History of the Caliphs

By: Rasūl Ja’farīan

Translation by: Ali Ebrahimi

p. 284-292
It was already discussed how Imām’s endeavor was focused on re-mobilization of the Iraqis for a battle against Damascus; however, those declaring readiness were few. Though Imām, in his sermons, asked people for an aid, rarely ever did they follow.

In a sermon he has stated, “I come in grips with the crowd laying disobedient when ordered and remaining silent when called. O wrong crowd! Why on earth thou keep waiting? Why thou stand still in helping divine religion? Where is thy religion that prepares thee? Where is thy fervor that outrages thee? Cry I make and help I seek. Neither to my word thou lend an ear nor my order, thou obey until the end comes and the evility turns up. Neither a reprisal thou can join nor can thou lend a hand for an aim to stop thee leaving. Moan thou nipped and move thou never made.”[1] In another sermon, “O people in diversity with distressed hearts in reversity! In bodies thou are nude, in intellect thou are dude. In knowing the Truth I cherish thee like a foster-mother. From the Truth you trotter away as goats from a roaring lion. Alas! with thee off justice the darkness I clear, uncrooked path of Truth I gear.”[2] “O people laying disobedient if ordered and remaining silent if called! The provided chance never thou take, the challenge never thou dare, thou reproach when likely the crowd prepared behind an Imām, thou withdraw when unwillingly involved in a hard task. O cowards! Why on earth thou keep waiting? Why thou stand still in aiding and taking back thy rights? May thou be dead or despised! By Allāh, far away from me thou shall remain if my hour comes, for thy company I hate. With thee when I am, without help really I am. Who on earth in truth art thou? Thou hast no religion to prepare thee? Thou hast no fervor to propel thee? Not a surprise rogues follow Mu‘āwiya when called enjoying no benefit a bit. Thee I call the survivors of Islam and piety to benefit thee a lot. On me thou turn back and with me thou art at odds… What I adore more is death to come forth”.[3]

Addressing the people these speeches were delivered by Imām in 39 and 40. They manifest his firm will before the Qāsitīn (the oppressors). Mu‘āwiya, conscious of the prevailing state in Iraq as well as the resident’s weakness, was set to undermine Imām’s might and set the scene for entering Iraq through attacking on areas ruled by Imām in Hidjāz and even in Iraq. He expressed his intention as follows, “The Iraqis will be overawed with such murders and plunder, the dissidents and the secessionists will become valorous and those saved of disputes will be absorbed”.[4] The attacks known as “Ghārāt” were repeated every now and then and martyred many a real Shi‘ite Muslim anywhere. Abū Ishāq Thaqafī Shī‘ī (born in 283) has presented a list of the Ghārāt in his book authored in the third century under the same title. The reports of such attacks can be found in other historical sources too.

Egypt was the first attacked land. When elected as the caliph, Imām appointed Qays Ibn Sa‘d Ibn ‘Ubāda to Egypt governorship. Nevertheless, when he left for Iraq to suppress the Nākithīn, (allegiance breachers) he urged him to return from Egypt.[5] Qays set out to Medina and then to Iraq[6] to participate in Siffīn. Subsequent to Siffīn once Egypt was in unrest and an uprising against Muhammad Ibn Abī Bakr was likely, Imām determined to dispatch Mālik to Egypt.

Appointed for the second time as the governor of Hidjāz after Siffīn, Mālik received a letter to go to Egypt. As soon as Mu‘āwiya was informed, he wrote to the treasurer in Qulzum to remove Mālik in any way possible and in exchange not to deliver the remainder of treasure. Accordingly, he martyred Mālik with poisonous honey.[7] Where he was martyred was called ‘Ayn Shams.

