Misconception 3 – Saving himself from ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu in combat by revealing his private regions

Misconception 2 – Being partial to the camp of Muawiyah in hopes of materialistic gain
December 8, 2021
Misconception 4 – His killing and burning Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr
December 9, 2021

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Misconception 3 – Saving himself from ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu in combat by revealing his private regions

 

This is based on some narrations wherein ‘Amr radiya Llahu ‘anhu said to Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu:

 

أتجبن عن علي وتتهمني في نصيحتي إليك والله لأبارزن عليا ولو مت ألف موتة في أول لقائه فبارزه عمرو فطعنه علي فصرعه فاتقاه بعورته فانصرف عنه علي وولى بوجهه دونه وكان علي رضي الله عنه لم ينظر قط إلى عورة أحد حياء وتكرما وتنزها عما لا يحل ولا يجمل بمثله كرم الله وجهه

“Are you scared of ‘Ali and have doubts regarding my allegiance to you? By Allah! I will face ‘Ali in one-on-one combat even if I have to die a thousand deaths at our first encounter.”

‘Amr faced him off and ‘Ali threw a spear which caused him to fall down. He saved himself by exposing his private regions and ‘Ali turned away.

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu never looked at the nakedness of any person as a token of respect and religiosity.[1]

 

Answer

This doubt can be answered in seven ways:

 

1. Source

This incident has only been recorded with a chain of transmission in the book Al Imamah wa al Siyasah[2] which has been [falsely] attributed to Ibn Qutaybah. Many historians and erudite scholars have refuted its attribution to Ibn Qutaybah.

Shakir Mustafa states, “As for the book al Imamah wa al Siyasah… it is a book that has been published more than once. It investigates the history and conditions of caliphate beginning at the passing of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and ending at the reign of al Ma’mun.

Scholars have disputed its attribution to Ibn Qutaybah. The first that sounded the alarm and pointed out its glaring machinations was Pascual de Gayangos at the beginning of his book about Spain in 1881 C.E. Dozy and others followed suit.[3]

Dr ‘Abdul Halim ‘Uways states regarding the book, “It is filled with irregularities regarding the Banu Umayyah. The author is prejudiced against them though he mentions no source nor chain of transmission. Those that have studied the life of Ibn Qutaybah highly doubt its attribution to him. He was more of a historian than literary… He was impartial when discussing personalities of the Umawi period in his book al Ma’arif. This is in complete contradiction to the authors manner in the book al Imamah. Besides being doubtful of its attribution, even the narrating of it is questionable.”[4]

The scholars that refuted its attribution to Ibn Qutaybah have done so with clear cut evidence that portray the impossibility of the attribution. This is clear to anyone who has even the slightest grasp of understanding history. Hereunder are some examples:

  1. Those that have complied the bio-data of Ibn Qutaybah have not counted this book amongst his works.
  2. The book states that the author resided in Damascus whilst Ibn Qutaybah left Baghdad only once to Dinawar.
  3. The book is narrated from Ibn Abi Laylah who was a judge in Kufah the year 148 A.H, which is 65 years prior to the birth of Ibn Qutaybah.
  4. The author narrated the incident of the Andalusian conquest from a woman who witnessed it whilst the conquest of Andalus had occurred about 120 years before the birth of Ibn Qutaybah.[5]
  5. The author speaks of the conquest Marrakesh at the hands of Musa ibn Nusayr whereas this city was founded by the Murabt Sultan, Yusuf ibn Tashfin the year 455 A.H. Ibn Qutaybah passed away the year 276 A.H.
  6. The author of Imamah wa al Siyasah narrated much from two senior scholars of Egypt whereas Ibn Qutaybah never went to Egypt and neither did he study under these two scholars.

All these evidences indicate that the book was falsely attributed to him.[6]

  1. There are historical inaccuracies in the book that would have been impossible for Ibn Qutaybah to have missed. Examples of this include, considering Abu al ‘Abbas and al Saffah as two different people, citing al Rashid as the successor to al Mahdi, and mentioning his son ‘Abdullah had poisoned him whereas al Mahdi had no son by this name.
  2. The teachers of Ibn Qutaybah whom he normally narrated from in his books are not featured in the book at all.
  3. The author is of the Maliki persuasion whilst Ibn Qutaybah was a Hanafi.
  4. The literary style of the book is unlike the known literary style of Ibn Qutaybah. It takes a special interest in stories and narrations.[7]

 

Ahmed Saqr states, “A famous book, Imamah wa al Siyasah, has been attributed to Ibn Qutaybah, a view that is clearly worthless. Can any sane person accept this attribution knowing what the author of al Imamah wa al Siyasah…?

