Outbreak of fighting
Fighting resumed after the sacred months, in the month of Dhu al Hijjah, with encounters between battalions, groups and individuals, for fear of all-out fighting taking place. More than twenty skirmishes had taken place between the two sides during the first week of Dhu al Hijjah; it was also said that the number was ninety.
‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu announced to his army that on the next day, Wednesday, there would be an all-out battle involving the entire army; then he sent word to Muawiyah informing him of that. That night, the people rushed to repair and sharpen their weapons. ‘Amr ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu brought weapons out of storage for those whose weapons had worn out and who needed them, and he encouraged people to be steadfast in fighting. Both armies spent the night planning and organising the commanders and banners.
1. The first day of the battle
On Wednesday morning, the two armies had organised their ranks in the manner followed in major battles, with a core, a right flank and a left flank. ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu army was organised in the following manner: ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu was in charge of the core, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas was in charge of the left flank, ‘Ammar ibn Yasir was in charge of the infantry, Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah was carrying the
flag, Hisham ibn ‘Utbah (al Marqal) was carrying the banner and Ash’ath ibn Qais was in charge of the right flank.
As for the Syrian army, Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was in charge of the al Shahba’ battalion, with their helmets and shields, on a hill, and he was the commander of the army; ‘Amr ibn al ‘As was in charge of the entire Syrian cavalry; Dhu al Kila’ al Himyari was in charge of the right flank, which was composed of Yemeni troops; Habib ibn Maslamah al Fihri was in charge of the left flank, which was composed of Mudar tribesmen; and Makhariq ibn al Sabah al Kila’i was the banner carrier.
The two Muslim armies faced one another, filling the horizon with their vast numbers. Ka’b ibn Ju’ayl al Taghlabi, one of the Arab poets, said when he saw the people on Tuesday night, rushing to mend their arrows and swords in preparation for battle:
This Ummah is in a very odd situation;
Power will belong tomorrow to the one who prevails.
I shall say something true, not a lie:
Tomorrow prominent Arabs are going to die.
Some weak reports say that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu addressed his troops and urged them to be patient and courageous and to remember Allah a great deal.
They also say that ‘Amr ibn al ‘As inspected his troops and instructed them to straighten their ranks.
There is no reason not to accept these reports, because all commanders encourage and motivate their troops and pay attention to anything that may lead to victory. The two armies met in a violent conflict that remained intense until sunset, and they only stopped to offer the prayers. Each group prayed in its own camp, with the bodies of the slain in the battlefield between them. When ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu finished praying, one of his troops asked him:
What do you say about our dead and their dead, O Amir al Mu’minin?
Whoever has been killed among us and them, seeking the countenance of Allah and the home of the hereafter will enter paradise.
The two armies stood firm, and neither prevailed; no one was seen fleeing until that day ended. In the evening, ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu went out to the battlefield and looked at the people of Syria, and he called upon his Rabb, saying: “O Allah, forgive me and them.”
2. The second day
On Thursday, the reports say that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu prayed Fajr salah when it was still quite dark. He prepared to attack, and he changed some of his commanders. He put ‘Abdullah ibn Budayl al Khuza’i in charge of the right flank instead of al Ash’ath ibn Qais al Kindi, whom he moved to the left flank.
The two parties marched towards one another and engaged in fighting that was even more intense than the day before. The people of Iraq began to advance, and they started to gain the upper hand over the people of Syria. ‘Abdullah ibn Budayl managed to penetrate Muawiyah’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu left flank, which was led by Habib ibn Maslamah, and he advanced towards Muawiyah’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu battalion (al Shahba’), demonstrating unparalleled courage and zeal. This partial advance was accompanied by a general advance of the Iraqi army, until Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu thought of leaving the battlefield, but he stood firm and urged his battalion al Shahba’ to do likewise. They managed to kill ‘Abdullah ibn Budayl, who was replaced by Ashtar as commander of the right flank.
The people of Syria stood firm, and some of them swore to fight to the death. They attacked again with firm resolve, and a number of them were killed, the most prominent of whom were Dhu al Kila’, Hawshab and ‘Ubaidullah ibn al Khattab radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
Then the balance tipped in favour of the Syrian army, and they gained the upper hand, while the Iraqi army started to fall back, with many of them being killed and wounded. When ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu saw that his army was falling back, he began calling out to them and encouraging them.
He fought fiercely, aiming for the core where the Rabi’ah tribe was. They were incensed by this, and their commander Khalid ibn al Mu’tamir swore to fight to the death, for they were people who excelled at fighting.
‘Ammar ibn Yasir radiya Llahu ‘anhu, who was over ninety-four years old, fought fiercely and encouraged and motivated the people to do likewise, but he was far removed from extremism. He heard a man next to him saying:
The people of Syria have become disbelievers.
‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu rebuked him for saying that and said:
Rather they have transgressed against us, and we are fighting them because of their transgression. Our God is One, our Rasul is one, and our qiblah is one.
When ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu saw his companions falling back and his opponents advancing, he started encouraging them and telling them that they were in the right and should not be deceived by the heavy blows of the Syrians. He said:
Whoever would like the huri’in to surround him, let him advance between the ranks, seeking reward with Allah, for I can see that the Syrians are fighting us so fiercely that it may create doubt in the minds of some. By the One who controls my life, if they pushed us back until they made us reach Sa’fat Hajar, we would still believe that we are in the right and they are in the wrong; we would still believe that our righteous people are in the right, and they are the wrong.
Then he began to advance with a spear in his hand, trembling because of old age. He was urging the banner carrier Hisham ibn ‘Utbah ibn Abi Waqqas to advance and seek the blessings that are with Allah and encouraging his companions too, saying:
Paradise is close at hand, and the huri’in are adorned. Whoever would like to be surrounded by the huri’in, let him advance between the ranks, seeking the reward of Allah.
This was a moving scene, for he was a great Sahabi who had been present at Badr. He was over ninety-four years of age and possessed great zeal, resolve, high morale and strong faith. He was an important factor in the enthusiasm of the Iraqi army and in raising their morale, which made them tougher and fiercer and willing to sacrifice until they managed to tip the balance in their favour. Hisham ibn ‘Utbah ibn Abi Waqqas advanced as ‘Ammar was saying:
Advance O Hisham, for paradise lies in the shade of the swords, and death is at the edges of the spears; the gates of heaven are open and the huri’in are adorned. Today I will meet my loved ones, Muhammad and his Sahabah.
When the sun set that Thursday, ‘Ammar asked for a drink of milk, and then he said:
The Rasul of Allah ‘salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to me: “The last drink you will drink in this world will be a drink of milk.”
Then he advanced and urged the banner carrier Hisham ibn ‘Utbah ibn Abi Waqqas al Zuhri to advance with him, and neither of them came back; both were slain. May Allah have mercy on them and be pleased with them.
3. The night of clamour and Friday
Fighting resumed the same night, with energy that had not been seen before. The people of Iraq fought with enthusiasm and high spirits until they pushed the people of Syria back from their positions. Amir al Mu’minin ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu fought fiercely and pledged to fight to the death.
It was said that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu led his army in praying the fear prayer at the time of sunset.
Al Shafi’i said:
It was narrated from ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu that he offered the fear prayer on the night of clamour.
An eyewitness said:
We fought for three days and three nights until the spears were broken and the arrows ran out, then we started using swords. We battled until the middle of the night, until we reached the point of hand to hand combat. When the swords became like sickles, we started hitting one another with pieces of iron, and we could hear nothing except the grunting and groaning of the people. Then we threw stones at one another, threw dust at one another, and bit one another with our teeth until morning came on Friday and the sun rose, although it could not be seen because of the dust of battle. The banners and flags fell, and the army was worn out; our hands were exhausted, and our throats were dry.
Ibn Kathir said, describing the night of clamour and the following Friday:
They started fighting one another, and two men would fight until they were exhausted. Then they would sit down to rest, each one grunting at the other; then they would get up and fight again. To Allah we belong, and unto Him is our return. They continued like that until Friday morning came, and the people prayed the Fajr salah with gestures while still fighting, until it became very light outside, and the people of Iraq began to gain the upper hand over the people of Syria.
4. The call for arbitration
After the night of clamour, the two armies found themselves in such a state that they could not withstand any more fighting. Al Ash’ath ibn Qais, the leader of Kindah, addressed his companions after the night of clamour and said:
O Muslims, you have seen what happened yesterday and how many of the Arabs were killed. By Allah, I have reached old age as Allah willed, and I have never seen anything like this. Let those who are present tell those who were absent. If we resume fighting tomorrow, that will be the end of the Arabs, and there will be no one left to protect what is sacred. By Allah, I am not saying this for fear of fighting, but I am an old man, and I fear that there will be no one to protect the women and children if we all die tomorrow. O Allah, You know that my intention is to do what is best for my people and my co-religionists, and I have not fallen short.
News of that reached Muawiyah, who said:
He is right, by the Lord of the Ka’bah. If we meet in battle tomorrow, the Byzantines will attack our women and children, and the Persians will attack the people of Iraq and their children. Only those with wisdom and understanding can see that.
Then he said to his companions:
Tie the mushafs to the ends of the spears.
