Section Two: The Issue of Arbitration between Sayyidina ‘Ali and Sayyidina Muawiyah

Module Three: The Second Fitnah – Section One: The Qurra’, the predecessors of the Khawarij
November 30, 2020
Introduction
December 7, 2020

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Section Two: The Issue of Arbitration between Sayyidina ‘Ali and Sayyidina Muawiyah

 

There are four discussions in this section:

  1. The role of the Qurra’ in the Arbitration
  2. The text of the document of the Arbitration and the debate between the two arbiters
  3. Analysing the narration of the Arbitration
  4. The reality of the Arbitration

 

1. The role of the Qurra’ in the Arbitration

A study of the chronology of the events of Siffin reveal that the Qurra’ played a significant role in the battle as those who fought on the side of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Hence, the narration of al Tabari states that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu sent al Ashtar al Nakha’i, who was from the Qurra’, as the commander of the cavalry of Kufah, and Mis’ar ibn Fadak al Tamimi[1] as the leader of the Qurra’ of Basrah. The Qurra’ of Kufah were left under the wing of ‘Abdullah ibn Budayl and ‘Ammar ibn Yasir radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[2]

It is also narrated regarding the events of the final day of the fighting that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu had appointed ‘Abdullah ibn Budayl over the right section of the army, and ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma upon the left section. He left the Qurra’ of Iraq with three individuals: ‘Ammar ibn Yasir, Qais ibn Sa’d—a Sahabi radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and ‘Abdullah ibn Budayl. The people were under their flags an in their positions, and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was in the centre with the people of Madinah between the people of Kufah and the people of Basrah.[3]

There also appears in the narrations praise for the steadfastness of the Qurra’ and their outstanding performance during the fighting. For example:

 

وانكشف أهل العراق من قبل الميمنة حتى لم يبق منهم إلا عبد الله بن بديل الخزاعي في مائتين أو ثلثمائة من القراء… ثم مضى هاشم بن عتبة بن أبي وقاص الزهري في عصابة من القراء، فقاتل قتالا شديدا هو وأصحابه عند المساء… ثم خرج عبد الله بن حصين الأزدي في القراء الذين مع عمار فأصيب معه

The people of Iraq dispersed from the right section of the army till there remained no one beside ‘Abdullah ibn Budayl al Khuza’i amongst two hundred/three hundred men of the Qurra’…[4] Thereafter Hashim ibn ‘Utbah ibn Abi Waqqas al Zuhri[5] went forward with a group of the Qurra’ and he and his companions fought very ferociously till the evening…[6] Thereafter, ‘Abdullah ibn Hussain al Azdi[7] emerged amidst the Qurra’ who were with ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu and was eventually martyred…[8]

 

Furthermore, the narration of Abu Mikhnaf which is cited by al Tabari in his Tarikh is the oldest narration which depicts the stance of the Qurra’ regarding the Arbitration. In this narration it is stated that when the people of Sham raised the copies of the Qur’an upon their spears and called for making the Book of Allah the arbiter between them, ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu did not accept this proposal from them and warned that it was merely a deception and a plotting. He said to them:

 

عباد الله امضوا على حقكم وصدقكم قتال عدوكم فإن معاوية وعمرو بن العاص وابن أبي معيط وحبيب بن مسلمة وابن أبي سرح والضحاك بن قيس ليسوا بأصحاب دين ولا قرآن أنا أعرف بهم منكم قد صحبتهم أطفالا وصحبتهم رجالا فكانوا شر أطفال وشر رجال ويحكم إنهم ما رفعوها ثم لا يرفعونها ولا يعلمون بما فيها وما رفعوها لكم إلا خديعة ودهنا ومكيدة فقالوا له ما يسعنا أن ندعى إلى كتاب الله عز وجل فنأبى أن نقبله فقال لهم فإني إنما قاتلتهم ليدينوا بحكم هذا الكتاب فإنهم قد عصوا الله عز وجل فيما أمرهم ونسوا عهده ونبذوا كتابه فقال له مسعر بن فدكي التميمي وزيد بن حصين الطائي ثم السنبسي في عصابة معهما من القراء الذين صاروا خوارج بعد ذلك يا علي أجب إلى كتاب الله عز وجل إذ دعيت إليه والا ندفعك برمتك إلى القوم أو نفعل كما فعلنا بابن عفان إنه علينا أن نعمل بما في كتاب الله عز و جل، فقبلناه، والله لتفعلنها أو لنفعلنها بك. قال: احفظوا مقالتكم لي، أما أنا فإن تطيعوني تقاتلوا وإن تعصوا فاصنعوا ما بدا لكم. قالوا له: أما لا، فابعث إلى الأشتر فليأتك.

“O the servants of Allah, continue upon your right and your truth in fighting your enemy, for Muawiyah, ‘Amr ibn al ‘As, Ibn Abi Mu’ayt, Habib ibn Maslamah, Ibn Abi Sarah, and al Dahhak ibn Qais are not people of piety nor are they men of the Qur’an. I know them better than you do; I accompanied them when they were kids and I was with them as adults. They were the worst of children and the worst of men. Woe on to you! They have not raised the copies but to deceive, to compromise and to plot.”

They replied, “It is not correct for us to refuse to accept the book of Allah after we are being called to it.”

He retorted, “I have also only fought them so that they concede the ruling of the book of Allah; they have disobeyed Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala in their matter, forgot his emphasised order, and discarded his book.”

Thereupon Mis’ar ibn Fadak al Tamimi and Zaid ibn Hussain al Ta’i[9] who were with a group of the Qurra’ who later became the Khawarij said to him, “O ‘Ali! Answer the call to the Book of Allah, or else we will hand you over completely to them or we will do to you what we did to Ibn ‘Affan. It is our duty to practice what comes in the Book of Allah and, thus, we have accepted. By Allah you will do that, or else we will do that (what they threatened him with) to you.”

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, thus, replied, “Remember that I stopped you and also remember what you have said to me. As for me, if you want to obey me, then you should fight. And if you want to disobey me, then do as you like.”

They responded, “If you are not willing to accept then send a message to al Ashtar and he should see you.”[10]

 

Likewise, all the narrations which al Tabari has cited regarding the Arbitration, which are narrated by Abu Mikhnaf, are no different than the aforementioned narration. They all state that it was the Qurra’ who compelled ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu to accept the arbitration despite ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu trying to convince them that the raising of the Qur’an was a deceptive ploy employed by Muawiyah and ‘Amr ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhuma. They also state that it was them who nominated Abu Musa radiya Llahu ‘anhu as the arbiter in spite of the disapproval of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Hence, al Ash’ath ibn Qais al Kindi[11] and those who later became the Khawarij said, “We are happy with Abu Musa.”

 

قال علي فإنكم قد عصيتموني في أول الأمر فلا تعصوني الآن إني لا أرى أن أولي أبا موسى فقال الأشعث وزيد بن حصين الطائي ومسعر بن فدكي لا نرضى إلا به فإنه ما كان يحذرنا منه وقعنا فيه قال علي فإنه ليس لي بثقة قد فارقني وخذل الناس عني ثم هرب مني حتى آمنته بعد أشهر ولكن هذا ابن عباس نوليه ذلك قالوا ما نبالي أنت كنت أم ابن عباس لا نريد إلا رجلا هو منك ومن معاوية سواء ليس إلى واحد منكما بأدنى منه إلى الآخر فقال علي فإني أجعل الأشتر… فقال الأشعث: وهل سعر الأرض غير الأشتر… قال علي: فقد أبيتم إلا أبا موسى، قالوا: نعم، قال: فاصنعوا ما أردتم.

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu replied saying, “You have disobeyed in the first matter already, so do not disobey me now. I do not feel that I should appoint Abu Musa radiya Llahu ‘anhu.”

So Ash’ath, Zaid ibn Hussain, and Mis’ar ibn Fadak said, “We are only happy with him, for whatever he warned against, we have become victims thereof.”

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu replied, “He is not trustable, for he separated from me and averted the people from joining me. Thereafter he ran away from me till I gave him amnesty after few months. But here is Ibn ‘Abbas who we can charge with this matter.”

They said, “We are not bothered about you or Ibn ‘Abbas. We do not want but a person who is impartial and equal between you and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu; such a person that nor you or Muawiyah is closer to him than each other.”

‘Ali retorted, “Then I will appoint al Ashtar…”

And al Ash’ath replied, “Has anyone else other than al Ashtar fuelled the earth…”

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu asked, “Do you refuse to accept anyone but Abu Musa?”

They said, “Yes.”

He said, “Then do as you like.”[12]

 

What is astonishing though is that other narrations from Abu Mikhnaf himself give the readers an impression of a completely contrary role than the first, i.e. they state that the Qurra’, refused to accept the Arbitration completely. He says:

 

خرج الأشعث بذلك الكتاب يقرؤه على الناس، ويعرضه عليهم فيقرؤنه حتى مر به على طائفة من بني تميم فيهم عروة بن أدية وهو أخو أبي بلال فقرأه عليهم فقال عروة بن أدية: تحكمون في أمر الله عز وجل الرجال؟! لا حكم إلا لله، ثم شد بسيفه فضرب به عجز دابته ضربة خفيفة واندفعت الدابة، وصاح به أصحابه أن أملك يدك

Al Ash’ath came out with that letter and read it to the people. He presented it to them and they also read it themselves. Till he passed by a group of the Banu Tamim amidst who was ‘Urwah ibn Udayyah,[13] the brother of Abu Bilal,[14] and read it to them.

So ‘Urwah ibn Udayyah said, “Do you appoint men as arbiters in the matter of Allah? There is no rule but for Allah.”

