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Newsletter October 2006  -   the Message Continues ... 3/62






Imam Ali ibne abi Talib (a)

(excerpt from Dr. Syed Haider Hussain Shamsi's book: The Twelve Imams from the Ahle Bait)



         The birth of Imam Ali took place under unique circumstances inside the holy Ka'ba. It is considered unique because no prophet or saint has ever been born in a holy sanctuary. Fatima       binte Asad, the expectant mother of Ali was praying outside the Ka'ba when she suddenly felt the labor pains. Just then the wall of the holy sanctuary opened. As she stepped in, the wall closed        behind her. Shortly after that she gave birth to her baby. When they came out, Muhammad took the newborn in his arms and named him Ali. The infant looked at his face and smiled.

         Muhammad nurtured Ali in his childhood, and the child fully assimilated the habits and the qualities of the Prophet. When he grew up, Ali accompanied Muhammad wherever he went, and followed   him like his shadow. This early association blossomed in his devout love for the Prophet whom he emulated in every manner, and assisted him in the delivery of the Message at every step.

        The association between the two was not accidental. Muhammad himself was born in the /Shabe Abi Talib /(the house of Abu Talib just out side Makkah) and was raised and nurtured by Ali's        parents, Abu Talib and Fatima binte Asad. Abu Talib took special care of his nephew Muhammad, and protected him against all odds as long as he lived.

         Ali came into focus as a young lad of about I I years when he became known as one the first to witness Muhammad as Allah's Messenger. The *other *person to acknowledge the Prophetic        mission of Muhammad was his wife Khadija.

         Now that Muhammad was commanded by Allah to proclaim his Prophet-hood and invite his kinsmen to Islam, he asked Ali to act as his messenger. Ali called on the elders of Quraish to extend the Prophet's invitation. He and his father arranged a feast known as dhil-Asheera. The Prophet delivered the Message, asking them to forsake the idols and worship Allah alone. In the face of great hostilities, when he asked if any one would help him in his work, none other than Ali stood up and   declared his unconditional and unfettered support of the Prophetic Mission.

         The Quraish of Makkah unleashed their torment to *the *early believers, but the Prophet continued to convey the Message undaunted by the* *insults and the harsh treatment of the       Makkans. All protected and defended the Prophet at every opportunity despite his young age. Along with handful of the early believers, Ali endured the harsh economic and social blockade of his parent's house by the arrogant Quraish when the

        Prophet refused to abandon his mission.  On the night of Hijra, when the enemies of the Prophet were lying in wait for him, he willingly and gratefully undertook the hazardous task of sleeping in the bed of the Prophet so that the Messenger of Islam would not be hurt. It helped the Prophet escape the assassins in the darkness of the night. Allah recognized this service of Ali in the Qur'an: “And there is the type of man who gives his life to earn the pleasure of Allah; and Allah is full of kindness to (His) devotees." 11: 207. 

        After the departure of the Prophet for Madinah, Ali acted on behalf of the Prophet and returned to the Makkans the valuables that they had placed with the Prophet for safe keeping. 

        When the Prophet arrived in Madinah, he initiated the foundation of a cohesive society in the form of Brotherhood in Islam. He assigned one /Muhajir /(migrant) from Makkah as a brother unto       one resident /Ansar (helper) /in Madinah. Since Ali was delayed in Makkah carrying out the duties entrusted to him by the Prophet, he was unable to participate in the newly formed brotherhood. On his arrival in Madinah, when Ali asked the Prophet who would be his 'brother' according to the new rule,   the Prophet told him: /"You and I are brothers in this world and the Hereafter. " 

