Ali courage

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					Battle of Naharwan:
The name khariji (pl. khawarij) has been held to mean, "seceder" or "deserter." They are those who have "gone out against" (kharaja 'ala) Ali, or "went out" and "made a secession" from the camp of Ali in the sense of rebelling against him. Ali's decision to submit the fate of the battle of Siffin to Arbitration did not meet with the approval of his Iraqian soldiers, and about 12,000 of whom deserted and rebelled against him on the march back to Kufa, known as the Kharijis. They also came to be known as Harurites from the place where they were first encamped. Ali referred to them as al-mariqun (those who missed the truth of religion). Seething with unrest, the Kharijis encamped at Harura, taking as their watch-word la hukma illa lillahi (The decision of God, the word of God alone), a phrase which, ever since it was first coined, has become a favourite with public agitators. The original separatists had three great leaders, namely Shabath bin Ribi al-Riahi, Abdullah bin Kauwa al-Yeshkuri and Yazid bin Qais al-Arhabi from the three principal tribes of Banu Tamim, Banu Bakr and Banu Hamdan. Anxious to prevent another outbreak of fighting, Ali deputed his cousin Ibn Abbas to negotiate a compromise. The Kharijis insisted that Ali should march forthwith against Muawiya, a demand with which Ali could not possibly comply, as he had given his word to abide by the decision of the arbitration. Months later, when Ali having been deposed off by the umpires of arbitration, he sought to raise an army against Muawiya, and expected the Kharijis to flock to his standard, but they made no attempt to join him. Repeated attempts on Ali's part to urge the Kharijis to join him met with total failure. Instead they decided to raise their own independent standard and went into camp at Naharwan, under the leadership of Abdullah bin Wahab al-Rasibi. Naharwan was a township, situated on a canal of the same name, a few miles east of the Tigris near Madain and between Baghdad and Wasit. Here the Kharijis made extensive preparations for war. Meanwhile, Ali had managed to muster an army for a renewed campaign against Muawiya, and while he was on his way to Syria, a news of the latest outrages by the Khariji fanatics reached him. They had murdered Abdullah bin Khabbab, cutting him down in cold-blood, alongwith his wife and children. Three women of the Banu Taiy had also been put to death in a similarly cruel manner. Pregnant women had been ripped up with the sword, and the aged and impaired cruelly tortured to death. Ali decided to relinquish Syria for a while and to take field against the yoke of the Kharijis at Naharwan. Arriving near Naharwan, Ali followed his usual method of first exploring the possibilities of a peaceful settlement, but their leader Abdullah bin Wahab al-Rasibi resolved to fight to a finish. In 37/658, Ali marshalled his forces and led the final assault against the Kharijis in the memorable battle of Naharwan, which took place in Shaban, 38/January, 659. With the battle cry, the Kharijis rushed on Ali's troops. All save nine of Abdullah's men were killed and he himself also perished. "A little before this fight" says Simon Ockley in "History of the Saracens" (London, 1870, p. 326), "Ali had foretold to his friends what would be the event. "You see" says he, "these people who make profession of reading the Quran, without observing its commandments, will quit the

-2profession which they make of their sect, as quick arrows fly from the bow when they are shot off." When Ali assumed caliphate, he had deposed the Egyptian governor, Abi Sarah in favour of the famous Ansar chief, Qais bin Sa'd bin Ubaida. This seasoned warrior of Islam, proud of his lineage and sincerely devoted to the Hashimites, was famed for his wisdom and diplomacy, qualities which were to stand him in good stead during his governorship. Muawiya tried to take Qais bin Sa'd to his side, but failed. Thus, Muawiya spread a rumour that Qais had joined the party of Muawiya. Ali had full trust on Qais, but his men wanted to appoint another governor in Egypt. Ali then appointed Muhammad bin Abu Bakr as the governor of Egypt. The ground in Egypt had certainly been prepared well in advance by Muawiya's propaganda. In the meantime, Muawiya sent 6000 soldiers in command of Amr bin al-A'as in Egypt. Realising the failure of Muhammad bin Abu Bakr, Ali now sent hasty orders to Ashtar in Iraq, appointing him the new governor of Egypt. Muawiya bribed the chief of Qulzum in whose house Ashtar would almost stay on the way to Egypt, to poison the general. So Ali lost his most staunch of all