This is an Iraqi report in which there is no mention of ‘Amr ibn al ‘As or any trick or deceit; rather it was the desire of both parties. Neither Muawiyah nor ‘Amr radiya Llahu ‘anhuma would be harmed if one of them had the courage to take this initiative and save what was left of the strength of this ummah that was fighting itself. It was only the Saba’iyyah who were upset by that; they had started this turmoil, and they left for us a pile of misleading reports, which presented truth as falsehood and virtue – such as calling for referral to the Qur’an for judgment in order to protect Muslim life – as a crime, a conspiracy and a trick.
They attributed to Amir al Mu’minin ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu words that he did not say and that were contrary to what is mentioned in the sound reports. They attributed to him the words:
They never held it in high esteem, and they will never act upon it; they have only raised it as a trick and a plot to appease us.
One of the obscene things that they said about the lifting up of the mushaf was:
This is the idea of the son of the promiscuous woman.
They also widened the circle of propaganda against ‘Amr ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu, to the extent that you can hardly find any book of history that does not contain words undermining ‘Amr ibn al ‘As and claiming that he was a trickster and plotter; this is because of the fabricated reports made up by the enemies of the noble Sahabah and transmitted by al Tabari, Ibn al Athir and others.
Many contemporary historians, such as Hasan Ibrahim Hasan in Tarikh al Islam, Muhammad al Khudari Beg in Tarikh al Dawlah al Umawiyyah, ‘Abdul Wahhab al Najjar in Tarikh al Khulafa’ al Rashidin and others were fooled by them and played a role in distorting the historical facts.
The report of Abu Mikhnaf suggests that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu rejected the idea of referring to the Qur’an for judgment when it was first suggested by the people of Syria, then he accepted it due to pressure from the worshippers who later became known as Khawarij.
This report suggests that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu slandered Muawiyah and his ‘Sahabah, which is beneath the people of that blessed generation, so how about their leaders, foremost among whom being Amir al Mu’minin ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu? It is sufficient reason to reject the report that it was narrated by the Rafidi fabricator Abu Mikhnaf.
It is a report that cannot stand up to unbiased review, and it cannot stand before other reports whose narrators cannot be accused of bias, such as that which was narrated by Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal via Habib ibn Abi Thabit, who said:
I came to Abu Wa’il, one of the men of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, and he said: “We were in Siffin, and when many of the people of Syria were killed, ‘Amr said to Muawiyah: ‘Send the mushaf to ‘Ali, and call him to the Book of Allah; he will not refuse.’ A man brought the mushaf to ‘Ali and said: ‘Between us and you is the Book of Allah:
اَلَمْ تَرَ اِلَی الَّذِیْنَ اُوْتُوْا نَصِیْبًا مِّنَ الْکِتٰبِ یُدْعَوْنَ اِلٰی کِتٰبِ اللّٰهِ لِیَحْكُمَ بَیْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ یَتَوَلّٰی فَرِیْقٌ مِّنْهُمْ وَهُمْ مُّعْرِضُوْنَ
Have you not seen those who have been given a portion of the Scripture? They are being invited to the Book of Allah to settle their dispute, then a party of them turn away, and they are averse.’
‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said: ‘“Yes, I should be the first to accept that.’ The worshippers (those who rebelled later on and became known as Khawarij) stood up with their swords on their shoulders and said: ‘O Amir al Mu’minin, should we not keep on fighting these people until Allah decides the matter between us and them?’ Sahl ibn Hunayf al Ansari radiya Llahu ‘anhu stood up and said: ‘O people, you should be suspicious of your motives. We were with the Rasul of Allah ‘salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam on the day of Hudaybiyyah, and if we had the opportunity to fight, we were ready to fight.’ (He was referring to the peace deal that was drawn up between the Rasul of Allah ‘salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and the polytheists. Then he told them about ‘Umar’s objection to the treaty on the day of Hudaybiyyah and the revelation of Surah al Fath to the Rasul of Allah ‘salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.) ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said: “O people, this is a victory.” ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu accepted the offer and went back, and the people went back too.”
Sahl ibn Hunayf radiya Llahu ‘anhu expressed his annoyance with those who called for continuing the war between brothers, saying:
O people, you should be suspicious of your motives.
He explained to them that there was no option except dialogue and a peace deal, because the alternative was ongoing internal conflict, the consequences of which no one knew. He said:
Before this, whenever we went out to fight for a cause, we were certain of the result and how far we would go with it; we do not finish with one opponent but another opponent appears to us, and we do not know how to deal with him.
In these sound reports is a refutation of those who advocated fitnah and hated the Sahabah, who fabricated false reports and poetry, which they then falsely attributed to the most prominent Sahabah and Tabi’in who took part in the Battle of Siffin. They tried to make them appear very eager for this war, so as to instil hatred in people’s hearts; they did their utmost to perpetuate the turmoil.
The call for referring to the Book of Allah for judgment without any assurance that the killers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu would be handed over to Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and the acceptance of this arbitration without any assurance that Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu would obey ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and swear allegiance to him, are developments that were dictated by the consequences of Siffin.
