The causes which led to and the outcome of the Battle of Jamal

The rebels secretly incite the fighting
February 23, 2015
History also bears witness to the killers of `Uthman being the rebels
February 23, 2015

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The causes which led to and the outcome of the Battle of Jamal


The Battle of Jamal, and likewise the Battle of Siffin, were fought due to the planning and plotting of the rebels, and were based upon difference of opinion or ijtihad amongst the Sahabah and Tabi’in. However, the ummah has not recovered from the wounds caused by the sectarianism and disunity which resulted from it to this very day.

When ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was asked by his companion Qais ibn ‘Ubbad about what transpired, he replied: “I did not receive any instruction from Sayyidina Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam regarding it. It was based upon my own judgement and opinion.”[1]

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was of the opinion that everyone, including those who were demanding qisas should first pledge allegiance to him, even though besides the rebels, the Muhajirin and Ansar in general along with Talhah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu had already pledged allegiance to him. It was only Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the people of Syria who had not yet pledged their allegiance. They insisted: “The rebels are part of your army, take the qisas from them and then we will pledge allegiance, since you are most worthy and are the rightful khalifah.” If the rebels were sincere followers of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and were truly well-wishers of Islam and the Muslims, they would have handed over the handful of people who murdered Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, so that qisas could be taken. In doing so, everyone would have been pleased. This would have resulted in the Muslim army advancing just as it had during the era of the first three khalifasʼ, and the pages of history would have told a different story.

Some historians put the blame solely on the shoulders of Sayyidina Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Why did he confront them? Why did he not just suffice by not allowing their army to enter Syria, just as he had previously, during the reign of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, expelled Ibn Sabaʼ from Syria? This was despite the Saba’iyyah threatening him.[2]

On the other hand, if Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu did not intervene then these rebels would have spread anarchy in the entire Muslim empire, as is understood from the speech of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, when he urged the Muslims to take up arms against the Khawarij. He said:


You had the courage to march towards Muawiyah and the people of Syria, yet you leave these rebels to roam freely. They will take possession of your children and property. These are the ones who unlawfully spilled blood, killed and plundered the people. Move in the name of Allah and attack them.[3]


These Khawarij comprised of the depraved from Egypt, Basrah, and Kufah, as well as elsewhere. Hundreds of the Banu Umayyah clan, heirs and family members of ‘Uthman fled to Syria because the rebels had taken control of Madinah, and they feared being killed. Amongst them was ‘Ubaidullah, the son of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He fled because of the rebels issuing special instructions for him to be the first to be killed. The reason being that twelve years prior to this, he killed Hurmuzan, an Iranian prince, for being instrumental in the killing of his father, ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Hurmuzan was a dhimmi (non-Muslim living under Muslim rule). The blood money was paid by ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, according to the unanimous decision of the Muhajirin and Ansar.

Below is a list of those senior Sahabah, who did not pledge allegiance to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and this too was not on account of some enmity or hatred towards ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, but only because the rebels were not leaving Madinah and in their presence, did not want to be present in the court of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. They instead chose to remain in their homes. Furthermore, their lives were in danger which is why they chose to remain in their homes. These Sahabah were:



Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas

Hassan ibn Thabit

Sa’id ibn Zaid

Ka’b ibn Malik
‘Amr ibn Nufayl

Maslamah ibn Makhlad

‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar

Abu Sa’id
Muhammad ibn Maslamah

Nu’man ibn Bashir

Abu Bakrah Nufay’ ibn Harith

Zaid ibn Thabit
Qudamah ibn Math’un

Rafi’ ibn Khadij

Usamah ibn Zaid

Fudhalah ibn ‘Ubaid
Salamah ibn Salamah

Ka’b ibn ‘Ujrah


Jarir from Madaʼini, in al Bidayah wa al Nihayah vol. 7 pg. 227


If only these senior Sahabah presented themselves in the court of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu or ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu himself had called upon them and included them in his counsel, the ummah would have been saved from a much strife and conflict.


The Saba’iyyah are in actual fact munafiqin

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was in a complicated situation. He was not aware of what was going to transpire, neither was he aware of the hypocritical plots and schemes of the Saba’iyyah. As Allah Ta’ala told Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:


لا تعلمهم نحن نعلمهم

You do not know them (but) we know them.


