Page 9 - Pakistan Link - March 10, 2017
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OPINION                                                                                                           MARCH 10,  2017 –  PAKISTAN LINK  –  P9

             n By Professor Nazeer Ahmed                                                                                 established a tribunal of two persons, one
                     Concord, CA             Signs from Allah: History, Science and Faith in Islam                       from each party, to decide between Muawiya
                                                                                                                         and Ali (r). Abu Musa Aashari, a pious elderly
              li (r) understood that the assassina-                        5. Ali (r)                                    Companion  of the  Prophet,  was selected  to
              tion of Uthman (r) was a symptom                                                                           represent Ali (r). Amr bin al As, an avowed
        Aof a deeper malaise. The gold of                                                                                partisan, was the representative for Muawiya.
        Persia had created a powerful whirlwind                                                                              It was at this juncture that a group from
                    in which the Islamic body                                                                            Ali’s (r) army walked away. They were called
                    politic was caught up. Some                                                                          the Al Khwarij (those who walked away, also
                    of this wealth had found its                                                                         called Kharijites). The Kharijites were furious
                    way to the provincial capi-                                                                          because in their view, Caliph Ali ibn Abu Talib
                    tals where it financed an                                                                            (r) had committed shirk by accepting the arbi-
                    opulent lifestyle. Those who                                                                         tration of men as opposed to the hakam (arbi-
                    had become accustomed to                                                                             tration) of the Qur’an. And unless he repented,
                    this lifestyle were reluctant                                                                        they vowed to oppose Ali (r).
        to change and revert to the simplicity en-                                                                           This was a classic illustration of how the
        joined by the Prophet.                                                                                           transcendence of divine revelation is compro-
            Ali’s (r) first priority was to establish or-                                                                mised when people of limited understanding
        der. He desired to achieve it in such a manner                                                                   apply it in mundane affairs. The Kharijites
        that the disease itself would be cured. Realiz-                                                                  juxtaposed two ayats from the Qur’an and ex-
        ing that any reform must start from the top,                                                                     tracted a justification for their ruthless activi-
        Ali (r) demanded the resignation of the pro-                                                                     ties. Initially, they forced Ali (r) to accept arbi-
        vincial governors. As we shall see, this proved                                                                  tration on the basis of the Ayat: “If any do fail
        to be a fateful decision. Some of the governors                                                                  to judge by what God has revealed, they are
        obliged; others refused as an open declara-                                                                      wrongdoers” (Qur’an, 5:47). Then they walked
        tion of rebellion. Notable among the latter was                                                                  away when a tribunal was appointed, basing
        Muawiya bin Abu Sufyan, the Umayyad gov-                                                                         their position on another Ayat: “Yet those who
        ernor of Syria.                       the positions of the two sides together to avoid   with contingents from Madina and Persia.  See-  reject faith hold (others) as equal with their
            Faith and wealth are two of the most pow-  armed conflict. An understanding was indeed   ing the storms gathering on the horizon, some   Lord.” (Qur’an, 6:1). It was their position that
        erful engines of history. We see for the first   reached  between  the  two sides  to  avoid  war   notable Companions tried to make peace. Abu   the Qur’an alone was the arbitrator; the arbi-
        time after the assassination of Uthman (r) the   and reconcile the community. But there were   Muslim Khorasani convinced Muawiya to   tration of men was not acceptable.
