AL-TANZIL
The
Revelation
 
[26:192]

WITNESS TO THE TRUTH

Ali bin Abu Talib (ra): Fourth Rightly Guided Caliph

Parentage
Ali was the son of Abu Talib, a prominent Quraish chief and custodian of the Holy Kaaba. Abu Talib was so called because he was the father of "Talib", the eldest brother of Ali. The real name of Abu Talib was Abd Manaf. He was however more popularly known by his surname than by his real name. Abu Talib was the son of Abdul Muttalib. Abdul Muttalib was also a surname, his real name being Shaybah. Abdul Muttalib was the son of Hashim. Hashim was a great man of the line, and his descendants came to be known as Hashimites.
The mother of Ali was Fatima. She was the daughter of Asad who was a son of Hashim. Fatima was a cousin of Abu Talib. Thus both the father and mother of Ali were Hashimites, and that was a great honor.

Ancestry of Ali and the Holy Prophet
The Holy Prophet was the son to Abdullah who was the son of Abdul Muttalib. Abdullah and Abu Talib were real brothers. Abu Talib was thus the real paternal uncle of the Holy Prophet of Islam. Ali was the first cousin of the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet and Ali had a common grandfather Abdul Muttalib.

Abdul Muttalib was the son of Hashim who was the son of Abd Manaf who was the son of Qussay who was the son of Murrah, who was the son of Kaab, who was the son of Luayy, who was the son of Ghalib, who was the son of Fihr, who was the son of Malik who was the son of Nadr, who was the son of Kananah. Beyond Kananah the ancestry extended to Ismail, and Ibrahim, who flourished some 2500 years earlier.

Birth of Ali
Ali was born under unusual circumstances. On the thirteenth of the holy month of "Rajab", Fatima, the mother of Ali, visited the Kaaba for performing the pilgrimage. During the course of the pilgrimage while circumambulating the Kaaba, Fatima felt the pangs of childbirth. She retired to a secluded place in the precincts of the Holy Kaaba, and there Ali was born. Ali had thus the unique honor of being born in the House of God. This unparalleled honor has endowed Ali with a halo of sanctity, which has become the subject of many legends. A hundred years later, Zain-ul-Abidin a grandson of Ali (son of Husain) met as Arab woman at Najaf who told him that her grandmother had helped on the occasion of the birth of Ali. She narrated that according to the account of her grandmother, the child was beautiful, a smile played on his lips, it did not cry like other children, and its birth did not cause any pain to his mother.

The Name
Fatima wanted to name the child "Asad" after the name of her father. Abu Talib wanted to name him Zaid. When the mother and the child came home, the Holy Prophet, and Khadija came to see the newborn child. Since his birth, the child had not opened his eyes, and that worried Fatima and Abu Talib. As the Holy Prophet took the child in his lap he opened his eyes. The first person that Ali saw after his birth was the Holy Prophet. When the Holy Prophet was asked whether he approved of the child being named as Asad or Zaid, he said that as the child was born in the House of God, he should be named Ali, the word Ali being a derivative of Allah. Ali had thus the distinction of being named after Allah. No person before him had ever been so named. The name acquired further sanctity as it was proposed by the Holy Prophet.

The Holy Prophet and Ali
The Holy Prophet was a posthumous child, and he was born after the death of his father Abdullah. He lost his mother Aamina when he was hardly six years old. Thereafter he became a ward of his grandfather Abdul Muttalib. He lost his grandfather when he nine years old. The Holy Prophet next lived with his Uncle Abu Talib who a real brother of his father. In the house of Abu Talib, the Holy prophet was well cared for. Abu Talib loved the Holy Prophet more than his own sons. Fatima the wife of Abu Talib gave the Holy Prophet the love of mother. The Holy Prophet accompanied Abu Talib on his trade journeys. It was under the loving care of Abu Talib and Fatima that the Holy Prophet grew into manhood. At the age of twenty-five, some time around 596 C.E., the Holy Prophet married a rich lady Khadija and shifted to her house. There was not much distance between the two houses and the two families visited each other frequently. The Holy Prophet could never forget the love that Abu Talib and Fatima had born for him. Even after his marriage, the Holy Prophet regarded himself as a member of the family of Abu Talib. In this context, it is probable that the Holy Prophet and Khadija would have rejoiced at the birth of Ali and would have some function to celebrate the occasion.
Induction of Ali as a member of the family of the Holy Prophet
As the Holy Prophet had arranged for the stay of Ali in the desert, it appears that on return from the desert, the young Ali was brought to the house of the Holy Prophet, and he arranged some function to mark the occasion which was attended by Abu Talib and his family, and other close relatives. The Holy Prophet had looked after the young Ali since his birth and he developed a great liking for him. It was against this background that the Holy Prophet requested Abu Talib that Ali be entrusted to his care, and be allowed to live with him as a member of his family. Abu Talib agreed as he felt that the Holy Prophet would look after Ali in a much better way than he could.

Most of the writers have expressed the view that the Holy Prophet took over the responsibility for the maintenance of Ali to provide financial relief to Abu Talib whose financial position had grown weak. It is difficult to accept this view. Abu Talib was a Quraish chief and he enjoyed reputation as such and commanded great influence. Like the other Quraish he undertook trading activities. There is no evidence to the effect that he was involved in any financial difficulty. Abu Talib had really any financial difficulty, the Holy Prophet who was in affluent circumstances could have supplemented the financial resources of Abu Talib by providing financial assistance as a son would help a father in old age. The truth of the matter is that Ali was entrusted to the Holy Prophet, not because of any financial considerations, but because the Holy Prophet had developed a liking for the child, and wanted to have him by his side. In entrusting Ali to the care of the Holy Prophet, Abu Talib did not part from Ali. Ali visited the house of his parents every day, and he was as much a member of the house of Abu Talib as that of the Holy Prophet. Indeed the house of the Holy Prophet was an extension of the house of Abu Talib, and the young Ali lived with the Holy Prophet as a younger brother would live with an elder brother without any break with the paternal house.

The house of the Holy Prophet
When Ali came to live with the Holy Prophet that was some time in the year 604 C.E. By this time eight years had passed since the marriage of the Holy Prophet and Khadija. At the time the Holy Prophet was thirty-three years and Khadija was forty-eight years old. During these eight years, Khadija had given birth to seven children. Out of these three were sons and four were daughters. All the three boys died during infancy. The girls survived. These were Zainab, Ruqayya, Umm Kulthum and Fatima. There were no more births thereafter. All the source books that have come down to us are silent as to the activities of the Holy Prophet during this period. We know that Khadija was a rich lady and when the record is silent about any business activity of the Holy Prophet that tends to create the impression that the Holy Prophet depended on the wealth of his wife. The Holy Prophet being the greatest of all men of all times, and a personification of perfection in all spheres of human activity could not be supposed as living on the wealth of anybody else, howsoever close. Years later in a verse of the Holy Quran, Allah said, "Were thee not poor, and did We not enrich thee?" A person who depends on the wealth of another person cannot be regarded as a rich man. The test of richness is that such richness should be on his own account and because of his own efforts. We know that the Holy Prophet was a skilful Manager, and a man endowed with such qualities could not be expected to sit idle. We know that the Holy Prophet was known as "Amin". This means that he was a banker, and a person who practiced banking must necessarily be a rich man. The Holy Prophet undertook some trade journeys before his marriage, and such journeys proved to be profitable from the business point of view. There appears to be no ground to believe that the Holy Prophet stopped all business activity after marriage. On the other hand, the plausibility is that he undertook such activities on a still bigger scale. It appears that during this period, the Holy Prophet headed a trade organization whereof his wife and some other friends were partners. We can thus conclude that when Ali came to live with the Holy Prophet, he found in the house of the Holy Prophet, all the comforts that are found in the house of a rich man.

Education of Ali
As the Holy Prophet was rich, it is certain that on taking over the responsibility for the maintenance of Ali, the Holy Prophet made the best possible arrangement for his education. Later in life, Ali came to enjoy reputation for being the most learned man of his age in Arabia. This points to the fact that the Holy Prophet took particular care in educating Ali, Ali was a precocious child, at an early age he came to master knowledge which others could hardly understand.

Ali and the Kaaba
Ali knew that he was born in the Kaaba. He had, therefore, a fond attachment for the Kaaba. Some time in 605 C.E. the Quraish reconstructed the Kaaba. A dispute arose about the placing of the Holy Stone as each section of the Quraish wanted to have this honor for itself. It was ultimately decided that on the appointed day whosoever was the first to enter the Kaaba should decide as to how the dispute was to be resolved. On the appointed day the Holy Prophet was the first to enter the Kaaba. He decided that the Holy Stone should be placed in a mantle, and this mantle should be upheld by a representative of each section of the Quraish. The stone was carried in this way to the place where it was to be fixed in the wall. There the Holy Prophet lifted the stone from the mantle and fixed it at the appropriate place in the wall. Young Ali was present in the Kaaba on this occasion and he watched the proceedings with great interest. Ali felt a sense of pride at the association of his family with the Kaaba. He himself was born in the Kaaba, and his guardian had presided at the ceremony of laying down the Holy Stone. The Kaaba was verily the House of God, but he wondered why it was studded with over three hundred and sixty idols made of stone. The people worshipped these idols and slaughtered animals at their altar. He young Ali wondered why these deaf and dumb idols were worshipped and propitiated when they were not capable of conferring any benefit or inflicting any wrong on the people.

Ali and the Holy Prophet
At this impressionable period of his life, the young Ali was most impressed with the personality and character of the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet was the paragon of virtues, and the personification of human perfection. The Holy Prophet, Abu Bakr, and some other friends often met at the house of the Holy Prophet. The young Ali listened attentively to such talks. From these talks the young Ali gathered that the Holy Prophet was in quest of a new order of things. Ali resolved in his young mind that in any adventure in the discovery of a new order of things, he would stand by the side of Muhammad (peace be on him). He came to know from Abu Talib how a Christian monk in Syria had prophesied many years ago that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was destined to be a prophet of God. He heard from Khadija that her dream signified that great destiny awaited Muhammad (peace be upon him),and that he was to be a great leader of men and the saviour of humanity. The young Ali anxiously longed to see that day when such dreams would be realized. He moved by a strong determination that as and when Muhammad (peace be upon him) was lifted to the status of prophethood he, as the ward of the Holy Prophet, Ali regarded the Holy Prophet not merely as a brother or a guardian, but as his guide and preceptor. Availing of the company of the Holy Prophet, the young Ali took pains to acquire most of the attributes, which were the distinguishing features of the character of the Holy Prophet. It was a result of this training received because of close association with the Holy Prophet that Ali in due course grew to be the alter ego of the Holy Prophet.

Turning point in history
The year 611 C.E. was a turning point in the life of Muhammad (peace be upon him) for it was in this year that he was commissioned as a prophet of God to communicate the message of Islam to mankind. It was a turning point in the life of Ali for in this year he was converted to Islam. This was a turning point in the history of Islam. In fact it was a turning point in the history of mankind. It marked the end of the age of ignorance, and the dawn of a new era of enlightenment.

Ali Converts to Islam
When the Holy Prophet returned home he was highly agitated and most nervous. He told of the occurrence in the cave to his wife Khadija. She consulted her cousin Waraqa b Naufal who was versed in religious lore. Waraqa said that the angel who had appeared before Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the same angel who had appeared before Abraham, Moses and other prophets. Waraqa added that the visiting of the angel was a great event, and she should rejoice that her husband had been chosen by the Almighty God as His Messenger. When Khadija told Muhammad (peace be on him) what Waraqa had said, Muhammad (peace be on him) said that the burden of prophethood would be too heavy for him to bear, and he did not know who would accept conversion to the new faith at his hand. Khadija consoled him and said that the Almighty who had chosen him as His Messenger would Himself guide him in fulfilling His mission of prophethood. Khadija offered herself as the first person to owe allegiance to Muhammad (peace be on him) as the prophet of God. When Ali came to know of the conversion of Khadija he hastened to offer his allegiance to the Holy Prophet. Ali was the first among the youth to be converted to Islam. In some books it is written that when Muhammad (peace be upon him) invited Ali to the new faith, he showed some hesitation and said that he would consult Abu Talib in the first instance. This version of what happened is far from the truth. There was no hesitation on the part of Ali in accepting the truth. Ali had indeed been longing for the day when the call from the Almighty would come and when the call came he was so much overwhelmed with joy that there could be no question of any hesitation. The acceptance of the new faith on the part of Ali was spontaneous and without any hesitation, for Ali had the firm conviction that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the true prophet of God.

Ali
In the accounts of this period that have come down to us there is no mention of Ali. By this time Ali had come of age. He was well educated, highly intelligent, most enterprising and brave. It is difficult to believe that if the accounts make no mention of Ali, the inference is that he was idle and had nothing to do. When Abu Talib decided to espouse the cause of Muhammad (peace be on him), Ali most probably played an important part in prevailing upon Abu Talib to take the decision he did. We know that when the Holy Prophet migrated to Yathrib, he entrusted the responsibility for winding up the business in Makkah to Ali. In the accounts that have come down to us the Holy Prophet is shown as a good manager and businessman, but in the accounts of the post-prophethood period there is no account of any business activity on the part of the Prophet. The writers of the period apparently harbored the delusion that any business undertaking was repugnant to prophethood. An impression is tried to be created that in the post-prophethood period the Holy Prophet undertook no business and depended on the wealth of his followers, Abu Bakr, Othman and others. This is an erroneous presentation, for Islam is not a religion for the next world alone, it is a religion for this world as well. To abstain from business may be the Christian or the Buddhist concept of piety, but that is not the Islamic concept of prophethood. The Holy Prophet is the greatest man of all times and such a man perfect in every way cannot be without independent sources of income. It appears that when Ali came of age, the Holy Prophet entrusted the responsibility for running the business to Ali. It appears that during the period of the social boycott Ali continued to run the business of the holy Prophet (SAW). The boycott agreement merely restricted the sale or purchase by the Quraish; it did not and could not apply to business transactions elsewhere. It appears that Ali undertook business journeys during this period, and the necessary provisions procured from outside Makkah were duly supplied to the Banu Hashim in the glen.

Bequest of Abu Talib
Before his death, Abu Talib recorded a bequest, and had it hung in the Kaaba According to "Rauza-tu's-Safa", this bequest reads as follows: "O thou people of Quraish! Thou art the chosen race of God, and the best in the world. In my dying behest I will ask you to be kind and well disposed towards Muhammad because he is a trustee from among the Quraish, and most truthful from amongst the whole population of Arabia. He has in his person all those things, which compel me to leave a will in his favor. He has tidings to reveal which your heart accepts although for fear your lips do not respond to confirm the call of your heart. I find that the half-barbarians of the Arabian desert, in contrast to you, respond to the call and obey his orders and verily these are the people who will be exalted in this world and the hereafter. Mark me when I say that your chiefs will be dishonored, and stiff necked though they now are, they will soon be humbled. I see the entire country has sincerity and enthusiasm for his message, and the people have widened their hearts to receive that love. In short they are willing to follow and obey him. O thou Quraish! It is high time that you should befriend him, support him and follow him in the path that he treads. I swear by God that only those who desist to follow him who are not destined to reform, and only those will follow in his footsteps who are destined to be great, pious and noble. If there is some respite or delay in my death, and I survive a few more days I will support his cause. As far as it lies within my power I will protect him from the evils of the enemy." This bequest was written by Ali and was dictated by Abu Talib.

Death of Abu Talib
Abu Talib did not live long after the recording of his bequest. The Quraish felt annoyed at the bequest, and said that Abu Talib had lost his senses in old age. When Abu Talib died there was rejoicing in the camp of the Quraish. Ali composed elegiac verses on this occasion. Some of these verses read: "Abu Talib is no more. His passing away is a great loss. He was the protector of the poor and the weak. Whenever there was a famine, He liberally aided those in distress. Whenever there was a difficulty he resolved it. He could distinguish the truth from falsehood. He was generous, kind hearted and sympathetic. Men of his caliber are rare. A vacuum has been created because of his death. The Quraish are happy at his death. They have forgotten that man is mortal and no one can tarry in this world for long. Because of their mental deficiencies the Quraish have made plans to destroy the Muslims, but we will teach them a lesson. It will be a war to the finish. Either they will destroy us; Or we will destroy them. "

Death of Khadija
A few days after the death of Abu Talib, Khadija also passed away. The deaths of Abu Talib and Khadija marked the end of an epoch. Abu Talib had been more than a father to the Holy Prophet. In spite of the strong pressure of the Quraish, he had protected the Holy Prophet to the last, and had left a bequest in his favor. Abu Talib was of course the father of Ali, and although Ali lived with the Holy Prophet, he was not denied the paternal love of Abu Talib.

Khadija had been for the Holy Prophet more than wife. She placed all her wealth which was considerable at his disposal. She gave him love. She was the mother of his children. She supported him through thick and thin. She was indeed the first person to be converted to Islam. To Ali she had been more than a mother.

The passing away of Abu Talib and Khadija created a great vacuum in the life of the Holy Prophet. He felt very lonely and disconsolate. His grief was so intense that the Muslims called the year "619 C.E," the year of the deaths of Abu Talib and Khadija as the "Year of Sorrow. "
Ali shared this grief with the Holy Prophet. In heart-rending verses he mourned the deaths of Abu Talib and Khadija. He said: both my eyes weep, weep for that chief of the Bateha valley whose name was Abu Talib; and weep for that flower of womanhood whose name was Khadija. The woman first to accept Islam and first to pray. Both Abu Talib and Khadija were pure souls. Their passing away has created a great void. At the pain of their separation I spend the whole night in weeping. They helped the Holy Prophet. They were a source of strength to Islam. After them the world has been plunged into darkness. From God they came and to God they have returned; may their souls rest in peace.

Turning point
The Holy Prophet's ascension to the Heavens, proved to be a turning point in the life story of the Holy Prophet, and as such in the history of Islam. It had its repercussions on the life of Ali. After this momentous event in the annals of mankind, the clouds began to lift, and things became easier for the Holy Prophet and for that matter for the Muslims. The tribes around Makkah who had heretofore refused to listen to the Holy Prophet, now came to be divided among themselves and some persons out of them accepted the new faith. To overcome the grief and the irreparable loss because of the death of Khadija, the Holy Prophet married an elderly lady Sauda. She was a good housewife, she looked after the house of the Holy Prophet with proper care. She looked after the young daughters of the Holy Prophet with great affection, and consoled them in their grief at the loss of their mother. In 621 C.E., a delegation from Yathrib came to Makkah and they accepted Islam. The Jews of Yathrib observed that according to their scriptures that was the time for the advent of a new prophet. After the end of the social boycott, the Muslims stepped up trading activities. It appears that at this time while the Holy Prophet devoted his attention to religious affairs, Ali concentrated his attention at the management of the business affairs. The traditional accounts of the period that have come down to us create the impression that by this time the economic resources of the Holy Prophet had dried up, and neither he nor Ali had any source of income. This view cannot be accepted for an ideal prophet could not neglect this aspect of his activity. In the conduct of business the Holy Prophet entrusted this responsibility to Ali and he discharged this responsibility with due diligence. Heretofore the Holy Prophet had avoided any armed conflict with the Quraish. A state akin to cold war prevailed between the Quraish and the Muslims for a period of over ten years. In 622 C.E. the people of Yathrib invited the Holy Prophet and his followers to migrate to Yathrib and live in their midst. They promised their full support to the Holy Prophet and his followers. The Holy Prophet directed his followers to migrate in batches to Yathrib. By the beginning of the month of September in 622 C.E. all male members of the Muslim families had left Makkah for Madina except the Holy Prophet, Abu Bakr, and Ali.
The Quraish plot to assassinate the Holy Prophet.

The migration of the Muslims to Yathrib caused a great stir in the Quraish camp. They felt that if the Muslims gained strength in Yathrib, they would be a source of great danger for the Quraish. The Quraish held a council of war under the leadership of Abu Sufyan and Abu Jahl. The Quraish felt that as long as Muhammad lived, be it in Makkah or elsewhere, he would continue to be a great challenge for the Quraish. The Quraish took cognizance of the fact that in spite of their hostility, Islam was fast spreading in various parts of Arabia. They viewed the process of the growth of Islam with great concern and alarm. They held that in the circumstances their safety lay in the assassination of Muhammad (peace be on him). The Quraish resolved that Muhammad (peace be on him) should be assassinated before he could proceed to Yathrib. The Council of war decided that the young men belonging to all sections should surround the house of Muhammad at night, and assassinate him when he came out of his house in the morning by falling on him in a body, and putting an end to him with the blows of their daggers.

Frustration of the Quraish plot
The Holy Prophet was forewarned of the Quraish plot by Allah. It was revealed that if the unbelievers plotted Allah could frustrate their plot and Allah was the best planner. The Holy Prophet asked Ali to sleep on his bed that night. Thereafter he was to wind up business in Makkah and come to Yathrib. After the departure of other Muslims to Yathrib, Abu Bakr had sought the permission of the Holy Prophet to migrate to Yathrib. Muhammad (peace be on him) had asked him to wait for it was possible that he might have a good companion for the journey to Yathrib. Abu Bakr was, however, asked to keep ready for the call to migrate might come any moment. That day before the Quraish youth could come to besiege his house the Holy Prophet left for the house of Abu Bakr and gave him the tidings that the time for their migration to Yathrib had arrived. At night in the cover of darkness the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr left Makkah for Yathrib. They did not take the direct road to Yathrib. They moved in the opposite direction, and took refuge in a cave in Mt. Thaur some five miles south of Makkah. In the house of the Holy Prophet at Makkah, Ali locked the doors from inside and lay on the bed of Holy Prophet. He covered himself with the mantle which was the cover of the Holy Prophet. At night the youth of the Quraish surrounded the house according to plan. Peeping inside the house, they saw the bed occupied and felt satisfied that the Holy Prophet was sleeping there as usual. The Quraish youth kept the vigil throughout the night and they felt assured that during the night no one entered the house, nor went out of it. When the day dawned and the door of the house was opened, it was Ali and not the Holy Prophet who had to face the brunt of the fury of the Quraish at the frustration of their plan. "Where is Muhammad?" asked the Quraish, and Ali replied that he had left for Yathrib. When their plan was thus thwarted the Quraish youth were very furious, but Ali faced them boldly without showing any sign of fear. In utter disgust and disappointment the Quraish youth dispersed to carry the tale of the failure of their plan to their leaders Abu Sufyan and Abu Jahl. Once again in the battle between the truth and falsehood, the truth triumphed. That was the closing scene of the drama that had been played at Makkah during the period 611-622 C.E. During this period of eleven years, all the maneuvers that the Quraish had adopted ended in their failure and defeat. Ali remained in Makkah for a few days, and when he had settled all accounts and wound up business he took farewell of Makkah, and took the road to Yathrib. It was not a flight as some writers tried to present, it was a march on the road to the fulfillment of destiny. With the migration of the Muslims from Makkah the war between the Quraish and the Muslims was not over. It meant that such a war was now to be carried on a wider front to the increasing advantage of the Muslims, and the ultimate surrender of the Quraish.
 

Life in Madina
Ali arrived in Yathrib renamed as Madina-tun-Nabi or Madina in the honor of the Holy Prophet towards the close of September in the year 622 C.E. The Holy Prophet welcomed him to Madina, and appreciated his services for risking his life for him at Makkah in facing the fury of the Quraish. The Holy Prophet was glad to note that the task allotted to Ali at Makkah had been properly and satisfactorily done by him.

The world of Madina was quite different from the world of Makkah. At Makkah the Muslims were a persecuted people; at Madina they were the masters of their destiny. At Makkah they were surrounded by enemies; at Madina they were in the midst of friends. The life at Madina marked a break with the past. The days of trials, tribulations and tortures were over and the Muslims were now set on the path of fulfillment. The Muslims were now to build a new society and a new common wealth.

The climate of Makkah was dry, but the climate of Madina was damp. The landscape of Makkah was marked by barren rocks, and stony wastes; the landscape of Madina was market by agricultural fields, gardens, and groves of date palms. The change in the physical scene affected the health of the emigrants, and some of them including Abu Bakr fell sick. Ali withstood the climatic change without being affected in health. He spent most of his time in nursing the sick and helping them in adjusting themselves to the new environments.

Implications of the pairing of the Holy Prophet and Ali
The pairing of the Holy Prophet and Ali was a matter of great significance, and it had deep implications and repercussions. In the various source books that have come down to us, no light is thrown on such implications. We will, therefore, have to undertake an exercise on our own account in spelling out the underlying implications. In the process of brotherhood-formation every emigrant from Makkah was paired with an Ansar of Madina. The Holy Prophet was himself an emigrant from Makkah, and the question that arises for consideration is: why did the Holy Prophet not pair himself with any Ansar of Madina ? To be paired with the Holy Prophet was a great honor, and many Ansars coveted this honor. If the Holy Prophet had shown preference for some particular Ansar that would have been a cause for jealousy on the part of the other Ansars who equally coveted the honor. In Madina the status of the Holy Prophet was that of a ruler, and if he had shown preference for some particular Ansar, that would have been a cause of heart burning for the other Ansar. The Holy Prophet did not pair himself with any Ansar because of his impartiality.

A consequence of the pairing of the emigrants and the Ansars was that the emigrants shared with the Ansar their income and property. If the Holy Prophet did not pair with any particular Ansar the question is what was the source of income of the Holy Prophet in Madina? When the Holy Prophet in order to maintain his impartially did not choose to have a share in the income and property of a particular Ansar, it implies that he had his share in the income and property of all Ansars. It is a common practice with religious fraternities that each person belonging to the fraternity contributes a certain percentage of his income to the common fund of the fraternity which it places at the disposal of the head of the fraternity. It appears that the Ansars of Madina constituted some common fund of similar nature and placed it at the disposal of the Holy Prophet. Presumably some property was also placed at the disposal of the Holy Prophet the income whereof could be utilized to meet his expenses as well as other common needs. The emigrants from Makkah were traders, and in Madina as well they undertook trading activities. Indeed Madina offered more trading opportunities than Makkah. The Holy Prophet ran some sort of business at Makkah which was managed by Ali. It appears that the same business was continued in Madinah. As the Holy Prophet had to devote a good deal of his attention to the affairs of the State, the responsibility for running the business enterprise rested a good deal on Ali. The Holy Prophet and Ali were already cousins and the brotherhood constituted signified that the ties between the Holy Prophet and Ali became still closer and stronger, and they shared each other's property.

Masjid-i-Nabwi
In 623 C.E. the Holy Prophet decided to build a mosque in Madina which was to be a prayer house as well as a community center. The Holy Prophet asked the Muslims to offer their services in labor as well as capital towards the construction of the mosque. Ali was the first person to offer his services as laborer. He shoveled the earth when the foundations were being laid and later carried on baskets of brick and mortar which he passed on to the masons. Ali composed some verses for the occasion, and he recited them as he worked as a laborer. Some of these verses which have been preserved are: "Whoever builds a mosque and works whether sitting or standing puts up with the pain of labor, while others shirk work for fear of dust and pain. Both of these verily cannot equal each other". As the other Muslims labored they chanted: "There is no life but the life of the next world, O God have mercy on the Muhajireen and the Ansar". Within a few months the mosque was completed. It was square in form, and each side measured fifty yards. The mosque faced towards the north, and had three gates on each of the remaining three sides. Adjoining the mosque apartments were constructed for the household of the Holy Prophet. Ali also had an apartment in the mosque. The mosque was a monument of simplicity. The walls were made of mud bricks and the roofs were supported by trunks of palm trees. The apartments for the household were hung with blankets of camel hair as doors. The courtyard in each case was hardly six to seven paces in length, and the length of the rooms did not extend ten paces.

The battle of Badr
When the day dawned the two forces met in battle array. The Quraish raised boastful cries highlighting their superiority, skill, and richer resources. The Muslims were in a humble mood, and invoking the aid of God they raised the shouts "Allah-o-Akbar" Allah is great. That was the first battle to be fought by the Muslims, and they had no previous experience of war. The Holy Prophet, however, exhibited the qualities of a great military General. He marshaled the Muslim forces in a superb way, and arrayed them in such manner that they could contend against the larger force of the enemy. The previous night it had rained. That worked to the advantage of the Muslims for the rocky ground under their feet became firmer, while the ground under the feet of the Quraish became muddy and slippery. The Holy Prophet divided the Muslim force in a number of commands, each under a Commander. One unit was placed under the command of Ali and he was given the flag by the Holy Prophet.
 

As a prelude to the battle proper, three warriors, Utba, Shaiba, and Al Walid stepped out of the ranks of the Quraish, and challenged the Muslims to duel in single combat. In response to this challenge three Ansars stepped out of the ranks of the Muslims to fight the duel. The Quraish taunted the Muslim emigrants, and wanted them to come forward to cross swords with them if they had any trait of chivalry about them. Thereupon Ali was the first to step forward from the ranks of the Muslims to accept the challenge of the Quraish. He was followed by Hamza and Ubaida b Harith. In the contest that followed Ali killed Al Walid; and Hamza killed Shaiba. In the duel between Ubaida and Utba, Ubaida was mortally wounded. Ali and Hamza rushed to the help of Ubaida and cut off the head of Utba. Thereupon with a cry of rage three Makkans darted to assail Ali and Hamza. All the three Makkans fell dead before the blows of the swords of Ali and Hamza.

Exasperated at the death of its six warriors in single combat, the Quraish led the charge, and tried to break through the ranks of the Muslims. The Muslims stood fast at their posts, and when the fury of the Quraish force was spent, the Muslims launched a counter attack, and forced the Quraish to fall back. The ground was muddy and slippery and in the confusion that followed many Quraish slipped in the mud when the Muslims availing of the advantage thrust their swords in their bodies. Miraculously the battle ended in the favor of the Muslims. Over seventy persons from among the Quraish fell dead on the battlefield. All the leaders of the Quraish who held the command were killed. Over seventy persons were taken prisoners. A large booty fell into the hands of the Muslims. Ali was most conspicuous in performing prodigies of valor. According to traditions he killed twenty-one persons. Two brothers of Ali Talib and Aqueel fought on the side of the Quraish. Out of these Talib was killed and Aqueel was taken prisoner. When the booty was distributed Ali got an armor, a sword, and a camel.

Fatima
When the Holy Prophet migrated to Yathrib he left his family at Makkah. When the Muslims had settled in Yathrib (renamed Madina) the Holy Prophet and the other Muslims called their families to Madina. At the time of migration, Sauda an elderly lady was the only wife of the Holy Prophet whom he had married after the death of Khadija. About a year after his arrival in Madina, the Holy Prophet married Ayesha, a daughter of Abu Bakr.

By this time, Fatima, the youngest daughter of the Holy Prophet had come of marriageable age, and the Holy Prophet had to consider the question of her marriage. Abu Bakr waited on the Holy Prophet, and asked for the hand of Fatima. The Holy Prophet made no answer. Thereafter Umar asked for the hand of Fatima and the Holy Prophet maintained silence. In the Arabian society of the day, the disparity in the age of the bride and the bridegroom did not matter. The Holy Prophet married Khadija when he was twenty-five and she was forty, fifteen years older than him. Later the Holy Prophet, when over fifty, married Ayesha yet within her teens. When the Holy Prophet did not respond to the requests of Abu Bakr or Umar he was not bothered about the age question; his silence was due to the fact that he had to wait for the guidance of God which was wont to get in all matters of importance affecting his person.
After the Battle of Badr, Ali made his suit. The Holy Prophet told Ali that he would give his reply after consulting Fatima. The Holy Prophet consulted Fatima, and she maintained silence signifying her assent. In the meantime the Holy Prophet received the revelation that God approved of the marriage of Fatima with Ali. When Fatima the mother of Ali called on the Holy Prophet to press the suit on behalf of Ali, the Holy Prophet was pleased to announce his acceptance.

Preparation for the marriage
According to the accounts available in the source books, Ali had no money to meet the expenses of the marriage. He had to sell his armor to raise the necessary funds. Othman who enjoyed reputation for his wealth agreed to purchase the armor for five hundred dirhams. After the transaction had been completed, and the amount had been paid, Othman presented the armor to Ali as a marriage gift saying that the armor would be more useful for a warrior like Ali than for a trader like him. Ali was reluctant to accept the gift, but Othman prevailed to accept it in the name of God, for thereby it would serve the cause of Islam in fighting against its enemies. That made Ali accept the gift with many thanks. When Ali told of the transaction to the Holy Prophet, the Holy Prophet praised the conduct of Othman and prayed for him.

The Marriage Khutba
On the day fixed for the marriage, the Muslims assembled in the mosque, and the Holy Prophet delivered the Khutba solemnizing the marriage. The Holy Prophet said that all praise was due to God who should be extolled for His various bounties; who should be worshipped for His power and majesty and who should be obeyed for His omnipotence. The Holy Prophet observed that it behooves the people to seek refuge God for fear of His wrath. Dwelling on the might of God, the Holy Prophet said that His are the ordinances which prevail in Heaven and earth. He is the One who by His might ordained the existence of all creation. Through His commandments He gave us the power of discrimination. He honored us giving His religion, and commissioning Muhammad as His Prophet. Referring to the importance of marriages in human society the Holy Prophet said that undoubtedly the Almighty Lord made matrimonial alliances as the means of a fresh relationship which is a fundamental necessity and a just affair which is made incumbent on all and sundry, and through which creation is linked. The Holy Prophet observed that verily Allah is He Who has created human beings from a drop of blood. For this end He has created the relations of the in-laws. Surely God is Omnipotent. His decrees are enforced according to His decisions. His judgements decree the fate, and every fate is governed by an appointed time. Every appointed time is pre determined. Over and above this, God can obliterate or keep intact whatever He likes. The original record of all this is with Him. After these introductory remarks the Holy Prophet declared:
 

"Now in obedience to the Will of God I perform the marriage ceremony of Fatima with Ali, and ask you to bear witness that I have given Fatima in marriage to Ali against a dower of 400 pieces of silver coin. May God create love between the pair, bless them, purify their offspring, make their progeny a mine of wisdom, and a source of God's blessing and solace to the believers in faith. "
The Holy Prophet ended the Khutba by asking for the forgiveness of God for himself and for the Muslims.

Ideal marriage
According to all accounts that have come down to us, the marriage of Ali and Fatima was an ideal marriage. It was a union of two great souls. Hafsa, a daughter of Umar and later a wife of the Holy Prophet wrote some verses highlighting the greatness of the pair. She said: Fatima is superior to womankind in the world; she is the lady whose face shines as the full moon; she is the bride whose groom excels all in Scholarship.

According to some authors Ali was twenty-one years old at the time of marriage, while Fatima was sixteen years old. According to my research the date of the birth of Ali is to be placed around 599 C.E. and on this basis he was 24/25 years old at the time of marriage. Fatima was born around 604 C.E. and on this basis she was 19/20 years old at the time of marriage. There appears to be a tendency with the writers of old to under estimate the ages of persons particularly women. In most of the books, for example, it is said that at the time of her marriage with the Holy Prophet, Ayesha was a child barely nine years old. Ayesha was more or less of the same age as Fatima or very nearly so, and was well within her teens at the time of her marriage.
Undoubtedly the marriage of Ali and Fatima was an ideal marriage as the marriage was performed by the Holy Prophet in accordance with the will of God, it could not be anything but an ideal marriage. As an ideal marriage it should have been a happy marriage. In this context two aspects of the case need special consideration. One is the economic factor and the other is the temperamental factor.

The economic aspect of the matter is that all writers of old are unanimous on the point that Ali was very poor. In his book Ali, the Superman, Dr. Ata Mohyuddin observes that Ali was extremely poor, and the young couple were obliged from the first, to live from hand to mouth. It is observed that often days passed without any fire being lit in their hearth. It is further observed that his bed sheet was so small, that if he covered his head, his legs remained uncovered, and if he covered his legs his head was exposed the account provides that Fatima had to work too hard. She did not have the wherewithal to wash her clothes which were blackened and soiled on account of dust and dirt. The shoulder on which she carried pitchers of water from the well was swollen, and the hands with which she worked the handmil1 to grind corn were often covered with blisters. There is a story that she requested the Holy Prophet to give her a maid slave to assist her, but he turned down the request. According to another story Ali hired himself as an ordinary manual laborer. One day he hired himself as a laborer to draw water from the well for a date per bucket. He drew sixteen buckets when his hands were blistered. He was given sixteen dates which he took to the Holy Prophet and both of them had their meal of these dates. I have long pondered over the question of the poverty of Ali and even the Holy Prophet. It appears to me that such accounts are highly exaggerated, and remote from the truth. I have prayed to God to show me light whereby I could ascertain the truth. Islam is not a religion for the next world alone; it is a religion for this world as well. Islam does not favor accumulation of riches and the hoarding of wealth, but it does not commend poverty either. It stands for the middle course marked neither by richness nor by poverty. The Holy Prophet before an ideal Prophet had to set an example in this respect. As such while the Holy Prophet could not be very rich, he could not be poor either. Islam stands for simplicity and austerity but simplicity and austerity are not another name for poverty. How could Allah permit his beloved to starve. When the Muslims migrated to Madina, Ansars shared all their resources with the Muslims. Under the circumstances how could the Ansar permit Ali and Fatima the beloved daughter of the Holy Prophet to live from hand to mouth on the verge of starvation. Ali and Fatima were after all human beings, and how could they be happy when they had to starve for days. When selecting husbands for their daughter even ordinary persons take steps to insure that their daughter is married in a family which is quite well off. This is a parental obligation, and it is unbelievable that the Holy Prophet would have married his beloved daughter to a person who had no source of income. The Holy Prophet married his two daughters to Othman, one after the other, and Othman was the richest person among the Quraish. The Holy Prophet could not discriminate between his daughters by marrying two daughters to a very rich man, and marrying the daughter whom he loved most to a man who was extremely poor. Ali was the greatest warrior of the age. He was also the greatest jurist, grammarian and scholar of the age. When the Muslims set up a polity at Madina it was an obligation on the part of the State to provide means of sustenance for Muslims according to their qualifications and utilize their services in the interests of the State. Under the circumstances the accounts that Ali was very poor are not correct.
It appears that there were some temperamental differences between the husband and wife. Ali is said to be hot tempered while Fatima was cool-headed. It is related that one day Ali picked up a quarrel with Fatima, Fatima felt aggrieved and she went to the Holy Prophet to complain of the conduct of Ali. Ali followed her and hid himself behind a wall to listen what transpired between the Holy Prophet and Fatima. The Holy Prophet advised Fatima to have patience and submit to her husband. When Ali saw the Holy Prophet later, the Holy Prophet counseled him to be kind to his wife. Due to the wise counsels of the Holy Prophet, both Ali and Fatima succeeded in making adjustments which insured mutual happiness. Hasan, their first child was born in 625 C.E. and Husain, the second child was born in 626 C.E. The Holy Prophet had great love for Hasan and Husain and treated them as his own sons.