        The idolaters of Makkah could not bear the escape of a handful  of Muslims from under their noses. They wanted to kill the Prophet as well as his followers. In the second year of al-Hijra (the Islamic calendar year) they came out in Badr, in the outskirts of Madinaf4 well equipped with arms, eight hundred and fifty strong on foot, and one hundred on horseback. They were almost three times larger in number than the poor of equipped and hastily raised 'army' of just three hundred and         fourteen. Muslims defenders (80 Muhajirs and 234 Ansars). Of these, only seventy were on camels and only two were on horseback! This was the first of the several confrontations the early Muslims had to face against the pagans in* *defense of their faith and property. The soldiery of Ali was unknown and  untested until this first battle. With a resounding victory for Islam seventy of the bravest Quraish were slain and forty-five were taken prisoners of war. Ali emerged as the undisputed hero for the Muslims. He alone was responsible for almost one half of the carnage of the pagans in that battle. There was no family in Makkah that was not affected by Ali's sword in the Battle of Badr. Ali was to be looked upon as a deterrent and a formidable force in the future. He was not only the 'brother' of the new Prophet but also his fighting hand. The Prophet hardly ever used his sword himself Pleased with his unparalleled bravery as well as chivalry, the Prophet declared All openly as Asadullah (the  Lion of Allah), and Yadullah (the Hands of Allah). 

        The Battle of Badr had far reaching consequences for Ali.

        Whereas this son of Abu Talib intimidated the pagans of Makkah,

        some among the believers carried grudges and jealousy, even

        animosity against him. The nascent faith had not yet cleansed

        their hearts of the old bias they had carried against the man

        who had, with his sword, cut down their kinsmen, even their

        closest relatives, their fathers, uncles, sons and husbands.

        This hostility, which they were unable to express during the

        life of the Prophet, for fear of annoying Allah's Messenger,

        showed up immediately after his death. The history, in the years

        to come, was to witness how the anti-Ali faction came out of

        *the *hole, succeeded in isolating the 'brother of the Prophet’

        from the affairs of the Islamic State for 25 years. Even in his

        own Caliphate, the same group rose in rebellion with one pretext

        or another, and finally plotting to end his life with a sword.

        In the years that followed, the might and valor of Ali in the

        service of Islam was to be avenged by his adversaries in killing

        his sons, his grandsons and kinsmen in the battle of Karbala in

        an effort to get even with Ali, the Lion of Allah.


        After the battle of Badr, the Prophet gave his only daughter

        Fatima in marriage to the virtuous Hashimite hero of Islam.

        Together they had two sons, Hasan and Husain, who succeeded as

        Imams after him, and they laid down their lives upholding and

        defending the values of Islam.


        In later years, Ali continued to be the victorious champion of

        Islam while others had failed in some of the most threatening

        battles the Prophet had to undertake in defense. of Islam, the

        Muslims and the nascent Islamic State that was emerging in

        Yathrib. As a consequence, Ali received many valedictory titlcs

        from the Prophet, and wide acclaim among the believers. Only a

        few of these are briefly narrated below.


        The enemies of lslam did not wait long to avenge their shameful

        defeat at Badr. The following year, they came back at Uhod under

        the command of Abu Sufyan, the chief of the Makkan infidels.

        They laid their siege right at the outskirts of Madinah with

        three times the force they had mustered previously at Badr. This

        time they were determined to exterminate Islam by killing the

        Prophet and his followers. Here again the Muslims were

        outnumbered three to one and poorly supplied. However, All and

        Hamza raged havoc in the ranks of the infidels, and Ali felled

        each of the seven standard bearers of the Makkan pagans

        successively. Together with the valiant believers, the enemy was

        routed and scattered in all directions. The battlefield

        resounded with the voice /"There is none victorious other than

        Ali and there is no equal to the sword Zulfiqar."/


        Hamza was targeted by Hinda, the wife of Abu Sufyan, who had him

        killed by the spear of her Abyssinian slave, and she savagely

        mutilated his body personally.


        With the apparent victory, the Muslims ignored the warning of

        the Prophet not to move from their appointed strategic place and

        ran to loot the battlefield. They were caught unaware by the

        spare contingent of the pagan army under Khalid bin Walid, and

        many perished in the act of looting, while others fled for their

        lives. Many of the senior companions of the Prophet used to

        reminisce saying that they never ran faster in their lives than

        in the battle of Uhod!


