The Life of Imam Al-hasan Al-mujtaba
Chapter Xi : At Siffin
Some events happen in the world of existence and go without leaving an important effect that history may mention even if they have great importance during their time. Some other events happen in the field of life and they remain as immortal as time because they leave behind them a social effect bringing about general good to man. Some other events happen in the arena of life and fill the world with tragedies and misfortunes, and bring about to man unhappiness and enslavement. Among these tragic events and painful misfortunes is the event that took place at Siffin where the conflict was between good and evil, justice and injustice, light and darkness. The religious caliphate aimed at man’s interests and happiness and the chaotic government aimed at nothing except selfishness and trading with peoples’ interests.
The Islamic nation did not decide its fate decisively at the battle of Siffin, so such an attitude led the nation to enslavement, abasement, submission, oppression, and tyranny. Professor Malik al-Jaza’iri has referred to that when he explained the correct foundations that the Bandong Conference has adopted. He has said: “And certainly the Islamic history has come to know of a moment like this (i.e., self-determination) at the Battle of Siffin. This battle was a sorrowful event from which resulted the hesitation in choosing; the decisive choosing between Ali and Mu’awiya, between Medina and Damascus, between the democratic rule of the caliphate and the family rule. During that decisive point in its history, the Islamic society chose the way that led finally to colonialism.”[^1]
Indeed, the Muslim people were forsaken at the Battle of Siffin. They did not decide their decisive fate. So they deserted Imam Ali and forced Imam al-Hasan after him to accept the peace (with Mu’awiya). Accordingly, the Umayyads undertook the leadership of the country and went too far in killing the good, chasing the righteous, and spreading oppression and tyranny in the land. Therefore, we have to explain the stages of this tragedy briefly and reflect on its horrible conclusions, which are as follows:
Mu’awiya declared mutiny against Imam Ali’s government. He refused to pay homage to him and to follow what the Muslims had followed. As for the reasons for his rebellion, they are as follows: [^1] The concept of Afro-Asiatic in the light of the Bandong Conference111.
A. Mu’awiya knew that Imam Ali would not allow him to remain in his office, and there was no escape from that he would deprived him of all his properties that he had embezzled from the Muslims’ public treasury. If he had come to know that he (Imam Ali) would allow him (Mu’awiya) to practice his office, lavishness, and extravagance, he would not have declared mutiny and rebellion against him. Imam Ali did not flatter him in respect of his religion, nor did he seek victory through tyranny, nor did he accept oppression that destroyed the oppressive and aggressors. Therefore, how was it possible for the Imam to allow Mu’awiya to undertake the office of a governor while he knew that he had neither reality nor commitment to the religion? On the first day of his caliphate, Imam Ali deposed Mu’awiya from his office. Mu’awiya wrote a letter to him asking him to allow him to remain as he was or to appoint him as a ruler over Egypt, but the Imam refused to respond to him.
Mu’awiya and his relatives knew Imam Ali’s inclinations and aims of establishing justice in the country, putting an end to social oppression, and removing the oppressive from their offices. Besides, they knew that they would be unknown during Imam Ali’s government just as they had been during the time of the Prophet. For this reason, they declared aggression against the Imam that they might keep their interests.
B. Mu’awiya knew that he had the ability to resist Imam Ali and fight against him because of his influence and position in the country. Mu’awiya did not behave in his district as just a governor, but he was ambitious to obtain that which was beyond his district. He did as a leader who would found a state and he supported the state for himself and his own children after him. Accordingly, he gathered leading people, purchased supporters, surrounded himself with power, wealth, and was ready to stay for a long time.[^1]
C. From among the things that moved Mu’awiya to mutiny against Imam Ali was the revolt led by A’isha, Talha, and al-Zubayr. They paved the way for him because the Battle of Siffin was an extension to the battle of al-Jamal and from its results. Had it not been for their (A’isha,Talha, and al-Zubayr) revolt, their declaring rebellion, and avenging Uthman, Mu’awiya would not have been able to divide the Muslims’unity, revolt against the Imam, and fight against him.