Ali and the Jews
In the original accounts that have come down to us there is no mention of the activities of Ali with reference to the Jews. The silence of the authorities in this respect does not mean that Ali was inactive, and he took no part in the cold war that prevailed between the Muslims and the Jews. The Jews boasted of their superior knowledge and argued that as Muhammad (peace be upon him) was illiterate he could not be a prophet of God. Ali was the most learned scholar among the Muslims, and it appears very probable that Ali met the arguments of the Jews at intellectual level, and exposed their perfidies and transgressions during the course of history. Ali was a prominent poet as well, and we will not be far from the truth when we say that Ali composed verses vindicating Islam. Islam is a missionary religion, and when the Muslims had established a polity at Madina, they took steps to convert the unbelievers and the people of the Book to Islam. As Ali was the most eloquent person among the Muslims, excepting the Holy Prophet, it appears that Ali played a prominent role in propagating the message of Islam. In spite of the general hostility of the Jews to the Muslims, Ali succeeded in converting some of the Jews to Islam. The Holy Prophet as the Head of the State, had to adjudicate on disputes among the people, including the Jews. Because of his great learning and vast legal knowledge, Ali assisted the Holy Prophet in settling the disputes. Certain persons in Madina had accepted Islam for considerations of self-interest and expediency. Such persons led by Abdullah b Ubayy owed nominal allegiance to Islam. These hypocrites and dissemblers aimed at the subversion of Islam from within. The Holy Prophet made Ali responsible for keeping a watch on the activities of the hypocrites. The Jews aided and patronized the hypocrites in violation of the terms of the agreement between the Muslims and the Jews.

Ayesha and her necklace
While returning from the campaign against Banu Mustaliq an incident took place which cast its shadow on the future course of Islamic history. Each time the Holy Prophet went on a campaign, one or two of his wives accompanied him, and the decision was always taken by the drawing of lots. On the Banu Mustaliq campaign, Ayesha accompanied the Holy Prophet. She traveled on the back of a camel in a closed litter. On the way to Madina the returning army followed by its long procession of supplies, captives and thousands of beasts after travelling throughout the night broke camp at dawn. Ayesha left her litter to satisfy a natural need and returned to her camel. Back in the litter she noticed that she had lost her necklace of Yemenite agates. Returning in her footsteps she sought the necklace for some time, and at last finding it, returned to the caravan. But the spot was deserted and the caravan had left. The camel rider seeing the litter closed, and thinking that it was occupied had placed it on the camel and departed with it. Ayesha called aloud but no one responded to her call. She decided to lie there covering herself hoping that some one would come to fetch her. Soon she fell asleep. "We belong to God and to Him we return" fell on the ears of Ayesha and she awoke with a start. A young man stood there holding a camel by its tether. The young man Safwan bin Muattal following the army in the rear noticed a young woman sleeping in the desert, and upon approaching her recognized her as the wife of the Holy Prophet. Ayesha quickly covered herself with a veil, Safwan adjusted the camel's saddle-girth, and made it kneel. Ayesha mounted the camel. Holding the beast by the bridle, Safwan took the road to Madina. After a long and tiring journey, Ayesha caught up with the army at noon. The arrival of Ayesha attended by a young man caused some rumors in the camp.
Back in Madina, the calumnies of the slanderers gained publicity. Safwan swore that in his lifetime he had never touched a woman. Ayesha fell sick. She realized that the behavior of the Apostle of God towards her had changed. She went to the house of her father. Amidst sobs, Ayesha asked her mother "Mother, what story are the people relating about me". Her mother replied, "do not be distressed. By Allah, there is not a handsome and noble woman whom her husband loves, but has other wives besides her, that such tales are bandied about". This did not console the young lady. She knew no rest, and her tears did not cease to flow. The Holy Prophet consulted his friends about divorcing Ayesha. Umar said that he was certain that the hypocrites were speaking lies. He added, "By reason of God not allowing a fly to settle upon your blessed skirts, because it alights also on impure things, how then God would not preserve you and your name from a worse defilement". The other Companions advised the Holy Prophet to keep his exalted mind at ease, for they were certain that God would cause the innocence of the young lady to become manifest. Ali was of the view that there was no dearth of women for the Holy Prophet and Ayesha could be divorced even though she was innocent.

The Revelation
One day, Ayesha was sitting in the house of her parents and was weeping when the Holy Prophet appeared all of a sudden, and after the usual salutation spoke to his wife, "O Ayesha if you are innocent, God will come to your help; if you are guilty repent, and ask forgiveness". Ayesha said that she had to wait till God cleared her of the insinuation for He alone was her witness. Before the Holy Prophet could leave the house of his father-in-law, the signs of divine revelation manifested themselves on the Holy Prophet. His mother-in law placed a cushion under his head and covered him with a Yemeni cloak. When the revelation was over, drops of perspiration trickled down his face. He smiled and said, "Glad tiding to you Ayesha, God the Most High has exculpated you, and borne witness to your innocence". Ayesha thereafter returned to the house of the Holy Prophet and those who had slandered were punished.

Bitterness between Ayesha and Ali
This incident led to some bitterness between Ayesha and Ali. Ali had not levied any charge against Ayesha. He only said in a casual way that she could be divorced even if she was innocent. The grievance of Ayesha was that Ali should have defended her like Umar. The Holy Prophet had great love for Ayesha and that became a matter of some jealousy with others. It appears that even Fatima had some grouse on this account. The Holy Prophet offered her the advice: "If your father loves a person, why should you not love that person as well."

Conspiracy of the Jews
After the expulsion of the Jews of Bani Qainuqa and Bani Nadeer from Madina ,the policy of the Jews was to incite the Arab tribes to revolt against the Muslims. The Bedouin tribes of Banu Sa'ad and Banu Bakr which lived in the neighborhood of Khyber and Fidak were already hostile to the Muslims. The Jews incited them to attack Madina. They promised to provide them with arms and transport. Intelligence was brought to the Holy Prophet that these tribes were mustering a force and planned to attack Madina. The policy of the Holy Prophet was to strike before the enemy could strike and thus wrest the initiative from the enemy.

Ali's operations
Ali was commissioned by the Holy Prophet to undertake an expedition against the Banu Sa'ad and Banu Bakr. It was not to be a regular battle it was to be a tactical raid to be carried with utmost secrecy, with a view to springing a surprise on the enemy. Ali had a small force of a hundred persons with him. The force did not march in battle array, the party traveled as a caravan of traders in order to avoid suspicion. A series of forced marches conducted at night to conceal the movements brought the party in close proximity to Fidak, some distance from Khyber. Here they came across a scout of the enemy. He was taken captive. He volunteered to lead Ali and his men to the camp of Banu Saad and Bakr provided he was given amnesty. Ali gave him the amnesty, and the scout led Ali and his men to Fidak where the forces of Banu Sa'ad and Banu Bakr were camping oblivious of any danger. Ali and his men made a surprise attack on the enemy. The attack was so unexpected, sudden and furious that the forces of the tribes could not take a stand and were scattered after suffering heavy losses. So intense was the slaughter that the tribes laid down arms and sought for terms. The tribes undertook to remain faithful to the Muslims and offered a tribute of 100 camels and 2000 goats. Ali and his men returned triumphant to Madina where the Holy Prophet appreciated their services. One fifth of the booty was placed at the disposal of the Holy Prophet as state share, and the rest of the animals were distributed among the men who had participated in the foray.

Destruction of the idols
The triumph of the Muslims was the triumph of Allah and the defeat of the idols. The Holy Prophet visited the Kaaba along with his companions. The Holy Prophet with the stroke of the stick held in his hand broke the idols that lay in the lower cavities of the walls. As the stones were destroyed one by one, the Quraish looked on aghast at the massacre of their gods, while the Holy Prophet recited the verse from the Quran: "Say, the Truth has come and falsehood gone. Verily, falsehood is ever vanishing."

The more important idols, including that of Hubal, the god of war were placed higher up in the cavities of the walls beyond the reach of the hand or stick. The Holy Prophet asked Ali to ascend on his shoulders, and destroy the idols which were placed higher up. Ali hesitated to ascend the shoulders of the Holy Prophet, but when the Holy Prophet repeated the command, Ali complied and destroyed all idols. According to legend, Ali is reported to have said that while standing on the shoulders of the Holy Prophet he felt that his hand could reach to the heights of the Heaven.

Operations of Ali
The Holy Prophet commissioned Ali to undertake operations against the tribes in the neighborhood of Taif who were ffiendlies to Taif. Ali began his operations by destroying the idols in the temples in the neighborhood of Taif. The principal god of the people was Al lat, and when Ali destroyed this idol, he was involved in a skirmish with the men of Banu Khusbam. Shahab, the leader of Banu Khusham and a formidable man enjoying reputation as a great warrior challenged Ali to a duel. Ali killed Shahab. With the murder of their leader Shahab and the destruction of their god Al lat, the men of Banu Khusham were unnerved. They laid down arms and accepted Islam. The other tribes in the neighborhood of Taif were similarly subdued and converted to Islam.
 

Ali as Governor of Madina
The expedition to Tabuk was led by the Holy Prophet himself. In his absence from Madina, the Holy Prophet appointed Ali as the Governor of Madina. As such Ali did not participate in the expedition. The hypocrites spread the rumor that Ali had been left at Madina because he did not bare the courage to face the Byzantines. This cut Ali to the quick, and while the Muslim force was still at Jorf, a few miles from Madina, Ali visited the camp and apprised the Holy Prophet of what the hypocrites were saying. The Holy Prophet told Ali that he was to him what Prophet Haroon was to Prophet Musa. Just as Prophet Musa had appointed Haroon to look after his people during his absence, thus he had appointed Ali to look after Madina during his absence. The Holy Prophet pointed out that as the hypocrites were able to do any mischief, he had to appoint a member of his household to look after his household during his absence. Trouble could be expected from the tribes, and it was necessary that the administration of Madina was left in the hands of a person who could be a source of awe for the enemy. Fully satisfied Ali returned to Madina. He summoned Abdullah b Ubayy, and told him in plain words that if he or any of his followers tried to indulge in any mischief or spread any false rumour he would cut off their heads. That struck terror in the hearts of the hypocrites and they refrained from doing any mischief. Ali maintained law and order with a stern hand. He looked after the needs of the households of the Holy Prophet effectively.

The Holy Prophet summoned Ali, and asked him to proclaim the revealed verses to the people on the day of sacrifice when they assembled at Mina. Ali went forth on the Holy Prophet's slit-eared camel, and soon overtook Abu Bakr and his party. When Ali joined the party, Abu Bakr wanted to know whether he had come to give orders or to convey them. Ali said that he had not come to replace Abu Bakr as "Amir ul-Hajj", and that his mission was merely to convey a special message to the people on behalf of the Holy Prophet,

Ali's claim to the caliphate
In some quarters, an argument is advanced to the effect that as on this occasion the declaration of discharge was read by Ali, while Abu Bakr was the Amir ul Hajj. This established the precedence of Ali over Abu Bakr, and as such when on the death of the Holy Prophet, Abu Bakr became the Caliph in disregard of the claim of Ali he was a usurper. I will discuss this aspect of the matter in detail in a later part of the book. Here we may pause to consider two questions, firstly why was the proclamation read by Ali when Abu Bakr was the Amir ul Hajj, and secondly whether this established the precedence of Ali over Abu Bakr and others in the matter of caliphate. The revelations emanating from God were particularly sacrosanct, and these had to be proclaimed to the people either by the Holy Prophet himself or by some member of his house in whom he had particular confidence. The choice of Ali to read the proclamation was not relevant to the question of succession. The question of succession had to be considered in the context of other considerations. This did not establish the precedence of Ali over Bakr for Ali did not replace Abu Bakr as Amir ul Hajj. Ali's role was merely confined to the delivering of a special message. This established the precedence of Ali over other Hashimites with whom the Holy Prophet had blood relations. Ali was the first among the Hashimites to profess Islam, and among the Hashimites he remained closest to the Holy Prophet.

Expedition under Ali
After the failure of three expeditions, the Holy Prophet ordered the fourth expedition under the command of Ali. In the earlier expeditions, the Muslim army had failed to reach the stronghold of the tribe, and had to withdraw without actual confrontation with the tribe. Ali changed the tactics. Instead of following the established route, Ali led the Muslim army along mountainous tracks, where they hid themselves during the day, and advanced during the night. Ali succeeded in beating the Banu Ramla at their own game. After several nights march the Muslim army reached the stronghold of the tribe, and made a surprise attack on the enemy. The mountainous tribe could never imagine that the men of the plains could ever penetrate through the depth of the mountains and reach their stronghold. In the confrontation that followed many persons of the tribe were killed, and they were ultimately forced to surrender. Ali returned triumphant to Madina carrying an immense booty, and a large number of prisoners. Heretofore all battles that the Muslims had fought had been fought in the plains. The battle against Banu Ramla was the first battle that the Muslims had to fight in mountainous terrain. The Muslims had no experience of fighting in hilly tracts, and as such the first three expeditions undertaken by the Muslims against the people of the hills failed. The people of the hills were expert in guerilla warfare. They could hide in the mountain recesses and fall upon the Muslims in surprise at all odd hours. By these tactics the Banu Ramla warriors prevented the Muslims from reaching their main settlement in the hills. Ali was the first Muslim General to score a victory in a mountainous territory. When Ali returned triumphant to Madina, the Holy Prophet and the Muslims welcomed him a few miles outside the city. The Holy Prophet appreciated the services of Ali in superlative terms. According to the Shiite traditions, the Holy Prophet addressed Ali on this occasion in the following terms: "O Ali ! If I were not apprehensive that the Muslim community would exaggerate your deeds like the Christians who extolled the achievements of Jesus Christ by ascribing divinity to him. I would have narrated the superiority of your character today in such a way that wherever you went, the people would have worshipped the very dust of your feet".

The mission of Ali
The Holy Prophet thereafter commissioned Ali to proceed to Yemen. A force of three hundred soldiers assembled at Quba outside Madina. The Holy Prophet tied the turban on the head of Ali with his own hands, and handed him the standard. The Holy Prophet prayed to God to enlighten the mind of Ali, to make his tongue eloquent, to make his talk impressive, and to make his conduct a source of attraction for others. Although Ali proceeded to Yemen at the head of a force, he was commanded not to use force. The force was only meant for defence in the case of any attack. It was a voyage of enlightenment. People were to be converted to Islam not by an appeal to arms but by an appeal to their hearts.

Strategy of Ali
On reaching Yemen, Ali realized that the people of Yemen were very much under the influence of the Christian priests and Jewish Rabbis, and unless such priests and Rabbis were effectively tackled, there was little likelihood of any success with the common men. The Christian priests and Jewish Rabbis were proud of their religious knowledge. They challenged Ali to a debate. Ali was used to fighting duels with his adversaries in the case of battles, now he had to fight an intellectual duel. The first challenge came from a Christian priest renowned for his learning and piety. A public debate was held. The Christian priest advanced arguments in favor of the perfection of Christianity, and of Jesus Christ being the son of God. It was observed that in such circumstances there could be no question of another faith. Ali smashed these arguments one by one. He quoted from the Christian scriptures wherein Jesus Christ had himself spoken of the advent of a prophet after him. Ali took pains to explain that Islam acknowledged Jesus Christ as a prophet, but did not regard him as a son of God. He maintained that Islam was a perfected form of all previous religions. The debate lasted for several days and at last Ka'ab admitted the superiority of Islam and was converted to Islam. With his conversion many Christians were also converted to Islam.
The Jewish Rabbis felt concerned at the success of Islam. They challenged Ali to a public debate. This debate lasted for several days, and ended in the victory for Islam. Some of the Jewish Rabbis accepted Islam, and following them many Jews accepted Islam. Thereafter Ali spread his men throughout the length and breadth of Yemen to carry the message of Islam to the people. When the people came to know that their priests and rabbis had accepted Islam, they lost the will to resist Islam and accepted the new faith willingly. Within a few months most of the people in Yemen were converted to Islam. These people came to look to Ali as a great hero.

The Farewell Pilgrimage
Early in 632 C.E. in the Hajj season, the Holy Prophet decided to proceed to Makkah to perform the "Hajj". The pilgrimage was planned on a large scale, Messengers were sent to all parts of Arabia calling upon the Muslims to assemble at Madina for the purposes of the pilgrimage. In response to this call, over one hundred thousand Muslims gathered at Madina to proceed to Makkah to perform the Hajj.

The Caravan
After all arrangements had been completed, a caravan of over one hundred thousand Muslims fired with their enthusiasm for Islam, started for Makkah to visit the House of God and offer their submission to God. It was a remarkable sight, like which the people of Arabia had not seen before. The Holy Prophet rode at the head of the caravan. All his wives accompanied him. Ali rode by his side. He was accompanied by Fatima,

Dhul Hulaifa
At Dhul Halaifa on the outskirts of Makkah, the Holy Prophet and all his followers put on the Ihram - the pilgrim's garb. The Holy Prophet gave the signal call "Labbayyak Allah hummah Labbayk" - "Here I am at your service O Lord!" This was repeated by all the one-larch persons in the congregation. The entire valley came to ring with the sound, the Muslims calling on their Lord, submitting to Him, and placing themselves at His disposal.

Makkah and Mina
The party reached Makkah on the fourth of Zul Hajj after a journey of nineteen days. After a stay of four days in Makkah, the pilgrims left for Mina on the 5th of Zul Hajj, and passed the night there. The following day the pilgrims proceeded to Arafat.

Farewell address
After mid-day prayers on the 9th of Zul Hajj at Arafat, the Holy Prophet delivered the historic "Hajj Khutba" which has come to be known as the farewell address. After giving praise to God and thanking Him for the bounties that he had conferred on the Muslims, and had crowned their efforts in the cause of the Truth with success. the Holy Prophet said: "O People, listen carefully to my words for I may not be among you next year, nor ever address you again from this spot. O People, just as you regard this month as sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as sacred. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one, so that no one may hurt you. Usury is forbidden. Satan has despiated in leading you astray in big things, so beware of his maneuvers in tempting you in small things. Women have rights over you as you have rights over them. Be good to them. You may soon have to appear before Allah and answer for your deeds. So beware. Do not go astray after I am gone. O People, no prophet will come after me, and no new faith will be born. Worship your Allah. Say your prayers. Keep fast during the month of Ramdhan. Give of your wealth in charity. All Muslims, free or slaves have the same rights and the same responsibilities. None is higher than the other unless he is higher in virtue. Feed your slaves as you feed yourself. Do not oppress them. Do not usurp their rights. All distinctions between the Arabs the non-Arabs, the black and the white are abolished. All Muslims are brothers. Do good. Be faithful to your trusts. Be kind to the orphans. Remember God. Know that while man being mortal is bound to die, God being immortal will live for ever." Having spoken these words, the Holy Prophet turned his face to the Heaven and said: "Be my witness O Allah, that I have conveyed your message to Your people. " Thereupon the people corroborated saying, "Yes, O Prophet of Allah, you have done so, and done it magnificently. "

The Revelation
After the Holy Prophet had delivered the address, Allah revealed to him the verses: "This Day have I perfected for you, your faith, and completed My blessings upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as religion. " All other prophets including Moses and Jesus Christ had to leave their unfulfilled mission to their successors. The Holy Prophet of Islam alone had the unique distinction of seeing the successful fruition of his mission during his lifetime.

Reaction of the Companions
As the Companions including Ali heard these verses about the perfection of the faith, they wept because they felt that the mission of the Holy Prophet having been completed, He was apt to depart to meet his Lord.
After the farewell address, the party left Arafat in the evening and passed the night at Muzdalifa. The following day they went to Mina, and sacrificed the animals. The Holy Prophet sacrificed 63 animals, one for each year of his life, and these were shared by Ali. The men then shaved their heads, and the ceremony of the Hajj was completed. Thereafter the pilgrims left for Madina. On the return journey while the Companions were happy that their faith had been perfected, they were overwhelmed with grief at the thought that such consummation implied that the Holy Prophet was soon to depart from their midst.

Address of the Holy Prophet - Khum Ghadir
When all people, over one hundred thousand in number had assembled at the pond in the Khum valley, the Holy Prophet addressed them. The exact text of the address is not available. There is a good deal of controversy about the contents of the address, and both the Sunnis and the Shias have their own versions of the address.

According to the Sunni writers, the Holy Prophet said that after him the Muslims would have to face hard times. He wanted them to remain united and to obey those in authority. He said that he was the last of the prophets and there was to be no prophet after him. He observed that God had given him superiority over all those who inhabit the world, and they include all the past and future generations. The Holy Prophet observed that God had given him the keys of His treasures, and He had asked him to confirm the solemn pledges which He had made with them, God had confided His secret to him, and had given him help so that he had been enlightened. Thus he had made the beginning, and thus he would set the final seal. He added that no one could derive power except from Allah. He wanted mankind to fear God. He exhorted the Muslims not to wage war except in the name of God and in the cause of Islam. He continued that after him there would be people who would accuse him of falsehood but ultimately the truth would prevail for he did not invite the people to anything else but towards God.

The Controversy
There is a good deal of controversy about the Holy Prophet's address at Khum Ghadir. But the fact is that the sayings of the Holy Prophet are a continuation of his life-long message and struggle in the light of the teachings of the Holy Quran the final Word of Allah. Whatever is compatible with it is only to be accepted.

Illness of the Holy Prophet
A short time after returning from the Farewell Pilgrimage the Holy Prophet fell sick. The poison which the Jewess had given to him at Khyber had slowly penetrated into his system and began to show its effect. The Holy Prophet felt that having fulfilled the mission entrusted to him by God, his earthly life was to end, and he was to meet his Master. One night when he had some respite the Holy Prophet accompanied by Ali went to the graveyard, and there prayed for the souls of his companions who had fallen in the Battle of Uhud. Then he returned to the apartment of his wife Maimuna. The exertion because of the visit to the graveyard had its effect, and the fever became violent. The Holy Prophet assembled all his wives and told them that on account of his sickness, it would not be possible for him to visit each wife in turn. He wanted their permission to stay in the apartment of Ayesha till he recovered. All the wives agreed to the proposal, and the Holy Prophet supported by Ali and Abbas moved to the apartment of Ayesha. The Holy Prophet directed that during his illness, Abu Bakr should lead the prayers.

The Holy Prophet's address
A day later the fever subsided and the Holy Prophet took a bath. Refreshed by the bath he felt some relief, and went to the mosque to offer the noonday prayer. At the conclusion of the prayer, the Holy Prophet took his seat on the pulpit to address the congregation. The Holy Prophet said: "There is a servant whose Lord has given him the option between the life on this earth, and the life hereafter in nearness to his Lord, and the servant has chosen the latter."

Thereupon tears trickled down from the eyes of the companions and they said, "Holy Prophet, how can we live without you".

The Holy Prophet continued: "O People! It has reached me that you are afraid of the approaching death of your prophet. Has any previous prophet lived forever among the people to whom he was sent, so that I should live forever among you. Behold, I am about to go to my Lord. You too will go there sooner or later."

After the address, the Holy Prophet retired to the quarter of Ayesha. The exertion had its effect, and the fever became violent again. The night following the seventh of June 632 C.E. lay heavy on him. He was overheard praying constantly to Allah for His blessings, the morning of the eighth June brought some relief, when the fever and pain somewhat subsided. Moving the curtain he saw the Muslims offering their prayers. The Holy Prophet supported by Ali walked to the mosque. The people made way for him, opening their ranks as he stepped forward. Abu Bakr stepped backward to vacate his seat for the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet told Abu Bakr by a motion of his hand to continue to lead the prayers.

After the conclusion of the prayers, the Holy Prophet took his seat on the pulpit. He said that he had heard that the people were objecting to send an expedition to the Syrian front under the command of Usama. He observed that their objection was not valid as Usama was fit to lead the expedition to avenge the death of his father. He exhorted the people to do what was lawful and to refrain from doing that which was unlawful. He said that he had not made lawful except that which God had declared lawful nor he had prohibited anything but that which God had forbidden.
The Muslims were happy to see the Holy Prophet in their midst. They felt that the Holy Prophet had recovered, and that there was no danger to his life. Thereafter the Holy Prophet returned to the apartment of Ayesha. The exertion had its effect. The condition of the Holy Prophet grew worse, and within a few hours he passed away.

The faithful assembled in the mosque. There was an air of uneasiness in the atmosphere. There was a whispering that the Holy Prophet of Islam was dead. There were suppressed sobs and sighs. What would happen to the Muslims when the great prophet was to be no longer in their midst was the thought that disturbed everybody. All eyes were turned to the quarter of Ayesha. The faithful had the fond hope that the door of the chamber would open any moment, and the Holy Prophet would emerge with his face radiating divine light.

In the courtyard of the mosque, Umar moved among the people and said: "Who says that the Holy Prophet is dead. I testify that he is alive and has gone to Allah like Moses, and would return to us after some time." Then Abu Bakr came and addressed the people, saying: "Listen to me, ye people. Those of you who worshipped Muhammad know that he is dead like any other mortal. But those of you who worship the God of Muhammad know that He is alive and would live forever." Thereafter Abu Bakr quoted the following verses from the Holy Quran: "Muhammad is but a Messenger. Messengers of God have passed away before him. What if he dies or is killed. Will you turn back upon your heels? And whosoever turns back upon his heels will by no means do harm to Allah."

The effect of the address of Abu Bakr was eletrica1. It appeared as if the people did not know of this verse of the Holy Quran until Abu Bakr had recited it.
According to the will of the Holy Prophet Ali and Abbas washed the body of the Holy Prophet and prepared it for burial. The Holy Prophet was buried in the chamber of Ayesha, where he had died. Ali was overwhelmed with grief at the death of the Holy Prophet. He expressed his grief in heart reading verses. He said: "May my parents be sacrificed on you, O Messenger of God, with your death things have come to an end which could not end thus with the death of any other person. The process of prophethood has come to an end. News of the Unseen have ceased, Revelations from Almighty have ceased. You gave a message of hope to the people. You showed them the right path. You are the savior of humanity. You established a new order. You established equality among the people. You ushered in a revolution. You were a guide when alive; you would be a guide even after death. If you had not ordered patience in hour of grief I would have shed tears of blood from my eyes. The entire world is dark without you. Your passing away is a great loss but we resign ourselves to the will of God. From God you came, and to God you have returned, May your soul rest in peace in proximity to God."

Election of Abu Bakr as the Caliph
After the death of the Holy Prophet when his body was still to be buried, the Ansars met at Saqifa Bani Sauda to urge that the successor to the Holy Prophet should be chosen out of them. When the Muhajireen came to know of this gathering, Abu Bakr, Umar, and some other Quraish leaders attended the meeting. The Ansars demanded that the Caliph should be elected out of them. When the Quraish made a counter claim, the Ansars suggested that one Amir be elected from among the Ansars, and another Amir from among the Muhajireen. The Muhajireen contended that such dual caliphate would lead to disunity in the ranks of the Muslims which would be against the interests of Islam. After a good deal of discussion, the Ansars gave way and Abu Bakr from among the Muhajireen was elected as the Caliph.

Ali's reaction to the election of Abu Bakr
In Nahj-ul-Balagha we come across certain passages which indicate the reaction of Ali to the election of Abu Bakr as the Caliph. When the meeting at Saqffa Bani Saada was brought to the notice of Ali by some one, Ali asked him as to what did the Ansar ask for. He was told that the Amir should be elected from them, and if the Muhajireen also desired the office, one Amir might be elected from the Ansar and one from the Muhajireen. Thereupon Ali said, "Was it not brought to their notice that the Holy Prophet had willed that after him the Ansar should be well treated, and if they made any lapse it should be overlooked. Ali was asked how did this will establish that the Caliph was not to be elected from among the Ansars. Ali said that if the Ansar were to have the caliphate there was no point in asking those in power to pay due regard to the Ansars did not arise. Ali then inquired as to what argument the Muhajireen had advanced in support of their claim to the caliphate. He was told that the Muhajireen based their claim on the ground that they belonged to the tree to which the Holy Prophet belonged. Thereupon Ali said, "What a pity that they look to the tree, but overlooked its fruit". The implication was that the Muhajireen should have offered the caliphate to him and not to anyone else.

In a passage in Nahj-ul-Balagha, Ali is said to have expressed his reaction to the election of Abu Bakr in the following terms: "The son of Abu Qahafa has assumed the mantle of the caliphate forcibly although he knew that I was essential for the caliphate as the handle is for the grinding stone which moves it. In Islamic learning I excel everyone else, and the caliphate should have come to me as a matter of course. At this disregard of my right I became confused. I began to think whether I should assert my claim, or whether I should practice forbearance and patience after a good deal of thinking I decided to adopt the later course".

Offer of allegiance to Ali by 1bn Abbas and Abu Sufyan
After Abu Bakr had been elected as the Caliph, Ibn Abbas and Abu Sufiyan approached Ali and offered him allegiance as the Caliph. Ali did not accept the offer on the ground that this would create dissentions among the Muslims. From a passage in Nahj-ul-Balagha wherein Ali is reported to have expressed his feelings at this stage in the following terms: "If I say something about the caliphate the people would say that I am ambitious for power. If I remain silent there are people who would say that I am afraid of death. I have suffered many wrongs. The people should have known that the son of Abu Talib is as much fond of death as the infant is fond of the milk of its mother. My silence is because of the secret which I alone knew. If I reveal the secret you will tremble and shudder as the strings binding a vessel shake when the vessel is lowered in the well."

Property of Fidak

After the conquest of Khyber, the Jews of Fidak a neighboring settlement had surrendered without say fight. They were offered the same terms as the Jews of Khyber. The Holy Prophet took over the property of the Jews at Fidak in his personal custody. The income from the property was earmarked by the Holy Prophet for meeting his household expenses, and for looking after the needy and the wayfarer. After the death of the Holy Prophet, Ali lodged a claim before Abu Bakr for the transfer of the property of Fidak to them. Abu Bakr did not accept the claim on the ground that according to a tradition of the Holy Prophet, prophets leave no inheritance, and whatever they leave belongs to the community as a whole. Abu Bakr declared that the property in question would remain in his custody but he would utilize the income therefrom for the same purposes as was the practice of the Holy Prophet. As a part of the income would be earmarked for meeting the expenses of the household of the Holy Prophet. Fatima and Ali would have their due share. This decision did not satisfy Fatima and Ali.

Activities of Ali during the caliphate of Abu Bakr
From the source books that have come down to us, we do not have a proper account of the activities of Ali during the caliphate of Abu Bakr. Unfortunately most of the accounts that are available are colored because of sectarian and partisan considerations. It appears that Ali did not take the oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr for some time and he remained aloof from the state politics. It appears that after the death of Fatima, Abu Bakr tried to console Ali in his grief, and win over his goodwill. It appears that Ali took the oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr some time after the death of Fatima and got reconciled to him. When Abu Bakr died, Ali in the funeral oration highly praised Abu Bakr. This shows that in the later part of the caliphate of Abu Bakr the relationship between Abu Bakr and Ali was cordial. Ali however did not take any part in the apostasy wars that were fought during the caliphate of Abu Bakr. It appears that Ali during the period confined his activities to domestic affairs and religious pursuits.

Death of Fatima
Fatima took the death of the Holy Prophet to heart, and she passed away in early 633 C E, barely six months after the passing away of the Holy Prophet. She was only twenty-nine years old at the time or her death. Her marriage lasted for a short period of eight or nine years only. During this period she gave birth to five children, three sons and two daughters. Her three sons were Hasan, Husain, and Mohsin. Mohsin died during infancy. Hasan was about seven years old while Husain was about six years old at the time of her death.

Ali's grief at the death of Fatima
Ali was much grieved at the death of Fatima. Her passing away so soon after the death of the Holy Prophet was a great blow for Ali. He felt disconsolate. He poured his grief in the following elegiac verses: "Afflicted as I feel with many a worldly disease. Verily, men in this world would suffer as long as they live in this vale of tears and sorrow. Verily, after the demise of the Holy Prophet, Fatima's loss has shown, that friends do not last forever. " In this hour of grief, Ali addressed the soul of the Holy Prophet in the following terms: "O Messenger of God please accept my greetings, and the greetings from your daughter who has hastened to join you. O Prophet of God my patience has been exhausted at her death. I am most distressed and disconsolate. At your death I suppressed my grief with great difficulty. I laid you in the grave with my own hands. Verily, from God you came and to God you have returned. We all belong to God and to Him we have to return. Fatima was a trust with me, which has now been taken away from me. My state of affairs will be told to you by your daughter. Please do inquire about me from her. Much time has not elapsed to your death, and the memory of your passing away is very much alive with me. I pay my greetings and respects to you. As I can expect relief in my distress only from you. If I move away from your grave, it will not be because of any indifference on my part and if I stay here, it will not be so because of having lost confidence in the promise that God has made to those who are patient." Ali used to visit the grave of Fatima frequently, and used to write verses to express his grief. On one occasion he wrote: "O thou grave, to thee I resort for paying homage to thee. "O thou, the repository of my beloved Thou answer me not. "O thou beloved tomb, what ails thee Thou respondeth not to my supplications. Art thou, out of humor, Because of the love that I bear thee. "

Married life of Ali and Fatima

The married life of Ali and Fatima did not extend beyond nine years. It was a happy union. Nevertheless there were differences between the pair occasionally. Once, after having quarreled with Fatima, Ali went to the mosque, and lay on bare earth. That made the Holy Prophet call Ali by the appellation of Abu Turab, Father of the earth. At one time, Ali entertained the idea of marrying a daughter of Abu Jahl. Fatima complained to the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet felt annoyed, and while addressing the people in the mosque he said that verily Fatima was part and parcel of him. If Ali wanted to marry the daughter of Abu Jahl, it was open to him to do so, but he should divorce Fatima in the first instance for the daughter of the Prophet, and the daughter of Abu Jahl could not live under the same roof. Thereupon Ali dropped the idea of marrying the daughter of Abu Jahl. There were some temperamental differences between Ali and Fatima, and the Holy Prophet always controlled Fatima to fall in line with the wishes of her husband for after her father he was the best of men.

Fatima Zahra-assessment
Fatima Zahra is regarded as one of the four perfect women of all times, the other three women being: Asiyah the wife of the Pharaoh of Egypt who mothered Moses; Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ; and Khadija the first wife of the Holy Prophet of Islam, and the mother of Fatima Zahra. One day Fatima inquired of the Holy Prophet why she was called Fatima. He said that it was so, because fire would not touch her soul. She was also called 'Batool", because she devoted herself all out to Allah and fervently followed the dictates of the Holy Prophet (pbub). Fatima resembled the Holy Prophet in countenance, in elegance of speech, and in general deportment. Whenever Fatima paid a visit to the Holy Prophet, he would kiss her on the forehead, and would make her sit on his seat. He would say, "Fatima is part of me, and whoever angers her angers me, and whoever injures her injures me. " It was the customary for the Holy Prophet that when he went on a journey the last person of whom he took leave was Fatima, and when he returned from the journey the first person he would see was Fatima. When the Holy Prophet was about to die, Fatima visited him. The Holy Prophet whispered to her something that made her weep. Then he again whispered something and Fatima laughed. She was asked what made her weep and laugh in succession. She did not disclose the secret but later. After the passing away of the Holy Prophet. Ayesha asked her about it and she said that she had wept on being informed of the impending end of the Holy Prophet, but laughed on his assurance that she was to join him soon.

When the Holy Prophet died, the whole world became dark for her. She wept and mourned the death of the Holy Prophet in pathetic verses She said: It is not wondrous that whoever smells the fragrance of Muhammad's tomb will never smell another perfume. Destiny hurt me with bereavement. So sad, and so dark, that if it had fallen on the days they would have been turned into eternal nights".

