Monday, 22 October 2007

Understanding The Battle of Jamal & Other Important Issues


Upon my return from my Eid vacation, a discussion commenced between myself and Brother Ahmad Suffian. It was not a long discussion, but the issues brought forward were extremely important for all Muslims to understand correctly. Thus, as vowed - I have taken the time to lay this out in order - to share with other Muslims who wish to better themselves. What I have done is combine and compact the treatises from the Ulama of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama'ah, pious scholars of Haqq - about the Battle of Jamal, and other related issues of importance. All I ask is for you to read this entry with great patience, and an open heart - with the Fear of Allah, the Love of Rasulullah SAW, and the Honour of the Sahabah RA. May Allah Ta'ala make this beneficial for all of us. Ameen.

Abu Khadijah Damansari
Monday, 11 Shawwal 1428 Hijri, 22 October 2007


As Summarised & Ellaborated from Al Bidayah Wan Nihayah: Volume 7: Page 230

The third Khalifah - Saiyidina Uthman bin Affan RA was murdered just after the days of Tashreeq - after Hajj. The wives of Rasulullah SAW had, after completing the rites of Hajj just left Makkah Mukarramah on their return journey to Madinah Munawwarah. Upon receiving the news of the murder of Saiyidina Uthman RA, they changed the direction of their journey and returned to Makkah.

The Muslims at that time were in utter turmoil. Saiyidina Ali ibn Abi Talib RA had taken the Bai'at (pledge of allegiance) from the people of Madinah and the assassins of Saiyidina Uthman RA. Saiyidina Ali RA felt that it would be more appropriate to allow the turmoil and confusion to settle and only thereafter avenge the blood of Saiyidina Uthman RA. Others however differed and thought it of greater importance to first avenge the blood of the assassinated Khalifah.
Thus, a group of senior and eminent Sahabah RA including Talhah ibn Ubaidullah RA and Zubair bin Awwam RA gathered in Makkah and persuaded Ummul-Mu'mineen - Saiyidatina A'ishah RA to help them unite the Muslims and therafter demand the requital of the blood of Saiyidina Uthman RA. Saiyidatina A'ishah RA agreed and it was decided that they would proceed to Basrah in Iraq. The rest of the wives of Rasulullah SAW refused to join A'ishah RA and returned to Madinah. Although Hafsah RA agreed to join A'ishah RA, her brother - the eminent Abdullah ibn Umar RA did not allow her to join the campaign to Basrah.


With a closer study of the Battle of Jamal and the events leading to it, of which most are mentioned above - it is important for all Muslims to understand four important facts:

1. Ummul Mu'mineen A'ishah RA was not the leader of the army. The army neither considered making her their leader at the time of suggesting her accompaniment nor later during the course of the expedition. She was not regarded as their leader. Talhah RA and Zubair RA had asked her to accompany them so that she could use her influence to convince the masses of the nobility of their cause. This is why the rest of the wives of Rasulullah SAW were also requested to accompany the expedition and Hafsah RA had even accepted the request, though not permitted to go by her brother.

2. Neither was Ummul Mu'mineen A'ishah RA intending to capture the Caliphate from Saiyidina Ali RA, nor were Talhah RA and Zubair RA intending to do so. They were only demanding that the assassins of Saiydina Uthman RA be brought to task. Infact, they had barely thought of meeting and going against the forces of Saiyidina Ali RA in battle. This is as per explanation from the ellaboration of Sahih Bukhari - Fathul Baari: Volume 3: Page 56.

The classical scholar, Sheikhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah RA writes:

"Neither did A'ishah RA fight (in the battle) nor did she leave (her home) in order to fight. She had only intended to create peace among the Muslims and thought that the Muslims would benefit by her leaving (for Basrah etc.)...

They did not have any intention of fighting on the day of Jamal. The battle however took place without their choice. Because when Saiyidina Ali RA, Talha RA and Zubair RA had negotiated and agreed on reconciliation; and that after they had settled (amongst them) they would seek the assassins..."

The assassins therefore feared that Saiydina Ali RA would agree with them (Zubair RA and Talha RA) to capture them, and they therefore captured the camp of Talha RA and Zubair RA. They (in reaction) thought that Saiydina Ali RA had attacked them and in defence attacked the camp of Saiydina Ali RA. Saiyidina Ali RA thought that Talha RA and Zubair RA had attacked him and retaliated in defence. The battle thus occurred without their choice (unintentionally). Ummul Mu'mineen A'ishah RA was seated (on the camel); and neither did she fight nor did she command anyone to do so. This is based on the narration and explanation from the kitab - Minhajus Sunnah: Volume 2: Page 185.

