Imam Ali (S) Sunshine of Civilized Islam
Imam Ali (S) Sunshine of Civilized Islam
Muhammad Husayn Tahmasebi
So long as three great problems of the world; the degradation of man through indigence and pauperism, the corruption of women through hunger, the ignorance and poverty existing on earth, are unsolved; so long as spuriously creating hells amid the civilization on earth and social suffocation is possible in any part of the world, the personality of Imam Ali (s) and his speeches and maxims collected in Nahj al-Bal?ghah can not fail to be of use.
Nowadays many people of the world are in easy circumstances because of the advancement of learning and technique, but regretfully the morals and ideality are, at the same time, disappearing among them and it seems that the world is badly in need of morals and spirituality.
It is clear that the modern science is the result of a series of quarrels occurred between church and the scientists during the Dark Ages.
The people expected that church would teach them the principles of religion and would direct the society to welfare and peacefulness, but it was contrary to their expectation that the church persisted in its opinion to protect its prestige and imposition of its pretended ideas as the divine religion. It surprised every scientific movement and consequently scientists became involved in many difficulties. When they cleared the immoral acts of church, they were put to torture and finally they were badly killed.
As history says, Giardona Bruno the philosopher and physicist of Italy was burnt to death before the crowed after spending eight years in jail. Also Copernicus the famous mathematician was harassed by the church.
Galilee, the famous astronomer was thrown into jail at the age of seventy and eventually got a temporary release when he fell down on his knees and asked for forgiveness.
Such ill-treatment towards scientists and reaction against enlightenment made people hate church and turn back from religion. The people, on the supposition that knowledge is the only means of deliverance from misfortunes, kept themselves back from the spiritual centers and unfortunately they (the Europeans) kept on that until the present time.
Of course disgust against religious matters brings to being atheism and irreligion and atheists do not assume any responsibility for their acts towards conscience and morals.
Therefore the science which is taught in Europe is poor in morals and spiritual things and its teaching is merely for the science itself apart from morality or what it results later on.
Although the modern learning has made life so easy as all people can delight in it, it does not accept any responsibility for being useful for the good of society per se, as many terrible and destructive weapons have resulted from it.
In general, the Europeans have separated religion from worldly attachments. According to their opinion there is no any relevance between them and finally they have chosen the last one.
The science without principles was set by the hands of many cruel and impious exploiters, who enjoyed the products of the people's labor in backward countries and if they wanted to get rid of their mischief, greater dangers impended upon (threatened) them.
In addition to that, we ourselves see that the low classes of people especially the black-skinned are inhumanly treated in America and racial feelings have made thousands and thousands of people in Europe live homelessly and helplessly.
These ill-favored actions indicate non-observance morals and justice and it, automatically, is arisen from irreligion and impiety.
Nowadays, racialism and unjust discrimination as well as being inattentive to people's rights are, sorrily, big tragedies at the days of advancement of learning.
Recently some startling news are heard on radios that a number of teenage students have organized criminal groups and entered into classrooms armed with pistols or knives. It is more regretful that narcotics are distributed by them too. The numbers of such organizations have been increased twice as many since 1989 in the U.S. of America. The competent authorities have cautioned the parents that if the circumstances continued unabated the United States would face many perils.
It can easily be said that so many crimes, assassinations, suicides and intentional fire accidents which are of frequent occurrence all over the world, are resulted from immorality and irreligiousness.
It is worthy to be mentioned that all divine religions, especially Islam, have encouraged people to learn the knowledge of public utility and have guaranteed it from the view of conscience and moral, in order to fulfill this purpose.
God has sent Prophets with the laws that suited people's requirements of their own time and have showed them the way of their life.
Each new Prophet has cancelled some of the previous laws by a new divine law as the nations would progress.
In Principle they have called people to theism and it was applied to all attainments and virtues.
There were among them five arch-Prophets, who had missions for the whole world. They were Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ and Mohammad, peace be upon them all.
Every one of them had appointed a competent man as his successor to protect the divine law from deviation and distortion.
Jesus Christ had educated twelve persons as his disciples. The progress of Christianity was indebted to their services.
Mohammad was the last Prophet of God. The Holy Qur’an was descended from Heavens to him. It guides people, it shows the way of life and it shall suit the requirements of mankind till the Day of Resurrection.
The education done by Mohammad enabled the people of Arabia to win a victory over two great empires of that time, Iran and Rome though they (people of Arabia) were not worthy of attention before the advent of Islam.
Although the history says that Imam Ali was the fourth caliph of Islam but according to the reliable traditions of the great scholars of Sunni and Shia, the Prophet of Islam had appointed him as his successor and also his executor.
He was educated by the Prophet since childhood and had accompanied him step by step and at the time when the verses of Qur’an would come down from Heavens he was present with the Prophet and he perceived the interpretation of the verses directly by the Prophet (s). Therefore he learned the whole virtues and the good qualities, and consequently his words and deeds conformed to the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Qur’an acted upon him more than anyone else.
He who likes to understand Islam has to study Imam Ali’s life carefully to react to the stimulus of civilized Islam.
Therefore Imam Ali's words and deeds are perfect examples for the different classes of people especially the leaders and the statesmen.
As it was said earlier, there are many corruptions and crimes all over the world. The youths are subjected to dangers on account of misusing of science, publication of immorality and exploiting unfairly the people of the backward countries by some irreligious and Mammonish groups.
question comes up for discussion about those, who deny themselves and go on without everything though some of them are able to be in easy circumstances and take pleasure in easy life, but they fall into habit with containment and keep aloof from a luxury life.
From immemorial time secession from worldly pleasure had been regarded as a means of purification of spirit and improvement of inner serenity.
Those, who wanted to keep aloof from the worldly attachments, used to go out of cities and stay in the forests or take refuge in the caves of mountains to worship God according to their own principles.
They would pass their life with bare subsistence, if the inhabitants of the nearby villages gave them something to eat or they could find some fruits of wild trees of forests.
At first some people were under necessity of leaving their houses because of the oppression of the rulers but later on whoever determined on saving himself from worldly ties adopted this way of worshiping God and usually took the consequences. But their actions were not governed by a divine law; therefore passions and desires might have overcome them and would break all moral fetters.