He thereafter struck the buttocks of his animal lightly with his sword which caused the animal to jolt. His companions, thus, shouted at him and told him, “Control you hand…” [15]

 

And Abu Mikhnaf narrates the following as well:

 

أن عليا لما أراد أن يبعث أبا موسى للحكومة أتاه رجلان من الخوارج زرعة بن البرج الطائي وحرقوص ابن زهير السعدي فدخلا عليه فقالا له لا حكم الا لله فقال على لا حكم إلا لله فقال له حرقوص تب من خطيئتك وارجع عن قضيتك واخرج بنا إلى عدونا نقاتلهم حتى نلقى ربنا فقال لهم على قد أردتكم على ذلك فعصيتموني وقد كتبنا بيننا وبينهم كتابا وشرطنا شروطا وأعطينا عليها عهودنا ومواثيقنا وقد قال الله عز وجل: وَأَوْفُوا بِعَهْدِ اللَّهِ إِذَا عَاهَدتُّمْ وَلَا تَنقُضُوا الْأَيْمَانَ بَعْدَ تَوْكِيدِهَا وَقَدْ جَعَلْتُمُ اللَّهَ عَلَيْكُمْ كَفِيلًا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَفْعَلُونَ فقال له حرقوص ذلك ذنب ينبغي أن تتوب منه فقال على ما هو ذنب ولكنه عجز من الرأي وضعف من الفعل وقد تقدمت إليكم فيما كان منه ونهيتكم عنه فقال له زرعة بن البرج أما والله يا علي لئن لم تدع تحكيم الرجال في كتاب الله عز وجل قاتلتك أطلب بذلك وجه الله ورضوانه

When ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu intended to send Abu Musa radiya Llahu ‘anhu for the Arbitration two men of the Khawarij came to him, namely: Zur’ah ibn Burj al Ta’i[16] and Hurqus ibn Zuhayr al Sa’di, and said to him, “There is no rule but for Allah. Repent from your sin, retract your decision, and march with us to our enemy so that we may fight them till we meet our lord.”

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu replied, “That is what I wanted from you initially, but you disobeyed me. Now we have written a document amongst us and we have placed clauses. We have also given them upon that our promises and pledges, and Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala says, ‘And fulfil the covenant of Allah when you have taken it. And do not break oaths after confirmation while you have made Allah, over you, a security, i.e. a witness. Indeed, Allah knows what you do.’”[17]

Hurqus said to him, “This is a sin from which we should repent.”

So ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu replied, “It is not a sin, but it is inability of having sound judgement and it is weakness of action. For I have already previously told you regarding it, and I warned you against it.”

Thereafter Zur’ah ibn al Burj said, “By Allah, O ‘Ali, if you do not give up appointing men as arbiters in the Book of Allah, I will kill you and in doing so I will seek the pleasure of Allah.”[18]

 

If this is really how matters had unfolded, then why did the Khawarij suddenly remonstrate against all the proceedings and events which they imposed upon ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu to accept the Arbitration; for they rebelled against him and detracted from him and from their tribes which made up the army of Iraq. Likewise, if they appointed Abu Musa radiya Llahu ‘anhu for two reasons: due to him forewarning them from that which they became victims of, and due to him being neutral between both ‘Ali and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, then why didn’t they wait for the results of the Arbitration? Was it because their minds were like the minds of kids, and, thus, they were driven to act so contradictingly and drastically?

Also, if that was really the case, then why didn’t they have a similar position in the events that passed, like Jamal, for example? Likewise, if they managed to impose the appointment of Abu Musa radiya Llahu ‘anhu on ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu as the arbiter of the people of Iraq, then why didn’t they choose someone from amongst themselves? For it is obvious that that particular individual would have represented them in their interests and views better than Abu Musa radiya Llahu ‘anhu; they wanted the fighting not to cease, as is established in authentic narrations, and Abu Musa radiya Llahu ‘anhu was against the Fitnah and the fratricidal war of the Muslim, and was striving to put an end to the war and achieving unity amongst the Muslims.

The appointment of Abu Musa radiya Llahu ‘anhu as the arbiter of the people of Iraq from the side of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is completely harmonious with the events that were unfolding. For the next stage was the stage of conciliation and the reaching of unity amongst the Muslims, and Abu Musa radiya Llahu ‘anhu was from the advocates of conciliation and peace just as he was loved and trusted by the tribes of Iraq. ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu had appointed him as the governor of Basrah and immediately thereafter as the governor of Kufah.[19] Thereafter, when the people of Kufah, under the leadership of al Ashtar, prevented Sa’id ibn al ‘As from entering it and returned him to Madinah, they autonomously appointed Abu Musa radiya Llahu ‘anhu. ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu had no choice but to maintain him in order to please them.[20] Not only that, when Amir al Mu’minin ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu started dismissing the governors of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu al Ashtar asked him to maintain Abu Musa radiya Llahu ‘anhu over Kufah and he acceded to his request.[21]

Furthermore, the early references (contradict the previously cited narrations regarding the Khawarij nominating Abu Musa radiya Llahu ‘anhu and) state that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu himself had chosen Abu Musa al Ash’ari radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Khalifah says in his Tarikh:

 

وفيها-سنة 37 ه- اجتمع الحكمان: أبو موسى الأشعري من قبل علي وعمرو بن العاص من قبل معاوية

In it (the year 37 A.H.) the two arbiters convened, Abu Musa al Ash’ari from the side of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and ‘Amr ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu from the side of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[22]

 

And Ibn Sa’d says in his Tabaqat:

فكره الناس الحرب وتداعوا إلى الصلح، وحكموا الحكمين، فحكم علي أبا موسى الأشعري، وحكم معاوية عمرو بن العاص…

The people disliked fighting and called for conciliation. They appointed the two arbiters, ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu appointed Abu Musa al Ash’ari radiya Llahu ‘anhu and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu appointed ‘Amr ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[23]

 

And Ibn Abi Shaybah narrates from Abu Salih that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said to Abu Musa:

 

احكم ولو بجز عنقي

Decide, even if it be about the cutting of my neck.[24]

 

Based on all of the aforementioned, it would be plausible to assume that the role of stopping the fighting, calling for arbitration, and imposing Abu Musa radiya Llahu ‘anhu as the arbiter, are all nothing but historical fallacies which were forged by the Shia historians who were very disturbed by the fact that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was willing to cooperate with Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the people of Sham, and that he was interested in conciliation with his [alleged] open enemies. Hence, they inculpated their enemies, the Khawarij, and tried to avoid this seeming contention; they made the claims of the Khawarij appear contradictory, so they were the ones who forced ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu to accept the proposal of the arbitration and they were the ones who remonstrated against ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu due to him accepting that proposal.

It is also important to note that the causes and catalysts for the emergence of such narrations were the circumstances Kufah, the stronghold of the Shia, was passing through at that time, in the second half of the first century. For it had transitioned into a city which was now under the rule of the people of Sham who sent to it their rulers who were dictators, like Ziyad, his son ‘Ubaidullah[25], and al Hajjaj; who were sent to diffuse their strength. Kufah in subsequent times had, thus, become the centre of opposition and a hatching den for revolutions against the Umayyads. Not only that, the painful attacks of the Khawarij were more injurious to them than the extirpation of the Umayyads. This prompted the Shia to cast the blame of these events upon their enemies due to them being heavily influenced by their dogmatic fanaticism.

To further elaborate, the authentically established position conveys that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu had accepted the call for arbitration willingly by himself without any pressure. This was due to his adherence to the injunctions of Islam which encouraged the reinstatement of congenial relations, mercy, compassion, and returning to the Qur’an and the Sunnah at the time of dispute and contention, as in the verse:

 

فَإِن تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ

Should you dispute regarding something, then return it to Allah and his Rasul.[26]

 

Hence, it is established in an authentic narration that the stance of the Qurra’ from the very beginning had not changed. It was to persist in fighting the people of Sham and shun the Arbitration altogether. This is what the heart inclines to as well, for it is harmonious with the extremist mentality of the Khawarij which called upon them to excommunicate the Muslims, and violate their blood and their wealth. They were always in the various phases of their presence spearheading movements, which due to their rebellion weakened the body of the Islamic empire and destroyed much of the stored strength of the Muslims.

Ahmed and Ibn Abi Shaybah both narrate the following with an authentic chain of transmission from Habib ibn Abi Thabit:

 

أتيت أبا وائل في مسجد أهله أسأله عن هؤلاء القوم الذين قتلهم علي بالنهروان، فيما استجابوا له، وفيما فارقوه، وفيما استحل قتالهم، قال : كنا بصفين فلما استحر القتل بأهل الشام اعتصموا بتل، فقال عمرو بن العاص لمعاوية أرسل إلى علي بمصحف، وادعه إلى كتاب الله، فإنه لن يأبى عليك، فجاء به رجل، فقال : بيننا وبينكم كتاب الله: أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا نَصِيبًا مِّنَ الْكِتَابِ يُدْعَوْنَ إِلَىٰ كِتَابِ اللَّهِ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ يَتَوَلَّىٰ فَرِيقٌ مِّنْهُمْ وَهُم مُّعْرِضُونَ [ آل عمران : 23] ، فقال علي نعم أنا أولى بذلك، بيننا وبينكم كتاب الله. قال : فجاءته الخوارج، ونحن ندعوهم يومئذ القراء، وسيوفهم على عواتقهم، فقالوا : يا أمير المؤمنين، ما ننتظر بهؤلاء القوم الذين على التل ألا نمشي إليهم بسيوفنا، حتى يحكم الله بيننا وبينهم، فتكلم سهل بن حنيف، فقال : يا أيها الناس اتهموا أنفسكم، فلقد رأيتنا يوم الحديبية، يعني الصلح الذي كان بين رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وبين المشركين، ولو نرى قتالا لقاتلنا، فجاء عمر إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، فقال : يا رسول الله ألسنا على حق، وهم على باطل، أليس قتلانا في الجنة وقتلاهم في النار؟ قال : بلى، قال : ففيم نعطي الدنية في ديننا، ونرجع ولما يحكم الله بيننا، وبينهم؟ فقال :  يا ابن الخطاب، إني رسول الله، ولن يضيعني أبدا، قال : فرجع وهو متغيظ، فلم يصبر، حتى أتى أبا بكر، فقال : يا أبا بكر ألسنا على حق، وهم على باطل، أليس قتلانا في الجنة وقتلاهم في النار؟ قال : بلى ، قال : ففيم نعطي الدنية في ديننا ونرجع، ولما يحكم الله بيننا وبينهم؟ فقال : يا ابن الخطاب إنه رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، ولن يضيعه أبدا، قال : فنزلت سورة الفتح قال : فأرسلني رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إلى عمر، فأقرأها إياه، قال : يا رسول الله وفتح هو؟ قال : نعم. وطابت نفسه ورجع. وزاد ابن أبي شيبة: فقال علي: في صفين-:أيها الناس! إن هذا فتح، فقبل علي القضية ورجع ورجع الناس ثم إنهم خرجوا بحروراء ألئك العصابة من الخوارج.