his supporters, Ashtar, not on the battlefield, but at the table of a man whose loyalty had been bought by Muawiya and who had poisoned the honey which he offered his guest. Ali had no alternative but to ask Muhammad bin Abu Bakr to continue in the office and to hang on as best he could. Ali was yet able to send 2000 crack troops under the command of Tujibite Kinana by way of reinforcement. Other authorities maintain that once again, the Kufans would do nothing to help Ali and that, after fifty days of haranguing them from the pulpit, Ali still had managed to muster only 200 volunteers. These he is said to have sent to Egypt, but the long delay had already proved fatal. Hardly had they left Kufa when the news came of the total defeat of Muhammad bin Abu Bakr's forces and his ugly death. Having fled from the battlefield, Muhammad took shelter in some nearby ruins where he was discovered by Muawiya bin Hudaija, who dragged him out and slain. His corpse was wrapped in an ass-skin and burned. The ignominious end of Muhammad bin Abu Bakr sealed the fate of Egypt for Ali. Muawiya occupied Egypt and appointed Amr bin al-A'as as his lieutenant to rule it in his name, and the newly conquered country, with its immense rich resources became incorporated in the Syrian empire. When Egypt was lost, in one of his sermons to the Kufans, Ali summed up the loss in these words: "O ye people! In the hour of need you have kept aloof from me, like a restive camel when it casts its burden. Lo and behold! The son of Abu Bakr falls, and with him, Egypt too." Things hence became bleak and dreary. Alarmed by the news of Ali's depressive state of mind, his cousin Abdullah bin Abbas, the governor of Basra, set out for Kufa, hoping to rally Ali's spirit. Muawiya immediately took advantage of Ibn Abbas's absence from Basra to send an expedition of 2000 horses under the command of Ibn Hadrami. The then deputy governor of Basra, Ziyad bin Abihi, found himself unable to oppose the invader and took to flight, seeking refuge with the neighbouring tribe of Banu Azd. From here he wrote to Ali, asking for aid. Ali sent such troops as he could mustered, and with this reinforcement, Ziyad was able to give battle to the Syrians, near Basra, where he routed the enemy. Basra thus reclaimed for Ali, who reappointed Ibn Abbas as governor, but Ali's hold over the city remained precarious. The expedition to Basra was Muawiya's first attempt at invading Ali's territory and although the defeat

-3inflicted on Syrian forces was decisive the victory for Ali was to prove only a temporary one. In the same year of 37/659, a section of the Kharijis hatched rebellion against Ali, led by Khirrit bin Rashid of Banu Najiya. Ali attempted to appease the new rising by inviting Khirrit to come and discuss the matters with him, but Khirrit and his followers left the town in disgust and fled to Ahwaz. Here he incited the Iranians, the Kurds and the Christians to withhold payment of taxes to Ali's government. Other disgruntled warriors soon joined him and in a short time he had raised a considerable army, which invaded and occupied Fars, defeating the Alid governor who sought safety in flight. Ali now sent his Kufan general Muquil bin Qais al-Tamimi against Khirrit, who was subdued at Ramhurmuz. In all, Ali was forced to send Muquil against Khirrit twice more. In the third and last encounter, Khirrit and the 170 soldiers, who made up his personal force, were wiped out to a man. Ali appointed Ziyad, the deputy governor of Basra, to rule over Fars. Grown fat on the resources of Egypt, the Syrians now began to cast covetous eyes on Iraq. Muawiya accordingly deputed Noman bin Bashir to ravage Ayn Tamr, Sufian bin Awf to attack Hit and Anbar, Abdullah bin Masada al-Fazari to invade Taima and Dahhak bin Qais to subdue Qutqutana. According to Yaqubi (d. 284/898) in "at-Tarikh" (Beirut, 1960) and Waqidi (d. 207/822) in "Kitab al-Maghazi" (ed. von Kremer, Calcutta, 1856), Muawiya himself came out with these troops to lead them towards Iraq, going as far as Tigris, before returning to Damascus. Apparently these were plundering expeditions, their ostensible aim was to harass Ali. Ali went forth himself into the field almost unattended. On this the men of Kufa, partly from shame, partly lured by promise of increased stipends, marched to the defence of their frontier. One of Ali's commanders, with a flying column, pursued the raiders back into the heart of Syria as far as Balbek; and thence turning northward, escaped by Rakka again into Iraq. On the other side, Muawiya made an incursion right across Iraq, and for some days remained encamped on the banks of Tigris. After leisurely inspecting