THE TALE OF A NATION-4
A Detailed Analysis Of Muslim History
From Umar’s death till the Battle of Jamal.
Recitation of the Holy Scripture.
Does man think that he will be left neglected?
Had he not been a sperm from semen emitted?
Then he was a clinging clot, and [God] created [his form] and proportioned [him]
And made of him two mates, the male and the female.
Is not that [Creator] Able to give life to the dead?
End of Recitation of the Holy Scripture.
In this tale of a Nation we reached till Umar’s assassination in part 29. Umar, on his deathbed, formed a committee of six people to choose the next caliph from amongst themselves within three days. This committee was: Ali bin Abi Talib, Abd al-Rahman bin Awf, Sad bin Abi Waqqas, Zubayr bin al-Awwam, Uthman bin Affan and Talhah. Talhah was outside of Madina that time, so it was decided that if he did not come back, the remaining five would make a decision. Umar also declared that these five men should agree within themselves and within three days. Umar appointed fifty people over them under control of Abu Talhah Ansari around the house where that negotiation was taking place. He also appointed his son Abdullah bin Umar over these men and commanded that these five men should agree unanimously on the next caliph otherwise his son would kill any one person not agreeing with the rest of the group.
Abdur Rahman bin Awf withdrew his eligibility to be appointed as caliph to act as a moderator and among the remaining four that was a tie between Usman and Ali, as also later Zubair and Saad withdrew in favor of Ali and Usman. The casting vote is now with Abdur Rahman bin Awf who asked both Usman and Ali one question in isolation whether they would follow Quran, Sunnah of Muhammad and footsteps of the previous caliphs. Ali said that he would follow Quran and the Sunnah of Muhammed and his own wisdom, judgment and belief. Uthman replied to the question in the positive without any reservation. Thereupon, Abdur Rahman gave his verdict in favor of Usman.
Now Usman reign as a caliph is very controversial in Islamic history. Abu Bakar belonged to Bani Taiyam and Umar was from Bani Adi tribe. Usman was from Bani Umayyah. Neither Muhammad nor any of the first two Caliphs appointed anyone from their family. Usman however reversed this policy and appointed a lot of his close relatives at high positions in Government. Now started a wave of distress and anxiety in the whole empire. People began demanding step down of Usman. Among them were several leading Sahaba companions of Muhammad. Their main plea was bad governess by Usman, his nepotism, the appointment of corrupt officials on higher ranks and a lavish lifestyle. Many senior companions of prophet along with Talhahand Zubayr bin al-Awam were among those asking Usman to step down. Many letters were written to the close companions of Muhammad, complaining about the tyranny of Usman’s appointed relatives as governors. Most objections were for these four persons Waleed bin Uqaba Governor of Kufa, Abdullah bin Saad bin Sarh governor of Egypt, Marwan bin Hakam as state secretary and Ameer Muawwiah as Governor of Syria.
The actual reason for the anti-Usman movement is disputed among the Shia and Sunni Muslims. Sunni Muslim believes that all mismanagement during his rule was because of Usman leniency and softness in administration. And nepotism was because of pity for his family and that he genuinely believed them most competent for those positions over others.
Anyhow thousands of people from Egypt, Kufa and Basra came to Madina to overthrow his government or to kill him in case he won’t agree. In 656 AD he was assassinated in a brutal way and was not allowed to be buried in the Muslim cemetery. His wife, with some of his friends, buried him in the night without the ritual death bath, listening to the curses of the Arabs, who also pelted stones at them. He was buried in the Jewish cemetery.
After Usman people of Madina stood for Ali bin Abi Talib to become the fourth caliph. Except a few senior companions all agreed on Ali and forced him to take their allegiance as he was not accepting. Among those who were against Ali were Zubair and Talhahthe same two companions of Prophet which were nominees for caliphate and member of the committee when Umar was dying.
Remember the general division between Sunni and Shia Muslims is over who should succeed Muhammad after his death as the leader of the Muslim community. Shia believes it should be members of Muhammad’s family and especially descendants of Muhammad. While Sunni considers that Muhammad did not announce his successor and Abu Bakr his father in Law was rightly elected as Caliph. Word Sunni comes from Sunnah which means example or way of Muhammad while word Shia comes from Shiatu Ali that is Party of Ali. Now Muhammad has children only from his wife Khadija and Fatima is the most beloved among them Fatimah ends up marrying Abu Talib’s son, Ali. Ali is Muhammad’s cousin. He grows up in the same household with Muhammad and also his first male follower first male Muslim just at the age of ten. Sunni considers Ali as the first adolescent follower and Abu Bakr as the first male follower. According to traditions and Hadeeth authentic in both Shia and Sunni view Ali was declared as Muhammad’s successor by prophet Muhammad himself at the event of Ghadir Khum and that Muhammad also tried to reinforce this on his deathbed at the event or Calamity of Thursday or as in case of Hadith Qirtas. In Ghadeer Khum Muhammad clearly announced these words من کنت مولاه فهذا علي مولا Just as I am your leader/protector or friend, Ali is his leader/protector or friend. but both Sunni and Shia interpret it differently.