I came to Abu Wa’il at the masjid of his locality to ask him regarding these people who ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu fought in Nahrawan, i.e. regarding the aspects in which they agreed with him, the aspects in which they disagreed with him, and the rationale on the basis of which he considered it permissible to fight them. He said, “We were in Siffin. When the killing intensified against the people of Sham they resorted to a hill. Thereupon ‘Amr ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu said to Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, ‘Send a copy of the Qur’an to ‘Ali and call him to the Book of Allah for he will never refuse.’ Hence a person came and said, ‘Between us and you is the Book of Allah, ‘Do you not consider those who were given a portion of the scripture? They are invited to the scripture of Allah that it should arbitrate between them; then a party of them turns away and they are refusing.[27] ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said, ‘Yes, I am more deserving of that. Between us and you is the Book of Allah.’”

The narrator says, “The Khawarij, thus, came to him, we would call them the Khawarij, with their swords upon their shoulders and said, ‘O Amir al Mu’minin! What are we waiting for regarding these people who are upon the hill? Should we not march to them with our swords till Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala decides between us and them?’

Sahl ibn Hunayf spoke and said, ‘O people! Doubt yourselves, for I saw us on the day of Hudaybiyyah (referring to the conciliation which was reached between Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and the polytheists). If we considered fighting to be practical, we would have fought; ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu came to Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and said, ‘O Rasul Allah! Are we not upon the truth and are they not upon falsehood? Are not our martyrs in Jannat and their slain people in Hell-fire?” He replied, ‘Yes.’ He further inquired, ‘So why should we succumb in our Din and return whereas Allah has not yet decided between us?’ He replied, ‘O the son of Khattab! I am the Messenger of Allah and he will never forsake me.’ He returned angrily and was unable to contain himself till he approached Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu and said, ‘O Abu Bakr! Are we not upon the truth and are they not upon falsehood? Are not our martyrs in Jannat and their slain people in Hell-fire?’ He replied, ‘Yes.’ He further inquired, ‘So why should we succumb in our Din and return whereas Allah has not yet decided between us?’ He replied, ‘O the son of Khattab! He is the Messenger of Allah and Allah will never forsake him.’”

The narrator says, “Subsequently, Surah Fath was revealed and Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam summoned ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu and got it read to him. He asked, ‘O Rasul Allah! Is this really a victory?’ He responded, ‘Yes.’ ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu was satisfied and he returned.”[28]

Ibn Abi Shaybah has added, “‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said (in Siffin), ‘O People! This is a victory.’ ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu accepted the matter. He returned and so did the people. Thereafter they marched to Harura’, i.e. that group of the Khawarij.”[29]

 

This narration is corroborated by another narration of Sahih al Bukhari. Al Bukhari narrates the following from Habib ibn Abi Thabit:

 

أتيت أبا وائل أسأله فقال كنا بصفين فقال رجل ألم تر إلى الذين يدعون إلى كتاب الله فقال علي نعم فقال سهل بن حنيف اتهموا أنفسكم فلقد رأيتنا يوم الحديبية يعني الصلح الذي كان بين النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم والمشركين ولو نرى قتالا لقاتلنا فجاء عمر فقال ألسنا على الحق وهم على الباطل أليس قتلانا في الجنة وقتلاهم في النار قال بلى قال ففيم نعطي الدنية في ديننا ونرجع ولما يحكم الله بيننا فقال يا ابن الخطاب إني رسول الله ولن يضيعني الله أبدا فرجع متغيظا فلم يصبر حتى جاء أبا بكر فقال يا أبا بكر ألسنا على الحق وهم على الباطل قال يا ابن الخطاب إنه رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ولن يضيعه الله أبدا فنزلت سورة الفتح.

I came to Abu Wa’il to inquire from him. He said, “We were in Siffin. A man said, ‘Do you not consider those who are invited to the Book of Allah?’

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said, ‘Yes.’

Thereafter, Sahl ibn Hunayf said (i.e. to the Qurra’), ‘Suspect yourselves, (and another narration states, “Suspect your opinion.”) For I saw us on the day of Hudaybiyyah (referring to the conciliation which was reached between Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and the polytheists) if we considered it appropriate to fight, we would have fought. ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu came and said, ‘Are we not upon the truth and are they not upon falsehood? Are not our martyrs in Jannat and their slain people in Hell-fire?’ He replied, ‘Of course.” ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu further asked, ‘So why should we succumb in our Din and return when Allah has not as yet decided between us?’ He replied, ‘O the son of Khattab! I am the Messenger of Allah and he will never forsake me.’ He returned angrily and was unable to contain himself till he approached Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu and said, ‘O Abu Bakr! Are we not upon the truth and are they not upon falsehood?’ He replied, ‘O the son of Khattab! He is the Messenger of Allah and Allah will never forsake him.’ Thereafter Surah al Fath was revealed.”[30]

 

Sahl ibn Hunayf radiya Llahu ‘anhu cited the narration of Hudaybiyyah because the Qurra’ were insisting upon continuing the fight and shunned the Arbitration. Hence, he suggested to them that they should obey ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and that his suggestion should not be opposed due to him knowing better the interests of the Muslims. He informed them that in Hudaybiyyah the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum also felt that they should fight and oppose the call for conciliation, but subsequent to that it became clear that the initiative of Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam regarding the conciliation was more ideal.

And al Kirmani says:

 

كأنهم-القراء- اتهموا سهلا بالتقصير في القتال حينئذ، فقال لهم: اتهموا أنتم رأيكم، فإني لا اقصر كما لم أكن مقصرا يوم الحديبية من أجل أني لا أخالف حكم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، كذلك أتوقف اليوم لأجل مصلحة المسلمين.

It seems as if they (the Qurra’) suspected Sahl of slackening in fighting that day. So, he said to them, “You should suspect your own opinion. For I am not slackening just as I did not slacken on the Day of Hudaybiyyah because I did not oppose the instruction of Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Likewise, today as well I am desisting due to the interest of the Muslims.[31]

 

2. The wording of the Document of the Arbitration, and the Debate of the two Arbiters

The leaders of both the parties witnessed the enacting of the Arbitration which took place on Wednesday the 13th of Safar in the year 37 A.H. The following is the wording of the document:

 

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم هذا ما تقاضى عليه علي بن أبي طالب ومعاوية ابن أبي سفيان قاضى على على أهل الكوفة ومن معهم من شيعتهم من المؤمنين والمسلمين وقاضي معاوية على أهل الشأم ومن كان معهم من المؤمنين والمسلمين أنا ننزل عند حكم الله عز وجل وكتابه ولا يجمع بيننا غيره وأن كتاب الله عز وجل بيننا من فاتحته إلى خاتمته نحيي ما أحيا ونميت ما أمات فما وجد الحكمان في كتاب الله عز وجل وهما أبو موسى الأشعري عبد الله بن قيس وعمرو بن العاص القرشي عملا به وما لم يجدا في كتاب الله عز وجل فالسنة العادلة الجامعة غير المفرقة وأخذ الحكمان من على ومعاوية ومن الجندين من العهود والميثاق والثقة من الناس أنهما آمنان على أنفسهما وأهلهما والأمة لهما أنصار على الذي يتقاضيان عليه وعلى المؤمنين والمسلمين من الطائفتين كلتيهما عهد الله وميثاقه أنا على ما في هذه الصحيفة وأن قد وجبت قضيتهما على المؤمنين فان الامن والاستقامة ووضع السلاح بينهم أينما ساروا على أنفسهم وأهليهم وأموالهم وشاهدهم وغائبهم وعلى عبد الله بن قيس وعمرو بن العاص عهد الله وميثاقه أن يحكما بين هذه الأمة ولا يرداها في حرب ولا فرقة حتى يعصيا وأجل القضاء إلى رمضان وإن أحبا أن يؤخرا ذلك أخراه على تراض منهما وإن توفى أحد الحكمين فان أمير الشيعة يختار مكانه ولا يألو من أهل المعدلة والقسط وإن مكان قضيتهما الذي يقضيان فيه مكان عدل بين أهل الكوفة وأهل الشام وإن رضيا وأحبا فلا تحضرهما فيه إلا من أرادا ويأخذ الحكمان من أرادا من الشهود ثم يكتبان شهادتهما على ما في هذه الصحيفة وهم أنصار على من ترك ما في هذه الصحيفة وأراد فيه إلحادا وظلما اللهم إنا نستنصرك على من ترك ما في هذه الصحيفة.

