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First Imam Hazrat Ali a.s. (Hz. Ali ibn. Abi Talib a.s.) -III

2011-06-23

First Imam Hazrat Ali a.s. (Hz. Ali ibn. Abi Talib a.s.) ---Ahadis of Rasool --(1st part)

 
          On Relationship of Imam Ali with the Prophet (pbuh)

 
      "I am to you like Musa (Moses) was to Harun (Aaron) except that there shall be no prophet after me".

 
           "O Allah!  Befriend those who befriend Ali, be enemy to those who exhibit animosity towards All."

 
            "O Ali!  You are the foremost among the believers.  You are the wisest and the most faithful in honoring a pledge.  You are the best in giving justice.  You are the kindest of the Muslim ummah.  You are the most patient in adversity.  You are my right arm.  You will wash by body, and you will give me burial ' On the Day of Judgment, you will carry the banner of Islam, and you will drive away the unworthy from Hawdhe Kawthar  (the Pond)."  "Whoever parts company with Ali parts company with me; whoever parts company with me parts company with Allah."
 
            On the Person of Ali:

 
            ..... that looking at the face of Ali is an act of devotion" and

 
            .....that zikre Ali (elaborating the deeds and acts of Ali) is devotion."

 
             "The fist (measure) of Ali and my fist are equal."

 
             On Knowledge:

 
        "I am the City of all Knowledge, and Ali is the gate (door) of that City.          Whoever wishes to enter that city should come through its gate."

 
             On Judgment:

 
             "Ali is the best of judges among you."

 
            On Faith:

 
            "Ali is total Faith...

 
            On Truth:

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

 
             On Bravery:

 
            "Ali is the fearless Lion of Allah."

 
             "Ali is the Hand of Allah."

 
              "Ali is always victorious.  He never turns his back to the enemy."

 
             On Piety:

 
             " Ali is the Imam (leader) of the pious,"

 
            "No one ever acquired such excellence as Ali. He leads his friends to the Right Path, and prevents them from going astray."

 
             During the life of the Prophet himself, many of his companions also attested to the knowledge, valor, judgments, generosity, piety and faith of Ali; and to his unparalleled greatness.

First Imam Hazrat Ali a.s. (Hz. Ali ibn. Abi Talib a.s.) ---his life During first three caliphs

 
On the death of the Prophet, the people of Madinah were concerned that if they remained passive, the goveniment of their city would pass over to the Muhajirs.  Likewise, the Muhajirs had no intention of relinquishing the government over to the Ansar of Madinah.  The most prominent companions of the Prophet hurried to join a heated conference on the matter.  For Ali, the primary obligation was to bury the Prophet after his death, and there was nothing in the world that would have distracted him from carrying out his mission.  He was confident that the public declaration made by the Prophet about him was sufficient reassurance for his rights of succession.

 
       At the meeting, Abu Bakr was elected the first Caliph and Umar led the congregation 'in Madinah the next day to obtain fealty for the new Caliph.  All felt betrayed and refused to give his endorsement to the process of election by which Abu Bakr became the first successor to the Prophet of Islam.  As a result of this incidence, bitterness and unpleasantness ensued.  However, All did not raise arms to obtain his rights by force.  In fact, there were many in Madinah at that time who wanted him to do so.  He only wished for Islam to remain a unified force, and showed no wish to divide the young nation by a civil war of succession.  Within six months of the death of the Prophet, his beloved daughter Fatitna also passed away leaving her husband and her family in deep grief.

 
       Just before his death, Abu Bakr named Umar as his successor.  Thus Ali was deprived of his rights to become the caliph a second time.  He protested against the method but again refrained from using force to assert his right to the caliphate.  Despite his bitterness on the issue of Caliphate, Ali did not refrain from providing advice to the caliphs whenefer he was consulted in the matters of the State or ofj'urisprudence.  When Umar was fatally wounded by Abu Lulu the dis-satisfied Persian slave, he set up an elaborate electoral council of six most eligible candidates for succession which also included Ali.  However, the mechanism effectively eliminated Ali, and Uthman became the third caliph.

