Imam Ali bin Abi-Talib (a.s.); The Great Martyr in the Cause of Defending Justice
The Battle of Basra :
It was natural that Talha and Zubair were unhappy with the reformative movement led by Imam Ali (a.s.) in Islamic life. They started preparations for rebellion against the Imam (a.s.) and stirred the Muslims against him. The result was a calamity that caused the nation grave losses. They (Talha and Zubair) persuaded A'isha, the daughter of Abu Bakr – and one of the Holy Prophet's wife - to go out with them to Basra to lead the opposition front against Imam Ali (a.s.).
Imam Ali (a.s.) exerted great efforts to avoid the conflict.
In Basra, Imam Ali (a.s.) continued to give his advice to prevent bloodshed. He even sent envoys to the Nakithun (those who broke their allegiance) inviting them to peace and reconciliation.
He (a.s.) met Zubair and reminded him of certain incidents which happened to them during the life of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.). Among them, the Holy Prophet's speech to Zubair:
"Verily, you will one day unfairly rise against him (i.e. Imam Ali)."
"O! Yes," replied Zubair, "but I forgot it. Now that you have reminded me, I would give it up."
Consequently, Zubair decided to retire from puplic life. But his son, Abdullah, accused him of cowardice for doing so.
Thus, the situation exploded and war was waged between the two camps.
The fight ended with a crushing victory achieved by the Imam's army. Imam Ali (a.s.) proclaimed a general amnesty to all those who fought against him. He (a.s.) even returned A'isha to Madinah.
Because A'isha went to Basra riding on a camel, this war was called the War of the Camel (Jamal).
The Battle of Siffin :
The most difficult problem faced by Imam Ali (a.s.) during his caliphate was the problem of the rulers who were appointed before and were ruling the Muslims lands.
Such rulers were not on a high level of piety, asceticism and loyalty in order to be as models and guides for people whom they lead toward guidance and reform, while most of the rulers were appointed before and who lacked such qualifications and even worse than that. Most of them were characterized by corruption, oppression and transgressing against the wealth of people and themselves.
Some rulers and commanders were among those who were severely in enmity and annoyance to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.). Among them were:
* Hakam bin Aas who was the most severe enemy to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) to the extent that he (s.a.w.) expelled him and his son from Madinah.
* Walid bin Aqaba bin Abi Mo'it, the ruler of Kufa during the reign of Uthman. This man (Walid) was a drunkard and had a Christian drinking companion. Once, this man offered four Rak'a (units of prayer) instead of two when he led people at dawn prayer because he was drunk.
* Abdullah bin Sa'id bin Aadi was the Holy Prophet Muhammad's clerk and betrayed the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) in his writings and therefore, he (s.a.w.) dismissed him, therefore, he turned away from Islam, but later one of the caliph, Uthman, appointed him as a ruler for Eygpt.
* Mu'awiya bin Abi Sufyan, the ruler of Sham (Syria). He used to govern the whole land of Sham and was appointed as a ruler before and led a luxurious life which was not limited by Islamic law nor controlled by a religion. Ahmad bin Hanbal, in his authentic book, on the authority of Abdullah bin Boraida, said:
I and my father visited Mu'awiya. He made us sit and then brought food for us. After having finished eating, they brought a drink (wine); first Mu'awiya began to drink, then he passed it to my father and then he (Abu Boraida) said: I did not drink it since the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) forbade it.
It seems that Mu'awiya was never embarrassed about drinking alcoholic beverages. It was brought to him on camels after passing through roads and markets. It happened that a group of camels, carrying, bottles of alcoholics beverages to Mu'awiya passed near Abada bin Samit, a companion who was in Sham at that time. He asked them: "What are these? Are they oil?"
They said: "No, it is a wine which should be sold to Mu'awiya." This man took a plowshare from a market and with which he tore the bottles.
Mu'awiya had a severe hatred for Imam Ali (a.s.) because he (a.s.) killed his (Mu'awiya) brother Handhala who was a polytheist in the battle of Badr. He (a.s.) also killed his (maternal) uncle, Walid bin Utbah and a group of his (Mu'awiya) relatives who were fighting in the army of the unbelievers of the Quraish. This was one of the essential elements behind Mu'awiya's enmity towards Imam Ali (a.s.). He (Mu'awiya) even ordered to curse the Imam (a.s.) on the pulpits of the mosques at every Friday Sermon.