        The Prophet was injured in the onslaught led by Khalid bin

        Walid. Ali hastened to the rescue and stood by to protect the

        Prophet. At that station, he repelled several attempts by the

        pagan contingent. Finally, the pagans were driven away. Fatima

        (the wife of Ali and the daughter of the Prophet) tended to the

        wounds of her father. The Prophet asked Ali why he did not flee

        for his life like the others had done. Ali replied that his life

        belonged to the Prophet, and he had no business with the others,

        and being a believer would not want to become a disbeliever!


        In the fifth year of /al-Hijra /the arch enemy of lslam, Abu

        Sufyan, the Umayyad chief of the pagans of Makkah raised an army

        'of about ten thousand confederates of Jewish and other tribes

        of the Arab idolaters and marched on to Madinah. With this

        force, he was confident that he could wipe out Islam and its

        Prophet. However, the Prophet learning of the mighty force

        marching towards the home of the Muslims, had a ditch dug out

        between the city of Madinah and the advancing force of the

        infidels. Whereas this kept back the general advance of the

        confederate army, a hand full of the infidels jumped across the

        ditck led by Amr bin Abd Wudd. They jeered and slung abuses at

        the Muslims and challenged them to send their best for a duel.

        Ali was a gallant warrior, and the Muslims were frightened of

        his armor clad gigantic personality. It was Ali who repeatedly

        asked permission of the Prophet to allow him to face the

        challenge. When none else dared to come out, the infidels*

        *flung further abuses and provocative language at the Muslims.

        Finally Ali was allowed to face the enemy. The Prophet prayed

        Allah for Ali and said: /"today total Faith has gone out to face

        total infidelity."/


        Ali had a brisk duel with Amr and cut down the challenger with

        one stroke of his famous sword. Prophet declared, /"the single

        stroke of Ali's sword is superior to years of ibada (obedience

        to Allah)." /The Muslims initially watched the encounter from a

        distance. However, some believers got encouraged with the

        success of Ali and joined him to eliminate the remaining threat

        from the infidels who had crossed over the ditch. Ali perused

        Ikramah bin Abu Jahl into the ditch and killed him.


        In the month of Zi-Qa'd, in the sixth year of /al-Hijra, /the

        Prophet undertook journey to Makkah for Haj accompanied by about

        fourteen hundred unarmed Muslims. It was traditional in all of

        Arabia to suspend all kinds of hostilities during the months of

        Haj. However, the Makkans came out armed to stop the advance of

        the pilgrims. The Prophet made a halt at the well of /Hudaybiya.

        /After tense negotiations (from within his own ranks of the

        Muslims, and-from that of the pagan Makkans) a treaty was

        concluded under which the Prophet had to carry out his rituals

        of a lesser Hajj at the very campsite, and would return the

        following year for a full ritual Haj. Ali represented the

        Muslims and wrote the contents of the Treaty of Hudaybiya.


        Early in the seventh year of /al-Hijra, /the Prophet learned

        that the Jewish tribes in the valley of Khaybar, about eighty

        miles north of Madinah, were planning mischief against the

        Muslims. He decided to march to Khaybar and eliminate the threat

        to their homes and lives. He took about 1600 believers with him

        but Ali was unable to go with the Muslim army at that time

        because of sore eyes.


        The Muslims took the smaller fortresses one by one, and laid

        siege over the grand citadel of Khaybar. Each of the repeated

        attempts made by the Muslims was repulsed effectively by the

        ferocious Jewish warriors. Even the most senior and trusted

        companions of the Prophet failed to break into the defenses of

        the citadel. By this time the Muslims were getting somewhat

        discouraged and demoralized. Finally, the Prophet declared,

        /"Tomorrow I shall hand over my flag to one who loves Allah and

        His Prophet, and who is beloved of the Lord an d His Prophet, a

        fearless champion who n ever turns his back upon a foe; and at

        his hands the Lord will give victory. " /Hopes ran high in the

        hearts of all potential commanders to earn that benediction.