Of course Islam does not permit the Muslims to adopt this way of worship nor it does approve leaving their houses to seclude and pray in such fashion, but it has incidentally recommended them to put to use all possibilities of time and place in moderation. A Muslim should be responsible for his wife and children. He should earn his livelihood through lawful means. He should not trespass against the others' rights and should follow virtues and piety, and behave in opposition to carnal desires. These characteristics are the principles of worship in Islam. Such worship brings up in the individuals courage, devotion and generosity.
It is evident that a person is deeply impressed with customs and conditions of his environment and his hereditary particulars. Of course the scientific and religious learning and the spiritual and physical specifications are of great importance too.
Persons do not bear any resemblance in attitude of mind, the reflective faculty and nature and consequently their reactions are not the same towards hardships and difficulties.
Great men are not only praised on account of highness of position or by their extraordinary power, but under the title of greatness they have to hold some attainments and show manly behaviors that are the essential conditions of greatness.
Undoubtedly courage and moral heroism are the best qualities, not only that kind of courage, which someone runs to risk carelessly, but what is acceptable is the bravery of some great leaders, who stand against the heart's desires of the close friends and are patient of unbearable oppositions of the kinsmen or the internal enemies.
In some particular cases, it happens that a man of lacking necessary morals shows an unexpected courage, but to our understanding it can not be called real courage because this kind of courage is neither true nor dependable. Certainly courage is an admirable quality in itself but it is not separated from the other attributes.
It is linked with the other high qualities like honesty, chastity, truthfulness, abiding by one's word, steadfastness and generosity. It is an undeniable fact that people usually prefer morality to vastness of knowledge because so many big cities were destroyed by the command of educated generals (educated in the European universities) especially during the Second World War.
When we inquire into the biographies of some great men and leaders we come across much sincerity, self-sacrifice and purity that will be pleasing to us. It can safely be said that the continuance and duration of the world is indebted to the devotion of Socrates, the philosopher of ancient Greece, who drank water of hemlock to show his astray fellow-citizens the unreliability of the material things and to prove the eternity of the soul for ever.
Jesus Christ used to have a piece of dried bread and to rest on the floor to keep himself pure from implications of the world and also to show the Jews the instability of luxuries.
Many people, trying to achieve their goals, are concerned with materiality and unessential things. They usually plan to earn money as much as possible. They often are intolerant of justice and they try to rob people of their rights, in spite of the fact that the material things are destructible and unreliable.
Now all crimes and murders, which occur frequently allover the world are arisen from Mammonism and unlawful abuses.
It is much unpleasant when we study the pitiful situation of many injured nations, who were ruled by some unjust rulers, so that their natural resources and the products of their labors were looted by foreign exploiters and in addition to it that their national feelings were also trampled upon.
Unfortunately those customs linger in many places of the world.
he matter in hand is about Imam Ali, whose life was closely bound up with the first age of the history of Islam. All the necessary conditions gathered together and consequently made him a prodigy of learning.
He, who wishes to know and understand Islam, has to be familiar with Imam Ali’s particulars because he was really the mirror, the echo and also the voice of Islam. His every word and deed was quite in accordance to the Holy Qur’an's injunctions.
It is likely that many of the readers know a little about Islam, therefore I have to give them an account of a short history about it with the intent of making them acquainted with Imam Ali. Then I shall explain some of his characteristics and to show you how he resisted difficulties and how he stood against unjust discriminations and partiality especially during his incumbency when he faced many problems.
After a great deal of time, 621 years after Christ, God gave a mission to Mohammad, His last Messenger, to guide people in the right way.
Mohammad (s), that great lawgiver, brought into existence a sudden and basic change in Arabia that was the most fundamental of all other social or religious movements, which have ever arisen allover the world. He managed to lay the foundation of a new systematic ordinance that, within fifty years, gained supremacy over the great civilizations of Rome and Iran and it also had a great influence over the original rules of the Christian Europe, which is still new and novel until nowadays.
At an early part of the 20th century, a declaration was issued by the U.N. Organization concerning liberty and equality of mankind, whereas Islam had given women and girls the legal rights and independence in the economic matters fourteen centuries ago when they were buried alive because they were considered as troublesome and superfluous objects. They were empowered to deal with their affairs independently and finally were entitled to ownership at the same time, whereas in France, the cradle of liberty, women could not sell their properties without permission of their husbands until 1938.
According to the laws of ancient Iran and Rome a system of rights and privileges kept the casts separate from each other. A merchant could not marry a daughter of a nobleman and a nobleman could not marry a princess. Slaves and ordinary people could not mix with the noblemen as well.
But Muhammad (s), the Prophet of Islam offered people a perfect and applicable religion that responded to the subjects of theological matters, social justice, economic affairs, equality and the rights of women in general and in detail.
It was rumored that there was a drought in Mecca and that Muhammad (s) went to his uncles Abbas and Hamzah with a proposal. He said to them, “Look, your brother Abu-Talib has a big family. Let us go to him and ask him to permit us adopting some of his children.”
Finally Ja’far and Talib were adopted by Hamzah and Abbas whereas Ali (s) was brought up under the care of Mohammad when he was at the age of six. In this manner the foundation of the moral and spiritual education of this intelligent child was based near the Prophet of Islam, the greatest educator of mankind.
His mental faculties was to that extent that he believed in the Prophet at the age of 8, therefore he, on the contrary of the other companions of the Prophet, had never worshipped idols and never shared in unreasonable demands, oppressive treatments and unfair acts of chieftains.
A new religion with its rule of equity and brotherly love came severely in contact with the previous customs. The unbelievers closed all the doors of livelihood in front the believers. They left no deficiency in creating difficulties for them; therefore the Prophet had to invite people to theism in concealment.
The secret invitation took three years of time and then a verse came down from the Heaven:
(And warn your nearest relations and be kind to him who follows you of the believers) 26:214-215.
The Prophet's relations (Koreish family) were the most obstinate opponents of him. They were also of property and influence. They were called to gather together in the house of the Prophet's uncle, Abu-Talib.
The Prophet decided to unveil what was concealed. After a primal speech about God and His attributes and after reproaching the idols and idolatry, he said:
“The first one among you, who believes in the unique God and adopts me as His Messenger, will be my successor.”
No one of those, who were present, gave his adhesion except Ali ibn Abu-Talib (s).