The battle had led to the killing of a large number of Muslims, and it created a common inclination towards the idea that stopping the fighting and bloodshed had become a necessity because it was important to preserve the ummah’s strength against its enemies. This was indicative of the vitality and awareness of the ummah and its impact on decision-making.
Amir al Mu’minin ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu agreed to stop fighting at Siffin and he agreed to arbitration, which he regarded as a breakthrough; then he went back to Kufah. He hoped that the arbitration would put an end to the dispute, unite the ummah, strengthen the state and revitalise the conquest movement. A number of factors contributed to both sides reaching the idea of arbitration and accepting it:
- It was a final attempt to stop the conflict and bloodshed. Previous attempts, both collective and individual, had begun after the Battle of the Camel but had not succeeded. The letters that had been exchanged between the two sides, expressing the view of each, did not lead to any resolution either. The last of these attempts was that made by Muawiyah during the days when fighting had intensified. He wrote to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu , asking him to stop fighting; he said:
I think that if you and we had known that the fighting would reach the level that it has reached; we would not have brought it upon ourselves. If we did not use our reason before, then it is not too late to refer to reason so that we may regret what has passed and put right what is left.
- Many had been slain, and a great deal of blood had been shed. There was the fear that the ummah might be wiped out; thus the call to stop the fighting was something that everyone was hoping for.
- The people were exhausted from the fighting that had gone on for so long; it was as if the call for a peace deal and reconciliation came at the right time. The majority of ‘Ali’s army was inclined towards making peace, and they kept saying:
War has consumed us. We think that we cannot survive unless we make a peace deal.
This is contrary to the worthless view alleging that raising the Mushafs on the spears was a trick suggested by ‘Amr ibn al ‘As. In fact, the idea of raising the Mushafs was not invented by ‘Amr ibn al ‘As; the Mushaf had been raised during the Battle of the Camel when its carrier Ka’b ibn Sur, the judge of Basrah, was struck by an arrow and killed.
- This was a response to the verse that calls for peace. Allah says:
فَاِنْ تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِیْ شَیْءٍ فَرُدُّوْهُ اِلَی اللّٰهِ وَالرَّسُوْلِ
[And] if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Rasul.
This is supported by what ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu said when he was called to refer to the Book of Allah for judgment. He said:
Yes, I should be the first to accept that; between us and you is the Book of Allah.
5. Noble conduct during battle
The Battle of Siffin was one of the most remarkable battles among Muslims. This conflict was so amazing that the reader cannot believe what he is reading, and he is shocked by the behaviour of people on both sides. Each of them stood in the midst of battle, with his sword unsheathed and firmly convinced of the cause for which he was fighting. It was not a battle in which people were driven by leaders who were pushing the troops into a fight of which they were not convinced. Rather it was a battle that was unique in its motives and in the way it was conducted, as well as the impact it left behind.
The motives in the hearts of the participants were highlighted by some stories that have reached us in the historical sources. They were like brothers, going together to the water source, all drinking from it and crowding one another, scooping up the water, but no man harmed another. When the fighting stopped, they behaved like brothers living together. One of the participants said: “When we had a break from fighting, we would go to one another’s camp and speak to one another.”
They were members of one tribe, each with his own opinion, so people of one tribe on one side might fight bitterly with people of the same tribe on the other side, each believing that he was in the right and prepared to be killed for his cause. Two men would fight until they were exhausted, then they would sit and rest and talk to one another a great deal, then they would get up and fight again. They belonged to one religion, which was dearer to them than their own souls. When the time for prayer came, they would stop fighting so that they could pray.
When ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu was killed, both sides offered the Salat al Janazah for him.
An eyewitness who took part in the Battle of Siffin said:
Fighting broke out at Siffin, and we kept fighting for days; many of us were killed until even the horses were stabbed and killed. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu sent word to ‘Amr ibn al ‘As telling him that the number of slain had increased, and he should stop fighting so that each side could bury its dead. He agreed, and the people mixed with one another until they were like that…” and he intertwined his fingers.
One of the ‘Sahabah of ‘Ali would charge and be killed in the camp of Muawiyah, then he would he brought out from it. The companions of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, carried one of their dead before ‘Amr, and when he saw him, he said: “He strove hard and adhered strongly to the command of Allah.”
They would hasten to forbid evil, even in this situation. There was a group of pious people who were among the Syrian students of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud; they did not join either Amir al Mu’minin ‘Ali or Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan. They said to Amir al Mu’minin:
We will go out with you, but we will not join your camp. We will camp on our own until we see how things turn out between you and the people of Syria. If we see someone wanting that which is not permissible for him or transgressing, then we will be against him. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said: “Welcome; this is a deep understanding of Islam and knowledge of the Sunnah. Whoever does not approve of this is a transgressor and betrayer.”