        However, All arrived at the scene with sore eyes. The Prophet

        healed them with his saliva, and gave him the Standard of *die

        *Muslim army. He faced his first adversary *in *Marhab, a

        formidable warrior, and cut him into two with one stoke of his

        famous sword. This was followed with successful duels with six

        other Jewish warriors. He then led the Muslims to a general

        attack, and won the day by subduing the fort of Khaybar. Some

        miraculous feats are reported in the books of history concerning

        the way Ali pulled out the gate of the fort and, first used it

        as a shield for himself and then threw it as a bridge over the

        ditch for the Muslims to cross over. The Prophet did not evict

        the vanquished people from their homes. The people ceded half of

        their property to the Muslims for submission, and in return,

        they were allowed to continue to cultivate the land for their

        subsistence. The grove of Fadak was retained by the Prophet, and

        gave it to his daughter Fatima for her family to use.


        In the eighth year of /al-Hijra, /the pagans of Makkah violated

        the peace treaty signed with them two years earlier. The Prophet

        took ten thousand believers with him and marched to Makkah. The

        city was subdued without active fighting, and the archenemy of

        Islam had to embrace Islam along with other infidels of Makkah.

        Upon the conquest of Makkah, the holy Ka'ba was cleansed of

        hundreds of idols. The grand idol, Hubal, treated as a deity by

        the pagans of Makkah was fixed on a high position, beyond reach.

        The Prophet asked Ali to mount his shoulders to reach it and

        destroy it. Ali initially hesitated but complied on second

        command, and standing on the shoulders of the Prophet, he pulled

        the heavy idol from its high place and knocked it down to the

        floor where it crashed to pieces. The Prophet recited: /"Truth

        has come and falsehood being perishable, has vanished. / X'VH: 82.


        It was the same year of /al-Hijra /when the Prophet sent Ali to

        Yemen as his envoy to replace Khalid bin Walid. Khalid had

        earlier been sent to Yemen to collect the obligatory taxes. He

        ransacked the place and caused havoc amongst the southern tribes

        with loss of life and dignity, in his pre­ Islamic ruthless

        style. The news of this event caused much grief to the Prophet.

        Khalid was recalled and rebuked for his conduct. To compensate

        the families of *the *victims, the Prophet dispatched Ali to

        Yemen with money. On arrival there, he distributed the

        compensation according to the needs of each family. There was

        still some money left which was also given away to the needy.

        The people were impressed by this true soldier of Islam and

        admired him for his generosity, kindness, piety and knowledge.


        By virtue of the verse *in *Qur'an, /_Ayae _/tat-heer.......

        /And Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, ye

        Members of the Family, and to make you pure and spotless."

        /XXXIII: 3 3, the Prophet included Ali as a member of his family

        /(Ahle Bait). /It is reported in numerous /ahadith /that the

        Prophet laid his woolen blanket over himself, his daughter

        Fatima, her husband Ali, and her sons Hasan and Husain, and

        said, /"O Allah., these are my _Ahle _/Bait."


        The following year, the Christians of Najran came to Madinah to

        see and to verify the Truth of the Prophet of the Muslims. They

        remained adamantly opposed to all arguments, or to accept

        evidence from the scriptures. In the end, they opted to go out

        in* *the open /for Mubahela /(a method employed in *the *olden

        times to invoke the curse of Truth over Falsehood).


        Allah revealed in al-Quran: /"The similitude of Jesus before

        Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to

        him Be, and he was. The Truth (comes) from Allah alone; so be

        not of those who doubt. If anyone disputes in this matter with

        thee, now after (full) knowledge hath come to thee, say: come!

        Let us gather together our sons, and your sons, our women and

        your women, ourselves and yourselves: then let us earnestly pray

        and invoke the curse of Allah on those who lie!" /III: 59-61.

        Ali accompanied the Prophet with Fatima and their two sons,

        Hasan and Husain (the five infallible members of the /_Ahle

        _/Bait of the Prophet) at the /Mubahela /representing the men,

        the women and the children of all Muslims to face the Christian

        challengers fi7om Najran for the test of the Truth. Seeing *the

        *Prophet and his /_Ahle _/Bait, their faces glowing with the

        light of *the *Truth, the Christians withdrew from /Mubahela

        /and returned home, not converted as Muslims, but in peace with

        the Muslims and the Islamic State.