Ali's oration
When Abu Bakr died in 634 C.E., Ali delivered an oration which was not only a faithful summing up of the character and personality of Abu Bakr, but was also a masterpiece of oratory. The speech has been preserved, and quoted hereunder in full Mercy of God on you O Abu Bakr! You were an affectionate Companion and friend of the Prophet of Allah, a source of joy to him, and who knew his secrets, and enjoyed the privilege of being consulted by him. You were the first person to embrace Islam. You had the purest faith, and your belief in Islam was unshakable. Of all, you feared Allah most, and you were the source of the greatest advantage to his faith. You had been with the Prophet more than any one else, and your love for Islam was superior to others. A blessing to the Companions, you were the best of associates, master of many virtues, excelling others in accomplishments, and superior to all in position. You resembled the Holy Prophet more than any other person in the uprightness of character and conduct and in kindness and excellence. Your rank was noble, and your position sublime and you enjoyed the greatest confidence of the Prophet. May God reward you for your services to Islam and the Prophet. For the Prophet you were like his very sight and hearing. You corroborated the truth of his message at a time when everybody belied him; and so you were called "As-Sadiq' (the veracious) by Allah in His revelations. He says, 'The one who came with the Truth and the one who corroborated the truth. The One who came with the Truth was Muhammad, and the one who corroborated the Truth was Abu Bakr. You supported him when others had deserted, and you remained firm in helping him in misfortunes when others had withdrawn their support. In the days of hardship you were his best companion; you were the second of the two, and his companion in the Cave. You were the person on whom God conferred tranquillity of mind. You were the only companion of the Prophet in his migration to Madina, and you were his Caliph among his followers, and in the religion of Allah. You discharged the functions of the Khilafat in a most excellent manner at a moment when the people had taken to apostasy, and exhibited much firmness in enforcing the commands of Allah as had never been exhibited by the Khalifa of any other prophet. You rose to the occasion when your colleagues showed lassitude, and you became bold when they exhibited weakness. You were strong when they were weak. You retained your adherence to the ways of the Prophet when others had deviated from them. You were his true Caliph with no dispute or difference, although this gave offense to hypocrites, and umbrage to the infidels. You stuck to the commands of Allah when others showed cowardice. You remained firm when others went astray. You had the lowest voice, and the highest distinction. Your conversation was most salutary, and your reasoning was forceful. Your silence was longest in duration, and your speech was most eloquent. You were bravest among men, You were well informed about matters. Your action was most dignified. You were the leader of the believers. You came towards the faith when others were away from it. Indeed you acted 1ike a kind father to the believers, and your filial affection made them your children. You bore the heavy burden which they could not, and you preferred to do what they had omitted. You preserved that what they had lost. You taught them what they knew not. You took the risk when they were helpless. You did not lose patience, when they were inpatient. You redressed the grievances of those who asked for justice. They turned to you for guidance, and you guided them to success. They got through you what they had never dreamt of. For the infidels you were a source of terrible punishment and great fear. For the believers you were all kindness, affection and protection. You fed in the atmosphere of piety, you attained its noble reward, and won in superiority. Your argument was never weak and your judgment was never faulty. You were never guilty of cowardice, and your heart was never crooked or misdirected. You were like a rock which stands firm in the face of hard blows of dashing winds and waves. You were as the Prophet of Allah has said, the most generous of men in friendship and in giving money. Again as he said, you were weak in body, but strong in enforcing the commands of Allah. You were humble in your manners, but dignified in the estimation of God. You were great in the eyes of men, and you commanded respect with them. No one could even as much as wink at you, nor could any one taunt you. You were kind to all and partial to none. The weak and the humble were strong with you as you made secure their rights. The strong were weak and humble with you as you made them surrender the rights of others. No matter those who were near you, and those who were far from you were all equal. Those who obeyed and feared Allah were nearest to you. Your dignity lay in righteousness, truth and benevolence. Your word was imperative and definite. Your command was mild and cautious. Your judgment was fair and wise. You extirpated evil and made way for the Truth clear. You solved difficulties. You extinguished the fires of evil and discord. You brought moderation to the Faith, strength to belief, firmness to Islam and the Muslims, and triumph to the command of Allah. You were a source of grief to the infidels. Because of your extraordinary qualities, you have created difficulties for your successors who would have to work hard to maintain the standards set by you. Evidently, you attained a high position in doing good. You are far above mourning and lamentation. Mourning for you is great in the Heaven. Your death has broken the back bone of the people, and we recite the verse 'From God you came, and to God you have returned'. We submit to what has been ordained by Allah, and are ready to obey His commands. By Allah never shall the Muslims suffer after the death of the Prophet, a calamity greater than your death. You were a source of honor, protection and support to the Faith and for the believers you were a stronghold and a place of refuge. For the hypocrites you were all strictness and terror. May Allah take you near to your Prophet, and may He not deprive us of the fruits of your efforts and may we not be misled after you. We recite once again 'From God you came and to God you have returned'. May your soul rest in peace!"

Nomination of Umar as the Caliph
On his death bed, Abu Bakr nominated Umar as his successor. Ali not only took the oath of allegiance to Umar but also married his daughter Umm Kulthum to Umar, and quite contrary to the biased allegations, perfect cordiality prevailed between Ali and Umar. Ali held the office of the Chief Justice. He acted as the principal Counselor of Umar. He acted as Chief Secretary as well. The services of Ali were highly appreciated by Umar. In these circumstances the views expressed in some quarters that Umar was the worst enemy of Ali is far from truth and cannot be accepted.

Counsels of Ali in judicial matters

Umar frequently consulted Ali in judicial matters and the advice given by Ali was invariably followed. Once some persons while in the state of "Ihram" ate eight eggs of ostriches. The point that arose for consideration was as to how these men should atone for the wrong they had done. Umar sought the advice of Ali. Ali advised that these persons should mate eight camels with eight she camels, and their offspring should be sacrificed.

Once a mad woman was found guilty of adultery. Umar was inclined to punish the woman by being stoned to death. Umar sought the advice of Ali. He said that a mad person who had no control over the senses could not be declared guilty. The woman was accordingly let off.
A woman gave birth to a child six months after her marriage, She was accused of adultery. The case was referred to Ali. Ali advised that as there was no evidence of adultery the woman could not be punished merely on the ground that she had given birth to a child six months after the marriage. Ali observed that according to the Holy Quran the period from conception to the weaning of the child had been stated at thirty months, and at another place the period of the weaning of the child after birth had been stated to be two years. This means that though the normal period for the birth of a child is nine months, in some cases a child can be born after six months as well.

In the Shari'ah there were no specific orders for punishment in the case of drinking. The usual practice heretofore was that men found guilty of drinking were awarded forty lashes. It was found that this punishment was not deterrent. Umar sought the counsel of Ali. Ali observed that in the case of calumny a punishment of eighty lashes was prescribed. When a man drank he lost his senses and could indulge in calumny. Ali advised that for drinking the punishment should be the same as for the offense of calumny that is eighty lashes. This advice was accepted, and it was laid down that henceforward the punishment for drinking would be eighty lashes.
In view of the soundness of his judicial opinions, Ali was held by Umar to be the best judge. Umar paid the highest tribute to Ali when he said, "But for Ali, Umar would have been lost".

Claim to property

In the time of Abu Bakr, Ali and Fatima had lodged a claim for the Holy Prophet's property at Fadak. Abu Bakr had not accepted the claim on the ground that according to a tradition of the Holy Prophet, prophets have no heirs. In the time of Umar, Ali lodged a claim again for the Holy Prophet's property in Fidak and Madina. Umar upheld the decision of Abu Bakr with regard to the property at Fadak. He however transferred the Holy Prophet's property in Madina to Ali. Umar held that in Madina, the Holy Prophet had fraternized with Ali, and as such Ali had a share in such property. The property in Madina was transferred to Ali on the condition that after keeping his share, Ali should spend the rest of the income from such property in the way the Holy Prophet used to do. Umar held that the case of the Prophet at Fadak was different. It belonged exclusively to the Prophet and was marked for public purposes in which Ali had no fraternal share.

Ali's observations on the death of Umar

When Umar passed away, Ali mourned his death in the following terms: "May God bless the soul of Umar. He made things straight. He cured the malady. He enforced the Shari'ah. He established law and order. He was noble, virtuous, and free from faults. He availed of what was good of the caliphate and avoided what was evil thereof. He obeyed God, and served His cause well. After his passing away the people have taken to different paths where those who have strayed cannot find the way, and those who have followed the straight way cannot long keep it."

Election of Othman as the Caliph

At his death bed, Umar nominated a board of six members consisting of Zubair b Awwam, Saad b Abi Waqas, Abdur Rahman b Auf, Talha b Ubaidullah, Ali b Abu Talib and Othman b Affan. During his lifetime, the Holy Prophet had given tidings of Paradise to ten persons. The six persons nominated by Umar were the survivors of the original ten persons who had been given the tidings of Paradise during their lifetime. The four persons out of the blessed ten who had died by this time were Abu Bakr, Umar, Ubaidullah b Jarah and Saeed b Zaid. These six persons were required to elect one of themselves as the Caliph. When the board met, it ran into difficulties in electing the Caliph. Out of the six members, Zubair withdrew his candidature in favor of Ali. Talha withdrew his candidature in favor of Othman and Saad b Abi Waqas withdrew his candidature in favor of Abdur Rahman b Auf. This left three candidates in the field. Out of these three candidates Abdur Rahman b Auf decided to withdraw, leaving two candidates namely Othman and Ali. Abdur Rahman was appointed as the arbitrator to choose between the remaining two candidates, namely Othman and Ali. Both Othman and Ali undertook to abide by the decision of the arbitrator. Abdur Rahman b Auf deliberated over the matter, considered the relative merits of the candidates and also consulted the Companions. After such consultation, Abdur Rahman formed the impression that the majority of the people favored the election of Othman. Contacting the two candidates separately he put to them the question whether they would follow in the footsteps of the previous Caliphs. Ali said that he would do so as far as possible subject to his best judgment in the light of the Quran and Sunnah. Othman replied to the question in the affirmative without any reservation. Thereupon Abdur Rahman gave his verdict in favor of Othman who was acclaimed as the Caliph, and the people ordered the oath of allegiance to him. Ali offered the oath of allegiance to Othman. In Nabj-ul Balagha' there is a short statement of Ali which shows his reaction to the election of Othman. Ali is reported to have said. "All know that in the matter of the Caliphate, I am more qualified and deserving than any other person. Even though my claims have been ignored I will be motivated by considerations of selflessness in the interests of the solidarity of the Muslim Ummah. I acknowledge the new Caliph in the interests of the Muslim community, regardless of whatever hardships I may have to endure."

Activities of Ali during the caliphate of Othman
During the caliphates of Abu Bakr and Othman, Ali held the dual offices of Chief Justice as well as Chief Secretary. Othman conferred the office of the Chief Secretary on his cousin Marwan. Ali remained as the Chief Justice. He continued to be a member of the Majlisi-Shura. The accounts that have came down to us are mostly silent about the activities of Ali. In the various history books we come across the judgments that Ali delivered during the caliphate of Umar, and marvel at the highly developed sense of judgment of Ali. I have not come across any judgment delivered by Ali during the caliphate of Othman though Ali is said to have held the office of the Chief Justice during this period. Although the Hashimites and the Umayyads belonged to the same stock, there was rivalry between the two houses. After the death of Abdul Muttabb, power passed on to Umayyads who enjoyed greater wealth. When the Holy Prophet declared his mission, the Umayyads led the Quraish in hostility against the Holy Prophet and the Muslims. The Umayyads accepted Islam after the conquest of Makkah in 680 C.E. thereafter the Umayyads acknowledged the superiority of the Hashimites. This position lasted for a short period of two years only as the Holy Prophet died in 632 C.E. Abu Bakr and Umar who were elected as the Caliphs thereafter did not belong either to the Hashimite or Umayyad section of the Quraish. Othman was an Umayyad and during his caliphate the Umayyads gained in power at the cost of the Hashimite. There is a passage in Nabj-ul-Balagha wherein Ali complains that the Umayyads were withholding from him what was his due as the camelman withholds the like of the she camel from her young one. It appears that during the caliphate of Othman, Ali led a more or less retired life, and did not take any active part in politics. By this time Ali had four wives and a number of children. During this period Ali devoted most of his time to religious exercises and domestic activities. After the death of the Persian emperor Yezdjurd his daughters were taken captive, and brought to Madina. When put to open auction the oldest princess slapped the auctioneer on the face. Ali advised that it was not proper that such distinguished persons should be put to open auction. The proper line of action was that the standard price should be faced, and whosoever paid the amount should get the princess. Ali purchased two princesses. He married one of them to his son Husain and the other to his step son Muhammad bin Abu Bakr. This shows that by this time the financial condition of Ali had considerably improved.

The Revolt
During the first six years of the caliphate of Othman, the process of foreign conquests went apace, and the people were satisfied. During the later part of the caliphate of Othman, the process of foreign conquests came to a grinding halt and discontentment began to mount among the people. The government of Othman was accused of nepotism, corruption and inefficiency. A crisis was reached in 656 C.E. when the malcontents from Egypt, Kufa, and Basra marched to Madina to demand the redress of their grievances. A body of the mal-contents approached Ali and requested him to bring their grievances to the notice of the Caliph. Ali visited Othman and said: "O Caliph, the people bid me expostulate with you, yet what can I say to you, son-in-law as you were of the Holy Prophet and his bosom friend, and you already know what I know. The way lies plain and wide before you, but perhaps your eyes are closed and you cannot see it. If blood is once shed it will not cease to flow till the Day of Judgment. The right will be blotted, and treason would rage like the foaming waves of the sea."

Ali observed that the complaint of the people was that the Caliph had appointed his close relatives to the highest offices under the State. Othman stated that if he had appointed some of his relatives they were competent people who had delivered goods. He added that Muawiyah had been appointed as the Governor of Syria by Umar and not by him. Ali said that Umar kept the Governors under strict control but under him the Governors had become independent and they were doing what pleased them. Othman promised that he would make the necessary amends.

Inquiry into complaints

Othman deputed special emissaries to go to the provinces and inquire into the complaints of the people. Muhammad b Muslima was deputed to Kufa, Usama b Zaid to Basra, Abdul Rahman b Umar to Syria. and Ammar b Yaser to Egypt. Muhammad b Muslima; Usama b Zaid and Abdul Rahman b Umar reported that the complaints of the people were frivolous, and there was nothing wrong with the administration. Ammar b Yaser formed the view that the complaints of the people were genuine, and instead of returning to Madina he chose to stay in Egypt. On the occasion of the Hajj in 655 C.E. Othman asked those who had any grievance to come to Makkah when their complaints would be looked in. He asked the Governors of the various provinces to come to Makkah well prepared to meet the charges leveled by the people against the provincial administration. No complaints were made on the occasion of the Hajj keeping in view the sanctity of the occasion. When Othman returned from the pilgrimage the mal-contents from various provinces gathered in large numbers in Madina. These people contacted Ali, Talha and Zubair. Othman approached Ali to use his influence with the mal-contents to disperse. Ali approached the people, and they complained that the previous instructions issued by the Caliph to the Governor of Egypt had no effect, and they would not disperse unless the Governor was removed. Thereupon Othman agreed to pass orders for the removal of Abdullah b Abi Sarh the Governor of Egypt. This satisfied the mar-contents end they dispersed.

Assassination of Othman

After a few days the rebels returned to Madina again. They said that they had caught a slave of the Caliph who was carrying a letter to the Governor of Egypt asking him to execute the ring leaders of the rebels. The rebels brought this letter to Ali, who took it to Othman. Othman acknowledged that the letter bore his seal, but he denied all knowledge about the contents of the letter. According to one account the letter was in the handwriting of Marwan, Secretary to the Caliph. The letter remained a mystery, but the Caliph undertook to dismiss the officials at fault within three days. No action was taken within the stipulated period, and on the following Friday, Othman addressed the congregation. The Caliph criticized the rebels for having revolted against his authority and held that thereby they had invited the wrath of God, and in the Hereafter they would be doomed to hell. That led to a great uproar. The rebels threw stones at Othman who was wounded and was carried home in an unconscious state. Ali visited the Caliph, and tried to avert the crisis. The crisis deepened and the rebels blockaded the house of the Caliph. The siege lasted for some days. A rumor was circulated that the Caliph has asked the provincial governors to send some troops to Madina. When the rebels came to know that troops might soon arrive in Madina, they broke into the house of the Caliph and assassinated him. That was a tragedy too deep for tears which cast a dismal shadow on the subsequent history of Islam.

Anarchy

After the assassination of Othman, a state of anarchy came to prevail in the affairs of Madina. There was no government. The rebels let loose a reign of terror, and the peaceful citizens of Madina chose to remain indoors. The rebels were divided into three groups, namely the Egyptians, the Kaufmanns, and the Basrites. Although they had made common cause in the Assassination of Othman they differed among one another on other points. After four days, the rebels decided to return to their homes, but they felt that in their interests it was necessary that the new Caliph should be chosen before they left Madina. In the matter of the election of the Caliph, there were differences among the rebels. One group favored the election of Ali, another group favored the election of Talha and yet another group favored the election of Zubair. It appears that at this stage, the people of Madina themselves hat lost the initiative, and they were completely at the mercy of the rebels. Among the rebels themselves there was no outstanding leader whose opinion could prevail. Things were in a state of complete confusion.

No candidate for election

The Egyptians waited on Ali, and requested him to accept the office of the Caliph. He declined the offer and said that someone else should be elected as the Caliph. He assured them that whosoever was elected as the Caliph he would pay allegiance to him. Some prominent companions of the Holy Prophet also waited on Ali, and tried to persuade him to accept the office. Ali thanked them for their regard of him, but did not agree to accept the office. On the refusal of Ali, the rebels contacted Zubair and Talha, and offered them the caliphate. Like Ali, they also refused to accept the office. The rebels next approached the Ansars, and requested them to choose a Caliph from among themselves. They too refused the offer. They were of the opinion that in the presence of Ali, no one else deserved to be elected as the Caliph. The rebels waited on Ali again, and tried to persuade him to reconsider his decision. He maintained his previous decision and persisted in declining the offer. The rebels next approached Saad b Abi Waqas, Saeed b Zaid, and Abdullah b Umar to accept the caliphate. All of them refused to accept the office. There was now a complete deadlock in the matter of the election of the Caliph. The rebels thereupon gave the ultimatum that unless the people of Madina chose the Caliph within the next twenty-four hours they would be forced to take some drastic action.

Election of Ali

In order to resolve the deadlock, all the Muslims assembled in the Prophet's mosque. The people raised slogans in favor of Ali. The leader of the Egyptian rebels took the stage. He said they had risen against the caliphate of Othman because the administration had become loose, and the grievances of the people had piled up. He added that it was necessary that the Muslims should choose a new Caliph in succession to Othman, and the man they should choose for the office should be conspicuous for his learning, bravery, piety and nearness to the Holy Prophet. He observed that Ali was the only person who fulfilled these qualities. Thereafter he went to Ali, requested him to stretch his hand. When Ali stretched his hand the people rushed to offer allegiance to him. This process went on for several hours, and the people vociferously welcomed the election of Ali as the Caliph.

The Dissidents

Although Ali was elected by an overwhelming majority there were some persons who abstained from offering him their allegiance The Umayyads by and large abstained from participating in the process of election. After the assassination of Othman most of them had escaped to Syria. The few Umayyads who were still in Madina remained in their homes. Saad b Abi Waqas did not offer any allegiance, but he assured Ali that he had no ill will against him, and his failure to take the oath of allegiance should not be construed as an act of any disloyalty to him. Abdullah b Umar abstained from offering allegiance, but he assured Ali that no harm could be expected from him. The men of "Ahl-i-Safa" of the Sufi bent of mind abstained from offering allegiance as they were not interested in politics. Talha and Zubair remained absent. There is some difference in the account pertaining to the allegiance of these two companions. According to one account they did not offer any allegiance to Ali, and slipped away from the city at the time when the other people had gathered in the mosque. According to another account, the rebels fetched Talha and Zubair to the mosque, and made them offer allegiance to Ali. According to one account the hand that Talha offered in allegiance to Ali was maimed and disfigured because of wounds received in the various wars. This was regarded as a bad augury by some of the persons assembled in the mosque.

Address of Ali

After his election, Ali addressed the people. He said that he had no intention to accept the office of the Caliph, but as the office had been forced on him he would do his best to discharge the duties of the office according to the commandments of God and the traditions of the Holy Prophet. He pointed out that a generation had passed since the demise of the Holy Prophet, and during this period the Muslim polity had come to be plagued with dissension and discord. He observed the events that had culminated in the assassination of Othman were most deplorable and regrettable. He said that it would be his endeavor to purge Islam of all the evils from which had come to suffer in the past. He made it clear that towards this end he would have to administer law and order with a stern hand. He warned all concerned that he would tolerate no sedition and found guilty of subversive activities would be dealt with harshly. He advised the people to mend their ways and behave as true Muslims. Ali was not the man to mince words. He felt disgusted with the state of political affairs and spoke in strong bitter terms.

Helplessness of Ali

The caliphate of Ali had a shaky start. In spite of his determination to set things right, Ali soon found that he was helpless, and was the prisoner of forces which he could not control. When after his inaugural address, Ali was about to retire to his house, the rebels approached him and said: "O Caliph, beware that we are the people who would pursue things to the bitter end. We can turn things upside down and wreck regimes." Ali asked them not to indulge in such vainglorious boasts and should return to their camps. The rebels chose to remain quiet, but Ali could very well see a look of defiance in their eyes.

As Ali came home, he felt very unhappy. The caliphate had taken very long to come, and when it came, it came in the wrong way. The caliphate had come to him as the gift of the rebels and he could not take any action against them. On the other hand he was so helpless at the outset of his caliphate that he could not do anything against the wishes of the rebels.

At his house his son Imam Hasan, and his cousin Abdullah b Abbas advised him to leave Madina and retire to some place of safety in the desert. Their view was that he should let things settle down and in course of time the people would themselves come to him and assure him of their loyalty. There was a good deal of weight in what Abdullah b Abbas and Imam Hasan said, but Ali could not make up his mind to fall in line with the action proposed by them. Ali a man conspicuous for his valor thought that it would be an act of cowardice on his part to run away from the office which he had once accepted. He said that he would face the situation, however grim, in complete trust in God.

The Controversy
Unfortunately, after the death of the Holy Prophet, the caliphate issue became a source of controversy among the Muslims, and has led to sectarian differences thereby adversely affecting the solidarity of the Ummah. There is a school of thought which holds that Ali alone had the right to succeed the Holy Prophet, and that the three Caliphs Abu Bakr, Umar, and Othman were usurpers. Another school of thought which commands majority does not subscribe to this view. We may examine some salient aspects of the issue.

Right to succeed
The basic point for consideration is, whether any right in fact accrued to Ali to succeed the Holy Prophet. It may be recalled that when Abu Bakr was deputed by the Holy Prophet as "Amir-ul-Hajj" (the Leader of the Pilgrimage), and the verses of the Holy Quran entitled "Declaration of Immunity" were revealed subsequently, Ali was commissioned to proceed to Makkah to announce these verses to the people assembled on the occasion of the pilgrimage. Abu Bakr remained the "Amir-ul-Hajj", and he presided over all the ceremonies connected with the Hajj, but the verses about the "Declaration of Immunity" were announced by Ali. It was later clarified by the Holy Prophet that a divine message had to be communicated to the people either by himself personally or by a member of his family. That brings out the point that while a divine message could be communicated by a member of the household of the Holy Prophet alone, any other office could be held by any other person. As the Holy Prophet was the last of the prophets, and there was to be no prophet after him that was the end of the divine mission. As the divine mission came to an end with the death of the Holy Prophet the grounds with reference to which Ali could claim preference in the matter of succession ceased to exist.

Will of the Holy Prophet
We have next to consider whether the Holy Prophet made any will about his succession. Everything about the activities of the Holy Prophet including the minutest details is fully documented. No will of the Holy Prophet is on record, and as such it is a fact that the Holy Prophet made no will. it is alleged in some quarters that before his death the Holy Prophet had expressed the desire to record his will, but Umar frustrated the attempt by declaring that the Holy Quran was enough for them. Ayesha refuted this allegation and observed that the Holy Prophet did not express any desire to record his will.

It may be recalled that oven during his illness the Holy Prophet attended the mosque on two occasions, and addressed the people. On one occasion he reprimanded the people for their objection to the command of an expedition against Syria by Usama b Zaid. If the Holy Prophet in spite of his illness could advocate the causes of Usama's command, he could have advocated the cause of the successor of Ali as well, if he had so desired.

Another point that arises for consideration in this respect is whether the failure to record the will was an omission or was it deliberate? The Holy Prophet did not pass away suddenly; he had ample time to settle his affairs before his death. Even at the Farewell Pilgrimage three months before his death, he knew that his end was near. He had been sent by God to complete his mission. If the nomination of a successor was to be a part of the divine mission with which he had been entrusted, he would have nominated a successor to complete his mission. As he did not nominate a successor, and as his mission had been completed, it means that the nomination of a successor was no part of his mission. After him, whosoever was to succeed him was to be temporal ruler only, and the right to choose such ruler vested in the people this means that the Holy Prophet did not nominate his successor deliberately. Obviously the intention was that the people should elect their leader themselves. Allah Himself declared that He had chosen Islam as the religion for the people, and the Muslims were the best of community. It cannot, therefore, be said that what happened in the matter of succession was an omission on the part of the Holy Prophet or disinterestedness on the part of Allah (God forbid).

Will of Allah
It is our faith that all that happened had the sanction of Allah and was in accordance with His Will. This is evident from the fact that during the caliphate of Abu Bakr and Umar, extensive conquests were made which changed the course of history. It was nothing short of a miracle that the Arabs of the desert overpowered the mighty kingdom of Persia in the east, and the empire of the Byzantines in the west. This would not have been possible if the blessings of God were not with the regime, which had come to be established after the death of the Holy Prophet. When God favored these Caliphs, it hardly lies in the mouth of anyone to say that they were usurpers.

Islamic Concept of office

According to the traditions, the Holy Prophet said in definite terms that he who seeks an office does not deserve it. It is, therefore, difficult to believe that Ali coveted the office of the caliphate at any stage. There are some passages in Nahj-ul-Balagha which show that Ali did not covet the office, but he held that the caliphate was his right. There is ample evidence in Nahj-ul-Balagha to the effect that Ali felt embittered at the election of Abu Bakr, Umar, or Othman. According to one passage, Ali is reported to have said that the son of Abu Qahafa (Abu Bakr) had worn the mantle of the caliphate forcibly although he knew that he (Ali) was as essential for the caliphate the handle is necessary for moving the grinding stone. There is some confusion on the point whether Ali considered himself to be the most deserving person to be the caliph. If the Holy Prophet had nominated Ali as his successor he would have automatically become the Caliph, and question of election by the people would not have arisen. As the Holy Prophet had made no nomination, the caliph had necessarily to be chosen by the people. Where the choice vested with the people, it was for the people to elect whosoever they deemed fit, and no person can claim to have the right to be chosen. In the circumstances, the position of Ali vis a vis the caliphate is vague. it is not clear on what basis it can be held that Ali had the right to be elected as the Caliph, and that if any other person had been elected as the Caliph, his right had been usurped.

Relationship of Ali with his predecessors
It appears that Ali did not take the oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr immediately. He however took the oath after some time. In his oration at the funeral of Abu Bakr, Ali spoke in glowing terms about Abu Bakr both as man and a caliph. When Abu Bakr nominated Umar as his successor Ali did not feel happy at the nomination. He, however, took the oath of allegiance to Umar. Ali even married his daughter to Umar, and the relationship between Ali and Umar was throughout cordial. When Othman was elected as the caliph Ali took the oath of allegiance to him. When Ali offered allegiance to his predecessors the implication is that he acknowledged their caliphate, and waived his own right to the caliphate even if he had any claim. When Ali himself acknowledged these Caliphs, it is not clear how does it lie in the mouth of anyone to say that these Caliphs were usurpers.

Nature of the issue
In our study of the issue of the caliphate, we have to consider the question of the nature of the issue. That question to be considered is whether the election of the Caliph is a religious or a political issue. The commandments of religion are contained in the Holy Quran and the Sunnah. There is no mention about the Ca1iph in the Holy Quran and the Sunnah. In the Holy Quran the word "Caliph" has been used with reference to Man in general when he is said to be the Caliph of God. This means that the people in general are the Caliph of God. The Caliph to be the Head of the State is a political functionary only. Political issues must necessarily be limited to the milieu in which they arise, and political issues cannot be kept alive for indefinite period. In Islam the State and the Church are not separate. This merely means that in an Islamic State the political affairs would be administered in accordance with the injunctions of Islam. It does not mean that every political issue would become a religious issue. A religious issue must be directly based on the Quran and the Sunnah, and any political issue cannot become part of religion. Election of a functionary is for a limited period, and when that period is over all disputes about the election come to an end. Even if it is conceded that Ali should have succeeded the Holy Prophet in preference to any other person, the controversy should have ceased with the close of the rule of the rightly guided Caliphs. To keep this political issue alive for all times and make it a ground for sectarian differences does not appear to be in accord with the spirit of Islam. Even if Ali did not get the caliphate, he did get the caliphate after all, and with his assumption of the caliphate, the controversy about the validity or otherwise about the election of the previous Caliphs should have come to an end being time barred.

Cry for vengeance for the blood of Othman
After Ali had assumed office, the rebels left for their home towns. The departure of the refuels brought no peace to the city of Madina. The Umayyads who bad consolidated their position in Syria raised the cry of vengeance for the blood of Othman. The blood stained clothes of Othman, and the fingers of his wife, Naila, which had been cut by the rioters while she defended were exhibited in the mosque at Damascus. The Umayyads incited the emotions of the people to a high pitch and they declared with due solemnity that they would not rest content until the death of Othman had been avenged. The cry of the Umayyads raised in Damascus found its echo in Madina and Makkah as well, and many persons in Madina and Makkah also joined the chorus for vengeance for the blood of Othman. Talha and Zubair two prominent companions who had taken the oath of allegiance to Ali supported the call for vengeance. Even Ayesha, the favorite wife of the Holy Prophet joined the camp which raised the cry for vengeance.

Nature of the crime of the assassination of Othman
The assassination of Othman was a very tragic event in the annals of Islam. Particular sanctity is attached to the office of the Caliph, and if the Caliphs were to be murdered in cold blood as in the case of Othman, that boded ill for the Muslim polity. According to the Islamic law the heirs of a dead person have the right to claim blood money (Qasas) for such murder. It is the obligation of the State to enforce such right. In view of this legal position, the heirs of Othman had a prima facie case to claim vengeance for the murder of Othman. The law of "Qasas" applies in a normal case of murder when the person committing the murder can be apprehended. When the case is complex, and murder cannot be attributed to a particular person or persons, the law of Qasas would not apply in the conventional sense. The assassination of Othman was not a simple murder, it was in fact a revolt and coup d'etat. The natural law is that where a revolt fails, the rebels have to pay for such revolt with their lives. On the other hand where the revolt succeeds, the rebels capture power, and there is no question of taking any action against them for they are the victors, and the victors cannot be galled to account for any bloodshed that they might have caused necessary for their victory. In this case the revolt against Othman had been successful; Othman had been killed and the power had been captured by the rebels. The rebels voluntarily transferred the power captured by them to the people, and asked them to elect the Caliph. The people elected Ali as the Caliph. The people in this case exercised the power delegated to them by the rebels, and as such Ali owed his election to the rebels. In the circumstances the cry for vengeance for the blood of Othman had become infructuous and it could not be raised before Ali.

Proposal to depose the provincial governors
On assuming the caliphate, Ali decided to depose the provincial governors appointed by Othman, and appoint new Governors in their stead. Some of the Governors like Muawiyah in Syria had been in office for more or less twenty years and had grown too powerful. Such concentration of power in a single person was fraught with danger to the body politics, and Ali felt that in the interests of the State it was necessary that there should be a change in the provincial governors. As a matter of fact one of the main allegations against Othman which had triggered off the revolt was nepotism in the appointment of Governors. Ali felt that even if Othman had any justification for the appointment of his favorites as Governors, such justification was no longer there after his death. As such a change was necessary in general interest. Because of the unfortunate revolt against Othman, the administration stood shattered in some parts of the country. For the proper rehabilitation of administration a change in personnel was essential. Ali had noticed that for some time past the Muslims had departed from the austere way of the life of Islam, and had taken to the luxurious way of living borrowed from the non-Muslims. Ali had a program for the restoration of Islam to its pristine purity. For the implementation of such program likely to have political, religious and social repercussions it was necessary that Ali should have, as the provincial heads, persons in whom he had confidence and who could be depended upon to carry out his policies into action. Ali did not wish to give the impression that he intended to victimize any particular individual; his proposal accordingly envisaged the deposition of all the existing Governors and their replacement by new men of established integrity.

Mughira b Shuaba
Mughira b Shuaba was considered to be a wise man among the Arabs. He advised Ali that he should not take the hasty step of deposing all the Governors at the outset of his caliphate. He suggested that Ali should bide his time, and he should transfer or depose the Governors after he had consolidated his own position. Ali advanced his arguments in justification of the proposal to depose the Governors. The discussion lasted for a few hours, but it proved to be indecisive. Ali did not agree with the view of Mughira. The meeting on the first day came to close with the observation that they would meet the following day and reconsider the matter. When Mughira came to see Ali the following day, he said that he had reconsidered the matter and he had come to the conclusion that provincial governors should be deposed forthwith.

Abdullah b Abbas
Abdullah b Abbas, a cousin of Ali came to see him from Makkah. Ibn Abbas was very emphatic in his counsel that Ali should not take the hasty steps of deposing the Governors. He said that with the assassination of Othman the prestige of the central government had fallen low, and it was necessary that its prestige should be re-established before any attempt was made to remove the Governors. Ibn Abbas observed that in principle Ali was right that he should have Governors who enjoyed his confidence, but in view of the unsettled conditions when the people in the provinces, particularly Syria, had yet to take the oath of allegiance to him. The proper course was that the orders for the deposition of the Governors should be held up till the people in all the provinces had taken the oath of allegiance to him. He said that Muawiyah was strongly entrenched in power in Syria, and it any orders for his deposition were passed he would defy them. Ali said that he wanted him Ibn Abbas to be appointed as the Governor of Syria. Ibn Abbas said that he could not accept the appointment, for Muawiyah would not allow him to take charge. The difficulty in this respect, was that, while Muawiyah had a force at his disposal, the central government had no force at its disposal at that stage to take the field if any provincial governor chose to defy the orders of the Caliph. Ali observed that Mughira had originally offered advice against the deposition of the Governors but on reconsideration he had favored the proposal for the deposition of the governors. Ibn Abbas said that the advice that he had offered in the first instance was based on sincerity, and he withdrew his advice because of some ulterior motives.

Orders for the deposition of Governors
In spite of what Ibn Abbas advised, Ali issued orders for the deposition of the Governors. Ali appointed Suhail b Hanif as the Governor of Syria; Saad b Ubaidah as the Governor of Egypt; Ummara b Shahab as the Governor of Kufa; Othman b Hanif as the Governor of Basra; and Abdullah b Abbas as the Governor of Yemen. When the nominee of Ali went to Basra, he was able to assume the charge, and no resistance was offered to him. Similarly there was no resistance to the new Governor in Egypt, and he assumed charge without any difficulty. Abdullah b Abbas succeeded in assuming the charge in Yemen, but the previous Governor escaped to Makkah and carried away the entire treasure with him. When the nominee of Ali for the governor of Syria reached Tabuk on the border of Syria, he was met by the Syrian force, who advised him to go back as they did not acknowledge Ali as the Caliph. Similarly the nominee of Ali to the governor ship of Kufa had to return to Madina after having failed to assume the charge of his office.

Defection of Syria and Kufa

Thus at the outset of his rule as Caliph Ali had to face a crisis. The failure of the nominees of Ali to assume charge implied a political schism in the body politics of Islam. The situation that emerged on the ground was that the Governors appointed by Ali assumed office in Egypt, Basra and Yemen, and the people in these provinces took the oath of allegiance to Ali. The people of Kufa took the oath of allegiance to Ali, but did not want any change in their Governor, and they made the nominee of Ali go back. Syria refused to acknowledge the authority of Ali. In Makkah the position was confused. In Makkah some persons offered allegiance to Ali, but the majority of the Quraish withheld their allegiance to Ali. It appears that at that stage, Ali did not appoint a Governor for Makkah, and the Governor appointed by Othman continued in office. He did not offer allegiance to Ali. Syria was definitely hostile to Ali. Kufa was not hostile, but as the people of Kufa had played a leading role in the assassination of Othman and the election of Ali, they wanted that Ali should be subservient to them. Makkah did not want to defy Ali, but it did not want to support him either. At the outset of his caliphate Ali had to force an administrative crisis in the country. Among the historians there is some controversy on the point whether in the deposition of Governors' Ali acted rashly or otherwise. Some of the writers have taken the view that as advised by Ibn Abbas be should have bided his time and deferred the deposition of Governors. If we study the question in the light of what happened subsequently we arrive at the conclusion that there was nothing wrong in what Ali did. Muwayiah had no intention of owing allegiance to Ali and if had been allowed to carry on as a Governor of Ali, he would have been a source of greater trouble for Ali. By such deposition, Ali we able to establish his authority in a greater part of the country. If Ali had succeeded in consolidating his rule in those provinces where his nominees held the office, he could have overpowered Syria without much difficulty. Unfortunately other complications took place, and Ali had to face trouble oven in provinces where his Governors held office.

Challenge for Ali

The failure of the nominees of Ali to assume office as the Governors of Syria and Kufa was a great challenge for Ali. Musa, the Governor of Kufa, tried to temporize though he acknowledged the authority of Ali. In Syria the story was different. To start with the stand of Muawiyah was that he would acknowledge the caliphate of Ali after those who were responsible for the assassination of Othman had been brought to book. Ali sent an emissary to Muawiyah to explain to him the position. He assured him that every possible effort would be made to trace the murderers of Othman. He observed that this would need some time. He wanted the support of Muawiyah in tracing the culprits. He advised that in the meantime, Muawiyah should step aside from the office of the Governor and cooperate with the nominee of the central government in the interests of the solidarity of Islam. He pointed out that any dissentions among the Muslims at the stage would work to the advantage of the enemies of Islam.