As some of the great Sunni scholars mentioned that the proposal was repeated three times and there was only Ali, who answered affirmatively and said: “O the Prophet of Allah, I believe in Allah and His messenger and I will be your assistant towards difficulties”.
The Prophet said: “I notify you of this fact that Ali ibn Abu-Talib will be my successor after my death”. 1
It is memorable to be said that their paternal relation (Mohammad and Ali) was not the reason in accepting the new law by Ali (s).
Many other relatives were persistently faithful to their ancestral customs like Aqil, Ali's elder brother, who was with the enemies in the first war between the Muslims and the unbelievers of Koreish (Badr battle).
But Ali ibn Abu-Talib on account of his natural genius, which he was gifted with by God, his education acquired from the Prophet (s) at the early part of his life and because of the influence of the Prophet's manner and behavior, all these factors, made him to meditate on the subject and believe in God.
After this meeting, the heathens, for the sake of safekeeping their position among people and their estates and also for stopping the development of Islam, made many troubles for the Muslims many times. All the devilish forces became armed to suppress this heavenly mission.
Not only the believers were put to torture, but also the Prophet himself was not excepted.
It was mentioned that the Prophet had said: “No Prophet has ever got hurt so much as I got”.
In spite of many sufferings and restrictions, the Prophet would gradually gain power over the people by moral injunctions of the Holy Qur’an with his high-toned eloquence, his good humor and his laudable qualities.
The idolaters tried hard to dispense and dispirit the believers around the Prophet by force but their efforts were of no avail and the Muslims were regularly increasing.
Now the heathens' harshness got to that extent that many Muslims, by the permission of the Prophet, determined on emigrating towards Abyssinia to live in safety under the care of the king Negus.
Although the heathens did their best to dissuade the king from supporting the Muslims, they came to nothing.
Now thirteen years passed away in this manner until the notables of Mecca put their heads together to slay the Prophet because they denied Islam to be true. Forty persons of their great men gathered in a place and decided that one person should be selected from each tribe and that men should, altogether, attack the Prophet.
In this way the Hashemites (the Prophet's family) would not be able to face all the tribes and the matter would be settled down with payment of blood money and at the end they would get rid of this trouble.
Mohammad was informed of the plot by revelation and then he introduced the matter before Ali (s), who was the nearest to his heart, for seeking a remedy.
Ali (s) volunteered to lie in the Prophet's bed even though there were great dangers impended over him.
At last he did that risking his life and consequently the Prophet's life was saved.
When the plotters attacked the Prophet's bed and unsheathed their swords they found Ali (s) sleeping in the bed.
They asked: “Where is Muhammad (s)”. Ali replied: “Had you entrusted me with him that you are asking me now”.
They had no reply to this. They left seeking after the Prophet.
Imam Ali was highly praised by God on account of this devotion. The Holy Qur’an says: (And among men is one who sells himself to seek the pleasure of Allah and Allah is affectionate to the servants) 2:207.
Many of the Sunni commentators 2 confessed that the mentioned verse was due to Ali's dignity.
The Prophet emigrated towards Medina at the same night accompanied by Abu-Bakr.
This event made an epoch in the history of Islam and it was fixed as the Islamic date by the second caliph Umar (The Hijrah).
Imam Ali (s) after managing the Prophet's home affairs decided to migrate to Medina with Mohammad's household and other companions of the Prophet, who gave up their concerns and gradually set out to join the Prophet (s).
Following troubles and oppressions that were imposed on the Prophet in Mecca, the idolaters would incite the Jews and the nomads about Medina to kill and pillage the animals and the properties of the Muslims.
Several encounters took place in order to create disorder about Medina but the doers were chased by the companions of the Prophet and they fled away to the mountains and sheltered into the caves until the second year of Hijrah when the great men of Mecca decided to uproot the new ordinance and the believers totally.
The battle of Badr
Now a well-appointed army including nine hundred and fifty men of experienced warriors made preparations to fight the Prophet. Among them were many of the most obstinate enemies of Islam who were of Mohammad's (s) cousins. The Prophet was not ready for such a war. He sent them a message saying: “We have descended from one family and most of you are my paternal uncles and cousins. Leave me alone to encounter the Arabs. It will be your credit if I gain victory against them, but if I fail you will obtain your desire”. He received no answer except a warlike reply and the Muslims were finally involved in the war.
Although the Prophet's army consisted of three hundred and thirteen men but they were more powerful than one thousand persons because of their faith in God and steadfastness in belief. These men of iron came before the enemy.
Three men of the most revengeful enemies of Islam; ‘Utbah, his son Shaybah and his brother Waleed made an inroad, boasting about their riches and chieftaincy. They challenged three fighters of their rank because it would not fit them to fight common fighters as they thought.
Ali (s), his uncle Hamzah and his cousin ‘Ubaydah confronted them. Ali (s) encountered Waleed and inflicted a blow on his shoulder so that (as) the sword came out of his armpit and he ran away towards his father ‘Utbah to seek refuge. Ali (s) chased him and, by another stroke on his thigh, killed him.
Then he went to help his uncle Hamzah, who was facing Shaybah. They had crossed swords with each other for some time to that extent that their swords broke and had started to grapple and punch each other.
Hamzah was a strapping man so that his enemy was not seen behind his back.
Ali (s) said: “Mind your head, uncle”. He immediately threw the enemy (Shaybah) down on the ground by a dint of his sword.
‘Utbah and ‘Ubaydah both were brave and dauntless. When they were crossing swords with one another and the quarrel was still raging when ‘Utbah was killed by a sudden attack but ‘Ubaydah's leg was seriously injured. He died on his way back to Medina.
At last the two armies attacked each other by swords. High morale and spirit of self-sacrifice were seen among the Muslim so that when the dazzling and lightening of the swords finished, the killed warriors of the enemy were seventy. The history mentioned that half of them were killed by Ali's sword.
The enemy fled away from the field and seventy persons were taken as captives by the Islamic army.
Although the Muslims won the battle but the fate would be different if Ali (s) had not come to the field.
Most of the captives knew reading and writing. The Prophet's ordered to set free any captive, who would teach ten Muslims how to write and read.
Fraternization among the Muslims
The Holy Qur’an says: (The believers are but brethren, therefore make peace between your brothers and be careful of (your duty to) Allah that mercy may be had on you.) 49:10.