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

This is what ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib and Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan have decided; ‘Ali on behalf of the people of Kufah and the partisans who are with him from the believers and the Muslims, and Muawiyah on behalf of the people of Sham and those who are with him from the believers and the Muslims. We will confine ourselves to the command of Allah and to his Book, nothing else besides that will unite us. The Book of Allah is between us from its beginning to its end. We will revive what it has revived and we will abolish what it has abolished. Hence, whatever the two arbiters, Abu Musa al Ash’ari ‘Abdullah ibn Qais and ‘Amr ibn al ‘As al Qurashi, will find in it they will practice upon it. And if they do not find in the Book of Allah then the just Sunnah will unite them and not divide them. The two arbiters took pledges and covenants from both ‘Ali, Muawiyah and their armies that they will enjoy amnesty for themselves and their families and that the Ummah will be their helpers in the decision they reach. Likewise, upon the believers is a pledge to Allah that we will hold onto whatever is in this document and that their decision will be binding upon the believers. For safety, stability, and the dropping of weapons against their lives, their families and their wealth, also against those who present and those are absent, is binding upon them wherever they go. Likewise, it is the obligation of ‘Abdullah ibn Qais and ‘Amr ibn al ‘As to pledge to Allah that they will arbitrate between this Ummah and that they will not return it to warfare and bickering unless they are disobeyed. The decision has been suspended till Ramadan, and if they wish to delay it further, they have the option to do so with mutual consent. Similarly, if one of the arbiters passes away then the leader will nominate another person in his stead and will not fall short of appointing a person of integrity and impartiality. Also, the place of their decision will be a place which is equally situated between the people of Kufah and the people of Sham. And if they are happy and they prefer, then only those whom they want will attend their meeting. Thereafter the arbiters will choose whomsoever they want as witnesses and they will record their testimony regarding whatever is recorded in this document. They will be helpers against those who will discard what is in the document and intend heresy or transgression. O Allah, we seek you help against every person who discards what is in this document.[32]

 

The Historians have differed about the place where the arbitration took place. From the writings of some, like al Tabari, al Mas’udi, Ibn al Athir, and Ibn Kathir it seems that Dumat al Jandal was the convening point.[33] Whereas Khalifah and Ibn Sa’d, both earlier scholars than the aforementioned, state that the arbiters had convened in Adhruh.[34] This is supported by the poem of Dhu al Rimmah[35] which he said in praise of Bilal ibn Abi Burdah ibn Abi Musa al Ash’ari:[36]

تساؤوا وبيت الدين منقلع الكسر أبوك تلافى الدين والناس بعدما
ورد حروبا لقد لقحن إلى عقر فشد إصار الدين أيام أذرح

Your father rescued the Din and the people after they were offensive to each other and the house of Din was demolished.

He, thus, fortified the relations of Din during the days of Adhruh and repelled wars which previously bore no positive results.[37]

 

Furthermore, al Tabari reports the narration of the dialogue which ensued between the arbiters via the transmission of Abu Mikhnaf, from Abu Janab al Kalbi that:

 

أن عمرا وأبا موسى حيث التقيا بدومة الجندل أخذ عمرو يقدم أبا موسى في الكلام يقول إنك صاحب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وأنت أسن منى فتكلم وأتكلم فكان عمرو قد عود أبا موسى أن يقدمه في كل شئ اغتزى بذلك كله أن يقدمه فيبدأ بخلع على قال فنظر في أمرهما وما اجتمعا عليه فأراده عمرو على معاوية فأبى وأراده على ابنه فأبى وأراد أبو موسى عمرا على عبد الله بن عمر فأبى عليه فقال له عمرو خبرني ما رأيك قال رأيي أن نخلع هذين الرجلين ونجعل الامر شورى بين المسلمين فيختار المسلمون لأنفسهم من أحبوا فقال له عمرو فان الرأي ما رأيت فأقبلا إلى الناس وهم يجتمعون فقال يا أبا موسى أعلمهم بأن رأينا قد اجتمع واتفق فتكلم أبو موسى فقال إن رأيي ورأى عمر وقد اتفق على أمر نرجو أن يصلح الله عز وجل به أمر هذه الأمة فقال عمرو صدق وبر يا أبا موسى تقدم فتكلم فتقدم أبو موسى ليتكلم فقال له ابن عباس ويحك والله انى لأظنه قد خدعك إن كنتما قد اتفقتما على أمر فقدمه فليتكلم بذلك الامر قبلك ثم تكلم أنت بعده فان عمرا رجل غادر ولا آمن أن يكون قد أعطاك الرضا فيما بينك وبينه فإذا قمت في الناس خالفك وكان أبو موسى مغفلا فقال له إنا قد اتفقنا فتقدم أبو موسى فحمد الله عز وجل وأثنى عليه ثم قال يا أيها الناس إنا قد نظرنا في أمر هذه الأمة فلم نر أصلح لأمرها ولا ألم لشعثها من أمر قد جمع رأيي ورأى عمرو وهو أن نخلع عليا ومعاوية وتستقبل هذه الأمة هذا الامر فيولوا منهم من أحبوا عليهم وإني قد خلعت عليا ومعاوية فاستقبلوا أمركم وولوا عليكم من رأيتموه لهذا الامر أهلا ثم تنحى وأقبل عمرو بن العاص فقام مقامه فحمد الله وأثنى عليه وقال إن هذا قد قال ما سمعتم وخلع صاحبه وأنا أخلع صاحبه كما خلعه وأثبت صاحبي معاوية فإنه ولى عثمان بن عفان رضي الله عنه والطالب بدمه وأحق الناس بمقامه فقال أبو موسى مالك لا وفقك الله غدرت وفجرت انما مثلك كمثل الكلب إن تحمل عليه يلهث أو تتركه يلهث قال عمرو انما مثلك كمثل الحمار يحمل أسفارا وحمل شريح بن هانئ على عمرو فقنعه بالسوط وحمل على شريح ابن لعمرو فضربه بالسوط وقام الناس فحجزوا بينهم وكان شريح بعد ذلك يقول ما ندمت على شئ ندامتي على ضرب عمرو بالسوط ألا أكون ضربته بالسيف آتيا به الدهر ما أتى والتمس أهل الشأم أبا موسى فركب راحلته ولحق بمكة قال ابن عباس قبح الله رأى أبى موسى حذرته وأمرته بالرأي فما عقل فكان أبو موسى يقول حذرني ابن عباس غدرة الفاسق ولكني اطمأننت إليه وظننت أنه لن يؤثر شيئا على نصيحة الأمة ثم انصرف عمرو وأهل الشأم إلى معاوية وسلموا عليه بالخلافة ورجع ابن عباس وشريح بن هانئ إلى علي وكان إذا صلى الغداة يقنت فيقول اللهم العن معاوية وعمرا وأبا الأعور السلمي وحبيبا وعبد الرحمن بن خالد والضحاك بن قيس والوليد فبلغ ذلك معاوية فكان إذا قنت لعن عليا وابن عباس والأشتر وحسنا وحسينا-ابنا علي-.

When ‘Amr ibn al ‘As and Abu Musa met at Dumat al Jandal, ‘Amr begun giving preference to Abu Musa in speech. He said to him, “You are the companion of Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and my senior, so speak and thereafter I shall speak.”

‘Amr in this manner had made Abu Musa accustomed to being given preference in everything, thereby intending to eventually make him speak first and dismiss ‘Ali.

He, the narrator, says, “They both deliberated over their matter and what they could agree upon. Hence ‘Amr wanted him to accept Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu as the ruler but he refused. He then wanted him to accept his son as a ruler but he refused again. Likewise, Abu Musa wanted ‘Amr to accept ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar as the leader but he refused.

‘Amr then asked him, “Tell me what is your opinion?”

He said, “We dismiss these two men and we leave the matter to the council of the Muslims so that the Muslims can choose for themselves whom they prefer.”

‘Amr said, “Your opinion is the opinion.”

Thereafter they came to the people whilst they were gathered and ‘Amr again said, “O Abu Musa! Inform them that we have reached a common opinion.”

Hence, Abu Musa spoke and said, “I and ‘Amr have reached a common opinion through which we hope that Allah will reform the matter of this Ummah.”

‘Amr affirmed, “He has spoken the truth and is honest. O Abu Musa! Go ahead and speak.”

Abu Musa, thus, came forward to speak, but was interrupted by Ibn ‘Abbas who said to him, “Woe unto you! By Allah I think he has deceived you. If the two of you have really reached consensus, then push him forward and let him speak before you and subsequent to that you can speak. For ‘Amr is a cunning person and I suspect that he has given you his word between the two of you, but when you stand up in front of the people, he will oppose you.”

Abu Musa was a heedless person and, thus, he said, “We have agreed.”

He, thus, went forth, praised Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala and said, “O people! We looked into the matter of this Ummah and did not find anything more feasible for it and more restoring for its unity than a matter upon which me and ‘Amr have agreed. We have decided that we dismiss ‘Ali and Muawiyah, and this Ummah will choose who it prefers as its leader anew. I have dismissed ‘Ali and Muawiyah so decide your matter anew and appoint who you feel is best suited for this matter.”

He then stepped aside and ‘Amr ibn al ‘As came forward. He stood in his spot, praised Allah and then said, “This person has said what you heard and he dismissed his companion. I also dismiss his companion just as he did but I approve of my companion, for he is the guardian of ‘Uthman, the seeker of his blood, and the most rightful person to fill his position.”

Abu Musa said, “What is wrong with you? You have deceived and lied. Your example is like that of a dog, if you attack it, it pants, and if your leave it, it still pants.”

‘Amr retorted, “Your example is like that of a donkey which carries books.”

As a result, Shurayh ibn Hani’[38] attacked ‘Amr and struck him with his whip. In return a son of ‘Amr attacked him and struck him with his whip. The people then rose and stopped them.

Shurayh would thereafter say, “I have not regretted anything as much as I have regretted hitting ‘Amr with the whip. Why did not I strike him with the sword immediately?”

The people of Sham thereafter sought Abu Musa, but he had mounted his beast and had already set of for Makkah.

Ibn ‘Abbas said, “My Allah condemn the opinion of Abu Musa. I warned him and told him to be shrewd but he did not understand.”

Abu Musa would later say, “Ibn ‘Abbas had warned me of the treachery of the imposter, but I trusted him and assumed that he will not give preference to anything over the well-being of the Ummah.”

Eventually they all dispersed. ‘Amr and the people of Sham returned to Muawiyah and greeted him with the glad tidings of Caliphate, and Ibn ‘Abbas and Shurayh ibn Hani’ returned to ‘Ali. ‘Ali would in the Fajr Salah make the following supplication in his Qunut, “O Allah curse Muawiyah, ‘Amr, Abu al A’war al Sulami, Habib -ibn Maslamah, ‘Abdur Rahman ibn Khalid, al Dahhak ibn Qais, and al al Walid ibn ‘Uqbah.”