D. There is another thing worthy of taking care and through which Mu’awiya justified his rebellion and revolt against the then government. This thing has been mentioned by Mu’awiya in the letter he sent to Muhammad bin Abi [^1] ‘Abqariyat al-Imam Ali, p. 115.
Bakr: “Your father and his Faruq (Umar bin al-Khattab) were the first to usurp his (Ali) right and oppose his matter (the caliphate). They agreed on that and then they summoned him to pledge allegiance to them. But he was slow and tardy in responding to them and so they intended to cause him troubles and wanted to kill him. Then he paid homage to and submitted to them. However, they did not make him take part in their affairs, nor did they inform him of their secrets until Allah took them unto Him.” He added: “So if that ,which we are in, is right, then your father had possessed it (the caliphate) alone, and we are his partners. If your father had not done what he did, we would not have opposed (Ali) bin Abi Talib, and we would have submitted to him. Your father had done that toward him before us, and we have followed his example.”[^1]
This justification is very true, for had it not been for that the two Sheikhs disputed with Imam Ali and usurped his right of authority, Mu’awiya would not have been able to oppose or revolt against him. Mu’awiya followed their example and their way. He aggressed against the Imam, spoiled his army, and left him in the suburbs of Kufa wishing for death, that he might get rid of the misfortunes and sorrows that had befallen him.
E. Yet, from among the things that moved Mu’awiya to declare the rebellion and the mutiny against Imam Ali was to avenge Uthman. He used Uthman’s murder as means to get his own objectives and reach his wishes. He employed all his hirelings to magnify his affair and to laud his name to deem him above all sins, to the extent that all the hearts of the people in al-Sham yielded to him and their souls were full of harboring malice and hatred against Imam Ali. They showed sadness and sorrow greater than that he showed. They urged and hurried him to war against Imam Ali and to avenge Uthman more than he himself did.
There is no doubt that Mu’awiya paid no attention to Uthman’s murder, because Uthman had sought his help when he was besieged, but he did not respond or help him with anything. If he wanted to avenge Uthman, then his advisor, Amr bin al-Aas, would be the worthiest of being punished, for it was he who kindled the fire against Uthman, and he used to say: “By Allah, if I found a shepherd, I would provoke him against Uthman as well as the heads and the prominent people.”[^2] Therefore, his avenging Uthman was for nothing except that he used it as means for achieving his purpose and obtaining the power which he had dreamed of. These are some of the reasons that moved Mu’awiya to fight against Imam Ali.
[^1] Al-Mas‘udi ‘ala Hamish bin al-Athir, vol. 6, pp. 78-79. [^2] Sharh Nahj al-Balagha, vol. 1, p. 163.
Delegation of Jareer
When Mu’awiya declared his mutiny against Imam Ali’s government, the companions of the Imam asked him to lead them in a war against Mu’awiya. That was after they had finished the battle of al-Jamal. It was as if they wanted to add another victory to their victory. However, the Imam refused that because his plan was making peace and preferring tranquility. He thought that he had to send to Mu’awiya some messengers to call him for obedience and to follow what the people had followed.
Among those messengers was Jareer bin Ubaydillah al-Bajali[^1] . Imam Ali sent him to meet Mu’awiya and supplied him with this letter: “You are required to pledge allegiance to me in Medina even if you are in al-Sham because the people who had paid homage to Abu Bakr and Umar have pledged allegiance to me on the same basis on which they had pledged allegiance to them. On this basis, one who is present has no choice to consider, and one who is absent has no right to reject, and consultation is confined to the Muhajireen and the Ansar.