Therefore the Prophet (s) directed the believers to brotherly, two by two, in an agreement of fraternization. The Prophet (s) fraternized between every two Muslims except Ali, who remained alone. He became depressed for that. The Prophet said to him: “You are but my own brother and you are to me as Aaron was to Moses, but no Prophet will come after me”. This is mentioned by many historians. 3
This reliable tradition was an essential argument of the Shia to prove the immediate succession of Imam Ali (s) after the Prophet's death.
In the second year of Hijrah Imam Ali (s) got married to Fatima, the only daughter of the Prophet. She, because of her steady belief in God, her chastity and her virtuousness was unique among all classes of people. The Prophet (s) had a great respect for her. She was requested to give her hand for marriage by some men of importance but Mohammad would not accede to their requests. In reply to the suitors, he used to say: “I am waiting for a call from the Heaven in regard to her marriage”.
Eventually this glory was won by Ali (s).
The battle of Uhud
In the third year of Hijrah, the battle of ‘Uhud took place. Many encounters happened after the battle of Badr and the Muslims drove the enemy back.
But the clan of Koreish was always planning to take vengeance on Muhammad (s), therefore an army of five thousand strong warriors headed by Abu-Sufyan left Mecca to attack Medina.
The Prophet's army in consultation with the companions flew to arms and came out of Medina.
The two armies met near ‘Uhud Mountain six kilometers far away from the city.
The bearer of the idolaters’ banner was a brave man named Talhah ibn Abu-Talhah, who was continuously challenging. Ali (s) came forward and as soon as Talhah saw Imam Ali he said: “Nobody else had courage to fight me except you”. The historians mentioned that Ali had killed him in the turning of a hand and then his brother lifted the banner and was killed by Ali too. Some other fighters of the same family were killed one by one and finally a huge slave with the intent of avenging his owners challenged. The historians mentioned that Ali (s) had divided him into two halves by the first strike of his sword as his body was still standing on the ground for a few moments.
The enemy, struck with terror, fled away from the field but suddenly an accident drew their attention.
A good few of the Muslims, about fifty persons, were keeping watch on a hilly narrow pass where the enemy might cross the hill and attack from behind the Muslims' back.
In spite of the Prophet's recommendations, they left the place to collect spoils when the enemy was running away.
Suddenly they saw that the place was without guardians and then the enemy seized the opportunity and passed along the mountain and made an attack upon the Muslims at the rear. In the meantime somebody cried loudly: “Mohammad was killed”.
Soon after spreading this dreadful rumor the Muslims became struck with terror and drew swords among themselves. They left Muhammad (s) alone and ran away to the mountains except four or six persons, who remained to defend him.
Some of the Sunni historians mentioned: “All of the Prophet's army, even the great companions, escaped except Ali (s), Al-Zubayr, Talhah and Abu-Dajanah.
Ali's sword was broken because of the sternness of the war. It was said that the sword named Thu’l-Fiqaar was put in his hand by an angel from the invisible world and then an unknown voice proclaimed: “There is no manly youth except Ali and there is no sword like Thu’l-Fiqaar”. 4 One of the great fighters of Islam named Hamzah, the Prophet's uncle, was killed in this war. This bereavement left a deep impression on the Prophet's heart.
At last the Muslims were defeated in this battle but the enemy did not continue the war and left for Mecca without occupying the supportless Medina.
It was said that Ali (s) had received ninety sword cuts in this field and in spite of the much tiredness he did not stop his support to the Prophet (s) for an instant.
In the meanwhile Gabriel came down from the Heaven and said to Muhammad: “Look there, how Ali (s) fights in high spirit of sacrifice”. The Prophet answered: “Ali (s) is from me and I am from him”. (We both have been brought into existence from the same (one) nature.)
This tradition was mentioned by many Sunni scholars. 5
The battle of Khandaq
During the ten years, in which the Prophet was living in Medina, the Muslims received much harm from the idolaters of Mecca. The enemy did not let them rest in peace of mind as they had to endure many troubles and difficulties, because they were involved in more than seventy wars big or small at all times.
In the fifth year of Hijrah an army of ten thousand warriors set out towards Medina. The commander of this strong army was Abu-Sufyan, who had grudge against Muhammad. He had a family feud with him. The Prophet, after consultation with his companions, determined on digging a ditch around Medina to hold back the enemy.
‘Amr ibn ‘Abd-Widd, whose heroic fame was trumpeted throughout Arabia, in concert with four other fighters, leaped on the hither side of the moat by horse. Amr, exclaiming in a bad state of anger, challenged loudly.
The Muslims were too much frightened when this fearless hero appeared in the field. Nobody was ready to fight him. Amr said: “Where is that paradise you desire to go to and take pleasure for ever? I am seeking after a man, who can manage me”.
There was no any answer except by Ali (s), who proclaimed his readiness. “Be seated Ali, he is Amr”. The Prophet said and turned his face towards his companions saying: “Who is ready to get us rid of this wicked man”.
As often as Amr challenged, Ali (s) was in readiness to face him. At last he obtained permission from the Prophet and was as happy to fight the enemy as a prisoner getting released from jail.
Ali (s), at the age of 25, faced the robust hero of Arabia, who was an old hand in fighting. He was awkwardly despised by Amr. But Amr did not know that this young fellow might be more courageous than him.
Amr, at first, showed pity for Ali, who had come to meet death at the beginning of his life as he thought. He said to him: “You are too young to combat me. Who are you?” “I am Ali ibn Abu-Talib.” He replied.
As soon as Amr heard this name he became a little shocked and with disappointment said: “Your father was my close friend and I dislike shedding blood of a young man like you. It would be better if one of your uncles came to the field”.
Ali (s) said: “Leave off the silly talks. I regard it as a duty to kill you for the sake of Allah.” He added: “As I know, you grant one of the three requests of your opposite combatant in the battlefield. Now you grant one of my three wishes. Firstly leave off idolatry and come to be a Muslim.”
Amr replied: “I will never believe in Muhammad. What is the next request?”
Ali (s) said: “Change your mind and desist from fighting or come down from your horse because I am on foot.”
Amr said: “It will be disgraceful for my family if the people say that Amr is frightened by an inexperienced young man.” He dismounted and rushed towards Ali (s) with a drawn sword. Ali (s) covered his head with a shield. The stroke was so strong that the shield was torn and his blessed head got a little hurt.
