History of the Caliphs

By: Rasūl Ja’farīan

Translation by: Ali Ebrahimi

p. 313-319

Earlier we referred to one of Imām’s letters to Mu‘āwiya and its answer. The exchanged letters recorded by Isfahānī[1] bore no fruit. Imām himself was absolutely aware that would never surrender with such letters, yet, it is of great significance that these letters be recorded as evidence to indicate explicitly what the reasoning of the both sides were for their legitimacy.

Mu‘āwiya did his utmost to be kept abreast of the state in Kūfa and Basra through his spies. But the spies were all identified and killed.[2] Both Imām and ‘Abd Allāh Ibn ‘Abbās had written to Mu‘āwiya admonishing him for his violation. For the last time Imām warned Mu‘āwiya if he did not surrender, he with the Muslim army would attack,
[فحاكمتك الى الله حتى يحكم الله بيننا وبينكم وهو خير الحاكمين[3 “We entrust the arbitration between you and me to Allāh to judge and He is the best arbitrator.”

When writing letters was fruitless, Imām wrote to Mu‘āwiya, “Between you and I, sword will judge”.[4]

In a letter, then, to his agents in various areas besides expressing his delight in Imām ‘Alī’s effortless murder, Mu‘āwiya informed them of Kūfa in chaos. “The nobles and the leaders in Kūfa have written to me for guarantee of clemency for themselves and their families”, added he truly or falsely, “as soon as you receive the letter, move to me with your armies because time is ripe for revenge”. Accompanied by his army Mu‘āwiya advanced towards Manbadj bridge. At the same time, Imām Hasan (a) sent Hudjr Ibn ‘Adī for people and his agents to get prepared for fighting.

In Kūfa Imām after reciting the verse of,
[واصبروا ان الله مع الصابرين[5 “And be patient; surely Allāh is with the patient,” addressed the gathering, “O people, but through patience with what you dislike. You can never reach what you like. I learnt that Mu‘āwiya is moving towards us. Hasten to Nukhayla you all”.[6] Isfahānī recounts that Imām was speaking as if doubtful about people’s readiness. No one breathed a word.

All of a sudden ‘Adī Ibn Hātim broke the silence saying, “I am Hātim’s son. Why on earth do you keep waiting? Do you not obey your Imām and your Prophet’s son?” Then he assured Imām and headed for Nukhayla. A number of people from the tribe of Tayy whose chief was ‘Adī Ibn Hātim accompanied him. According to Ya‘qūbī, there were a hundred fighters in Tayy who never dared to disobey ‘Adī.[7] Later, Qays Ibn Sa‘d, Ma‘qal Ibn Qays and Ziyād Ibn Sa‘sa‘a gave speeches; therefore, around twelve thousand soldiers gathered in Nukhayla. Imām accompanied them up to ‘Abd al-Rahmān Convent.[8]

It should not be ignored that the Iraqis’ morale had been undermined after the event of arbitration. They had prepared themselves for a compromise with Qāsitīn. On the other hand, whenever they imagined to be dominated by Mu‘āwiya, their hair stood on end. At this juncture, a group feigned ignorance, another group was quite doubtful and only one group, the minority, joined Imām. Setting out for the camp, Imām left his paternal cousin, Mughīra Ibn Nawfal, in Kūfa to convince people to join. Hārith Hamdānī has said that those willing to join Imām went to Nukhayla while many balked at going among whom some had already promised to cooperate.[9] As a result, Imām had to return to Kūfa and mobilize support.

Imām’s such position-taking is despite what Zuhrī and others have said,
[كان الحسن لايؤثر القتال ويميل إلى حقن الدماء[10 “Hasan is as a matter of fact reluctant to battle.” [ولم يكن في نية الحسن أن يقاتل أحداً ولكن غلبوه على رأيه[11 “Since Hasan was not determined to battle, he compromised.”

In addition, Imām had given people raises in order to strengthen their spirit.[12] They got the raise form the very beginning of caliphate to get ready for the war against Damascus.