        In the same year, /Sura Tauba /was revealed to the Prophet. He

        sent Abu Bakr to Makkah to deliver it to the pilgrims. But soon,

        the Archangel Gabriel reappeared with instructions that the

        Message must be delivered by the Prophet himself or one of his

        family. The Prophet hastened to dispatched Ali on his personal

        camel. Ali caught up with Abu Bakr, took charge of the important

        Divine Proclamation and arrived in Makkah. He proclaimed in the

        name of Allah the early verses of the /Sura Tauba, /stating that

        the city of Makkah would, from then on, be a sanctuary for all

        Muslims, and forbidding all idolaters and polytheists to enter

        the Holy Precinct, and forbidding the carrying of idols in the



        In the tenth year of /al-Hijra, /the Prophet of Islam arrived in

        Makkah /for Hajj /with thousands of his followers. Ali was in

        Yemen at that time. He also arrived in Makkah in time to

        participate in the Haj, personally conducted by the Prophet.

        This was one of the most important events in the history of

        early Islam, and every Muslim wanted to perform Haj with the

        Prophet. After completion of the Haj, and on the way back to

        Madinah, the Prophet of Islam was ordained by Allah to carry out

        the last duty of his Prophetic Mission thus: /"O Apostle!

        Proclaim the (Message) which hath been sent to theefrom thy

        Lord. If thou didst not, thou wouldst have not fulfilled and

        proclaimed His Mission. And Allah will defend thee from men (who

        mean mischief. For Allah guideth not those who reject Faith."

        /V: 70


        He made a stop at the well called /Ghadire Khumm /and gathered

        all those who could be recalled. A makeshift pulpit was erected

        and the Prophet addressed the congregation: /"It seems as if I

        would soon be summoned to go to Allah and I have responded to it

        I entrust you with two very precious and grand things,.one of

        which is greater than the other: the Book of Allah and my Ahle

        Bait. Take heed of the way you treat these two trusts, because

        the Qur'an and the /_Ahle _/Bait will never separate until they

        return to me by the Hawd al-Kawthar (the pond). " /He then said:

        /"Allah is my master and I am the master of every believer. "

        /Then he took the hand of Ali and raising his arm high above his

        shoulders for all to see, and said: " /Ali will be the maula

        (master) of whoever deems me his (maula) master. 0 Allah! Place

        within Your own vilayah whoever accepts the vilayah of Ali and

        be the enemy of whoever shows animosity to him. " /All those who

        attended the congregation under the hot mid-afternoon sun

        congratulated Ali on the honor that had just been bestowed upon

        him by the Will of Allah. This event has been recorded in both

        Shiite and Sunni books.


        It was at this place and occasion when the last revelation of

        the Qur’an was delivered to the Prophet: /"... This day have/

        /those who rejected Faith given up hope of your religion: yet

        fear them not but fear me. This day have I perfected your

        religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen

        for you Islam as your religion. " /V:4. This completed the Book

        of Allah as well as the long and onerous task of the Prophet.


        Soon after his return to Madinah the Prophet became ill and

        passed away. However, while the members of the /_Ahle _/Bait

        were busy making arrangements for *the *burial of the Prophet,

        the senior companions hurried to a heated conference that was

        being held at /Saqueefa Banu Saada /to determine the successor

        to the Prophet. At the conclusion of the meeting, Abu Bakr was

        elected as the first Caliph.




        Allah says in Qur'an that there is no compulsion in Faith.

        However Allah favored Man with guidance and intelligence so that

        he may choose what he wishes to believe and to set his own

        course for the conduct of his life. In the end, those who choose

        virtuous conduct will enjoy the everlasting bounty of Allah in

        the gardens of Paradise, while those who follow evil ways will

        have to endure the everlasting wrath of Allah in the doom of Hell.


