Attempts to reconcile

Amir al-Mu’minin `Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu `anhu sets out for Kufah
May 8, 2015
The outbreak of fighting
May 8, 2015

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Attempts to reconcile

Before ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu moved towards Basrah with his army, he stayed in Dhu Qar for a few days. He tried, with all the powers and means at his disposal, to put an end to this division and turmoil by peaceful means and to spare the Muslims the evils of fighting and armed confrontation. The same is also true of Talhah and Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhuma. A number of the Sahabah and senior Tabi’in who had refrained from getting involved also took part in the attempts to bring about reconciliation, including:


1.’Imran ibn Hussain

He sent word to the people discouraging both parties (from engaging in fighting). Then he sent word to Banu ‘Adi, a large group of whom had joined Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu. His envoy came and said to them in their masjid:

I have been sent to you by ‘Imran ibn Hussain, the Sahabi of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to advise you; he swears by Allah, besides Whom there is no other god, that he would rather be an Abyssinian slave with a cut-off nose, tending goats at the top of mountain until death comes to him, than to shoot an arrow against either of these two parties, whether it misses or hits its target. So refrain from fighting, may my father and mother be sacrificed for you.

The people said:

Leave us alone, for we will never abandon the wife of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam for anything.[1]

2. Ka’b ibn Sur

He was one of the senior Tabi’in. He did his utmost and pushed himself beyond his limits, playing a role that many men would be unable to play. He persisted in striving to bring about reconciliation until the thing that he was trying to prevent happened. He died as a victim of his efforts, slain as he stood between the two armies calling each to put down their weapons and refer to the Book of Allah for judgment.[2]

3. Al Qa’qa’ ibn ‘Amr al Tamimi

Amir al Mu’minin ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu sent al Qa’qa’ ibn ‘Amr al Tamimi radiya Llahu ‘anhu on a mission of reconciliation to Talhah and Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, instructing him:

Meet with these two men, call them to brotherhood and unity and warn them of the seriousness of differences and division.

So al Qa’qa’ went to Basrah, and he started with Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha.

He said to her: What has brought you to Basrah, O my mother?

She said to him: O my son, (we have come) for the purpose of setting things straight among the people.

Al Qa’qa’ asked her to send word to Talhah and Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhuma asking them to come, and he spoke to them in her presence.


The discussion between al Qa’qa’ and Talhah and Zubair

When they came, he asked them why they had come, and they said the same as Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha had said:

(We have come) for the purpose of setting things straight among the people.


He said to them: Tell me, in what way are you going to set things straight? For by Allah, if we agree with you, then we will join you in your efforts; and if we disagree with you, we will not join you.

They said: The murderers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu must be executed; if they are left alone and are not punished in accordance with the Qur’an, this will be forsaking the Qur’an and disregarding its rulings. If the prescribed punishment is carried out on them, this will be keeping the Qur’an alive.

Al Qa’qa’ said: In Basrah, there were six hundred of the murderers of ‘Uthman and you killed them all except one man, namely Harqus ibn Zuhayr al Sa’di. When he fled from you, he sought protection with his people of Banu Sa’d. When you wanted to seize him from them and kill him, his people prevented you from doing that; six thousand men got angry for his sake and deserted you and stood against you as one. If you leave Harqus alone and do not kill him, you will be abandoning your principles and what you are calling others to and demanding ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu to do. But if you fight Banu Sa’d because of Harqus, and they overwhelm and defeat you, then you will have come to the opposite of what you are trying to achieve; you will have made them stronger, and you will be greatly harmed. By going after Harqus, you are angering Rabi’ah and Mudar in this land, as they have come together to fight you and defeat you in support of Banu Sa’d. This is what happened with ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the murderers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu who are in his army.


The solution according to al Qa’qa’

He advocated deliberation and calming things down first, then carrying out the prescribed punishment. The Mother of the Believers and those who were with her were influenced by the logical argument of al Qa’qa’.

She said to him: So what do you suggest, O Qa’qa’?

He said: I say that the best thing is to calm things down. It is essential to give it time until the murderers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu are brought to justice. Then when the division is ended, and the ummah is united behind Amir al Mu’minin, he will be free to deal with the killers of ‘Uthman. If you give your allegiance to ‘Ali and support him, this will be a good sign and a blessing, and ‘Ali will be able to avenge ‘Uthman. But if you refuse and continue to be stubborn and insist on fighting, this will be a bad sign and will lead to the diminishing of Muslim power. So be on the side of caution, and be the means of good as you have always been; do not expose us to ruin, because that will affect you too, and Allah may bring about our doom and yours. By Allah, I say this and call you to it, and I am worried lest we do not reach any agreement before Allah brings destruction upon this ummah, which has lost a great deal and been stricken by calamity. What has befallen it is very serious; it is not like one man killing another or a group killing a man, or even a tribe killing a tribe.

They were convinced by the sincere and persuasive words of al Qa’qa’ and agreed to his call for reconciliation. They said to him:

You have spoken well. Go back, and if ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu comes and tells us the same as you have said, the matter will be settled, Allah willing.


So al Qa’qa’ went back to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu in Dhu Qar, having succeeded in his mission, and told ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu about what had happened. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was pleased with that, and the people were about to reach a peaceful conclusion, regardless of who approved or disapproved.[3]


Good signs of a deal between the two parties

When al Qa’qa’ went back and told ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu what had happened, ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu sent two envoys[4] to Aisha and Talhah and the people who were with them, to verify what al Qa’qa’ ibn ‘Amr had said. They came to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and told him that they were still agreeing with what al Qa’qa’ had said. So ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu set out and came to a halt near them, and the members of various tribes on each side met with one another, Mudar with Mudar, Rabi’ah with Rabi’ah, Yemenis with Yemenis. None of them had any doubt that a peace deal was imminent. They camped close to one another and went out to meet one another, and they did not talk about anything except the peace deal.[5]

Amir al Mu’minin ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu decided to move on and he announced his important decision:

I will leave tomorrow, so leave and go back (meaning to Basrah). No one should come with us tomorrow who contributed to the murder of ‘Uthman in any way.[6]


NEXT⇒The outbreak of fighting


[1] Ibn Sa’d: al Tabaq’t, 4/87; ‘Abdul Hamid: Khilafat ‘Ali, p. 148

[2]  Ibn Sa’d: al Tabaq’t, 7/92, via two sound chains of narration; ‘Abdul Hamid: Khilafat ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, p. 149

[3]al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 7/739; Tarikh al Tabari, 5/521

[4]Tarikh al Tabari, 5/525

[5]  op. cit., 5/539

[6]  op. cit., 5/525