If they agree on an individual and take him to be caliph, it will be deemed to mean Allah’s good pleasure. If someone keeps away by way of objection or innovation, they will return him to the position from where he kept away. If he refuses, they will fight against him for following a course other than that of the believers, and Allah will send him to what he has chosen, and take him to Hell, and it is an evil resort. Talha and al-Zubayr had paid homage to me, and then they broke the allegiance, and their breaking is as their rejection. So I have struggled against them for the sake of that until the truth has come and Allah’s command has become clear while they are unwilling. Then, enter what the Muslims have entered because the most lovable thing to me in respect of you is wellbeing except that you intrude upon the tribulation. If you intruded upon it, I would fight against you and seek help from Allah against you. You have said too much in respect of Uthman’s murder. Enter in what the Muslims have entered. Then let me rule the people, and I will make you and them follow Allah’s Book. As for that which you want, it is as deceiving the baby to make it leave the milk. By my life, if you see with your own brain without any
[^1] The narrators have differed over the time when Jareer bin Ubaydillah al-Bajali became Muslim. It was said that he became Muslim at the time of the Prophet’s advent. It was said that he became Muslim forty days before the death of the Prophet, and it was said other than that. He was handsome. Umar has said concerning him: “He is Yousuf of this community.” He gave him precedence, during his battles in Iraq, over all (the tribe of) Bajeelah, who played a major role in conquering Qadisiya (in Iraq). Jareer bin Ubaydillah al-Bajali resided in Kufa. When Imam Ali sent him as a messenger to Mu‘awiya, he failed in his task. So he isolated himself from the two parties and preferred tranquility. Then he lived in Qirqisya until he died in the year 51 A. H. And it was said (that he died in the year) 54 A. H.
passion, you will find me the most innocent of all concerning Uthman’s blood. You should know that you are among al-Tulaqaa’[^1] , whom the caliphate is not lawful for, nor consultation is confined to them. I have sent to you Jareer bin Abdullah, who is among the men of faith and emigration. Therefore, pay homage to me, and there is no power save in Allah.”[^2]
This is the letter of the truth. It summoned Mu’awiya to follow the truth through the shortest way and through the clearest style.
Moreover, it is a current sermon and a guiding wisdom for those who want guidance and whom Allah delights, and in whose heart He causes the spring of light to gush out. The letter indicates that Imam Ali was not heedless of explaining the affairs that people said, nor did he leave a gap through which his opponent could pass. Professor Abd al-Fattah Maqsud has said: “When Mu’awiya wanted to use something as a trick or as a pretext to confirm his opposition and support his deviation, the Imam extended to him a pick and strong iron to destroy his falsehood and demolish his strongholds.”[^3]
Jareer covered the desert and arrived in Mu’awiya’s palace. He said to him: “O Mu’awiya, the men of the two Sacred Cities (Mecca and Medina), the people of the two cities (Basra and Kufa), the people of al-Hijaz and Yemen, the people of al-Arudh and Oman, and the people of Bahrain and Yamama have come together to support your cousin (Imam Ali). Therefore no people have remained behind except the people of these strongholds where you are. If a flood from one of his valleys flew on them, it would cover them. I have come to summon you to that which guides and leads you to paying homage to the man (Imam Ali).”[^4]
When Mu’awiya heard that, he became breathless and said nothing. However he went too far in competing with Imam Ali. He could find no escape for himself except respite and delaying. During that period of time, he could gather the prominent persons in Sham and the commanders of the Army. He consulted them in respect of yielding to the Imam’s government and responding to his messenger or to declare mutiny and avenge Uthman. They showed him their urgent desire for avenging Uthman and to declare rebellion against the Imam’s government.
[^1] Al-Tulaqa’ is the plural of taleeq, who is a released prisoner of war. Allah’s Apostle (a.s.) released them on the day when he conquered Mecca and did not enslave them. [^2] Nasr bin Muzahim, Waqi‘at Siffin, p. 34. [^3] Imam Ali Bin Abi Talib, vol. 4, p. 27. [^4] Waqi‘at Siffin, p. 33.
Mu’awiya corresponds with Amr
Mu’awiya knew that the affair would not go well with him unless the crafty person of the Arabs, Amr bin al-Aas, should join him, that he might direct him, and that he would seek his help. He sent him a letter in which he asked him to come to him. This is the text of the letter: “Now, you have come to know the affair of Ali, Talha, and al-Zubayr. Marwan bin al-Hakam has inclined to us… Jareer bin Abdullah has come to us in respect of the pledge of allegiance to Ali. I have confined myself to you until you come. Come, and I will discuss a matter with you.”
