|Chapter XVI: Intrigues and Conspiravy Against Ali|
The cry for the revenge of Osman's murder
After the inauguration of Ali, Talha and Zubeir with several others came to him and requested that the murder of Osman should by all means be avenged, proferring their services for the purpose. Ali knew full well that the crime was perpetrated hardly against their own will and even before their eyes, that now their cry for vengeance was nothing but a design to foment dissension by calling up a host of enemies. tte, therefore, explained to them that the tragedy had its roots in old enmity; that there were several parties having different opinions; that it was not the moment to stir up a civil war; that the discontent was instigated by the devil, who, when once he holds the ground, never quits it easily; and that the very measure they suggested to undertake was the devil's own proposal to foment unrest and tumult. However, he told them that he had already sent for Marwan, formerly a secretary of Osman, and Naela, the wife of Osman, who were all the time in the same house with Osman, to enquire as to who the real culprits were who perpetrated the murder. Marwan was not forthcoming, while Naela said that two persons were culprits but that she could not name or identify them. Hazrat Ali further added that several persons were said to be implicated in the crime but no evidence was available against them. Under the circumstances, he declared that unless all parties united, it would be difficult to take effective steps. He asked them what method they would propose as best suited to gain the end. They replied that they knew of none. Then he said : 'If you will point out the real assassins of Osman, I shall not fail to vindicate the majesty of the Divine Law in putting them to their dues'. They were silent. Their insidious proposition being thus turned down, they departed.
In the meantime, warned by the sudden departure of the Umayyad families, Ali began to secure the good will of the Quraish and the Ansars by showing his high appreciation of their worth, for he was desirous of having as many friends as possible against the apprehended trouble with the Umayyads.
Reforms Contemplated by Ali.
The next matter for immediate attention of the new Caliph was the removal of the ungodly men, who governed various provinces with such tyranny that it drove the people to desperation, which cost Osman his life. Many abuses had crept in during the reign of Osman, which called for immediate action, and most of the provincial governments were in the hands of persons of dubious antecedents and suspected faith. Having set his heart upon a thorough reform, he resolved to depose Moawiya and the other governors, who owed their appointments to his predecessor. Abdallah b. Abbas, who had returned by now from his pilgrimage to Mecca, strongly opposed this measure, especially of the proposal to depose Moawiya and advised him to postpone the execution of the contemplated measure for a short while till at least he should find himself more
firmly established in authority. He argued : 'If thou deposest Moawiya, the Syrians, whom he hast firmly attached to himself by his munificence, will rise up against thee in a, body, will not recognise thee Caliph and worst of all, they will accuse thee of the murder of Osman. It will be advisable, therefore, to let him continue in his place till he submits to thy authority, and when once he hast done that, it will be easy for thee to pull him out of his house by the ears whensoever thou dost desire it.' 'Besides,' he reminded Ali, 'Talha and Zubeir are not the persons to be relied upon; I have good reasons to suspect them of taking up arms against thee very soon, and perhaps they may join Moawiya' 'But the Divine Law,' said Ali, 'dost not allow of crafty deceptions. I must strictly follow the true principles of religion and therefore should not willingly allow any ungodly man to retain his office. The reason why Ali did not listen to those who advised him not to dismiss Moawiya is given by Osborne (History of Islam) in the following words: "The Bayard of Islam, the hero without fear and without reproach refused to be guilty of any duplicity of compromise with injustice." 'Moawiya will have nothing but the sword from me. I cannot retain him for a single day.' 'See,' continued he, 'I appoint thee, O Ibn Abbas ! Thou shalt go forth thyself to Syria to turn him out.' 'That', cried Ibn Abbas, 'is quite impracticable, Moawiya would not leave me alive because of my being akin to thee.'
When these arrangements were in progress, Talha and Zubeir came to Ali and applied for their appointment to the governments of Kufa and Basra, respectively. But Ali politely refused, observing that in the present emergency, he needed such able counsellors near at hand.