Therefore, Imam Ali (a.s.), being the bearer of the standard of Islam, had no way other than changing such rulers and the like and replacing them with the righteous faithful from the companions of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) and the formers in faith. This movement motivated such damaged people who found no shelter other than Mu'awiya who , in turn, gathered them under his flag. Mu'awiya declared his revolt against the Imam's decision for deposing him and refused obeying the true Caliph, thus, began to prepare himself to confront the Imam (leader) of his time.
After the victory in the battle of Basra, the Imam (a.s.) returned with his army to Kufa to reinforce his troops, and then to go on to Sham to liquidate the opposition, led by Mu'awiya bin Abi Sufyan. Therefore, Imam Ali (a.s.) started his march with his army heading for Sham. But the enemy received news about his move, and decided to meet the Islamic advance on the way. The two armies confronted one another near the Euphrates River. Imam Ali (a.s.) resumed his efforts to set things right through peaceful ways and preserve the unity of the Muslims ranks and join the unanimity of the nation. But Mu'awiya's insisting on fighting caused more than ten thousand victims and because of complicated circumstances, the battle which lasted two weeks ended without any victory for both sides.
Developments of Judgment :
The confusion and disorder caused in the ranks of Imam Ali's (a.s.) army as a result of the raising the copies of the Holy Qur'an by the Umawi soldiers had an effective impact on his camp, and the appearance of the forces hidden under righteousness in his army and their pressure to impose the acceptance of the accomplished fact. Consequently, the Imam (a.s.) was forced to respond to the order of judgment between the two sides. Thus, the people of Syria (Sham) chose Amru bin Aas who was famous for his cunning, tricks, and love of the present world, while the other side chose Abu Musa Ash'ari to represent the camp of the Imam Ali (a.s.), under the influence of the stupid ones and the owners of interests who existed inside the army of Imam Ali (a.s.). This man (Abu Musa Ash'ari) was weak minded, in addition to his being among those who isolated himself from the Imam Ali (a.s.) in his war against his enemies.
Some narrations refer that laceration caused in Imam Ali's (a.s.) troops reached its climax that even some chiefs of his soldiers threatened the Imam (a.s.) to act with him like they acted with Uthman or deliver him to Mu'awiya.
When the two arbitrators met each other, Amru bin Aas took advantage of Abu Musa Ash'ari when the latter presented him the idea of deposing both Imam Ali (a.s.) and Mu'awiya. When Abu Musa was pleased with that idea, Amru bin Aas began deposing his companion, whereas he himself did not recommend to precede the Messenger of Allah's (s.a.w.) companion in that.
Therefore, Abu Musa advanced and deposed Imam Ali (a.s.) from the leadership of Muslim affairs and deposed Mu'awiya too, whereas Amru bin Aas announced his consent of deposing Imam Ali (a.s.) and appointing his own companion, Mu'awiya.
Thus, Amru bin Aas betrayed Abu Musa Ash'ari and took advantage of his weaknesses inspite of Abdulla bin Abbas's warnings against Amru's betrayal.
After the two delegations returned, Amru bin Aas submitted the caliphate to Mu'awiya in 37 A.H. and never submitted him the like before.
But, the Commander of Faithful Ali (a.s.) considered that the betrayal of Amru bin Aas and the negligence of Abu Musa Ash'ari, caused the arbitration to end through incorrect and unsafe ways. This betrayal and unseriousess were clearly seen in Amru's speeches and behavior. Therefore, Imam Ali (a.s.) called to resume war and declared his statement to the umma, which says:
"O people, I had given you my orders about this arbitration, but you rejected it (my orders) and disobeyed me. By my life, disobedience brings about regret. Consequently, mine and your positions became as the poet of Hawazin says: 'I gave you my orders at Mun'arijil-liwa but you did not see the good of my counsel till the noon of the next day (when it was too late).' But these two arbitrators neglected the Book of Allah, they caused the death of what the Qur'an revived and revived what caused death. Each of them followed their own low desires without Allah's guidance. They judged without any proof nor with any previous tradition, and both of them were not guided...therefore, get ready for jihad, prepare (yourselves) for the (right) path and be awakened in your positions."