Muswiyah detained the emissary of Ali for over three months. In the meantime he whipped up his propaganda campaign exploiting the murder of Othman. He sent his agents to Makkah, and other parts of the country to relate the story of the assassination of Othman in pathetic terms, and win the sympathy of the people. As the propaganda gathered momentum Ali came to be accused of being an accomplice in the murder of Othman. The burden of the propaganda was that as the hands of Ali were dyed with the blood of Othman he was not qualified to be the Caliph, and those who had withheld their allegiance to him were justified in their refusal to acknowledge his authority.

After three months, Muawiyah allowed the emissary of Ali to return to Madina. He said that he would be sending his own emissary with a message for Ali. The letter of Muawiyah was brought to Madina by a Bedouin chief Kabisa. The cover bore the address "From Muawiyah to Ali". When the cover was opened, it contained a blank paper with no writing thereon. In a fit of anger, Ali asked the bearer what did that mean? Kabisa pleaded for the safety of his life before he could answer the question. Ali said that he was free to speak, and he had his promise of safety. On this assurance the messenger said: "Know you then that there are no less than 60,000 Syrians whose beards are wet with tears, and who are rallying around Othman's bloody shirt which they have made their war standard, have armed themselves and are bent on avenging the murder of Othman".
On hearing these words the anger of Ali knew no bounds but he controlled his anger and said,

 "This is pure sedition." Someone from among the congregation shouted "Kill the Syrian messenger for his impudence," At this Kabisa took to heels and retorted, "Four thousand chosen warriors are near at hand. Take care of your homes and hearths." Ali said to the envoy, "Be gone, for I have promised you the safety of your life".

Kabisa went away, but the defiant attitude of Muawiyah was a great challenge for Ali. To those of the Muslims who were present in the mosque, Ali addressed in the mosque in the following terms: "Beware! Satan has gathered his forces. His army is multiplying. By his wiles, Satan is attracting the people to him. Their propaganda is a tissue of lies. Their accusations against me are most unjust and unfair. They demand from me the right which they themselves had abandoned. They demand from me blood for blood which they themselves have shed. Their repeated demand for taking vengeance from the murderers of Othman is like demanding milk from a woman which has dried up. He who invites me to war should know that under all circumstances I will follow the teachings of the Holy Quran and the Prophet. If they refuse to abide by the injunctions of Islam the sword which helps the upholders of truth, and destroys the mischief makers would decide the issue. It is surprising that in spite of their stand on falsehood they give me the challenge of war. May God curse them. War can never frighten me to abandon the truth. I am not afraid of death. I will live for Islam and die for Islam. "

Proclamation of Jihad
In order to meet the challenge of Muawiyah Ali ordered the raising of levies with a view to undertaking an expedition against Syria. Dispatches were sent to the various provincial governors to send reinforcements and provide whatever succor they could. Ali as Caliph issued the decree of Jihad and exhorted the people to join the campaign in large numbers for the vindication of the truth of Islam. When the Muslims of Madina gathered in the mosque, he addressed them in the following terms: "Now or never If you fail to fight you will lose power, and these accursed schismatics will destroy the solidarity of Islam. I have, however, high hopes in the mercy of God, Who will set right that which these people are bent on setting wrong."

The appeal did not have the desired result, and the response to Ali's call to arms in the defense of Islam was poor. Ali felt grieved at the apathy of the people of Madina to Jihad. He called a special gathering of the people of Madina in the Prophet's mosque, and addressed them on the importance of Jihad. His speech is preserved in the collection of his writing bearing the title Nahj-ul-Balagha. He addressed the people in the following terms: "Jihad is one of the doors of heaven. God opens it for his friends. It is the dress of piety. It is a useful and beneficial armor with which the faithful should be equipped. It is a strong shield for the believers. If a man gives it up, God will make him wear the robes of disgrace and shame. He will be the victim of misfortune. He will be dishonored. Beware! I urge you to take up arms against the upholders of falsehood. I want you to attack them before they attack us. By God! Know that those who shift their responsibilities to others court ruin and disaster. Know that Muawiyah has attacked Amber with his cavalry and has killed Hasan b Hasan Balcri the chief of that place. I am told that one of his soldiers entered a house, and took away ornaments and jewels of the lady of the house. It is both surprising and heartrending. Followers of Muawiyah are misguided and mistaken, yet they are united, and though you are the upholders of a true cause, you are disunited and divided. How sad that they kill you and you cannot destroy them. They fight against you and you evade fighting. The commandments of God are being defied and sins are being committed in open daylight, and you see these things as passive onlookers. When I ask you to march in the summer season, you request me to delay the expedition till the hot season is over, when I ask you to march in the winter, you complain of excessive cold, and want me to postpone the campaign till the cold season is over. These are lame excuses. If you are afraid of the excessive heat or cold, you are apt to run away at the sight of the sword. O men, you do not deserve to be called men. By God, I am ashamed at the sight of you. May God destroy you. You have broken my heart you have made me lose my temper. You have upset all my plans through your sins and disobedience. You have always made me drink the draught of sorrow. The Quraish now say that the son of Abu Talib is undoubtedly brave, but he is ignorant of the art of war. Is there any one from amongst their ranks who was more steadfast in war than me? I have been fighting in wars when I was barely twenty years old and now I am sixty. I do not know what should I do with you, for suggestions and plans are of lime value to men who do not act upon them."

From the historical accounts and the biographies of Ali that have come down to us, it is not very clear what exactly happened which made Ali address the people of Madina in such strong and bitter words. Reading between the lines of the speech of Ali, it seems that he felt annoyed with the attitude of the people of Madina, and he even reproached and cursed them. It appears that Ali had a plan for an immediate attack on Syria. But the plan did not materialize as adequate response from the people of Madina was not forthcoming. From the account of Tabari it appears that Ali had in fact given an order for the march to Syria. He had handed over the war standard to his son Muhammad b Hanifa. He had appointed Abdullah b Abbas, Umar b Abi Salma, and Abu Laila b Umar b Al Jarah as his Generals to command the various wings of the army. Ali was to lead the army in person and he had appointed Qatam b Abbas as the Governor of Madina during his absence. The people of Madina were loath that the Muslims should fight among themselves, and before the army of Ali could march to Syria many persons chose to withdraw. In the circumstances for one reason or the other, the expedition to Syria was delayed, and this delay worked to the advantage of Muawiyiah and the disadvantage of Ali. Things became further difficult when Ali had to face another crisis, namely the defection of Talha and Zubair who had sworn allegiance to him.

Talha and Zubair

Talha and Zubair were two eminent companions of the Holy Prophet. Talha belonged to the Taim section of the Quraish. Talha became a Muslim at the young age of fifteen. He took part in the battles fought under the command of the Holy Prophet. He played a conspicuous part in the Battle of Uhud, and received many wounds in warding off the attacks on the Holy Prophet. He was married to a daughter of Abu Bakr. He was a magnate and was very rich. His daily income is reported to be over a thousand dirhams. He was critical of the administration of Othman and was popular with the rebels from Basra. After the assassination of Othman the rebels offered him the caliphate, but he declined the offer on account of the uncertainty of the situation.
Zubair b Al Awwam was a nephew of Khadija. His mother Safia was a paternal aunt of the Holy Prophet. He was thus a first cousin of the Holy Prophet. He fought in most of the battles of early Islam. He was a rich merchant. He was popular with the people of Kufa, and when Othman was assassinated the rebels from Kufa approached him to accept the caliphate in succession to Othman. He declined the offer because of the uncertainty of the situation. The Holy Prophet gave tidings of paradise to ten of his companions during their lifetime, and these ten included Talha and Zubair.

Talha and Zubair's oath of allegiance to Ali
When Ali was elected as the Caliph both Talha and Zubair took the oath of allegiance to him. Accounts differ as to the circumstances under which they took the oath of allegiance to Ali. According to one account they took the oath of allegiance to Ali voluntarily and were the first persons to take such oath. According to another account they took the oath of allegiance to Ali subject to the condition that they were to share power with Ali. According to yet another account when the oath of allegiance to Ali was taken in the mosque, Talha and Zubair shut themselves in their houses, but the rebels took them from their houses to the mosque and forced them to take the oath of allegiance to Ali. Talha had received many wounds in the wars, and his hand was mangled. When Talha offered his allegiance with the mangled hand, some of the Arabs prone to omens felt that such oath with a mangled hand did not augur well for the future.

Defection of Talha and Zubair

When the oath of allegiance was taken to Ali, the state of affairs in Madina was not normal. The majority of the Muslims in Madina took the oath of allegiance, but a few persons abstained from taking the oath. These included Saad b Abi Waqas; Abdullah b Umar; Usama b said; and Muhammad b Musalama Ansari. They, however, assured Ali that they would not create any trouble for him. On such assurance, Ali did not press for their allegiance.

As the crisis in Madina deepened, and Ali gave the call for military action against Muawiyah, even the people who had taken the oath of allegiance did not respond to the call. The people of Madina were generally loath that the Muslims should fight against Muslims. Talha and Zubair met Ali and suggested to him that if one of them was appointed as the Governor of Kufa and the other was appointed as the Governor of Basra they would help in the consolidation of his rule. Ali did not accept the offer. He preferred to appoint his own men as the provincial Governors. He told Talha and Zubair that he wanted them to remain at Madina by his side as his Counselors. Frustrated in their attempt to get governorships, Talha and Zubair felt embittered. They requested Ali to permit them to go to Makkah for performing the Umra. Ali refused the permission on the ground that he wanted their presence in Madina in public interest. Thereupon Talha and Zubair escaped from Madina secretly. At Makkah, Talha and Zubair joined Ayesha. Both of them were related to Ayesha. One sister of Ayesha was married to Zubair and another sister was married to Talha.

Ali's letter to Talha and Zubair
Ali felt much disturbed at the defection of Talha and Zubair. He felt that Talha and Zubair had defected under some misunderstanding. He decided that instead of taking any punitive action against them, an effort should be made to conciliate them. He accordingly addressed them a letter in the following terms, and sent it to them at Makkah through a special messengers:

Verily, both of you know very well that I did not approach the people to elect me as the Caliph. On the other hand it were the people who forced me to accept the office of the Caliph in the interests of Islam. Again I did not ask the people to swear allegiance to me, they did so of their own accord. Both of you also stepped towards me and took the oath of fealty. The people did swear allegiance to me neither through any dread of fear nor from any hope of worldly gain or profit. So, if you took the oath voluntarily, how can you retrace and recant? If you swore under compulsion even then you have proved the case against yourself because you outwardly rendered obedience to me and concealed your treachery from me. By God, such hypocrisy did not behoove Muhajirs of your caliber. There was a good deal of scope left for you before you took the oath, but when you had taken the oath, no margin was left to you from recanting from that holy contract which you had entered of your own accord. You say that I am the murderer of Othman. Come forward and let the people of Madina who did not take side with either of the parties, judge between you and me. Their judgment would reveal what I and you did on that occasion. You are experienced old men and it behooves you to repent of what you have done. It is bad enough that you have incurred the odium of the people of the world, but beware that, in the life to come, for such deviation from the right you will have to face hell." This letter had no effect on Talha and Zubair. In Makkah they joined Ayesha, and raised the cry for vengeance for the blood of Othman.

Ali's address about the defection of Talha and Zubair
In an address to the people of Madina in the prophet's mosque Ali commented on the defection of Talha and Zubair in the following terms: You know I had refused to accept the caliphate. It was only because of your insistence that I reluctantly agreed to accept the office. I was moved to do so, because the interests of Islam demanded that some one should head the State. You all took the oath of allegiance to me. In accepting the office I had laid down the condition that I expected your unstinted loyalty and support. The oath of alliance is a sacred pact between you and the person you have elected as the Caliph. Once the oath has been taken it is irrevocable. Like all of you Talha and Zubair took the oath of allegiance to me. Now they have repudiated the oath, and taken to the wrong way. They have given no reason for this change of face. They are eminent companions of the Holy Prophet and they fully know that the oath of allegiance once taken cannot be repudiated. I was no stranger to them. They are fully aware of my antecedents, my relationship with the Holy Prophet and my services to the cause of Islam. They are Quraish and I am also a Quraish. Zubair is in fact my cousin. By rebelling against my authority, they have created dissentions among the Muslims which is a definite disservice to Islam. They have raised the cry for vengeance for the blood of Othman. The implication of this cry is that they accuse me of the murder of Othman or my involvement. The assassination of Othman is deplorable, but the imputation of any blame on me in this respect is most unjust and unfair. All that took place happened before your eyes. I was neither concerned with the administration of law and order, nor did I command any influence with the rebels. Indeed I took all measures, that I could, to protect the person of Othman. It is an undeniable fact that my sons were wounded while guarding the house of Othman. On the other hand it is well known that Talha was present among the rebels, and he did not respond to the call of Othman when he called him. It is surprising, and sheer perversion of truth that they should levy the charge of the murder of Othman against me when they themselves were the murderers. It is not merely uncharitable, it is criminal in character. As Talha and Zubair have assumed the role of rebels, they will have to be treated as such. If they do not repent, I will have no option but to take punitive action against them. I cannot allow the rebels to gather force, and create mischief. I am not like a bear which is lulled to sleep, and the hunter hunts it while it is asleep. I will lead a force against the rebels and destroy them, howsoever painful the act might be."

Ayesha and Ali
Ayesha was the favorite wife of the Holy Prophet. In 633 C.E. in one of the expeditions, Ayesha accompanied the Holy Prophet. On the way back she lost her necklace, and when she went to search for the necklace in the desert where she had earlier gone for the call of nature, the caravan left in her absence. Her camel man was under the impression that she was in the litter on the camel. Later, she was picked by a camel man and brought to Madina. The mischief mongers, and the enemies of Islam made this incident the subject of calumny, and Ayesha was accused of unseemly conduct. Because of the virulent propaganda campaign waged by the evil doers, The Holy Prophet became estranged to Ayesha and she left for the house of her father. During the period of estrangement, Ali advised the Holy Prophet that there was no dearth of women, and he could divorce Ayesha, and marry some other beautiful woman. Later, Allah revealed that Ayesha was innocent and no blame rested on her. As a consequence the Holy Prophet and Ayesha were reconciled. Ayesha bore grudge against Ali for the advice that he had given to the Holy Prophet to divorce her. Ayesha was a step-mother of Fatima, the wife of Ali. Both of them were more or less of the same age, While Ayesha was the favorite wife of the Holy Prophet, Fatima was his favorite daughter resulting in a natural jealousy. Once Fatima complained to the Holy Prophet for favoring Ayesha, The Holy Prophet advised her, "Then my dear daughter, why should you not love the person whom your father loves". This relationship came to be further strained when after the death of the Holy Prophet, Fatima and Ali claimed the estate of Fidak as an inheritance, but Abu Bakr did not accept the claim and declared the estate to be public property. After the death of Abu Bakr his wife Asma, a stepmother of Ayesha, married Ali. Ayesha felt unhappy at this marriage.

Ayesha in Makkah

When Othman was assassinated, Ayesha was not in Madina. She had gone to Makkah a few weeks earlier for performing the pilgrimage. She came to know of the assassination of Othman and the election of Ali as the Caliph when she was on the way back to Madina. She was much shocked at the murder of Othman. She felt unhappy at the election of Ali, with whom she had outstanding differences. On hearing of the news instead of proceeding to Madina, she retraced her steps, and returned to Makkah. Othman had been a popular figure among the Quraish of Makkah. When in Syria, Muawiyyah raised the cry for the vengeance of the blood of Othman, the cry was echoed in Makkah as well. The people of Makkah temporized in taking the oath of allegiance to Ali. The tendency of the people of Makkah was to wait and watch further developments. The people of Makkah had at that stage no leader with them under whose direction they could take a specific course of action.

The return of Ayesha to Makkah changed the situation. In view of the great prestige and respect that she commanded as the "Mother of the Faithful," she soon assumed the role of a leader, and the people assembled around her in large number. During the lifetime of Othman she had been critical of his policies, but after his death she decided to espouse his cause, and join in the cry seeking vengeance for his blood. Her address to the people of Makkah is on record. She said: "O ye people! The rebels from different provinces have murdered the innocent Othman. These people levied some allegation against the Caliph at the outset, and when they could not establish the charges against him, they rebelled against him. What had been ordained as unlawful by Allah was made lawful by the regicides. They violated the sanctity of the city of the Holy Prophet in the sacred month of "Haj" when the shedding of blood is prohibited. They plundered and looted the citizens of Madina. By God, a single finger of Othman was more precious than the lives of all the regicides. The mischief has not been crushed, and the murderers of Othman have not been brought to book. It befits you now to seek satisfaction on these murderers. It is vengeance alone for the blood of Othman that can vindicate the honor of Islam. "

The call to war
The fiery address of Ayesha was virtually the call to war. It set a match to the smoldering fire of discontent among the people. The first man to respond to the call of Ayesha was Abdullah b Aamar al-Hadhrami. He was the Governor of Makkah appointed by Othman. In view of the uncertain state of affairs in Makkah, Ali had not replaced him so far by a nominee of his own. He knew that with Ali as the Caliph he could not hold his office for long. He, therefore, placed all resources available to him as the Governor of Makkah at the disposal of Ayesha for any war that she might wage to seek vengeance for the blood of Othman. Yala b Umayya the ex-Governor Yemen who had been deposed by Ali responded enthusiastically to the call for war. On his deposition, he had brought all the treasure of the province of Yemen with him. He placed this treasure at the disposal of Ayesha for financing the war project. Abdullah b Aamar of the Umayyad section, the ex-Governor of Basra who had been deposed by Ali, also joined the confederates. All the Umayyads of Makkah, and those who had escaped from Madina after the assassination of Othman offered themselves for war service. These included Saeed b Al Aas, Mughira b Shuba, and Walid b Uqba. Talha and Zubair who arrived from Madina in the meantime also joined the confederates. Both of them were related to Ayesha. One of the sisters of Ayesha was married to Zubair and another was married to Talha. They became the right hand men for Ayesha, and the Commanders of the force of Ayesha.

The plan of war
Within a short time, Ayesha was able to set up a war organization in opposition to Ali. Though the confederates raised the cry for avenging the murder of Othman, their real aim was to dethrone Ali. After building up a war organization, Ayesha and her party had to consider where the blow was to be struck. Ayesha was personally of the view that an attack should be led on Madina as it was expedient that the malady should be uprooted root and branch. Apparently her idea was to overthrow Ali and capture power Most of her followers were of the view that it would not be advisable that the wife of the Holy Prophet should lead an expedition against the city of the Holy Prophet and violate its sanctity. The Umayyads proposed that they should proceed to Syria and join Muawiyah. This view was not favored by the non-Umayyad followers of Ayesha, as such a step was likely to shift the balance of power in favor of Muawiyah, and strengthen his claim for the caliphate. Another proposal was that they should advance to Kufa. This proposal was dropped on the ground that it was uncertain how far the people of Kufa would support the war against Ali, particularly when most of the rebels responsible for the assassination of Othman belonged to Kufa. Talha suggested that he had considerable influence in Basra, and if they advanced to Basra, most of the people there would join them. This proposal was supported by Abdullah b Aamar who had been the Governor of Basra and had been deposed by Ali. He said that be had many supporters in Basra and these people would join them in case they advanced to Basra. After a good deal of discussion and deliberation it was decided that they should in the first instance march to Basra, and should undertake further campaigns against Ali with Basra as the base. Addressing her followers Ayesha said: "A great tragedy has taken place, and the innocent Caliph of the Muslims has been assassinated by the miscreants for ulterior ends. They have captured power, and this is fraught with grave danger to the Muslim Ummah. As true Muslims, it is your bounder duty to rise to a man, and take vengeance for the blood of Othman. To seek this end let us in the first instance march to our brethren in Basra, and make that city our base for further operations. May God help us in our mission."

The Proclamation
Having taken the decision to open the campaign by a march on Basra, the confederates issued a proclamation in the following terms: "The Mother of the Faithful, Talha and Zubair, two eminent companions of the Holy Prophet, are leading an army to Basra and whosoever has any spark of faith in him should join the ranks to defend the faith, and fight to seek vengeance for the blood of Othman. Those who do not have the means of the journey will be provided with conveyance, arms and other necessities. It is an obligation on the part of the Muslims to rise to vindicate the truth. "

The Army

The proclamation had a good effect and many people joined the ranks. A majority of the people of Makkah favored the confederates. A section of the population led by Abdullah b Umar decided to remain neutral and favor no party. A small section favored Ali. Al Fazal, the wife of Abbas, and an uncle of Ali sent a letter to Ali through a special messenger informing him of the plan of Ayesha.
The confederates were able to raise an army three thousand strong from the people of Makkah. Envoys were sent to the tribes who inhabited the desert on the way to Basra to join the main army on the way.

Ayesha's address to the troops
As the troops assembled at Makkah, Ayesha addressed them. She exhorted them to fight for upholding the truth and the suppression of falsehood. She said that the assassination of Othman, the Caliph of the Muslims was a great challenge for the faithful, and they could not rest content till those guilty of the crime were brought to book and killed.

Talha and Zubair urged the troops to perform deeds of heroic gallantry which were the characteristics of Ghazis. They told them that they had left Madina and its people in a state of quandary. In Madina right had been mixed up with wrong in such a way that the people knew not in which way to turn.

Talha and Zubair made out the point that in the circumstances it was for the people of Makkah to give the lead, and teach a lesson to the traitors who had assassinated the innocent Caliph, Othman.
The confederates justified their cause on the basis of the following verse of the Holy Quran: And if two parties of the believers quarrel, make peace between them, but if one of them acts wrongly towards the other, fight that which acts wrongfully, until it returns to Allah's command. Then, if it returns, make peace between them with justice and act equitably, for Allah loves those who act equitably. "

The Day of tears
Ayesha mounting on a camel took command of the army, and it set off on the march to Basra. The prominent women of Makkah traveled with Ayesha for some distance outside Makkah to see her off. These included Hafsa, another wife of the Holy Prophet. Hafsa intended to accompany Ayesha to Basra, but her brother Abdullah b Umar persuaded her to return to Makkah, as in the war between the two parties of the Muslims it was expedient to remain neutral. As the women took leave of Ayesha, they wept bitterly because of the uncertainty of fortune that lay in store for the army of Makkah. Here a dead camel was sighted from which blood flew profusely. This was taken to be a bad omen indicating that as a result of the campaign they were undertaking much blood was likely to flow. According to the Arab chronicles the day of the departure of the army of the confederates for Basra came to be known as the "Day of Tears", on account of the heavy tears shed at the time of the departure of the troops.

Desertions from the army of the confederates
The army of the confederates had hardly proceeded a few stages from Makkah when the followers of Talha and Zubair began to quarrel among themselves on the point as to who out of Talha and Zubair should become the Caliph in the event of victory. Ayesha tried to end the dispute by declaring that the issue was premature, and that at the proper time it was for the people of Madina to choose the Caliph as they had elected the previous Caliphs. Ayesha appointed a neutral person to lead the prayers. The quarrel, however, did its damage. Some of the people who belonged neither to the party of Talha, nor to that of Zubair came to feel that the war was being fought because of personal motives of Talha and Zubair. Some persons suggested that as they had taken up arms to avenge the blood of Othman it was proper that a son of Othman should be chosen as the Caliph. This suggestion was turned down by the followers of Talha and Zubair on the ground that only some veteran companion could be chosen as the Commander of the Faithful. Because of these quarrels doubts began to assail some of the people who had joined the ranks under the impression that they were going to fight in the cause of Islam. They felt uncertain as to where the truth lay. Both the sides claimed to fight for the truth and it was obvious that both of them could not be in the right at the same time. One of them was bound to be in the wrong, but it could not be said who exactly was in the wrong. On one side was the "Mother of the Faithful", and on the other side was the "Commander of the Faithful." In the circumstances the proper course for the faithful was not to support either party until things appeared in their true color. Saeed b Al Aas an ex-Governor of Kufa who had joined the army of the confederates thought it advisable to desert and return to Makkah. Some other persons also returned with him. In response to the battle cry "On to Basra to kill the murderers of Othman", Saeed said. "Why go so far. The objects of your vengeance, Talha and Zubair are riding on their camels before you; kill them and return home".

Destination-Basra
After forced marches the troops of Ayesha reached Basra and camped outside the city. The die was cast. Basra, heretofore a peaceful city had to face a storm, and become the theatre of an unfortunate civil war which was to lead to blood shed, and destroy unity amongst the Muslims.

Delegation from Basra

When the army of Ayesha camped outside the city of Basra, Othman b Hanif, the Alid Governor of Basra, sent a delegation from Basra to wait on Ayesha and ascertain from her the cause of her arrival there with an army. The delegation comprised two men, Imran b Husain, and Abul Aswad. Ayesha received the delegation with due courtesy, and addressed them as follows: "I swear by Almighty God that a woman of my rank and status cannot hide the truth, and no mother can conceal anything from her sons. It is well known to you that rebels from various parts of the country including Basra invaded Madina, violated the sanctity of the Holy City, and caused mischief. They shed the blood of the innocent Caliph. They stand guilty before God and His Apostle. The rebels perpetrated great atrocities on the people of Madina. I have come to Basra to apprise you of the great harm that these people have done to Islam. I have come to seek your help in wreaking vengeance for the blood of Othman. The purpose of our visit is to restore better relations between the believers in faith. We do not seek war. We want peace. Such peace must necessarily rest on the confidence of the people. At present there is a chaos in the affairs of the Muslims, we wish to set things right, and your help in this behalf is solicited. "

Othman b Hanif prepares for war.

On return from Ayesha, Imran b Husain advised Othman b Hanif that he should not involve himself in war with Ayesha for she had talked in the language of peace, and not in that of war. Abul Aswad the other member of the delegation, who was a staunch supporter of Ali, advised Othman b Hanif that as the Governor of Ali, he should fight against the enemies of Ali. Talha and Zubair had taken the oath of allegiance to Ali, and rebelling against Ali their purpose in coming over to Basra with an army could not be based on peaceful motives.

Othman b Hanif required the people of Basra to assemble in the mosque to consider what action should be taken against the confederates. The congregation was addressed in the first instance by Qais b Al Aqd. He was critical of the arrival of the confederates. He said that if these people had come to Basra to seek protection that was absurd for they themselves came from a place where even birds were assured of safety. He added that if they had come to seek vengeance for the blood of Othman, they should know that the people of Basra had not killed Othman. He exhorted the people of Basra to take up arms, and drive away the confederates from their city. Othman b Hanif addressed the people in the following terms: "O ye people, you have sworn allegiance to Ali in the name of God, and his hand is over your hands. Whosoever recants his allegiance is guilty before men and God. I swear by God that had there been a worthier candidate than Ali for the Caliphate, he would not have accepted the burden of the office. Had the people sworn allegiance to any one else except Ali, he would have also sworn allegiance to him. In that case Ali would have obeyed the Caliph without any reservation. Remember that Ali had no ill will against any of the companions of the Holy Prophet. Both Talha and Zubair took the oath of fealty to Ali, but their aim in taking such oath was not to obey God. Instead of seeking recompense from God they seek recompense from men. Now both of them assert that they had taken the oath under compulsion, when the sword was placed on their necks. We have to see what is the opinion of the people. Where there is majority, there lies the truth of guidance. It is an open secret that the majority have elected Ali as the Caliph, and there can be no doubt that the truth is on the side of Ali. It is therefore incumbent on you to fight against those who have rebelled against the authority of the Caliph, and thereby espoused the cause of falsehood. "

Hakim b Jabala, the Deputy Governor took a more violent stand. He exhorted the people of Basra to take up arms against the people who had rebelled against the authority of the Caliph. He added that should all the people forsake him, he would fight against the rebels single handed until he met his martyrdom fighting in the cause of the truth.

Aswad b Harith al Saadi contradicted the stand of those who had advocated war. He said that Islam was the religion of peace and all disputes between the Muslims should be resolved through peaceful means. He held out that the confederates had not come to Basra to wage war. They had come to seek the aid of the citizens of Basra in their campaign against the murderers of Othman, and in that behalf it behooved the citizens of Basra to treat them as honored guests, particularly when they were led by the Mother of the Faithful. Some other speeches were made in favor of Ayesha. That led to an uproar among the people assembled in the mosque. Some people were loud in their support for Ali, and some were loud in their support for Ayesha. The meeting in the mosque ended in a state of confusion. Those who favored Ayesha joined the camp of Ayesha. Those who favored Ali responded to the call of Othman b Hanif, and took up arms to fight against the confederates.

The battle
Some attempts were made to negotiate peace, but such attempts failed and the armies on both the sides took themselves to the battle field. Before the battle began, the representatives of each side in the usual Arab way declaimed the righteousness of their cause. After Talha and Zubair had spoken, Ayesha addressed the people of Basra. She said that she had no intention of fighting against the people of Basra, and shedding unnecessary blood. She added that her object was to seek vengeance for the blood of the innocent Othman. He was the Caliph of the entire Muslim world including Basra and as such it was an obligation on their part to help in seeking such vengeance and bringing the murderers of Othman to task. She observed that the war was no solution of the matter and her very presence there was a positive proof to the effect that she wanted a peaceful resolution of the crisis that had overtaken the Muslims just as any mother would like any dispute between her sons to be settled peacefully and amicably. Her speech was impressive and effective. It started a good deal of argument and disagreement among the ranks of the army of Basra, and some of the persons withdrew.

In spite of some defections from the ranks of the army of Basra there was no weakening of their will to give a fight to the confederates. Jariya b Qadama, a distinguished citizen of Basra stepped forward from the ranks, and addressing Ayesha said that though the assassination of Othman was painful to the people of Basra, her discarding of the veil, and leading an army was more painful to them. He wanted her to return to Makkah or Madina, and not to meddle in politics which did not behoove her as the Mother of the Faithful. Another citizen of Basra taunted Talha and Zubair for leaving their wives and mothers at their homes and dragging the Mother of the Faithful to the battle field. Talha and Zubair were also criticized for taking the oath of allegiance to Ali and then breaking it. Another Basrite addressed Ayesha in the following terms: "Mother if you have come here of your own free will, go back to your house. If you have been brought here by force, we can conduct you to your house with honor and safety."

By this time excitement among the warriors on both the sides reached a high pitch, and the war began with an attack on the forces of the confederates led by Hakim b Jabala the deputy of Othman b Hanif. Hakim under a mistaken notion of his loyalty to Ali, hurled abuses on Ayesha. When his own men objected to such conduct, he shot dead those who objected. Ayesha instructed her men to remain on the defensive hoping that the fury of the attack of the Basrites would soon be over and it would be possible to stop the war. When Hakim and his men penetrated deep into the ranks of the confederates, she ordered a counter charge, the battle continued till nightfall. There was considerable loss of lives on both the sides, but the loss in the ranks of the forces of Basra was much heavier.

After night fall when the forces of Othman b Hanif had retired those people of Basra who had joined the ranks of the confederates advised that at midnight the confederates should occupy that part of Basra which was largely populated by those who were opposed to the Alids. The operation was successfully carried into effect and the following day, the fight had to take place in the city of Basra itself. That put the forces of Othman b Hanif to disadvantage and many persons of these forces were killed. By the end of the day, Othman b Hanif was faced with defeat and he sued for peace.

The truce
Negotiations for peace led to an agreement for truce. It was decided that the parties in occupation of the two parts of Basra should continue to hold their parts. As emissary was to be sent from Basra to Madina to ascertain whether Talha and Zubair had taken the oath of allegiance to Ali voluntarily or under compulsion. If the inquiry revealed that the oath had been taken voluntarily the confederates would withdraw from Basra. If the enquiry revealed that the oath had been taken under compulsion the entire city of Basra would be handed over to the confederates. Till then the parties were to maintain cease fire.

Emissary to Madina
In pursuance of the truce agreement between Othman b Hanif and the confederates, Kaab b Sur the Qazi of Basra was commissioned to go to Madina to ascertain whether Talha and Zubair had taken the oath of allegiance to Ali voluntarily, or under some compulsion. Kaab b Sur was originally a Christian. He was attracted by Islam, and became a Muslim. He was a man of great learning and piety and was very popular among the people of Basra. On arrival at the mosque, Madina he proceeded to the Prophet's mosque and addressing the congregation said that he had come from Basra to ascertain whether Talha and Zubair had taken the oath of allegiance to Ali voluntarily or under compulsion. The men in the mosque maintained silence, but Usama b Zaid stood up to say that Talha and Zubair had taken the oath of allegiance under compulsion. At this Sahl b Hanif, the brother of Othman b Hanif the Governor of Basra rushed with his men to beat Usama. Usama's father Zaid was an adopted son of the Holy Prophet and the Holy Prophet loved Usama as a grandson. During the time of Abu Bakr, Usama had led a campaign to Syria. Some Companions came to the rescue of Usama. And they too declared that Talha and Zubair had taken the oath of allegiance under compulsion. Kaab b Sur came to the conclusion that Talha and Zubair had in fact taken the oath of allegiance under compulsion.

Administration of Basra
The confederates now became the master of the entire city of Basra. The pro-Ali group evacuated the city, and those who remained in the city recognized the authority of the confederates. Supreme authority vested in Ayesha and Talha and Zubair acted as her Ministers. The Baitul-Mal was seized, and the men of the pro-confederate group who had suffered loss of life or property were duly compensated. Ayesha wrote a letter to Muawiyah in Syria informing him how the confederates had taken vengeance for the blood of Othman. He was advised to undertake campaigns on similar lines to take vengeance for the blood of Othman.

Ali's plan of action
Ali's original plan was to undertake an expedition against Syria. The implementation of the plan had to be deferred because the people of Madina had not favorably responded to his call for arms. The crisis deepened when Talha and Zubair escaped from Madina, and at Makkah, Ayesha raised the cry for the vengeance of the blood of Othman. Ali had thought that Ayesha's call would be a mere storm in the tea-cup and she would not or could not go to the extent of precipitating war. When All came to know that Ayesha had assembled a force, and was planning a march to Basra, he felt that no further time could be lost and immediate action was called for to frustrate the efforts of Ayesha in gaining further strength. It was with some difficulty that Ali was able to raise a small force at Madina. By and large the people of Madina shut themselves in their houses, and remained indifferent to the call of Ali. The force that Ali was able to muster comprised mostly of the Sabites who had participated in the revolt against Othman. Some people of Madina who were personally devoted to Ali, however joined the ranks. Abu Qatada a leader of the Ansars, and a veteran warrior waited on Ali and offered his services. Umm Salma, a wife of the Holy Prophet came to see Ali and said that if other women were to accompany him she would be glad to accompany. She had a son Umar by a former husband and he joined the army of Ali. Ali appointed Tamam b Abbas as the Governor of Madina. He sent an emissary to Makkah to recruit whatever volunteers he could from the people of Makkah. The strength of the force that Ali was able to muster in Madina did not exceed nine hundred. At the head of this force, Ali marched out of Madina. When Ali was about to depart, Abdullah b Salam, a veteran companion of the Holy Prophet, held up the reins of the horse of Ali and said: "O Commander of the faithful, do not go out of Madina. If you once leave Madina you will not be able to return to Madina again. Madina would thereafter cease to be the capital of the Muslim world."

The Sabite followers of Ali wanted to deal roughly with the old man, but Ali warned them not to touch the person of Abdullah b Salam for he was an eminent companion of the Holy Prophet. Ali assured Abdullah b Salam that he would soon return to Madina. That was, however, not to be. Ali never came back to Madina, and Madina ceased to be the capital of the Muslim commonwealth.

Ali at Rabda
After some forced marches, Ali reached Rabda. It was a junction from where one road led to Madina, one to Makkah, one to Kufa, and another to Basra. Here he came to know that the army of Ayesha had already reached Basra, and he had been late in intercepting the army of Ayesha half-way. Ali now felt that a battle would have to be fought at Basra. The army at the disposal of Ali was inadequate for the purpose. Imam Hasan the son of Ali advised his father not to play with fire. He said: "I fear that like Othman you will be assassinated. I have been advising you not to play with fire, but you have not listened to me." Ali wanted him to indicate what was his advice to which he had not listened. Thereupon Imam Hasan said: "When the house of Othman was besieged by the rebels I had advised you to go out of Madina, for the assassination of Othman while you were present in Madina was not in your interest. When Othman had been assassinated I had advised you not to accept the caliphate unless deputations came to you from various parts of the country to request you to accept the caliphate. When Talha and Zubair defected, I advised you to shut yourself in your house, and leave it to the people to decide the question of the vengeance for the blood of Othman themselves. I had advised you to keep aloof from the controversy, but you did not accept my advice." Ali said he did not leave Madina when the house of Othman was besieged for in that ease the rebels would have chased, and he would have met the same fate as had befallen to Othman. The caliphate was offered to me by the people of Madina. They alone were competent to do so, and other towns had to conform to the decision taken by the people of Madina. He explained that when he had accepted the office of the Caliph he could not shut himself in his house and evade the responsibilities of the office.

Letters to Othman b Hanif, Governor of Basra
From the camp at Rabda, Ali addressed a letter to his Governor of Basra to the following effect:"
Calling God to witness I say that Talha and Zubair swore allegiance to me and then broke it. The devil has instigated them to follow a path which is not acceptable to God. These people are not afraid of God's wrath. When they come to you persuade them to stick to the path of fidelity for which they swore at Madina. If they submit behave kindly towards them. Should they persist in their treachery fight them until God decides between us."