Mosul, he made his way back to Damascus unmolested. From the start of 40/660, Muawiya sent an expedition under the command of Busr bin Artat, to ravage the Hijaz. The main objective of this enterprise was to seize the important cities of Mecca and Medina, and so prepare the way for penetration into Yamen. Medina at this juncture, was governed by Ali's deputy, Abu Ayub Ansari, who at the approach of the Syrian invaders, could not offer any resistance, and fled from the capital. The entire city swore allegiance to Muawiya. Leaving Abu Hurrera to govern Medina, Busr bin Artat advanced to Mecca, which was at that time governed by Ibn Abbas. The inhabitants offered no resistence, and Ibn Abbas fled from the city. The Meccans like the Medinites, swore allegiance to Muawiya in a body. From Hijaz, Busr went on through the southern parts of the Arabian peninsula until he reached the borders of Yamen. Ubaidullah bin Abbas, attempted to defend the province on Ali's behalf, but the small army which was all that he had been able to raise, was

-4routed. At the approach of Busr, Ibn Abbas made a precipitate retreat, leaving the hazard of repelling the incursion to his deputy, Abdullah Harithi, who fought a pitched battle with Busr. Abdullah was defeated and killed. To oppose Busr in Yamen, Ali mustered 4000 men under the command of Jariah bin Kedaumah and Wauhib bin Masud, the Thaqafite from Kufa. It was now the turn to Busr to flee for his life. Scarcely had the Alid army reached the borders of Yamen, when Busr made his escape to Syria. At this juncture, Egypt and Syria were under the occupation of Muawiya. In 40/660, Muawiya was however in Jerusalem, where he proclaimed himself the caliph of the Islamic empire. Ali was so staggered by Muawiya's claim of powers that he began to make huge preparations for an inroad on Syria, but in the interim, he had been assassinated in Kufa. Many of the Kharijis, after the battle of Nahrawan, had gone to Mecca, where they had frequent political meetings in the holy sanctuary, devising plans to avenge their relatives who had fallen in Nahrawan. Here too, they planned the murder of Ali and Muawiya, adding a third name to the list of Amr bin al-A'as. The three Meccan Kharijis, Abdur Rahman bin Muljam al-Sarimi, Burk bin Abdullah, and Amr bin Bakr volunteered to come forward. Abdur Rahman agreed to kill Ali, Burk to Muawiya, and Amr to murder Amr bin al-A'as, now the governor of Egypt. The morning of Friday, the 17th Ramdan was fixed for the execution. The three assassins poisoned their swords and separated. Abdur Rahman took the route of Kufa, Burk that of Damascus and Amr that to Egypt. The chosen day arrived and Burk bin Abdullah, in Damascus, attacked Muawiya while he was in the mosque, and wounded him in the loins. He was arrested. Muawiya ordered his men to cut off the feet of Burk and take out his tongue. He was then dragged to be further tortured and put to a cruel and ignominious death. In Egypt, Amr bin Bakr went to the mosque on the morning of 17th Ramdan to assassinate Amr bin al-A'as. In his stead, his deputy, Kharja bin Huzafa was in the mosque. Amr bin Bakr, who had never seen either of them before, slew Kharja with one stroke of his sword. He was arrested and was forthwith put to a cruel death. Of the three assassins, it was Abdur Rahman who had the easiest task for Ali. He went to the cathedral mosque of Kufa just before the break of dawn, where he took up his position in the narrow passage leading to the mosque and waited for Ali to enter. The moment Ali set foot in the mosque, while it was still dark, the assassin attacked with the sword, but missed his aim. When Ali was in prostration, Abdur Rahman struck Ali the point of his poisoned sword and fled away. Shortly afterwards the congregation began to assemble in the mosque for the dawn prayers, and there they found Ali lying wounded on his prayer mat. Abdur Rahman was soon arrested, but no antidote could be found for the poison and Ali's condition rapidly deteriorated, and died on 21st Ramdan, 40/January 29, 661 at the age of 63 years, and bequeathed the office of Imamate to his son Hussain. The period of Ali's caliphate lasted for 4 years and 9 months, and the period of his Imamate since the death of Muhammad was for 29 years. John J. Pool writes in "Studies