Mu'awiya's Plans :
After the battle of Siffin and the order of judgment, Mu'awiya began to behave as if he was the absolute ruler. He began to collect the properties gained by poor-rates (zakat) and taxes and sent armies to different regions in order to terrify people and dominate these areas.
Therefore, he chose some criminals as leaders of his armies. These people had no previous convictions to Islam, but, were among those who bore hatred and enmity for Islam. He provided them with some terrorist instructions which were completely opposite to what the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) used to recommend to his army.
In the year 40 A.H., Mu'awiya sent an army, led by Bosr bin Abi Arta'a, which consisted of three thousnd fighters, and ordered him to take the route of Hejaz, Madinah and Makkah until he reached Yeman. He (Mu'awiya) told him the following:
"Do not camp at an area where the people are obeying Ali(a.s.), but that you control them with your tongues by threats, until they see that they have no rescue and you are surrounding them. Then, have full control over them, and call them to give their pledge of allegiance. Whoever refuses, then, kill him and kill the followers of Ali(a.s.) where they are."
Consequently, Bosr carried out the orders of his master, Mu'awiya. He began to pursue the close companions of Imam Ali(a.s.) and whoever delayed giving the pledge of allegiance (to Mu'awiya), he burnt their houses, destroyed them and robbed them of their properties.
He killed about thirty thousand on his way going and coming back and burnt a community to such an extent that a poet, regarding him, said: "Wherever Bosr goes with his army, he kills whatever he can and burns it".
When he (Bosr) moved to the city of Hadhramaut, he said: "I want to kill one fourth of Hadhramaut."
Mu'awiya ordered Sufyan bin Awf Ghamidi to enter Iraq and advised him to attack, rob, burn, and kill, saying:
"Destroy whatever you pass of villages, kill whoever you meet who does not agree with your opinion, and take the properties because they are similar to killing and it is the most painful one for the hearts."
Sufyan not only executed Mu'awiya's orders, but, also, did more. He attacked freely non-Muslims enjoying Muslims' protection (the people of the Book), killing and robbing them. These are the people in regard to whom the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) advised concerning them and said that he is an enemy of those who harm them.
These are some examples regarding Mu'awiya and his followers. Mu'awiya underlined his aims and the goals of his battles, in his address to the people of Kufa, after the peace-treaty with Imam Hasan (a.s.). He said:
"By Allah, I did not fight you in order to make you pray, nor to fast, nor to make pilgrimage, nor to pay poor-rates (zakat). Indeed, you do that (already). I fought you in order to dominate you."
This was the way of Mu'awiya, and which, Imam Ali (a.s.) in contrast was advising his commanders whom he (a.s.) sent to prevent the attacks of Mu'awiya, saying:
"Fear Allah towards Whom you will return. Do not despise a Muslim, nor a covenanter. Do not seize unlawfully, wealth, nor children nor offspring.. Even if you are barefooted and dismounted, keep up your prayers at their due times."
Thus, he recommends for the sanctity of people; whether Muslims or non-Muslims.
Therefore, the conflict of Imam Ali (a.s.) with Mu'awiya represented the conflict between two opposite ways: The way of truth, principles, values and character and, on the other side, the way of falsehood, misguidance, oppression and betrayal. These two ways never meet each other.
In the Kingdom of Allah :
The Imam (a.s.) turned to resuming the fight against the Qaisitin in Sham - Mu'awiya and his followers once again.
He (a.s.) proclaimed mobilization for his army, and declared war against the opposition led by Mu'awiya. Then, he (a.s.) started distributing banners to his leaders, Imam Husayn(a.s.), Abu Ayyub Ansari and Qais bin Sa'id.
Yet, as he was engaged in mobilizing his forces in order to put an end to the opposition movement led by Mu'awiya, there was another mean conspiracy being covertly planned, this time to assassinate him. A group of his enemies held a meeting in Makkah to deliberate evil intentions, which were to end with the most horrific consequences. The gravest decision was to murder the Commander of the Faithful Ali (Amir Mu'minin), and the task was assigned to the wilful criminal Abdul-Rahman bin Muljam Muradi. It was a most critical period in the history of Islam and the Muslims.