When Amr read the letter, he became perplexed. He consulted his two sons Abdullah and Muhammad. Abdullah said to him: “I think that the Prophet of Allah died and he was pleased with you as well as the two Caliphs. Uthman was killed, while you were absent from him. Therefore, stay in your home, for you will not be made a caliph, nor do you want to be a follower of Mu’awiya for little world that is about to perish, and you are unhappy therein.”
Abdullah asked him to cling to piety and fear of Allah and not to respond to the motives of the troubles and vainglory. As for his son Muhammad, he was deluded by the world, and he craved after authority, so he said to him: “I think that you are the Sheikh of Quraysh and the leader of their affairs. If you give up this matter, you will be insignificant. Therefore, join the the people of Sham. Be one of their hands and avenge Uthman, because you have submitted to the Umayyads in respect of him.” Muhammad urged his father to destroy his hereafter and keep to his life in this world. Amr turned to his son Abdullah and said to him: “As for you, you have asked me to do what is good in my religion.” And he said to his son Muhammad: “And as for you, you have asked me to do what is good in my world.”
Perplexity and Astonishment
The world and the hereafter quarreled with each other in Amr’s mind. He was full of perplexity. Suspicions surrounded him. He sleeplessly spent the night. He thought of the affair too much. He hesitated whether he had to join Mu’awiya’s camp and fight against (Imam Ali), the brother of Allah’s Apostleand so he would lose his religion, or to join Ali and be like the rest of the people and so he would win hereafter and religion. He thought of the mater for a long time. His family heard him reciting some poetry that showed his hesitation and perplexity.
However, his son Abdullah understood that he responded to Mu’awiya’s summons, and he said: “The Sheikh has made water on his heels and sold his religion for his worldly life!” In the following morning, he summoned his servant Wardan, who was clever in physiognomy. He said to him: “Halt, O Wardan!” Then he said to him: “Depart, O Wardan!” Then he said to him: “Halt, O Wardan!” His servant Wardan knew his perplexity and hesitation. So he said to him:
-You have mixed, O Abu Abdullah. If you want, I will inform you of which there is inside you. -Come on!
-The world and the hereafter has quarreled with each other in your heart. You have said: “The hereafter is with Ali with no life in this world. In the hereafter there will be a recompense for the life in this world. The life in the world is with Mu’awiya with no life in the hereafter. There is no recompense in the world for the life in the hereafter. Therefore, you are standing between them!” -By Allah, you are not mistaken! What do you think? -I think that you have to stay in your house. If the men of religion appear, you will live in the pardon of their religion. If the men of the world appear, they will be in no need of you. However, he did not respond to his servant’s advice. He decided to join Mu’awiya. Amr responded to his desires. He preferred this world to the hereafter. He decided to join Mu’awiya’s camp, and fight against Imam Ali (a.s).
His Arrival in Sham
Amr bin al-Aas and his two sons went to Damascus. When he arrived in it, he began weeping just as women do while he was saying: “O Uthman, I announce the death of modesty and the religion!”[^1]
He pretended weeping that he might cheat the simple-minded and show loyalty and obedience to Mu’awiya. When Mu’awiya met with him, he discussed with him the ways and means he had to follow during his war against Imam Ali. Amr bin al-Aas said to him: “As for Ali, by Allah, the Arabs do not regard you as equal to him in anything. In war he has a luck which none of Quraysh has except that you want to wrong him.” [^1] Ibn Al-Athir, Tarikh, vol. 129.
Mu’awiya began explaining to him the reasons for his war and rebellion against the Imam, saying: “You are right! But we will fight against him for that which is in our hands and we ask him for the killers of Uthman!” Mu’awiya decided to fight against the Imam for authority, power, and the great wealth which he had embezzled from the public treasury. Amr bin al-Aas explained to him the weakness of avenging Uthman saying:
-How bad! We should not mention Uthman!
-Why, woe unto you! -As for you, you had deserted him though the people of Sham were beside you until he sought the help of Yazid bin Asad al-Bajali, and he hurried to him. As for me, I left him and escaped to Palestine![^1] However, Mu’awiya paid no attention to his speech, for he could find no means to cling to during his rebellion except avenging Uthman.
