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The Constituents of the Army and its Quality

In the reliable historical records no detail is available through which we could ascertain the composition of various groups that constituted the army of Imam Mujtaba (as) and their quality. Occasionally it has been mentioned that Imam Mujtaba (as) had taken the regiments to fight Moawiya who were the toughest and very firm, or that the Arab leaders had completely submitted themselves to the grand son of the Holy Prophet (saww) so that he had full liberty to fight anyone or make peace. 1

We feel that these accounts are based on exaggeration as reliable historical records show so many facts which contradict these feelings. Basically, the army of Imam Hasan (as) was composed of the Iraqi army and their political, social and uncertain nature is reflected in the sermons of Hazrat Ali (as) as quoted in 'Nahjul Balagha' wherein he had indicated their weak and wavering nature. Between the period of Hazrat Ali (as) and the peace of Imam Hasan (as), there is a maximum intervening period of ten months. During this period there was very little scope of any major changes in their nature.

In this background we have some words spoken by Imam Mujtaba (as) as well which serve as a shining guide for us. Imam Mujtaba (as) has described the qualities of his army and has comprehensively compared the wars fought during the time of Hazrat Ali (as) and his own. He says:

"You were going towards Siffin when you were devoted to religion and the worldly benefits were insignificant for you, while today you are preferring worldly comforts over religion.

Be warned that you can be divided into two groups of the dead - one the martyrs of Siffin over whom you are shedding tears or the dead of Nahrwan whose revenge you are keen to take. The others have run away from war. But those who are crying for the dead, they seem to be determined to fight." 2

Imam Mujtaba (as) has, in a very fine manner, compared the Siffin war and the one fought during his time. In both these wars, on the one side was the rebellious Syrian group while on the other was the Iraqi army under the command of Islamic caliph. The difference was that earlier the Iraqi army was fighting with such valour and determination that Moawiya had almost lost his senses, while now they had become victims of the enemy's intrigue and were doubtful, rather afraid of the consequences of the war. Imam Mujtaba (as), explaining the different situation said that their success in the Siffin war was due to their religious leaning, sincerity and devotion, while the loss and their defeat in the war during his time was due to the absence of these very qualities. In other words, now they wanted personal and worldly benefits. Now they were not fighting with the religious zeal and true spirit, but rather for their own worldly gain. Later, the grand son of the Holy Prophet (saww) referred to the two wars which had a profound effect on their destiny, i.e. the Siffin war, and the Nahrwan war.

So many other wars had also been fought but in these two wars they had suffered very heavy losses which could not be recompensed. They had not been able to overcome the negative effects of these wars, and particularly those of the Nahrwan war, as they were full of rage due to the feeling of enmity and the spirit of revenge. Therefore, Imam Mujtaba (as) considers them belonging to two different groups: one who was shedding tears on the loved ones who lost their life in the long and bloody Siffin war. This group was relatively better and, therefore, was ready to fight a defensive war along with Imam Mujtaba (as). The other group either belonged to the very 'Khawarij' group or had sympathy with it. Though they were involved in the conspiracy to assassinate Hazrat Ali (as), yet they wanted to take revenge from the worthy son of the leader of faithful Imam Ali (as) as well. About the rest, the Imam (as) said that they had kept away from war.

Sheikh Mufid is the first historian who, taking advantage of the above quoted words of Imam Mujtaba (as), has clearly divided his army into different groups. The later historians have also written about this grouping. Briefly, the following five groups constituted the army of the noble Imam:

1. Hakim Naishapuri - 'Al Mustadrak 'Alal Saheehain', Beirut, Darul M'arifa, vol. 3, p.170, 174; Dayar Bakari - 'Tareekh al Khamees', Beirut, Moassasah Sh'aban, vol. 2, p.390; Bokhari - 'Saheeh Bokhari' Beirut, Darul M'arifah, vol. 2, 'Kitab al Sulh', p.114.

2. Sheikh Mufeed - 'Kitab al Irshad', Tehran, Intisharate 'Il miah, vol. 2, p.7; Baqar Qarshi - 'Hayat al Hasan bin Ali', Najaf, Matba al Ilmiah, vol.2, pp.52-55; Raazi Aale Yasin - 'Sulh-ul Hasan', Qum, Manshooraat al Razi, pp.68-73, 126-136; Abdul Qadir Badran, 'Tahzeebe Tareekhe Damishq la Ibne Asakir, Beirut, Dar Ahya al Turas, 1987, vol 4, p.225; Ibne Khaldoon, 'Tareekhe Ibne Khaldoon', Beirut, 1971, vol. 2, p. 187; Hafiz Zahbi, 'Tareekh Al Islam, Beirut, 1987, p.7.

Adapted from the book: "Imam Hasan and Caliphate" by: "Qurrat-ul-Ain Abidiy"

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