Muawiya and Ali: What was the Problem?
by Sheikh Muhammad Zakariyya

Lofty examples of Sahabahs' (Radiallahu anhum) dissent:

The Battle of Jamal was such a severe battle that according to Tareekh-al-Khamees, twenty thousand men were killed. Just before the commencement of hostilities, Sayyidina Ali (Radiallahu anhu) stepped in front of his soldiers and called Sayyidina Zubayr (Radiallahu anhu) from the opposing ranks. He too stepped forward. They embraced each other and wept. Then Ali (Radiallahu anhu) asked: "What is that thing that induced you to come to this place to engage me in battle?" Zubayr (Radiallahu anhu) replied: "Revenge for the blood of Sayyidina Uthman (Radiallahu anhu)".

For a time they continued the conversation. This was the behaviour of the two opponents, ready with drawn swords to fight it out to the end. (Kitabul-Imaammati - wal - Siyaasah)

Thereafter the battle started. Sayyidina Ali (Radiallahu anhu) was victorious and many of the opposing soldiers were taken as prisoners-of-war. Many of Ali's (Radiallahu anhu) men insisted that the prisoners should be killed, but he did not agree with their views. On the contrary, he accepted oaths of allegiance from them and pardoned them. He declared their goods to be spoils of war but refused that they be made captives of war. His men argued that as their goods and possessions were declared spoils of war, their persons too should be captives. Initially Ali (Radiallahu anhu) refused but when his men insisted, he said: "Tell me, who of you is prepared to take as his share your mother, Aysha (Radiallahu anha), and make her your slave maid?" They exclaimed: "Nastaghfirullah! we seek pardon from Allah from such a thing."

Then Ali (Radiallahu anhu) said: "And I also seek Allah's pardon from such a thing. "

Now I ask you, do we also protect the honour and respect of our opponents like that? Forget about taking up the sword and fighting. That is something else. In cases of minor differences of opinion are we worried about not attaching the honour and dignity of those who dispute with us as these people did even in battle?

Thereafter Sayyidina Ali (Radiallahu anhu) saw the body of Muhammed bin Talha (Radiallahu anhu) laying. He exclaimed: "May Allah have mercy upon you. You were indeed a very devout person, staying awake at night in prayer, fasting continuously even at the times of greatest heat."

During the battle it so happened that the camel of Sayyidah Aysha (Radiallahu anha) was wounded, and fell. Ali (Radiallahu anhu) said: "See whether the mother of the faithful has been wounded." (Tabari)

Sayyidah Aysha's (Radiallahu anha) brother Muhammad bin Abu Bakr (Radiallahu anhu), fighting on Ali's (Radiallahu anhu) side, promptly went forward to inquire: "Have you been injured?" Then Sayyidina Ali (Radiallahu anhu) himself came to the howdah upon the camel and said: "Dear mother, have you suffered any injury? May Allah pardon your fault."

She replied: "May Allah forgive your fault also." (Tabari)

This was how the Sahabah (Radiallahu anhum) dealt with an opponent! This was honour and respect for your adversary! What is our behaviour when we overcome an enemy? When we overcome any rival, is there anything of his life, wealth and honour to which we show any consideration?

The battle between Sayyidina Muawiya (Radiallahu anhu) and Sayyidina Ali (Radiallahu anhu) is quite well-known. During the time when he was ruling Syria it happened that a person called Ibn Khaybari, seeing his wife was committing adultery, could not bear it and killed her. The case came before Muawiya (Radiallahu anhu). He could not reach a judgement, because for the murder of his wife, the killer's death is demanded in retaliation. However, the facts of the case were such that this was no ordinary murder and the facts could not be disregarded. Therefore he wrote a letter to Sayyidina Abu Moosa Ash-ary (Radiallabu anbu) asking him to consult with Sayyidina Ali (Radiallahu anhu) as regards the correct judgement. (Muata Imam Maalik).

Now I ask you: Do we ever think of admitting our ignorance before our political adversary? Do we ever think of asking our opponent about any mas'aail about which there is any dispute? No, with us, not a single word of our opponent is acceptable. Sometimes, not even the truth.

When Sayyidina Ali (Radiallahu anhu) became Khalifa he took the oath of allegiance from the Muhajireen and Ansaar. A group of people did not swear allegiance, but he did not force them. Some people asked his opinion about those people. He said: "These people have refused to side with the truth, but have also refused to side with falsehood." (Khamees). How magnanimous of him! But today of anyone should prefer to remain neutral, what do we think of him? What we think of him and the attacks on him in the newspapers will be only to obvious. Need I go into detail?

Sayyidina Imam Hasan (Radiallahu anhu) was poisoned. When he was near to death they asked him: "Do you know who poisoned you?" He replied: "By Allah, I will never disclose who gave me poison to drink. If it is that person whom I think it is, then Allah's retaliation is sufficient. And if it is not him, then I do not want that an innocent person should be killed." (Khamees)

What would we have done? What do we do with that person with whom we have just a slight difference of opinion? With us he must be accused of being the cause of every affliction we suffer. It must be his evil plan. Even if someone else should cause us any harm, then too in spite of knowing the truth, we will lay it at our opponents doorstep. Often in our heart of hearts we know him to be innocent, but such is the zeal for revenge that we will still blame him.

Let us go back to the Battle of Jamal. See how severe is the opposition between Sayyidina Ali (Radiallahu anhu) and Sayyidah Aysha (Radiallahu anha). Actually the battle was between the two of them. Yet, when Imam Hasan (Radiallanu anhu), the son of Ali (Radiallahu anhu), was overcome after the poisoning, he sent his brother Hussain to Sayyidah Aysha (Radiallahu anha) with the request to be allowed to be buried near his grand-father, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) in her house. In spite of the fighting and all that went with it, Sayyidah Aysha (Radiallahu anha) granted this request. Later Sayyidina Hasan (Radiallahu anhu) told his brother Hussain (Radiallahu anhu): "Maybe she gave permission during the time while I am still alive out of shyness and shame and through consideration for my person. Seek permission from her once again after my death. If she gives permission gladly, then bury me there, otherwise bury me in the public graveyard of Madina." On the demise of Sayyidina Hasan (Radiallahu anhu), Hussain (Radiallahu anhu) again sought permission and Sayyidah Aysha (Radiallahu anha) replied: "Yes indeed, and with great honour!"

Such then was the behaviour of the Muslim predecessors with those with whom they differed. Now see also what happened thereafter. The leaders of the Ummayyah clan would not allow the burial to take place there. They objected saying that as Sayyidina Uthman (Radiallahu anhu) had been refused burial there by his opponents, they would not allow Sayyidina Hasan (Radiallahu anhu) to be buried there.

In spite of that, when the body was brought into the Mosque for funeral prayers, Sayyidina Hussain (Radiallahu anhu) appointed the governor of Madina Saeed bin Al-Aasi (of the Umayyad clan) to lead the funeral prayers, saying this was the Sunnat. (Khamees)