).”58

Hakim al-Neyshaburi narrates from ‘Abd Allah ibn Zalim that Mughayrah ibn Shu‘bah used to insult Imam ‘Ali (as). He even appointed and delegated people to carry out this task.59

‘Ubayd Allah ibn Abi Malikah recounts that a man from Sham vilified and used insulting language against ‘Ali (as) in the presence of Ibn ‘Abbas. Ibn ‘Abbas said, “O enemy of Allah! You have wronged the Holy Prophet (S). Do you not know that Allah has said,

    ﴿ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يؤذُونَ اللهَ وَرَسُولَهُ لَعَنَهُمُ اللهُ فِي الدُّنيا وَالآخِرَةِ وَأَعَدِّ لَهُم عَذَاباً مُهِيناً ﴾

‘Surely, as for those who speak evil things of Allah and His Apostle, Allah has cursed them in this world and the hereafter, and He has prepared for them a disgraceful chastisement’.”60

Then, Ibn ‘Abbas added, “If the Holy Prophet (S) were alive today, he would be annoyed by your conduct.”61

‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Baylamani says, “I was in the presence of Mu‘awiyah when a man stood up and started flinging abuses at Imam ‘Ali (as) one after the other. Sa‘id ibn Zayd ibn ‘Umru ibn Nafil stood up and protested, saying, ‘O Mu‘awiyah! Do I have to endure the pain of hearing them slandering ‘Ali (as) without you showing any indignation at it? Verily, I heard Allah’s Prophet (S) saying,

    «هو منّي بمنزلة هارون من موسى.»

‘Ali is to me what Aaron was to Moses’.”62

Ahmad ibn Hanbal quotes from ‘Abd Allah ibn Zalim Mazani, “When Mu‘awiyah left Kufah, he appointed Mughayrah ibn Shu‘bah to be his agent there. Mughayrah ibn Shu‘bah appointed speakers to curse and slander ‘Ali (as). Mazani says, ‘I was seated next to Sa‘id ibn Zayd ibn ‘Umru ibn Nafil. I noticed that he had got very angry.

When I asked him why, he got my hand and took me to a corner. Then, he asked me, ‘Don’t you see that this man is committing injustice against himself by cursing ‘Ali (as), a man whose place is in paradise’”63

Ibn Abi al-Hadid relates that Mughayrah ibn Shu‘bah, Mu‘awiyah’s governor and agent in Kufah, commanded Hujr ibn ‘Uday to stand up and curse ‘Ali (as) in the presence of all the people. Hujr ibn ‘Uday refused. Mughayrah intimidated and threatened him with punitive action if he did not do as he had been ordered. Hujr ibn ‘Uday stood up and said to the people, “Your leader has commanded me to curse ‘Ali (as); therefore, curse him.”

The people of Kufah said, “O Allah! Curse him.” Of course, the people’s curse was meant for Mughayrah ibn Shu‘bah himself.64


45. Nasr ibn Muzahim, Waqa‘atu Siffin, pp. 462-463.

46. Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 3, p. 15.

47. Ansab al-Ashraf, vol. 5, pp. 59-60; Tarikh-e Ya‘qubi, vol. 2, p. 150.

48. Tarikh Tabari, vol. 4, p. 562.

49. Waq‘atu Siffin, p. 127; Tarikh Tabari, vol. 4, p. 562.

50. Waq‘atu Siffin, pp. 31-32, 127-128.

51. Muslim, Al-Sahih, vol. 7, pp. 120-121; Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 3, pp. 108-109.

52. Surat Al ‘Imran 3:61.

53. Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 11, p. 44.

54. Tarikh Ya‘qubi, vol. 2, p. 205.

55. Al-‘Aqd al-Farid, vol. 4, p. 159.

56. Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 4, pp. 56-57, sermon [khutbah] 56.

57. Rabi‘ al-Abrar, vol. 2, p. 186.

58. Ansab al-Ashraf, vol. 5, p. 252; Tarikh Tabari, vol. 5, p. 254; Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 2, p. 488.

59. Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 3, p. 509, hadith 5898; Siyr A‘lam al-Nubala’, vol. 3, p. 31.

60. Surat al-Ahzab 33:57.

61. Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi, Al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 3, p. 138, hadith 4618.

62. Ibn Abi ‘Asim, Al-Sunnah, p. 588, hadith 1350.

63. Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 1, p. 400, hadith 1644.

64. Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 4, p. 58.

Adapted from: "The Uprising of Ashura and Responses to Doubts" by: "‘Ali Asghar Ridwani"