Malik al-Ashtar - Part 3
Mu'awiyah was displeased with Malik al-Ashtar, for his bravery made Ali's Army fight with enthusiasm. In the meantime it dismayed the Shamian soldiers.
So, Mu'awiyah decide to kill Malik in a face-to-face duel with swords. He ordered Marwan to duel with him. But Marwan was afraid of Malik. Thus he apologised to Mu'awiyah and said: Let bin al-Aas duel with him because he's your right arm.
Then Mu'awiyah ordered Amru bin al-Aas to duel Malik. He reluctantly agreed to Mu'awiyah's plan.
Ibn al-Aas invited Malik to duel with him. Malik advanced towards him holding his spear. He hit him violently on the face. So, Amru bin al-Aas escaped with alarm.
The clashes became intense. Ammar was leading the left wing of the Imam's Army. He, though an old man, was fighting bravely.
When the sun was about to set, Ammar, may Allah be pleased with him, requested some food to break the fast.
A soldier brought him a cup full of yoghurt. Ammar became cheerful and said: Tonight, I may he martyred because Allah's Apostle [s] has said to me:
Ammar, the unjust group will kill you, and your final drink in the world will be a cup of yoghurt.
The companion broke his fast and advanced towards the battlefield. He fought bravely. Then he fell over the ground and became a martyr.
The Imam came and sat near Ammar's head and said sadly:
May Allah have mercy on Ammar on the day when he became a Muslim, may Allah have mercy on Ammar on the day when he became a martyr, may Allah have mercy on Ammar on the day when he will be raised from the dead! Ammar enjoy your garden!
Ammar's martyrdom in the battlefield affected the course of the battle very much. The Imam's Army was in high spirits. In the meantime, Mu'awiyah's Army was in low spirits.
All Muslims memorized the tradition our Master Muhammad [s] said to Ammar bin Yasir. The tradition is as follows: Ammar the unjust group will kill you.
All understood that Mu'awiyah and his soldiers were wrong and that Ali and his companions were right.
Thus the Imam's Army attacked Mu'awiyah's Army increasingly. Therefore, Mu'awiyah and his army were getting ready to escape.
A New Trick
Mu'awiyah thought about a new trick to cheat the Imam's Army. So, he asked the advice of Amru bin al-Aas. Amru bin al-Aas said: I'm sure we can cheat them with the Qur'an.
Mu'awiyah rejoiced at the trick and ordered his soldiers to raise the Qur'an on their spears.
When the Imam's soldiers saw the Qur'an, they thought about stopping the battle. Thus Mu'awiyah cheated many soldiers.
The Imam said: It's a trick! I was the first to invite them to Allah's Book. And I was the first to believe in It. They've disobeyed Allah and broken His promise.
But twenty thousand soldiers disobeyed the Imam's order and said:
Stop fighting and order al-Ashtar to withdraw!
The Imam sent a soldier to al-Ashtar to stop fighting.
But Malik al-Ashtar went on fighting. Then he said: We'll get the final victory within few moments.
The soldier said: But twenty thousand rebels are besieging the Imam. If you go on fighting they'll kill him.
Malik al-Ashtar was forced to withdraw. So, he said: There's neither might nor power but with Allah.
Malik al-Ashtar knew that Mu'awiyah's action was only a trick. But he obeyed the Imam's order so as no disaster would happen. He was a brave leader and an obedient soldier.
The fights stopped. And the two parties agreed to the arbitration according to Allah's Book.
Mu'awiyah sent Amru bin al-Aas to represent him in the negotiations. And the Imam wanted to choose an alert, wise man. A man who had a good knowledge of Allah's Book. So, he chose Abdullah bin Abbas, the religious scholar of the nation.
But the rebels refused him and said: We'll choose Abu Musa al-Ashary.
So, the Imam advised them and said: I disagree with you on him. And Abdullah bin Abbas is better than he.
Again the rebels refused him. So, the Imam said: I'll choose al-Ashtar.
They refused him too. They insisted on Abu Musa al-Ashary.
To avoid a disaster, the Imam said: Do whatever you like!
Thus the two representatives met to talk. Amru bin al-Aas thought about a way to deceive al-Ashary. He said to him: Abu Musa, Mu'awiyah and Ali have caused all these troubles. So, lets dispose them and elect another man.
Abu Musa al-Ashary did not like Amirul Mu'mineen, Ali bin Abu-Talib. So, he agreed to the plan. He said before the people:
I'm removing Ali from the Caliphate as I'm removing my ring from my finger. Then he removed his ring.
But Amru bin al-Aas said spitefully:
I'm fixing Mu'awwiyah to the Caliphate as I'm fixing my ring to my finger Then he wore his ring.
The rebels repented of their wrongdoing. But they insisted on disobeying the Imam. In the meantime, they asked him to turn to Allah in repentance and to announce war again.
But the Imam respected the promise and the covenant.
He agreed with Mu'awiyah on the truce and stopping the battle for a year.
The Imam asked his fighters to be patient for the year. But they disobeyed him, too. So, they were called the Kharijities
Mu'awiyah thought about a way to control Egypt. So, he sent a big army to occupy it.
The ruler of Egypt was Muhammad bin Abu-Bakr (the first Caliph's son). He asked Imam Ali [a] to send him urgent military supplies to prevent the invaders from occupying Egypt.
So, the Imam said to Malik al-Ashtar:
Malik, may Allah have mercy on you, go to Egypt. I've absolute trust in you. Rely on Allah! Use gentleness in its places and intensity in its place.
Malik al-Ashtar set out for Egypt.
The Poison and the Honey Mu'awiyah was worried about Malik's going to Egypt, for he knew that Malik would save it. So, Mu'awiyah thought about a way to kill him.
Mu'awiyah used to mix honey with poison to kill his enemies. Mu'awiyah imported poisons from Rome. The Romans allowed Mu'awiyah to import them because they knew that he would use them to kill the Muslims.
Amru bin al-Aas said: I know a man. The man lives in al-Qilzim City on the borders of Egypt. He has vast lands. Certainly Malik al-Ashtar will pass through the city and stop in it to rest.
Mu'awiyah said: Let's send a man to tell him to kill al-Ashtar and we won't tax him for life.
Thus Mu'awiyah's delegate quickly set out for Egypt taking the poisoned honey to persuade the man to kill Malik al-Ashtar.
The man agreed to Mu'awiyah's plan. He took the poisoned honey. He was looking forward to Malik's arrival.
After only a few days, Malik arrived in al-Qilzim City. The man invited the new ruler of Egypt for lunch in his house. Malik al-Ashtar accepted the invitation thankfully.
The man put the cup of the poisoned honey on the table. The guest took one spoon of the poisoned honey. He felt a severe pain in his stomach. He realized the plot. So, he put his hand on his belly and said:
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
We belong to Allah, and we'll come back to Him!
Malik al-Ashtar received death with the bravery of the certain believer, who knew that his way was Islam and the Paradise.
When Malik al-Ashtar became a martyr, Mu'awiyah was about to fly because of happiness. So, he said:
Ali bin Abu Talib had two hands. I cut off one of them on the day of Siffeen. It was Ammar bin Yasir. And today I've cut off the other hand. It is Malik al-Ashtar.
But Amirul Mu'mineen was very sad. So, he expressed his sorrow: May Allah have mercy on Malik! He loved and obeyed me as I loved and obeyed Allah's Apostle [s].
Thus, Malik al-Ashtar ended his life in Jihad. His bright behavior will remain as a model for the Muslim young men everywhere!
Adapted from the book: "The Companions of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w)"
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