        opposing pull of these two elements. Wealth is   determined troublemakers among the parties   write to Ali (r). In his letter, Muawiya offered   The arbitrators decided that both Ali (r)
        like a wild horse. When it is tamed, it moves   as well. One of these factions, led by Abdulla   to take his oath of fealty to Ali (r) if he surren-  and Muawiya were to resign and that a re-
        with grace and gives power to the rider. Un-  bin Saba, was determined to scuttle a peace   dered the assassins of Uthman (r). But by now   placement was to be elected by the commu-
        tamed, it destroys itself and the rider alike.   agreement by any means.  They attacked both   positions had hardened on both sides. The   nity. When it was time to make this announce-
        Faith is the harness that tames wealth. With-  camps in the darkness of night. In the ensu-  messenger from Syria returned empty handed.  ment public, another trick was played. Abu
        out the discipline that comes with faith, wealth   ing confusion each side thought that the other   Muawiya, with his Syrian army, was the   Musa Aashari, representing Ali (f), was asked
        leads to greed and destroys all that builds a   had tricked them. When Aisha (r) mounted   first to move towards Iraq and occupy the wa-  to speak first and he faithfully announced the
        civilization. What was needed after the con-  her camel to bring the situation under control,   ters of the Euphrates near the plains of Siffin.   joint decision. But when Amr bin al As fol-
        quest of Persia was the firmness and decisive-  her group assumed she had done so to person-  When the army of Ali (r) arrived at the scene,   lowed, he changed the story. ”O people, you
        ness of someone like Omar (r). The shy and   ally lead the charge. General warfare erupted.   they were denied water. Ali (r) promptly or-  have heard the decision of Abu Musa. He
        retiring nature of the third Caliph Uthman (r)   Thousands perished in a matter of hours.   dered the Syrians to be expelled and to con-  has deposed his own man and now I too de-
        was a recipe for disaster. In the latter half of the   Among the casualties of the conflict was the   trol the water resources. The Battle of Siffin   pose him. But I do not depose my own man
        Caliphate of Uthman (r), we see how the new-  noted companion Talha ibn Ubaidallah. An-  had begun. It was one of the bloodiest battles   Muawiya. He is the inheritor of Emir ul Mo-
        found wealth bred corruption and nepotism,   other well-known Companion Zubair ibn al   of the age. For three months, the Syrians and   mineen Uthman (r) and wants lawful revenge
        threatening to destroy the very faith that had   Awwam withdrew from the fray but was assas-  the Iraqis went at each other with full fury,   for his blood. Therefore, he is more entitled
        enabled the Muslims to win the wealth.  sinated on his way from the battlefield. Real-                           to take the seat of the late Caliph”. Amr bin
            Faith and greed were locked in mortal   izing that as long as Aisha (r) was visible on   Ali (r) was a consummate   al As returned to Damascus where Muawiya
        combat.  Against  this  background,  the  assas-  her camel, the battle would continue, Ali (r)                  was declared the Caliph (658). Thus it was that
        sination of Uthman (r) was an event that pro-  ordered her camel to be brought down. When   orator, a tower of   during the years 658-661, there were two cen-
        vided fuel for the combatants. Ali’s (r) priority   the camel fell, Aisha’s (r) side fell into disar-  steadfastness, a pillar   ters of Caliphate, one in Kufa and the other in
        was to establish order. But many of the Com-  ray. Ali (r) decisively won the battle. Aisha (r)                  Damascus.
        panions desired to settle the issue of Uthman’s   was treated with utmost courtesy and was sent   of courage, fountain of   This deception was unacceptable to fol-
        (r) assassination as the first priority. They   back to Mecca under military escort.  spirituality. He was the   lowers of Ali (r) and the war resumed. For
        demanded  qisas  (the  apprehension  and  due   The Battle of the Camel was a disaster                           three years various provinces were contested
        punishment for the assassins as prescribed by   for the Muslims. It destroyed the cohesive- originator of classical Arabic   between Muawiya and Ali (r). At long last
        the Qur’an). To them, retribution had to take   ness of the Islamic community that had been   grammar. The Prophet   both sides seemed to have tired and a truce
        precedence over order.                so painstakingly forged by the Prophet. It was                             was declared in 660. Under the terms, Ali (r)
            So shocked was the Islamic community   the first round in a civil war that rocked Islam   called him, “My brother . . .   retained control of Mecca, Madina, Iraq, Per-
        at the assassination of Uthman (r) that no less   and culminated in Karbala. Although Ali (r)   door to my knowledge”. His   sia and the provinces to the east. Muawiya re-
        a person than Aisha binte Abu Bakr (r), wife   decisively won the battle, it weakened his po-                    tained control over Syria and Egypt.