3. Many of the Sahabah RA of the Prophet Muhammad SAW disagreed with Ummul Mu'mineen A'ishah RA participation in the campaign. Many had infact written to her expressing their dissatisfaction.

Umm Salma RA wrote her a lengthy letter admonishing her:

"Had Rasulullah Sallallahu 'Alaihi Wasallam known that women are able to endure (the difficulties of) Jihad, he would have entrusted you! Do you not know that he (Rasulullah SAW) had prohibited you from travelling in the cities? Verily the pillar of Deen neither remains firm with women nor wealth and it cannot be repaired by women if it has to crack (break). The Jihad of women is the lowering of the gaze and the drawing of the hem and the intending of modesty. What would you say to Rasulullah Sallallahu 'Alaihi Wasallam if he has to object to some of these mistakes - sitting on a camel travelling from place to place? I take an oath that if it has to be said to me: "O Umm Salmah! Enter Jannah! I would be ashamed to meet Rasulullah Sallallahu 'Alaihi Wasallam while I had torn a veil (barrier) he had placed over me. Therefore make it your veil (barrier) also..." - as narrated in Al Aqdul Fareed: Volume 5: Page 66.

We should also be aware and understand that Ummul Mu'mineen A'ishah RA had written a letter to Zayd bin Suhan RA encouraging him to join Talha RA and Zubair RA and if he disagrees, he should dissuade the masses from joining Saiyidina Ali RA.

Zayd bin Suhan RA replied to her correspondence:

"...Verily I am your loyal son. If you leave and return home, (then I will obey you) - otherwise, I would be the first to oppose you."

Zayd bin Suhan RA also said:

"May Allah have mercy on Ummul Mu'mineen. She has been commanded to stay in her home and we have been commanded to fight..." - as per narration from Ibnul Atheer: Volume 3: Page 216.

Hafiz Ibn Hajar RA narrated that after the battle, Ammar bin Yasir RA (who was at that time in the camp of Saiyidina Ali RA) said to A'ishah RA:

"How distant is this journey from the command that was imposed on you!" (referring to the Verse of the Holy Qur'an: "And remain in your homes" - the command of Hijab and Hayaa for women.)

A'ishah RA replied:

"Are you Abul Yaqdhan?"

He replied in the affirmative, upon which she said:

"In the name of Allah, ever since I know, you always speak the truth."

Ammar bin Yasir RA then said:

"All praises are due to Allah who has decided in my favour on your tongue." - this is as per narrated and explained in Fathul Bari: Volume 13: Page 58.

4. It is important for all Muslims to be aware and have knowledge that Ummul Mu'mineen A'ishah RA later regretted joining the above expedition to Basrah as is clear from the above narration.

Later in her life she would say:

"I wish I had stayed behind just as others (from the Ummahatul Mumineen RA and the many other Sahabah RA) had stayed behind..." - as per narrated and explained in Fathul Bari: Volume 13: Page 55.

A'ishah RA also said:

"I wish I were a fresh twig and I had not undertaken my journey..."

It is narrated that whenever A'ishah RA used to recite the Qur'anic verse:

"And remain in your homes..."

- she would cry so excessively that her veil would become soaked - as quoted and explained in Siyar A'lam un Nubala: Volume 8: Page 80.


Sheikhul Hadith Muhammad Zakariyya Khandalwi RA has written in his kitab, Al-I'tidaal on the subject of the difference of opinions among the Honourable Sahabah RA. The Battle of Jamal was a fierce clash, in which twenty thousand men were martyred. Many Companions RA of the Prophet SAW died in the battle. But when the battle had started, and just before it grew heated, Saiydina Ali RA rode forward and called Zubair RA from the opposition's ranks.

They embraced and shed tears, and Saiyidina Ali RA asked him:

"What has compelled you to come and oppose me?"

- to which Zubair RA replied:

"Vengeance for the murder of Uthman (RA)."

The conversation then continued for a length of time. This is the conduct of two people who are sitting with drawn swords ready for battle. The battle took place after this conversation and Saiyidina Ali RA's force was victorious. Many people from the opposing force were captured. Some of Saiyidina Ali RA's men pressed for them to be executed, but Saiyidina Ali RA denied them this and instead retook the pledge from the captives and forgave them. Saiyidina Ali RA declared the wealth of the defeated as booty but spared their lives from captivity.