        Allah has ordained: "O /ye who believe! Obey Allah, obey the

        Apostle and those charged with authority among You. If ye differ

        in anything among yourselves, refer to Allah and His Apostle, if

        ye do believe in Allah and the Last Day: that is best, and most

        suitable for final determination." IV:59./


        To obey Allah, there is the Word of Allah: the Book, /al-Qur’an./


        To obey the Prophet, there is the word of the Prophet:

        /al-Hadith. /Allah authenticates the word of the Prophet: /"Nor

        does he say (aught) of(his own) desire. It is no less than

        revelation sent down to him. He was taught by one Mighty in

        Power." LIII:3-5./


        To obey those charged with authority are by Allah's Will. The

        Qur'an says: /"And We made them leaders, guiding (men) by Our

        Command, and We sent them inspiration to do good deeds, to

        establish regular prayers, and regular charity; and they

        constantly served Us (and Us only)." /XXI: 73.


        Allah has further clarified His ordinance: /"..fight ye the

        chiefs of Unfaith: for their oaths are nothing to them..."IX:12.

        "And We made them (but) leaders inviting to the Fire; and on the

        Day of Judgment no help shall they find"XX'VIII: 41. "But those

        who were blind in this world will be blind in the Hereafter, and

        most astray from the Path. /" XVII:72.


        It is Allah's grace that He gave mankind the will to choose

        their path, including the choice of a leader (Imam) for

        guidance-.- For making such a choice, Allah warns in the Qur'an:

        /"One day We shall call together all human beings with their

        (respective) Imams: those who are given their records in their

        right hand will read it (with pleasure), and they will not be

        dealt with unjustly in the least." /XVII: 7 1.


        To the believers, the Prophet warned, /"Choose your Imams

        wisely, for those who died without recognizing the Imam of their

        Time died the death of the Times before the Truth came to them."/


        The Prophet spared no effort to illustrate to the believers that

        Ali was the Imam of Guidance after him. Ali was nurtured by the

        Prophet from the very beginning of his life. By his own words,

        Ali lived his life like *the *shadow of the Prophet, /"like a

        baby camel follows its mother!" /He protected the person of the

        /Messenger of Allah /on numerous occasions and defended the

        /Message of Islam /from its very inception. His gallant feats of

        soldiery were exemplary to the believers and a source of

        encouragement and have remained unmatched throughout history. It

        is beyond the scope of this book or even this chapter on the

        First Imam to describe all the events, the circumstances or the

        /ahadith /quoted from the Prophet about him. Only a few of the

        major events of his life have been described above along with

        the relevant /ahadith /of the Prophet. A few other important

        /ahadith /are given below to highlight the life of the Patriarch

        of the Imams of /_Ahle _/Bait during the life of the Prophet of

        Islam. For details and for research, the reader is referred to

        the sources listed in the Bibliography.





        / On Relationship of /Imam /Ali with /the /Prophet (pbuh)/


        * "*I* *am to you like Musa (Moses) was to Harun (Aaron) except

        that there shall be no prophet after me".


        "O Allah! Befriend those who befriend Ali, be enemy to those who

        exhibit animosity towards All."


        "O Ali! You are the foremost among the believers. You are the

        wisest and the most faithful in honoring a pledge. You are the

        best in giving justice. You are the kindest of the Muslim ummah.

        You are the most patient in adversity. You are my right arm. You

        will wash by body, and you will give me burial ' On the Day of

        Judgment, you will carry the banner of Islam, and you will drive

        away the unworthy from Hawdhe Kawthar/ /(the Pond)." "Whoever

        parts company with Ali parts company with me; whoever parts

        company with me parts company with Allah."





        On becoming the Caliph of the Islamic State, Ali had a stonny

        five years long career. The rising against the new Caliph had a

        catchy slogan:'to avenge the murder of Uthman'. In this rising

        Talha and Zubayr enlisted the support of Aycsha, who by her own

        admission in later years, was 'gravely misled by the mischief

        mongcrs'. Muawiyah who had been a governor of the provinces of

        Palestine and Syria for nearly twenty five years, had enjoyed

        virtual autonomy during the rule of the preceding three caliphs.

        Taking advantage of the situation, he refused to accept Ali as

        the Caliph. In fact, he wanted to have the seat of Caliphate for

        himself Muawiyah fuelled the revolt by the three leaders in

        Madinah, and they marched on to the province of Basrah and took

        it after a bloody massacre.