This reached Muawiyah and, thus, he would also curse ‘Ali, Ibn ‘Abbas, al Ashtar, Hassan, and Hussain in his Qunut.[39]

 

3. Analyses of the Narration of the Arbitration

Because the arbitration is something of crucial importance in the political history of the Islamic empire, it is important to clarify the reality of what unfolded therein. For it has been terribly depicted as equally as it has been terribly interpreted as well. This has resulted in much confusion and in the violation of the lofty status of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. For the popular narrative of the arbitration accuses some of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum of being deceitful and heedless and others of resisting and clashing due to their desire for rulership.

But after this narrative is subjected to scrutiny two matters are very clearly discernible: firstly, the weakness of its chain of transmission, and secondly its inconsistencies.

As for its chain of transmission, in it are two narrators whose integrity is questionable. They are: Abu Mikhnaf Lut ibn Yahya, and Abu Janab al Kalbi. The first is weak and unreliable as has passed already,[40] and regarding the second:

  • Ibn Sa’d says, “He was weak.”[41]
  • Al Bukhari and Abu Hatim say, “Yahya al Qattan would deem him weak.”[42]
  • ‘Uthman al Darimi says, “Weak.”[43]
  • The same is averred by al Nasa’i as well.[44]

As for the text thereof, three things are worth noticing: the first concerns the dispute of ‘Ali and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma which ultimately led to the war between them, the second concerns the status of each one of them, and the third concerns the personalities of Abu Musa al Ash’ari and ‘Amr ibn ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhuma.

 

a. The Dispute of ‘Ali and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma.

It is a unanimously accepted and obvious fact according to all historians that the dispute between ‘Ali and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma revolved around seeking retribution from the killers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu assumed that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was falling short of fulfilling his responsibility of avenging the murder of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu by killing his murderers and therefore refused to pledge to him and enter into his obedience. For according to him seeking retribution took precedence over pledging to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, especially when he was the guardian of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu due to his relation to him.

On the other hand, due to this resistance from pledging to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu in anticipation for the execution of the killers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and due to his orders not being carried out in Sham, Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the people of Sham were revolutionists against the Caliphate according to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. This is because his opinion was that his election was enacted with the consent of those present from the Muhajirin and the Ansar in Madinah. It was therefore binding upon the rest of the Muslims in all the regions of the empire. He considered Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the people of Sham to be rebels who were rebelling against him, whereas he was the Imam to whom the pledges were given. Consequently, he decided to subdue them and return them to the majority, even it be by way of force.

Ibn Hazm says the following in this regard:

 

إن عليا قاتل معاوية لامتناعه من تنفيذ أوامره في جميع أرض الشام، وهو الإمام الواجب طاعته، ولم ينكر معاوية قط فضل علي واستحقاقه الخلافة، لكن اجتهاده أداه إلى أن رأى تقديم أخذ القود من قتلة عثمان على البيعة، ورأى نفسه أحق بطلب دم عثمان والكلام فيه من أولاد عثمان وأولاد الحكم بن أبي العاص لسنه وقوته على الطلب بذلك وأصاب في هذا، وإنما أخطأ في تقديمه ذلك على البيعة فقط.

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu fought Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu due to him refusing to carry out his orders in the entire region of Sham despite him being the Imam obedience to whom was incumbent. Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu on the other hand never denied the merits of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the fact that he was deserving of the Caliphate. However, his Ijtihad induced him to give preference to seeking retribution from the killers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu over giving his pledge. He saw himself more deserving of seeking the blood of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and of discussing the matter than even the children of ‘Uthman and the children of al Hakam ibn Abi al ‘As due to his seniority and ability to seek. He was correct in this matter; however, he was incorrect in giving preference to it over pledging.[45]

 

Understanding the dispute according to this perspective reveals the extent of the error of the aforementioned narrative regarding the decision of the two arbiters. The arbiters were appointed to reach a decisive conclusion regarding the dispute of ‘Ali and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma. It was never regarding the Caliphate and who was most deserving of it, but it was regarding the execution of the retribution against the killers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu which has nothing to do with the Caliphate. Hence, if the arbiters discarded this primary matter, which is what they were called to decided regarding, and took a decision regarding the Caliphate as is alleged in the popular narration, then that would entail that they did not understand the focal point of the contention and did not comprehensively comprehend the claims of either side. This is something which is very unlikely.

 

b. The positions of ‘Ali and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma:

Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu governed over Sham as the representative of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu and remained its governor till ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu passed away.[46] After ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu took charge of the Caliphate he kept Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu in his position. [47] Thereafter, when ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu was martyred and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu took charge of the Caliphate he did not maintain him in his position.[48] As a result Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu lost the centre of his dominion and strength as the governor of the lands of Sham, although he did not lose his actual influence as an un-appointed ruler due to the people following him and being convinced that his resistance from pledging allegiance to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was based on a valid reason, i.e. seeking his right of retribution from the killers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu due to him being the guardian.

If this was the case, which in fact it is, then as per the popular narration the decision of the arbiters entailed the dismissal of both ‘Ali and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, which in the case of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu this dismissal was definitely out of place. For even if we, hypothetically, assume that they were given the prerogative to dismiss both of them, it is still possible to envision the dismissal of ‘Ali from the position of Caliphate, but from which position did they dismiss Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu? Did they have the authority to dismiss him from his kinship or from seeking his right based on it? And has history ever witnessed in any of its annuls that a revolutionist gets dismissed from his spearheading of an insurrection due to the decision of two arbiters? There is no doubt that this is another reason for the disapproval of the popular narration of the arbitration and the decision that was taken therein.

 

c. The personalities of Abu Musa and ‘Amr ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhuma:

The idea that Abu Musa al Ash’ari radiya Llahu ‘anhu was a victim of the deceit of ‘Amr ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu in the arbitration contradicts the historical realities which establish his merit, acumen, and his deep understanding of the Din. All of these traits are established for him due to him presiding over some positions of governance and law in the Islamic world from the time of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam onwards.

Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam appointed him as the governor of Zubaid and ‘Adan.[49] ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu appointed him as the governor of Basrah which he governed right up to the demise of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[50] ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, similarly, appointed him as the governor of Basrah and subsequent to that the governor of Kufah which he governed till the martyrdom of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[51] ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu had maintained him upon this position thereafter.[52] Would it then be possible to imagine that a person who was trusted by Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and his Khulafa’ thereafter was beguiled by a deception like the one stated in the incident of the arbitration.

Furthermore, the Sahabah and many scholars of the successors have attested to the thorough knowledge of Abu Musa radiya Llahu ‘anhu, his competence in governance, and his shrewdness in matters of law. Hence, Anas radiya Llahu ‘anhu informs us of the testimony of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu:

 

بعثني الأشعري إلى عمر، فقال لي: كيف تركت الأشعري؟ قلت: تركته يعلم الناس القرآن، فقال: أما إنه كيس ولا تسمعها إياه.

Al Ash’ari sent me to ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He asked me, “How did you leave al Ash’ari?”

I replied, “I left him whilst he was teaching the people the Qur’an.”

He said, “Behold he is an intelligent man, but do not tell him that.”[53]

 

And al Sha’bi said:

كتب عمر في وصيته: ألا لا يقر لي عامل أكثر من سنة، وأقروا الأشعري أربع سنين

‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu wrote in his bequest, “No governor should be maintained for more than a year,” but they maintained al Ash’ari for four years.[54]

 

And al Fasawi narrates the following from Abu al Bakhtari:[55]

 

أتينا عليا فسألناه عن أصحاب محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: عن أيهم تسألوني… قلنا: أبو موسى؟ قال: صبغ في العلم صبغة.

We came to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and we asked him regarding the Sahabah of Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

He asked, “Regarding who of them are you asking me?”

We said, “Abu Musa?”

He replied, “He was immersed thoroughly in knowledge.”[56]

 

And Masruq said:

كان القضاء في الصحابة إلى ستة: عمر، وعلي، وابن مسعود، وأبي، وزيد، وأبي موسى

Judicial rulings amongst the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum were referred to six of them: ‘Umar, ‘Ali, Ibn Mas’ud, Ubayy, Zaid, and Abu Musa radiya Llahu ‘anhum.[57]

 

And al Aswad ibn Yazid[58] said:

لم أر بالكوفة أعلم من علي وأبي موسى

I have not seen anyone more knowledgeable than ‘Ali and Abu Musa radiya Llahu ‘anhuma in Kufah.[59]

 

And Safwan ibn Sulaim[60] says:

لم يكن يفتي في المسجد في زمن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم غير هؤلاء: عمر وعلي ومعاذ وأبي موسى

No one besides these people would issue fatwas in the masjid during the era of Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam: ‘Umar, ‘Ali, Muaz, and Abu Musa radiya Llahu ‘anhum.[61]

 

And al Zubair ibn al Khirrit[62] narrates the following from Abu ‘Ubaid:[63]

 

ما كنا نشبه كلام أبي موسى إلا بالجزار الذي ما يخطئ المفصل

We would not liken the speech of Abu Musa radiya Llahu ‘anhu but to a butcher who in his strike would not miss the joint.[64]

 

It is also established regarding Abu Musa radiya Llahu ‘anhu that he was from those who memorised the entire Qur’an during the era of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He was also famous for tutoring the people. Now, if it is established that the lives of the people in that time, in war and in peace, revolved around the understanding of the Qur’an and the Sunnah, and that Abu Musa radiya Llahu ‘anhu was a person of such stature that ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu specifically wrote to him his famous letter regarding matters of law and politics, then how is it possible to imagine that he was so heedless that he did not understand the reality of the dispute which he was appointed to settle? Thus, he allegedly made a decision which was pointless, i.e. a decision to dismiss the Shar’i Khalifah without any justifying rationale to do so and a decision to allegedly dismiss Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu as well. Thereafter the alleged reviling and swearing transpired between him and ‘Amr ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, something that is in complete contrast with what is categorically known of their good conduct and their well-mannered speech.

