The Great Fitnah

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After the martyrdom of Othman, Ali was proclaimed as the Caliph in June 656 C.E. and the oath of allegiance to him was taken in the Prophet's mosque at Madinah. Hadrat Ali was fifty six years old at the time, and he was in every way best suited for the office. By this time one generation had passed since the death of the Holy Prophet During this period while the Muslim dominions had expanded, the polity had come lity of Ali. to be riddled with unfortunate tensions which had culminated in the assassination of Othman.

The situation in Madinah at the time was very grave and confused. The uprising against Othman had dislocated the normal life in the city of Madinah and the machinery of law and order had virtually broken down. Those who were responsible for the assassination of Othman had their hold on power, and they were in the forefront in the election of Hadrat Ali as the Caliph. They declared that they had risen against Hadrat Othman because his policies were opposed to Muslim interests, and that after his assassination they had elected the most suitable person as the Caliph. Hadrat Ali came to power in a crisis loaded atmosphere. On the whole the people were shocked and distressed at the assassination of Hadrat Othman, and held that the assassination of the Caliph by the Muslims was a sacrilege. The Umayyads, the tribesman of Othman demanded that the murderers of Othman should be called to account immediately. Some other persons also joined with the Umauuads in supporting the call for the revenge of the murder of the Hadrat Othman.

Hadrat Ali's assessment of the situation was that it was not a of murder simpliciter by an individual, it was a collective uprising which was of the nature of a coup d'etat. Ali felt that when those had led the uprising were in command of the situation, and their had succeeded, it was idle to talk of avenging the murder of Hadrat Othman. He held out that after things had settled down, passions cooled and normal conditions had been restored, he would take sui action to avenge the murder of his predecessor for whom he had great regard.

Hadrat Ali's approach to the matter was realistic, but those who were opposed to him for one reason or the other put a different complexion on the case, and alleged that Hadrat Ali was shielding murderers of Hadrat Othman. That created an unfortunate situation which was exploited by the interested quarters to the detriment of the solidarity of the Muslim community.

Taken from "History of Islam" by Prof. Masudul-Hasan, vol. I, pp. 127-8. Adam Publishers, Delhi, '95. E-mail:

Did Mu`awiyah order the cursing of `Ali?!

Regarding the excellences of `Ali
Doubtless, his excellences are many and distinguished. Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, as well as other books of hadith (which, it may be noted, were compiled largely during the Umayyad dynasty) are replete with such narrations. Someone who hates `Ali or curses him is a sinner and an innovator, and it is feared that he may even be a disbeliever.

Regarding the narrations which supposedly prove that Mu`awiyah cursed `Ali
Regarding the incident you mentioned involving cursing, Mu`awiyah and `Ali : the narration can be found in Sahih Muslim and Sahih al-Bukhari. I will refer to Sahih Muslim. The reports in question are hadiths # 2404, 2409 (I am using the new edition of Sahih Muslim with Nawawi's commentary, from Dar al-Fikr). #2404 says that Mu`awiyah asked a man, "What prevented you from cursing Abu't-Turab (i.e. `Ali)?" It should be noted that there is no explicit statement here which says that Mu`awiyah asked him to curse `Ali, and we should always assume the best of a Muslim. It is possible that the man was perhaps in the company of a group of people who were cursing `Ali, and that he alone refrained. Hence, it is not inconceivable that Mu`awiyah should ask him the reason, perhaps in order to make known the virtues of `Ali. Also, <sabb> need not necessarily mean 'curse' - it can also mean 'disprove'. We know that `Ali and Mu`awiyah had a conflict based on ijtihad . Hence, Mu`awiyah may have been wondering why the man did not support Mu`awiyah's view and argue against `Ali's.

#2408 in Muslim is not talking about Mu`awiyah. It is talking about someone else in connection with cursing `Ali. We cannot take Mu`awiyah to task for the deeds of someone else. It is often the case that two scholars will have a disagreement, and write very harsh books and articles criticising each other on their points of disagreement. Students or followers of the shaykhs will read these attacks and start hating the other party intensely, not realizing, sometimes, that the two shaykhs, in spite of their intense disagreements, really respect one another, and indeed, may actually sit and chat over coffee after their debate! In other words, it is not at all inconceivable that the conflict between `Ali and Mu`awiyah might have led to some followers of Mu`waiyah having unjustified hatred to `Ali, and some followers of `Ali having unjustified hatred for Mu`awiyah.

Article taken (with Thanks) from Suheil Laher



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This page was last updated on June 14, 2003 .