The total number gathered in Nukhayla was twelve thousand. They had to go there following their chiefs and under the pressure of propaganda. Though this figure is stipulated in many historical sources, some believe that it was forty thousand. It is said that the troops with Imām going to ‘Abd al-Rahmān Convent had been forty thousand form among whom a thousand were sent as the vanguard led by Qays Ibn Sa‘d.[13] This mentioned figure can by no means be correct because, the historical narrations certify that all at first remained silent when called. How is it possible that the number augmented suddenly and miraculously? If Imām’s supporters were that many, there would be no need to go to Ctesiphon and summon forces nor to risk and leave the army all on its own. Many historians such as Ya‘qūbī, Abu l-Faradj Isfahānī and Ibn ‘Asākir who have accurately recorded the report have approved the twelve-thousand figure. [14] There is a strong probability that this false narration refers to those who swore allegiance to him after Imām ‘Alī’s martyrdom. The number mentioned in that narration is forty thousand who were supposed to battle with Damascus.[15] According to some[16], this narration had made a group of people assume that this great number had been prepared to aid Hasan Ibn ‘Alī (a) although the allegiance of this number to Imām ‘Alī (a) is open to doubt by itself. Regarding Imām ‘Alī’s repeated remarks in Nahdj al-Balāgha and other sources about reproaching Kūfa people for not helping him in the war against Damascus, it beggars belief that such a large crowd help his son. As it will be seen later the main cause for the compromise was people’s non-collaboration. Which can be easily inferred from Imām’s remarks. It is clear-cut that with the presence of forty thousand soliers such rematks should not have been quoted from him.

‘Ubayd Allāh Ibn ‘Abbās was the commander of Imām’s army but Zuhrī has mistakenly named ‘Abd Allāh Ibn ‘Abbās.[17] Some others have mentioned Qays Ibn Sa‘d,[18] after ‘Ubayd Allāh fled, who seized his position. There is no doubt that Imām had appointed ‘Ubayd Allāh.[19] Why Imām chose him was that in the present situation full of doubt Imām had no other choice but appointing one form his own lineage. Moreover, ‘Ubayd Allāh bore Mu‘āwiya a grudge because Busr Ibn Artāt, one of Mu‘āwiya’s commanders, in an attack on Hidjāz had beheaded his two sons before their mother’s very eyes. Yet, Imām treated it with caution and appointed two deputies for him, Qays Ibn Sa‘d and Sa‘īd Ibn Qays.

Sending them towards the enemy, Imām headed for Sābāt in Ctesiphon. But before they go, he gave ‘Ubayd Allāh some advice, ألن جانبك “Behave softly” ابسط ووجهك “Try to look cheerful” أفرش لهم جناحك “Cast the umbrella of your affection over them.” ادنهم من مجلسك “Try to keep close to them” وشاور هذين “Consult these two” فلا تقاتله حتى يقتلك “Never start battling before being stated.”

Imām also pointed out that those people were the survivors of the ones whom Imām ‘Alī (a) trusted. Then Imām added that they should move to the Euphrates and then to Maskan to defend themselves against Mu‘āwiya and stay there until being ordered.[20]

Imām himself went to Sābāt. As recorded by Dīnwarī, Mu‘āwiya sent an army with ‘Abd Allāh Ibn ‘Āmir Ibn Kurayz to Anbār and then to Ctesiphon. Comprehending the situation, Imām had to set out to Ctesiphon.[21] The incident occurred there and is reported by all historians, was the Khāridjites attack on Imām. Such historians as Dīnwarī, Balādhurī, Abu l-Faradj Isfahānī and even Shiykh Mufīd quoting Isfahānī have said that form Imām’s remarks the probalility of compromise could be inferred. Due to this reason the Khāridjites attacked him. It can not be acceptable. How could Imām, who had gone to Ctesiphon prevent the enemy’s invasion or recruit people, give such utterances with the implicit aim of compromise before the war be started? Ya‘qūbī has recounted clearly what happened. Mu‘āwiya who never ever gave up trickery sent Mughīra Ibn Shu‘ba and ‘Abd Allāh Ibn ‘Āmir to Sābāt to talk to Imām about compromise. When returning disppointedly in order to provoke the Khāridjites and under their breath in a way to be heard, they said, “Allāh indeed prevented blood shedding and suppressed the sedition by the Prophet’s son. At last he accepted to compromise”. Ya‘qūbī added that it was then that on heating, the army grew furious and never doubted their truthfulness, so they attacked Hasan (a) and plundered what he possessed.[22] The Shi‘ite Muslims protected Imām in the middle and kept him away. Meanwhile Djarrāh Ibn Sanān shouting,

“Like your father you have become polytheist” struck Imām on his thigh. Shi‘ite Muslims attacked Djarrāh and killed him. Imām then had to take a rest in the house of Sābāt governor, Sa‘d Ibn Mas‘ūd Thaqafī who was Mukhtār’s paternal uncle, for treatment.[23] Ya‘qūbī’s narration of the riot in Ctesiphon uncovered the fact that event was also plotted by Mu‘āwiya and his commonders, specially, Mughīra Ibn Shu‘ba, a corrupt man.