Before this letter reached him, Othman b Hanif had made a truce with Ayesha, and deputed an emissary to Madina to inquire whether Talha and Zubair had taken the oath of allegiance to Ali voluntarily or under some duress. When Ali came to know of this development, he addressed another letter to Othman b Hanif in the following terms: "Talha and Zubair swore allegiance to me under no compulsion. Even if they did so under fear or compulsion, such a constraint was used on them for preserving solidarity of Islam and not for creating discard among the believers. If they recant from what they have sworn, and aim at forcing my abdication they are without any cause. If they have any other grievance besides their aspiration to the Caliphate I will be prepared to consider it." It appears that before the second letter could reach Othman b Hanif, Basra had already been occupied by the forces of the confederates and the Governor of Ali had been overthrown.

The mission of Ibn Abbas
The stand taken by Abu Musa Ashari was preposterous. As the Governor owing allegiance to Ali, he was under an obligation to carry out the policies of Ali. He could not sit in judgment over the command of Ali. Ali, however, took a lenient view of the matter and on the failure of the first mission he sent another mission to Kufa headed by Abdullah b Abbas, an eminent companion and a cousin of Ali as well as the Holy Prophet. This mission was also received could by Abu Musa Ashari. The mission did not succeed in making Abu Musa see reason or realize his obligation to the Caliph. He asked the delegation to carry the following message from him to Ali: "The Companions of Muhammad (peace be upon him) know more of God and His Apostle than those who have not had the opportunity of meeting him. Certainly the Companions have a right over us. My humble advice to all of you is that you should not assume the air of having God's authority with you, and should not make war on God. Let your followers who have come from Madina go back to their homes till they all agree on a unanimous decision, and they know who is to be relied upon. The present rebellion can best be epitomized in the famous saying of the Holy Prophet who predicted of the approaching time when he said, "He that sleeps is better than he who sits. He who sits is better than he who stands. He who stands is better than he who walks. He who walks is better than he who rides'. Therefore, I will give you this advice: sheathe your swords, put off your lances; cut your bow strings; and take the injured into your houses till a solution is found to the present crisis, and disturbances cease."

Mission of Imam Hasan
The failure of two successive missions to Kufa set Ali thinking. It transpired that the missions sent heretofore had merely met Abu Musa Ashari, and he had not allowed the members of the mission see the people. He had appropriated to himself the right to speak on behalf of the people of Kufa. Ali was advised that if Kufa was to be won, a bolder line of action should be followed. After a good deal of discussion and deliberation, it was decided that an effort should be made to contact the people of Kufa direct. Among the troops of Ali, there were some persons who belonged to Kufa or commanded influence with the people of Kufa. They were sent to Kufa to contact their friends and relatives and win them over to the side of Ali. This time the mission to Kufa was led by Imam Hasan. It was felt that as long as Abu Musa Ashari was the Governor of Kufa the chances of the success of the mission were slender. Ali accordingly authorized Imam Hasan that if the circumstances in Kafa were favorable, he could depose Abu Musa Ashari and appoint a new Governor.

The representatives of Ali succeeded in winning over many people to the side of Ali. These agents brought home the point that as most of the people of Kufa had joined in the revolt against Othman, the cry for the vengeance of the blood of Othman was really aimed at the massacre of the people of Kufa. It was argued that in the circumstances it was in the interests of the people of Kufa that they should side with Ali and fight against those who raise the cry for the vengeance of the blood of Othman merely as a pretext for capturing power. The argument appealed to the people, and they decided to opt for Ali.

Imam Hasan arrived at Kufa on a Friday at the time of noon day prayers, and he proceed straight away to the main mosque. The agents of Ali had brought the supporters of Ali to the mosque in large numbers. As Imam Hasan entered the mosque, he was given a standing ovation by the people. Abu Musa Ashari who was present in the mosque welcomed Imam Hasan to Kufa. Imam Hasan took the stage, and after praising God and the Holy Prophet conveyed the message of goodwill of Ali for the people of Kufa. He exhorted the people to strengthen the hands of Ali in his fight against those who wanted to sow discord among the Muslims. Some of the people raised shouts in favor of Ayesha. To these people, Imam Hasan posed the question: "Did God not enjoin upon Ayesha the duty of living quietly in her house, and leaving it to the men to fight in the battle-field until the sedition was quelled? What an irony of fate that she should command us to do her part, and has taken upon herself to do our part."

At this stage, Zaid b Sehwan a prominent citizen of Kufa rose up to say that he had received a letter from Ayesha wherein she had advised the people of Kufa to remain in their houses and not to take part in any fight. At this Imam Hasan put the following question to the assembly: "Is it not strange that she should advise the citizens of Kufa to abstain from fighting while she is herself leading a fight against the citizens of Basra." Abu Musa Ashari took the stage, and said that in this crisis when two parties of the Muslims were at logger heads, the best course for the people of Kufa was to remain neutral. Thereafter a long dialogue followed between Imam Hasan and Abu Musa Ashari. Imam Hasan asked Abu Musa Ashari the question: "Did Talha and Zubair not take oath of allegiance to Ali?" Abu Musa said that they had taken the oath. Then Imam Hasan asked the question, "What wrong had Ali done to justify Talha and Zubair revolt against him?" Abu Musa said that he was not aware of any reason which could justify the revolt of Talha and Zubair?" Imam Hasan next asked "If some one revolts against established authority, will such authority not be authorized to take action against those who have revolted?" Abu Musa answered the question in the affirmative. "Then on what ground you do not justify the action that Ali, the duly elected Caliph, has taken against those who have rebelled against his authority?" Abu Musa said that his ground was that it would lead to bloodshed among the Muslims. "But why should the Muslims help those who have rebelled against authority, when God has enjoined the faithful to obey those in authority?" asked Imam Hasan, and to this question Abu Musa had no reply. Imam Hasan next inquired of Abu Musa whether he had taken the oath of allegiance to Ali, and Abu Musa replied to this question in the affirmative. "You owe your office of the Governor to Ali" was the next question, and to this question again Abu Musa answered "Yes". "Are you not under an obligation to obey the command of the Caliph, and not to do any act which helps his enemies directly or indirectly," Imam Hasan asked, and this question was also answered in the affirmative. Imam Hasan thereafter posed the following question: "Your Caliph asks you to help him in his fight against his enemies. His enemies have asked the people of Kufa to remain confined to their houses and not to participate in the war. You also ask the people of Kufa to abstain from war. This means that by your acts you are helping the enemies of the Caliph although you have taken the oath of allegiance to him and owe your appointment to him, This is sedition." To this Abu Musa had no answer.

At this the supporters of Ali raised the cry, "Down with the Governor. He is a traitor". Some voices were raised in support of Abu Musa, and there was exchange of blows and hot words between the two sides. The fight between the parties spread outside the mosque. A party led by Ashtar took possession of the Governor's House and captured the Baitul Mall, that was the end of the governorship of Abu Musa Ashari. He escaped to Makkah and under the authority delegated to him by Ali, Imam Hasan appointed Qarda b Kaab as the new Governor of Kufa.

Pro-Ali Government in Kufa
With the departure of Abu Musa Ashari from Kufa, a pro-Ali government was set up in Kufa. The new Government proclaimed their full support to Ali. The new Governor addressed the people of Kufa in the mosque, and exhorted them to enroll themselves in the ranks of Ali and strengthen his hands to enable him fight for the truth. Imam Hasan also addressed the people. He said: "Ali has sent me to you with his message of goodwill for you. Of all the people in the commonwealth he has the greatest regard for you. He intends to make Kufa the capital of the Muslim Empire. This is a great honor, but Kufa deserves it. You are the people who can distinguish truth from falsehood. The way in which you have risen in the cause of Ali is a positive proof of your love for the truth. Your Caliph needs your assistance. It is both in your interest and duty incumbent on you to help him. Can you give any reason for refusing his help? Is there any one who can reasonably accuse him of having shown any covetous inclinations, or withholding or perverting justice? Can any one amongst you say that he thrust himself into the Caliphate or that he proved himself unworthy of this dignity in any way? Beware of those rebels who pretend to have taken up arms to avenge the murder of Othman. O ye people of Kufa, the avenging of the murder of Othman is merely a pretext to dethrone the Caliph Ali. Ali was elected as the Caliph unanimously by the people of Madina. Talha and Zubair who now lead the rebels took the oath of allegiance to him. Indeed they were the first to support him. Now they are the first to forswear him. Therefore O ye the people of Kufa, it is incumbent on you to come and do what is good and forbid what is evil. Islam expects you to do your duty, and your duty lies in supporting your Caliph."

The magnetic personality of Imam Hasan, and his inspiring address won the hearts of the people of Kufa, and they declared that they would stand by their Caliph through thick and thin. The people began to flock to the standard of Imam Hasan in large numbers, and enrolled themselves as volunteers. Within a week, a force ten thousand strong was raised from Kufa to support Ali.

The army of Ali
The ten thousand strong army from Kufa added materially to the strength of Ali. The force from Kufa included some veteran warriors who had distinguished themselves in the wars against Persia during the caliphate of Abu Bakr and Umar.

When the Bedouin tribes who had heretofore followed the policy of sitting on the fence saw that the people of Kufa had joined Ali in large numbers, they also decided to cast in their lot with Ali, and offered to serve in the ranks under him. When Ali had left Madina he had hardly nine hundred men at his disposal. The strength of the army with him had now risen to twenty thousand. This considerably strengthened his position, and he could confidently undertake the campaign to Basra in the raising of the army, there was, however, one point which could be a cause of embarrassment. Most of the Bedouins and the people of Kufa who had volunteered to join him were the men who had taken part in the rebellion against Othman. Indeed they were the people who were the most ardent supporters of Ali. At this juncture when Ali stood in great need of allies he could not afford to alienate the men who had volunteered to support his cause. As Ali pondered over this aspect of the matter he felt that the people who had rebelled against him after taking the oath of allegiance to him were responsible for this awkward state of affairs. If such men had cooperated with him after consolidating his rule he could have taken some punitive action against the persons who had participated in the rebellion against Othman. If the rebels were sincere in their demand for the vengeance of the blood of Othman, it was incumbent on them to have strengthened his hands. By rebelling against him they had frustrated the object which they intended to achieve. The truth of the matter was that the cry of vengeance for the blood of Othman was a mere pretext, their real purpose was to capture power. Ali was never keen to be elected as the Caliph, but now that he had been elected as the Caliph, he had to see that the sacred Office of the Caliph should not become a plaything for adventurers.

On the way to Basra
On the way to Basra at one of the halts, a "Kahin" met Ali. The "Kahin" said that he saw blood flowing profusely on all sides. Ali cursed him for his evil prognostication.
The tribes of Rabiah and Abdul Qais had originally joined the troops of Ayesha but later they withdrew their support from her and marched out of Basra to join the forces of Ali. Ali welcomed them and praised them for their ability to discern the truth.

As the troops of Ali moved forward, news were received that Basra had been occupied by the confederates, and that all the people of Basra who were suspected of having participated in the murder of Othman had been executed. Thereupon Ali is reported to have said: "Now that they have taken the Qasas, and killed the people whom they considered guilty of the murder of Othman, what more do they want in Basra? O God, rid me of Talha and Zubair."
Camp at Basra
On reaching Basra, the troops of Ali camped outside the city. It was a large army, and the camp was spread over several miles. The pro-Alid people of Basra who had evacuated the city on its cooperation by the confederates also joined the camp. Some other tribes in the neighbourhood of Basra also joined the camp. Ali instructed his men to remain at peace. According to his instructions war was not to be resorted to, until all possibilities of peace had been exhausted.

Ali's quest for peace
Although Ali had led an army to Basra, he was averse to any armed conflict between the Muslims. He felt that those who had rebelled against his authority labored under some misunderstanding. It was his endeavor that such misunderstanding should be removed and unity should be restored among the Muslims. When his army Generals asked his instructions about beginning the war operations, he commanded that war was not to be resorted to until all possibilities of an equitable settlement through peaceful means had been exhausted. He ordered that even on the failure of the peace parleys, the first shot was not to be fired from his side. "Let the other side take the initiative in the war, if they are not inclined to listen to the voice of reason" he said.

Ali's mission to Ayesha
In his quest for peace, Ali sent a peace mission to Ayesha. The peace mission was headed by Qa'aqa, a prominent leader from Kufa. He was a renowned warrior, and was well known for his heroic exploits in the wars against the Persians during the caliphates of Abu Bakr and Umar. The mission was instructed by Ali not to adopt a threatening or a patronizing attitude. No attempt was to be made to over awe the other side with the superior strength of the force at the disposal of the Caliphate. Ali desired that the negotiations between the parties should be a heart to heart dialogue, and every possible effort should be made to remove the misunderstandings between the parties. Ali instructed the members of the mission that due respect should be shown to Ayesha, the Mother of the Faithful. He sent a message of goodwill and great regards to Ayesha saying that in spite of the unfortunate misunderstandings that had cropped up between them he looked to her as a mother, and expected a motherly treatment from her.

The issues
The mission was received by Ayesha, Talha and Zubair with due courtesy. The message of Ali was duly delivered, and Ayesha said that she would be glad if the misunderstandings were removed and unity among the Muslims was restored. Qa'aqa inquired of Ayesha as to what were the objects before her which had prompted her to take to the field. She said that the objects before her were to seek vengeance for the blood of Othman, and to promote the cause of Islam.

Vengeance for the blood of Othman
With regard to the issue about the vengeance for the blood of Othman, Qa'aqa posed the question, "Mother, tell me, keeping God in view, whether you accuse Ali for the murder of Othman as a criminal or as an accomplice?" Ayesha said that she did not accuse Ali for involvement in the assassination of Othman; her grievance was that as Caliph, Ali had not taken any action to apprehend the murderers of Othman. Qa'aqa then asked whether such murder was the act of one man, or was it the act of a mob. Ayesha said that obviously it was the act of a mob. Qa'aqa next asked the question, "Have things settled down after the murder of Othman". Ayesha said that the things were still very much in a state of disarray. Qa'aqa thereupon said, "If things are still unsettled, how could Ali take action against the people who were still in control of the situation, and from whom another coup could be expected?" To this question, Ayesha, Talha or Zubair had no satisfactory answer.

Qa'aqa then posed another question, "Do you know that by rebelling against the authority of Ali you have done great harm to the cause for the vengeance of the blood of Othman?" "How was that?" asked Ayesha. Qa'aqa said, "By rebelling against the authority of Ali, you have forced Ali to deal with you instead of dealing with the murderers of Othman. In this crisis, Ali had naturally to seek allies, and when you have forsaken Ali those who had rebelled against Othman have come to the aid of Ali in large numbers, because they feel that the troubles of Ali are because of them. Things have thus moved in a vicious circle, and by rebelling against Ali you have thrown him in the lap of the persons from whom you seek vengeance. By your action you have strengthened the murderers of Othman, and weakened the Muslims." That set Ayesha thinking, and she could not know how the argument advanced by Qa'aqa could be met.

Promoting the cause of Islam
Qa'aqa then took up the question of promoting the cause of Islam. He pointed out that when the Muslims were united under Abu Bakr and Umar they made large conquests both in the east and the west. In the early years of the caliphate of Othman the process of conquests continued. When the Muslims rebelled against the authority of Othman, and came to be divided among themselves the process of conquest came to a grinding halt. He observed that the enemies of Islam were on the borders of the Muslim State ready to take advantage of any division in the ranks of the Muslims. Qa'aqa posed the question, "How can you promote the cause of Islam, if you seek to divide the Muslims for one cause or the other?" Addressing the confederates he asked, "Did you promote the cause of Islam when you killed six hundred men of Basra, and the mosque was dyed with blood? Did you thereby avenge the murder of Othman when such persons were not even remotely connected with the murder of Othman? If you killed them because rightly or wrongly you suspected them of being involved in the assassination of Othman, then is your demand for the 'Qasas' for the blood of Othman not yet satisfied?" Then he respectfully addressed Ayesha saying: "O Mother of the Faithful! Did God not enjoin you to sit quietly in your home? Did the Holy Prophet warn you that the dogs of Hu'ab would bark on you? Then how did you promote the cause of Islam by violating these instructions?" Addressing Talha and Zubair he said "Did you not take the oath of allegiance to Ali? If you took the oath of allegiance to Ali under some compulsion, tell us the man for whom you would have voted if you were free. Is any man more qualified, and more worthy to be the Caliph of the Muslims than Ali? Verily Ali is the best man to be the Caliph of the Muslims, and by putting difficulties in his way you do not promote the cause of Islam, you do great harm to Islam."

Reaction of Ayesha
The arguments advanced by Qa'aqa had their way. They were most effective and impressive Ayesha asked Qa'aqa, "Then, what do you suggest ?" He said, "I suggest that instead of fighting make peace. Strengthen the hands of Ali, and when law and order is fully established the Muslims acting in concert should determine how the vengeance for the blood of Othman could be taken. " Thereupon Ayesha said, "If that be the view of Ali as well, we agree to make peace on honorable terms. " Qa'aqa respectfully took leave of Ayesha, and returned to Ali to report the success of his mission.

Negotiations for peace
When Ali came to know of the success of the Mission of his emissary Qa'aqa to Ayesha, Talha and Zubair, he felt very happy. The two armies encamped in the "Wadi-us-Saba" (Valley of the Lion) near the village of Khuraiba outside Basra, facing each other. It was decided that the following day when the two armies assembled in the valley, the terms of peace would be negotiated, and the proclamation of peace would be issued.

The following day as the two forces assembled, Ali posted a man in the center carrying a copy of the Holy Quran on his head. This was indicative of the desire on the part of Ali to decide the dispute peacefully in the light of the teachings of the Holy Quran.

Ali rode to the center of the valley, and called upon Talha and Zubair to step forward to meet him. When Talha and Zubair came forward he asked them why they had rebelled against his authority when they had taken the oath of allegiance to him. They said that they had taken the oath under duress and it was not binding. He asked them, after all, what did they want. They said that they wanted "Qasas" for the assassination of Othman. Ali said that this matter could be considered under conditions of peace. Talha and Zubair said that if Ali was prepared to take "Qasas" from the murderers of Othman, they were prepared to make peace and acknowledge Ali as the Caliph. Ali said that he would consider their demand favorably.

Turning to Zubair, Ali said: "Have you forgotten that you are my cousin, being a son of my paternal aunt? Can you not recall that at one of our sittings with the Holy Prophet, he commended me to you? The Holy Prophet at that time predicted that I was to suffer harm at your hands, and you undertook to safeguard my interests and not to forsake me," At these words, Zabair shuddered and said "All of you have spoken the truth. I had forgotten the interview with the Holy Prophet. Now that you have reminded me of that, I will not harm your interests and would be prepared to make peace with you."

The meeting ended in an atmosphere of goodwill from both the sides. Thereafter the two armies retired to their camps, and the general impression was that peace would be made, and war would be avoided. Emissaries were exchanged between the two sides, and by the evening the general impression was that the terms of peace had been mutually agreed upon, and that the necessary peace treaty would be executed the following day.

The Regicides
The armies on the two sides heaved a sigh of relief on coming to know that peace was to be made the following day. At nightfall the men of the two armies retired to rest with easy hearts. The case with the regicides, the persons who had participated in the assassination of Othman was however different. In the army of Ali there were two to three thousand men of Kufa, who were involved in the revolt against Othman. When the confederates had occupied Basra they had executed all such men of Basra who were involved in the assassination of Othman as "Qasas" for the blood of Othman. The regicides of Kufa apprehended that in case peace was made between Ali and the confederates the terms of the agreement of peace were likely to be that the confederates would acknowledge the caliphate of Ali, and Ali would in turn order the execution of the regicides of Kufa like the execution of the regicides belonging to Basra. The leaders of the regicides of Kufa met in conference secretly to decide what course of action they should take to save their skins. It was proposed that Ali, Talha and Zubair should be killed. This proposal was turned down on the ground that such action on their part was likely to reunite the confederates and the followers of Ali, and they would together fight not only for the "Qasas" of Othman, but for the "Qasas" of Ali, Talha and Zubair as well. Many other proposals were considered. It was ultimately decided that they should take steps to insure that the two sides were locked in battle before the peace agreement was executed. In pursuance of this plan before the daybreak the regicides attacked the army of the confederates. When this attack came to the notice of Talha and Zubair they ordered their forces to meet the attack. They said that they knew before hand that Ali did not really mean to execute an agreement of peace. When the army of the confederates made a counter attack the regicides made Ali believe that the confederates had made a surprise attack. Ali asked his forces to take up arms and beat back the attack. Ali said that he already knew that Talha and Zubair were not serious in their peace proposals.

The Battle
Before it was day break the two armies had taken the field and engaged in a life and death struggle. The regicides fought most desperately, and their attacks were resisted by the confederates. The battle accordingly took a sanguinary turn. It was a deplorable engagement, when the Muslims cut the throats of Muslims. It appeared that the injunctions of Islam had been forgotten, and the people reverted to the pre-Islamic practice of settling their disputes through the arbitration of the sword. According to chronicles when the opposing sides came together breast to breast with a furious shock the noise that was produced was like the sound of thunder. The forces of the two sides fought with the ferocity of lions and men fell on the battlefield from both the sides like the fall of autumn leaves. Talha fought bravely, and he killed many warriors of the army of Ali. He was however mortally wounded by the arrows that hit him. He was carried in an unconscious state to a house in Basra where he soon expired. By noon the tide of the battle began to turn against the confederates at this stage. Zubair is also reported to have escaped from the battlefield, and taken the road to Makkah. When Ayesha came to know of the state of the battle, she came to the battle seated in a litter on a camel. She exhorted the people to stop fighting. She posted Kasb b Sur the Qazi of Basra in the center of the battlefield with a copy of the Holy Quran on his head. He exhorted the men of the army of Ali to stop fighting in the name of God. Some men of the army of Ali were inclined to listen to the call of Kaab b Sur well known for his piety and learning. The regicides who were in the forefront of the fight cried "He is the man who reported that Talha and Zubair had not taken the oath of allegiance to Ali voluntarily. Kill him." The regicides rained arrows on Kaab b Sur, and he fell dead. The confederates shot arrows in return killing some of the regicides. The frenzy of the combatants appeared to know no bounds the appalling carnage continued unabated, and the dead and the dying lay pilled in heaps. Ayesha seated in a litter on a camel became the main target for attack by the forces of Ali. The followers of Ayesha flocked round her camel to protect her. A devoted follower held the reins of the camel, and as any one from the army of Ali advanced to attack the camel, the man holding the reins of the camel cut him with his sword. In such duels many persons fell on both the sides. Over two dozen persons of the army of the confederates lost their heads while holding the bridle of the camel of Ayesha. The casualties in the case of the warriors of the army of Ali who dashed against the camel were much heavier. Ali felt that as long as the camel of Ayesha stood, the battle would continue. In order to end the battle, Ali directed his men to slip behind the camel and cut off its legs. Some warriors of the forces of Ali managed to slip behind the camel and cut off its legs. As the beast fell on the ground dead, it gave such a shriek that made the men shiver in their shoes. Ayesha escaped with her life although the litter in which she had been sitting was pierced with arrows. Ayesha was lifted out of the litter, and borne to a house is Basra.

End of the battle
With the fall of Ayesha's camel, the battle ended in the victory of Ali, and the defeat of the confederates. As in this battle, the camel of Ayesha became the main target of attack. The battle came to be known as the Battle of the Camel. The loss on both the sides was considerable. Over ten thousand persons were killed in the battle. Among the dead on both the sides, there were many prominent companions of the Holy Prophet who had fought in the wars under the Holy Prophet, and the rightly guided Caliphs, Abu Bakr, Umar, and Othman.

Talha the confederate leader died because of the wounds received in the battle; Zubair escaped from the battlefield and he took the road to Makkah. He had proceeded for some distance from Basra when he came across a detachment led by the Banu Qais chief Ahnaf b Qais. Here Zubair halted to offer prayers. When Zubair prostrated himself in prayers, one of the men of Ahnaf cut off the head of Zubair with the blow of his sword. Ahnaf brought the head of Zubair to Ali hoping to be awarded for killing his enemy. At they sight of the gory head of his cousin, Ali burst into sobs and turning to Ahnaf said, "You have done a ghastly deed, and verily your lot is hell fire, Ahnaf was surprised at the remarks of Ali. Addressing Ali he said, "You are an evil judge of men. If some one delivers you from your enemies you pronounce the penalty of hell fire on him. " Bitterly resenting what he felt to be a great injustice, Ahnaf drew his sword, and plunged it into his own breast.

Treatment of the people of Basra
Some of the followers of Ali demanded that, having been defeated, the survivors should be distributed as slaves among the soldiers of the victorious army. Ali turned down the demand saying that as the Caliph of the Muslims he could not allow the Muslims to be enslaved by Muslims in a country which was "Dar-ul Islam". The soldiers of the army of Ali desired that if they were not to be allowed to enslave the people of Basra, they should be allowed to plunder their property. Ali turned down this demand as well with great force. He held that whatever arms and equipment had been brought to the battlefield on the occasion of the battle could be treated as 'Ghanima' (war booty) and captured, but whatever lay in the homes of the people belonged to them, and he could not permit his men to deprive the people of Basra of their rightful belongings. Whatever booty was collected from the battlefield was distributed among the soldiers according to the Islamic law, and they were asked to abstain from seizing any property of the people of Basra by force.

Occupation of Basra
After the three days of mourning were over, Ali entered the city of Basra and occupied it. He declared amnesty for the people of Basra, and asked them to assemble in the principal mosque of the city. When all the people had assembled, Ali addressed them. He said that his heart bled at the tragedy that had overtaken the people of Basra, for this they were themselves to blame. They had taken the oath of allegiance to him, but later they were misguided to repudiate such oath without cause. He observed that particular sanctity was attached to such oath, and could not be repudiated. He narrated at length the circumstances under which Othman had been killed, and how he had been elected as the Caliph. He added that Talha and Zubair were the first to offer allegiance to him, and they were the first to repudiate it. Thereafter be explained at length how the demand for the vengeance for the blood of Othman was merely a pretext for gaining some ulterior end. As regards Ayesha he said he had the greatest respect and regard for her. There were some minor points of difference between him and her but there was hardly any justification for making such petty differences the ground for an armed conflict. It was nor worthy of a lady of her rank and status to take to arms when according to the injunctions of Islam, ladies were required to sit in their homes, and the Holy Prophet himself had warned his wives in that respect. He added that those who had led the revolt labor under some misunderstanding, and they were misguided in taking to arms. Because of such misguidance, the Muslim Ummah had suffered, and at this suffering and disaster none was more grieved than he. He said, at this moment Basra lies bleeding. My heart bleeds at the tragedy that has befallen your city." He observed that he had granted amnesty to the people of Basra, and was prepared to forgive and forget the past, provided the people of Basra assured him of their loyalty. The speech of Ali had its effect. The spokesmen of the people of Basra regretted all that had happened, and assured Ali of their loyalty. Thereafter all the people of Basra offered allegiance to Ali. 'Fatehah' was offered for the souls of the dead from both the sides. Someone asked him whether he regarded the people who had opposed him and had died, as martyrs. He said that he regarded all the Muslims to whatever side they belonged and had died as martyrs, for rightly or wrongly they were of the conviction that they were fighting for cause. Ali led the prayers, and after the prayers, mercy of Allah was craved for keeping the Muslims united. Ali made the necessary arrangements for the administration of Basra. He took hold of the Baitul Mal, and compensated the people who had lost their dear ones. He made arrangements for the treatment of the wounded. It was noticed that some people of Basra who were in the forefront in opposition to Ali had escaped to seek the protection of tribes in the desert. Ali issued a proclamation that they were free to come to their homes in Basra and no action would be taken for their sins of omission or commission in the past.

Ayesha
The strain of the battle, the humiliation of her defeat, the failure of her mission, and the death of her dear ones were too much for Ayesha to bear. Although a brave woman, she took to weeping day and night and fell sick. Ali visited her frequently and tried to calm her feelings. He made arrangements that she was properly looked after and was provided all facilities. Ashtar the leader of the regicides purchased the most valuable camel in Basra and sent it to Ayesha in lieu of the camel that had been killed in the battle. Ayesha refused to accept the gift, and cursed Ashtar as the evil genius who was responsible for the troubles of the Muslim Ummah. When Ayesha recovered from her illness she expressed the desire to be sent to Madina. Ali made elaborate arrangements for her journey. A group of women from Basra accompanied her to Madina. Muhammad b Abu Bakr, a step-brother of Ayesha, was commissioned by Ali to escort her to Madina. Ali himself traveled with her caravan for one stage beyond Basra, and there saw her off, requesting her to forgive and forget, for no one could say whether they were destined to meet again or not. Ayesha reciprocated the goodwill of Ali and the two parted as friends. Back in Madina, Ayesha led a retired life and did not thereafter take part in politics. She contented herself with narrating the traditions of the Holy Prophet and in this field of scholarship, she came to be recognized as an authority.

Consequences of Ali's victory in the battle of the Camel
Ali won the Battle of the Camel. As a result of this victory, Ali's caliphate came to be acknowledged by the entire Muslim world except Syria. From the victory of Basra the victory of Damascus could have been one step but that was not to be. Basra could not become a stepping stone to further conquests. In the long run, Ali's victory over Basra proved to be rave elusive than real. The carnage in Basra had been heavy. Almost every family to whichever side they belonged lost one or more dear ones. Though the people took the oath of allegiance to Ali but they did not feel happy. General discontentment continued to smolder in the hearts of the people. In normal circumstances, Ali's victory of Basra should have strengthened his position, and overawed those who were still opposed to him. Things however did not turn that way. If peace could have been made at Basra, and Talha and Zubair had acknowledged the caliphate of Ali, the position of Ali would have been strengthened. The death of Talha and Zubair, as subsequent events showed worked to the advantage of Muawiyah. If they had been alive, Muawiyah was bound to contend against three rivals, Ali, Talha and Zubair. After the Battle of Basra he had to contend against Ali alone, and this was something in his favor. Heretofore Muawiyah had contented himself with cold war. He had abstained from taking to arms for he was afraid that such rebellion against established authority was likely to be looked by the Muslims with disfavor. The Battle of Basra sanctioned the use of the sword as an arbiter in the matter of succession to the caliphate. It provided an argument to Muawiyah that if the people of Basra could fight against Ali, so could the people of Syria.

The victory of Basra instead of proving a source of strength for Ali, proved in the long run to be a source of weakness. Most of the people had joined Ali in the hope that as in other wars they would amass wealth by plundering the defeated people. When Ali forbade such plunder, that led to discontentment, and those who had participated in the battle came to feel that nothing was to be gained by fighting for Ali. That created difficulties for Ali in recruiting men to fight against Muawiyah.

The Battle of Basra was indeed precipitated by the regicides much against the wishes of Ali. The victory of Basra made the regicides more powerful. That led to very embarrassing results for Ali. In Basra, Ayesha had executed all the regicides of Basra. That provided an argument to Muawiyah and other enemies of Ali, that he was involved in the murder of Othman for he had taken no action against the regicides and was instead protecting them.

As the peace parleys at Basra before the outbreak of the battle showed, Ali did want to take action against the regicides of Kufa as Ayesha had taken action against the regicides of Basra. Subsequent developments however made things difficult for Ali. These people, rebellious by nature, became a source of great headache for Ali. When Ali appointed his cousin Abdullah b Abbas as the Governor of Basra, these men viewed the appointment critically and said, "If every Caliph is to appoint his relatives as the Governors, why did we kill the old man Othman?" As with the passage of time the crisis deepened, those people progressively gained in power and importance, and Ali in spite of all his valor, integrity, and other notable qualities became a virtual prisoner in the hands of those "rebels". The Battle of Basra has cast a fatal shadow across the history of Islam. It was the first civil war between the Muslims, and it set the unfortunate precedent for the Muslims to fight among themselves to seek some secular end. The Battle of the Camel served as a prelude to the massacre of Karbala a generation later. The argument of Yazid was that if Ali could take to the sword to assert his right to the caliphate, so could he when most of the people had in fact taken the oath of allegiance to him. If the people of Basra were rebels, and Ali was justified in military action against them, thus he was justified in taking action against Imam Husain who had rebelled against his authority.

Kufa, the new capital
From Basra, Ali did not proceed to Madina. He proceeded to Kufa instead. When Ali had sent a mission to Kufa to get volunteers for the fight against Basra, he had promised the people of Kufa that would make their city the capital of the caliphate. After his victory of Basra, Ali declared Kufa to be the capital of the Muslim Commonwealth. When Ali had left Madina for his campaign against Talha and Zubair little did he imagine that he was not destined to visit Madina again.
After winning the victory at Basra, Ali came to feel that as he had won a victory at Basra against Ayesha, Talha and Zubair, so would he be able to win a victory against Muawiyah. For a campaign against Syria, the response from the people of Madina had been poor. As the people of Madina were religiously more advanced they were averse to side with any party for an armed conflict among the Muslims. Some eminent companions in Madina had even abstained from taking the oath of allegiance to Ali, and had preferred to follow a policy of neutrality. As such Ali felt that for any confrontation with Muawiyah, Madina could not serve as a base.

When Othman had been assassinated, the rebels had violated the sanctity of the holy city of the holy Prophet. Ali was accordingly of the view that in order to preserve the sanctity of the holy city of Madina, it was expedient that the political capital should be shifted elsewhere so that the sacred city should be spared the ordeals of facing political storms.

In the campaign against Basra, Ali had succeeded in raising a large force from Kufa. Ali hoped that after the victory of Basra, the prospects of raising a still larger force from Kufa for the campaign against Syria would be brighter. Geographically Kufa was more centrally located, and a war against Syria could be carried more advantageously with the base at Kufa instead of Madina. Those considerations prompted Ali to establish his capital at Kufa.

Ali at Kufa
Ali reorganized the administration. He appointed Governors and administrators for various provinces and districts. He appointed Qazis for the various cities. He issued instructions requiring his officers to administer justice with a stern hand. He asked the tax collectors to be prompt in the collection of taxes. They were; however, warned not to adopt oppressive measures. He exhorted his officials to be scrupulously honest. He asked all concerned to do their duties diligently and conscientiously. He wanted that law and order should be maintained strictly. That all miscreants should be rounded up and suitably punished. He brought home to all concerned that he would not tolerate any dereliction of duty on the part of any official high or low. He emphasized the need of promoting Islamic values.

The plan of Ali was that soon after the victory of Basra when the morale of his forces was high, he should invade Syria and bring Muawiyah to his knees. Ali soon found that there were difficulties in the materialization of such plan. The Bedouins of Kufa were once again at their game of creating discontent against the established authority. In the Battle of the Camel, in spite of the victory of Ali, many persons of Kufa had been killed. There was hardly any family which had not lost someone in the battle. The people of Kufa mourned the death of such persons, and they were not inclined to risk another war. At Basra, Ali had prohibited his men to pillage Basra, enslave the Basrites or, plunder their property. The Battle of Basra had not brought any material gain to the people of Kufa, and they were reluctant to undertake another campaign, unless they were assured of some material advantage.

Ali appointed his relatives and friends as the Governors of some provinces. Ashtar, the Bedouin leader of Kufa, stirred trouble by criticizing Ali for such appointments. To the people of Kufa he said, "What benefit has accrued to us in shedding the blood of Othman for his favoritism when his successor is to indulge in the same practice?" Those who mourned for the deaths of their dear ones in the Battle of Basra posed the question, "What have we gained in fighting against the Mother of the Faithful?" Thus hardly had Ali begun his rule in Kufa when the embers of discontent began to smolder in the capital city. The irony of the situation was that Ali had hardly any military force at his disposal which he could put into the field by his order. He had to raise volunteers for any action and the people had their own moods. The initiative had thus came to rest with them, and they dictated terms subject to which they would fight. By shifting the capital from Madina, Ali could not expect much help from Madina or Makkah, and he had to depend heavily on the people of Kufa. The difficulty with the people of Kufa was that they would not fight for a cause; they could be induced to fight only for some material advantage.

The difficulties of Ali increased when trouble began in the province of Seestan. The trouble was created by the followers of Abdullah b Saba, the man who had led the revolt against Othman. The extremist section among these rebels considered that there was no fun in killing one Caliph when he was to be succeeded by another Caliph. The aim of these rebels was that they should capture power for themselves, and set up an independent state. When Ayesha had captured, she had executed all such Basrites who were involved in the assassination of Othman. Although Ali defeated the confederates yet he had taken no action to avenge the death of those Basrites. The followers of Ibn Sabah raised the cry for the vengeance for the execution of these parties. They gained ascendancy in Seestan, which province broke into open revolt, and refused to pay taxes. Ali sent a force from Kufa to put down the revolt. The force of Ali suffered defeat. Another force sent from Kufa met a similar fate. It appears that there was some treachery in the ranks of the force of Ali. Ali thereafter raised another force from Yemen, and other parts of the empire and sent it to Seestan under the command of Abdullah b Abbas, the Governor of Basra. This time the rebels were defeated, and the revolt was suppressed. The campaigns in Seestan affected the prestige of the caliphate, and proved to be a great strain on the already meager resources at the disposal of the caliphate. In the campaign against Seestan much time was lost, and this loss of time worked to the advantage of Muawiyah and the disadvantage of Ali. According to one account the trouble in Seestan was created by the agents of Muawiyah who had no scruples in making common cause with the murderers of Othman.