Some argued that if these people's wealth was to be taken as booty then they too should be enslaved. At first Saiyidina Ali RA refused to consider it, then upon increasing pressure finally retorted and said:

"Alright, then first tell me who of you is prepared to take A'ishah RA in their share?!!"

The gathered people repented and said:

"We seek Allah's forgiveness, this cannot be."

Saiyidina Ali RA responded:

"And I also seek the forgiveness of Allah."

To Be Wise in Seeking Judgement and To Take Heed in the Conduct of the Sahabah RA

Do any of us keep safe the dignity of those who oppose us? To have a sword risen against ourselves in confrontation and hostility is a big thing, could we match the courtesy of these noble men towards each other when facing each other with blades, with someone who we have difference with.

At the end of the conflict of the Battle of Jamal, Ummul Mu'mineen A'ishah RA's camel collapsed due to injury.

Saiyidina Ali RA quickly ordered:

"See that the Mother of the Ummah received no discomfort!"

Then Saiyidina Ali RA made his way over to Aishah RA's camel and said:

"Mother dear, did you receive any discomfort? May Allah forgive you your mistake."

Aishah RA replied:

"May Allah forgive you too."

Let us learn here that this was the courtesy between two opponents, and their great respect for each other. If we ever gain the upper over an enemy, will we be compassionate towards anything from that person's life, possessions and dignity?

Lessons From The Battle of Siffin, and the relationship between Mu'awiyah RA and Ali RA

Sifeen is the name of the well-known battle that took place between Saiyidina Ali RA and Saiydina Mu'awiyah RA. Several historians have documented that during the battle, by day the two forces fought, by night they attended each other's burial rituals and prayers. And whenever one faction had a problem, they would send someone to the other faction to see it resolved; this was the state of their faith in religion.

The Caesar of the Rome sought to take advantage of this civil war, and intended to mount an expedition against them. When Mu'awiyah received intelligence on this matter, he sent a letter saying:

"If you settle upon fulfilling your intention then I swear to you I will make peace with my friend (Saiyidina Ali RA). Then when he sends an army against you, I will join the first squadron and I will burn Constantinople to ashes, chop up your empire and cast it aside like scraps."

The details of this matter are that the Caesar of Rome had sent Mu'awiyah RA a letter saying:

"Ali is troubling you, should I send a Legion of troops to aid you?"

Upon this Mu'awiyah RA replied:

"O Christian dog, you wish to take advantage of the friction between Ali (RA) and myself? Remember this, if you cast even a pointed glance at Ali RA, then I will be the first of Ali's (RA) soldiers to tear your eyes out."

In the same way, it has been narrated from Saiyidina Mu'awiyah RA that he swore an oath and said:

"Ali (RA) is better than me and is more virtuous than me, and my only difference with him is upon the matter of retribution for Uthman (RA). If he gains retribution for the murder of Uthman (RA) then I will be the first of the Syrians to take the pledge at his hands."

During the reign of Mu'awiyah RA, an incident occurred in which a man named Ibn Khaibiri caught his wife committing adultery and killed her in his rage. The case reached Mu'awiyah RA and he was stumped at what judgement to pass. The punishment for murder is the death penalty, but the crime had taken place under strange circumstances. Mu'awiyah wrote to Musa Asha'ri RA to ask Saiyidina 'Ali RA regarding this case and to write back his answer.

Could any of us express our ignorance in such a way before a political adversary regarding a reciprocal litigation, and ask an opinion too? Our condition is such that the statements of our political adversaries are not plausible enough nor are they worthy of being asked their opinion on any matter.

Sheikh Muhammad Yusuf Khandalwi RA in Hayatus Sahabah has preserved for us the narration of Dharar ibn Dhamarah Kanani RA, who was part of Saiyidina Ali RA's camp. He once visited Saiyidina Mu'awiyah RA some time after Saiyidina Ali RA had passed away.

Mu'awiyah RA asked him to eulogise Saiyidina Ali RA.

Dharar RA asked:

"Will Amirul Mu'mineen excuse (me) from doing this?"

- to which Mu'awiyah RA replied:

"Absolutely not, I insist."