Similarly, if the knowledge of Abu Musa radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his experience in law prevented him from erring in the issue which was handed over to him, then that exactly can be assumed regarding ‘Amr ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu as well who was considered to be from the intellectuals of the Arabs and their wise men. Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had on one occasion ordered him to decide between two disputants in his presence. And he gave him a glad tiding when he asked, “O Rasul Allah! Should I decide in your presence?” He said:

إذا حكم الحاكم فاجتهد ثم أصاب فله أجران، وإذا حكم فاجتهد ثم أخطأ فله أجر

When a judge passes a decision after exercising Ijtihad and reaching the correct conclusion he gets two rewards, and when he passes a decision after exercising Ijtihad and reaching the wrong conclusion he gets one reward.[65]

 

So, accepting this narrative would entail that ‘Amr ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu was a man who was driven by his ego when fulfilling his responsibilities. Owing to which his ego would override not only his intellect and experience, but also his piety and abstinence. Whereas he was from the senior Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum and their notables and enjoyed many merits and virtues. Ahmed narrated the following from Talhah ibn ‘Ubaidullah radiya Llahu ‘anhu from Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:

 

عمرو بن العاص من صالحي قريش

‘Amr ibn al ‘As is from the pious of the Quraysh.[66]

 

He also narrates from ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Amir radiya Llahu ‘anhu that Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

 

اسلم الناس وآمن عمرو

The people have merely accepted Islam and ‘Amr has truly embraced iman.[67]

 

And in the narration of ‘Abdullah ibn Hantab radiya Llahu ‘anhu from Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam the following appears:

 

نعم أهل البيت عبد الله وأبو عبد الله وأم عبد الله

Outstanding is the household of ‘Abdullah, the father of ‘Abdullah and the mother of ‘Abdullah.[68]

 

And Qabisah ibn Jabir[69] says:

صحبت عمرو بن العاص فما رأيت رجلا أبين أو أنصع رأيا، ولا أكرم جليسا منه، ولا أشبه سريرة بعلانية منه

I accompanied ‘Amr ibn al ‘As and I did not see anyone who was clearer in his opinion, whose companions were more honourable than his, and whose internal resembled his external more than his.[70]

 

And Ibn Taymiyah states in his Fatawa that no one of the Salaf has accused ‘Amr ibn ‘As and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma of hypocrisy or deceit. He says:

 

فعمرو بن العاص وأمثاله ممن قدم مهاجرا إلى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم بعد الحدييبة هاجروا إليه من بلادهم طوعا لا كرها، والمهاجرون لم يكن فيهم منافق، وإنما كان النفاق في بعض أهل المدينة، إذ لما دخل الإسلام أشرافهم وجمهورههم احتاج الباقون أن يظهروا الإسلام نفاقا لعز الإسلام وظهوره في قومهم، وأما أهل مكة كان أشرافهم وجمهورهم كفارا، فلم يكن يظهر الإيمان إلا من هو مؤمن ظاهرا وباطنا، فإنه كان من يظهر الإسلام يؤذى ويهجر، وإنما المنافق يظهر الإسلام لمصلحة دنياه، ولو كان عمرو بن العاص ومعاوية وأمثالهما ممن يتخوف منهما لم يولوا على المسلمين، فعمرو بن العاص أمره النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم في غزوة ذات السلاسل، واستعمل أبا سفيان بن حرب على نجران، وقد اتفق المسلمون على أن إسلام معاوية خير من إسلام أبيه، فكيف يكون هؤلاء منافقون والنبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يأتمنهم على أحوال المسلمين في العلم والعمل.

‘Amr ibn al ‘As and his likes who migrated to Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam after Hudaybiyyah migrated to him happily and not due to being forced. And amongst the Muhajirin there were no hypocrites, hypocrisy was only found in some people of Madinah. For when Islam entered their notables and their broader community the rest of them now felt the need to display Islam hypocritically due to the dominance of Islam and its prevalence in their people. As for the people of Makkah, their notables and broader community were mostly disbelievers, and thus only a person who was internally and externally Muslim would openly proclaim his faith; for whoever would proclaim his faith would be harassed and forsook. As opposed to a hypocrite who displayed Islam in order to serve his worldly interests. So, if ‘Amr ibn al ‘As and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma were really suspected and feared they would not be given charge of the matters of the Muslims; Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam appointed ‘Amr ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu as the leader in the campaign of Dhat al Salasil, and he appointed Abu Sufyan ibn Harb radiya Llahu ‘anhu as the governor of Najran. And the Muslims all concur that the Islam of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was better than the Islam of his father. So how can these people be hypocrites when Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam trusted them upon the conditions of the Muslims in knowledge and in practice?[71]

 

As for the allegation that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu would curse Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his comrades in his Qunut, and that Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu would also curse ‘Ali, Ibn ‘Abbas, al Hassan and al Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhum. This is invalid. Because the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum were most concerned about abiding by the commandments of the Shari’ah one of which is the impermissibility of reviling a Muslim and cursing him. It is narrated from Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam that he said:

من لعن مؤمنا فهو كقتله

Whoever curses a believer it is as though he killed him.[72]

Likewise, he is also reported to have said:

لا يكون اللعانون شفعاء ولا شهداء يوم القيامة

The cursers will not be intercessors nor witnesses on the Day of Judgement.[73]

Also:

ليس المؤمن بطعان ولا بلعان

A believer is not one who criticises and curses excessively.[74]

 

Furthermore, it is narrated from ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu that when he heard two of his followers openly reviling Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and cursing the people of Sham, he sent a message to them ordering them to stop. They came to him and asked, “Are we not upon the truth and them upon falsehood?” He said, “Of course, by the Lord of the sacred Ka’bah.” They further asked, “So why are you preventing us from cursing them and reviling them?” He said:

 

كرهت لكم أن تكونوا لعانين، ولكن قولوا: اللهم احقن دماءنا ودماءهم، وأصلح ذات بيننا وبينهم، وأبعدهم من ضلالتهم حتى يعرف الحق من جهله ويرعوي عن الغي من لجج به.

I dislike that you be cursers. But say: O Allah preserve our blood and their blood, amend our mutual relations, take them away from their deviance so that the one who is ignorant of the truth comes to learn it, and so that the one persisting upon deviance gives it up.[75]

 

From the aforementioned the falsity of the popular narrative of the Arbitration becomes completely evident; it is clear that it cannot be established according to any standard of objective scrutiny of historical texts.

 

4. The reality of the Arbitration

What further emphasises the invalidity of the aforementioned narration regarding the arbitration is that the scholars have critiqued it and have reported narrations contrary to it in their books. Al Daraqutni has cited the following from Hudayn ibn al Mundhir that:[76]

 

أنه جاء فضرب فسطاطه قريبا من فسطاط معاوية، فبلغ نبأه معاوية، فأرسل إليه، فقال: إنه بلغني عن هذا –عمرو بن العاص- الذي بلغني عنه فأتيته فقلت: أخبرني عن الأمر الذي وليت أنت وأبو موسى كيف صنعتما فيه؟ قال: قد قال الناس في ذلك ما قالوا: والله ما كان الأمر على ما قالوا، ولكن قلت لأبي موسى ما ترى في هذا الأمر؟ قال: أرى أنه في النفر الذين توفي رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم  وهو راض عنهم، قلت: فأين تجعلني أنا ومعاوية؟ فقال: إن يسعتن بكما ففيكما معونة، وإن يستغن عنكما فطالما استغنى أمر الله عنكما.

He came and erected his tent close to the tent of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. His news reached Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and, thus, he summoned him.

He said, “Such and such has reached me regarding this person (referring to ‘Amr ibn ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu so, I came to him and said, “Inform me regarding this matter which you and Abu Musa took charge of, what did the two of you do about it?”

He said, “The people have said whatever they have said regarding it, by Allah the matter was not as they have said.

But I asked Abu Musa, ‘What do you feel about this matter?’

He replied, ‘I see it to be the prerogative of those individuals who Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was pleased with when he passed away.’

I asked, ‘So where do you place me and Muawiyah?’

He replied, ‘If he seeks your assistance then you will surely be of assistance, and if he does not utilise you then the matter of Allah has always been independent from you.’”[77]

 

There is no doubt that the issue of contention which the arbiters decided to subject to the Ummah or to the Ahl al Shura amongst them was nothing other than the dispute between ‘Ali and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma regarding the killers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. This is something agreed upon by all the Islamic sources. As for the dispute regarding the Caliphate it had not risen as yet, and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was not claiming Caliphate nor was he denying the right of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, as has been established already. He only resisted from pledging allegiance to him and carrying out his orders in the lands of Sham due to him being dominant there, although not according to the law. He benefitted from the obedience of the people after having governed over them for at least twenty years.