Before continuing, let us examine the manner in which Allah Ta’ala describes the actions of the hypocrites in the noble Qur’an:


وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَنْ یَّقُوْلُ اٰمَنَّا بِاللّٰهِ وَ بِالْیَوْمِ الْاٰخِرِ وَمَا هُمْ بِمُؤْمِنِیْنَ ﴿8﴾ یُخٰدِعُوْنَ اللّٰهَ وَالَّذِیْنَ اٰمَنُوْاؕ

Amongst the people are those who say: “We believe in Allah and the Last Day”, whereas they are not believers. They try to deceive Allah and the believers.”[4]


وَ اِذَا لَقُوا الَّذِیْنَ اٰمَنُوْا قَالُوْٓا اٰمَنَّا ۖ   وَ اِذَا خَلَوْا اِلٰی شَیٰطِیْنِهِمْۙ   قَالُوْٓا اِنَّا مَعَكُمْۙ   اِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُسْتَهْزِءُوْنَ

And when they meet the mu’minin they say: “We believe!” and when they are in private with their shayateen, they say: “We are actually with you. We are only joking!”[5]


وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَنْ یُّعْجِبُكَ قَوْلُهُ فِی الْحَیٰوةِ الدُّنْیَا وَ یُشْهِدُ اللّٰهَ عَلٰی مَا فِیْ قَلْبِهۙ   وَهُوَ اَلَدُّ الْخِصَامِ

And from the people there are those whose speech is pleasing to you in this world (the likes of Akhnas ibn Shariq and Ashtar al Nakha’i) and they make Allah a witness to (the sincerity) in their hearts, whereas they are the worst of arguers (enemies)[6]


وَ اِذَا رَاَیْتَهُمْ تُعْجِبُكَ اَجْسَامُهُمْؕ   وَ اِنْ یَّقُوْلُوْا تَسْمَعْ لِقَوْلِهِمْؕ   کَاَنَّهُمْ خُشُبٌ مُّسَنَّدَةٌؕ یَحْسَبُوْنَ كُلَّ صَیْحَةٍ عَلَیْهِمْؕ هُمُ الْعَدُوُّ فَاحْذَرْهُمْؕ   قٰتَلَهُمُ اللّٰهُ ؗ   اَنّٰی یُؤْفَكُوْنَ

And when the munafiqin speak, you listen to their talks. They are as wooden pillars who regard every sound (of the discussions of the Muslims) to be against them. These are the enemies (of the Muslims) so be very wary of them. Allah will destroy them. How have they gone astray?[7]


عَفَا اللّٰهُ عَنْكَۚ   لِمَ اَذِنْتَ لَهُمْ حَتّٰی یَتَبَیَّنَ لَكَ الَّذِیْنَ صَدَقُوْا وَتَعْلَمَ الْکٰذِبِیْنَ

May Allah forgive you! Why did you grant them permission? (If you did not grant them permission) then it would become apparent to you who are the truthful, and you would come to know the liars.[8]


According to our understanding, Talhah and Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhuma pledged allegiance to ‘Ali contentedly, with the intention of I’laʼ Kalimat Allah (raising the word of Allah). During the next five months that ensued, from the 20 Dhu al Hijjah up until the end of Jamad al ula, they tried their utmost to convince the rebels to return to their hometowns, so as to ease the process of executing the laws of qisas and bring the murderers to justice. They even requested to be appointed as governors of Kufah and Basrah respectively, in order to keep a check and control of the rebels in those areas.

The renowned tactician of the Arabs, Sayyidina Mughirah ibn Shu’bah, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas and Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhum also forwarded their opinions that they should be appointed to these posts; their potential and abilities should be utilised and they should be allowed to leave Madinah.[9]

‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas was also of the opinion that Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu should not be dismissed at this point in time[10] and advised: “Everything is in your control at the moment. Deal with these mischief-mongers and bring them to justice; everyone will gladly follow you thereafter.”

These opinions and counsel rendered by the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum did not bode well for the Sabaʼiyyah and was tantamount to signing their death warrant; they challenged each of these suggestions. In fact, Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu also exclaimed: “O my beloved father! So-and-so and so-and-so have overpowered you in making decisions.”[11]


Molana Shah Mu’in al Din Nadwi writes:


Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu said to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu: “Listen to my advice! Bolt the door of your house and remain indoors or move to the property you own in Yanbu’. The people will search the entire earth but they will not find anyone more suitable for the Caliphate than you. I take an oath by Allah! If you associate and stand by these Egyptians (who made up the majority of those who murdered ‘Uthman), then tomorrow you will also be accused of having a hand in the killing of ‘Uthman.” ‘Ali replied: “Now it is impossible for me to step aside.” Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu said: “Leave Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu in his post, and continue efforts to win him over.” ‘Ali replied: “By Allah, this can never happen.”[12]


This is the reason why, even up to this day, those who look upon the Egyptian rebels with admiration do not show any regard for these three sincere advisors of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