The Cheap Bargain
Amr bin al-Aas always longed for Egypt. He bought Mu’awiya his conscience and his religion for it. Mu’awiya asked him: -Do you love me, O Amr! -Why? For the hereafter? By Allah, no hereafter is with you! Or for this world? By Allah, this will not happen unless I should be you partner in it. -You are my partner in it! -Therefore, write down that Egypt and its districts shall be for me! Mu’awiya wrote down that Amr would be the wali of Egypt. Then he wrote at the bottom of the document: “Amr should listen and obey!” Amr said to him:
To listen and obey does not decrease anything of the stipulation! -Yes, and the people do not care for this. Mu’awiya carried out what Amr wanted[^2] for he sold his religion to him. Mu’awiya won the most important crafty politician who played well over the rope and overcame the events. It was he who has said about his craftiness: “I am Abu Abdullah. If I itch an ulcer, I will make it bleed!”
[^1] Al-Ya‘qubi, Tarikh, vol. 2, p. 162. [^2] Al-Iqd al-Farid, vol. 3, p. 113.
Jareer is rejected
When the affairs went well with Mu’awiya, and he made firm his situation, he refused Imam Ali’s messenger (Jareer). He sent with him a letter in which he has mentioned: “Now, if those you have mentioned paid homage to you, and you are innocent of Uthman’s blood, then you would be like Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman. However, you urged the people to shed Uthman’s blood, so those ignorant obeyed you, and the weak became strong through you. Certainly, the people of Sham have determined to fight against you unless you give to them those who killed Uthman. If you did, then the caliphate would be consultation among the Muslims. The people of Hijaz were the rulers over the people, and the truth was with them. When they separated themselves from it, the people of Sham became the rulers over the people. By my life, your proof against the people of Sham is not like that of Talha and al-Zubayr. If they had pledged allegiance to you, I will not pledge allegiance to you! As for your merits in Islam and your kinship to Allah’s Apostle, I cannot refute them.”
This letter carried slanders and lies Mu’awiya accused Imam Ali of killing Uthman, while he knew well that the Imam was innocent of that. However, he could find no proof to cling to except these lies.
Jareer came back to Imam Ali while he was unsuccessful in his task. He brought him Mu’awiya’s letter. The Imam read the letter and knew what Mu’awiya intended such as rebellion and revolt against him. He thought that he had to establish the proof against him again. He sent him some messengers to summon him to obey and follow what the Muslims had followed. That was useless, and Mu’awiya insisted on his obstinacy.
Mu’awiya marches towards Siffin
Mu’awiya took the pledge of allegiance to himself from the people of Sham, that he might avenge Uthman. He had abilities and military forces. The ambitious, the devious of the truth and the rebellious against Islam joined him, because they had no faith in Islam. When the affairs went well with Mu’awiya, he set off towards Siffin[^1] to fight against the lawful authority, to overthrow the Islamic government, and return the moralities of pre-Islamic era. When he arrived in Siffin, he stopped there and controlled the Euphrates.
[^1] Siffin is a place near al-Riqqa, on the western bank of the Euphrates, between al-Riqqa and Balsin. There the battle between Imam Ali and Mu‘awiya took place at the beginning of the month of Safar, in the year 37. The historians have differed over the number of the fighters of the two parties. It was said that there were 120 thousand fighters with Mu‘awiya, and there were 90 thousand fighters with Imam Ali. It was said that Imam Ali had 120 thousand fighters, and Mu‘awiya had 90 thousand fighters.
He regarded that as the beginning of conquer, because he could prevent his enemy from water. His troops stayed there to manage their affairs and organize their abilities to get ready for the battle.
Imam Ali gets ready for the Battle
When all the means that the Imam used for making peace failed, he got ready for the battle. That was when he knew that his enemy had marched towards Siffin to fight against him. He summoned the Muhajireen and the Ansar who hurried to help him. He said to them: “Most surely you are good in opinion, superior in clemency, believing in the truth, and blessed in action. We have decided to march towards our enemy; so give us your opinion!”