Having chosen his men for the government of the various provinces, Ali sent them out to their respective destinations in the month of Moharram 36 A.H. to replace the existing Governors. Thus he sent (1) Obeidallah b. Abbas to Yemen; (2) Qais b. Saad b. Obada to Egypt; (3) Qutham b. Abbas to Mecca; (4) Samaha b. Abbas to Tihama; (5) Awn b. Abbas to Yamama; (6) Osman b. Honeif to Busra (7) Ammara b. Shahab to Kufa; (8) Said b. Abbas to Bahrein; and (9) Sahel b. Honeif to Syria.
Obeidallah reached Yemen and found that Yala, his predecessor, had carried off to Mecca all the treasure amounting to sixty thousand Dinars, which he made over to Ayesha along with six hundred camels, one of which was a rarity, a big-sized, well bred animal, valued at 200 gold pieces. It was named Al-Askar and was specially presented for the use of Ayesha. Obeidallah, however, took possession of the government of Yemen.
Qais b. Saad, when approaching Egypt, was opposed by a party with leanings towards the late Caliph Osman whilst passing a frontier garrison; but by feigning an attachment to the cause of Osman, he succeeded in reaching the seat of his government, which he was to occupy. His predecessor, Abdallah b. Abi Sarh, being certain of his removal, had already made his way to Syria to take refuge with Moawiya, as most of the Umayyads had done on the accession of Ali.
Osman b. Honeif, who went to Busra, entered unopposed; but Ibn Mir, his predecessor, had also already made away with all the treasure and joined Talha and Zubeir. Osman occupied his post but found that disaffection was rife against Ali among a considerable number of the people.
Ammara on his way to Kufa was met by Tulaiha and Qaqa at the stage named Zabala, and they advised him to go back to Medina as the Kufians, they said, were resolved not to part with Abu Musa Ashari, who was set over them by their own choice by the late Caliph. They warned him that if he attempted to enter Kufa, he would have to face strong hostilities. Ammara retraced his steps, to Medina and reported the state of affairs to the Caliph, Ali.
When Sahel, the Governor designate of Syria, reached Tabuk, he met a party of horsemen who told him that the people of Syria were clamouring for the vengeance of Osman's blood and would not receive a man of Ali's appointment whom they did not recognise as Caliph. Being unprepared to force his advance, Sahel returned to Medina and reported the matter to Mi.
Scheme of the Umayyads to stir up the people against Ali's government.
In the meantime the Umayyads, sparing nothing which could possibly serve to disturb Ali and his government, carried, at the instance of 1 Umme Habiba, a widow of the Prophet and sister of Moawiya, the blood-stained shirt which Osman was wearing at the time of his murder, together with the mangled fingers of Naela, his wife, to Moawiya in Syria, where he used them as instruments to stir up the spirit of vengeance among his people. Amr b. Aas, the true counsellor of Moawiya, said to him: 'Show the dam her foal, it will stir her bowels'; and he accordingly suspended the shirt with the mangled fingers attached thereto on the pulpit of the mosque at Damascus. These
1 Mas'udi; Habib-al-Siyar.
emblems were also carried about for the army to witness. These objects, daily exposed to view, touched the Syrians, who wept till their beards were wet with tears, and swore vengeance upon the murderers of Osman.
Moawiya's defiance of Ali's authority.