The scholars who specialise in the verification and falsification of narrations have already preceded us in critiquing the narration of the Arbitration. Foremost amongst them is Abu Bakr ibn al ‘Arabi who has said the following regarding it:

 

وقد تحكم الناس في التحكيم فقالوا فيه ما لا يرضاه الله وإذا لحظتموه بعين المروءة – دون الديانة – رأيتم أنها سخافة حمل على سطرها في الكتب في الأكثر عدم الدين، وفي الأقل جهل متين وكان أبو موسى رجلًا تقيًا فقيهًا عالمًا حسبما بيناه في كتاب (سراج المريدين)، وأرسله النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم إلى اليمن مع معاذ، وقدمه عمرو وأثنى عليه بالفهم. وزعمت الطائفة التاريخية الركيكة أنه كان أبله ضعيف الرأي مخدوعًا في القول، وأن ابن العاص كان ذا دهاءٍ وأرب حتى ضربت الأمثال بدهائه تأكيدًا لما أرادت من الفساد، اتبع في ذلك بعض الجهال بعضاً وصنفوا فيه حكايات (هذا كله كذب صراح ما جرى منه حرف قط وإنما هو شيء أخبر عنه المبتدعة، ووضعته التاريخية للملوك، فتوارثه أهل المجانة والجهارة بمعاصي الله والبدع…

People have spoken with careless regarding the Arbitration and have said that which is not pleasing to Allah. Even if you have to study it with the eye of dignity (not even religion) you will realise that it is a fallacy which was forged due to the absence of Din, or at least deeply grounded ignorance… Abu Musa radiya Llahu ‘anhu was a pious, well-educated, and learned person, as we have detailed in the book Siraj al Muridin. Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sent him to Yemen with Muaz radiya Llahu ‘anhu and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu appointed him and praised him for his understanding. Whereas this inadequate group of historians claim that he was dim-witted, weak in opinion, and deceivable in speech. It also claims that Ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu was a person of cunningness and greed, so much so that it came out with proverbs to further emphasise its evil motives. The ignorant followed each other in this matter and they forged narrations and tales… These are all clear lies, nothing of which has ever occurred. They are all things which the innovators have informed regarding and which some historians forged to please the kings. Thereafter it was all inherited by the people of impudence and those who boldly displayed the disobedience of Allah and innovations…[78]

 

And Ibn Dihyah al Kalbi says the following in his books A’lam al Nasr al Mubin fi al Mufadalah bayn Siffin:

 

قال أبو بكر محمد بن الطيب الأشعري الباقلاني في مناقب الأئمة: فما اتفق الحكمان قط على خلعه-علي بن أبي طالب-…وعلي أنهما لو اتفقا على خلعه لم ينخلع حتى يكون الكتاب والسنة والمجتمع عليهما يوجبان خلعه أو أحد منهما على ما شرطا في الموافقة بينهما أو إلى أن يبينا ما يوجب خلعه من الكتاب والسنة، ونص كناب علي عليه السلام اشترط على الحكمين أن يحكما بما في كتاب الله عز و جل من فاتحتة إلى خاتمته لا يجاوزان ذلك ولا يحيدان عنه، ولا يميلان إلى هوى ولا إدهان، وأخذ عليهما أغلظ العهود والمواثيق، وإن هما جاوزا بالحكم كتاب الله فلا حكم لهما، والكتاب والسنة يثبتان إمامته، ويعظمانه ويثنيان عليه، ويشهدان بصدقه وعدالته، وإمامته وسابقته في الدين، وعظيم عنائه في جهاد المشركين، وقرابته من سيد المرسلين، وما خص به من القدم في العلم والمعرفة بالحكم، ووفور الحلم، وأنه حقيق بالإمامة، وأهل لحمل أعباء الخلافة.

Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn al Tayyib al Ash’ari (al Baqillani) states in Manaqib al A’immah, “The arbiters did not ever agree to dismiss him (i.e. ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu… Even if they did agree to dismiss him his dismissal would not be valid unless the agreed upon Qur’an and the Sunnah necessitated his dismissal or at least one of them, as they had placed as a requisite in their mutual agreement; or until they could state what necessitated his dismissal from the Qur’an and the Sunnah. The text of the document of ‘Ali made it binding upon the arbiters to decide based on the Book of Allah from its beginning to its end without exceeding it, abandoning it, or inclining toward the ego or compromise. He took from them upon it the most emphasised of pledges and covenants. And he also clarified that if they exceeded the Book of Allah in their decision it will not be valid… The Qur’an and the Sunnah both establish his leadership, they venerate him, and extoll his merits. They attest to his integrity and truthfulness, his leadership and early contributions in the Din, his great sacrifices in combatting the polytheists, his kinship to the master of all the prophets ‘alayh al Salam, the excellence he was granted in knowledge, recognition, and wisdom, his abundant forbearance, and to the fact that he was worthy of rulership and was capable of bearing the burdens of the Caliphate…[79]

 

Lastly, it is important to note that the Arbitration was the direct cause for the conflict between ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the Khawarij. Eventually ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu fought them and defeated them with an overwhelming defeat in the Battle of Nahrawan. Thus, they plotted by night to kill him and only managed to do so by launching a surprise attack on him. He radiya Llahu ‘anhu was martyred at the time of Fajr Salah on Friday the twenty third of Ramadan when the most wretched of them ‘Abdur Rahman ibn Muljam struck him.[80] The Khawarij also appointed two individuals to kill Muawiyah and ‘Amr ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhuma but death missed them.[81] Subsequent to that trials started to sweep across the Ummah and sects with unique political and theological tendencies begun to emerge. There was no way to revert back to the ancient path which the two arbiters tried to place the Ummah upon, and there was no way to resolve the dispute between the Sahabah of Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and their partisans as a result.

 

NEXT⇒ Section Three: The Outcomes of the Fitnah


[1] Khalifah has made mention of him amongst those Khawarij whom ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu fought in Nahrawan in the year 38 A.H. See: al Tarikh, p. 197.

[2] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, 5/15.

[3] Ibid. 5/15.

[4] Ibid. 5/18.

[5] Hashim ibn ‘Utbah ibn Abi Waqqas al Zuhri. One of the commanders of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu on the day of Siffin. He was born in the lifetime of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and participated in the Battle of Yamamah and the Conquest of Sham. He was known for his bravery and for his fearless advancement in the battlefield. To the extent that he was known as al Mirqal, i.e. a person is very swift in attacking the enemy. He was martyred in the battle of Siffin in 37 A.H/657 A.D. See: Khalifah: al Tabaqat, p. 126; al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, 5/42; al Khatib: Tarikh Baghdad, 1/196; al Dhahabi: Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, 3/486.

[6] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, 5/42.

[7] I did not come across his biography in the books I have at my disposal.

[8] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, 5/43.

[9] Khalifah has mentioned him as a member of the Khawarij who were killed on the day of Nahrawan. See: al Tarikh, p. 197.

[10] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, 5/49.

[11] He enjoys Suhbah, the companionship of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

[12] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, 5/51.

[13] One of the leaders of the Khawarij who was executed during the governorship of ‘Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad. See: al Juzajani: Ahwal al Rijal, p. 35; al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, 5/312.

[14] One of the leaders of the Khawarij. He denied the Arbitration, took part in the Battle of Nahrawan, and was killed during the governorship of ‘Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad. See: Khalifah: al Tarikh, p. 197, 256; al Juzajani: Ahwal al Rijal, p. 35; al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, 5/55.

[15] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, 5/55.

[16] I did not come across his biography in the references available to me.

[17] Surah al Nahl: 91.

[18] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, 5/72.

[19] Ibn Sa’d: al Tabaqat, 4/109; Ibn ‘Asakir: Tarikh Dimashq (manuscript), 9/429.

[20] Al Bukhari: al Tarikh al Saghir, 1/84; al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, 4/332.

[21] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, 4/442.

[22] Khalifah: al Tarikh, 191, 192.

[23] Ibn Sa’d: al Tabaqat, 3/32.

[24] Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah, 15/293.

[25] ‘Ubaidullah ibn Ziyad ibn ‘Ubaid al Thaqafi, one of the governors of the Banu Umayyah, He was a tyrant and a transgressive ruler. Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu charged him with the governorship of Khurasan and, thereafter, Basrah. His son, Yazid, had maintained him upon the governorship of Basrah in 60 A.H/679 A.D. Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu was killed at his hands. It is also assumed that Yazid did not order him to do so, for he had written to him the following, “It has reached me that Hussain ibn ‘Ali is heading toward Iraq, so create watch posts and arsenals of weapons. Exercise precaution even upon mere assumption and take to task even upon suspicion. However, do not fight but the people who fight you, and write to me regarding everything that transpires.” When Yazid passed away the people of Basrah revolted against ‘Ubaidullah who was consequently compelled to flee to Sham. Thereafter, he intended returning to Iraq, but Ibrahim ibn al Ashtar intercepted him with an army, which had set out to avenge the murder of Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and killed him in 67 A.H/686 A.D. See: al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, 5/168, 300, 401 and 6/38-130; Ibn Qutaybah: ‘Uyun al Akhbar, 1/29.

[26] Surah al Nisa’: 59.

[27] Surah Al ‘Imran: 23.

[28] Musnad Ahmed (with the format of al Sa’ati), 23/145-146.

[29] Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah: 15/318.

[30] Sahih al Bukhari: chapter of Tafsir: 6/45, and chapter of holding on to the Sunnah: sub-chapter regarding the condemnation of opinion and the forcing of logic: 8/148.

[31] Ibn Hajar: Fath al Bari, 13/289.

[32] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, 5/53-54.

[33] Tarikh al Rusul, 5/57; al Mas’udi: Muruj al Dhahab, 2/406; Ibn al Athir: al Kamil, 3/321; Ibn Kathir: al Bidayah, 7/282.

[34] Khalifah: al Tarikh, p. 192; Ibn Sa’d: al Tabaqat, 3/32.

[35] Ghaylan ibn ‘Uqbah ibn Nuhayr al ‘Adawi al Mudari, Abu al Harith, famously known as Dhu al Rimmah. One of the most prolific poets of the Umayyad era. Most of his poetry is regarding love and crying over the ruins of his beloved. Jarir said regarding him, “Even if Dhu al Rimmah became dumb after his poem, What is with your eyes… he would still be the greatest poet. He passed away in 117 A.H /735 A.D. See: Ibn Habib: al Muhabbar, p. 57; Abu al Faraj, 17/306l Ibn Sallam: al Amwal, p. 69; al Maydani: Majma’ al Amthal, 1/26.

[36] Bilal ibn Abi Burdah ‘Amir ibn Abi Musa al Ash’ari. He was the governor of Basrah and its judge during the governorship of Khalid al Qasri. He was eloquent and prolific and narrated hadith. He passed away after 120 A.H. See: al Bukhari: al Tarikh al Kabir, 1/2/109; Ibn Abi Hatim: al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, 2/397; al Dhahabi: al Kashif, 1/111; Ibn Hajar: al Tahdhib, 1/500.

[37] Dhu al Rimmah: Diwan, p. 974.