 
       By this time, the boundaries of the Muslim' rule had extended to far off lands.  It had been many years that Ali was not seen participating actively in matters of the State, and had retreated into a quiet life in the coastal town of Yanbu, located in the north west of Madinah.  By now, the numbers of new Muslims from far off lands had exceeded those in the Arab lands.  However, the reign of Uthman quickly became controversial because of his policy of promoting Umayyads to key positions throughout the empire.  Many of the previous governors, who were among the respected companions of the Prophet, were replaced by the new Umayyad nominees.  Most of these new officials of Uthman were neither pious nor knowledgeable in matters of religion.  They were arrogant and their behavior was brutal to many companions of the Prophet who had settled in the new provinces.  Complaints sent to the Caliph produced no response, as they were filtered by his personal secretary (and son-in-law) Marwan bin Hakam.  This aroused wide spread dissention among the Madinan Muslims as well as the new Muslims in the peripheral provinces.  Many deputations sent to meet with the Caliph returned without any change of personnel or policies.

 
       Ultimately an angry mob of Muslims marched onto the Caliph's palace and assassinated him.  The mob had consisted of a huge representation from the provinces as well as many prominent companions of the Prophet from Madinah who had opposed the policies of Uthman.  For several days there was chaos in Madinah.  At this point people came to Ali and unanimously elected him their Caliph.  All had to accept the trust, knowing full well that the task of governing the nation at that time was a formidable one.  He told the people that he would strictly follow the Quran and the Prophet in his government, and there would be some who would not like it.  However, many companions who were aware of the impeccable character of Ali, were confident that he would bring justice to the people.

 
       No sooner did the new Caliph take office, the Umayyad camp in the north under Muawiyah bin Abu Sufyan began a systematic revolt against him and demanded revenge for the blood of Uthtnan (who was also from the Umayyad clan).  His excuse for the rebellion was that the new Caliph did nothing to punish the killers of Utlunan.

 
       In Madinah, several sympathizers of the slain Caliph also echoed the Umayyad uproar.  Ironically, the Prophet's wife Ayesha binte Abu Bakr, who was among the foremost to protest against Uthman's policies, now wanted to avenge his murder.  Whereas it is true that Ali was not pleased with the policies of Uthman, he did not form public demonstrations and never took part in any agitation or mob protest that ultimately led to Uthman's assassination.
       Two of the candidates for caliphate in the electoral council designed by Umar before his death, Talha and al-Zubayr (the former a cousin and the other a brother-in-law of Ayesha), still considered themselves to be active candidates for the high position.  The appointment of Ali to the Caliphate by popular vote was not acceptable to them.  They also instigated the rising against the new Caliph for their own motives.

 

 

First Imam Hazrat Ali a.s. (Hz. Ali ibn. Abi Talib a.s.) ---As a Caliph

 
On becoming the Caliph of the Islamic State, Ali had a stonny five years long career.  The rising against the new Caliph had a catchy slogan:'to avenge the murder of Uthman'. In this rising Talha and Zubayr enlisted the support of Aycsha, who by her own admission in later years, was 'gravely misled by the mischief mongcrs'. Muawiyah who had been a governor of the provinces of Palestine and Syria for nearly twenty five years, had enjoyed virtual autonomy during the rule of the preceding three caliphs. Taking advantage of the situation, he refused to accept Ali as the Caliph. In fact, he wanted to have the seat of Caliphate for himself Muawiyah fuelled the revolt by the three leaders in Madinah, and they marched on to the province of Basrah and took it after a bloody massacre.