In fact, this attitude is based on conviction and views that were deeply rooted in their souls, and they fought on that basis.
6. Treatment of captives
Good treatment of the captives and kindness towards them is something to be expected at Siffin, since we have discussed the noble conduct of both sides when fighting. Islam has outlined how captives are to be treated. The Rasul of Allah ‘salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam encouraged kind treatment of captives and giving them the best available food. This was in the case of non-Muslims, so how about if the captives are Muslims? Undoubtedly honouring them and treating them kindly is emphasised even more. However, a prisoner of war is regarded as a potential reinforcement for his group if he is released. Hence ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu instructed that they should be detained. If any prisoner swore allegiance to him, he was to be released; if he refused, his weapon and mount were to be confiscated or given to the one who had captured him, and he was asked to swear an oath that he would not fight. According to one report, he would give him four dirhams.
‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu aim in doing that is quite clear; it was to weaken the rebel side. A prisoner was brought to him on the Day of Siffin, and he said: “Do not kill me in captivity.” ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said: “I will not kill you in captivity, for I fear Allah, the Lord of the worlds.” He let him go, and then he said: “Is there any goodness in you to swear allegiance?”
From these reports, it seems that the treatment of captives was as follows:
- They were honoured and treated kindly.
- They were given the option of swearing allegiance and obeying the khalifah, in which case they would be released.
- If a prisoner refused to swear allegiance, his weapon would be confiscated and he would be asked to swear an oath that he would not go back to fighting; if he did so, then he would be released.
- If the prisoner insisted on fighting, then he would be kept in captivity, but he would not be killed.
On one occasion, fifteen prisoners were brought to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and it seems that they were wounded. Those who died were washed and shrouded, and the funeral prayer was offered for them.
Muhibb ad-Din al Khatib said, commenting on this battle:
Nevertheless, this exemplary battle was the first humane war in history, in which both sides adhered to the principles of virtue that the wise men of the West wish were implemented in their wars, even in the twenty-first century. Many of the principles of war in Islam would not have been known and written down were it not for this battle taking place, and Allah has wisdom in all affairs.
Ibn al ‘Adim said:
I say: All of that shows the rulings and guidelines on fighting the transgressing group (rebels). Hence Abu Hanifah said: “Were it not for ‘Ali’s treatment of them, no one would know how to deal with Muslims (who rebel against authority).”
7. The number of people slain
The scholars have conflicting views concerning the number of people slain at Siffin. Ibn Abi Khaythamah said that it was seventy thousand: twenty-five thousand of the people of Iraq and forty-five thousand of the people of Syria. Ibn al Qayyim said that it was seventy thousand or more. Undoubtedly these numbers are not accurate; they are wildly inflated.
The real fighting and all-out battle lasted for three days, during which the fighting was stopped at night except for the Friday evening, so the total period of fighting was approximately thirty hours.
No matter how violent the fighting was, it could not have been more intense than Qadisiyyah, where the number of martyrs was 8 500. Logically, it is difficult to accept the reports that mention these huge figures.
8. Amir al Mu’minin ‘Ali’s inspection of the dead and praying for mercy for them
After the end of each round of the battle, Amir al Mu’minin ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu would check on the dead. An eyewitness said:
I saw ‘Ali on the Rasul’s mule al Shahba’, going around among the slain.
While he was checking on the slain, accompanied by Ashtar, he passed by the body of a man who had been one of the well-known judges and worshippers in Syria. Ashtar (or according to another report, ‘Adi ibn Hatim) said:
O Amir al Mu’minin, is Habis with them? I thought he was a good believer and had strong faith.
‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu replied:
He is still a good believer today.
It is possible this man who had been killed was the judge who came to ‘Umar ibn al Khattab radiya Llahu ‘anhu and said:
O Amir al Mu’minin, I had a dream that alarmed me.
‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu enquired what the dream was and he replied:
I saw the sun and moon fighting, and the stars were divided between them, half and half.
‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:
Which of them were you with?
With the moon against the sun.
‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:
وَجَعَلْنَا الَّیْلَ وَالنَّهَارَ اٰیَتَیْنِ فَمَحَوْنَآ اٰیَةَ الَّیْلِ وَجَعَلْنَآ اٰیَةَ النَّهَارِ مُبْصِرَةً
Allah says: And We have appointed the night and the day as two signs.. Then, We have obliterated the sign of the night [with darkness] while We have made the sign of the day illuminating..
Depart, for by Allah you will never do any work for me.
The narrator said:
I heard that he was killed fighting for Muawiyah at Siffin.
‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu stood over the slain of his party and the slain of Muawiyah’s party and said: “May Allah forgive you, may Allah forgive you.” for both parties.