Ali (s) struck Amr’s thigh and the illustrious hero fell down on the ground.
When the battlefield was cleared of dusts, the Muslims became so delighted when they saw Ali (s) sitting on the chest of Amr and was going to cut off his head from the body.
Amr, at his last gasp, made his will that his valuable cloths and weapons not to be taken up. Ali acceded to his request and said: “It is too easy for me to forget it.”
Then those four men who had escorted Amr ran away to pass over the ditch. One of them, when trying to escape, fell down into the ditch. The Muslims began to stone him but he bade defiance to a man to fight him.
Ali (s) came into the ditch and killed him with one stroke of his sword.
Some Sunni historians 6 mentioned that the Prophet had said: “The value of Ali's stroke, before God, on the day of the ditch is more than the obedience of the two world's creatures (the angels and the human beings).”
Amr, who was the only hope of the idolaters of Koreish, was unexpectedly killed and consequently they were seized with deep fright. Abu-Sufyan was surprised how to help the situation. At the same time a bad storm arose and he decided to go back to Mecca. He delivered a short speech and following the whole army left the place.
This battle was also called the battle of al-Ahzab (the parties) because many groups of the Jews and the nomads of about Mecca and Medina had taken part in this war.
Although the Jews had signed previously a defensive contract to guard Medina against dangers, they, as always, had broken their promises and used to send arms to Mecca secretly. They were regularly in treaty with the idolaters; therefore the Muslims could not find peace of mind.
Muhammad (s) decided to bring them down to their knees and eventually declared the war against them in the year 7 A.H.
The Jews were afraid of the Islam's progress because they were blinded by prejudice and it also was contrary to their great interests.
There was a habitable and fortified place at a distance of 86 Km from Medina named Khaybar. The Jews cultivated the lands around the forts.
The Muslims, headed by the Prophet, got at Khaybar and encamped opposite to the forts. When the Jews knew the matter they ran away into the forts to prepare for the war.
There was a fortified castle, named Qamus, where all the Jews gathered into it.
The Muslims were kept on waiting for three weeks to open the fort but they succeeded in nothing.
Abu-Bakr and Umar started their fight but they were defeated 7 by the Jews.
At-Tabari, a Sunni historian, had recorded that when Umar came back from the field he frightened the Muslims of the bravery of Marhab the commander of the Jews.
The Prophet said: “Tomorrow I will give the banner to a man, who loves God and His messenger and God and His messenger love him too.” 8
On the next day the Prophet sought after Ali (s), who was suffering from a sore-eye. The Prophet prayed Allah so that Imam Ali’s eyes might be recovered. Imam Ali became well immediately.
At last the banner was given to him and he set out for the war.
Marhab was the bravest of all the fighters among the Jews. He was well-known for his valor. Ali (s) paced towards the forts and, suddenly the big gate of Qamus was opened and a few combatants came out.
Harith, the brother of Marhab, suddenly cried a terrific cry that the companions of Ali (s) went back a little, but Ali (s) stood against him. They fought each other and finally Harith was killed by Ali's sword.
Now Ali (s) faced Marhab. And as it was at those days Marhab began to recite some epic verses.
He said: “As long as Khaybar remembers that I am an experienced man in the war and those, who encounter me, will be stained by their own blood.''
Ali (s), in reply to him, said: “I am a man, whose name is Haydar (that is to say: a lion that attacks repeatedly and will never escape from the hunting-ground).”
Marhab turned about with his horse to run away because he had heard his Jewish rabbi saying that he would be killed by a man named Haydar.
But he came back towards Ali (s) talking with himself: “There are many "Haydars" in the world. It is not certain that this is the very one.”
Anyhow he was furious because of his brother's death and he wanted to revenge upon Ali (s) but Ali (s) killed him by a sudden push. The Jews fled away into the fort and closed the door from inside.
At last Ali went towards the door and pulled at it by all of his might and threw it aside.
In this manner he opened the way for his men to rush into the fort. All castles were opened and many of the Jews were captured. The godly men and the great leaders treated the powerless and defeated enemy kindly and dispensed them with vengeance.
The Prophet of Islam acceded the Jews’ request when they asked him to let them remain in the place, provided that they became disarmed, and not to assist the idolaters of Mecca and to pay the half of their production to the Muslims.
There was a productive area near Khaybar called Fadak, about 140 km. far from Medina, where the Jews made a good living by farming. They were in ease and comfort.
The Prophet, intending to frustrate any scheme against Islam, sent a word to the dean of the area to be put under the protection of Islam against the invaders. On condition that he would not make any plot against the Muslims and that he would pay the half of the income of their fields to the Islamic government, the Prophet would guarantee the security of the area.
As the religious laws provided, the regions, which were conquered by military forces belonged to the Muslims in general as public purse, but the lands which were taken without expedition and bloodshed belonged to the Prophet himself and then to his rightful successors.
The Prophet might donate his properties to everyone he liked.
Some of the Muslim interpreters 9 mentioned that when the verse: (And give to the near of kin his due and to the needy and the wayfarer and do not squander wastefully) 10 was revealed, the Prophet called for his daughter Fatima and gave her Fadak.
At a later period, she was dispossessed from it at the day of the first caliph Abu-Bakr for certain reasons of political purpose. 11 Of course the object of the author's intent is not historiography, since this book is about a man of a high rank in Islam, whose deeds and words were governed by the Islamic principles and Qur’an and he also was attendant with the Prophet step by step since childhood, therefore I have to give the readers some passages of the Islamic history to depict his personality as far as possible.
The battle of Thaat as-Salasil
In the eighth year A.H. a force of twelve thousand men united in a league to attack Medina at night. Their decision was only to kill the Prophet and his minister Ali. Some of the Muslim scholars were under impression that the Prophet was acquainted with the situation by revelation but in the meanwhile the plot was reported to him by some spies, who lived about Mecca.
The Prophet put the matter before the crowd in the mosque for discussion and then Abu-Bakr was ordered to fight against them with an army of four thousand strong warriors.
Abu-Bakr advanced with his men slowly until they came into view of the enemy. Now two hundred horsemen came before Abu-Bakr and said: “We have prepared for this war just to kill Muhammad or his cousin Ali. What do you mean by bringing this army?”