Upon learning Mālik’s muder, Mu‘āwiya said, “‘Alī had got two arms one of which was ‘Ammār cut off in Siffīn and the other was Mālik cut off now.”[8] On the other hand, when Imām heard the news, sorrow was visible on his face for a number of days stating, “What good features Allāh had granted Mālik! Who Mālik really was! If a mountain, a great mountain he was. If a rock, a solid rock he was. O Mālik! By Almighty Allāh, over your demise many are grieved while many are thrilled. For such a person tears should be shed. Shall any one be ever re-born like Mālik?”[9]

Now Damascus had access to Egypt, agitated. It not only was adjacent to Damascus but also had many from among the ‘Uthmānids who could back the Damascus army. In addition, it was the time to fulfill the promise Mu‘āwiya had given to cunning ‘Amr Ibn ‘Ās, the governorship of Egypt. Muhammad Ibn Abī Bakr was the governor in Egypt then. ‘Amr Ibn ‘Ās who had led the Arabs’ army when conquering Egypt before advanced with a massive army. In a letter, he warned Muhammad to surrender if willing to remain secure. Another threatening letter was sent by Mu‘āwiya reading, he knew no other enemy for ‘Uthmān but Muhammad, so the time was ripe for a reprisal. Writing to Imām, he enclosed the two letters with his. Imām recommended him to resist and ordered him to send Kināna Ibn Bishr (allegedly the one who hit ‘Uthmān on the head with a mace[10]) to Damascus accompanied by an army but stay with another army in the city. Kināna left with two thousand soldiers and Muhammad stayed there on alert with the same number. In bravely clashes with Damascus army, Kināna along with his troops were martyred. Muhammad who was left all alone in Egypt took refuge in a ruined place. The commander of the vanguards in the army was Mu‘āwiya Ibn Khudaydj who traced Muhammad, beheaded him, set him inside a carcass and then burned it.[11] It was the policy that Mu‘āwiya and his followers pursued in martyring the divine figures under the pretext of ‘Uthmān’s murder.

As soon as Imām was told, he turned so gloomy that he made very pungent remarks addressing Kūfa people.

In his sermon, he pointed out, “It exceeded fifty days that I seek help. After such a long period the army recruited is the least mighty one.”[12]

It was in this very sermon when Imām declaimed,
[ألا دين يجمعكم ألا حميّة تغضبكم؟[13 “Where is thy religion that prepares thee? Where is thy fervor that outrages thee? “

When asked for what his grief was Imām responded, “He was as dear as my sons”.[14] Suffering the loss of Muhammad Ibn Abī Bakr, one of his closest companions, as well as Egypt, Imām wrote to all Muslims in various spots recounting the agonies he had suffered since the Prophet’s departure. He, in the letter, referred to the unjust attitude that there had been concerning the Prophet’s household following his departure, nation’s allegiance, how Nākithīn breached their allegiance, how the war of Siffīn was waged and how the Khāridjites stood against him. Then touching upon the excuses people made he added, “What thou nagged was Blunt art our swords and blank art our quiver. No bayonets do our spears hast and sticks at what we call spears. Let us return to get prepared with the best of horses and weapons…’ I did order thee to dismount in Nukhayla, set up a camp and stay there on standby … A crowd of thee stayed with me making unjustifiable excuses and another group left me disobeying. Neither firm were those who stayed nor returned those who left. Once noticing the camp, less than fifty soldiers I found. I headed for Kūfa disappointedly but as yet, out hast thou never stepped. Why on earth thou keep waiting? A blind eye hast thou turned to that thy lands get shrunk, thy towns get occupied and my Shi‘ite Muslims get slayed? Not a border guard is seen on the borders but enemy’s.” Furthermore, Imām urged them to prepare against the rival.[15]

Muhammad Ibn Abī Bakr’s murder was considered as a triumph for the ‘Uthmānids around the globe in Mu‘āwiya’s view.[16] Egypt which was now out of Imām’s hand was ruled by ‘Amr Ibn ‘Ās as late as his death in 43 for three or four years who preferred the worldly life in exchange for the abiding one in the Hereafter.

