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Imam Ali (a.s.) and the battle of Nahrawan

The Prophet (a.s.) in the twenty-three years of his Mission, often told me that a day would come, when some of my companions, who fasted in the day and recited the Qur'an in the night Holy, would stand against me, and I would be in a war with them, because they would go out of the religion as an arrow penetrates and goes out of a game.

The Prophet (a.s.) also told me that Thul Thodayyah would be with them, and that when I would defeat and kill them, I would fly to Paradise. We returned to Kufa and all of them, who had insisted on arbitration, then snubbed me and used to say, 'Very well, we were wrong, but why you Imam Ali? Why an Emir and great commander should listen to his soldiers and assistances? An Emir like you should have done whatever he thought was right. He should not have feared death! Now that you listened to our ideas, so you are a heretic and the killing of a heretic is lawful and permissible!'

All of them united and left my army. They cried out loudly that there was no command but the command of Allah! Some of them went to Nokhaylah, and some others went to Haroura. A third group went to the riverside of Tigris. They wanted to go to the east as quickly as possible. Whenever they saw a Muslim before them, first they put him to trial, and if that Muslim had opinions like theirs, they would do nothing to him, but if he had an opposite thought, they would kill him with all his family right away.

At first, I started to invite the two first groups toward Allah and the Holy Qur'an, but they did not accept my invitation, and they just wanted to fight against me and nothing else mattered to them.

When I understood that their problem would never be solved except by the sword, I did what Allah willed. If I did not do that, they would have caused a great problem to Islam, but Allah had prepared a different destiny for them.

Then, I wrote a letter to the third group, and I sent many messengers who were all great and wise men from among my companions. However, that group like the two previous ones, ignored me and my messengers, and insisted on fighting us.

They continued to kill innocent Muslims who were against them. Therefore, I closed the way to the Tigris and once again, I sent many messengers to invite them to us. One day, I sent this man, and another day that man, but I had no way except to kill them.

Thus, 0 my Jewish brother, I killed all of their four thousand men, but only ten men from them remained alive. I searched among the dead and found the body of Thul Thodayyah, about whom the Prophet (a.s.) had told me before. I showed his body to everyone. Is it not true?"

They all said, "Yes, it is true, 0 Commander of the Believers."

At that moment, Imam Ali (a.s.) looked at the Jewish man's face and said, "I talked about the fourteen instances, and now there remains just another event that will happen in the near future."

When Imam Ali finished his words, all of his companions began crying. The Jewish man, while crying, said, "Please, tell us about the last one!" With the great sorrow that he felt inside him, he was not able to move from his place. Imam Ali (a.s.) touched his beard and said, "In the last event, this beard will be dyed by my own blood ..."

When the masses of people heard Imam Ali's word, they began to moan and cry, and their cries of sorrow spread everywhere in the mosque of Kufa.

It was the turn of the Jew to do as his promise and complete a allegiance and to realize his wish that was inside him for so many years. Yes! After the Imam finished his talk, the Jew went and kissed the holy hand of Imam Ali (a.s.) and embraced Islam. He lived in Kufa until the day when Imam Ali (a.s.) was killed by Abdurrahman ibn Moljam (Allah's curse be on him) in the year 40 AH.

When the people arrested ibn Moljam, they delivered him to Imam Hassan ibn Ali (a.s.), where there were masses of people around him. The Jew came to that place, and while crying, he thought to himself that It was the hardest day in his life. He said to Imam Hassan(a.s.), "0 son of Mohammad! Kill this man, and I hope that Allah will curse him with a terrible Punishment! In the Holy Books of Moses, I had read that the crime of this man is much greater than the sin of the son of Adam (Cain) who had murdered his brother Abel, and his sin is greater than the crime of the people of Aad who had killed the Camel of the Prophet Salih (a.s.) ...!".

So what a lucky man the Jew was! He lived with his good. deeds, while there were many Muslims who were Muslim only by name, but in their lives, they lived and behaved just like infidels and unlike what Allah and His Messenger (a.s.) had wanted.

It has been mentioned in a tradition, that once a man from Bassora came to Imam Sajjad (a.s.) and asked him, "Why your grandfather (Imam Ali) killed the Muslims?" Imam Sajjad (a.s.) began to cry painfully, and then he wiped his tears with his hand and said, "0, you my Basri brother! I swear by Allah that Ali (a.s.) never killed a true Muslim or an innocent one! He fought against some people, who had the name of "Muslims" only upon themselves, but in their hearts, they were the enemies of Allah and the Muslims. When they found people like themselves, they united with them against true Muslims. The true companions and followers of the progeny of Muhammad know that the people of (the battle of) Jamal, Siffeen, and Nahrawan were cursed by the Messenger of Allah (a.s.). So curse be on one who fabricates lies against Allah, and His Messenger!"

In Imam Ali's speech to the Jew, he addressed as "Jewish brother". The statement in Arabic is "Akhal Yahud" which means: "brother of the Jews" which may mean "O Jew!"

An old man stood up and said, "but your grandfather Ali ibn Abi Talib had said about them, "our "brothers" oppressed us!"

Imam Sajjad (a.s.) replied, "Did you not read this verse in the Qur'an where Allah says, (and to (the people of) Aad (we sent) their brother Hud)? 1 In this situation, the people of Aad are like the brothers that Imam Ali (a.s.) had talked about. We saw that Allah the Almighty had assisted the Prophet Hud (a.s.) and his followers, but demolished the people of Aad with a furious storm."

Thus, it is not true to think that when Imam Ali (a.s.) said to the Jew: "my Jewish brother", he meant that he was his brother in religion.

However, there is a point of view more reliable. It is that: Imam Ali (a.s.) had knowledge of every thing about the past, present, and the future. Thus, he knew very well that this Jewish man, later on, would embrace the religion of Islam. The interesting fact is that Imam Ali (a.s.) since the beginning of his discourse with the Jew, considered him his "brother in religion", because he well knew that the Jew would soon become Muslim.
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1 Qur'an, 7:65.

Adapted from: "The Sufferings of Amirol Mo'minin Ali ibn Abi Talib (A.S.); Life and Martyrdom" by: "Majid Massoudi"