Conflict between Ali and Muawiyah
After his election as the Caliph, Ali deposed Muawiyah from the governorship of Syria. Muawiyah did not accept the orders of Ali and refused to vacate office. While in all other provinces, oath of allegiance was taken to Ali, under the influence of Muawiyah no one in Syria took the oath of allegiance of his authority amounted to rebellion pure and simple. At the outset of his rule, Ali planned an action against Syria to suppress the revolt.

Things however got complicated, and instead of being resolved got tangled with the lapse of time. Muawiyah enjoyed the support of the people of Syria. Ali was thus not able to take disciplinary action against Muawiyah as the Head of a State could ordinarily take against a defiant subordinate. If Muawiyah had to be deposed, military action was necessary against the people of Syria. That obviously meant the Muslims fighting against the Muslims. This was something repugnant to Islam, and as such when Ali gave the call to arms for a military action against Syria, the response from the people of Madina was very poor. Expedition against Syria had therefore to be deferred for some reason or the other. The delay worked to the advantage of Muawiyah, as thereby he consolidated his power.

Difficulties were created for Ali, when Talha and Zubair who had taken the oath of allegiance to him defected and were joined by Ayesha. Ayesha, Talha and Zubair occupied Basra and Ali had to lead a force against Basra instead of against Syria. Ali won the victory over the confederates but this was achieved at a heavy cost. Over ten thousand persons died in this battle and their death was deeply mourned by the Muslim world. That also proved to be a drain at the limited resources at the disposal of Ali. When after the Basra campaign Ali turned to Syria, Muawiyah had become stronger, and things for Ali became all the more difficult.

Caliphate of Ali
After the assassination of Othman, 'Amr b Al-Aas decided to follow a policy of neutrality and watch further developments. When Ali was elected as the Caliph, 'Amr b Al-Aas neither took the oath of allegiance to Ali nor opposed him. 'Amr b Al-Aas had expected that Ali would offer him the governorship of Egypt. If Ali had offered him the governorship of Egypt he would have offered him allegiance. In the absence of such offer 'Amr b Al-Aas decided to remain in Palestine and watch further developments. Ali appointed Qais b Sa'ad as the Governor of Egypt. Qais proved to be a good Governor, and he kept Egypt safe for Ali. Muawiyah succeeded in creating differences between Ali and Qais which culminated in the deposition of Qais. Amr b Al-Aas expected that Ali would in his own interests appoint him as the Governor of Egypt. When Ali appointed Muhammad b Abu Bakr as the Governor of Egypt, 'Amr b Al-Aas despaired of any recognition from Ali. That threw him in the lap of Muawiyah.

The task before Ali
After Ali had established his capital at Kufa, the task before him was to tackle the problem of Syria through peaceful means, if possible, and through the use of sword, if otherwise. Muawiyah had defied the authority of Ali and in the interests of the solidarity of Islam. It was necessary that Muawiyah should be persuaded to submit to the authority of Ali, and if he was not inclined to listen to reason, action should be taken against him as any government would take an action against a rebel.

As a matter of fact, Ali planned an action against Syria immediately after his election. The expedition against Syria had to be deferred as the response of the people of Madina for a war against Syria was poor. Later, complications arose when Talha and Zubair defected, and under the leadership of Ayesha the confederates occupied Basra. In the circumstances, Ali was forced to march to Basra instead of Syria. Ali won the victory at Basra, and the revolt of the confederates was successfully suppressed, though with considerable loss.

Ali had a plan to march against Syria just after his victory of Basra. The expedition had however to be deferred. Ali needed some time to consolidate his rule at Kufa. Adequate response from the people of Kufa to undertake an expedition against Syria was not forthcoming. Further complications arose when a revolt broke out in Seestan. This revolt was suppressed with some difficulty.

Envoy to Syria
After suppression of the revolt in Seestan, Ali once more turned to the affairs of Syria. By this time, a year had elapsed since the election of Ali. During this period, Muawiyah had added to his strength. He had persisted in his propaganda in the name of vengeance for the blood of Othman. Ali felt that the expedition against Syria had already been sufficiently delayed, and such immediate action to tackle the problem effectively was called for.

Although Ali had every justification to lead a military expedition to Syria forthwith, he nevertheless decided to explore the possibilities of arriving at a settlement through peaceful means in the first instance. He wanted to send an envoy to Muawiyah, and in this connection he looked for man who commanded some influence with Muawiyah. The choice of Ali in this connection fell on Jarir b Abdullah. He was the Governor of Hamdan under Othman. Ali had retained him in his office, and he had taken the oath of allegiance to Ali. He was a personal friend of Muawiyah. Ali summoned Jarir b Abdullah to Kufa, and commissioned him to proceed as his envoy to Syria and prevail upon Muawiyah to submit to the authority of Ali. Malik Ashtar the leader of the regicides advised Ali that Jarir should not be sent to Syria for he was a friend of Muawiyah, and he would promote the interests of Muawiyah, rather than those of Ali. Ashtar opted to go himself. As Malik Ashtar was involved in the assassination of Othman, Ali did not consider it advisable to send him as an envoy to Syria.

Jarir b Abdullah went to Syria. He was warmly received by Muawiyah. Jarir tried to persuade Muawiyah to submit to the authority of Ali. Ali, so argued Jarir was the elected Caliph, and in the interests of the solidarity of Islam it was necessary to maintain the unity of Ummah. Muawiyah detained Jarir, and asked him to see things for himself. In the main mosque of Damascus the blood stained shirt and the amputated fingers of Naila were displayed and as the faithful entered the mosque and looked at these relics they wept and mourned at the death of Othman. They took the oath that they would not rest content until they had avenged the murder of Othman. Jarir b Abdullah visited other cities in Syria, and everywhere he saw the people prepared for war to avenge the death of Othman.

Jarir b Abdullah returned to Kufa to report that the people of Syria were bent upon making war to avenge the death of Othman. On the failure of the mission of Jarir, Malik Ashtar said that he already knew that nothing could come out of his mission as he was Muawiyah's man. Malik Ashtar said that if he had been sent as an envoy the results would have been different. Jarir retorted that the people of Syria would have murdered him. Ashtar said that he would have first murdered Muawiyah. Hot words were exchanged between Malik Ashtar and Jarir. Jarir felt disgusted and shifted to Syria where he was well looked after by Muawiyah.

Muawiyah's envoy
When Muawiyah incited the people of Syria to war against Ali there were some people who were averse to the Muslims fighting among themselves. A group of such persons led by Abu Muslim waited on Muawiyah, and advised him to abstain from war. Muawiyah said that all that he wanted was "Qasas" for the murder of Othman which was a religious obligation for him. He added that if Ali took the Qasas from those who were involved in the murder of Othman, or handed over such persons to him he would be prepared to offer allegiance to Ali. Abu Muslim volunteered to go to Kufa as an envoy of Muawiyah. Muawiyah agreed and sent him to Ali as his envoy. Ali took the envoy to the mosque and there explained to the people the purpose of his mission. Thereupon all the people assembled in the mosque cried with one voice "We all are the murderers of Othman." Turning to the envoy Ali said "You may tell Muawiyah what you have seen and heard". Abu Muslim returned disappointed to Syria. Things had come to be tied in such knots that there appeared to be no possibility of resolving that dispute through peaceful means. On one side, the people of Syria clamored for war to avenge the murder of Othman, and on the other side, the people of Iraq held that they all were the murderers of Othman. In the circumstances, war appeared to be inevitable. Muawiyah maintained that just as the confederates under Ayesha invaded Basra to take action against such Basrites who were involved in the murder of Othman, thus he would have to invade Iraq to punish those who were guilty of the murder of Othman. The stand of Ali was that the cry for the vengeance for the blood of Othman was merely a pretext for capturing power, for in case Muawiyah was really interested in claiming "Qasas." The proper course for him was to take the oath of allegiance to him, and then lodge a claim for "Qasas" in the usual way enjoined by law. Ali maintained that if Muawiyah persisted in his stand and refused to listen to reason there would be no option with him (Ali), but to fight against Muawiyah as he had fought against the confederates at Basra.

Finality of the election of the Caliph
Muawiyah objected to the election of Ali as the Caliph. Ali refused the objection in the following terms: "I was elected by the same electorate which had elected my three predecessors, namely: Abu Bakr, Umar, and Othman. After the election had taken place, and the people had declared allegiance to the newly elected Caliph, neither those who were present, nor those who were absent have the right to object to the election. The electorate consists of the Muhajirin and the Ansars only, and if this electorate has elected the Caliph, the election is final and is binding on the entire Ummah. In view of this legal position if anybody objects to such election, and repudiates the decision of the competent electorate, he is a rebel, and has to be treated as such. O Muawiyah, I solemnly declare that if you take a fair view of the matter without any prejudice or bias, you will realize that I am not even remotely connected with the murder of Othman. It is quite another matter that you are levying this accusation against me only to promote your ulterior purpose".

Delivery of the murderers of Othman
Muawiyah demanded that the murderers of Othman should be handed over to him. In reply, Ali wrote as follows:

Our community resolved to assassinate the Holy Prophet. They decided to uproot the descendants of the Holy Prophet. They made many plans to destroy us. They withheld water supply from us. They subjected us to great trials and tribulations. God, however, came to our help, and saved his religion. During this period the believers advocated the cause, but the infidels were moved by considerations of loyalty to the tribe. The practice of the Holy Prophet was that when any war was at its height, he would make his relatives face the brunt of the battle. In the Battle of Badr, Ubaida b Harith was martyred. Hamza met his martyrdom in the Battle of Uhud. Jafar my elder brother was martyred in the Battle of Mutah. I did not lag behind in these wars but martyrdom was withheld from me. It is a vicissitude of times that I have to deal with a man who cannot take even two steps with me, and who cannot claim priority over me. If any one raises a false claim, may God take care of. As regards the demand that the murderers of Othman should be delivered to you, I cannot accept the demand for you have rebelled against my authority and I have to deal with you as a rebel."

Challenge to Muawiyah
Muawiyah gave the threat of war, and in reply Ali challenged him as follows: "O Muawiyah what will you do when this mantle of the world which you are wearing is taken off from you. The world has attracted you. It spread its net, and you have been trapped therein. The world called you, and you welcomed its call. You have forgotten that you will be summoned to a place where no shield would protect you. Thus you should desist from the course you have adopted. Prepare your account, and take steps to protect you from the disaster that is going to overwhelm you. Do not listen to the advice of those who have strayed from the right path. If you do not desist from the wrong course that you have adopted, bear in mind that I would bring to you to senses. What are you? You are merely a wayward profligate man who has been enslaved by Satan. Satan has now become your sole guide, the end all and be all of your existence. O Muawiyah tell me when were you the leader of the community, and the ruler of the people. You had no priority in Islam. Even in the age of ignorance you held no office. Seek the protection of God. Misfortune makes you tread the wrong way. Fired with ambition and greed you are proceeding on the way that leads to perdition.

You have invited me to war. Very well Keep all the men aside, and step forward to meet me in single combat. Why engage all the troops in armed conflict. Let us decide this issue by a duel, so that it may become evident as to who has gone astray and has become blind. Have you forgotten that I am the man who in the Battle of Badr killed your maternal grandfather, maternal uncle and brother. You accepted Islam as a matter of expediency and Islam is as yet not a matter of faith with you. You have declared that you have stepped into the field to seek vengeance for the blood of Othman. You know very well who were responsible for the murder of Othman. If you are in earnest in your declaration, seek vengeance from the right quarter. But I am seeing something else. I very well see that when war is brought about, you will shriek like a wounded camel. I foresee that in war afraid of the carnage your men will call me to go back of God, although they have falsified the word of God and violated the oath of allegiance that they had taken to me. "

Partition of the Muslim state
Muawiyah suggested that the Muslim State be partitioned and Syria be assigned to him. Ali replied in the following terms: "As regards your proposal that Syria be assigned to you I cannot accept that proposal today which I have rejected yesterday. Your observation that war has eaten into the vital of the Arabs, you should bear in mind that those who fought in the cause of God have earned paradise and those who fought to secure a worldly end have already been sentenced to hell. Your statement that in the matter of military strength we both are at par, is mere presumption, and presumption cannot take the place of conviction. Also keep in mind that the people of Iraq are as much desirous of paradise as the people of Syria covet that world. Your statement that we both are the descendants of Abd Manaf is correct, but it should be remembered that the Banu Umayya are not to equal to Banu Hashim; Harb can not equal Abdul Muttalib; Sufiyan is not equal to Abu Talib, nor can falsehood equal the truth. You have forgotten that we have honor of prophethood with us. It was because of this prophethood that the powerful were humbled, and the lowly were elevated. When Islam triumphed and the people willingly or unwillingly were converts, who accepted the faith because of fear, or greed. In the circumstances the proper thing for you that you should not allow Satan to overpower you."

Ali and his predecessors
In the letter, Muawiyah took the stand that Ali did not offer whole-hearted support to the previous three Caliphs, namely Abu Bakr, Umar, and Othman. The game of Muawiyah was the Ali should say somthing against his predecessors which Muawiyah could exploit for the purpose of the propaganda. Ali replied to this letter in the following terms: "You have told me that God chose the Holy prophet for delivering his message, and the companions accepted the message. To tell this to me who belong to household of the Holy prophet is like the carrying of the dates to Hijr which is known for the abundance of its dates. You have claimed that in Islam such and such person have precedence. This assertion is such that if it is correct you are not even remotely connected therewith, if it is not correct that would not harm you in any way. How are you concerned with the matter as to who is superior or otherwise in the matter of Islam. Your sponsoring this issue is like making the criminal the judge.

Muawiyah you are fast speeding on the road to perdition. You have transgressed all limits. Desist from your ignominy. Remember that we are the household of the Holy prophet and whom God has already tested. Have you ever thought that our clan is to supervise your clan but nevertheless the Holy prophet contracted some marital relation with household to save you from any feeling of inferiority complex. We claim precedence in Islam because we belong to the household of the Holy Prophet, and we were most devoted to him. You have alleged that I was jealous of all the caliphs preceding me, and was hostile to them. If what you say is for the sake of argument correct, I have not committed any fault for which I owe an explanation to you. You said that in making me take the oath of allegiance to the previous Caliphs I was dragged as a camel with the bridle in its nose. You have thus presented me as a person who is deprived of his right and is oppressed. By your misguided criticism you have in fact praised me. You have referred to my attitude to Othman. I must reply to this part of your letter for you are related to him. Please peep into your heart and say who set the net for his murder, you or I. Is it not a fact that you remained indifferent to his protection, while I tried my best to the last to avert the crisis. I owe you no apology when I admit that I did differ from him in the matter of his policies, and I always tried to offer him sound advice, which he did not or could not accept. You have written that for me you have nothing but sword. That has made me laugh. When did you find the descendants of Abdul Muttalib fear the sword or shrank from war when it was forced on them. Do not worry. I will soon bring my troops to face you in battle."

Ali's army
When war between Ali and Muawiyah became inevitable, preparations for a show down were made by both the sides. Ali managed to raise an army 90,000 strong. It included men from Kufa, Iraq, Basra and Madina. Ali made Malik Ashtar the Commander-in-Chief of his forces. The army was divided into a number of commands and each command had its own commander.
In the correspondence that was exchanged between the two sides, option was given to Ali to lead the force to Syria or let the Syrian forces come to Iraq Ali opted to lead his forces to Syria. In March 657, Ali set out from Kufa at the head of his army. From Rufa the army proceeded to Madina. Here more troops joined the army of Ali. From Madina Ali set out for Syria. His plan was to march through Upper Mesopotamia and invade Syria from the north. The advance guard of the army advanced along the western bank of the Euphrates. The main army under Ali advanced up to the Tigris, and thereafter entered the Mesopotamian desert.

Onward to Siffin
After crossing the desert, Ali and his troops pushed on Al-Raqqa on the left bank of the Euphrates, here they had to cross the river. They asked the people of Al-Raqqa to provide them boats and build a bridge of boats for them. The people of Al Raqqa said that in the war between the Muslim people they would remain neutral and as such they could not construct the bridge for them. Thereupon Malik Ashtar the Commander-in-Chief of the forces of Ali challenged the people of Al-Raqqa that unless they provided the necessary boats and constructed the bridge for them, he would declare war against them, and order their massacre. The people of Al-Raqqa consulted among themselves and ultimately agreed to construct the bridge of boats for the army of Ali to cross the river.

After crossing the river, the troops of Ali advanced along the right bank of the river in the direction of Aleppo. Here they came across the Syrian vanguard. The Syrians did not risk a skirmish with the forces of Ali and withdrew precipitately.

At Sur-Rum, along the borders of Syria, the Alid forces had a skirmish with the Syrian guards. The Syrians suffered defeat and retreated. Thereafter the forces of Ali reached the plain of Siffin, where they found the Syrian forces under Muawiyah drawn up in strength and waiting for them.
Muawiyah's command of water supply.

As the troops of Ali arrived in the valley of Siffin, it was found that the forces of Muawiyah had already occupied the best part of the valley. There was only one source of water supply in the valley, and Muawiyah had so arrayed his forces that they controlled the water supply of the whole valley, and the troops of Ali had no access to water at any place. The strategy of Muawiyah obviously was to force a defeat on Ali by exposing his troops to the rigors of thirst.

Negotiation for access to water supply
The first task of Ali was to gain an access to the source of water supply. Ali sent a letter to Muawiyah through a delegation. Ali pointed out to Muawiyah that according to the injunctions of Islam as well as according to the rules of warfare, access to water supply could not be denied to the combatants. Ali observed that any armed conflict between the two rides would lead to great loss of life on both the sides. He was therefore keen that the disputes between the two sides should be decided through peaceful negotiations. He added that he was not going to lead an attack unless all possibilities of peace had been exhausted. He brought home the point that in this context it was necessary that both the sides should have equal opportunities of access to water, and the area around the source of water supply should be declared a neutral zone. On receiving the letter of Ali, Muawiyah called his council of war. 'Amr b Al Aas the Commander-in-Chief of the forces of Muawiyah observed that according to the rules of warfare access to water had to be provided to the combatants from both the sides. He suggested that while maintaining over all control over the source of water supply they should allow the men of the forces of Ali to obtain water for their needs at specified hours subject to terms which might be mutually agreed upon.

Abdullah b Abi Sirah, a former Governor of Egypt, and a foster brother of Othman suggested that they should adopt the tactics of delay by neither providing access to the water supply to the other side, nor refusing to do so. He was of the view that because of such delay the forces of Ali would have no option but to retreat from the valley, and when they were on a retreat they could be attacked in the rear.

Some counselors of Muawiyah held that they were seeking vengeance for the blood of Othman. The rebels had denied access to water to Othman. It was accordingly necessary that those who had subjected Othman to the rigors of thirst should likewise be subjected to the suffering. Muawiyah gave an evasive reply to the delegation that he had received from Ali. He did not refuse the demand outright, but did not accept it either. His game was to play for time. In the meantime, he sent reinforcements for his troops that guarded the source of water supply.

Battle for water
When the delegation of Ali returned from Muawiyah, Ali called for his own council of war. After deliberations it was decided that an immediate attack should be made to gain control of the source of water supply. In the action that followed there was hard fighting with lances and swords. Some persons were killed from both the sides, but ultimately the forces of Ali had the upper hand, and they dislodged the Syrians from all the points commanding access to the source of water supply.
Now the position was reversed, and Muawiyah had to approach Ali to allow the Syrians access to the source of water supply. Some of the counselors of Ali advised him to pay the Syrians in their own coin, and to refuse them access to the source of water supply. Ali overruled them saying that Islam did not permit them to stop the supply of water to their enemy. He said that he had to be guided by the Book of God, and he could not act in the way the people acted during the Age of Ignorance. While the troops of Ali maintained the over all control of the source of water supply, the troops of Muawiyah were allowed to have the water they needed at specified hours. During such hours men from both the sides came in contact, and the general feeling was that instead of resorting to an armed conflict, the disputes between the two sides should be settled through peaceful means.

The Armies
The armies that lay in camp at Siffin facing each other were the largest armies so far assembled in the history of Islam. The irony was that such large armies had not been assembled to fight against the non-Muslims in the name of God. The misfortune was that the Muslims were arrayed to fight against the Muslims and each side claimed that it had taken the field for cause. Nevertheless both the sides wished to gain the end they had in view without an armed conflict. Ali instructed his men that they should not fire the first shot. Muawiyah likewise hesitated to take the initiative in beginning the war. With such large concentration of troops at one place, absolute peace was out of question. Isolated skirmishes took place every now and then leading to loss of life on both the sides. There was however no direct clash between the armies as a whole. For over two months the armies as whole remained quiet and in a state of suspense being officially neither at war, nor at peace. Then came the month of Moharrum and during this month the hostilities were officially suspended.

Overtures for peace
During these months peace, overtures were made, and peace missions were exchanged between the two sides almost everyday. The missions that were sent by Ali to Muawiyah tried to make out the point that Muawiyah should fear God, and refrain from creating dissentions among the Muslims. He was told that as Ali had been elected as the Caliph, it was his bounden duty to owe allegiance to him. It was also pointed out that in view of his learning, piety, relationship with the Holy Prophet, services to Islam, and other extraordinary qualities of head and heart, he was the most suitable person to be the Caliph of the Muslims. The stand of Muawiyah was that the election of Ali was irregular as it had been held under the pressure of the rebels. He accused Ali of involvement in the murder of Othman. He observed that he was the cousin of Othman, and according to the injunctions of Islam it was incumbent on him to seek "Qasas" for the murder of Othman.

To the charges of Muawiyah, the emissaries of Ali maintained that the election of Ali had been elected by all the citizens of Madina. All previous regular elections of the Caliphs had been held by the people of Madina, and in the case of the election of Ali the electorate was the same. The rebels did not exercise pressure on the people of Madina to elect a particular person; their pressure was only to the extent that they should elect some person as the Caliph. The claims of all the eligible candidates were duly considered, and by general consensus, Ali was superior to all of them. In fact all other candidates had withdrawn their claims. If any, Muawiyah's contention was that Ali's election was vitiated because of his involvement in the murder of Othman. The emissaries of Ali observed that this accusation was false. Ali was neither directly nor indirectly involved in the assassination of Othman. As a matter of fact, Ali had tried his best to support Othman. They emphatically pointed out that to levy such a charge on a person of the caliber of Ali was sheer sacrilege. Muawiyah maintained that if Ali had supported Othman sincerely, the tragedy would have been avoided. The emissaries of Ali posed the question: You were entrenched in power in Syria, and you had an army at your disposal. You were fully aware of the difficulties of the situation. Why did you not take proper steps to defend Othman." Muawiyah had no satisfactory reply to this question. The emissaries of Ali thereafter posed another question: "During the last days of the siege of his home, Othman had asked the provincial governors including yourself to send him aid against the rebels. Why did you and the provincial governors not send the aid. Are you then not indirectly responsible for the assassination of Othman." Muawiyah had no answer to this question as well and that led to the exchange of hot and bitter words between Muawiyah and the emissaries of Ali.

The emissaries of Ali asked a further question: You say that if Ali had supported Othman the tragedy would have been avoided. Did Ali have any force at his disposal. If you who had a large army at your disposal could not avert the tragedy, how could Ali who had no force at his disposal avert the tragedy." Muawiyah said that if Ali was not involved in the murder of Othman he should hand over these murderers to him. The missions sent by Ali pointed out that the proper way to ask for Qasas was that he should offer the oath of allegiance to Ali and thereafter file a claim for Qasas before him. The delegates brought home to Muawiyah the fallacy in his stand. If his demand for Qasas was genuine he should have strengthened the hands of Ali to enable him bring the murderers of Othman to book. By rebelling against the authority of Ali he had enabled the murderers of Othman seek an alliance with Ali. In such circumstances it was impossible for Ali to take action against the persons who were his allies. It was pointed out with great force that the responsibility for complicating the state of affairs devolved on Muawiyah and not on Ali, who would have himself avenged the murder of Othman if difficulties had not been created in his way.
Muawiyah suggested that a way out of the difficulty was that he should be recognized as the Caliph of Syria while Ali could continue as the Caliph of the rest of the Muslim world. Ali did not agree to this proposal as this was regarded to be repugnant to the spirit of Islam. Ali also pointed out that this proposal on the part of Muawiyah had let the cat out of the bag and betrayed his real intention. That provided a conclusive proof to the effect that the cry for vengeance for the blood of Othman was merely a pretext to capture power.

Ali sent a message to Muawiyah that if all this fuss was about the caliphate between himself and Muawiyah, why create dissentions among the Muslims and shed the blood of innocent persons? In the usual Arab way, Ali proposed a duel with Muawiyah. It was pointed out that in that way whosoever survived would be the Caliph. 'Amr b Al Aas advised Muawiyah that the proposal of Ali should be accepted. Muawiyah hesitated to accept the proposal for he knew that Ali had so far fought hundreds of duels, and in all such duels his adversaries had been killed. Amr b Al Aas pointed out that such was the case many years ago. With the lapse of time, Ali had grown fat and unwieldy and in any personal combat he was apt to lose the balance and be overpowered. Muawiyah, however, could not make up his mind to take the risk of a personal combat with Ali and he refused the offer.

Thereafter all negotiations for peace broke down and both the sides began to prepare for war.

Hostilities on a limited scale
When the sacred month of Moharrum was over, and the possibilities of any settlement through peaceful means had receded, war between the two sides became imminent. Still hoping against hope, war on a full fledged scale was avoided, and hostilities began on a limited scale. A detachment from each side was led to fight each day. The battle waged for the whole day and the two detachments retired to their respective camps at nightfall. The following day other detachments took the field, and after a day long combat they retired to their camps when the night set. This process continued for a week. Losses of life occurred on both the sides, but these contests were more like tournaments than battles. After a week the patience of both the sides was exhausted, and the entire armies from both the sides took the field for a headlong clash.

The main battle
The main battle began on the 8th of Safar 37 A.H. The heralds from the army of Ali stepped forward, and shouted to the army of Muawiyah to accept the truth and acknowledge the caliphate of Ali. The heralds from the army of Muawiyah shouted, "We seek vengeance for the blood of Othman. Hand us his murderers if you are in the truth". These calls proved ineffective, and the two armies arrayed themselves for action.

The army of Ali was divided into the three usual wings, the right wing, the left wing and the central wing. The central wing was commanded by Ali himself and this wing comprised some veteran companions of Madina. One wing comprised contingents from Kufa, and the other wing comprised contingents from Basra. The cavalry of the Kufa wing was led by Malik Ashtar while the infantry of this wing was led by Umar b Yasir. The cavalry of the Basra wing was led by Sahl b Hanif, while its infantry was led by Qais b Sa'ad.

Before the war began Ali addressed his army. He said that they were fighting in the cause of God, and the vindication of the truth. He exhorted his men to prove their worth by performing prodigies of valor. If they survived they would be Ghazis and if they fell, paradise would await them. He asked his men not to fire the first shot. The enemy should take the initiative, but when the war began they should not rest content till they had defeated the enemy. The men were enjoined not to turn their backs. They were exhorted to play the role of heroes. They were instructed not to attack any wounded person; not to cut the limbs of dead person; not to molest women; not to kill the aged and the children; and not to plunder. They were asked to be steadfast, talk less and fear God.

Before the beginning of the battle proper, according to the usual Arab practice the challenge to personal duel was given, Ali gave the challenge for personal combat with Muawiyah. Muawiyah did not accept the challenge. Then Malik Ashtar the Commander-in-Chief of the forces of Ali stepped forward, and gave a challenge for a personal duel with 'Amr b Al 'Aas the Commander-in-chief of the forces of Muawiyah, 'Amr b Al Aas did not accept the challenge.

The main battle
After the refusal of Muawiyah and Amr b Al 'Aas to accept the challenge of personal combat, the two armies drawn out in battle array fought for the whole day, but neither side get the better of the other. The following day the combat was removed with greater vigor. Ali was in the center of his army with the flower of troops from Madina. Muawiyah had a pavilion pitched in the battlefield and there surrounded by his bodyguard. He watched the course of the battle. 'Amr b Al-'Aas with a great weight of horse charged the Kufa wing of the forces of Ali which gave way and exposed Ali to imminent peril. Ali and the men of the central wing fought bravely and repulsed the charge. Malik Ashtar the Commander-in-Chief of the forces of Ali then led a charge against Muawiyah. The pavilion of Muawiyah was surrounded by five columns of body guards ranged one after the other. Four of these five ranks were cut to pieces by Ashtar and his men. At this stage Muawiyah contemplated fight. 'Amr b Al-'Aas rushed to his side, and advised him not to lose heart. He said "Courage to day, victory tomorrow". With great effort, the forces of Muawiyah beat back the attack and thereafter the two forces fought on equal terms. Feats of bravery were performed by men from both the sides leading to heavy blood shed.

On the third day the battle began again with unprecedented vigor. The Syrians pressed against the ranks of the forces of Ali, but Ashtar drove them back with a good deal of slaughter. Then 'Ammaar b Yasir with his contingent dashed forward from the ranks of the forces of Ali and attacked the forces of Muawiyah with the ferocity of a lion. He penetrated deep into the ranks of the enemy causing great havoc. Bent on seeking martyrdom 'Ammaar fell after he had broken the ranks of the enemy. 'Amaar was a distinguished companion of the Holy Prophet. In the time of Umar he was the Governor of Kufa. He developed some differences with Othman. When Ali became the Caliph, Ammaar was his ardent supporter. He fought on the side of Ali in the Battle of the Camel. About him the Holy Prophet had prophesied that he would be killed by a group of godless and rebellious people. 'Ammaar was ninety years old at the time of his martyrdom. When the people came to know of the martyrdom of Ammaar and recalled the prophecy of the Holy Prophet it demoralized the troops of Muawiyah. Muawiyah tried to keep up the morale of his people by saying that the responsibility for his death lay with Hadra1 Ali who had brought him to 6ght in spite of his old ago. The death of 'Ammaar was a great personal loss for Ali and he felt as if one of his hands had been cut off.

The following day the war was continued causing a good deal of slaughter. As the day wore on, the position of the army of Muawiyah began worsening. Their supply of arrows was exhausted, and they began pelting the forces of Ali with stones. The Syrians next look to javelins and lances. Finally they fell on the troops of Ali with swords. The battle continued during the night as well. In the nocturnal battle Ali played the role of a hero. He stood firm as a rock, and beat back the attacks of the Syrians killing according to chronicles as many as five hundred persons with his ponderous two edged sword.

The ruse of the Syrians
In the actions so far fought, the forces of Ali had the upper hand, and the final collapse of the Syrians was well in sight. In order to avert their defeat the Syrians now resorted to a ruse. The next day when the battle began again, the Syrians hung the leaves from the Holy Quran on their lances and raised the cry, "O ye men of Iraq, should you kill us what would become of our families and should we slay you what would become of your wives and children. Let us stop this sad warfare, and resort to the decision of the Book of God.

As soon as the men of Iraq heard the appeal of the Syrians, they threw down their arms, and echoed the cry, "Let the Book of God decide between us". Ali expostulated with his men saying that this was a nefarious device of Muawiyah to cloak his defeat. Ali warned his men not to fall into the trap, but to fight to the finish. This had no appeal for the men of Iraq. They argued that since they were fighting for the sake of God they could not refuse arbitration based on the Book of God. Ali said that of all the people in the world he would be the first to accept the decision of the Book of God, but he knew full well that neither Muawiyah nor the people around him had any knowledge of the Quran or the injunctions of Islam. They were merely exploiting the Book of God for an ulterior purpose, and it was necessary that they should be frustrated in their object. Ali exhorted the people of Iraq to continue the fighting till they were victorious.

The revolt in Ali army
The exhortations of Ali had no effect. About 20,000 men of Iraq let by Zaid b Hasan, and Mustur bin Fidki openly revolted and laid down their arms. The rebels approached Ali, and calling him no longer their Caliph, but simply Ali, declared "Ali you are appealing to the sword, and they are appealing to the Quran. Let the issue of the caliphate be deferred to the judgment of God's Book". They adopted a hostile attitude, and warned Ali that if he did not submit to their demand, he would meet the same fate as had befallen his predecessor, Othman.

Heartbroken at the treachery of his men, Ali exclaimed with great grief, "Alas, you are deserting me at the critical time of need. Go and join the Syrian coalition against God and His Apostle." The rebels did not rest content with their own revolt. A large section of the army under Ashtar was still fighting, and they were having an upper hand. The rebels demanded that orders should be issued recalling Ashtar from the battlefield. The rebels went to the extent of reproaching Ali. He was accused of being an accomplice in the murder of Othman. He was accused of fighting against the Syrians to quench his thirst for self-aggrandizement. Ali threatened them with grave consequences and they threatened him in turn. The pressure of the rebels increased and Ali feeling helpless had to recall Ashtar from the front. Ashtar returned reluctantly, and a fierce altercation ensued between him and the rebels. Ashtar upbraided them as traitors, hypocrites and villains. In return they reviled him. Because of this revolt in his army, Ali had to suspend action against the Syrians, and thus the victory which was in immediate sight, evaded him. Henceforward misfortune was to stalk the steps of Ali.

Significance of the display of the leaves of the Holy Quran
Ali because of the treachery of his own men was no longer the master of his own will, and he had to act in accordance with the dictates of the rebels. These rebels forced Ali to depute the rebel General Ashas b Qais to inquire from Muawiyah as to what was the significance of the display of the leaves of the Holy Quran on their lances. Muawiyah said, "The significance of this display of the leaves of the Holy Quran on our lances is that we appeal from the decision of arms to the decision of the law of God. Let both sides retire from the battlefield, and refer the case to the arbitration of two umpires, one umpire to be nominated by each side. The two umpires should decide according to the Holy Quran and the traditions of the Holy Prophet as to whom the sovereignty should go. The decision of the umpires should be binding on all". To this proposal Ashas gave his consent without consulting Ali. Ali was wroth at the acceptance of the proposal on his behalf. Ali maintained that the issue of sovereignty was not in dispute. He was the duly elected Caliph, and his right to the caliphate could not be adjudicated upon by the arbitrators. The rebels did not accept the contention of Ali. Ali in a state of utter helplessness said, "If you are not going to listen to me, then do whatever you like."

Ash'as b Qais
Ash'as b Qais who accepted the proposal of Muawiyah was the chief of the Banu Kindi. He was converted to Islam during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet. After the death of the Holy Prophet he apostatized. In the apostasy wars conducted during the caliphate of Abu Bakr Ashas was defeated. He came to Madina, repented and was reconverted to Islam. Abu Bakr married his sister Umm Farida to him. During the time of Umar he participated in the wars against the Persians. Umar, however, did not trust him with any important office. Othman made him the Governor of a province. Ali deposed him. He came to Kufa and offered allegiance to Ali. Ali made him a General of his army the marched with Ali to Siffin and played an important part in dislodging the Syrians from the source of water supply in the Siffin valley. To start with he showed a great deal of loyalty to Ali, but later he came to waver in his loyalty. Even before the Syrians displayed the leaves of the Holy Quran on their lances, Ashas addressed the contingent of the Banu Kinda under his command in the following terms: "O ye Muslims, you have witnessed what has transpired during the course of this war, and how many Muslims have been ruthlessly killed. I have become old, but I have never seen such dreadful carnage before. Whosoever hears me, it behooves him to pass on my message to others that we ought to resolve that we will not fight from henceforth, and would refrain from killing the Muslims. By God, I am not telling you these things because I am afraid of war or because cowardice has taken hold of me. I tell you these things because I pity the Muslim women and children who will suffer, and mourn the loss of those who are killed in the battle."
This was outright treachery. It appears treachery was in the very blood of Ashas. His daughter was married to Imam Hasan. She poisoned Imam Hasan at the instigation of Yazid, who promised to marry her in case she poisoned Imam Hasan, but refused to marry her when she had poisoned Imam Hasan on the ground that he could not trust a woman who could poison her husband.

Causes of the helplessness of Ali
The accounts of what happened at Siffin which have come down to us give no clue as to what was the cause of rebellion against Ali when victory was almost in sight. It is not plausible that this sudden development took place at the display of the leaves of the Holy Quran on their lances by the Syrians. Obviously it was the culmination of some deep set conspiracy. The exact extent of such conspiracy remains a mystery, but it appears that the treachery of most of the army chiefs of Ali was because of the bribery by Muawiyah. The army that Ali had brought to Siffin was more a motley crowd than a disciplined force, and this lack of discipline was its greatest weakness. It also appears that there was a good deal of jealousy among the Generals of the army of Ali. When Ali appointed Ashas as a General his appointment was opposed by Malik Ashtar who was the Commander-in-Chief of the forces of Ali, and these differences between the two Generals persisted during the course of the war. Ali believed in the truth of his cause to such an extent that he did not sponsor any propaganda to support such cause. On the other hand Muawiyah was a past master in making propaganda, and in this respect he outwitted Ali.

Arbitration Deed
When the arbitration deed came to be written up, an altercation between the parties began over the first sentence of the preamble about the title of the parties. The supporters of Ali insisted that he should be referred to as "Ali, the commander of the Faithful". The other party objected to such title as they did not recognize him as the Caliph. The army chiefs of Ali who had rebelled against the authority of Ali overruled the view of the supporters of Ali on the ground that in the case of the Hudaibia pact when the Quraish objected to reference to Muhammad (peace be on him) as the prophet. The Holy Prophet agreed to the omission of such reference. The agreement that was drawn up provided for the truce between parties, and the settlement of the dispute through arbitration of two umpires, one empire to be appointed by each party. The umpires were required to give their decision in accordance with the injunctions of the Holy Quran. In the absence of any guidance from the Holy Quran, the traditions of the Holy Prophet were to be followed. The umpires were guaranteed the security of their life and property and of their families whatever the outcome of the arbitration might be. It was provided that the decision of the umpires was to be binding on all concerned. The umpires were required to give their decision within six months. They were required to meet at a neutral spot midway between Kufa and Damascus. The point to be determined by the umpires was as to whom out of Ali and Muawiyah the sovereignty was to belong. The supporters of Ali pointed out that the issue of sovereignty was not the point in dispute, the dispute was about the "Qasas" of the assassination of Othman. The rebels against the authority of Ali overruled this stand. They said that the real issue was that of the caliphate between Ali and Muawiyah, and if this issue was decided the question of "Qasas" for the murder of Othman would be automatically decided. The arbitration deed as it was finally drawn up was nothing short of a death warrant for Ali. He had however become so helpless that he had to agree to it.