        Ali invited the instigators of the revolt to avert the civil

        war, avoid the inevitable killing of more Muslims on either

        side, and to resolve the dispute through negotiation. As the

        three leaders had gained victory at one front, they were

        confident of continued success at other fronts as well. Ali had

        to draw his sword when his ambassador with an invitation for

        peace was killed by the order from one of the revolting three

        leaders. This started the disgraceful Battle of the Camel. This

        was the first time that Muslims drew their swords against each

        other in battle. There were companions of the Prophet on both

        sides. People had forgotten the Prophet's famous saying, /"Ali

        is with the Truth, and the Truth is with Ali."/


        However, at the open confrontation, Imam Ali was victorious.

        Although Zubayr had withdrawn from the battle, he was

        assassinated on his way back to Madinah. Talha bled to death

        from an arrow shot at him by the Uma@ad Marwan, who was a

        soldier in their army. At the end of the battle, Ayesha was

        escorted back to Madinah with great respect.







        After dealing with the revolt headed by Ayesha, Ali invited

        Muawiyah to come under the direct rule of the Caliph. Having

        enjoyed virtual autonomy and power for over two decades,

        Muawiyah declined to abide by the Caliph's advice. He gathered

        his army of regular soldiers and declared war against the

        Caliph. This important event took place at Siffeen.


        The army of the Caliph consisted of believers whojoined forces

        with him as volunteers. They fought with vigor and faith but the

        confrontation turned out to be a long drawn out one. When

        Muawiyah saw that his defeat was inevitable, he resorted to a

        clever trick. He ordered his army to hoist copies of the Qur'an

        atop their spears and cry out aloud to stop the war in the name

        of Allah and turn to the Qur'an to resolve their differences.





        The soldiers of the Caliph fell to the clever ploy by Muawiyah

        and asked Ali to resolve this matter through arbitration.

        Whereas Muawiyah got the arbitrar of his choice, the Caliph had

        to accede to the choice by the majority of his soldiers. By a

        deceitful maneuver during arbitration, the representative of

        Muawiyah gained advantage over the Caliph's camp. This sent a

        wave of dissent in his an-ny and caused a large portion of them

        to abandon allegiance to him. In fact, they took up the position

        of open confrontation and took up arms against him. This group

        of deserters is known as the /Khawarij /(the Khadites).



        With an eloquent lecture to the dissenting soldiers, Ali was

        able to convince a large section of them to abandon their

        hostility and open confrontation against him. A remaining force

        of about four thousand soldiers persisted in their resolve to

        fight him. A bloody battle ensued at Nahrawan, and all but a

        handful of them perished. At a later date they regrouped and had

        a second attempt against the Caliph, but lost with massive

        bloodshed. Despite such grave losses, the Kh@ite movement

        persisted and could not be totally wiped out. The survivors

        retreated to the mountains to brew further mischief.




        After the battle of Nahrawan, Ali invited his army to head for

        Syria to subdue the rebel governor Muawiyah for his deceit. The

        soldiers asked Ali to return to Kufa briefly so that they could

        visit their families and refurbish their supplies. Having

        returned to Kufa, the army of volunteers simply disappeared.

        Thus, the righteous Caliph was unable to regroup a substantial

        force to bring the revolting governor of Syria under the rule of

        the Caliphate.


        Muawiyah took this opportunity and started a systematic scheme

        to weaken the hold of the Caliph over the provinces. He invaded

        and took the western province of Egypt. Muhammad bin Abu Bakr,

        the governor of the province was captured on his way between

        Madinah and Egypt and was killed.


        Muawiyah sent his army on a wild rampage in Hijaz, and all the

        way down to the province of Yemen, leaving in their wake

        indiscriminate looting and burning of property. He sent down

        swarms of his army contingents to the province of Basra and

        weakened their allegiance to the Caliph. As part of his

        demeaning propaganda against Ali, he introduced an ignoble

        practice of cursing Ali on the pulpit in the Friday

        congregational prayers, held throughout the territory controlled

        by him.