When Sahel returned, Ali asked Talha and Zubeir to mark the extent to which the parties were divided and which he had cautioned them against. They replied that, if they were allowed to go out of Medina, they would be answerable if the disturbance did not cease. Upon this Ali said that sedition was like fire, the more it burnt the stronger it grew and the brighter it shone; he would, however, bear it so long as it was possible, and when it became unbearable he would try to extinguish it. He resolved in the first instance, to write a letter to Moawiya and also to Abu Musa demanding their allegiance. Abu Musa replied that he himself and the Kufians, with some exceptions, were entirely at his service; but from Moawiya no reply was forthcoming though weeks elapsed. In fact Moawiya had detained the messenger to witness the strength of his armies clamouring impatiently to revenge the blood of Osman, but, being, faithfully submissive to him, only waited for a word of command from him to march againt all concerned. After several weeks Moawiya permitted the messenger to go back to Medina, accompanied by a messenger of his own, who carried a despatch which was superscribed on the cover with the words 'from Moawiya to Ali.' According to the instructions given to him by Moawiya, when Moawiya's messenger reached Medina, he carried the despatch aloft upon a staff on purpose to be seen by the people in the streets. Being well aware of
Moawiya's disaffection for Ali, the people thronged, anxious to know what the contents of the message might be. It was just three months after the murder of Osman that the despatch was presented to Ali, who read the address and breaking open the seal found all blank within, which he rightly took as a token of utmost defiance. Astonished at the effrontery of Moawiya, he asked the messenger to explain the enigma. 1 Upon this the messenger having begged and received assurance for the safety of his life answered: "Know then, I have left behind me in Syria sixty thousand warriors bewailing the murder of Osman under his blood-stained shirt by the oulpit of the great Mosque at Damascus, all bent on revenging the death of the Caliph on thee."
"O me!" cried Ali in astonishment. "I call God to witness that I am not guilty of it. 0 God! I seek Thy protection against so false a charge." Ali then declared that only the sword could be the arbitrator between Moawiya and himself; and turning to Ziyad b. Hantala who sat by
1 The messenger's reply to Ali is given by Major Price thus : "Fifty thousand men are assembled about the robes of Osman' whose cheeks and beards have never been dry from tears, and whose eyes have never ceased from weeping blood, since the hour of that prince's atrocious murder. They have drawn their swords with a solemn pledge never to return them to the scabbard, nor cease from mourning, until they have extirpated all concerned in that detested transaction. This sentiment they have left as a solemn bequest to their descendants; and the earliest principle that mothers instil into the minds of their infant offspring is, to revenge the blood of Osman to the last extremity.' This insolent speech excited the anger of the attendants of the Caliph to such a degree, that, had not Ali interposed, serious consequences might have ensued. Strange to say, this magnanimity on the part of Ali operated like magic on the messenger of Moawiya, who then declared himself convinced of his error, and solemnly swore that for the future he would never voluntarily separate from the person of Ali or acknowledge the authority of any other sovereign to his prejudice." S. Ockley's History of Saracens P. 295.
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him, said that an expedition against Syria might be proclaimed, which Ziyad soon communicated to the people.
Departure of Talha & Zubeir.
Talha and Zubeir, whose desire to quit Medina was twice thwarted, now, seeing how the affairs were drifting, were anxious to acquire freedom of action, which they could not enjoy so long as they remained in Medina. Once more, therefore, they came to Ali and asked of him leave to proceed to Mecca on pretext of performing the Lesser Pilgrimage. Ali, who understood their motive, reminded them of the oath of allegiance which they had taken of their free will on the day of his inauguration and gave them leave to depart, saying that he expected strange things from them and therefore he had insisted on their sincerity in taking the oath.
Ali began prenarations for the expedition to Syria, calling for assistance from all the provinces and intensifying recruitment in Medina; entering into armed conflict with Moawiya, he had to face another serious rebellion, which is described in detail below.
Ayesha's plans for rebellion.