After mentioning the 4th and 5th evidence we have listed. He states, “Just this alone refutes the attribution of the book to Ibn Qutaybah notwithstanding other evidences and indications that clearly expose this lie.”[8]

After this exposé we have firm conviction that the book al Imamah wa al Siyasah cannot be attributed to Ibn Qutaybah. The invalidity of this attribution to him is as clear as day.

 

2. Studying the Chain of Transmission

If we were to, for arguments sake, accept the attribution of the book, then the incident itself is inauthentic.

‘Abdullah ibn Muslim said, Ibn Abi Maryam and ibn ‘Ufayr narrated to us — from Ibn ‘Awn — from al Khawl ibn Ibrahim and Abu Hamzah al Thumali. Some of the narrators have additions but the subject matter is one. I thus gathered it all and narrated the meaning of what was intended — from ‘Ali ibn al Hussain who said, “When people began harbouring ill against ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, he ascended the pulpit and praised Allah….”

Ibn ‘Awn

He is ‘Umar ibn ‘Awn ibn ‘Amr ibn Tamim al Ansari, Abu ‘Awn.

  • Ibn Abi Hatim said, “He narrated from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abdur Rahman ibn Abu ‘Amrah al Ansari and Sa’id ibn Kathir ibn ‘Ufayr al Misri narrated from him. I asked my father regarding him. He said, ‘He is unknown.’”[9]

 

Al Khawl ibn Ibrahim:

  • I found no bio-data entry for him.

 

Abu Hamzah al Thumali

  • He is Thabit ibn Abi Safiyyah al Thumali, Abu Hamzah. The name of his father is Dinar or Sa’id. He is weak. He passed away during the reign of Abu Jafar as recorded by al Hafiz.[10]

 

‘Ali ibn al Hussain

He is ‘Ali ibn al Hussain ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib al Hashimi, Zayn al ‘Abidin.

  • Reliable, strong, devout ascetic, jurist, and eminent personality.[11] He did not see ‘Uthman. In fact, Abu Zur’ah said, “He did not see his grandfather ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.”

Thus, the narration is munqati’ (broken), in addition to the weakness of some of its narrators.

 

3. Reprehensibility

The context of the incident suggests reprehensibility that does not line up with the character of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. Such acts cannot be expected from those who are beneath the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum in status, far from it the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum.

 

4. Contradiction

The fallaciousness of this incident is further solidified when considering the life and times of ‘Amr. It is a complete contradiction of the established facts of his life. He was famed for his bravery in pre and post Islamic times. During his period of ignorance, he not only fought at the Battle of Uhud, he brought along his wife too so he may have no misgivings of deserting the battlefield.

On the day of the Battle of Ahzab, the horses of the polytheists roamed the trenches seeking a narrow point to launch through. This prowling and searching was done by ‘Amr ibn al ‘As and Khalid ibn al Walid. Further, when the army departed, he together with Abu Sufyan and two hundred horsemen stood sentry so that the Muslim army may not pursue them.

There are many incidents after his acceptance of Islam that depict his valour and heroism. Hereunder are some examples:

  1. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam appointed him as commander of the army heading towards Sham. This army comprised of the early Muhajirin and Ansar; amongst them Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma. He led them wonderfully.
  2. Falsifying Musaylamah publicly after the passing of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam at his return from ‘Umman saying:

 

أما والله انك لكاذب وانا لنعلم أنك لمن الكاذبين

By Allah! You are an imposter. We are convinced beyond doubt that you are an imposter.

 

  1. He was one of the leaders during the conquest of the Levant. When Abu Bakr intended sending ‘Amr to conquer the Levant, he gave him the option of staying on as governor of ‘Umman or mobilising towards the Levant.

 

‘Amr wrote to him saying:

 

إني سهم من سهام الإسلام و أنت بعد الله الرامي بها و الجامع لها فانظر أشدها و أخشاها و أفضلها فارم به

I am nothing but one of the arrows of Islam and you, after Allah, are the marksman and collector. So, observe which is the strongest, the most fearsome, and the most superior target and shoot [me] towards it.

 

  1. On the day of Yarmuk when ‘Amr ibn al ‘As spotted the carrier of the flag retreating, he grabbed hold of the flag and began advancing, shouting, “O gathering of Muslims!” He began spearing with it and proclaiming, “Do as I do.” When finally, he raised it, it was as if upon it were drops of rain, i.e. thick blood.
  2. He was the one who went to al Artabun as an envoy telling what he wanted and listening to what he said until he knew what he wanted to know, amongst other instances of bravery in that incident.

 

Considering these examples of his bravery and valour, one must conclude that the allegations made against ‘Amr radiya Llahu ‘anhu in the narration under discussion is in complete contradiction to his life and times. In fact, it goes against the Arabian will and character that they prided themselves on even during the pre-Islamic era. They lived with honour or died with honour. They were averse to a life of indignity as supported by their history.