About Basra also Mu‘āwiya was hopeful as Basra ‘Uthmānids had written to him seeking for help. He was well aware of the grudge Basra people bore Imām ‘Alī (a) for they had lost many in Djamal war. According to Thaqafī, in order to consult ‘Amr Ibn ‘Ās Mu‘āwiya wrote, “Nowhere can a belligerent and invincible crowd be found as many as Basra people.” Mu‘āwiya called upon ‘Abd Allāh Ibn ‘Āmir Hadramī to travel to Basra to mobilize Mu‘āwiya’s followers under the slogan of revenge for ‘Uthmān’s murder and occupy the town. Meeting the Tamīmītes in Basra, ‘Abd Allāh talked to the ‘Uthmānids having gathered. On propounding his aim Dahhāk Ibn ‘Abd Allāh Hilālī objected to him as saying, “Do you order us to unsheathe our swords once again (after Nākithīn) and battle with one another in order to let Mu‘āwiya still be on the throne and you be his minister and to breach the allegiance we have sworn to ‘Alī (a)? By Allāh, one single day of ‘Alī’s lifetime spent when the Prophet alive was far much better than whatsoever Mu‘āwiya and his lineage have ever carried out.” Some were in ‘Abd Allāh Ibn ‘Āmir’s side and some in Dahhāk’s. As a rule, the majority backed Ibn Amīr other than a few like Ahnaf Ibn Qays. Between the Mudarī and Yemenī Arabs there was a strife; however, Mu‘āwiya had previously advised ‘Abd Allāh to trust the Mudarī ones. It upset the Azdītes. At the same time Ziyād Ibn ‘Ubayd who was the vicegerent of Basra governor resorted to Sabra Ibn Shaymān Azdī and wrote to ‘Abd Allāh Ibn ‘Abbās, Basra governor, in Kūfa; as a result, the news of Basra spread. On the one hand Ziyād supported by the Azdītes led Friday prayer and urged then to back Amīr al-Mu’minīn with whom Ansār and Muhādjirūn were and stand against the Tamīmītes. On the other hand Ibn ‘Āmir organized an army in Basra and took the possession of some properties. The news of the Azdītes’ support for Ziyād and the Tamīmītes’ for Ibn ‘Āmir created chaos in Kūfa. Imām was demanded by Shabath Ibn Rib‘ī not to let the Azdītes overcome the Tamīmītes. Nonetheless, Mikhnaf Ibn Sulaym advocated the Azdītes. Urging them to back the principles of the religion, Imām advised, “Thou should restrain from battling and insulting one another for the sake of Islam and its reputation and unite”. Imām sent Ziyād Ibn Dubay‘a from the tribe of Tamīm to Basra for hindering the Tamīmītes to support Ibn ‘Āmir. His attempt was a little fruitful. Bu while asleep at night, a number of the Khāridjites attacked him and killed him running away.

Sent by Imām together with fifty of the Tamīmītes to Basra, Djāria Ibn Qudāma met with the Shi‘ite Muslims and read out Imām’s letter to them. Regarding the allegiance people had sworn Imām had written, “If keep thy allegiance, if follow my advice and if obey my order, in line with the Divine Book and the Prophet’s tradition I shall treat thee and the path of Truth I shall raise among thee. By Allāh, no other ruler do I know to be well aware of his tradition but myself since Muhammad passed away. The gospel truth is what I tell. I intend neither to reproach the deceased nor to find fault with their deeds.” Then Imām had added that if they breached their allegiance, he would suppress them with his army. To make up the incident of Djamal, the Azdītes declared their readiness for a battle against Ibn ‘Āmir. After a time of being under siege, the ‘Uthmānids’s houses were razed to the ground at Djāria’s behest. In a letter Ziyād notified Imām that a number were burned, a number who fled fell prey to swords and a number who surrendered were pardoned.[17]

