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The death of Malik Ashtar and Mohammad Abubakr

After dealing with the revolt of the Kharijites, Hazrat Ali had to face the problem of consolidating his control over Egypt. He had sent Qais-Ibne-Saad as Governor of Egypt but had to call him back and to send Mohammad Ibne-Abubakr in his stead. Unfortunately, Mohammad though brave and sincere was no match for Moawiya and Omar-Ibne-Aas. He was forced by Moawiya into battle. He wrote to Hazrat AR who sent Malik-al-Ashtar for his help. But Malik could not reach Egypt; he was poisoned on the way by a henchman of Moawiya and he died. (Tabari, Vol. IV, page 521), Mohammad was informed of his death.

That young man faced Omar. Ibne-Aas alone, was defeated in the encounter, and killed, and by the orders of Moawiya his dead body was burnt and his ashes were strewn (Tabari, Vol IV, page 592). Hazrat Ali's words at the news of the death of Mohammad showed how he loved the young man and how the youth loved him. After him Hazrat Ali had to send some experienced officer to Egypt. He was busy with that problem when Moawiya organised bands of guerillas with orders for loot, murder, arson and rape. These bands were to attack, like surging waves, the provinces of Hijaz, Busra Raay, Mosul and Herat. Hazrat Ali organised defences of these provinces, defeated these bands and freed the country from their harassment.

It was very easy for Hazrat Ali to channelize the minds of the masses towards foreign invasion. It had always been done by rulers and is even today considered the best form of diverting the energies of a rising nation, as well as the easiest way to extend one's territory and to propagate religion. But Hazrat Ali hated bloodshed, did not believe in imperialism, and had no faith in propagation of religion with the sword in one hand and the Quran in the other. He believed Islam to be a message of Peace and Love and wanted mankind to be ruled on the basis of equity and justice. Therefore, after strengthening one province after another and fortifying their defences, he got busy in introducing reforms to create a benign temporal state and never serioulsy thought of expanding his domain.

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