The Umpires
After the arbitration deed had been drawn up, the arbiter to represent Ali had to be appointed. Ali wanted that his cousin Abdullah b Abbas be appointed as the arbiter. The rebels said that they could not accept this nomination as Abdullah b Abbas was related to him and he was apt to be partial. Ali said that in that case let Malik Ashtar be appointed as the arbiter. The rebels vetoed this suggestion as well on the ground that Malik Ashtar had participated in the war and could not take an impartial view. The rebels said that they would nominate Abu Musa Ashari a former Governor of Kufa in this behalf. Ali pointed out that he had no confidence in Abu Musa Ashari as he had deposed him from the governorship of Kufa. The rebels said that Abu Musa Ashari was known for his neutrality, and they could not agree to the nomination of any person other than Abu Musa Ashari as the arbiter. So helpless had Ali become that he had to give way on this point as well and Abu Musa Ashari was appointed as the umpire to represent Ali when Ali had no confidence in him. On the side of Muawiyah, 'Amr b Al-Aas was appointed as the arbiter and no one objected that he had participated in the war and had developed certain prejudices.

The Return March
After the execution of the arbitration agreement the forces of both the sides had to withdraw from the battlefield. Although the arbitration agreement had been forced on him Ali, as an honorable man found himself bound by the agreement. He accordingly ordered a return march for his forces. Ali left the battlefield of Siffin with a heavy heart. Victory had eluded him because of the treachery of his own men. He had been betrayed. Heavy casualties had taken place from both the sides and he mourned at the death of so many Muslims. He had lost some of his best supporters like 'Ammaar b Yasir, and this vacuum could not be filled. He felt distressed that the Muslim Ummah had lost its unity. A generation after the death of the Holy Prophet, the people wore losing their Islamic character and were once again relapsing into the evils of the Age of Ignorance. It was heartrending for him to see that truth was being suppressed, and falsehood was getting the upper hand. It appeared to him that by subjecting him and the Muslims to such ordeals, God intended the Muslims to be put to test. Ali bowed his head to the will of God, and prayed to the Almighty to grant him the patience and the courage to face the difficulties that beset his patio. The return march was made by the shortest road on the right bank of the Euphrates. The troops that had marched to the battlefield fired with the urge to fight for the vindication of the truth were now a frustrated and disappointed people who were returning to their homes after losing much and gaining little. For such failure they reproached and accused one another when the truce was called. They had heaved a sigh of relief at the cessation of hostilities. On the way back when they reflected on the course of events which they had themselves precipitated they came to have second thoughts. It came to dawn on them that they were the victims of misfortune for which they themselves were to blame.

Back in Kufa, Ali found the city plunged in gloom and grief. Almost from every house in the city rose the shrieks of women mourning the deaths of their dear ones who had fallen in the Battle of Siffin. There was a sense of general discontentment with the people that the sacrifices that they had made had gone in vain, and the campaign to Syria undertaken at a heavy cost had proved to be an exercise in futility. The general state of administration had fallen at a low ebb. Government was faced with acute financial difficulties. The law and order position became unsatisfactory. Ali had to strive hard to restore some semblance of order. He sympathized with the families who had lost their men in the battle and assured them that such deaths would be avenged. In his sermons to the congregation in the principal mosque of the city, he exhorted the people to hold fast to the rope of God, cultivate the values of Islam, remain united among themselves, and pray to God for their ultimate victory. He took the people into confidence, and narrated at length how he had been betrayed at the Battle of Siffin. He calmed the feelings of the people, and sought their cooperation in another bid to avenge the truth.

The Return March
After the execution of the arbitration agreement the forces of both the sides had to withdraw from the battlefield. Although the arbitration agreement had been forced on him Ali, as an honorable man found himself bound by the agreement. He accordingly ordered a return march for his forces. Ali left the battlefield of Siffin with a heavy heart. Victory had eluded him because of the treachery of his own men. He had been betrayed. Heavy casualties had taken place from both the sides and he mourned at the death of so many Muslims. He had lost some of his best supporters like 'Ammaar b Yasir, and this vacuum could not be filled. He felt distressed that the Muslim Ummah had lost its unity. A generation after the death of the Holy Prophet, the people wore losing their Islamic character and were once again relapsing into the evils of the Age of Ignorance. It was heartrending for him to see that truth was being suppressed, and falsehood was getting the upper hand. It appeared to him that by subjecting him and the Muslims to such ordeals, God intended the Muslims to be put to test. Ali bowed his head to the will of God, and prayed to the Almighty to grant him the patience and the courage to face the difficulties that beset his patio. The return march was made by the shortest road on the right bank of the Euphrates. The troops that had marched to the battlefield fired with the urge to fight for the vindication of the truth were now a frustrated and disappointed people who were returning to their homes after losing much and gaining little. For such failure they reproached and accused one another when the truce was called. They had heaved a sigh of relief at the cessation of hostilities. On the way back when they reflected on the course of events which they had themselves precipitated they came to have second thoughts. It came to dawn on them that they were the victims of misfortune for which they themselves were to blame.

Back in Kufa, Ali found the city plunged in gloom and grief. Almost from every house in the city rose the shrieks of women mourning the deaths of their dear ones who had fallen in the Battle of Siffin. There was a sense of general discontentment with the people that the sacrifices that they had made had gone in vain, and the campaign to Syria undertaken at a heavy cost had proved to be an exercise in futility. The general state of administration had fallen at a low ebb. Government was faced with acute financial difficulties. The law and order position became unsatisfactory. Ali had to strive hard to restore some semblance of order. He sympathized with the families who had lost their men in the battle and assured them that such deaths would be avenged. In his sermons to the congregation in the principal mosque of the city, he exhorted the people to hold fast to the rope of God, cultivate the values of Islam, remain united among themselves, and pray to God for their ultimate victory. He took the people into confidence, and narrated at length how he had been betrayed at the Battle of Siffin. He calmed the feelings of the people, and sought their cooperation in another bid to avenge the truth.

The Khawarij
The Battle of Siffin led to the birth of the first sect among the Muslims which came to be known as the Kharjites. The term literally means separatists, seceder or outgoers. The term is based on a verse of the Holy Quran (4:101) which refers to those who leave their homes among the unbelievers. They also called themselves as the Shurat, i. e. those who sell their lives and property in return for paradise. The movement had its origin among the tribes of Banu Tamim, Banu Bakr, and Banu Hamdan. These people had participated in the revolt against Othman, and were involved in his murder. When Muawiyah raised the cry for vengeance for the blood of Othman, they allied themselves with Ali. They fought on his side in the Battle of the Camel. When Ali led his forces to Syria, these people formed an important component of the army of Ali.
As the Battle of Siffin dragged on without leading to any tangible results these people got wearied of the war. They felt that the war was in reality a struggle for power between Ali and Muawiyah. These people could boast of deep-rooted traditions of democracy, and a struggle for power was repugnant to their way of life. They accordingly came to maintain that it was not advisable for them to be a pawn in the game of king malting. When the troops of Muawiyah displayed the leaves of the Holy Quran on their lances and appealed for decision to the Holy Quran instead of arms, these people responded to the call, and forced Ali to suspend hostilities, although victory for his forces was well in sight.

Thus these people though allied with Ali directly promoted the cause of Muawiyah although he was after their blood because of their involvement in the murder of Othman. Muawiyah was shrewd enough to appreciate their gesture, and in the arbitration agreement that was subsequently drawn up there was no reference to the murder of Othman. The point of dispute to be referred for arbitration was, as to out of Ali and Muawiyah, to whom the sovereignty was to belong. On the return march, these people had second thoughts on the matter. They felt that they had committed a sin in accepting the cease fire. They became critical of the appointment of umpires. They were emphatically of the view that the view that the decision of God alone should be sought for, and it was a sin to vest the decision in the matter in human beings. They blamed Ali for his acceptance of the proposal for the appointment of umpires.

In order to support their stand, they worked out religious dogmas of their fundamental principle was 'La Hukma illa lillah" - no decision except the decision of God. They maintained that they stood for the establishment of the kingdom of God and not of men on the earth. As God was not to rule in person, some Amir had to be appointed, but such Amir was bound to follow strictly the commands of God as revealed in the Holy Quran. The Amir could hold office as long as he observed the commands of God. When there was any dereliction on his part, he was liable to be killed. They acknowledged that they were involved in the assassination of Othman, but they justified this act on the ground that Othman had acted against the commands of God. They held that when any person committed a sin he became a Kafir, and it was necessary for him to offer repentance for re-entry in the fold of Islam. They had committed a sin in accepting the cease fire. They repented publicly and sought the forgiveness of God. They held that they alone wore true believers, and all other persons who called themselves Muslims, but did not subscribe to their views were unbelievers. They maintained that they had the right to kill unbelievers. It followed that they could not live in the midst of unbelievers. On return from Siffin they did not come back to Kufa. Instead they encamped at Harura, a few miles outside Kufa. In this way these people separated from the main body of the Muslims, and came to be known as the Kharjites. Their strength was about twelve thousand. Their leaders were Shabath b Ribi al Riahi; Abdullah b Kauwa al Yeshkuri; Yazid b Qais Al Harabi; and Abdullah b Wahab al Rasibi.

Ali and the Kharijites
As these people had formerly been the allies of Ali and had defected under some misunderstanding, Ali contacted them with a view to arriving at some conciliation with them. They criticized Ali for his acceptance of arbitration. Ali pointed out to them that he was against the acceptance of cease-fire when victory was almost in sight but he did so because of their pressure. They confessed that in putting pressure on him they had sinned, and to atone for that sin they bad offered repentance to God. They insisted that as Ali had also sinned he too should offer repentance. Ali said that he had merely made a political mistake and not committed any sin, and as such no particular act of repentance was called for. In his prayers he repented every day, and that cleared him before God. They said that it was wrong on his part to accept the verdict on human umpires instead of the decision of God. Ali pointed out that according to the agreement, the umpires were bound to give their verdict in accordance with the injunctions of Islam, and if such decision was not in accord with the commands of God as revealed in the Holy Book it could be repudiated. They demanded that Ali should lead them to the battle again to fight against the Syrians. Ali said that he agreed with them, and appreciated their offer but as he had entered into an agreement to keep peace it would not be advisable for them to take up arms for that would be against the injunction of Islam which enjoins the scrupulous observance of agreements. He assured them making God his witness that if the decision of the umpires was not in accord with the injunctions of Islam, he would lead them to war as desired by them. He observed that in the meantime they could make preparations for war, so that they should be ready to march to the battlefield as soon as there was a violation of the agreement by the other side. That apparently satisfied the Kharijites and at the instance of Ali they broke the camp at Harura and returned to their homes in Kufa.

Testament of Ali
After the Battle of Siffin, Ali wrote a detailed testament in favor of his son Imam Hasan. It is a brilliant code of counsel, which provides guidance for every Muslim. The testament is found in Nahj-ul-Balagha, and its running translation is given hereunder: "Son, I enjoin on you that you should fear God. Follow His commandments. Enliven your heart with His remembrance. Hold fast to His rope. No relationship is stronger than the relation that exists between you and God."

Arbitration: Meeting of the Umpires
In pursuance of the arbitration agreement executed between Ali and Muawiyah at Siffin the two umpires Abu Musa Ashari, and 'Amr b Al'Aas met at Dumatul Jandal midway between Kufa and Damascus in January 658 C E. Each side sent a retinue of four hundred persons to witness the proceedings. The retinue from Kufa was led by Abdullah bin Abbas and Shuraih b Mani. The empires invited some notable companions from Makkah and Madina who were known for their neutrality in the dispute between Ali and Muawiyah to come to Dumatul Jandal, Those who responded to the invitation included Abdullah b Umar; Abdullah b Zubair; Mughira b Shuba; and Abdur Rahman b Harith. Sa'ad b Abi Waqas was prevailed upon by his son to go to Dumatul Jandal, but he declined to do so, saying that he was not interested in the affair.

Arbitration Proceedings
According to the accounts that have come down to us, it appears that on the appointed day the two umpires met in camera. 'Amr b Al 'Aas asked Abu Musa Ashari whether he held Othman to be innocent and his murder to be a crime. Abu Musa answered these questions in affirmative. 'Amr b Al 'Aas next asked the question whether in the circumstances the claim of Muawiyah for "Qasas" for the blood of Othman was justified. Abu Musa said that according to the injunction of the Holy Quran such claim could be made. 'Amr b Al 'Aas thereafter said that he objected to the Caliphate of Ali, because he was involved in the murder of Othman. Abu Musa said that this accusation was not correct, and no proof could be given to establish his involvement in the murder of Othman. 'Amr b Al 'Acts said that Ali had been asked to hand over the murderers of Othman to the heirs of Othman for taking "Qasas", but he had not done so. That implied his indirect if not direct involvement in the murder of Othman. Abu Musa said that the proper course for Muawiyah was to owe allegiance to Ali, and then lodge a claim for "Qasas" before him. 'Amr b Al 'Aas said that as the murderers of Othman were allied with Ali, the heirs of Othman could have no confidence in him in doing justice with regard to the claim for "Qasas". 'Amr b Al 'Aas suggested that in the circumstances proper course was that Muawiyah should be made the Caliph. Abu Musa said that in the matter of the Caliphate, Muawiyah could not claim precedence over Ali. Ali was one of the earliest converts to Islam. He was closely related to the Holy Prophet. He was the most learned man of the age. His services to Islam were well known. 'Amr b Al 'Aas said that though Ali was superior to others in the matters of learning and piety, Muawiyah excelled others in matters of politics and statecraft. 'Amr b Al 'Acts argued that the Caliph was to be the Head of the State, and was primarily concerned with affairs of the world, and in this respect Muawiyah would be a better choice. Abu Musa said that in an Islamic state the interests of the world could not be given preference over the interests of Islam and, as such Muawiyah could not be preferred to Ali in the matter of the Caliphate.

'Amr b Al 'Aas suggested that if with regard to the basic issue about the "Qasas" for the blood of Othman, Ali could not be trusted because of his direct or indirect involvement in the murder of Othman, and Muawiyah was not to be preferred to Ali in the matter of the Caliphate then the obvious course was that they should consider the names of some neutral persons for the office of the Caliphate. To this course Abu Musa agreed, Abu Musa recalled the days of the glory of the Muslims during the Caliphate of Umar. He wished to have a caliph of the caliber of Umar. That made the two umpires consider the name of Abdullah b Umar, who was present at Dumatul Jandal, was contacted, and he refused to be a candidate for the office of the Caliph, Sa'ad be Abi Waqas was a suitable candidate, but he was not willing to be considered. The claims of Abdullah b Zubair were considered, but those were not accepted on the ground that as he had participated in the Battle of the camel be could not be considered to be neutral in the matter Some other names were considered, but their claims were turned down on one ground or the other.
That led to a state of deadlock and the two umpires could not reach a decision. But some decision had necessarily to be taken. Thereupon 'Amr b Al 'Aas said, "If Ali is not acceptable to us and Muawiyah is not acceptable to you, and we have not been able to arrive at an agreement about any neutral person, then what should be the way out in your considered opinion."
Abu Musa said, "In my opinion the best course would be that we would depose both Ali and Muawiyah, and ask the community to decide the matter for themselves." Amr b Al 'Aas said, "Alright, you make this announcement."

Announcement
Thereafter Abu Musa Ashari took the stage to announce the decision. Abdullah b Abbas asked Abu Musa not to be the first in making the announcement. He advised him that he should let 'Amr b Al Aas speak first. Abu Musa did not pay any heed to the advice of Abdullah b Abbas, and announced the decision that both he and 'Amr b Al 'Aas had agreed that Ali as well as Muawiyah should be deposed and it should be for the community to elect whomsoever they lined as the Caliph. He observed that in accordance with this decision he deposed his candidate Ali. Thereafter Amr b Al Aas took the stage. He said that according to the terms of the arbitration agreement the umpires had to decide as to whom out of Ali and Muawiyah the sovereignty was to belong. He observed that as the umpire representing Ali had deposed him, Muawiyah was the only candidate left in the field and as such the sovereignty belonged to him.

There is some controversy as to what actually transpired between the umpires. According to the accounts that have come down to us, it is said that both the umpires had agreed between themselves that both Ali and Muawiyah should be deposed, and that 'Amr b Al Aas went back on the agreement, and betrayed Abu Musa Ashari. This does not appear to be a correct account of what actually happened. If both the umpires had originally agreed to the deposition of both Ali and Muawiyah, and 'Amr b Al 'Acts went back on such agreement, Abu Musa could have taken the stage and said that as 'Amr had violated his agreement with him his decision was of no effect. What appears to have happened is that when Abu Musa suggested that the matter should be referred to the community for the fresh election of the Caliph, 'Amr merely asked him to make an announcement to that effect. Abu Musa was not shrewd enough to realize the implication of such announcement. It is well known that when Abu Musa was the Governor of Kufa he had advised the people of Kufa to remain neutral in the dispute between Ali and Ayes in spite of the fact that he had taken the oath of allegiance to Ali, and was legally as well as morally bound to obey the command of Ali. Ali had to depose him. Ali had to accept nomination as an umpire under pressure. Although Ali did not have full confidence in Abu Musa, he still hoped that as Abu Musa was otherwise a pious Muslim he would act in a fair and impartial way according to the injunctions of Islam. Abu Musa was in fact so much obsessed with the idea of neutrality that he suggested the stepping aside of both Ali and Muawiyah and the election of the Caliph by the community afresh. Such suggestion was not within the four corners of the agreement according to which the umpires had to decide as to whom out of Ali and Muawiyah sovereignty was to belong. The accounts that come down to us provide that as soon Abu Musa made this suggestion, Amr b Al Aas jumped up and asked Abu Musa to announce that decision. Abu Musa considered that in asking him to make his announcement, Amr had agreed with him. Actually 'Amr had not made any agreement. He was shrewd enough to realize the implications of the suggestion of Abu Musa and wanted him to announce his suggestion. To be fair 'Amr did not violate any agreement with Abu Musa; he merely took advantage of the weakness in the stand of the umpire of Ali. The life story of Ali is a painful story of betrayals. To other betrayals one more betrayal was added as a consequence of the arbitration proceedings.

Ali's letter to Abu Musa
After the arbitration proceedings, Abu Musa did not have the courage to face Ali. He slipped away to Makkah and from there wrote a letter to Ali offering some sort of apology. Ali replied to this letter as follows: "Verily, many persons will be deprived of their rewards in the next world. They fall an easy prey to the temptations of the world, I am in a queer fix as regards the problem of the caliphate. A man stiff necked in his concede is at loggerheads with me. Surely, there is no one more anxious than me to keep the solidarity of the Muslims, because I strongly hope that God would reward me for these selfless services of mine in the cause of the unity of the Muslims. Abu Musa, you turned against the Right, and deserted me. Surely there is none more unfortunate than you, because you were deprived of your wisdom, and the faculty to act in the right way."
Ali's reaction to the Arbitration decision.

The arbitration decision came as a great shock to Ali. Ali had hoped that as the umpires were to take the decision in accordance with the injunctions of the Holy Quran, they would act with a due sense of justice and fair play. The decision that was taken was neither just nor fair. It was taken in the spirit of the old Arab traditions of the age of Ignorance and was repugnant to Islamic values. The umpires were supposed to judge the relative merits of Ali and Muawiyah in the light of Islamic values and then choose one out of the two. The umpires did nothing of the sort. Abu Musa the umpire of Ali had some bias against Ali because Ali had deposed him from the governorship of Kufa, and hence wittingly or unwittingly he acted against the interests of Ali. Ali had been duly elected as the Caliph by the authorized electorate and Abu Musa had no authority to depose Ali. 'Amr b Al-6Aas the umpire of Muawiyah was a clever man, and taking advantage of the weakness in the stand of Abu Musa, he manipulated victory for Muawiyah. The entire arbitration proceedings thus turned out to be a farce based on betrayal and trickery. It nevertheless created an embarrassing position for Ali. The arbitration agreement had provided that the decision of the umpires was to be binding on both the parties. According to the terms of the agreement, Ali was bound to accept the decision and step aside from the office of the Caliph. Ali held the office as a trust from God and he could not betray such trust on the basis of a decision, which was arbitrary, frivolous, and capricious, and therefore no decision. Ali could not, therefore, accept the decision, and the only option loft with him was to renew the war against Muawiyah who had manipulated to win power through underhand means. Ali accordingly gave call for arms and exhorted the people to join the war for the vindication of the truth and the suppression of falsehood. The people responded enthusiastically to the call, and soon an army of 65,000 strong was assembled.

The Kharijites
After the Battle of Siffin the Kharijites had separated from the community and camped at Harura a few miles from Kufa. Their stand was that Ali had made a mistake in accepting the arbitration of men Ali was asked by them to lead them to war against Muawiyah. Ali had tried to conciliate them, and assured of them that he would lead them to war in case the decision of the umpires was against the injunctions of Islam. Some sort of conciliation was brought about between Ali and the Kharijites, and most of the Kharijites returned to Kufa. The Kharijites were a restive and over sensitive people of the extremist type. The Kharijites slipped from Kufa one by one, established a settlement at Nahrawan, a few miles to the east of the Tigris near Madain. The Kharijites from Basra and elsewhere in Iraq also migrated to Nahrawan Here the Kharijites gathered in strength. They elected an Amir of their own. They were very meticulous in observing prayers and following other injunctions of Islam. They aspired to live sinless lives. They declared that they were not interested in the affairs of this world, and that they had sold their lives to win paradise in the next world. Where a Kharijite picked up a date under a date tree and ate it he subsequently cut his right hand himself on the ground that the eating of the date without purchasing it from the owner amounted to a theft. On the other hand when any Muslim indulged in any controversy with them, they invariably killed him. They held that no one except themselves was a Muslim, and it devolved on them to get rid of such people who did not agree with them. They let loose a reign of terror in the countryside and created a problem of law and order for the administration. When the Kharijites of Basra migrated to Nahrawan they met in the way some Muslims including Abdullah the son of an eminent companion Khabab. The Kharijites killed him as well as the woman who accompanied him.

When Ali was ready for a march to Syria he sent a message to the Kharijites asking them to join him in the march to Syria. Ali brought home to them the point that he had undertaken to lead them to war against Muawiyah after the decision of the arbitrators was known and now that he had repudiated the decision of the umpires and was leading a force to Syria they should 30in his ranks as originally agreed upon. The Kharijites gave an insolent reply to the invitation. They said that when they had asked Ali to lead them to war he was the Caliph of the Muslims, and it was incumbent on them to support him for thereby they were to serve the cause of God. After the decision of the umpires the position had been changed. According to this decision Ali had been deposed, and power had been vested in his rival Muawiyah. In these circumstances Ali was undertaking a campaign against Muawiyah for a personal end. They observed that as the warriors of God, they were committed to fight in the cause of God alone, and not in the cause of any particular person to secure a worldly end.

Ali felt that it was futile to argue with a fanatic people like the Kharijites. He was accordingly of the view that they should march to Syria without bothering for the assistance of the Kharijites. His army men however expressed the view that when they were to be away there was the danger that the fanatic Kharijites would terrorize and murder their families. Ali was accordingly prevailed upon to deal with the menace of the Kharijites before proceeding to Syria. Ali agreed to this view and the force that was to proceed to Syria proceeded to Nahrawan instead.

The Battle of Nahrawan
Ali marched with forces to Nahrawan. Reaching Nahrawan Ali planted a standard on the ground, and declared that those who came under the standard would have amnesty and safe conduct. Some persons deserted the Kharijite camp and were allowed amnesty and safe conduct to their houses. Thereafter Ali sent a message to the Kharijite asking them that should surrender the persons who were guilty of killing Abdullah b Khabab and other Muslims. The Kharijite refused to surrender any person, and declared that they would consider it to be a virtue to fight against Ali and his forces.

Ali marshaled his force and launched an attack against the Kharijites, with the battle cry "on to paradise," the Kharijites rushed on their troops of Ali. The Kharijites hardly numbered four thousand, while the troops Ali numbered about fifty thousand. The Kharijites fought desperately and frantically but they were outnumbered by the forces of Ali. Out of four thousand Kharijites, only two or three dozen Kharijites escaped; the rest were killed.

Ali won a decisive victory at Nahrawan, but it proved to be a hollow and fatal victory, which diverted Ali from his main war against Muawiyah. After the victory of Nahrawan, Ali felt that the victory would raise the morale of his people. That was however, not to be the case. Ali wanted that from Nahrawan he should proceed direct to Syria. His army, however, desired that they should return to Kufa and thereafter proceed to Syria after taking some rest. Ali agreed with the wishes of his troops. The army returned to Kufa and went to Nukhails outside Kufa. The troops given leaves for two or three days and were commanded to return to camp thereafter in order to proceed to Syria. The men left the camp, but did not return to march to Syria. Ali addressed the people in the mosque, and exhorted them to join the camp. He reproached them for their disobedience and accused them of treachery. These exhortations, reproaches, and accusations had no effect on the people, and heart broken Ali had to abandon the campaign to Syria. When we reflect at the events that happened it appears that there was something wrong with the military organization. The troops lacked discipline, and instead of obeying orders from above, the troops indulged in giving orders. The troops betrayed Ali at Siffin and forced him to stop the war when the victory was almost in sight. At Kufa Ali was betrayed by his troops again when they refused to march to Syria. This naturally led to the advantage of Muawiyah. When he got the intelligence that Ali was planning a march to Syria he led his forces to Siffin. When Ali had to abandon the campaign to Syria, Muawiyah withdrew his forces from Siffin and led them to Egypt with a view to wresting that prize province from the control of Ali. Misfortune was now stalking the footsteps of Ali. Henceforward he was faced not with the loss of territories alone, he came to be exposed to the danger of losing his life as well. Though most of the Kharijites were killed at the Battle of Nahrawan, some Kharijites escaped the massacre, and these people conspicuous for their fanaticism vowed vengeance against Ali. The victory of Nahrawan thus paved the way to the assassination of Ali, for a Kharijite assassinated Ali two years later.

Muhammad b Abu Bakr
On the deposition of Dais bin Sad, Ali appointed Muhammad b Abu Bakr as the governor of Egypt. Muhammad b Abu Bakr was the son of Abu Bakr and his wife Asma married Ali and her son Muhammad was brought up by Ali. Muhammad b Abu Bakr was passionately devoted to Ali. In the revolt against Othman he had sided with the rebels of Egypt. He had entered the room of Othman and held his beard. Othman upbraided him saying, "If your father had been alive, you would not have done like this." At this reproach Muhammad b Abu Bakr withdrew. He was not present when Othman was assassinated.

Muhammad b Abu Bakr was young and handsome. At the time of his appointment as a governor of Egypt, he was twenty-two years of age. Muhammad b Abu Bakr was popular with the young men of Egypt who had rebelled against the authority of Othman and were involved in his murder. All such person called around Muhammad b Abu Bakr, and he conferred high favors on them. In Egypt there were two parties. One party was pro-Othman. They held that Othman was innocent and those who had killed him were guilty of a crime. This party was led by Muawiyah b Hudaij as Sakuni, and Musalama b Mukhallad. They had their concentration in Kharbata in South Egypt. Qais b Sa'ad did not force these people to take the oath of allegiance to Ali. He made a treaty of neutrality with them "hereunder they undertook that if they were not pressed to take the oath of allegiance to Ali, they would remain at peace and would not create any difficulty for the state and would remain loyal to it. It was in pursuance of this treaty that when Muawiyah the Amir of Syria asked them to join him in raising the demand for vengeance for the blood of Othman, they refused to join him. In view of this treaty of neutrality, peace reigned in Egypt during the governorship of Qais b Sa'ad. Muhammad b Abu Bakr had the rashness of youth about him. He came to be surrounded by young men who had rebelled against Othman. Muhammad b Abu Bakr and the people around him considered that they were strong enough to overawe the pro-Othman party, and force them to take the oath of allegiance to Ali. Muhammad b Abu Bakr as Governor commanded these men that they should take the oath of allegiance to Ali within one month. The leaders of the pro-Othman party waited on Muhammed b Abu Bakr and said that his command was in violation of the treaty that they had executed with his predecessor. They advised him to maintain status quo for otherwise the peace of the province would he disturbed. Muhammad b Abu Bakr did not pay treed to their request, and ordered the invasion of Kharbata. In this action the forces of Muhammad b Abu Bakr were defeated, and the pro-Othman party broke into open revolt which disturbed the peace of the province.

Helplessness of Ali
When Ali came to know of the end of Muhammad b Abu Bakr and the fall of Egypt, his grief knew no bounds. In a latter addressed to his cousin Abdullah b Abbas, Ali mourned the death of Muhammad b Abu Bakr in heart rending terms. The loss of Egypt was a grievous blow to the prestige of Ali. Addressing the people from the pulpit in the main mosque of Kufa Ali said: "O ye people! In the hour of need you have forsaken me. Falsehood has overcome the truth, and also no one is forthcoming to take up cudgels on behalf of the truth. I have lost Egypt. I have lost a loyal son. Who will avenge his death? Is no spark of faith left in you to fight for cause? What has happened to your oath of allegiance to me when you are not listening to me? Why have you become so deaf and dumb?" Day after day, Ali ascended the pulpit, and poured out quotations from the Holy Quran and the traditions of the Holy Prophet, enjoining upon the Muslims their obligation to undertake Jihad. These harangues and exhortations had no effect on the people. Somehow they felt that the star of Ali was waning, and they were in no mood to worship the sun that was about to set. The state of the helplessness of Ali is described by Dr. Ata Mohyuddin in the following words in his book Ali the Superman: "Ali now lost heart completely, despair overwhelmed him, crippling his energies and paralyzing all initiative. He completely lost faith in human nature, and withdrew to a life of retirement. He no longer had any control over the army or over the people and presented the spectacle of a beaten man."

Strategy of Muawiyah
After the conquest of Egypt, the strategy of Muawiyah was that discontent should be created in the territories under the control of Ali. A vigorous propaganda campaign was whipped up accusing Ali of breach of faith in not accepting the verdict of the umpires at Dumatul Jandal, whereas according to the pact executed at Siffin such verdict was to be binding. In these territories there were already many tribes which were pro-Othman. Those tribes were bribed to carry on propaganda against Ali, and sponsor activities likely to subvert the administration of Ali in the various provinces.

Trouble in Basra
Muawiyah tried to create trouble in Basra in the first instance. After Kufa the main concentration of the Kharijites was in Basra. After the Battle of Nahrawan, the Kharijites had become the bitter enemies of Ali. The game of Muawiyah was to incite the Kharijites of Basra to create trouble for Ali. There were many persons in Basra who were originally pro-Othman, but who had to take the oath of allegiance to Ali after the Battle of the Camel. The plan of Muawiyah was to motivate such people to throw off their allegiance to Ali. The governorship of Basra was held by Abdullah b Abbas, cousin of Ali. Abdullah b Abbas was present at Dumatul Jandal when the umpires gave their verdict. This verdict was a great shock for Ali. Abdullah b Abbas had comforted Ali and had counseled him not to lose heart. He had advised Ali to stick to his office for the decision of the umpires was a farce and therefore not binding.

Thereafter the troubles of Ali continued to multiply. He had to fight against the Kharijites, and though the Battle of Nahrawan was won, it brought further difficulties for Ali. The army that he intended to lead to Syria to settle accounts with Muawiyah refused to cooperate. A great blow fell on Ali when the province of Egypt was lost. The death of Muhammad b Abu Bakr, a ward of Ali greatly distressed and grieved Ali. In order to condole the death of Muhammad b Abu Bakr with Ali, Abdullah b Abbas set out from Basra for Kufa. During his absence the charge of Basra was held by Ziyad b Abihi. Ziyad was the son of a slave girl Samia, and the name of his father was not known. Later Muawiyah acknowledged Ziyad as a son of his father Abu Sufyan from the slave girl Samia. Ziyad was a capable person and at this stage he was very loyal to Ali.

After Abdullah b Abbas had left Basra for Kufa, Muawiyah sent a contingent of 2,000 horse under the command of Abdullah b 'Amr al Hadrami, a cousin of Othman. It was not an expedition of a regular invasion. The strategy adopted was that of peaceful penetration. The idea was to exploit the differences among the tribes in the area, flare up such dissentions and create problems for the administration of Ali. On arrival in Basra, the Syrians became the guests of the Banu Tamim, a tribe known for its sympathy to Othman. Al Hadrami told the Banu Tamim that as a result of the decision of the umpires at Dumatul Jandal, sovereignty had passed on to Muawiyah, and as such they should owe allegiance to Muawiyah. Banu Tamim accordingly took the oath of allegiance to Muawiyah. There was a sizable section of the people of Basra proper who had originally sided with Ayesha, but who were later forced to take the oath of allegiance to Ali. These pro-Othman persons joined the Banu Tamim, and took the oath of allegiance to Muawiyah. These defections weakened the position of the Alid government in Basra. In the circumstances Ziyad in charge of the government of Basra was forced to seek the protection of the Azd tribe, a tribe opposed to Banu Tamim.

Abdullah b Abbas
Abdullah b Abbas returned from Kufa and assumed the office of the Governor of Basra. Although the government of Ali had succeeded in regaining the control of Basra, yet that was not the end of the troubles in Basra. Most of the people who had repudiated the oath of allegiance of Ali, and had taken the oath of allegiance to Muawiyah once again recanted and took the oath of allegiance to Ali. Under the circumstances the process of oath taking lost its solemnity and became a farce. The people came to change their allegiance as they would change their clothes. That bred discontentment and a sense of insecurity among the people.

Things on the Basra front acquired a sinister hue when Abdullah b Abbas the Governor of Basra defalcated the state funds. Abul Aswad in charge of the Baitul Mal at Basra brought to the notice of Ali that heavy amounts had been received in the state treasury as "Kharaj", but these amounts had been defalcated by the Governor. Without disclosing the source of his information, Ali wrote to Abdullah b Abbas that it had come to his notice that he had defalcated heavy amounts from the state treasury. Ali pointed out that the Government was merely a trustee of the state fund and according to the injunctions of Islam, such funds could not be diverted to serve personal ends. Abdullah b Abbas wrote in reply that the report that had been made to Ali was false. He added that he was fully conscious of his duties and obligations as the Governor, and the Caliph should have no anxiety or misgiving on that score. This reply did not satisfy Ali and he asked Abdullah b Abbas to furnish detailed accounts as to the receipts and expenditure out of the state funds. Abdullah b Abbas took offense at the order of Ali requiring him to furnish accounts. He did not furnish any accounts, but instead resigned from his office, and proceeded to Makkah taking away all the state treasury with him. Abdullah had been the right hand man of Ali. He was closely related to him, and was his chief counselor. Such defalcation and desertion by his close relation and best friend came as a great blow to Ali. With the ill gotten money Abdullah b Abbas purchased some beautiful slave girls. When Ali came to know of these purchases he wrote a letter to Abdullah b Abbas bringing home to him the gravity of his crime. Abdullah b Abbas wrote back to say that if what he had done was a crime, it was not as heinous as the crime committed by Ali himself in causing the bloodshed of thousands of Muslims for the sake of personal power. That broke the heart of Ali. Such shafts of ingratitude from a close associate and dear friend made Ali feel bitter. That was a betrayal which made Ali lose faith in human character.

In most of the source books that have come down to us an account of the defalcation and betrayal of Abdullah b Abbas is given in terms what has been narrated above. There is, however, some controversy on the point.

According to some accounts when Abdullah b Abbas saw that the days of the rule of Ali were numbered and Muawiyah was likely to capture power he took away all that was in the state treasury to prevent it from falling into the bands of Muawiyah. What he did was precedented. When Ali deposed the Othmanite Governor of Yemen, and appointed Abdullah b Abbas as the Governor, the previous Governor had taken away all the state treasury with him to Makkah.
According to one account the entire story of the defalcation and desertion of Ibn Abbas is fictitious. According to this account it is held that Abdullah b Abbas was the Governor of Basra when Ali was assassinated. He held the office during the caliphate of Imam Hasan and relinquished the office only when Imam Hasan abdicated the caliphate in favor of Muawiyah. It is alleged that when the Abbasids came to power and differences developed between the Abbasids and the Alids, some Shia writers invented the story of the defalcation of Abdullah b Abbas to cast aspersions on the character of the Abbasids.

Expedition to Hijaz
In the beginning of 660 C. E. near the time of the annual pilgrimage Muawiyah sent an expedition of 3,000 horses under the command of Basr b Artat to ravage Hijaz Basr was a hard hearted savage brute, cruel by nature. His mission was to win over the people of Hijaz to the side of Muawiyah. Basr began his campaign with Madina. Ali had shifted the capital from Madina to Kufa, in order to keep the war away from Madina, and thereby respect the sanctity of the city of the Holy Prophet. Ali had accordingly made no arrangements for the defense of Madina. When the force of Muawiyah appeared before Madina, the Alid Governor fled the city, and Basr occupied it without any resistance. Basr asked the people of Madina to assemble in the Prophet's mosque. Basr ascended the pulpit, and accused the people of Madina in not coming to the kelp of their Caliph Othman, and let him be murdered in cold blood before their very eyes He made a passionate plea for vengeance for the blood of Othman. He said that he would show no mercy to the murderers of Othman. The people assembled in the mosque shed tears of repentance and mourned the assassination of Othman. Thereafter all the people of Madina took the oath of allegiance to Muawiyah. Basr deposed the Alid Governor of Madina, and appointed a new Governor on behalf of Muawiyah. Madina was thus lost to Ali.