It was narrated that Yazid ibn al Asam said:
When the peace deal was agreed between ‘Ali and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu went out and walked among the slain of his party and said: “They are in paradise.” Then he went to the slain of Muawiyah’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu party and said: “They are in paradise, and then judgment will be passed between me and Muawiyah.”
He used to say of them that they were believers. What ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said about the people who were killed at Siffin was not much different from what he said about the people who were killed at the Battle of the camel.
9. Attitude of Mu‘awiyah towards the Byzantine ruler
The ruler of Byzantium tried to take advantage of the difference of opinion that occurred between Amir al Mu’minin ‘Ali and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma by acquiring some of the lands that were under Muawiyah’s control.
Ibn Kathir said:
The ruler of Byzantium got his hopes up of attacking Muawiyah, after Muawiyah had scared and humiliated him and had defeated him and his troops. When the ruler of Byzantium saw that Muawiyah was preoccupied with fighting ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, he marched to some Muslim territory with a large number of troops, hoping to gain control of it. Muawiyah wrote to him, saying: “By Allah, if you do not give up and go back to your own country, O cursed one, I shall reconcile with my cousin against you, and I shall drive you from all of your land and leave you no room on earth, vast as it is.” At that point, the ruler of Byzantium got scared and refrained from fighting, and he sent a message asking for a truce.
This is indicative of Muawiyah’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu integrity and his love of Islam.
10. A false story about ‘Amr ibn al ‘As at Siffin
Nasr ibn Muzahim al Kufi said:
The people of Iraq charged and engaged in fighting with the Syrians, and they fought hard. ‘Amr ibn al ‘As charged but was intercepted by ‘Ali.
The story goes on to say:
Then ‘Ali stabbed ‘Amr and threw him down, and ‘Amr tried to protect himself with his legs, and his ‘awrah (the part of a person’s body that must be screened from public view) became uncovered. ‘Ali turned his face away from him and looked away. The people said: “The man has gotten away, O Amir al Mu’minin.” He said: “Do you know who he is?” They said: “No.” He said: “He is ‘Amr ibn al ‘As. He showed me his ‘awrah, so I turned my face away.”
This story was also mentioned by Ibn al Kalbi, as stated by al Suhayli in al Rawd al Anif. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu supposedly said:
He protected himself by showing his ‘awrah and reminded me of the ties of kinship.
Something similar is narrated from ‘Amr ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu with regard to the day of Siffin.
The response to this fabrication and blatant lie is as follows: the narrator of the first report, Nasr ibn Muzahim al Kufi, the author of the book Waq’at Siffin, was an extreme Shia, so it comes as no surprise that he would tell lies and fabricate stories about the Sahabah. Al Dhahabi said concerning him in al Mizan:
Nasr ibn Muzahim al Kufi is an extreme Rafidi, and they rejected him.
Al ‘Uqayli said concerning him:
He is a Shia and his ahadith contain a lot of flaws and mistakes.
Abu Khaythamah said:
He was a liar.
Ibn Hajar said concerning him:
Al ‘Ajli said: “He was an extreme Rafidi and is not trustworthy at all.”
Hisham ibn Muhammad ibn d-Sa’ib al Kalbi said:
They were agreed that he was an extreme Shia.
Imam Ahmed said:
Who narrates from him? I do not think that anyone narrates from him.
Al Daraqutni said:
He is rejected.
This story may be regarded as an example of the lies and fabrications of the Rafidi Shia against the Sahabah of the Rasul of Allah ‘salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam The enemies of the Sahabah among the Rafidi historians fabricated bad qualities that they ascribed to the Sahabah of the Rasul of Allah ‘salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and they wrote them in the form of stories and poetry that could be spread easily among the Muslims, aiming to undermine the status of the righteous Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum.
Sunni Muslims were not paying attention; they started at a late stage to examine and verify the reports of Islamic history, after those poems and stories had spread everywhere and become widely known among the storytellers. By then, many of them had unfortunately come to be accepted, even among Sunni historians.
11. Amir al Mu’minin ‘Ali visits a graveyard on his way back from Siffin
After Amir al Mu’minin ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu had finished at Siffin, he passed by a graveyard and said:
Peace be upon you, people of the desolate and isolated abode, believing men and women, Muslim men and women. You have gone before us, and we are following in your footsteps and will join you soon. O Allah, forgive us and them, and bestow Your mercy on us and them. Praise be to Allah Who has made the earth a receptacle for the living and the dead. Praise be to Allah, Who has created you, and on it He will gather you, and from it He will raise you. Glad tidings to the one who remembers the Resurrection, prepares himself for the Reckoning and is content with the little that he has been given.