 
        THE BATTLE OF JAMAL (CAMEL)

 
    Ali invited the instigators of the revolt to avert the civil war, avoid the inevitable killing of more Muslims on either side, and to resolve the dispute through negotiation.  As the three leaders had gained victory at one front, they were confident of continued success at other fronts as well.  Ali had to draw his sword when his ambassador with an invitation for peace was killed by the order from one of the revolting three leaders.  This started the disgraceful Battle of the Camel.  This was the first time that Muslims drew their swords against each other in battle.  There were companions of the Prophet on both sides.  People had forgotten the Prophet's famous saying, "Ali is with the Truth, and the Truth is with Ali."

 
    However, at the open confrontation, Imam Ali was victorious.  Although Zubayr had withdrawn from the battle, he was assassinated on his way back to Madinah.  Talha bled to death from an arrow shot at him by the Uma@ad Marwan, who was a soldier in their army.  At the end of the battle, Ayesha was escorted back to Madinah with great respect.

 
  
            THE BATTLE OF SIFFEEN
    After dealing with the revolt headed by Ayesha, Ali invited Muawiyah to come under the direct rule of the Caliph.  Having enjoyed virtual autonomy and power for over two decades, Muawiyah declined to abide by the Caliph's advice.  He gathered his army of regular soldiers and declared war against the Caliph.  This important event took place at Siffeen.

 
    The army of the Caliph consisted of believers whojoined forces with him as volunteers.  They fought with vigor and faith but the confrontation turned out to be a long drawn out one.  When Muawiyah saw that his defeat was inevitable, he resorted to a clever trick.  He ordered his army to hoist copies of the Qur'an atop their spears and cry out aloud to stop the war in the name of Allah and turn to the Qur'an to resolve their differences.

 
  EMERGENCE OF THE KHARJITES
    The soldiers of the Caliph fell to the clever ploy by Muawiyah and asked Ali to resolve this matter through arbitration.  Whereas Muawiyah got the arbitrar of his choice, the Caliph had to accede to the choice by the majority of his soldiers.  By a deceitful maneuver during arbitration, the representative of Muawiyah gained advantage over the Caliph's camp.  This sent a wave of dissent in his an-ny and caused a large portion of them to abandon allegiance to him.  In fact, they took up the position of open confrontation and took up arms against him.  This group of deserters is known as the Khawarij (the Khadites).

 
 
 
            THE BATTLE OF NAHRAWAN
    With an eloquent lecture to the dissenting soldiers, Ali was able to convince a large section of them to abandon their hostility and open confrontation against him.  A remaining force of about four thousand soldiers persisted in their resolve to fight him.  A bloody battle ensued at Nahrawan, and all but a handful of them perished.  At a later date they regrouped and had a second attempt against the Caliph, but lost with massive bloodshed.  Despite such grave losses, the Kh@ite movement persisted and could not be totally wiped out.  The survivors retreated to the mountains to brew further mischief.

 
 
 
THE SEQUELAE OF SIFFEEN AND NAHRAWAN

 
    After the battle of Nahrawan, Ali invited his army to head for Syria to subdue the rebel governor Muawiyah for his deceit.  The soldiers asked Ali to return to Kufa briefly so that they could visit their families and refurbish their supplies.  Having returned to Kufa, the army of volunteers simply disappeared.  Thus, the righteous Caliph was unable to regroup a substantial force to bring the revolting governor of Syria under the rule of the Caliphate.

 
    Muawiyah took this opportunity and started a systematic scheme to weaken the hold of the Caliph over the provinces.  He invaded and took the western province of Egypt.  Muhammad bin Abu Bakr, the governor of the province was captured on his way between Madinah and Egypt and was killed.

 
    Muawiyah sent his army on a wild rampage in Hijaz, and all the way down to the province of Yemen, leaving in their wake indiscriminate looting and burning of property.  He sent down swarms of his army contingents to the province of Basra and weakened their allegiance to the Caliph.  As part of his demeaning propaganda against Ali, he introduced an ignoble practice of cursing Ali on the pulpit in the Friday congregational prayers, held throughout the territory controlled by him.