Abu-Bakr said: “I have been ordered to propose Islam to you and if you refuse it I will fight you.''
They reviewed their army with its high power and ability and hereby Abu-Bakr was frightened and decided to go back to Medina.
The return of the army, in that bad state, depressed the Prophet deeply. Then Umar was appointed as commander. He also succeeded in nothing and came back in the same state as Abu-Bakr did.
At last Ali ibn Abu-Talib was called upon and after a short discussion with the Prophet he was ordered to face the enemy.
Ali (s), on the contrary to the two previous commanders, carried his men through a short cut with all speed to go unexpectedly upon them. He used to move at night until he came into sight of the enemy.
Again two hundred knights came and asked him: “Who are you?”
He replied: “My name is Ali, the son of Abu-Talib. I invite you to resign yourselves to Islam.”
They said: “You are our aim. We will kill you and your men by all means. The fixed time for meeting will be tomorrow at noon.”
Ali (s) said: “What ails you, woe be to you. You threaten me with killing. I will fight you tomorrow at the time.”
In the same evening, according to Ali’s command, the Muslims fed their horses and prepared their defensive position to fight the obstinate enemy.
When daybreak appeared, the Muslims offered the prayer with the leadership of Ali (s) and then they made a sudden attack upon the enemy while it was still dark.
The rear guards had not yet entered into the field when a great number of the enemy was killed by the vanguard and many of them were bound with ropes and chains.
The captives with their cattle were carried to Medina. The Prophet, accompanied by the believers, went out of the city to meet Ali (s) and his honored army.
Ali (s) arrived at Medina, amid acclamation of the crowd, with a great deal of spoils of war.
The above tradition was quoted from the reliable sources of the Shia. It was somehow different from what the Sunni scholars had mentioned.
The residential quarters of the enemy were stony places that there were sparks arising when the horses' hooves hit the stones. The horses were gasping too.
This self-sacrifice was so worthy of praise that a surah was revealed from the Heaven about this feat and other devoted soldiers. The Holy Qur’an says: (I swear by the runners breathing pantingly, then those that produce fire striking, then those that make raids at morn, then thereby raise dust, then rush thereby upon an assembly. Most surely man is ungrateful to his Lord) 100:1-6.
Most of the commentators believed that this surah was revealed to praise Ali (s).
The battle of Mu'tah
There was somewhat a peaceful time all over Arabia at the beginning of the eighth year of Hijrah. Neither the Jews in the north nor the idolaters of Mecca caused any threat to the Muslims.
At the same time something happened that made the Prophet (s) dispatch a force towards the frontier countries of Syria.
The Prophet had sent to Damascus a man for preaching but before getting there he was killed by a frontier official. At the same time sixteen persons, who had gone there for the same purpose, were killed in that area. The place where they were killed in was called Mu’tah.
A host of three thousand men set out to Mu’tah to avenge the murder of the killed persons under the command of Ja’far the full brother of Ali (s).
The Prophet delivered a short speech in the camp. He said: “You are going to the same place where your brothers have been killed. You go ahead and invite them to believe in God. If they do not refuse you should dispense with the revenge, otherwise you fight them for the sake of Allah to punish God's enemies. But remember that you are not to disturb the monks and nuns, who live away from the social life in monasteries. You are not to kill children, women and old men. Be careful not to ruin houses and farms.
The Syrian government was well-informed of the Muslim’s bravery and self-sacrifice and also their success in the war against the Arab tribes.
In spite of the fact that these two armies (the Romans and the Muslims) were incomparable in equipments and persons but the Muslims showed an extra sacrifice and took toll from the enemy.
Now some groups of Muslims left the battlefield for a farther place at midnight and decided to call out with the motto of “la ilaha illa (a)llah” (there is no any God but Allah).They hereby made the enemy think that an auxiliary force would come to help the Muslims and consequently the Syrians stopped attacking the Muslims for two days. This wise tactic helped them to seize the opportunity and to leave the field for Medina.
Although the Muslims did not get a good result in this battle, but the fame and reputation of Islam was trumpeted abroad and it opened a way for next publicities.
The great conquest of Mecca
In the same year the Prophet conquered Mecca by his good management without killing or bloodshed.
Mecca was the place where Mohammad and his companions were badly harmed by the idolaters of Koreish since the beginning of the Prophethood and it was a safe place for his enemies to plot against him for more than ten years. Now it became in the Prophet’s control.
According to the agreement made before, neither the Muslims nor the idolaters should assist or interfere in the internal affairs of the confederate tribes of each other but they had helped their confederates against the Prophet's allies and consequently many of them were killed.
They asked the Prophet for help to avenge themselves upon the idolaters.
On the other hand the people of Koreish had repented of their behavior because their acts were opposite to the agreement between them.
Therefore in order to restrain the Prophet's anger and to strengthen the previous relations, Abu-Sufyan, the chief of Koreish, whose hostile behavior had troubled the Muslims more than ten years, made his mind to go towards Medina to apologize in the presence of the Prophet and meanwhile to give the Muslims a guarantee against any attack.
The Prophet (s) remained silent and did not show any response. Then Abu-Sufyan came out of the mosque and set out straight to Mecca.
Now the Prophet, with the intent of conquering, Mecca had to notify the Muslims of a public mobilization and for this purpose he sent a word to them saying: “Every one, who has faith in God, has to arm himself secretly and to be ready for the war.”
Thereafter many watchmen were put in some places to have control over the roads so that nobody could carry news to Mecca.
Four thousand well-armed men gathered in Medina and a force of six thousand men from different tribes joined them along the way.
The people of Mecca were quite unaware of such an army that was headed by the Prophet himself and was going to occupy there.
Now Abbas, the Prophet's uncle, who was so respected by Koreish, had left Mecca towards Medina. It happened that he met the Prophet in the midway. He had to be in Mecca because would spy for the Prophet and thereafter he went along with the Prophet.
The Prophet led the Muslims forward until they became near Mecca. In order to frighten the people of Mecca the Prophet ordered his soldier to set fire to some firewood on the hills.
Abbas separated from the Prophet to seek after someone, who could alarm the people of Koreish about the powerfulness and greatness of the Prophet's army and to report to them that submission would be the only remedy.