 

5. It Insinuates Incompetence of ‘Ali

If we take this incident to be true, it would insinuate the incompetence of Amir al Mu’minin ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu in his inability to neutralize ‘Amr radiya Llahu ‘anhu; a threat central to his opposition—as they theorize. This would depict his inability to lead and his political ineptitude. An allegation far from the truth.

 

6 Repetitions and Fabrications

The repetitions and various incidents with a central theme of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu in one-on-one combat gaining the upper hand but giving in due to a show of nudity from his opposition indicate its fallaciousness.

— Ibn Hisham states, Maslamah ibn ‘Alqamah al Mazini narrated to me:

 

لما اشتد القتال يوم أحد جلس رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم تحت راية الأنصار وأرسل رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إلى علي أن قدم الراية فتقدم علي وهو يقول أنا أبو القصم فناداه أبو سعد بن أبي طلحة وهو صاحب لواء المشركين أن هل لك يا أبا القصم في البراز من حاجة قال نعم فبرزا بين الصفين فاختلفا ضربتين فضربه علي فصرعه ثم انصرف عنه ولم يجهز عليه فقال له أصحابه أفلا أجهزت عليه فقال إنه استقبلني بعورته فعطفتني عنه الرحم وعرفت أن الله عز وجل قد قتله و قد فعل ذالك

When the fight became fierce on the day of Uhud, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sat underneath the of the flag of the Ansar and sent for ‘Ali to move forward with the flag and he advanced while saying “I am Abu al Qasm”.

Abu Sa’d ibn Abi Talhah, the flag bearer of the polytheists, called out, “Would you engage in swordfight with me, 0 Abu Al  Qasm?”

‘Ali said, “Yes.”

He came out between the rows and they exchanged blows. ‘Ali struck him and he fell.

‘Ali turned away and did not finish him off. His companions asked him. “Why did you not finish him off?”

He replied, “He faced me with his private parts and kinship made me turn away from him. And I knew Allah had killed him. And so it was.”

 

— ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu faced Busr ibn Artat on the day of Siffin. When he launched an attack to kill him, Busr exposed his nudity and, thus, ‘Ali left him.

— A similar incident concerning ‘Amr ibn al ‘As on the day of Siffin is recorded. He exposed his nudity and ‘Ali left him too.[12]

 

Maslamah ibn ‘Alqamah al Mazini

Maslamah ibn ‘Alqamah al Mazini Abu Muhammad al Basri: Truthful, some of his narrations are conjecture (Awham). He is from the eighth category which means he is from amongst the middle category of the successors to the Tabi’in. Where is he narrating of Uhud? Between him and Uhud is a multitude of eras. Thus, the narration is munqati’.

 

7. A clink in his armour

If exposing nudity was a way to avoid being killed, everyone would have used it against ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. This vulnerability of his would have become famed and he would have failed at every combat. This would have been a clink in his armour and a military strategy failure.

Dear reader, after studying the above discussions, it becomes quite clear that attributing such to the eminent Companion, ‘Amr ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu is not possible nor permissible. The fallaciousness of it needs no further elucidation.

 

Note:

Some have used this incident to show the strategic prowess of ‘Amr radiya Llahu ‘anhu and speak of it when discussing him. This is a huge blunder on their part when considering the fallaciousness of it.

 

NEXT⇒ Misconception 4 – His killing and burning Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr


[1] Waq’ah Siffin, pg. 424; Murawwaj al Dhahab, vol. 2 pg. 405; al Amini: al Ghadir, vol.1 pg. 66.

[2] Al Imamah wa al Siyasah, vol. 1 pg. 89.

[3] Al Tarikh al ‘Arabi wa al Muarrikhun, vol. 1 pg. 246.

[4] Banu Umayyah fi al Tarikh, pg. 14.

[5] Tharwat ‘Ukkashah: Foreword to Kitab al Ma’arif of Ibn Qutaybah, pg. 56.

[6] Muhibb al Din al Khatib, gloss on Al ‘Awasim, pg. 262.

[7] Al Tarikh al ‘Arabi wa al Muarrikhun, pg. 241.

[8] Forward to his gloss on Ta’wil Mushkil al Qur’an, pg. 32. For further reading on the invalid attribution of this book to Ibn Qutaybah, see, Ulaʾika Mubarraʾun: Talhah ibn ‘Ubaidullah radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

[9] Ibn Abi Hatim: Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, vol. 6 pg. 252.

[10] Al Taqrib: 818.

[11] Al Taqrib: 4715.

[12] Ibn al Kathir in Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 5 pg. 368; Ibn Hisham: Al Sirah al Nabawiyyah, vol. 2 pg. 73.

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