From Madina, the Syrians proceeded to Makka. Qatam b Abbas the Alid Governor of Makkah fled the city, and the people of Makkah did not offer any resistance. Like the people of Madina, the people of Makkah offered their allegiance to Muawiyah. Those who did not take the oath of allegiance escaped from the city. Among them was Abu Musa Ash'ari, one of the umpires at Dumatul Jandal. Abu Musa Ash'ari had given his decision against Ali, but he had not favored Muawiyah either. He was pursued, and brought to Makkah where he was produced before Basr. Basr asked him why he had escaped from Makkah. He said that he had fled for his life. Basr said that if he valued his life, he should take the oath of allegiance to Muawiyah. Like the other people of Makkah, Abu Musa Ashari took the oath of allegiance to Muawiyah. Thus Hijaz web lost to Ali, and that was obviously a great blow to his cause.

Ali's counter attack
Ali mustered a force 4,000 strong and sent it to Yemen under the command of Jariah b Qodamah and Wuhaib b Massood al Thaqfi. On the way to Yemen the forces of Ali passed through the territory of Najran, whose inhabitants supported Muawiyah. They resisted the advance of the Alid force. In the action that followed the Najranites were defeated and killed in large numbers. When Basr came to know that the Alid force was advancing on Yemen, he could not make up his mind to risk an encounter with the Alid force. Before the Alid force reached Yemen, Basr and his Syrian troops made good their escape from Yemen and took the road to Syria. The Ali forces occupied Yemen, and restored the rule of Ali. The Governor appointed by Basr was deposed, and the Governor of Ali resumed his office. The people who had taken the oath of allegiance to Muawiyah recanted, and took the oath of allegiance to Ali again.

After restoring the law and order in Yemen, the forces of Ali marched to Makkah and then to Madina. At both the places the story of Yemen was repeated. The Governors of Muawiyah deposed and the Governors of Ali were reinstated. The people who had taken the oath of allegiance to Muawiyah recanted and took the oath of allegiance to Ali again.

Consequences of the raids of Muawiyah
As a consequence of his raids, Muawiyah was not able to acquire any territory. Because of these raids a greater part of the country was ravaged, and many persons had been killed. Basr the Commander of the forces of Muawiyah acted as a savage brute, and let loose a reign of terror. When Basr killed the young children of Ubaidullah, the Alid Governor of Yemen, and Ali came to know of this atrocity he invoked the curse of God on Basr. Back in Syria, Basr was struck with insanity. In the fits of madness that came to seize him he would shriek for his sword whereby he could kill the people. He was provided a wooden sword, and a stuffed animal skin on which to practice his skill. He wielded his sword with such mad fury that he died of exertion and the world was rid of him.

Apart from the ravaging of the countryside and the massacre of the people these raids led to the grave consequence of the demoralization of the people. The people lost the sense of values, and judgement. One day they took the oath of allegiance to one person and the other day they recanted and took the oath of allegiance to another person. Islam came to sit lightly on the people, and instead of fighting in the cause of God as enjoined by Islam, the people fought to seek worldly ends, a course repugnant to Islam.

That set both the sides thinking. According to the accounts that have come down to us, it is not clear what happened exactly after the failure of the raids undertaken by the forces of Muawiyah in the territory held by Ali. According to some authorities it was Ali who made overtures for peace. According to other authorities, it was Muawiyah who took the initiative in starting negotiations for peace. According to Tabari, the Caliphate was partitioned, and it was agreed that Muawiyah was to be the Caliph for Egypt and Syria, while Ali was to be the Caliph for the rest of the territories under the control of the Muslims. The details of such agreement are not available. It may be recalled that prior to the Battle of Siffin, Muawiyah had proposed such partition but Ali had not agreed thereto because he held such partition to be repugnant to Islam. Since then things had turned out to go in favor of Muawiyah, and according to the decision of the umpires, howsoever obtained, Muawiyah had manipulated to secure the sovereignty of the whole of the Muslim world. Muawiyah was not the man to lose the advantage that he had once secured. It appears to me that there was no regular agreement about the partition of the caliphate. The agreement was merely about a truce on the status quo basis "hereunder Muawiyah held Syria and Egypt, and the rest of the Muslim territories were under the control of Ali. This view gets support from the fact that a few months after this agreement, Muawiyah declared himself to be the Caliph for the entire Muslim world. If there had been a previous agreement for the partition of the caliphate Muawiyah could not so soon go back upon such an agreement and declare himself to be the Caliph for all the Muslim lands. According to the political thought that obtained at the time, the caliphate was indivisible and there could not be more than one Caliph. That is why in spite of the decision of the umpires in his favor Muawiyah had refrained from declaring himself as the Caliph so far. After the failure of his raids he made a truce to gain time and gather more strength. With the lapse of time the position of Ali grew weaker and that of Muawiyah grew stronger. By mid 660 C.E. Muawiyah saw that the position of Ali had become sufficiently weak and his best supporters like Abdullah b Abbas had forsaken him. At that stage be felt himself to be strong enough to declare himself as the Caliph. This declaration stunned Ali. He could not remain quiet at such declaration, and yet he was not strong enough to undertake military action against the pretender. At this stage Ali was the most distressed man, who did not know what to do. He felt that God was putting him to test, and as a true Muslim he decides to resign himself to the will of God.

The Kharijite plot
Ali defeated the Kharijites at the Battle of Nahrawan, but that was not the end of the Kharijites. Because of the reverse met at Nahrawan they became all the more fanatic. Those who survived the disaster of Nahrawan burnt with the desire to seek vengeance for the blood of their comrades who had fallen in the Battle of Nahrawan.

After the Battle of Nahrawan, many Kharijites went to Makkah and sought sanctuary in the Kaaba. At Makkah they saw that the occupation of the city by the Syrians, the people repudiated their oath of allegiance to Ali, and transferred their allegiance to Muawiyah, later they saw that when the Syrians were driven away from Hijaz, the people of Makkah recanted from their oath of allegiance to Muawiyah, and took the oath of allegiance to Ali again. The Kharijites felt sore that in this way the sanctity of the process of oath taking was violated, and instead of establishing the kingdom of God on earth, the parties were trying to establish their own kingdoms. That was revolting to the way of thinking of the Kharijites. According to their view all those who were fighting for power had committed sin and had ceased to be Muslims. Fanatics as they were, they had the conviction that they would be serving the cause of God, if they murdered all such persons who were the principal characters in the struggle for power. They singled out three men for such murder: Ali, Muawiyah and 'Amr b Al-A'as.

The Kharijites in Makkah met at the Kaaba, and commissioned three young men to carry the plot of murder into effect. Abdur Rahman b Maljam al Sarimi was chosen to assassinate Ali at Kufa. Barq b Abdullah was entrusted with the task of murdering Muawiyah. Amr b Bakr was assigned the task of putting an end to 'Amr b Al-A as at Fustat. These young men whitened their swords with deadly poison. Thereafter they were required to proceed to the places assigned to them, and there wait till the seventeenth of the month of the Ramadan, when all the three assassins were to fall on their victims and kill them.

Muawiyah and his assassin
On the appointed date, Barq b Abdullah attacked Muawiyah at Damascus while he was leading the Fajr prayers. The murderer was caught red handed. His feet and tongue were cut off in the first instance. He was thereafter subjected to other tortures, and ultimately put to death.
The wound that Muawiyah received was not fatal. His physicians offered him two alternative cures, one being cautery, and other was the drinking of a draught which would neutralize the poison, but would render him impotent. Muawiyah adopted the second alternative, and he was duly cured after a few days. The Kharijite plot to murder Muawiyah thus came to naught.

'Amr b Al-A'as and his assassin
At Fustat, the Kharijite assassin Amr b Bakr went to the main mosque on the appointed day to assassinate 'Amr b Al" A'as. 'Amr b Al-A'as was a child of fortune, and during his life luck favored him miraculously at critical moments. That day because of his illness due to colic pain, he did not attend the Fajr prayers in the mosque. Instead the prayers were led by his deputy Kharja b Hudhafa. The assassin had not seen 'Amr previously, and he took Kharja to be 'Amr. Dashing on Kharja, the assassin slew him with the stroke of the poisoned sword. Amr was caught red handed, and produced before 'Amr. 'Amr asked the assassin about his motive for killing Kharja. Amr said that he had really intended to kill him ('Amr), and Kharja had been killed because he took him for 'Amr. Under the orders of 'Amr, the Kharijite assassin was tortured and put to death. The Kharijite plot of murdering 'Amr b Al-A'as thus came to naught.

Assassination of Ali
Abdur Rahman b Muljam al Sarimi, the designated assassin of Ali, reached Kufa well before the appointed date. Here he fell in love with a Kharijite girl Qataum by name. According to chronicles she was an outstanding beauty. She had a face as beautiful as the moon, and her flowing jet black tresses were most captivating. Her father and brother had been killed in the Battle of Nahrawan, and she was fired with the desire to avenge their death. She agreed to marry Abdur Rahman if he could present to her the head of Ali as her dower. As he was already committed to the assassination of Ali he readily accepted the condition laid down by his beloved. At the instance of Qataum, two more Kharijites joined with Abdur Rahman in the conspiracy to assassinate Ali. One of them was Werdan, who was related to Qataum. The other was Shaubib b Bijrah who belonged to the tribe of Anjah.

On the Friday morning of the seventeenth day of the month of Ramadan, the three conspirators went to the main mosque of Kufa just before the break of dawn. Here they took up their position in the narrow passage leading to the prayer hall. A little later Ali came, the mosque when it was still dark and there was no one else in the mosque. When Ali stood to pray, Werdan struck at Ali, but missed his mark. Then Abdur Rahman struck Ali on the forehead with this poisoned sword which penetrated on the brain through the scar of an old wound. Thereafter the assassins fled from the mosque.

When the faithful assembled in the mosque for prayers they found Ali lying wounded on the prayer mat. A hunt for the assassins was made. Werdan resisted being taken captive and was killed. Abdur Rahman was apprehended and taken into custody. The third conspirator escaped from Kufa. Abdur Rahman confessed his guilt. He said that he had struck his blow at Ali in the name of God for he considered that in seeking power, Ali had sinned and was guilty of killing thousands of innocent people. Ali cursed Abdur Rahman for his misguided views. He, however, instructed his men that the assassin should be kept in custody and should not be subjected to any hardship. He observed that if he recovered from the wound, he would himself decide what punishment should be awarded to him. If he died the assassin was to lose his life. He was, however, to be killed in one stroke, and was neither to be mutilated nor made to suffer languishing death.

The wounds of Ali proved to be fatal. No antidote could be found to counter affect the poison that had penetrated into the body of Ali. The condition of Ali steadily deteriorated and he breathed his last on the 24th of January 661 C.E. From God he came and to God he returned.

Will of Ali
Before his death, Ali made his will in the following terms: "I declare in my will that except for God there is none who deserves to be worshipped. He is unique. He has no partner. Muhammad (peace be on him) is His Prophet and Messenger whom [i.e. commissioned to give the people guidance through the religion Islam. Islam is the most perfect religion and it is destined to prevail over all other faiths. All our prayers, our sacrifices, our life, our death, our everything is for God. I require all my children and family members to fear God. I wish that all of you should die in Islam. Hold fast to the faith of Islam. Remain united, for according to the Holy Prophet unity in ranks is better than prayers. Be kind to your relatives so that Allah may be kind to you. Remain steadfast in piety and resign yourself to the will of God. Never aspire to do anything which is beyond your reach. Be truthful always. Be kind to the orphans, and in their affairs fear God. Do not wait for their seeking your help. See that in your presence they should not be overcome by any care or anxiety. Be afraid of God in respect of the rights of your neighbors over you. The Holy Prophet always willed for the right of the neighbors indeed to such an extent that we were afraid lest the neighbors be declared as heirs. Follow the Quran in letter and spirit, and see that nobody takes precedence over you in the matter of the observance of the injunctions of the Holy Quran. In the matter of prayers be very particular for it is the basic pillar of Islam. As long as you are alive do not miss your prayers. Undertake Jihad with your life and property. Fear Allah in the matter of Zakat for it extinguishes the wrath of God. Fear God in respect of your regard for the companions of the Holy Prophet for the Holy Prophet made particular mention of them in his will. Be afraid of God in the matter of the poor and the needy. Make them share your wealth. Your slaves have rights on you. Fulfil your obligations. Those who disparage your religion, do not be afraid of them. If they wish to harm you, Allah will be enough to protect you. Try to live in the world in a way which may help it become better. Stop the tyrant from his oppression. Act upon the commandments of God. Face the realities of life with courage and fortitude. Do not be ruffled by the obstacles that stand in your way. Help each other in the doing of good. Do not help those who rebel or do mischief. May God be merciful to all who belong to the House of the Holy Prophet! I entrust you to the protection of God".

Hasan's oration on the death of Ali
Hasan delivered the following oration on the death of Ali: "O misguided men of the Banu Murad, you have killed a man who was so dear to the Holy Prophet and Allah. Your crime is most heinous. You have orphaned the Muslim community. You have deprived the faithful of their commander. You have killed a man who was an ideal man, who stood heads and shoulders above the people around him. He was the man who was the bravest man of the age. He was the most learned man of the times. His services to Islam cannot be forgotten. In the Holy Quran there are references to his greatness. There are numerous traditions of the Holy Prophet which speak of his outstanding qualities as a great Muslim. Also you killed a great man on the day when the Holy Quran was revealed. It was on this date that Jesus Christ was lifted to the heavens. Verily I swear by God in Whose Hand is my life that but for the Holy Prophet no person who has gone by, and no person who is to follow can excel Ali in the matter of virtue and faith. May his soul rest in peace."
His burial

Ali instructed that his burial place should remain a secret. He had many enemies, and he feared lest his body might be subjected to some indignity. According to legend, the dead body of Ali was placed on a camel which was driven from Kufa. The camel stopped a few miles west of Kufa, and here the dead body of Ali was buried secretly. No tomb was raised, and nobody knew of the burial place except a few trusted persons. It is narrated that more than a hundred years later, the Abbasid Caliph, Harun-ur Rashid, went deer hunting outside Kufa, and the deer sought sanctuary at a place where the hounds would not pursue it. On inquiry as to why the place was a sanctuary, Harun-ur-Rashid was told that it was the burial place of Ali. Harun-ur Rashid ordered a mausoleum to be built on the spot. In due course, the town of Najaf grew around the mausoleum.

Fate of the assassin of Ali
Ali had willed that his assassin should not be subjected to any torture but should be killed with one stroke of the sword. The assassin was a fanatic, and instead of being remorseful at his ghastly deed and heinous crime he continued to boast of his services to Islam in assassinating Ali. That annoyed the Muslims, and contrary to the will of Ali his assassin was subjected to torture. His eyes were seared, and his limbs were cut off. Thereafter his dead body was put in a sack and burnt.

Elegy on the death of Ali
Abul Aswad Al Dusli wrote the following elegy on the death of Ali: "And now. O eye, alas for thee, come to my aid. Now weep for the Prince of the Faithful; And let Umm Kulthum weep for him with her flowing tears, for verily she has beheld death. Now say to the schismatics wheresoever they may be, may the eyes of the envious never be refreshed. In the month of fasting you have made us grieve. For the best of all men universally. You have slain the best of those that have mounted steeds and tamed them or put foot upon a vessel of those who wear and adjust sandals, and of those who read the Quran and its perspicuous verses and in him were the noblest virtues and the love of the Apostle of God of the created things. Verily the Quraish know wheresoever they were that you were the best of them in ancestry and faith. When I stood before the face of the father of Husain, I saw the radiance that shone above his eyes and before his death were happy beholding the son-in-law of the Apostle of God among us establishing the truth in which there was no thought of evil and acting equitably between enemies and kinsmen. Knowledge with him was not hidden, nor was he created among the proud of heart. The people because when they lost Ali, like unto the ostrich, bewildered in a country bare of herbage. Rejoice not, Muawiyah, son of Sufyan. For verily the continuance of the Caliphate is with us."

Greatness of Ali
Greatness is a phenomenon whereunder specially gifted persons endowed with extraordinary qualities appear on the world stage from time to time. History is the science which studies the phenomenon of greatness. Usually every person who scales the heights of greatness and acquires a place in history is a success from the worldly point of view. There is some peculiarity in the greatness of Ali. He is great, indeed very great, but he was not a success from the worldly point of view in the conventional sense in which the word "success" is understood. We have thus to undertake a study to probe into the causes that militated against the success of Ali from the worldly point of view in spite of his greatness. We will also have to consider how he is great when he did not succeed from the worldly point of view.

Causes for the non success of Ali from the worldly point of view
The usual phenomenon of greatness is that men succeed in life, and because of such success they acquire greatness. The usual law is that greatness is a consequence of success. Nothing succeeds like success and nothing fails like failure. This means that if you succeed you become great, but if you fail, you are pushed aside and are forgotten. In case of Ali we come across an extraordinary exception to the law of success and greatness. Ali's greatness is of a different species. His greatness did not flow from any success in life. Such greatness was inherent in him; it preceded his encounter with the world, and it outlived his death, although he did not succeed in his worldly life as the word "Success" is understood in the conventional sense. As a matter of fact, Ali became more famous after death than when he was alive. We may next proceed to consider the causes which militated against the success of Ali in spite of his greatness As a matter of fact the greatness of Ali was of such dimensions that he towered very high above the people around him. It was the case of Gulliver in the land of dwarfs. He was so high that he could not bend to meet the people, and the people were so low that they could not rise to meet him. As such a proper equation could not be established between Ali and the people around him, and that was the main cause why he was frequently betrayed, and why he did not succeed in the affairs of the world as the ordinary men succeed. Ali was very much in advance of his age, and the people of the age could not keep pace with him.

By the time Ali came to office, a generation had passed since the death of the Holy Prophet. During this period the Muslims had made large conquests. That had brought great wealth, and wealth had changed the life of the people. A capitalist class sprang up among the Muslims. Ali, a great Muslim of the old type wanted to enforce the austere discipline of original Islam. He himself led a very simple life, and aimed to follow in the steps of Umar. Ali, however, lacked the harshness of Umar and could not enforce the reforms he had in view. There was a gulf between Ali, and the capitalist class who wielded considerable influence. Ali was very parsimonious in the spending of public funds while, Muawiyah who himself led a luxurious life was very liberal in spending public funds. The capitalist class among the Muslims given to the worldly way of life preferred Muawiyah to Ali because of personal considerations. While Ali was more concerned with the Hereafter than this world, the people around him were more concerned with the world than the Hereafter. This difference in outlook could not be bridged, and that is why there are many betrayals in the camp of Ali. These betrayals weakened the position of Ali considerably. Ali was a man of strong principles, and he would not compromise with principles. The people opposed to him were masters of propaganda, and they did not hesitate to adopt any means fair or foul to gain their end. Ali lost she game because he would not abandon his principles at any cost.

Ali, Man of many distinctions
Ali was a man of many distinctions. He owed his distinctions to his relationship with the Holy Prophet, his valor, his knowledge and his spiritual attainments.

His relationship with the Holy Prophet
On opening his eyes after his birth the first person that he saw was the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet named him. As an infant he had the honor of sucking the tongue of the Holy Prophet. He was the first cousin of the Holy Prophet. He became a ward of the Holy Prophet, and was brought up as a family member of the household of the Holy Prophet. He received his training under the loving care and guidance of the Holy Prophet.

When the Holy Prophet declared his mission, Ali was the first teenager to be converted to Islam. Khadija and Ali were the first two persons to pray after the Holy Prophet. When the Holy Prophet invited the Hashimites to a dinner and asked them to aid him in his mission, Ali was the only person to respond to the call of the Holy Prophet. He risked his life for the sake of the Holy Prophet and slept on his bed when the Holy Prophet left for Madina, and the Quraish youth besieged the house with a view to killing the Holy Prophet. When the Holy Prophet left for Madina he entrusted to Ali the task to return the belongings of the people to them which they had placed in the custody of the Holy Prophet. When the Holy Prophet joined the Muhajjirs and the Ansars in fraternity in Madina, he allied himself in fraternity with Ali. The Holy Prophet married his beloved daughter Fatima Zahra to Ali. He was commissioned by the Holy Prophet to write the agreement which came to be known as the Hudaibia Pact. After the conquest of Makkah he had the unique distinction of standing on the shoulders of the Holy Prophet and destroying the idols in the Kaaba. He was entrusted by the Holy Prophet with the special mission of announcing the Quranic Surah "Al Bara'at" (Immunity) to the people on the occasion of the pilgrimage. He was the only person to whom the Holy Prophet referred to as the Maula' of the Ummah. When the Holy Prophet proposed "Mubahala" with the Christians of Najran, he chose Ali as his "second man". The progeny of the Holy Prophet descends through Ali. He was the only person to whom the Holy Prophet imparted "inward knowledge". The Holy Prophet conferred many appellations on Ali such as Haidar-i-Karrar, Abu Turab, Asad-ullah, Syedul Arab etc. The Holy Prophet declared his relationship to Ali as those of Moses and Aaron. When the Holy Prophet died, Ali washed him and prepared his dead body for burial.

His valor
He participated in all the wars of early Islam fought under the command of the Holy Prophet. In all the battles, Ali was the flag bearer of the forces of the Muslims. He was the bravest man among the Muslims. For his unusual bravery he won such titles as "Asad Allah," the lion of God, or "Haidar e Karrar" the warrior whom nobody could match. During his lifetime he killed over a thousand persons of the enemy. In the Battle of Badr alone he killed two dozen persons. He fought over a hundred duels, and in all the duels his adversaries, however strong, were killed. He was the Conqueror of Khyber.

Ali's knowledge
He was the most learned man of his age. He was a living encyclopaedia of knowledge and learning. After the Holy Prophet he was the most eloquent person of the age. Because of his knowledge and wisdom he is known as the "Second Solomon". His wise sayings and aphorisms have attained the status of classical proverbs. He was the first person to write a grammar of the Arabic language. Among the early Muslims he is the only person whose collections of writings have come down to us under the title of Nahj-ul-Balagha. He was a distinguished poet. He enjoys fame as the "Father of Rhetoric". He was an authority on Mathematics. He was a master of the science of Physics. He had deep medical knowledge. After the Holy Prophet he is regarded as the greatest philosopher of Islam. He was a calligrapher and wrote a beautiful hand.

His spiritual attainments
He was the first person to learn the Quran by heart. According to commentators there are at least three hundred verses in the Holy Quran which have an implied reference to Ali. After the Holy Prophet he was the chief judge among the early Muslims. He is regarded as the "Father of Fiqh". He is the first revivalist among the Muslims. He interpreted the doctrines of Islam and systematized them. He is regarded as the "Father of Sufism". All schools of Tasawwuff trace their origin to him.

Ali's Description of Quran
“Kitabullah (The Book of ALLAH) is the way, for it contains information of what happened before you, news of what will come after you a decision regarding matters that will occur among you. It is the Distinguisher and is not jesting. If any overweening person abandons it, Allah will break him, and if anyone seeks guidance elsewhere ALLAH will lead him astray. It is ALLAH’S stalwart rope, the wise reminder, the straight path; it is by which desires do not swerve nor the tongue becomes confused, and the learned cannot grasp it completely. It is not worn out by repetition nor its wonders ever cease. It is that of which the jinn did not hesitate to remark when they heard it: ‘We have heard a wonderful recitation which guides to what is right, and we believe in it’; he who utters it speaks the truth, he who acts according it is rewarded, he who pronounces judgement according to it is just, and he who invites people to it guides them to the straight path”.

Ali's Appellations
Because of his multi-dimensional greatness, and outstanding qualities, Ali is known by many appellations, and each appellation projects some particular aspect of his greatness. Some of these appellations are as follows: Murtada - he with whom God is pleased. Maula - the master. Haidar-i-Karrar - the brave warrior against whom no one could stand. Asad Allah - the lion of God. Al-Ghalib - the victorious. Sher-i-Yazdan - the bravest man of the age. Mushldl Kusha - one who resolved the difficulties of the people. Shah-i-Awlia - the king of saints. Shah-i-Mominin - the king of the pious. Abu Turab - Father of the Earth. Amir-ul-Momineen -the leader of the faithful. Amin-ul-Momineen - the trustee of the faithful. Imam-ul-Muttaqeen - the leader of the god-fearing. Sayyid-ul-Arab - the chief of the Arabs. Al Wasi - the testamenter. Al Hadi - the guide. Al Zahid - the chaste. Al Abid - the pious. Al Salah - the reformer.

Father of Sufism
Ali is acclaimed as the "Father of Sufism". Most of the Sufi orders claim their descent from Ali. According to Ali Hajjweri, the rank of Ali is very high in the line up of Sufism. According to Junayd of Baghdad, Ali is the Shaykh as regards the principles and practices of Sufism.

Ali as a poet
Ali was a distinguished poet. In his book Ali, the Superman, Dr. Ata Mohyuddin has assessed the poetry of Ali in the following terms: "Ali, in his poems is shown as a moralist, freely expressing the righteousness of his cause. In them, as in his sermons, he exhorts the pious to be sincere and steadfast, to refrain from doing wrong, and to stick to the faith. The poetry is neither romantic nor lyrical, but reformative. It contains no sensuous feelings or imagery and has nothing about it of the themes on which the old school of Arab poets delighted to dwell. There is no praise of women, wine, music, amusement and even of the sword. Ali's eloquence is reserved for the praise of patriotism, humility, modesty, chastity, piety, and resignation to God's will. Some of his verses are addressed to his followers, and are complaints about their infidelity. Others extol the virtue of loyalty to the community. Indeed he may be said to have laid the foundation of a national poetry. The style of the verses, which like Ali's prose is racy, lively and unstilted, manes the ethical truths expounded in them much more palatable than they might otherwise have been. The literary form adopted by Ali in his verses exerted a great influence on the trend of Arabic poetry in general. These verses still retain an importance second to none in Arabic literature".

Ali's generosity
Generosity was one of the main attributes of Ali. According to Ali when someone in need asks for your help and you help him that is liberality or munificence. When you help a man in need before he asks of your help that is generosity. In Arab annals, Hatim a Bedouin is known for his generosity. According to the accounts that have come down to us, Ali out-classed him in the matter of generosity. Ali used to say "Woe to that man who spends his wealth in buying male and female slaves, but spends not his money on the free-born who, with a little alms would become enslaved in gratitude to him for ever."

Ali's Administrative instructions
When Ali appointed a person to a high office, with the letter of appointment he also issued a memorandum of instructions setting out the guidelines to be followed for the purposes of administration. Some of these instructions, which are on record, are very much modern in character, and show the insight of Ali as an administrator.

Ali as a Judge
Ali was the most learned man of the age in Islamic law. He acted as a Judge during the time of the Holy Prophet, and the Caliphs Abu Bakr and Umar. Some of the judgements delivered by Ali are on record, and show his highly developed sense of discerning the truth, and doing justice.

Ali's instructions for the conduct of war
Ali was a successful and skilled military general. Some of the instructions that he issued to his Generals and the army about the conduct of wars are on record, and show his great military insight.

Ali as political thinker
Ali was a political thinker. In his writings in Nahj-ul-Balagha we come across many passages which project his political thought in the context of Islam. It is surprising that such thoughts expressed fifteen hundred years ago have an air of modernity about them. One marvels at the profundity of his thought.

Ali's concept of God
In his various sermons, conspicuous for the debt of learning, Ali has emphasized on the various attributes of God in a most masterly way. Extracts from some of his sermons are given: "All praise is due to the creator of the world whose wisdom is hidden. The various subjects of nature openly confirm his existence. He is not surpassed in strength and superiority. He is the nearest to us. No one can be nearer to us than He. His distance height has not segregated Him from His creation, and His nearness has not established His equality with His creation. He is that sublime and matchless Being in comprehending when the intellect cannot reach the bottom of His attributes, yet nothing prevents a person from comprehending Him. He is that being whose existence even an atheist feels in His heart of hearts. Undoubtedly God is free and sublime and bears no comparison with anyone, then how can anyone have the audacity to deny Him."
God is higher and superior to all things to such an extent that even the wildest imagination cannot have a definite idea about Him. He is the beginning, which has no end. He is infinite. God is one. He has no partner. He is the first cause of everything. There was nothing before Him. He existed when nothing existed. He is unique. We can have only glimpses of his greatness. His effulgence is so dazzling that we cannot face it. Our intellect is finite and He is infinite. He is beyond description. He is Almighty. All things in the Heavens and on Earth are subject to His command.

We thank God what He has taken, for what he has given; for the kindness he has done, and what test He has taken. He is aware of all that is hidden. He knows every secret. Whatever is concealed in one's heart is known to Him. He is omnipotent, and omniscient. None is to be worshipped except Him. He has no partner. He has no parallel. He is Mighty, Majesty, and Mercy. He is our Creator. We come from Him and we have to ultimately return to Him. His bounties are unlimited.

Ali's Sayings
Ali was an embodiment of knowledge and wisdom. Some of the sayings of Ali that breathe wisdom and have attained the dimensions of aphorisms are on record. Some of these are quoted hereunder: Fear God and you will have no cause to fear any one. Resignation to the Will of God is the cure of the disease of the heart. The word of God is the medicine of the heart. Lead such a life, that, when you die, the people may mourn you, and while you are alive they long for your company. The days of life pass away like clouds, so do good while you are alive. Of all the follies the greatest is to love the world. Opportunity is swift of flight but slow to return. Pride, cowardice, and miserliness are bad for me but good for women. The most happy is he to whom God has given a good wife. He who knows himself knows God. Do not soil your conscience for anything but heaven The disease of the heart is worse than the disease of the body. To fight against one's desires is the greatest of all fights. The strongest amongst you is he who subdues his self. Wealth and greed are the roots of all evils. Riches without faith are the greatest poverty. A man's worth depends upon the nobility of his aspirations. Knowledge enlivens the soul. The learned lives, although he dies. The sum total of excellence is knowledge. To respect the learned is to respect God. Generosity hides shortcomings. The wealth of a miser is as useless as a pebble. Desire is one's most inveterate enemy. Those who walk on the surface of the earth shall one day be interred in it. Every breath of man brings him nearer to death. People are asleep as long as they are alive, they are awakened when they die. Patience is the fruit of faith. Virtue never dies. A man's glory from his virtue is greater than the glory of his pedigree. No shelter is safer than piety. A man's behavior is the index of his mind. Courtesy costs nothing but buys everything. Clemency graces power. Jealousy devours virtue as fire devours fuel He that lends a listening ear to reproach is one of those that deserve reproach. Forgiveness is she crown of greatness. Carnal appetites are nets spread by the devil. Every arrow does not hit the mark, nor every prayer granted. Ostentatiousness spoils prayers. Fear none but your sins. He who praises you murders you. A man who praises himself displays his deficiency of intellect. Honor your parents and your sons will honor you. A man is hid under his tongue. The tongue of a wise man lies behind his heart. The tongue pierces deeper than the spear. He who purifies his heart from doubt is a believer. The opinion of a wise man is an oracle. To seek counsel is to go to the fountain of guidance. Association with a fool is tyrannical to the soul. God hastens the fall of tyrants. Tyranny leads to moral cowardice. A tyrant's success is his moral defeat. It is better to die than to beg. When a man begs he loses his faith. Hajj is the Jihad of every believer in faith. A wise enemy is better than a foolish friend. Silence is the best reply to a fool. The best speech is one that is short and reasonable. Speech is like a medicine, a small dose of which cures but an excess of which kills. He that has no courage has no religion. His grief is long whose hope is short. The right of freedom of speech consists in speaking the truth. Repentance washes away sins. Folly is an incurable disease. To assist the wrong is to oppress the right. Sinning is a disease, repentance is its medicine, and abstinence from it a sure cure. Sorrow makes a man old before his time. Pride impedes progress and mars greatness. To forgive is the crown of greatness. He who understands humanity seeks solitude. Right is the best argument. Misrepresentation spoils narration. As a man's wisdom increases, so his desire to speak decreases. He who seeks to do justice with men, let him desire for them what he desires for himself. The greatest sin is the sin that the sinner considers to be ordinary. Contentment is the asset which is never exhausted. Governments are a trial for men. He who fights against the truth, the truth will defeat him. Finding fault in others is one's greatest fault. Haste is a species of madness. Greed is perpetual enslavement. He who does not know his own worth is doomed to destruction. The best investment is one with which duties are performed. Anger is a fire kindled, he who restrains anger extinguishes the fire; he who gives vent to it is the first to be consumed by such fire. Jihad is the highway of prosperity. None is more solitary than a miser. Knowledge is the ornament of the rich, and the riches of the poor. Knowledge is the sum total of excellence. He who teaches you a letter binds you with a fetter of gratitude. As long as we do not hope, we do not fret. He who indulges in jokes and loose fall, loses a part of his wisdom. Truth is bitter, but its result is sweet; falsehood appears to be sweet but it is poisonous in its effect. Miserliness is the root of many evils. Knowledge and practice are twins, and both go together. There is no knowledge without practice, and no practice without knowledge. He who dissembles plays with his honor. When God wants to humiliate a person He deprives him of knowledge. When your power increases, decrease your desires accordingly. He who listens to a backbiter loses a friend. It is no justice to decide a case on mere conjecture. He who does not know his own worth is deemed to ignominy. He who practices thrift would never be in want. He who does not know should not be ashamed to learn. Patience is to faith, what head is to the body. When patience goes, faith goes, when head goes, the body goes. The grace of God is the best guide. A good disposition is the best companion. Wisdom is the best friend. Good breeding is the best inheritance. There is nothing more hateful than pride. Be among men like bee among birds. Mix with the people with your tongue, but be separate from them in your deeds. Be generous but do not be a spendthrift. Do not run after the world, let the world run after you. A wise man is he who does not despair of the bounty and mercy of God. He who is aware of his own faults is oblivious of the faults of others. What the eye sees the heart preserves. The vision of the eye is limited; the vision of the heart transcends all barriers of time and space. Do not be misled by appearances for these are apt to be deceptive. Do not have too many irons in the fire; concentrate on one thing at a time. What you do not like for your self, do not like it for others. Contentment is the treasure which is never exhausted. The advice of old men is dearer than the bravery of young men. That knowledge is superficial which is merely on the tongue. That knowledge is real which demonstrates itself in your practice. Waste of time is one's greatest loss. He who knows to keep his secret knows the way to success. Foresight is the way to safety. No relationship is stronger than the relationship that exists between man and God. Enlighten the heart with prayers. Strengthen your heart with faith. Suppress all lust with piety. Do not sell the Hereafter for the world. Do not speak in a state of ignorance. Refrain from unnecessary talk. Do not tread the path from which you can apprehend the danger of running astray. In the affairs of God, do not be afraid of the accusations of the evil mongers. In all that you do seek the protection of God. Do not covet what is undesirable. If you seek the truth neither stray from the right path, nor be assailed by doubts. Do not become a slave of your desires. That wealth is no wealth which brings dishonor. Whatever harm accrues of silence can be remedied but whatever harm is done because of speech cannot be remedied. It is better to restrain your desires than to stretch your hand before others. A little that is earned because of honest labor is better than a larger amount gained through dishonest means. Guard well your secret. He who seeks more than what is necessary indulges in error. To oppress the weak is the worst tyranny. Do not bank on false hopes for that is the capital of the dead. A wise man takes a lesson even from a minor lapse. Overpower desires and suspicions by patience and faith. He who does not take the middle course strays. A stranger is he who has no friends. When hopes are frustrated despair becomes the way of life. He who trusts the world, the world betrays him.

Assessment of Ali by Eminent Muslims

Abdullah b Masud
Abdullah b Masud used to say that throughout Arabia there was not a more impartial judge than Ali. He also said that Ali was the founder of Arabic grammar.

Imam Hanbal
Imam Hanbal said: "Ali had numerous enemies, and all of them tried to find fault with him, but they searched in vain, and could not find any flaw in him. At long last they joined hands with Muawiyah, and declared war on Ali. When they failed to defeat him by fair means they took to treacherous and deceitful courses to defeat him."

Umar b Abdul Aziz
Umar b Abdul Aziz, the Umayyad Caliph, was asked as to whom he considered to be the most pious man in the world. He said: "Ali excelled mankind in piety. Not only did he practice its virtues, but he also tried zealously to reform his friends, associates, acquaintances, and all those who came in contact with him."

Shah Wali Ullah
Shah Wali Ullah has observed: "Chivalry and strength of character, humanity and sincerity which are attributes of great men were represented in abundance by Ali. He is the father of Islamic learning, and his intellectual attainments were due to the ideal training of The Holy Prophet. He was a Hafiz, and a great authority on the Quran. He was the greatest Mujahid and jurist of his time, and one of the greatest of all times. He was one of the greatest orators of early Islam."

Allama Iqbal
In his poem "Asrar-i-Khudi", Allama Iqbal has paid tribute to Ali in the following terms: Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet was a man of many qualities. He gave fresh vigor to Faith and brought honors to the community of the faithful. He developed self-disciplines and killed avarice. A person who knows and controls himself rules the world.

Excerpted and Edited from:
http://www.alim.org/library/biography/khalifa/KAL













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