12. Insistence of ‘Uthman’s murderers that the battle should continue
The murderers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu were very keen that the battle between the two sides should continue until the people were wiped out and the strength of both sides was lessened, so that they would be safe from retaliation and punishment. They panicked when they saw the people of Syria raising up the mushafs and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu responding to their request by ordering that the fighting and bloodshed be stopped.
They tried to make ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu change his mind, but the battle stopped; as a result, they felt helpless and had no alternative but to rebel against ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. So they fabricated the idea that the ruling belongs to Allah (and not to people), and they kept away from both sides.
What is strange is that the historians did not pay as much attention to what these people did at this stage as they did with regard to the Battle of the Camel, even though they were present in ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu army, or to the reason why these negotiations that went on for many months failed, or the role that the murderers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu may have played in the Battle of Siffin to cause the failure of all attempts at reconciliation between the two sides – because reconciliation between ‘Ali and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma would have been like reaching a deal to bring them to justice and execute them. It does not make sense to suggest that they strove hard during the Battle of the Camel to make the fighting continue, but did not do the same thing at Siffin.
13. Amir al Mu’minin ‘Ali forbids impugning Mu‘awiyah and cursing the people of Syria
It was narrated that when ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu heard that two of his companions were openly reviling Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and cursing the people of Syria, he sent word to them telling them to stop what they were doing. They came to him and said:
O Amir al Mu’minin, are we not in the right and they in the wrong?
Yes indeed, by the Rabb of the Ka’bah.
Then why are you stopping us from reviling and cursing them?
I do not want you to be people who curse; rather you should say: “0 Allah, protect our blood and theirs, reconcile between us and them. Save them from their misguidance, so that truth will become clear to those who are unaware of it and those who got carried away in misguidance will give up their stubborn ways.
With regard to what is said about ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu cursing Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his companions in his supplications during the prayer, and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu cursing ‘Ali, Ibn ‘Abbas, Hasan and Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhum when he said supplications during the prayer, this is not true, because the Sahabah were more eager than others to adhere to the commands of the Allah, which forbids reviling or cursing a Muslim.
It was narrated that the Rasul of Allah ‘salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
Whoever curses a believer, it is as if he killed him.
He radiya Llahu ‘anhu also said:
The believer is not given to slandering and cursing.
And he ‘salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
Those who are given to cursing cannot he intercessors or witnesses on the Day of Resurrection.
Moreover, the report in which it is narrated that Amir al Mu’minin cursed Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his companions in his supplications, and that Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu cursed Amir al Mu’minin, Ibn ‘Abbas, Hasan and Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhum, is not proven in terms of its chain of transmission. It includes Abu Mikhnaf Lut ibn Yahya, the extreme Rafidi, so these reports are not to be trusted. Furthermore, in the soundest books of the Shia, there is a prohibition on reviling the Sahabah, and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu denounced those who reviled Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the people with him, saying:
I do not want you to be people who revile others; if you describe their actions and attitudes, which is better to say and is more helpful in leaving no excuse for them. Instead of reviling them, you can say: “O Allah, protect our blood and theirs from being shed and reconcile between us and them.
 Al Anba’ bi Tawarikh al Khulafa’, p. 59; Siffin, p. 202; Shadharat al Dhahab, 1145
 Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 7/273
 Sunan Sa’id ibn Mansur, 2/240 – weak
 Tarikh Khalifah ibn Khayyat, p. 193, with a reliable chain of narration going back to an eyewitness.
 Tarikh Khalifah ibn Khayyat, p. 193, with a reliable chain of narration going back to an eyewitness.
 He was the poet of Taghlab during his time; he lived at the time of ignorance and early Islam. He was the poet of Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan and the people of Syria, and he was present at Siffin with Muawiyah, Al Zarkali: al A’lam, 6/180.
 Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 7/273; Tarikh al Tabari, 5/262
 Tarikh al Tabari, 5/622, via Abu Mikhnaf.
 Al Tabaqat, 41255, via al Waqidi.
 Sunan Sa’id ibn Mansur, 2/344, 345, with a weak chain of narration.
 Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, 15/297, with a weak chain of narration.
 Tarikh al Tabari, 5/630
 Al Isabah: 1/454; Ansab al Ashraf, 2/56, with a mursal reliable chain of narration going back to Qatadah
 Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, 15/290. The chain of narration is reliable because of corroborating evidence.
 Majma’ al Zawa’id, 7/243; ‘Abdul Hamid: Khilafah ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, p. 219. Its chain of narration is reliable.
 Tarikh al Tabari, 5/652
 Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, 15/302, 303, with an interrupted chain of narration.