Hashim bin Utba rose and said to him: “O Commander of the faithful, most surely I am very aware of people. They are enemies to you and to your followers. They follow whoever seeks the worldly pleasures. They will fight and struggle against you. They will spare no effort to cling to this world and not to lose anything they have in it. They have no purpose except that through which they deceive the ignorant such as revenging Uthman bin Affan. They have told lies. They do not avenge, but they want the world. So let us march towards them. If they respond to the truth, so there is nothing beyond the truth except misguidance. If they insist on discord, then that is what we think of them. By Allah, I think that they will not pay homage (to you), as long as that there is someone among them who is obeyed when he prohibits and heared when he commands.”[^1]
Most surely Hashim was experienced in the inners of the people and knowledgeable of their attitudes and inclinations. They sought the way to the world. They fought against the Imam for their own ambitions. They used Uthman’s blood as a pretext and means for their rebellion. They did not leave their hypocrisy and error as long as there was among them a person enjoying influence and force. Therefore, there was no escape from fighting them and marching towards them to put an end to their error and mutiny. Some other people from among the leading Muhajireen and the Ansar confirmed Hashim’s statement. They showed obedience and submission to the Imam. After that the Imam got ready for the battle. He corresponded with the prominent persons, the heads of the tribes, and the commanders of the army. He urged them to help him and to go out with him to fight against the rebels. They all responded to the call of the truth and expressed their inclusive readiness for defending him.
[^1] Waqi‘at Siffin, p. 103.
Imam al-Hasan aroused the determinations, and moved decisiveness and activity of the people. He urged them to go out to war against Mu’awiya just as he had done that before at the Battle of al-Jamal. He rose and delivered a speech among people to summon them to jihad. This is the text of his speech. “Praise belongs to Allah whom there is no god but Him, the One without a partner. I laud Him with that of which He is worthy.
“Most surely among the things through which Allah has made great His right against you, bestowed upon you His boons whose names cannot be counted… thanks to Him cannot be given; neither description nor speech can reach Him. We have become angry for Allah and you, because He is kind to us through that of which He is worthy and through which we should thank Him for His boons, His trial, and His favors. A speech that ascend to Allah and there is good pleasure in it, and through which the favor of truthfulness spreads, through which Allah confirms our speech, and through which we deserve more from our Lord, a speech that increases and does not decrease. That is if some people come together for a certain affair, their affair becomes strong and their knot becomes firm. Therefore, gather in crowds for fighting against Mu’awiya and his armies, for he has come. Do not fail, for failure destroys the heart, and the advance towards the spearheads is a help and protection. If people become strong, Allah will remove from them the malady, suffice them the hardships of abasement, and guide them to the principles of the religion.”
Then he recited poetry, saying:
You take from peace (as much as) what pleases you, and a bit of war breaths is too much for you.[^1] His eloquent speech is full of the summons to unity, cooperation, and to spare no effort in fighting against the rebellious forces. People responded to his summons. They quickly hurried to support the truth and defend Islam.
Al-Hasan with Sulayman
Some Iraqi leaders did not take part in the Battle of al-Jamal, nor did they help Imam Ali. Among them was Sulayman bin Surad al-Khuza’iy[^2] . After the
[^1] The poetry line belongs to al-Abbas bin Mardas al-Salami, just as it has been mentioned (in the book) al-Khazana, vol. 2, p. 82. [^2] Sulayman bin Surad al-Khuza’iy was a prominent, honorable person among his people. He narrated traditions from the Prophet, Imam Ali, and Imam al-Hasan. He was among those who wrote letters to Imam al-Husayn, peace be on him, and asked him to come to Kufa. When Imam al-Husayn responded to their call, Sulayman remained behind. When the Muslims were terrified through killing the Apostle’s
battle, Imam Ali (a.s) severely blamed and rebuked him, saying: “You have doubted, lurked, and dodged! You were from among the most reliable people to me and the quickest of them, as I think, in helping me! What has made you refrain from your Prophet’s Household? And what has made you leave supporting them?”