Ayesha, on her way back from the pilgrimage at Mecca, met Ibn Omm Kalab at Safif. He informed her of Osman's murder and All's accession to the Caliphate. When Ayesha heard of Ali's election as Caliph she said, "I wish Heavens had fallen and I had not seen this day." Ref. Historians History of the World. Vol. VIII page 170. She further added 'carry me back to Mecca' and, repeating it, she
said, 'By God! Osman was innocent, I will avenge his blood.' She went instantly back to Mecca along with her confederate Hafsa 1 and began to propagate sedition there. Sit. W. Muir in his Annals of the early Caliphate on page 351 and 352 gives the following account of Ayesha relating to this incident: "In the early period of Osman's troubles, Ayesha is said to have contributed her share towards fomenting public discontent. We are told that she even abetted the conspirators, among whom her brother Muhammad, son of Abubakr, was a chief leader. When on receiving the tidings of the murder, on her way back from Mecca, she declared that she would avenge Osman's death. 'What cried her informant, startled by her zeal, 'is this thy speech now, whilst but yesterday thou wast foremost to press the attack upon him as an apostate?' 'Yea', she replied, 'but even now he repented of that which they laid to his charge, and yet after that they slew him.' In reply her informant recited the verses purporting to say: 'Thou wast the first to foment the discontent. Thou commanded us to slay the prince for his apostasy.' Anyhow it must be admitted that Ayesha was a jealous, violent, intriguing woman, a character that may well account for much that would otherwise appear strange." In fact Ayesha expected either of the two, Talha or Zubeir, to succeed Osman, but contrary to her expectations, Ali was elected. She detested Ali and was extremely disturbed in mind and thought of resorting to open hostilities. Declaring herself avenger of Osman's blood, she induced the great and powerful clan of Umayyah to which Osman belonged to join her cause. The Umayyads who still resided at Mecca and those who had fled from Medina on the accession of Ali, readily gathered under her flag. The deposed Governors of several provinces also came in, one after the other, and,
persuading easily a large number of malcontents, made common cause with her. Yala, the ex-governor of Yemen, furnished her with ample means to carry on the war by presenting her the State treasure, which he had carried off from Yemen.
Talha and Zubeir join Ayesba in her rebellion
About four months after the murder of Osman, Talha and Zubeir, the brother-in-law of Ayesha reached Mecca and found things well in progress. Notwithstanding their oath of allegiance to Ali, which they now said they took under compulsion and were not therefore bound to abide by it, they longed to take up her cause, which, in case of success, was sure to prove to their own benefit. Accordingly they joined Ayesha and began to take measures against Ali, proclaming among the faction at Mecca that Al's affairs were quite in an unsettled condition. "Ayesha, Talha and Zubeir who had always been enemies of Osman, and were, in fact, the contrivers of his death and destruction, when they saw Ali elected, whom they hated equally, if not more, made use of Osman's real and sincere friends as instruments of their malice against the new Caliph. So that from very different motives they all unanimously joined in demanding satisfaction for the murder of Osman.
The joint move of Ayesha, Talha and Zubeir has been mentioned in 'Historians History of the World, Vol. VIII page 170, as follows : "Though she (Ayesha) had obviously shared the conspiracy against Osman, she now proclaimed herself as avenger and she denounced Ali as the author of his death. Joined with her were Talha and Zubeir who well knew the falsehood of Ayesha's allegation"
Simon Ockley's History of the Saracens p. 294. The standard of rebellion was raised and the tale of these distinguished persons was eagerly listened to by the factious and the revengeful Arabs at large, whose fathers and brothers had been killed by Ali in defending the Prophet's cause on the occasion of various wars in his time. Many a discontented Arab flocked under the Standard. The treasure, which Ibn Amir the deposed Governor of Busra had brought away with him, was now utilized by Talha and Zubeir in equipping the force.
The preparations for war having been completed, the leaders of the rebellion held a council to discuss the place where the operations could be carried on with success. Ayesha proposed to march upon Medina to attack Ali in his capital. This idea was abandoned because she was informed that the people of Medina were unanimously in favour of Ali, and too powerful to be assailed with success. Some suggested that they proceed to Syria and make a joint attack with the insurgents there; but Walid b. Oqba strongly opposed this suggestion, saying that Moawiya would not approve of their presence in his capital, much less the control of his armies by them in such critical times, rather he would take it ill, as an interference in his designs to gain independence, which, as a matter of fact, kept him from sending the succour demanded of him as a feudatory chief by Osman, whose days he thought were numbered. The objection being weighty, the suggestion was dropped. At last, Talha having assured them that he had a strong party in his favour at Busra and that he was confident of its surrender, it was finally resolved to march toward that city. A proclamation was accordingly made by beat of drum through the streets of Mecca that Ayesha, the Mother of the Faithful, accompanied by the
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distinguished chiefs, Talha and Zubeir, was going in person to Busra; that all those who were desirous of avenging the atrocious murder of the prince of the faithful viz. Osman, and of doing service to the cause of the Faith, should join her, even if they had no equipments, which would be furnished to them as soon as they came in.