The movement led by Dahhāk Ibn Qays, a well-known commander of Damascus army, is among Damascus invasions. As reported by Thaqafī when the Khāridjites revolted against Imām, ‘Umāra Ibn ‘Uqba Ibn Abī Mu‘ayt wrote to Mu‘āwiya, “A group of the Qur’ān reciters and the devout from among ‘Alī’s followers have stood against him. Combating them, ‘Alī has killed them. And now since his army and the inhabitants of his town have taken up arms against him, the seeds of discord are sowed among them.” Mu‘āwiya, extremely delighted, sent Dahhāk Ibn Qays along with a three – or four – thousand soldier army to Iraq and ordered him to loot anywhere he went, kill any Shi‘ite Muslim he noticed and then leave there promptly for another place. Dahhāk who went to Kūfa not only plundered people’s properties but also rushed a caravan of pilgrims and killed a number. Imām ‘Alī (a) in Kūfa called upon people to defend themselves.

When Imām found them that indifferent, he told them, “By Almighty Allāh, I wish I had one of thee in lieu of a hundred men of thee.” Once more Imām desired to be dead! Then Imām sent Hudjr Ibn ‘Adī with four thousand troops to stop Dahhāk. Hudjr encountered him in Tadmur and in their clash, nineteen soldiers from the rival army were killed and two people on Hudjr’s side were martyred. With Dahhāk’s overnight escape another invasion of Damascus was ended.

In the meanwhile ‘Aqīl Ibn Abī Tālib wrote to Imām to be kept abreast of the latest developments. Describing Dahhāk’s invasion abortive, Imām referred to the injustice Quraysh had done to him and wrote, “O Allāh! A calamity thou descend for Quraysh to sever their kinship with me, for those allying and usurping my right of ruling left behind by my brother, Muhammad. To the one they gave it whose neither kinship with the Prophet (s) nor record in Islam was like those of mine”. The letter indicates how Imām constantly mentioned his usurped right any chance he got.[18] The other invasion made by Damascus army to Iraq was the one headed by Nu‘mān Ibn Bashīr with two thousand soldiers. He was supposed to attack on ‘Ayn al-Tamr, on the outskirts of the Euphrates. He was the one and the only one from Ansār who had joined the ‘Uthmānids. Although there were a number of Ansār who had balked at supporting Imām ‘Alī (a), never did they join Mu‘āwiya. When Mālik Ibn Ka‘b deployed with a hundred heard about Bashīr’s probable attack, he asked Sulaym for help who was the treasurer in that side of the Euphrates. Imām learning the news of Nu‘mān’s attack on the one hand and observing the Kūfiyāns hesitant to rise on the other hand objected to them as uttering,”O Kūfiyāns! When the vanguards of Damascus army thou notice, the doors thou shut and into homes thou creep like a lizard in to its hole and a hyena in to its den. By Allāh, how abject is the one whose helpers art thou!”

Sulaym sent fifty of his troops led by his son, ‘Abd Allāh, for Mālik’s aid. Damascus army afraid of the aid army upcoming fled after a short clash. Mu‘āwiya said his intention of sending the army had been “To jeopardize the Iraqis”. Anyhow, this attack was fruitless as well.

Following Imām’s remarks it was ‘Adī Ibn Hātim who accompanied a thousand people from the tribe of Tayy to Nukhayla. Another a thousand also joined him and they advanced towards the banks of Euphrates and made several attacks on southern part of Damascus.[19]

Mu‘āwiya sent an army to Dūmat al-Djandal to have them, obedient to neither Damascus nor Iraq, pay tax alms (statutory Islamic levy on specified items to be used for Muslims’ welfare). Another army led by Mālik Ibn Ka‘b was sent by Imām too. A fight was started between them which lasted a whole day long. Next day Damascus army returned while Mālik stayed there for ten days inviting people to help. Not being helped, he returned disappointedly as well.[20]

One of the other invasions made against Iraq was led by Sufyān Ibn ‘Awf Ghāmidī along with six thousand toward Hīt and then toward Anbār. Imām’s adherents were few there none of whom were willing helpers except a very small number with Ashras Ibn Hassān Bakrī who resisted unit being martyred. After plundering Anbār, the invaders went back. On being informed, Imām on the pulpit of the mosque, summoned people to gather in Nukhayla and move to stop them. In the answer, nothing came up but silence. Imām left the mosque and sent Sa‘īd Ibn Qays Hamdānī together with an eight-thousand army to stop them but they had already arrived in Damascus.