Sulayman was unable to stand the Imam’s rebuke against him, so he said to him: “O Ameerul Mo’minin, do not compare things to what had passed, and do not rebuke me for what had gone. Retain my love and I will be sincere to you. Many things have remained that you can recognize your enemy fro your friend through them.”
Then he went to Imam al-Hasan to tell him about his father’s (Imam Ali) speech. He said to him: “Do you not wonder at the reproach I have met from Ameerul Mo’minin?” Al-Hasan gently spoke with him, that he might remove the sadness from him, saying: “One, whose love and loyalty are hoped, is admonished.” However, Sulayman remained excited, for the bitter admonishment and reproach had hurt him, and he said to Imam al-Hasan: “Some things, which spears and swords meet in, have remained, and the like of me is needed in them! Do not admonish, and do not neglect my loyalty!” Al-Hasan calmed his anger and showed that he had confidence in him, saying: “May Allah have mercy on you! You are not suspected near us!”[^1] Sulayman’s excitement and anger calmed down, because Imam al-Hasan treated him with kindness and gentleness. He could remove from him the painful sorrow and return him to the ranks of the Mujahideen.
The March towards Siffin
When Imam Ali had sufficient military forces, he got ready to go to Siffin. He commanded al-Harith bin al-A’war to call people to go to their camp at al-Nukhaylah. He called them for that, and Kufa was full of Mujahideen. Imam Ali went out accompanied by the companions of the Prophet. The regiments that were like a flood went with him. They were riders or infantries. They had grandson (Imam al-Husayn), Sulayman and a group of his people felt remorse for they had not risen to support him. Accordingly, they hurried to avenge his blood. They marched until they met the sinful, Ubaydillah bin Ziyad, at a place called Ayn al-Warda. A battle took place between them. Sulayman and those with him were all killed. That was at the month of Rabee‘ al-Aakhar, in the year 65 A. H. He was then 93 years old. [^1] Waqi‘at Siffin, pp. 9-10.
come to know why they went out. They went out to support the truth and to fight against the enemies and opponents of Islam. With their quick advance, the Imam’s troops walked beside the Euphrates. When they arrived in al-Anbar, its people received them. Then they hurried to Imam Ali. The Imam asked them denyingly: “What are these animals with you? What have you wanted through that which you have done?”
They showed him great love and respect. They said to him: “O Ameerul Mo’minin, it is among our customs through which we glorify our rulers. As for these horses, they are as a gift for you. We have cooked food for you and the Muslims. We have prepared a lot of fodder for your animals.” Imam Ali scolded and prohibited them from doing that, saying: “As for this custom through which you magnify the rulers, by Allah, this does not profit the rulers, and you make yourselves and bodies tired through it. Therefore, do not return to it. As for these animals of yours, if you want us to take them from you and regard them as part of your land taxes (kharajj), we will take them. As for your food you have cooked, we hate to eat anything of your possessions except for a certain price.”
This is the logic of justice which Ali bin Abi Talib followed. He did not permit the festivals and other ceremonies to be held for the rulers and emirs, for they had pressure against the subjects and they glorified the rulers who had, in the viewpoint of Islam, nothing to distinguish them from the rest of people.
The people of al-Anbar said to him: “O Ameerul Mo’minin, we will evaluate it (the food), and then we will accept its value.” “You cannot evaluate its value,” retorted the Imam. Then he left them and went away.[^1] The Imam’s troops walked and covered the desert till they were face to face with the army of Mu’awiya.