Ayesha instigates Umme Selma
Ayesha desired Umme Selma, another wife of the Prophet who had been at Mecca on pilgrimage, to accompany her in the adventure, but she indignantly declined the invitation, and reasoned with Ayesha whether she was justified to venture against the prophecy of the Prophet in opposing Ali, who, she pointed out, was also Caliph duly elected unanimously by the people of Medina and acknowledged by the people of several provinces. Reciting the Prophet's saying: "Ali is my vicegerent in my life as also on my death, whosoever disobeys him disobeys me," she asked Ayesha if she had heard the Prophet say so. The latter assented. Then Umme Selma reminded her of the Prophet's prediction, to which he had given utterance reproachfully to his wives: "A short while after, the dogs of Hawab shall bark at one of my wives who will be amongst a rebellious mob. Oh! that I knew who she was! Beware O Homeira! lest thou should be the one." Ayesha, was alarmed at these reminders and Umme Selma continuing her warnings said: "Do not let thyself be beguiled by Talha and Zubeir. They will entangle thee into wrong but would not be able to extricate thee from the wrath or disgrace that may befall thee." Ayesha returned to her lodging half inclined to desist from her scheme, but the entreaties of her adopted son, Abdallah b. Zubeir, persuaded her vindictive nature to avenge herself upon
the man who had once joined the Prophet in suspecting her when a false charge was laid against her. "Ayesha, spurning the restraints of her sex, prepared to join the campaign and to stir up the people of Busra, as she had stirred up those of Mecca. Hafsa, daughter of Omar, another wife of the Prophet, was with difficulty restrained by her brother who had just fled from Medina, and held aloof from either side from accompanying her sister-widow." Muir's Annals, p. 353.
Ayesha's march on Busra
At length Ayesha, mounted in a litter carried by the camel al-Askar, marched forth from Mecca at the head of one thousand volunteers, Six hundred of them were riding on camels and four hundred on horses. She was attended on her right by Talha and by Zubeir on her left. On her way, many a people joined her, soon swelling the number of the rebel army to three thousand.
Moghira b. Sho'ba, who was Governor of Busra and of Kufa, in the time of Caliph Omar, and Sa'id, one of the veteran elders of Mecca and a Mohajir of the first emigration who also accompanied the cavalcade, suspecting the motives of Talha and Zubeir, enquired of them as to who would be the Caliph in the event of victory. "Either of us two, as chosen by the people", was the ready response. "And why not a son of Osman?" asked Sa'id. To this the reply was, "Because the elders, being distinguished chiefs and Mohajirs, should not be overlooked." "But I think", rejoined Sa'id, "if you are going forth to revenge the murder of Osman, his successor should, of a right, be one of his own sons, two of whom Ahab and Walid e already in your camp. Your succession would mean that, under pretence of Osman's blood, you sought to fight for
your own profit." "It will, however", they answered, "depend upon the men of Medina to choose whomsoever they like." Moghira and Sa'id, distrusting the leaders of the rebellion, resolved to retire, and accordingly they retraced their steps to Mecca along with their followers, who formed part of a body of the rebel army. Turning to the troops, as they were passing by them shouting: "Slay the murderers of Osman, destroy them, one and all", Moghira cried out to Marwan and others: "Whither are ye going to hunt the murderers? They are before your eyes on the humps of their camels (pointing out towards Talha, Zubeir and Ayesha), slay them and go back to your homes. They are the proper objects of your vengeance, they had as much hand in the detested affair as anybody else." The army, however, continued its march shouting wildly all the way. It was urged that the question of succession was premature, and Ayesha declared that the choice of a successor was the exclusive right of the men of Medina and must rest with them as before and, to avoid further misgivings, she directed that Abdallah, the son of Zubeir, should lead the daily prayers.