 
    The Caliph addressed his subjects during the congregational prayers and at other occasions and appraised them of the deeds of the rebel governor.  He tried to awaken their conscience and induce in them the spirit of individual dignity and self-respect.  He advised them that if they remained placid, they would be the next on the rampage of Muawiyah.  The untiring efforts of the Righteous Caliph in his eloquent sermons again roused his followers to regroup, and a respectable army gathered for the defense of the province of Iraq.

First Imam Hazrat Ali a.s. (Hz. Ali ibn. Abi Talib a.s.) --- The Martyrdom of Imam

 
Imam Ali had many enemies from his first battle against the Kuffar (non-believers) during the early days of Islam down to the recurring conflicts against the charlestons who declined to accept his Caliphate, including Muawiyah bin Abu Sufyan, the rebellious governor of Syria.  The new faction of the Khwarij in his own caliphate were his new enemies, who wanted to have him killed.  Abd ar-Rehman ibne Mulji@ a previously unknown Kharji hid in the mosque over night during the month of Ramadhan.  He struck the Imam on the head with a poison-dipped sword while he was prostrate in Ms prayers.  The Imam suffered from the poisonous deep cut wound for three days and died at home surrounded by his grief-stricken family.

 
    Before he died, he called his elder son Hasan to his bedside and appointed him to be the Imam after him.  On his deathbed, Imam Ali gave his last advice to his children as well as Muslims, which is summarized here: -Keep piety your foremost goal in life.

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

 
            -Do not forget the orphans among you.

 
            -Remember your neighbors at all times.

 
            -Make al-Qur'an your guide.

 
           -Maintain prayers as your foremost discipline in life because this is the strongest pillar of your faith.

 
            -Give freely in the name of Allah, including your lives when needed to defend Islam.

 
         -Remain united, and protect each other from sin, because if you fail to do so, others will become your overlords.

 
 

 
                    REFLECIRIONS FROM THE LIFE OF IMAM ALI
          Upon the death of the third caliph, Imam Ali became the Caliph of a vast nation of new Muslims who had not been introduced to the Ahle Bait and who had poor knowledge of the feats of Imam All or the teachings of the Prophet.  However, among the companions of the Prophet, the towering personality of hnam Ali dwarfed them all.  This provoked feelings ofjealousy among those who saw the opportunity slip away from their hands for the high position.  Consequently the Caliphate of Imam Ali suffered a series of betrayals by many friends, companions and even Ayesha binte Abu Bakr, a wife of the Prophet. He was frustrated when he had to draw his sword against the Muslims who had previously protected and defended against the infidels.  Many were confused when they saw the close companions of the Prophet come out in open confrontation in bloody battle.  It was among these unsure and skepfic people that the Khaji faction emerged.  It was these people who failed him in his efforts to subdue Muawiyah bin Abu Sufyan, the ambitious rebel governor of Syria.  When this group of people rebelled against the Imam, it further compounded the problem of dissention, dissatisfaction and division among the Muslims already spearheaded by Muawiyah.

 
    There were others in the Imam's army who expected large gratuities from him for their services, as practiced in the preceding era.  The Imam did not give in to favoritism or nepotism, and considered the public treasury to be a sacred trust that could not be violated by using it to win loyalty or services.  Many of them became dissatisfied and left the Imam when he refused to meet their expectations.  Even in the battlefields, he had forbidden his soldiers to loot or strip the fallen in the opposite camp.

 
    Imam Ali had planned major reforms for the state since it had fallen into geperal abuse towards the end of the rule of the third caliph.  These were delayed due to the civil disorder he had to deal with.  There was only a brief period of relative peace in his province after the battle of Nahrawan in which he could institute his reforms.  They illustrate his great foresight, wisdom and organization.  It is not within the scope of this book to discuss or describe tlxm here.  For this, the reader may rcfcr to Nalijul-Balaglia, a collection of the Imain's Sermons, letters and sayings.

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