The allegiance of the people of Basrah
Amir al-Mu’minin `Ali radiya Llahu `anhu was very keen to unite the people, to respect the people under his authority and to treat them honourably. This treatment had a far reaching effect by convincing the people of Basrah to swear allegiance to Amir al-Mu’minin `Ali radiya Llahu `anhu.In the evening following the Battle of the Camel, he put the captives in a special place. When he prayed the dawn prayer, he asked for Musa ibn Talhah ibn `Ubayd Allah. He brought him close, welcomed him and seated him next to him, and asked him how he and his brothers were.
Then he told him:
We did not seize your land because we want to take it away from you; we seized it lest the people plunder it.
He gave him the harvest of the land and said:
O son of my brother, if you have any need, come to us.
He did the same with his brother `Imran ibn Talhah, and the two brothers swore allegiance to him. When the other captives saw that, they entered upon `Ali radiya Llahu `anhu to swear allegiance to him, and he accepted their allegiance. He accepted allegiance from each tribe, one by one.
He also asked about Marwan ibn al-Hakam, saying:
There is compassion for him because of blood ties; in addition to that, he is one of the noble young men of Quraysh.
Marwan sent word to Hasan, Husayn and Ibn `Abbas radiya Llahu `anhum asking them to speak to `Ali radiya Llahu `anhu on his behalf. `Ali radiya Llahu `anhu said:
He is safe. Let him go wherever he wants.
Because of this generous and noble treatment, Marwan did not want to leave until he had sworn allegiance to `Ali radiya Llahu `anhu.
Marwan radiya Llahu `anhu praised the actions of Amir al-Mu’minin `Ali radiya Llahu `anhu, telling his son Hasan:
I have never seen anyone more generous in victory than your father. As soon as we began to flee on the day of the Camel, his caller called out: “Do not finish off anyone who is wounded, do not pursue anyone who is fleeing.”
Thus the people of Basrah swore allegiance to Amir al-Mu’minin `Ali radiya Llahu `anhu. He appointed his nephew `Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu `anhu as their governor and Ziyad ibn Abihi in charge of the land tax. `Ali radiya Llahu `anhu wanted to stay there longer, but he hastened to leave because of Malik (al-Ashtar). Al-Ashtar had been hoping to become governor of Basrah; when he found out that ibn `Abbas had been appointed to the post, he became angry and left with his people. `Ali radiya Llahu `anhu was afraid that he might cause trouble, so he went quickly with the remainder of his army and caught up with him. `Ali radiya Llahu `anhu reprimanded him for leaving, but he pretended that he had not heard anything else about him.
The hadith of Abu Bakrah from the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam: “If two Muslims face one another with swords, then slayer and the slain will be in hell.”
Our scholars said that this hadith, the hadith of Abu Bakrah, is not speaking about the Sahabah of Rasul salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam because Allah says:
وَ اِنْ طَآئِفَتٰنِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِیْنَ اقْتَتَلُوْا فَاَصْلِحُوْا بَیْنَهُمَاۚ فَاِنْۢ بَغَتْ اِحْدٰىهُمَا عَلَی الْاُخْرٰی فَقَاتِلُوا الَّتِیْ تَبْغِیْ حَتّٰی تَفِیْٓءَ اِلٓی اَمْرِ اللّٰهِۚ فَاِنْ فَآءَتْ فَاَصْلِحُوْا بَیْنَهُمَا بِالْعَدْلِ وَ اَقْسِطُوْاؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ یُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِیْنَ ﴿9﴾ اِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُوْنَ اِخْوَةٌ فَاَصْلِحُوْا بَیْنَ اَخَوَیْكُمْ وَ اتَّقُوا اللّٰهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُوْنَ
If two parties among the believers fall into a quarrel, make peace between them: but if one of them transgresses beyond bounds against the other, then fight [all] against the one that transgresses until it complies with the command of Allah; but if it complies, then make peace between them with justice, and be fair: for Allah loves those who are fair [and just]. The believers are but a single brotherhood: So make peace and reconciliation between your two [contending] brothers: And fear Allah so that you may receive Mercy.
Allah enjoined fighting the group that is in the wrong. If the Muslims fail to fight the group that is in the wrong, then one of the obligations enjoined by Allah will have been abandoned. This proves that the words of Rasul salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam, ‘The slayer and the slain will be in hell,’ are not about the Sahabah of Rasul salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam because they only fought because of a misunderstanding.
Al-Qurtubi also said:
If what is required of Muslims, in the case of any difference between two groups of Muslims, is to run away from it and stay in their houses and break their swords, then no hadd punishments would be carried out and no falsehood would be confronted. Then the hypocrites and evildoers would find it easy to violate all sacred limits, confiscate the Muslims’ wealth, take their women captive and shed their blood, because they would gang up against them, and the Muslims would refrain from confronting them by saying: “This is fitnah. We are forbidden to fight in this case; we are instructed to be passive and run away from it.