At the same time Abu-Sufyan was out of Mecca for inquiring into the circumstances of the town. Abbas recognized his voice when he was talking with another man. Abbas called him and said to him quietly: “There are ten thousand armed and armored persons escorting the Prophet. They are at call and ready to devote themselves heartily for the sake of Muhammad. Surely Koreish is not able to stand against them. As you see many dangers impend upon your tribe. You would better go to declare the shahada before the Prophet now.”
Abu-Sufyan accepted it reluctantly but he began to shudder with fear all this while. Abbas, in order to terrify him, took him through the crowd to see the greatness and the glory of the Prophet's army. Finally they were admitted to meet the Prophet. After some words between them Abu-Sufyan eventually submitted.
Hereupon the Prophet declared: “Whoever takes refuge in Kaabah or in Abu-Sufyan’s house will be safe. Those, who lay down their arms and announce their impartiality, will be in safeguard by the Muslims.”
Although Abu-Sufyan pretended that he was a Muslim, but in fact he had no faith in Islam. The Prophet made use of that to conquer Mecca without bloodshed because the idolaters of Koreish would never take any decision independently without Abu-Sufyan’s consultation.
At any rate he went on the errand to put up his perceptions for discussion with Koreish. At first, they did not think that it was true and they reproached him. They insisted on standing against the Muslims but when they received the same news from the others, they submitted to the truth.
At last the Prophet (s) rode on his camel, surrounded by five thousands armed men, and arrived at Mecca with magnificence beyond description.
The people of Mecca had such weak morale that no one could resolve on standing against the Muslims.
Now the Muslims occupied the town, which was the center of polytheism and idolatry for a long time. The Prophet, after a short rest, proceeded on pilgrimage to the great mosque of Kaabah (al-Masjid al-Haram). He, at the first instance, broke up the idols one by one by his lance. Ali (s) helped him all the while. Some big idols were planted above the Kaabah. Ali (s) was ordered to stand up on the blessed shoulders of the Prophet to throw them down.
Certainly Ali was the only one, who won the honor of standing on the shoulders of the Prophet (s). Then the Prophet faced the people and said: “You did evil to me.
You denied my mission. You brought me many troubles and forced me to leave my home for Medina. You very often did not let me be safe. You incited different tribes as well as the Jews to fight the Muslims and many of them were killed before my eyes.
Now those present people began to recall their offences. They were talking to themselves: “Certainly he will put us all to the sword or we may be jailed and our wives and children may be taken as captives.”
They were immersed in such thoughts when suddenly the Prophet (s) broke the silence and said: “How do you think about me and what do you say now?”
The whole people, as one man, replied: “We think highly of you and we do not know any thing except goodness and favor of you. You are our great and dear brother.
The Prophet, who was kind by nature, said: “Now I say just what my brother Josef (the prophet) said to his cruel brothers (as the Holy Qur’an says): (He said: (There shall be) no reproof against you this day; Allah may forgive you, and He is the most Merciful of the merciful). 12 I already notify you to go on your living. Now all of you are free.
In order to beware that his relatives and kinsmen might misuse his position, the Prophet delivered a short speech among the members of his family. He condemned injustice and unjust discriminations and alluded to the necessity of spreading justice and equity among all the classes of people. He said: “O sons of Hashim, 13 I am the messenger of God to all human beings. No family relation has any effect on one’s punishment on the Day of Resurrection. Everybody will be answerable for his own acts. Being of my relatives won’t be of any use for you.”
A great crowd of the people of Mecca and the new comers had been gathered in the mosque when the Prophet (s) determined on giving a lecture to show the people a glimpse of Islam.
At that time one of the greatest and rooted bigotry of the Arab society was self-glorification or being related to a well-known tribe such as Koreish. The Prophet, in order to overthrow these bad traditions, said to the people: “O people, God wanted to remove haughtiness, selfishness and self-glorification among you by revealing Islam. Verily you were descended from Adam and Adam was created of mud. The best of you is that, who avoids sins.”
This saying meant that the bases of superiority and personality were virtue and purity.
Then he added: “O people, being Arab is not the ground of personality and it is not an integral part of your nature but it is only a speaking language. It doesn’t benefit you in the afterlife if you leave your duties. You will never attain your personal merit by self-glorification of being related to certain ancestors but by spreading equity and justice among mankind. In order to spread equality between the blacks and the whites, the Prophet added: “In fact people are like the teeth of a comb. There is no superiority for the Arabs to the non-Arabs or for the whites to the blacks. The basis of supremacy is virtuousness. The whole human beings are identical with each other before God. The best one is that, who renounces disobeying God.”
The Prophet thereby cancelled all formal distinctions and being proud of parentage. He said: “The whole human beings are descended from Adam and Adam had been created of mud by The Supreme creator.”
The battle of Hunayn
Now the most tribes of Arabia had turned Muslims except two tribes; Thaqeef and Hawazin. They were strong enough and had resided about Ta’if, a country place in the east and north east of Mecca. When they knew that the Muslims had conquered Mecca, they decided to attack it before the Prophet would declare war against them. The matter was reported to the Prophet (s) by the spies; therefore he set out towards them with a strong army of twelve thousand men.
Some other Arab families joined Thaqeef and Hawazin. They were about thirty thousand men accompanied by their households and cattle. They came to a wide area named Hunayn. The Muslims had to pass a narrow valley to get to Hunayn. The enemy came down from the rear mouth of the valley and hid themselves behind big stones and rocks in the slopes.
When the Muslims came in sight, the enemy attacked them by a shower of stones and arrows.
Consequently the Muslims were frightened. They escaped and left the Prophet alone.
Only a few ones; Ali (s), Abbas, the Prophet’s uncle, ibn Harith, the Prophet's cousin, Al-Fadhl ibn Abbas and Abdullah ibn Mas’ud stood against the enemy before the Prophet (s). The historians mentioned that forty warriors had been killed by Ali(s).
A gigantic man, mounting on a red camel and trying from behind to send the Muslims into troubles, came to face Ali (s). Ali (s) at first cut off his camel's leg and then halved him into two by his sword.
The Prophet (s) and his uncle Abbas called repeatedly upon the runaways to come back to the field. They came back and forced the enemy to retreat and to run away towards Ta’if.