        of the Prophet, took up the issue of qisas. No-  litical position and encouraged his opponents   eloquent sayings, collected   The Kharijites were not content to walk
        table  Companions  like  Talha  ibn Ubaidallah   to persist in their demands for qisas.    under the title Nahjul Balaga,   away from Ali (r). They sought to alter the
        and Zubair ibn al Awwam joined the fray. In   The Battle of the Camel gave Muawiya                               status quo through assassination, murder
        the year 656, Aisha (r) set out from Mecca to-  added time to prepare for the coming struggle   have a universal appeal and   and mayhem and resolved to simultaneously
        wards Basra (Iraq) with a force of 3,000 men.   against Caliph Ali ibn Abu Talib (r). The blood                  assassinate Ali (r), Muawiya and Amr bin al
        This was a grave moment indeed. Here was   stained shirt of Uthman (r) was hung at the   a global following. No other   As, blaming these three for the civil wars. As
        Ummul-Momineen  herself,  marching  forth   door of the Great Mosque in Damascus. Peo-  person in Islamic history   fate would have it, the assassination of Ali (r)
        to capture and punish the assassins of Uth-  ple from far and wide would visit the mosque                        was successful. Muawiya escaped with a mi-
        man (r) and in the process undermining the   and seeing the blood of Uthman (r), would   is accorded this honor  nor wound. Amr bin al As did not show up
        authority of the Caliphate. A sense of sadness   weep and take an oath to avenge the blood of                    for prayer on the day he was to be assassinated
        and helplessness overtook the Meccan com-  the third Caliph. Complicity of Ali (r) in the                        and his designee was killed in his place. Ali ibn
        munity. Some joined the fray. A large number   murder of Uthman (r) was alleged, first co-  convinced that their respective positions were   Abu Talib (r), the Fourth Caliph of Islam and
        sensed the gravity of the situation and stayed   vertly and then openly. Muawiya enlisted the   correct. Over 40,000 people lost their lives. So   the last in the line of those illustrious men who
        neutral.                              support of a well-known orator, Shurahbeel   great was the bloodbath that many on both   strove to rule in accordance with the Sunnah
            The position of Aisha (r), motivated   bin Samat Kindi, to spread this accusation far   sides wondered aloud if the Muslims would   of the Prophet, died on the 20th of Ramadan,
        though it was by a fervent desire to reform the   and wide in Syria. By such means, Muawiya   survive if this carnage were to continue.  in the year 661.
        community and punish the guilty, had the ef-  succeeded in uniting the Syrians against Ali   For a long time, the battle was a stalemate   The storms created by the assassination of
        fect of creating an armed force independent of   (r) and built up a solid military force of 70,000   with neither side gaining a decisive advantage.   Uthman bin Affan (r) swept aside the unity in
        the Caliphate and weakening its authority.    men to face him.             But on the night of Laitul-Hareer (the Night of   the Islamic community. Ali ibn Abu Talib (r)
            Ali  (r)  was  at first  preparing to march   The struggle between Ali (r) and Muawi-  the Battle), the supporters of Ali (r) attacked   tried to steer the ship of state in the stormy wa-
        on Syria to bring Muawiya under control.   ya was a classic example of a battle between   with such determined force that the Syrians   ters; in the effort, he himself became a casual-
        But the movement of the Meccan force under   principle and politics. Some Muslims have   realized they were on the verge of defeat. It   ty. The enduring tribute that is paid by history
        Aisha (r) towards Iraq was a disturbance that   shied away from examining the conflict at all   was here that Muawiya played one more ruse.   to this great man is that all Muslims, whether
        could not be overlooked. Accordingly, Ali (r)   citing the honor and respect that is due to all   Upon the advice of Amr bin al As, to whom   they call themselves Shi’a or Sunni, Zaidi or
        marched towards Iraq at the head of a force   Companions of the Prophet. Yet others have   Muawiya had promised the governorship of   Fatimid, accept him as the Caliph of Islam.
        of 700 men. This was another fateful decision,   maintained that the ijtihad of Ali (r) was of   Egypt, the Syrians hoisted copies of the Qur’an   He is the Qutub, the spiritual pole for the Su-
        for Ali (r) was never able to return to Madina.   a higher order than that of Muawiya. Ali (r),   on their lances and declared that they would   fis. He was a consummate orator, a tower of
        The wheels of destiny were set in motion. As   as  the  legitimate  Caliph,  desired  to  cure  the   accept the hakam (arbitration) of the Qur’an   steadfastness, a pillar of courage, fountain of
        it approached Kufa (Iraq), Ali’s (r) force was   disease, not just the symptoms.  He did not   between the contesting parties. Ali (r) saw   spirituality. He was the originator of classical
        reinforced by a strong contingent of several   succeed in this endeavor and the struggle con-  through this ruse but was helpless in the face   Arabic grammar. The Prophet called him, “My
        thousand Iraqis. It was only a matter of time   sumed his Caliphate and his person.   of the determined demand from both sides.  brother . . . door to my knowledge”. His elo-
        before the combined forces of Madina and   On his part, Ali (r) moved the capital of   This was one more of the fateful decisions   quent sayings, collected under the title Nahjul
        Iraq under Ali (r) would confront the Meccan   the Islamic state from Madina to Kufa (656)   for Caliph Ali (r). The acceptance of arbitra-  Balaga, have a universal appeal and a global
        force under Aisha (r).                and consolidated his position. He raised an   tion established Muawiya as a legitimate con-  following. No other person in Islamic history
            Dedicated attempts were made to bring   army of 80,000, mostly composed of Iraqis,   tender for power with Ali (r). The two sides   is accorded this honor.
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