With regard to the slayer and the slain being in hell, this applies to cases where there is no shar`i justification, when they are fighting for tribal reasons and the like. Moreover, what is meant by hell is that they deserve it and may be punished there in or may be pardoned by Allah. This is the correct view. One may judge or evaluate any incident of fighting between Muslims on this basis, but it should be noted that the blood that was shed among the Sahabah radiya Llahu `anhum is not included in this warning. According to the view of the Ahl al-Sunnah, which is the correct view, we should think positively of them and refrain from debating about the disputes among them. We should understand their fighting on the basis that they had what they thought was a valid reason for it. They did not intend to commit sin or to seek worldly gains; rather each group believed that it was in the right and that its opposite number was transgressing, so it was obliged to fight it and bring it back to compliance with the command of Allah. Some of them were right, and some of them were wrong, but they are to be excused for their misjudgement; if the one who makes a mistake has based his decision on what he thinks is a valid reason, there is no sin on him. The view of Ahl al-Sunnah is that `Ali radiya Llahu `anhu was the one who was in the right in this conflict. The issues were so ambiguous that some of the Sahabah were uncertain, so they stayed away from both groups and did not fight; they were not certain who was in the right, so they refrained from helping them.
The date of the Battle of the Camel
The historians’ differed concerning the date of the Battle of Camel, and there are numerous opinions, including the following:
- Khalifah ibn Khayyat narrated via Qatadah that the two groups met on a Thursday halfway through the month of Jamad al-Akhirah in 36 A.H, and that the battle took place on Friday.
- `Umar ibn Shabbah narrated that the battle took place in the middle of Jamad al-Akhirah in 36 AH.
- Al-Tabari narrated via al-Waqidi that the battle took place on Thursday, 10 Jamad al-Akhirah 36 AH.
- Al-Mas`udi stated that the battle took place on Thursday, 10 Jamad al-Ula.
The most correct opinion is that narrated by Khalifah ibn Khayyat via Qatadah, as the chain of narration of this report is the soundest concerning this matter.
Should we not leave them alone when they are Muslim women?
Amir al-Mu’minin `Ali radiya Llahu `anhu came to the house where Mother of the Believers `A’ishah radiya Llahu `anha was staying, and he asked for permission to enter. He greeted her with salam, and she welcomed him. The women in the house of Banu Khalaf were weeping for those who had been killed, including `Abd Allah and `Uthman, the sons of Khalaf. `Abd Allah had been killed fighting on `A’ishah’s radiya Llahu `anha side and `Uthman had been killed fighting on `Ali’s radiya Llahu `anhu side. When `Ali radiya Llahu `anhu entered, Safiyyah, the wife of `Abd Allah, Umm Talhah, said to him:
May Allah make your children orphans as you have made my children orphans!
`Ali radiya Llahu `anhu did not respond. When he left, she repeated her words, and he again kept quiet. A man said to him:
O Amir al-Mu’minin, are you going to keep quiet when this woman is saying what you can hear?
`Ali radiya Llahu `anhu said:
Woe to you. We were commanded to leave women alone when they were polytheists, so should we not leave them alone when they are Muslims?
Abu Bakrah al-Thaqafi’s request to not be appointed as governor of Basrah
`Abd al-Rahman ibn Abi Bakrah al-Thaqafi came to Amir al-Mu’minin `Ali radiya Llahu `anhu and swore allegiance to him. `Ali asked about his father, saying:
Where is the one who is sick?
`Abd al-Rahman said:
By Allah, he is indeed sick, O Amir al-Mu’minin, but he is very keen to please you.
`Ali radiya Llahu `anhu said:
Walk in front of me.
He went and visited him, and he offered him the position of governor of Basrah, but Abu Bakrah radiya Llahu `anhu refused and said:
How about a man from among your relatives whom the people trust?
He suggested Ibn `Abbas radiya Llahu `anhu, so `Ali radiya Llahu `anhu appointed Ibn `Abbas as governor of Basrah, and appointed Ziyad ibn Abihi to be in charge of the land tax and the public treasury; then he ordered Ibn `Abbas radiya Llahu `anhu to listen to Ziyad.
 Al-Ṭabaqat, 3/224, with a reliable chain of narration; al-Mustadrak, 3/.71377
 Sunan Sa`id ibn Mansur, 2/337, with a reliable chain of narration.
 Al-Mawardi: Kitab Ahl al-Baghi min al-Hawi al-Kabir,p. 111; Fath al-Bari, 13/62
 Fath al-Bari, 13/57; ‘Abdul-Hamid: Khilafat `Ali, p. 174
 Muslim, Kitab al-Fitan, 4/233
 Surah, al-Hujirat: 9-10
 Al-Tadhkirah, 2/232, 233
 Sharh. Sahih Muslim, 8/227, 228
 Tarikh Khalifah ibn Khayyat, p. 184, 185
 Fath al-Bari, 13/61
 Istishhad ‘Uthman, p. 206, quoting from Tarikh al-Ṭabari
 al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah; 7/357