The Muslims gained great spoils; forty thousand sheep, twenty-four thousand camels, a good quantity of silverwares and six thousand persons as captives.
The Muslims chased the runaway enemy unto Ta’if but they had to waste a long time in order to conquer its strong fort. Hereon, they, according to the Prophet's command, went back to Medina for performing other essential affairs.
The battle of Tabouk
When Islam appeared there were two great powers on this side of the earth; the Romans and the Persians.
The Roman soldiers were well experienced in the wars and at the same time, they had won the war against Iran. Syria and the eastern parts of the Mediterranean were the colonies of Rome, under the Byzantine rule. There was a fortress at the boundary between Syria and the land of Hijr named Tabouk, which the Prophet of Islam had come to conquer it.
The quick growth and the splendid conquests of the Muslims in Arabia had made the Emperor of Rome seek a remedy to stem the tide of Islam's progress. He was afraid especially of Mohammad's influence upon people. Therefore the Romans decided to harass the Muslims in order to be safe from their troubles. Such news was carried to Medina by some commercial caravans.
The Prophet sent someone to Mecca and about Medina to call every one, who had faith in God, to gather in Medina in order to be ready for the war. This invitation gained ready acceptance of the Muslims. About thirty thousand persons gathered to fight the enemy. This expedition was very difficult for the Muslims because the weather was too hot and they had to go for a long distance through a torrid zone to Tabouk where the Romans encamped. It was also the time of harvest and they would have to harvest their farms’ products.
There were some hypocrites among the Prophet's companions, who used to injure the Muslims by sabotage. They tried to discourage people with various excuses, like the hotness, the too far distance and the huge numbers of the enemy, but their attempt was in vain.
When they knew that the Prophet had decided to set out to the battlefield, they planned to rush upon his house in Medina during his absence. The Prophet (s) perceived their plan and determined to leave Ali (s) as his successor in Medina to safeguard his family. The Prophet got ready for the task of Tabouk.
The hypocrites were displeased with the stay of Ali (s) in Medina; therefore they began to spread false rumors such as that Ali was ordered to take part in this troublesome war but he refused because this war was really insupportable and that the Prophet (s) was displeased with him.
Ali (s), in order to rebut this accusation, told the Prophet (s) of what they rumored and asked him to let him go to the war.
The Prophet said to Ali (s): “O my brother, go back to Medina because nobody else is well-qualified to keep Medina safe except I and you. You are to take care of my house during my absence.” Then he added: “Are you not satisfied to be to me as Aaron was to Moses? But there will be no prophet after me.”
This Prophet's word is also one of the main arguments of the Shia in proving the immediate succession of Imam Ali after the Prophet's death.
Finally the Prophet's men, with troubles beyond endurance, arrived at Tabouk. It was a surprise to them when they saw no enemy soldiers in and about Tabouk.
They thought that that the enemy might go back or that the whole information that the Prophet was told of was false.
The Prophet (s) stopped there about twenty days and received no news about the enemy. At the same time he was in contact with the chieftains of various tribes and he made treaty with them, because they were mostly Christians and it was possible that the Romans would make use of them in the future.
The Prophet, after consulting with his companions, came back towards Medina.
Although some hypocrites resolved upon killing him on his way back by stampeding his camel in the slope of a valley, their plan was surfaced and the Prophet saved his life.
Although this expedition did not get any result but it made everyone understand that the power of Islam had got to an extent that the Muslims could fly to arms and defy the great powers like the Romans. Consequently many headstrong chiefs of the Arab tribes came near the Prophet and resigned themselves to God and believed in him.
On the other hand the Muslims proved by experience that they could resist difficulties when they would set out to conquer Syria in the future.
Declaration of immunity for the idolaters
At the end of the ninth year of Hijrah, Gabriel came down from the Heaven with some verses of the Holy Qur’an and hereby the Prophet was ordered to send some one to Mecca in order to inform the people of the purport of the verses, which had four orders to be declared.
The verses are:
1-(This is a declaration of) immunity by Allah and His apostle towards those of the idolaters with whom you made an agreement.
2-So go about in the land for four months and know that you can not weaken Allah and that Allah will bring disgrace to the unbelievers.
3-And an announcement from Allah and His apostle to the people on the day of the greater pilgrimage that Allah and His apostle are free from liability to the idolaters; therefore if you repent, it will be better for you, and if you turn back, then know that you will not weaken Allah; and announce painful punishment to those, who disbelieve.
4-Except those of the idolaters with whom you made an agreement, then they have not failed you in anything and have not backed up any one against you, so fulfill their agreement to the end of their term; surely Allah loves those who are careful (to their duty).
5- So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them, surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
The Charter was as follows:
1-It was forbidden for the idolaters to go nakedly around the Kaabah.
2-The idolaters would not have the right to enter into the sacred places.
3-No one of the idolaters would have the right to take part in the ceremonies of the greater Hajj.
4-The lives and the wealth of those, who have concluded the peace contract and have not broken their promises, would be protected until the end of the contract.
The Prophet sought after Abu-Bakr and gave him the verses of the Holy Qur’an enclosed with the charter to announce them to the unbelievers of Mecca. He set out towards Mecca with forty persons. Then Gabriel came down and said to the Prophet: “O Muhammad, either you yourself or the nearest one to you of your family ought to perform this task.”
The Holy Qur’an says: (Nor does he (the Prophet) speak out of desire. It is naught but revelation that is revealed, the Lord of Mighty Power has taught him) 53:3-5.
Imam Ali (s) was ordered by the Prophet to set out to Mecca to follow after Abu-Bakr in order to take the verses from him and that he (Imam Ali) himself should inform of the declaration on the day of the greater Hajj.
The task was fulfilled well by Imam Ali (s) in the place where many houses had lost one or two persons in the wars by his sword.
Many groups of the idolaters were directed to godliness by this declaration as the idolatry was rooted up allover Arabia before the end of the tenth year A.H.
The first meeting with the Christians
There was a flourishing country between Arabia and Yemen named Najran where the Christians were living at that time. The Prophet of Islam sent a letter to them for preaching purposes like the letters that had been sent to the rulers of the adjoining countries formerly. The bishop of Najran named Abu Harithah put the matter for discussion before the great religionists. A man of mind and intelligence named Shurahbeel in reply to the bishop said: “We have heard our religiou
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