While the nation was looking forward to a decisive victory over the destructive elements of disunity led by Mu'awiya bin Abi Sufyan, the sinful hand of Ibn Muljam Muradi was extended to Imam Ali bin Abi-Talib (a.s.). He swept down with a sword on his head while the Imam was prostrating dawn prayers at the honorable Mosque of Kufa on the 19th of the month of Ramadan in the year 40 A.H.
They assassinated Imam Ali (a.s.) at his finest time -the hour of standing before Allah, the Exalted, during the prayer of submission, while fasting during the month of Ramadan; during the most glorious Islamic duties, while preparing to wage holy striving (Jihad), and in the highest and most pure divine places, the Mosque of Kufa.
The crime of assassinating Imam Ali (a.s.) remains one of the most cruel, brutal and hideous, because it was not committed against one man, but against the whole rational Islamic leadership. By assassinating Imam Ali (a.s.), they actually aimed at assassinating the message, the history, the culture and the nation of Mulsims embodied in the person of Imam Ali bin Abi-Talib (a.s.), the successor of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), the bearer of his banner and the follower of his path and deed.
Thus, the Islamic nation lost its guide of progress after the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.).
Imam Ali (a.s.) suffered from his wound for three days, during which he entrusted his son, Imam Hasan (a.s.) with the Imamate of guiding the nation ideologically and socially.
During those three days, as during all his life, he never ceased remembering Allah, praising Him, and accepting Him and His ordinance.
Likewise, he continued giving pieces of advice and directions leading to good, pointing to the right, defining the way to guidance, explaining the course for deliverance, calling for the observance of Allah's ordinances, and warning against following one's ill desires and set-backs from not carrying out the divine message.
The following is one piece of advice offered to his sons, Imams Hasan and Husayn (a.s.), as well as to his people, the nation and coming generation:
"I advise you (both) to fear Allah and that you should not hanker after the (pleasure of this) world even though it may run after you. Do not be sorry for anything of this world that you have been denied. Speak the truth and act (in expectation) for (Allah's) reward. Be an enemy of the oppressor and a helper of the oppressed."
"I advise you (both) and all my children and members of my family and everyone whom my writing reaches, to fear Allah, to keep your affairs in order, and to maintain good relations among yourselves for I have heard your grandfather (the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.)) saying: 'Improvement of mutual differences is better than general prayers and fasting."
"(Fear) Allah (and) keep Allah in view in the matter of orphans. So do not allow them to starve, nor allow them to be lost in your presence."
"(Fear) Allah (and) keep Allah in view in the matter of your neighbors, because they were the subject of the Prophet's advice. He went on advising in their favor till we thought he would allow them a share in inheritance."
"(Fear) Allah (and) keep Allah in view in the matter of the Qur'an. No one should excel you in acting upon it."
"(Fear) Allah (and) keep Allah in view in the matter of prayer, because it is the pillar of your religion."
"(Fear) Allah (and) keep Allah in view in the matter of your Lord's House (the Ka'ba). Do not forsake it so long as you live, because if it is abandoned you will not be spared."
"(Fear) Allah (and) keep Allah in view in the matter of Jihad with the help of your property, lives and tongues in the way of Allah."
"You should keep to a respect for kinship and spending for others. Avoid turning away from one another and severing mutual relations. Do not give up bidding for good and forbidding from evil least the mischievous gain positions over you, and then in such a case, your invocations will not be responded to (by Allah)."
Such was the heroic end of this great man! His loss was the gravest one to the Mission and the nation after the loss of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.).
By the martyrdom of Imam Ali (a.s.), the nation lost:
A heroism that had become the song of the time;
A couragous history that has never dreamt of its like;
A wisdom no one can fathom, save Allah;
A purity, the like of which was only in the prophets.
An abstinance from the pleasures of life that could be attained only by the nearest to Allah;
An eloquence such as to be the echo of the Book;
and a thorough knowledge of the laws of religion.
It is he about whom the Messenger of Allah(s.a.w.) said: "Ali(a.s.) is with the truth and the truth is with Ali(a.s.)" and "I am the city of knowledge, and Ali(a.s.) is its gateway, so whoever wants to enter the city, let him enter it through its gateway.
Peace be upon him the day he was born, the day he was martyred, and the day he shall be raised alive.
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