Rafed English

The battle of Nahrwan


Ali had commenced his march on Syria when he received tidings that the Kharijites had attempted a raid on Madaen but were beaten back to their camp; that they were committing horrible outrages in the country all around their camp, condemning as impious all those who did not fall in with their sentiments; that they had put to death a traveller who refused to accept their creed, and ripped up his wife who was with child. The followers of the Caliph, whose families were left behind unprotected at Kufa, apprehending danger from these barbarous fanatics desired that before proceeding to Syria these outlaws should be dealt with first. A messenger was sent to make enquiries but he too was put to death by them. Seeing the attitude of the insurgents, Ali thought that immediate measures to check them were necessary ; he therefore changed his course eastward, crossed the Tigris and apporaching Nahrwan sent a messenger to demand of them the surrender of the murderers.

They replied that no paritcular person was responsible; and they all deserved equal merits for the blood of the apostates slain by them. Still Ali, avoiding bloodshed, tried to win over these misguided fanatics by gentle means. He had, therefore, a standard planted outside his camp and a, proclamation made that the malcontents rallying round it or those who retired to their homes would be safe. The rebels began to disperse, deserting their camp, till Abdallah b. Wahab was left with only 1800 adherents, who resolved to fight against the Caliph at any cost. Ali said that those men were the true Kharijites, who would go forth against Islam as quick as an arrow from the bow. At last, headed by their leader, Abdallah b. Wahab, they desperately rushed upon Ali's army and met their fate. All of them were slain except only nine, who escaped to serve as firebrands to rekindle the future fire. On Ali's side only seven men were killed. The zealots, who had escaped, promulgated their creed and cause in secret at Busra and Kufa and appeared in the following year in bands of fanatic insurgents but were easily put to flight or cut to pieces.

Adapted from: "Ali, the Magnificent" by: "Yousuf N. Lalljee"

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