-5in Mohammadanism" (p. 62) that, "The death of Ali was an epoch-making event. We come now to the parting of ways. Henceforward, the Commander of the Faithful ceased to be elected by the votes of the people of Medina or Mecca. Arabia was no longer to be the seat of temporal power. For the future, in Islam might was to take the place of right." His first wife was Fatima, the only daughter of Muhammad, during whose lifetime, he did not marry any other lady. By Fatima, he had three sons, Hasan, Hussain and Mohsin, who died in infancy; and two daughters, Zainab and Umm Kulsum. By his wife, Ummul Banin bint Hizam, Ali had four sons, viz. Abbas, Jafar, Abdullah and Uthman. By Layla bint Masud, he had Ubaidullah and Abu Bakr. By Asma bint Umyas, he had Yahya and Muhammad Asghar. By Umm Habiba bint Rabia, he had one son, Umar and a daughter, Ruqaiya. By Amama bint Abil Aas, he had a son, named Muhammad al-Awasat. By Khawla bint Jafar bin Qais al-Hanafiya, he had Muhammad Akbar, who was known as Muhammad ibn Hanafiya. By Umm Sa'id bint Urwa bin Masud, he had Ummul Hasan and Ramla. It is difficult to design a portrait of the qualities and merits of Ali bin Abu Talib, for he was a paragon of virtues and fount of knowledge. He was indeed a living encyclopaedia of learning. The Sufis traced their esoteric chains back to Ali. Abu Nasr Abdullah Sarraj writes in "Kitab al-Luma fi't-Tasawwuf" (ed. Nicholson, London, 1914, p. 129) that when Junaid Baghdadi (d. 298/910) was asked about Ali's knowledge in esoteric field, he said, "Had Ali been less engaged in wars, he might have contributed greatly to our knowledge of esoteric things for he was one who had been vouchsafed ilm al-ladunni (i.e., spiritual knowledge direct from God)." Ali taught to his followers that Islam is the only religion which is in harmony with intellect in its objectives and agrees with nature in its commands and prohibitions. The great revolution which Islam brought about in the domain of religion was obviously stimulated by the attitude which it adopted in regard to the supremacy of reason. He called upon the people to accept the sovereignty of intellect, and invited them to reflect and ponder over the natural phenomenon. According to Ali, Islam before everything else is the religion of reason, and not a path of blind faith, and accordingly, it requires its adherents to be wise, able and intelligent, in possessing of penetrating insight; so that they might always act in accord with the dictates of justice and truth, and build sound character. For these, Ali raised the dignity of knowledge (ilm) through his various sermons and speeches. It infers from his teachings that knowledge covers all branches, and it is not confined to the religious knowledge, otherwise, the Arabs would have stopped at the boundaries of theology alone. Ali is attributed with having been the founder of the study of Arabic grammer through his disciple, Abdul Aswad al-Dulai; and the originator of the correct method of reciting Koran. His works have been collected by Sharif al-Razi Zul Hussain Muhammad bin Hussain bin Musa al-Musawi (d. 408/1015) into a vast compendium, called "Nahjul Balagha" (Course of Eloquence), an anthology of his sermons, letters, discourses,

-6exhortations, advices, judgements on penal, civil and commercial law, proposed solutions of fiscal and economic problems. It represents the best early example of Muslim writing on philosophy, theology, science and ethics. In its sanctity, the work is regarded by the Shiites as second only to the Koran. While studying his discourses, we will know that many modern scientific theories had been expounded by Ali 1300 years ago. Shaikh Ali bin Ibrahim al-Qummi of 3rd century writes in "Wassaffat" that once in a moon-lit night, Ali said: "The stars that you see in the sky, all of them, contain cities like the cities of our earth, and each city is tied to a perpendicular of light, and the length of the perpendicular is a distance of two hundred and fifty years' journey in the sky." The French scholar Mons. Xion was so impressed upon these words that he was constrained to advance his remarks that, "A person who gave such information a thousand years ago without having recourse to any instrument or material means, cannot be having merely human eye or mind, but must have been endowed with divine knowledge, and with such a religious guide and leader, Islam must be a true heavenly religion, which stands proved by the fact that the successor of its founder possessed super human intelligence and knowledge." It is related that Ali asked an Egyptian astrologer, called Sarsafil, "Tell me what is the relation of venus to the satellites (tawabi) and fixed stars (jawami)?" Sarsafil could not return answer for he knew only Greek astronomy. The Arabic word for satellites is tawabi means "followers", and truly a satellite is a follower of the planet round which it revolves. Similarly, the word for fixed stars is jawamimeans "gatherers" and truly a sun, or fixed star keeps all the planets revolving round it gathered