The fighting for Water
The Imam’s companions found no place to get water from the Euphrates because many guards had surrounded the drinking places and severely prevented them from reaching the river. They came to the Imam and told him about that, and he summoned Sa‘sa‘a bin Souhan and said to him: “Go to Mu’awiya and say to him: ‘We have made this travel and we hate to start you with fighting without any warning. You have come along with your horses. You have started fighting against us before we start fighting. We think that [^1] Waqi‘at Siffin, pp. 160-161.
we have to refrain (from fighting) unless we summon you and protest against you. You have done another thing, to the extent that you have come between the people and the water. Let them get water that we may reflect on that which is between you and us, on that for which we and you have come. If you like that we leave what we have come for and let the people fight against each other that the victor may drink water, we will do.” Sa‘sa‘a bin Souhan went to Mu’awiya and told him about the Imam’s speech. Mu’awiya consulted his companions. Al-Waleed bin Aqaba said to him: “Prevent them from water just as they had prevented Uthman bin Affan. They besieged him (Uthman) for forty days. They prevented him from drinking cool water and fresh food. Kill them with thirsty! May Allah kill them!”
Amr bin al-Aas advised him to allow them to get water. However, al-Waleed repeated his saying. Then, Abdullah bin Sa’d bin Abi Sarh said to him: “Prevent them from the water until the night. If they cannot stand it, they will return. Their return will be a defeat. Prevent them from the water! May Allah prevent them on the Day of Resurrection!”
Sa‘sa‘a bin Souhan was unable to keep silent, so he became excited and said to him: “Most surely Allah will prevent the infidels, the sinful, and those who drink wine from it on the Day of Resurrection! May Allah strike you and this dissolute!” He indicated with his hand to al-Waleed. People attacked, cursed, and threatened him. Mu’awiya commanded them to refrain from him. Sa‘sa‘a unsuccessfully returned to Imam Ali.
Accordingly, al-Ash‘ath bin Qays[^1] hurried to the Imam and said to him: “O Ameerul Mo’minin, the people have [^1] Al-Ash‘ath bin Qays al-Kindi was the chief of his people. He and his people went to Allah’s Apostle in the year 10 A. H. He and they became Muslim. When the Prophet died, al-Ash‘ath reneged from Islam, and then he embraced it again during Abu Baker’s caliphate. Abu Baker married him to his sister Umm Farwa, daughter of Abi Quhafa. She was the mother of Muhammad bin al-Ash‘ath. When Abu Bakr died, al-Ash‘ath, along with Sa‘d bin Abi Waqqas went out to al-Qadisiya, Jalawla’, and Nahawand. Al-Ash‘ath bin Qays built a house in Kufa, in the quarter of Kinda, and lived in it. He died in the year 42 A. H., and it was said in the year forty. Imam al-Hasan prayed over him. This has been mentioned (in the book) al-Isti‘ab, vol. 1, p. 110. In the book Sharh Nahj al-Balagha it has been mentioned: “Al-Ash‘ath craved after authority after the death of the Prophet. He asked his people to crown him, and they responded to that. He and the apostates battled against the Muslims but he was besieged in his stronghold for some days. When he became desperate of victory, he surrendered on the condition that his blood and that of ten of his companions should be spared. The Muslims responded to him, so he was safe from killing. Abu Bakr felt remorse for that he did not kill him. When he was about to die, he said: “I wish that I had cut off al-Ash‘ath’s head on the day when he was brought to me. I think that he helps evil whenever he sees it.
prevented us from the water of the Euphrates while you are among us and we have swords! Let us fight against them. By Allah, we will not return until we drink water or die. Command (Malik) al-Ashtar to move with his horsemen and stop where you command him.” The Imam permitted him. When al-Ash‘ath won that, he returned to his people, saying: “Whoever wants water or death, then his promise is the morning! I am going to rise toward water!”
Twelve thousand fighters responded to him. When he saw them, he proudly rose, wore his breastplate and recited some poetry. On the following morning the Iraqi masses hurried towards al-Ash’ath, and he headed them and attacked the people of Sham while he was saying to his people: “Go ahead, may my father and mother die for you!” He went on calling his people and arousing in them the spirit of determination and activity, and they faced the people of Sham. Al-Ash‘ath shouted at the people of Sham: “Leave the water!”
Abu al-A‘war al-Salami[^1] did not respond to him. Al-Ash‘ath and those with him attacked the the people of Sham. They removed them from the Euphrates and caused them heavy losses in properties and men. When the Iraqis occupied the Euphrates, the Imam permitted the people of Sham to drink from its water and did not pay them back twofold. He treated them generously.