Ayesha in the valley of Hawab
On their way to Busra, the rebel army received intelligence that Ali, the Caliph, had come out of Medina in their pursuit. In order to reach Busra uninterrupted and unhampered Ayesha ordered that the route should be changed. Leaving aside the highway, her armies marched by an unfrequented pathway to Busra. The guide, to dispel the irksomeness of the long autumn nights, whiled away his time singing and occasionally shouting the name of each valley, desert or village they were passing by. Reaching one night a place, he cried: "The valley of
Hawab." Struck at this name, a chill ran through Ayesha's whole frame, instantly the dogs of the village surrounding her camel began to bark at her most clamorously. "What place is this?" she screamed aloud, and the guide repeated in his usual tone, "The valley of Hawab." The Prophet's prediction recently brought to her memory by Umme Selma, as already observed, was now uppermost in her mind, and she shivered and exclaimed, "Alas I am indeed the wretched woman of Hawab. The Prophet had already warned me against this." Talha and Zubeir swore falsely that the guide had mistaken the name and that the place was not Hawab. They also suborned fifty witnesses to swear to it. In spite of this she refused to proceed further. This is said to be the first occasion of false evidence given publicly since the dawn of Islam.
Thus for the night and the whole of the following day they halted at Hawab. Talha and Zubeir were quite perplexed and did not know what to do. At last, hitting upon a clever stratagem, the next night they made the army raise a cry, "Quick! Ali's army is fast approaching to overtake us." Ayesha struck with terror, instantly took to her heels, found her camel, and nimbly got into her litter. The march was instantly resumed.
Ayesha's encampment at Khoreiba
The army pushed forward in haste towards Busra and reaching the outskirts of the town encamped at Khoreiba. Ayesha sent for Ahnaf b. Qais, a leading citizen of Busra, and asked him to join her army. After some discussion on the subject, he refused to take up arms against the Caliph. Resolving, however, to remain neutral, he left Busra with six thousand of his followers and encamped
in the suburbs of Busra at Wadi-al-Saba. Ayesha sent a message to Osman b. Honeif, the Governor of Busra, inviting him to come to her. Immediately Ibn Honeif, putting on his armour and followed by a large number of the citizens, went forth to meet Ayesha. But to his surprise, he found the army of the insurgents arrayed on the parade-ground followed by a large number of the factious element of the citizens, who had in the meantime joined Ayesha to stand by her side. A parley ensued: "Talha and Zubeir alternately addressed the multitude, and were followed by Ayesha, who harangued them from her camel. Her voice, which she raised that it might be heard by all, became shrill and sharp, instead of intelligible, and provoked the merriment of some of the crowd. A dispute arose as to the justice of her appeal; mutual revilings took place between the parties; they gave each other the lie, and threw dust in each other's faces. One of the men of Busra then turned and reproached Ayesha: "Shame on thee, '0 Mother of the Faithful!' said he, "Murder of the Caliph was a grievous crime, but was a lesser abomination than thy forgetfulness of the modesty of thy sex. Wherefore dost thou abandon thy quiet home and thy protecting veil and ride forth like a man barefaced on that accursed camel to foment quarrels and dissensions among the Faithful?" Another of the crowd scoffed at Talha and Zubeir: "You have brought your mother with you", cried he, "why did you not also bring your wives?" Insults were soon followed by blows, swords were drawn, a skirmish ensued, and they fought until the hour of prayer separated them." W. Irving's Successors of Muhammad. p. 172.
The gates of the city were now closely barred against the entry of the insurgents. Some days passed in skirmishes with serious loss to the Governor's party and the rebels had
the advantage of gaining some footing in the town. At length a truce was agreed upon and one of the terms being that a messenger should be sent to Medina to enquire whether Talha and Zubeir paid homage to Ali on the day of his inauguration voluntarily or under compulsion. In the former case they would be treated as rebels and in the latter their partisans in Busra would be justified in upholding their cause. The insurgents, who were desirous to get a chance to overpower the Governor and to take possession of the city, acquiesced in this arrangement to gain time for the longed for opportunity. A messenger was sent to Medina. When he delivered his errand, the people were all silent. At last Osama stood up and said that they were compelled. But this assertion of Osama would have cost him his life had not a friend of his, viz., Sohaib, a man of influence and authority, taken him under his protection and led him home.