Dharar RA said:

"If you insist then listen, by Allah, Saiyidina Ali RA was a man of great status and strength. He spoke concisely and judged justly. Knowledge frothed from his every pore and his wisdom was eloquently forthcoming. He ostracised the world and all its beauty and was familiar with the darkness of the night. I swear by Allah, his tears were plentiful, his consideration was great and he would turn his palms upward and he would question his own conscious. He liked simple clothing and ate the food of simple people. By Allah, he would live amongst us as if he was just like us, and when we were with him he would sit us close and answer our questions. But despite his friendliness and humbleness we still could not speak in awe of his powerful aura. He respected the pious and loved the destitute. Even the strongest of people were despondent of succeeding in their evil intentions in his presence, and even the weakest of people were confident of his fairness. I make Allah my witness that I saw him several times in the darkness of the night, sitting in his Mehrab, clenching his beard in such anxiety, like he had been bitten by a poisonous creature, and crying like he was deeply aggrieved, and it is as if I can still hear him today, repeating again and again, "O my Lord... O my Lord..." - and then he would address the world and say, "Do you only wish to ensnare me, and do you only beautify yourself for me? Go away from me, find someone else to ensnare, I divorce you threefold. Your lifespan is too short and your company is base, and your problems are diminutive. Oh, oh, my provisions for the Hereafter are few and the journey is so long, and the road is dangerous."

After hearing this, Saiyidina Mu'awiyah RA wept until his beard was drenched with tears, and he began to wipe his eyes with his sleeves, and his companions were also breathless with grief.

Then Saiyidina Mu'awiyah RA said:

"You speak the truth. Abul Hasan (the patronymic of Saiyidina Ali RA) was like that, may Allah have Mercy on him."

Saiyidina Mu'awiyah asked Dharar RA:

"Dharar, how great is your grief upon his demise?"

Dharar RA replied:

"Like the grief of a mother whose only child has been sacrificed in her lap, that her tears can be staunched and her grief will never diminish."

After that Dharar RA got up and left.

Verily, Saiyidina Ali ibn Abi Talib RA was part of the completion of Islam, for these prevalent reasons all of that had to occur in this era.

It is for this reason that we understand why the Prophet Muhammad SAW had said:

"Ana Darul Hikmah, Wa Ali Babuha."
("I am the home of wisdom and Ali is its door.")

Almost all the paths to Suluk, Tasawwuf and spiritual knowledge began from Saiyidina Ali RA.

The Umayyads and the Progeny of Saiyidina Ali RA

It has been narrated that when Hasan RA - the son of Saiyidina Ali RA was given poison and it began to act, he sent his younger brother, Husain RA to A'ishah RA to seek her permission to be buried in her house near his maternal grandfather - the Prophet Muhammad SAW. Though a severe battle, like the Battle of Jamal had taken place between her and Saiyidina Ali RA, Ummul Mu'mineen A'ishah RA gladly gave permission.

Thereafter Hasan RA said to Husain RA:

"Perhaps, in my lifetime, due to having a sense of modesty and consideration for me, she may have permitted, but seek her permission again after my death. If she willingly permits, then bury me there, otherwise bury me in the general graveyard."

When Husain RA sought her permission again after his brother's death, A'ishah RA said:

"Yes, yes, with greatest respect."

For the Sahabah RA, observance of personal respect and discipline remained the order of life, even during conflicts and mutual antagonism.

Later, the Umayyah tribe members opposed the burial of Hasan RA next to the grave of the Prophet SAW saying that Uthman RA (the third Caliph) was deprived of this privilege, and so should Hasan RA.

Nevertheless, Husain RA pushed forward the ruler of Madinah, Sa'eed ibn Al-Aas (who was an Ummayad), to lead the funeral prayer, and said, "This is the Sunnah" .


There is actually a lot more to write and explain, but to stop things from getting too long, we hope that this is generously sufficient for the average Muslim intellect to grab important pointers on how to view the Sahabah RA, and understand their actions and reactions.

It is the rule in the Islam i.e. the rule of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama'ah that there is absolutely no scope of permission for anyone to slight, or accuse or speak ill about any of the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad SAW. Allah SWT is pleased with the Sahabah RA, and they (RA) are pleased with Allah. RadhiAllahu'Anhum Wa Radhu'Anh.

Since there have been numerous virtues narrated about each one of them, it is necessary that we only harbour good thoughts about all of them. It is not permissible i.e. Haraam in the Shari'ah to slight anyone of them. Not even in the least way.

The Prophet Muhammad SAW said:

"(Fear) Allah! (Fear) Allah! Regarding my Sahabah (RA).
Do not make them targets after me ( i.e. after my demise)."

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