Ultimately, Talhah and Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhuma became despondent and left Madinah. When they reached Makkah, they related to Sayyidah ‘A’ishah radiya Llahu ‘anha and the people of Makkah the painful conditions of Madinah: “We have fled Madinah due to fear of the Bedouins, and we have left behind a people who are so confused that they do not recognise the truth, neither do they abstain from falsehood, nor do they protect themselves.”[13]

In order to rectify the situation, the motivation of which was to assist Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and dispel the rebels from his ranks, the people of Makkah prepared an army under the leadership of Talhah and Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, consisting of one thousand men.[14]

Ya’la ibn Umayyah, who was appointed by ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu as the governor of San’aʼ, sent four hundred thousand dirhams and seventy young Qurayshi soldiers. He also purchased a camel by the name of ‘askar’ for Sayyidah ‘A’ishah radiya Llahu ‘anha for eighty dinars. When news of this reached Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu he commented to his supporters: “Do you know who I am faced with? ‘A’ishah radiya Llahu ‘anha whom the people obey more than anyone else, Zubair who is the strongest, Talhah who is the most intelligent, and Ya’la ibn Umayyah who is the wealthiest.”[15]

Talhah and Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhuma then proceeded to meet the people of Basrah, who were inclined to them respectively, and it was hoped that this would strengthen their cause. After a small skirmish with the governor they took control of Basrah. However, before a message could be sent to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu informing him that they had taken control of Basrah and beckon him to come there so that the problem of the rebels and how to deal with them could be discussed; the rebels of Basrah had already reached Madinah and began inciting ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu against them. “Since Basrah has already been taken over, the next city to be attacked will be Madinah. In order to put an end to this, you need to mobilise your army in that direction.” The rebels exhorted. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu accepted their proposal.

The inhabitants of Madinah begged ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu not to depart with an army. ‘Abdullah ibn Salam radiya Llahu ‘anhu said: “If you proceed with an army, then the ruler of the Muslims (referring to ‘Ali) will not be able to return to Madinah. Rather go alone and discuss the matter with them, hopefully a solution will be reached.” However, this was of no avail and ‘Ali left for Basrah, while the majority of the people of Madinah remained behind.

Nevertheless, ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu proceeded with an army of nine hundred towards Basrah, comprising of very few Sahabah. Imam Sha’bi reports that aside from Sayiduna ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, there were only six Badri Sahabah; Abu al Haytham ibn Tayhan, Abu Qatadah al Ansari, Ziyad ibn Hanzalah, Khuzaimah ibn Thabit to name a few.[16] Sadly, these great personalities did not get the opportunity to meet each other before this and discuss the issue, perhaps the entire episode could have been avoided as the solution was quite simple.

In order to reinforce their army, one of the rebels – Ashtar – proceeded to Kufah. This was the city that looked up to Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and as a result no one joined him. Abu Musa al Ash’ari radiya Llahu ‘anhu – the governor of Kufah – sent him back empty handed. Thereafter, ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu sent two such personalities to Kufah, whom all the Muslims rightfully held in esteem: ‘Ammar ibn Yasir radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the grandson of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu.


‘Ammar addressed the people in the Jami’ Masjid:


O people! The matter has become very delicate and touchy. On the one side we have Umm al Muʼminin ‘A’ishah Siddiqah, the wife of your Nabi in this world and in the hereafter, and on the other side is ‘Ali, the cousin of your Nabi. Who are you going to obey, the wife of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam or ‘Ali?


People were confused. Who to obey, who to accept and who to reject? Nonetheless, this speech of ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu was not fruitful. Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu then stepped forward, who resembled Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in manner and appearance, with gentleness and wisdom he won over the hearts of the people. The governor was opposed to the idea of taking sides and was thus removed from the masjid. ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu forces were strengthened and he advanced towards Basrah with an army of nine thousand six hundred and fifty.


NEXT The rebels secretly incite the fighting

[1] Abu Dawood vol. 2 pg. 294

[2] Tarikh al Tabri

[3] Abu Dawood vol. 2 pg. 309

[4] Surah al Baqarah: 8

[5] Surah al Baqarah: 14

[6] Surah al Baqarah: 204

[7] Surah al Munafiqun: 4

[8] Surah al Taubah: 43

[9] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah vol. 7 pg. 235

[10] Tarikh al Tabri vol. 3 pg. 461

[11] Tarikh al Tabri

[12] Tarikh al Tabri pg. 3085 as reported in Siyar al Sahabah vol. 2 pg. 240

[13] Tarikh al Tabri vol. 3 pg. 469; Siyar al Sahabah vol. 2 pg. 92

[14] Tarikh al Tabri vol. 3 pg. 472

[15] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, Fath al Bari vol. 3 pg. 55

[16] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah vol. 7 pg. 234

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