When Sa‘īd returned, he found Imām so seriously sick that he could in no way stand on the pulpit. Imām therefore wrote a letter complaining about Kūfiyān people, sat on the platform by the mosque gate and asked Sa‘d, one of his Mawālīs (freed slaves) to read it out loud. “If any other option there were, never a word would I breath to blame thee … O people, Djihād (holy Islamic war) is a portal of the Heaven portals opened to Allāh’s special friends, attire of piety, chain mail of solidity and a shield of inflexibility… Be informed, daily and nightly, overtly and covertly for a battle with thy foes I invited thee, to attack them before being attacked …? Enable thou remained and disobedient thou laid until the enemy occupied thy homeland. It was Ghāmidī who assaulted Anbār, slayed Ashras Ibn Hassān, plundered the weapons and massacred the righteous men. Even I heard no one stopped the man, from among thy foes, who invaded the house of a Muslim woman, under our protection, took her anklets off her ankles and her earrings off her ears. Yet, safe and sound they returned with not a single injury. If this life a Muslim man departed ashamed and saddened of such an act, never should he be blamed for my part. Wonder! What grief I suffer and what pain I bear when in accord I find them in credal error and in discord I find thee gospel in Truth …! O wrong crowd under the guise of right men! O gang of the foolish like the kids and the brides in bridal chambers! Allāh solely knows how dejectedly I keep living amongst thee! I beg Him from thee to take me and toward Himself to ascend me…”.[21]

These remarks could merely persuade three hundred to gather in Nukhayla. Imām’s next sermons bore no fruit as well.[22]

Prior to Hadjdj season in 39 AH. Mu‘āwiya dispatched an army to Mecca with Yazīd Ibn Shadjara Rahāwī as the head to absorb people to Mu‘āwiya during Hadjdj period. On the other hand, Imām being told of his intention, sent a group commanded by Ma‘qal Ibn Qays Riyāhī to Mecca. Qutham Ibn ‘Abbās who was the governor imagined that no one would defend him, so decided to leave Mecca first but they trusted its holiness and stayed. It was Dhi l-Hadjdja 7th when Damascus army arrived in Mecca. To avoid clashes, the commander for whom observing the holiness of the city was allegedly significant sent a message to Qutham that both give up leading the congregational prayers and let people pick one out. As soon as Hadjdj ritual terminated, Damascus army returned. Following the Damascus army, Ma‘qal Ibn Qays went to Mecca and moved as far as Wādī al-Qurā. They could only capture a few numbers of the fatigued ones who were exchanged later for Iraqi captives. After the event, Imām told people,”Defeated thou hast become be this nation … for the more active they get, the more passive thou go; the harder they try, the lazier thou become. I do behold disunity among thee as unity among them…”[23]

One of their most notorious attacks was Busr Ibn Artāt’s on Hidjāz and Yemen. He, a ruthless criminal, was ordered by Mu‘āwiya to massacre ‘Alī’s Shi‘ite Muslims anywhere he traced. Why Busr was dispatched was the ‘Uthmānids living in Yemen had revolted against ‘Ubayd Allāh Ibn ‘Abbās, the governor, after realizing weakness within Iraqi troops. They had written to Mu‘āwiya seeking for help. First Busr entered Medina of which governor, Abū Ayyūb Ansārī, had been appointed by Imām. Having no troop he had to flee. Busr set fire to his and others’ houses, secured allegiance from people by force, designated Abū Hurayra as the governor and sent him to Mecca. Qutham Ibn ‘Abbās also left there and fled. Busr then set out to Tā’if where he sent a man from Quraysh to Tabāla therein many a Shi‘ite Muslim resided. At his behest, all were slayed and their possessions were plundered. Mecca residents, panic-stricken, had to flee among whom were ‘Ubayd Allāh Ibn ‘Abbās’s wife along with his two sons, Sulaymān and Dāwūd captured and both beheaded. It is said that they were murdered in Yemen concealed in an Iranian-born man’s house. Keeping on his trip, he went to Nadjrān where he killed ‘Ubayd Allāh Ibn ‘Abbās’s father in law, ‘Abd Allāh Ibn ‘Abd al-Muddān. This very event is very considerable in Mu‘āwiya’s shameful political life. When Busr arrived in Yemen, ‘Ubayd Allāh had already left. Although a number of Shi‘ite Muslims defied for a while many were martyred. Busr committed countless crimes. He beheaded one hundred Iranian-born Shi‘ite Muslims. Then he moved toward Hadramawt where allegedly numerous Shi‘ite Muslims resided. He had said he would kill one out of four. Upon being informed, Imām sent Djāria Ibn Qudāma with an army to follow him. When Djāria heard that Busr had gone to Mecca, he went there but he had already left. When arriving in Kūfa, Djāria found Imām ‘Alī (a) martyred, so he swore allegiance to Imām Hasan (a).