After Imām was wounded, he addressed people, اتقوا الله فينا، فانا أمراؤكم وضفيانكم، أهل البيت الذين قال الله, إنّما يُريدُ الله ليذهبَ عَنكُمُ الرّجسَ أهلَ البيتِ ويطهّركُم تطهيرا “Seek divine behavior towards us for we are the best rulers among you, that is the same Household about whom God said, “Verily God hast the will to purge evils off thee in thy purity.”

The narrator says,”The listeners were all weeping”.[24]

Imām’s separation from the army for mobilizing forces and preparing Ctesiphon to avert the entrance of Damascus plunderers, created particular problems. The two armies stood against each other in Habūbiyya village of Maskan. Mu‘āwiya as usual had recourse to trickery to delude the rival army. He sent ‘Abd al-Rahmān Ibn Samura to falsely inform ‘Ubayd Allāh and his army of Imām Hasan’s demand for compromise. People, nevertheless, denied and cursed him.[25]

Later, he secretly sent one to give a message to ‘Ubayd Allāh Ibn ‘Abbās, “Hasan has requested us to compromise. If you join us, I will pay you a million dhms. You take the half now and the other half when we entered Kūfa.” While people waited for ‘Ubayd Allāh to come for the Dawn Prayer, he had nightly joined Mu‘āwiya. Qays Ibn Sa‘d led the prayer and then talked behind ‘Abbās how he had assisted the unbelievers in Badr until he was arrested. Then he talked behind ‘Ubayd Allāh how in Yemen he fled and let Busr Ibn Artāt murder his sons.[26]

Suggesting bribery on the part of Mu‘āwiya and other reports reveal well that Mu‘āwiya had under false pretences propounded the request for compromise on behalf of Imām. If, as a matter of fact, Imām had accepted the compromise, there would have been no need for Mu‘āwiya to pay a million dhms to ‘Ubayd Allāh. Most Iraqis were on the qui vive to see Imām’s tendency towards compromising and immediately leave the army. As soon as ‘Ubayd Allāh left, about two thirds of the army joined Mu‘āwiya[27]; therefore, four thousand people remained with Qays Ibn Sa‘d.

Mu‘āwiya supposed that after ‘Ubayd Allāh and a part of his army sought refuge no one had remained. When he sent Busr Ibn Artāt to the Iraqi army, they attacked him. He had to return and with an army attack them. Once again Qays and the army resisted and made them withdraw. A number were killed in the clash.[28] Mu‘āwiya tried to deceive Qays as well, but Qyas said about his religion he would never be deceived. Belittling him, Mu‘āwiya called him a Jew the son of a Jew and said, “Look how your tribe left your father alone as he breathed his last on his own in Hawrān of Damascus.”

In his answer Qays called him an idol the son of an idol and wrote,

“From the very beginning you unwillingly embraced Islam and you did nothing for it but sowing the seeds of discord and then willingly you deviated from it. You have always been in battle with Allāh and His Apostle and a party from the polytheist parties.”[29] Isfahānī after recounting the event has referred to a delegation sent by Mu‘āwiya to Sābāt for talks with Imām Hasan. It indicates that Mu‘āwiya’s aim for taking the former action had been only deceiving ‘Ubayd Allāh.

Before the Iraqis were informed of Imām’s injury, the spies had informed Mu‘āwiya. Upon hearing the news, he wrote to Qays that his defiance was futile, for Hasan’s disciples had revolted and wounded him Sābāt. It made Qays to wait for a message from Imām.[30] When the noble in Iraq realized that the victory would probably be Mu‘āwiya’s, they one after another either joined him or sent him the message of allegiance. According to Balādhurī the distinguished figures of Iraq went to Mu‘āwiya and swore allegiance the first of whom was Khālid Ibn Ma‘mar. He said that his allegiance was equal to those of Rabi‘a tribe.

Later on, a poet had composed for Mu‘āwiya,”Hold Khālid Ibn Ma‘mar in esteem for without him you would never secured the authority”.[31]

The policy that Mu‘āwiya manipulated was spreading rumors in three areas of Kūfa, Sābāt and the war field. The Kūfiyāns thought that everything was over. In the war field it was said that your Imām had demanded to compromise. And in Sābāt Imām was said that ‘Ubayd Allāh along with a majority had joined the enemy and it was even rumored that Qays Ibn Sa‘d also had compromised. The only historian who has taken these multi-lateral rumors into consideration is Ya‘qūbī.