together. How accurate were the terminologies of Ali? Once a person asked Ali, "What is the distance between earth and the sun?" Ali said, "Suppose a horse runs day and night without any break from earth to sun, it would take 500 years to reach the sun." While making its calculation, it should be known that the speed of an Arabian horse is normally 22 miles per hour. The horse thus would cross 95,040,000 miles in 500 years, indicating a distance between earth and the sun. It must be remembered that the same distance between the earth and sun was commonly accepted in Europe during Renaissance. The western scientists expounded the same distance during 18th century under another notion, that if a jet plane flies from earth at the speed of 10,000 miles per hour, it would reach the sun in 11 years. This method also indicates the distance of 95,040,000 miles, vide "The Book of Knowledge" (ed. by E.V. McLoughlin, New York, 1910). The modern science however shows that when the earth is closest to the sun in the early January, the distance from earth becomes 91,400,000 miles, and when the earth is farthest in early July, the distance becomes 95,040,000 miles. It is therefore safe to conclude that the person would have asked the above question to Ali most possibly in the month of early July. Philip K. Hitti writes in "History of the Arabs" (London, 1949, p. 183) that, "Valiant in battle, wise in counsel, eloquent in speech, true to his friends, magnanimous to his foes,

-7Ali became both the paragon of Muslim nobility and chivalry and the Solomon of Arabic tradition, around whose name poems, proverbs, sermonettes and anecdotes innumerable have clustered." William Muir was one of the admirers of Ali, who says in his "The Caliphate, its Rise, and Fall" (London, 1924, p. 288) that, "In the character of Ali, there are many things to commend. Mild and beneficent, he treated Basra, when prostrate at his feet, with a generous forbearance. Towards theocratic fanatics, who wearied his patience by incessant intrigues and insensate rebellion, he showed no vindictiveness." R.A. Nicholson writes in "A Literary History of the Arabs" (Cambridge, 1953, p. 191) that, "He was a gallant warrior, a wise counsellor, a true friend and a generous foe. He excelled in poetry and in eloquence; his verses and sayings are famous throughout the Muhammadan East though few of them can be considered authentic." "As the chief of the family of Hashim" writes Charles Mills in "A History of Muhammadanism" (London, 1817, p. 84), "and as the cousin and son-in-law of him, it is apparently increditable that Ali was not raised to the caliphate immediately on the death of Muhammad. To the advantage of his birth and marriage, was added to the friendship of the Prophet. The son of Abu Talib was one of the first converts to Islam and Muhammad's favourite appellation of him was, the Aaron of a second Moses. His talent as an orator, and his intrepidity as a warrior, commended him to a nation in whose judgement courage was virtue and eloquence was wisdom." According to "History of Arabia and its People" (London, 1852, p. 307) by Dr. Andrew Crichton, "This prince united the qualifications of a poet, an orator, and a soldier, for he was the bravest and most eloquent man in his dominions. A monument of his wisdom still remains in a collection of precepts or sentences of which 169 have been translated by Ockley." Thomas Carlyle writes in "Heroes and Hero-worship" (London, 1850, p. 77) that, "As for this young Ali, one cannot but like him. A noble minded creature, as he shows himself, now and always afterwards; full of affection, of fiery daring. Sometimes chivalrous in him, brave as a lion, yet with a grace, a truth and affection worthy of Christian knighthood." Despite his engagements in the civil wars during his caliphate, Ali however made many reformations in the state. He was the first to realize land revenue from peasants. He exempted taxes on horse-trade to promote its trade. He included forests as a source of revenue for the first time, and necessary tax was imposed on it. He reserved a specific part in poor-rate for the poors. He codified Islamic laws for the judges, and set up courts in every province. Ali was the first to make metalled roads in the state, and constructed many forts, notably Astkhar fort. He reorganised the army, and erected military posts everywhere. He was the first to build a strong bridge on river Euphrates. Ali's period is also acclaimed for the promotion of education, and he was the first caliph to patronise education, and as a result, about 2000 students in Kufa got free scholarship.

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