Imām who was extremely annoyed with the Kūfiyāns, pronounced a malediction, for not only had they left Imām helpless but also they never protected their wives and daughters and allowed Damascus wicked men to access them. As an instance we narrate a malediction of Imām ‘Alī’s here,”I saw ‘Alī (a) speaking to people”, Abū Sālih Hanafī, “While having the Holy Qur’ān on his head, the papers of which rustling”. ‘Alī was uttering, “O Allāh! From whatever written in this Book they prevented me. Upon me thou bestow any what of this Book”.

O Allāh! In disfavor I hold them as so they hold me and of them I hast become tried as of me they haste become so. Unlike my nature is what they force me to act, an action unknown to me as yet. O Allāh! Better than them grant me helpers but worse than me to them. O Allāh! Dissolve their heart like salt in water.[24]

[1] Futūh al-buldān, sermon 39
[2] Ibid. sermon 131
[3] Futūh al-buldān, sermon 180
[4] al-Ghārāt, p.176 (Persion version)
[5] Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol.II, pp. 390-392
[6] As reported by Balādhurī in Ashrāf, vol.II, pp. 300-301 when Qays arrived in Medina, Imām had written to Sahl Ibn Hunayf to go to Kūfa. Meanwhile, Marwān and Aswad Ibn Abi l-Bakhtarī were active in acting against Imām in Medina. They threatened Qays with murder. Without a moment’s hesitation he left there for Iraq. It proves that except Ansār accompanying Imām to Iraq how much Medina was against Imām.
[7] Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol.II, pp. 398-399
[8] al-Ghārāt, vol.I, p. 264; in Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol.II, p. 399 the name of Qays Ibn Sa‘d is referred to mistakenly.
[9] al-Ghārāt, vol.I, p. 265 (The Persion translation is adapted from Āyatī’s book)
[10] Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol.II, p. 401
[11] al-Ghārāt, vol.I, pp. 276-289
[12] Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol.II, p. 404
[13] al-Ghārāt, vol.I, p. 291
[14] Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol.II, p. 404. Muhammad’s mother, Asmā’ Bint ‘Umays, was first Dja‘far’s wife after whose martyrdom got married Abū Bakr. After Abū Bakr’s demise she married Imām ‘Alī (a), thus Muhammad was cherished in Imām’s family.
[15] al-Ghārāt, vol.I, pp.302-322
[16] Ibid. vol.II, p. 377
[17] al-Ghārāt, vol.II, pp.373-412
[18] al-Ghārāt, vol.II, pp.416-442
[19] al-Ghārāt. vol.II, pp.445-459
[20] al-Ghārāt, vol.II, pp.459-461
[21] al-Ghārāt, pp.179-181 (Persian version); Akhbār al-tiwāl, pp.211-212
[22] al-Ghārāt, pp.464-503
[23] Ibid. vol.II, pp. 504-516
[24] al-Ghārāt. p. 174 (translated by Āyatī)
Source: maaref-foundation.com

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