He has said, “On one hand, Mu‘āwiya sent a group to Imām’s military camp to report that Qays Ibn Sa‘d has compromised. On the other hand, he sent another group to rumor among Qays’s troops that Hasan (a) has requested to compromise”.[32] Regretfully, a number of historians have recorded such rumors as historical reports. As an instance, Muhammad Ibn Sa‘d has recorded Mughīra Ibn Shu‘ba’s trickery which led to the revolt of some people in Sābāt of Ctesiphon as a historical report and added that it was where Imām accepted any condition laid down by Mu‘āwiya.[33]

Even a group of the Iraqi nobles who had joined Mu‘āwiya had told him that they were ready to hand in Hasan locked up. As narrated by Ibn A‘tham, when Qays in a letter informed Imām of the army’s surrender, Imām called on the distinguished among his disciples saying, “O Iraqi people! What should I do with you? This is a letter from Qays who has written that your chiefs have joined Mu‘āwiya. By Allāh it comes as no surprise. In Siffīn you forced my father to accept the arbitration and when he did so you objected. When for the second time he summoned you to war against Mu‘āwiya, you delayed until he was endowed with divine generosity. Quite unwillingly after that you swore allegiance to me. I trusted your allegiance and took a step. Allāh Himself is fully aware of my intention. But see what you have done. O people, these all suffice me, deceive not me about my religion.”[34]

Imām’s remarks prove that he had not even the least doubt about the war but people’s unpleasant behavior had harassed him.

[1] Maqātil al-tālibiyyīn, pp.62-68
[2] Ibid. p.62; Sharh nahdj al-balāgha, Ibn Abi l-Hadīd, vol.XVI, p.31; al-Irshād, vol.II, p.9
[3] Maqātil al-tālibiyyīn, p.66
[4] Sharh nahdj al-balāgha, Ibn Abi l-Hadīd, vol.XVI, p.26
[5] ’Anfāl, p 46
[6] Maqātil al-tālibiyyīn, p.69
[7] Tārīkh al-ya‘qūbī, vol.II, p.181
[8] Maqātil al-tālibiyyīn, pp.70-71
[9] Bihār al-anwār, vol.XXXXIV, p.44
[10] Tārīkh al-tabarī, vol.V, p.158; Tadhkirat al-khawās, p.196
[11] al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol.VIII, p.14
[12] Maqātil al-tālibiyyīn, p.64
[13] al-Futūh, vol.IV, p.153; al-Kāmil fi l-tārīkh, vol.III, p.61
[14] Maqātil al-tālibiyyīn, p.71; Tārīkh al-ya‘qūbī, vol.II, p.214; Tardjamat al-imām al-Hasan, Ibn ‘Asākir, p.167
[15] Dhakhā’ir al-‘uqbā, pp.138-139
[16] Sulh al-Hasan, Āl Yāsīn, p.123
[17] Tardjamat al-imām al-Hasan, Ibn Sa‘d, p.168
[18] Tardjamat al-imām al-Hasan, Ibn ‘Asākir, p.176
[19] Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol.III, p.34
[20] Maqātil al-tālibiyyīn, p.71; Sharh nahdj al-balāgha, Ibn Abi l-Hadīd, vol.XVI, p.40
[21] Akhbār al-tiwāl, p.216
[22] Tārīkh al-ya‘qūbī, vol.II, p.215
[23] Maqātil al-tālibiyyīn, p.72
[24] Tardjamat al-imām al-Hasan, Ibn Sa‘d, pp.167,169,170; al-Mu‘djam al-Kabīr, Vol.III, p.96, No.2761; Madjma‘ al-Zawā’id, vol.VI, p.167
[25] Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol.III, p. 37
[26] Maqātil al-tālibiyyīn, p. 73
[27] Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol.III, p. 38
[28] Ibid, vol III, p.38
[29] Maqātil al-tālibiyyīn, p. 74; Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. III, pp. 39-40
[30] Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol.III, p.38
[31] Ibid. vol. III, p. 39
[32] Tārīkh al-ya‘qūbī, vol.II, p. 215
[33] Tardjamat al-imām al-Hasan, Ibn Sa‘d, p.169
[34] al-Futūh, vol.IV, p.157; compare with Imām’s distorted remarks in Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol.III, p.39
Source: maaref-foundation.com


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