Sunni and Shia both have taken extreme positions and both are wrong as the Sunni belief of innocence of Companions of the prophet is as wrong as the Shia belief of Infallibility of Imams. Fact is that only my Lord the Al-Mighty the All Wise is perfect while everyone else including prophets are mere human beings and His slaves.
Now, Ali is in power, this starts the First Fitna, the first Muslim civil war. There are a total of six important characters here Ali who had been assigned with the responsibilities of 4th Muslim Caliph by the majority of senior companions of the prophet. Out of the remaining five first is Mauwiya, as I told you in detail in Usman’s discussion and the background rivalry of Banu Ummayah with Banu Hashim at the beginning of this story in part 28. Then comes Marwan bin Hakam the state secretary of 3rd Caliph Usman also from Ummayah clan. Then the remaining three are Aisha wife of prophet Muhammad, Talhah and Zubair.
Soon after Ali became caliph, he dismissed provincial governors who had been appointed by Uthman, Now Muawiyah the governor of Syria refused to submit to Ali’s orders, he was the only governor to do so. At that time he was Governor there for about 17 years. A long tenure at one place turned out to be lethal. And they have strong support there in Syria not only in Muslims but also in Christians because of obliging them and giving them high positions in state affairs. And also because his wife and mother of his son Yazid, Maysun bint Bahdal was a former Syriac Orthodox Christian from the Kalb Bedouin tribe daughter of the Kalb’s leader, Bahdal bin Unayf. Mauwiya refused to give allegiance to Ali on the plea that Ali should first punish the killers of Usman and secondly on the pretext that his tribe clan and all others had not participated in Ali’s election and that Ali is not a unanimous Caliph.
Just when Ali resumes the office of caliphate, In November/ December of 656 AD Zubair, Talhah and Aisha, the wife of prophet Muhammad, refused their allegiance to Ali and with an army marched towards Basra claiming that they want to take revenge of Usman as the assassins of Usman were there in Basra. Thus started the battle of Jamal. The battle is called the battle of Jamal because of Aisha who participated in the campaign riding a male camel called Askar. The battle is also named among Shia as Battle of Nakithun (oath-breakers) as Talhah and Zubair broke their oath and allegiance and planned to fight against Ali. Ali fought this war in righteousness while the other party was in error. The proof of which were many predictions of prophet Muhammad and his sayings preserved in the heart of Muslims which backed the righteousness of Ali. Before the start of the battle, Ali also reminded Talhah of the sermon of Prophet Muhammad at Ghadir Khum that “Whoever I am his Mawla (Mawla has many meanings including leader, protector, friend), this Ali is his Mawla. O God, love whoever loves him, and be hostile to whoever is hostile to him’?” Listening to this Talhah shocked and responded in Yes. Ali asked the next question then why do you want to fight me? This conversation is recorded by both Shia and Sunni sources. Further, while going towards Basra when Aysha approached the waters of Bani Aamir, she heard some dogs barking. Aysha asked, ‘What is the location of this area. She was answered, ‘This is the waters of the Howab.’ Then she said I am going back. Because she had heard the Holy Prophet saying, “I see a day when dogs of Hawab are barking for one of you women (i.e. any of his wives). Be careful not to be that woman. Abd Allah bin Zubair collected fifty people who swore that the place was not Howab to change Aisha’s mind. On their way, they also came across Marwan bin Hakam with a huge group of Umayyahs leaving Madina and so together all of them reached Basra. Thus started the Battle of Camel or Battle of Jamal in Basra the battle ended with the victory of Ali. The death toll of the war was almost 10000 men. When Talhah Zubair party was retreating Marwan bin Hakam shot Talhah with an arrow in his foot. Remember they were allies as Marwan fought from their side with Ali. Even than Marwan shot and kill Talhah. Keep in mind that this is the same Marwan who later became the Caliph of Ummayad caliphate after the death of Mauwiya II. Zubayr was much regretful, and he left the battle during the battle and was killed by Amr bin Jurmuz in an ambush. Aaisha was sent back to Madina under military escort in command of Hassan bin Ali and her brother Muhammad bin Abu Bakr. Aisha subsequently retired to Medina with no more interference with the affairs of state. Later, when Aisha remembered the Battle of Jamal, she wished she had died before attending it. Whenever she recited the verse of Quran ” وَقَرْنَ فِي بُيُوتِكُنَّ” And stay in your house of