        The Caliph addressed his subjects during the congregational

        prayers and at other occasions and appraised them of the deeds

        of the rebel governor. He tried to awaken their conscience and

        induce in them the spirit of individual dignity and

        self-respect. He advised them that if they remained placid, they

        would be the next on the rampage of Muawiyah. The untiring

        efforts of the Righteous Caliph in his eloquent sermons again

        roused his followers to regroup, and a respectable army gathered

        for the defense of the province of Iraq. 



        Imam Ali had many enemies from his first battle against the

        /Kuffar /(non-believers) during the early days of Islam down to

        the recurring conflicts against the charlestons who declined to

        accept his Caliphate, including Muawiyah bin Abu Sufyan, the

        rebellious governor of Syria. The new faction of the /Khwarij

        /in his own caliphate were his new enemies, who wanted to have

        him killed. Abd ar-Rehman ibne Mulji@ a previously unknown

        /Kharji /hid in the mosque over night during the month of

        Ramadhan. He struck the Imam on the head with a poison-dipped

        sword while he was prostrate in Ms prayers. The Imam suffered

        from the poisonous deep cut wound for three days and died at

        home surrounded by his grief-stricken family. 

        Before he died, he called his elder son Hasan to his bedside and

        appointed him to be the Imam after him. On his deathbed, Imam

        Ali gave his last advice to his children as well as Muslims,

        which is summarized here: -Keep piety your foremost goal in life. 

        -Be organized, and always be prepared to further the cause of Islam.

         -Do not forget the orphans among you.

         -Remember your neighbors at all times.

         -Make al-Qur'an your guide.

         -Maintain prayers as your foremost discipline *in *life because

        this is the strongest pillar of your faith.

         -Give freely in the name of Allah, including your lives when

        needed to defend Islam.

         -Remain united, and protect each other from sin, because if you

        fail to do so, others will become your overlords.



                Reflections FROM THE LIFE OF IMAM ALI


        Upon the death of the third caliph, Imam Ali became the Caliph

        of a vast nation of new Muslims who had not been introduced to

        the /Ahle /Bait and who had poor knowledge of the feats of Imam

        All or the teachings of the Prophet. However, among the

        companions of the Prophet, the towering personality of hnam Ali

        dwarfed them all. This provoked feelings ofjealousy among those

        who saw the opportunity slip away from their hands for the high

        position. Consequently the Caliphate of Imam Ali suffered a

        series of betrayals by many friends, companions and even Ayesha

        binte Abu Bakr, a wife of the Prophet. He was frustrated when he

        had to draw his sword against the Muslims who had previously

        protected and defended against the infidels. Many were confused

        when they saw the close companions of the Prophet come out in

        open confrontation in bloody battle. It was among these unsure

        and skepfic people that the Khaji faction emerged. It was these

        people who failed him in his efforts to subdue Muawiyah bin Abu

        Sufyan, the ambitious rebel governor of Syria. When this group

        of people rebelled against the Imam, it further compounded the

        problem of dissention, dissatisfaction and division among the

        Muslims already spearheaded by Muawiyah.


        There were others in the Imam's army who expected large

        gratuities from him for their services, as practiced in the

        preceding era. The Imam did not give in to favoritism or

        nepotism, and considered the public treasury to be a sacred

        trust that could not be violated by using it to win loyalty or

        services. Many of them became dissatisfied and left the Imam

        when he refused to meet their expectations. Even in the

        battlefields, he had forbidden his soldiers to loot or strip the

        fallen in the opposite camp.


        Imam Ali had planned major reforms for the state since it had fallen into general abuse towards the end of the rule of the third caliph. These were delayed due to the civil disorder he had to deal with. There was only a brief period of relative

        peace in his province after the battle of Nahrawan in which he could institute his reforms. They illustrate his great foresight, wisdom and organization. It is not within the scope of this book to discuss or describe them here. For this, the reader may refer to *Nahjul-Balagha, *a collection of the Imam's Sermons, letters and sayings. 

        The sermons and lectures of the lmwn are highly eloquent and full of knowledge and wisdom. The style in which he delivered them reminded people of the times of the Holy Prophet. The people attended the congregational prayers led by him and sat to savor the sermons he gave for their spiritual as well as worldly improvement.






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