 Tarikh al Tabari, 5/653
 Al Mustadrak, 3/402 – al Dhahabi said, It is weak; Khilafah ‘Ali, p.226
 Al Bayhaqi: al Sunan al Kubra, 31252. Al Albani said: It was narrated by al Bayhaqi who described it as weak- lrwa’ al khalil, 3/42
 Talkhis al Habir, 2/78
 Shadharat al Dhahab, 1/45; Waq’at Siffin, p. 369
 Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 7/283
 Waq’at Siffin, p. 479
 op. cit., p. 881-884
 Al Dawlah al Islamiyyah fi ‘Asr al Khulafa’ al Rashidin, p. 316
 al Kamil, 2/386
 Tarikh al Tabari, 5/662
 Tarikh al Tabari, 5/662, 663
 Surah, Al Imran: 23
 Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah, 8/336; Musnad Ahmed ma’a al Fath al Rabbani, 8/483
 Bukhari, no. 4189
 Al Insaf fi ma waqa’a fi Tarikh al ‘Asr al Rashidin min al Khilafah
 Dirasah fi Tarikh al Khulafa’ al Umawiyyin, p. 38
 Ad-Dinuri: al Akhbar at-Tiwal, p. 187; Dirasat fi ‘Ahd an-Nubuwwah, p. 432
 Siffin, p. 482-485; Dirasat fi ‘Ahd an-Nubuwwah, p. 433
 Surah al Nisa’: 59
 Musannaf lbn Abi Shaibah, 8/336
 Tarikh al Tabari, 5/610
 Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, 2/41; Marwiyat Abi Mikhnaf, p. 296
 Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 7/270; Dirasat fi ‘Ahd al Nubuwwah, p. 424
 Tarikh al Tabari. quoted in Dirasat fi ‘Ahd al Nubuwwah, p. 424
 Tarikh Dimashq, 18/2239; Dirasat fi ‘Ahd al Nubuwwah, p. 424
 Ansab al Ashraf, 6/56, with a reliable chain of narration going back to ‘Utbah; ‘Abdul Hamid: Khilafat ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, p. 241
 Ansab al Ashraf, 6/56, with a reliable chain of narration going back to ‘Utbah; ‘Abdul Hamid: Khilafat ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, p. 241
 Siffin, p. 115; Dirasat fi ‘Ahd al Nubuwwah, p. 424
 Dirasat fi ‘Ahd an-Nubuwwah, p. 424
 Kitab Qital Ahl al Baghy min al Hawi al Kabir, p. 133, 134
 ‘Abdul-Hamid: Khilafah ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, p. 243
 ash-Shafi’i: al Umm, 4/224, 8/243
 ‘Abdul Hamid: Khilafah ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, p. 243
 Tarikh Dimashq, with commentary by al Munajjid, 11331; Khilafah ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, p. 243
 Baghiyat al Talab min Tarikh Halab, 309; Khilafah ‘Ali, p. 245
 al Qada’i: al Anba’, p. 59, quoted in Khilafah ‘Ali, p. 246
 Al Sawa’iq al Mursalah, 1/377, with no chain of narration, ed, by Muhammad Dakhil-Allah
 Al Dawlah al Umawiyyah, p. 360-362
 Tarikh al Tabari, 4/388
 Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah
 Habis ibn Sa’d al Ta’i a Mukhdaram (one who lived during the lifetime of Rasulullah ‘salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam but embraced Islam after his demise), who was killed at Siffin
 Surah Bani Isra’il: 12
 Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, 11/74, with an interrupted chain of narration.
 ‘Abdul Hamid: Khilafat ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib p. 250
 Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, 15/303, with an interrupted chain of narration.
 Tarikh Dimashq, 11329, 331; Khilafat ‘Ali, p. 251
 ‘Abdul Hamid: Khilafah ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib p. 251
 Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 8/122
 Waq’at Siffin, p. 406-408; Sulaiman al Kharashi: Qasas la tathbut, 6/19
 Al Rawd al Anif, 5/462; Qasas la tathbut, 6/19
 Mizan al I’tidal, 4/253-254
 Lisan al Mizan, 6/157
 Ibn Hibban: al Majruhin, 3/91; Tadhkirat al Huffaz, 11343; Mujam al Udaba’, 19/287; Qasas la tathbut, 1/18
 Qasas la tathbut, 1120
 op. cit., 1110
 al Jahidh: al Bayan wa al Tabyin, 3/128; Fara’id al Kalam li l-Khulafa’ al Kiram, p. 327
 Ahdath wa al Ahadith Fitnat al Haraj, p. 147
 Al Akhbar al Tiwal, p. 165, quoted in Tahqiq Mawaqif al Sahabah fi l-Fitnah, 2/232
 Tahqiq Mawaqif al Sahabah, 2/232
 Bukhari, Kitab al Adab, 7/84
 Al Albani: al Silsilah al Sahihah; no. 320; Sahih. Sunan al Tirmidhi, 2/189 no 1110
 Muslim, 4/2006, no. 2589
 Nahj al Balaghah; p. 323
 Asul Mazhab ash-Shi’ah, 2/934Back to top