[38] Shurayh ibn Hani’ ibn Yazid ibn Nuhayk al Harathi al Kufi. From the comrades of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu who participated with him in the battles of Jamal and Siffin. He was in charge of his police. Ibn Sa’d has made mention of him in his al Tabaqat in the first generation of the Tabi’in of Kufah and has deemed him reliable. Ahmed, Ibn Ma’in and al Nasa’i also deemed him reliable. And Ibn Khirash said, “Truthful.” Muslim has likewise made mention of him among the Mukhadramin, those who lived in both the pre-Islamic and Islamic eras but only accepted Islam after the demise of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. And Khalifah says, “He was killed with ibn Abi Bakrah in Sijistan in 78 A.H. /697 A.D. See: Ibn Sa’d: al Tabaqat, 6/228; Ibn Ma’in: al Tarikh, 2/251.

[39] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, 5/70-71.

[40] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, 5/70-71.

[41] Ibn Sa’d: al Tabaqat, 6/360.

[42] Al Bukhari: al Tarikh al Kabir, 4/2/267; Ibn Abi Hatim: al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, 9/138.

[43] Al Darimi: al Tarikh, p. 238.

[44] Al Nasa’i: al Du’afa’ wa al Matrukun, p. 253.

[45] Ibn Hazm: al Fisal fi al Milal wa al Nihal, 4/160.

[46] Khalifah: al Tarikh, p. 155.

[47] Ibid. p. 178.

[48] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, 4/442.

[49] Khalifah: al Tarikh, p. 97.

[50] Ibid. p. 154; Ibn ‘Asakir: Tarikh Dimashq (manuscript), 9/429.

[51] Khalifah: al Tarikh, p. 178.

[52] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, 4/442.

[53] Ibn Sa’d: al Tabaqat, 4/108.

[54] Ibn ‘Asakir: Tarikh Dimashq (manuscript), 9/522.

[55] Sa’id ibn Firawz al Ta’i, Abu al Bakhtari al Kufi. He narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas, Ibn ‘Umar, and Abu Barzah. He was from the virtuous people of Kufah and has been deemed reliable by Ibn Ma’in and Abu Zur’ah. Abu Hatim said, “Truthful.” And al ‘Ijli said, “A reliable Tabi’i who was martyred in the Battle of Dayr al Jamajim which was between al Hajjaj and ‘Abdur Rahman ibn al Ash’ath in 83 A.H/702 A.D. See: Ibn Sa’d: al Tabaqat, 6/292; al ‘Ijli: Tarikh al Thiqat, p. 187; Ibn Ma’in: al Tarikh, 2/206; Ibn Hajar: al Tahdhib, 2/54.

[56] Al Fasawi: al Ma’rifah wa al Tarikh, 2/540.

[57] Ibn ‘Asakir: Tarikh Dimashq (manuscript), 9/500.

[58] Aswad ibn Yazid ibn Qais al Nakha’i, Abu ‘Umar. From the Tabi’in. He narrated from Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Ali, Ibn Mas’ud, and Hudhayfah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. ‘Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha said about him, “There is no one in Kufah who I am fonder of than al Aswad,” and she would honour him. He was also from the students of Ibn Mas’ud radiya Llahu ‘anhu who would teach the Qur’an and issue fatwas. Ibn Sa’d has said, “Reliable.” And ‘Ijli said, “A reliable person of Kufah. He was a man of piety, worship and jurisprudence. See: Ibn Sa’d: al Tabaqat, 6/70; al Bukhari: al Tarikh al Kabir, 1/1/449; Ibn Ma’in: al Tarikh, 2/38; al ‘Ijli: Tarikh al Thiqat, p. 67; Ibn Hajar: al Tahdhib, 1/342.

[59] Ibn ‘Asakir: Tarikh Dimashq (manuscript), 9/499.

[60] Safwan ibn Sulaim, Abu ‘Abdullah al Madani al Zuhri. From the jurists of the Tabi’in. He was from the pious bondsmen of Allah. He has been deemed reliable by al Nasa’i and Abu Hatim. And Yaqub ibn Shaybah said, “Reliable, meticulous and well-known for worship.” And al ‘Ijli said, “A reliable and pious person of Madinah.” He passed away in 132 A.H/749 A.D. See: Ibn Sa’d: al Tabaqat (the section added to complete the biographies of the people of Madinah), p. 324; al ‘Ijli: Tarikh al Thiqat, p. 228; al Bukhari: al Tarikh al Kabir, 2/2/307; Ibn Abi Hatim: al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, 4/423; Ibn Hajar: al Tahdhib, 4/425.

[61] Ibn ‘Asakir: Tarikh Dimashq (manuscript), 9/502.

[62] Al Zubair ibn al Khirrit al Basri. From the followers of the Tabi’in. Al ‘Ijli said regarding him, “A reliable and meticulous narrator from the people of Basrah.” He was an adherent of the Sunnah, and has been deemed reliable by Ahmed, Abu Hatim, and al Nasa’i. Al Darimi quotes Ibn Ma’in, “There is no problem with him.” And Ibn Hibban has made mention of him in his al Thiqat. See: al ‘Ijli: Tarikh al Thiqat, p. 163; al Darimi: al Tarikh, p. 115; Ibn Abi Hatim: al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, 3/581; Ibn Hibban: al Thiqat, 6/332; Ibn Hajar: al Tahdhib, 3/314.

[63] Sa’d ibn ‘Ubaid al Zuhri. He is from the Tabi’in and has narrated from ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, ‘Ali, and Abu Hurayrah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. He was from the experts of the Qur’an and jurisprudence. Ibn Sa’d said, “He was reliable and has a few narrations.” And al Tabari said, “His reliability is agreed upon.” And Muslim said, “He was reliable.” He has also been deemed reliable by Ibn Ma’in and Ibn al Barqi. He passed away in 98 A.H/716 A.D. See: Ibn Sa’d: al Tabaqat, 5/86: Ibn Ma’in: al Tarikh, 2/192; al Bukhari: al Tarikh al Kabir, 2/2/60; Ibn Hajar: al Tahdhib, 3/477.

[64] Ibn Sa’d: al Tabaqat, 2/245.

[65] Sahih al Bukhari: chapter of holding on to the Sunnah: 8/157.

[66] Ahmed: Fada’il al Sahabah, 2/911. There is a break in its chain.

[67] Ibid. 2/912. The annotator has said, “Its chain is correct. It is cited by al Tirmidhi in his Sunan (Istanbul print), 9/380, Hadith: 3843, chapter of merits, sub-chapter regarding the merits of ‘Amr ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu; Ahmed: Fada’il al Sahabah, 2/912, Hadith: 1744; and al Albani has deemed it Sahih in Sahih Sunan al Tirmidhi, 3/236, Hadith: 3020.

[68] Ibid. p. 912. The annotator says, “Its men are reliable; however, it is Mursal.”

[69] Qabisah ibn Jabir ibn Wahb ibn Malik al Kufi, Abu al ‘Ala’. He narrated from ‘Umar and was present in the sermon of Jabiyah. Ibn Sa’d said, “He was reliable.” And Yaqub ibn Shaybah has considered him among the first generation of the jurists of Kufah. And al ‘Ijli said, “He was considered to be from among the eloquent.” And Ibn Khirash said, “He was a great person who was from the jurists of the Tabi’in.” Ibn Hibban has made mention of him in his al Thiqat, and al Fasawi has said that he participated in the Battle of Jamal. And ‘Abdul Malik ibn ‘Umair narrates the following from him, “Should I not inform you of who I accompanied? I accompanied ‘Umar and did not see anyone who understands the Book of Allah more than him. I accompanied Talhah and did not see anyone who spent more than him. I accompanied Muawiyah and did not see anyone with greater forbearance than him. I accompanied Ziyad and did not see anyone whose courtiers were more honourable than his. I accompanied Mughirah, if there was a city with locked doors from which one could only exit but by way of cunning and plotting, he would be able to escape from all its doors.” He passed away in 69 A.H/688 A.D. See: Ibn Sa’d: al Tabaqat, 6/145; al Bukhari: al Tarikh al Kabir, 4/1/175; al ‘Ijli: Tarikh al Thiqat, p. 388; al Fasawi: al Ma’rifah wa al Tarikh, 1/ 458 and 3/313; Ibn Hibban: al Thiqat, 5/318; Ibn Hajar: al Tahdhib, 8/344.

[70] Al Dhahabi: Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, 1/57.

[71] Ibn Taymiyah: Majmu’ al Fatawa, 35/65-66.

[72] Sahih al Bukhari, 7/84, chapter of etiquette.

[73] Sahih Muslim, 16/149, chapter of kindness, fostering kinship, and etiquette.

[74] Musnad Ahmed, 1/405; Sunan al Tirmidhi, 3/250, chapter of kindness, subchapter regarding condemning and cursing; al Albani has deemed it Sahih in his Sahih Sunan al Tirmidhi, 2/189, Hadith: 1110.

[75] Abu Hanifah al Dinawari: al Akhbar al Tiwal, p. 165.

[76] Hudayn ibn al Mundhir ibn al Harith al Raqqashi, Abu Sasan. He has narrated from ‘Uthman, ‘Ali, and Abu Musa al Ash’ari radiya Llahu ‘anhum. Al ‘Ijli said, “He is a reliable Tabi’i and was a pious person.” Al Nasa’i and Ibn Hibban have also deemed him reliable. And Ibn Khirash said, “Truthful.” And Abu Ahmed al ‘Askari said, “He was the bearer of flag of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu on the Day of Siffin. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu thereafter appointed him over Istakhar, and he was from the prominent men of Rabi’ah.” And al Dhahabi said, “He was from the commanders of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu on the Day of Siffin and was brave, a poet, and an eloquent person. He passed away in 97 A.H/715 A.D. See: al Bukhari: al Tarikh al Saghir, 1/347; al ‘Ijli: Tarikh al Thiqat, p. 123, 124; Ibn Hibban: al Thiqat, 4/191; al Dhahabi: al Kashif, 1/177; Ibn Hajar: al Tahdhib, 2/395.

[77] Ibn al ‘Arabi: al ‘Awasim, p. 178.

[78] Al ‘Awasim min al Qawasim, p. 172-177.

[79] Ibn Dihyah: A’lam al Nasr al Mubin fi al Mufadalah bayn Ahl Siffin, slate no. 21.

[80] Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul, 5/143-145.

[81] Ibid. 5/149.

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