Seizure of Busra by Ayesha.
In the meantime the insurgent leaders endeavoured to draw Ibn Honeif, the Governor of Busra to their camp by friendly messages, but he suspecting treachery, confined himself to his own house and substituted Ammar in office. Talha and Zubeir, taking a chosen band one stormy dark night, mixed with the congregation in the mosque in the guise of worshippers, surprised the Governor after killing forty of his guard and took him prisoner. On the following day Hakim b. Jabala tried to release the prisoner, but in his efforts lost his life together with seventy of his followers. A serious conflict raged throughout the city, resulting in the total discomfiture and heavy loss of Ali's party. Ayesha entered the city in state and the government of Busra, together With the treasury, passed into the hands of the insurgents.
Soon after the capture of Osman b. Honeif. Ayesha was asked in what way it was her pleasure to punish him. She passed a sentence of death on him, but on the entreaties of a woman of her retinue, she was moved to spare his life. He was doomed, however, to suffer great tortures before he could escape from the hands of his captors. His beard, moustache and eyebrows were plucked out hair by hair and he was then contemptuously turned out.
Tidings to Ali of Ayesha's revolt
The reader might naturally be anxious to know what Ali, the Caliph, was doing all this time. Let us therefore leave the insurgents in possession of Busra and follow Ali : Rumours of the disturbance at Mecca reached Medina, but Ali said that unless an overt action of the malcontents threatened the very unity of Islam, he would not take drastic measures against them. After some time, Umme Selma, 1 who had spurned the proposals of Ayesha at Mecca, as already observed, repaired to Medina soon after the departure of the rebels to Busra and informed Ali of the revolt of Ayesha, Talha and Zubeir. Again, an urgent message was also received from Omm-al-Fadzl, the widow of Abbas at Mecca, with news of the rebels' designs against the Caliph and of their march upon Busra.
On receipt of this intelligence, Ali assembled the people in the great Mosque and called them to take up arms and to follow him against the rebels. The Caliph's eloquent address and warm appeal was received with coldness and apathy 2 which pervaded the assembly. No one appeared ready to respond to the call. Some of them had
2 Ibn Athir.
in their minds the fact that the person against whom they were urged to take up alms was none other than the Mother of the Faithful, i.e. Ayesha; others dreaded a civil war, some doubted if Ali might not in some degree have been implicated in the death of Osman, a charge which had been so artfully brought against him. For three consecutive days Ali tried his best to move the people to bestir themselves. At last on the third day Ziyad b. Hantzela rose and approching Ali said : "Let whomsoever will, hold back, I shall go forward." Following his example, two Ansars, Abul Hathim and Khazima b. Thabit, came forth saying : "The Prince of the Faithful is innocent of the murder of Osman, we must join him." Instantly Abu Qatada, another Ansar, a man of distinction stood up and drawing his sword exclaimed : "The Apostle of God, upon whom be peace, girded me with this sword. I have kept it sheathed a long while; but now it is high time to draw it against these wicked men who are always deceiving the people." (Simon Ockley's History of the Saracens p. 300).
Even Umme Selma 1 in the enthusiasm of her zeal for Ali said to him : "O Commander of the Faithful! If it were permitted by Law, I myself would have accompanied thee in thy expedition, but I know thou wouldst not allow it, so I offer the services of my son, Omar b. Abi Selma, who is dearer to me than my own life. Let him go with thee and partake of thy fortunes." Ali accepted the offer and Omar b. Abi Selma accompanied him in the expedition. He was a man of valour, possessed of piety and many other good qualities, he was subsequently appointed Governor of Bahrein.
1 Tabari ; ibn Khaldun.
Ali's march against Ayesha
In short, a levy of nine hundred men could be raised with difficulty. The cold attitude of the people of Medina at this critical juncture made Ali so dejected that he resolved not to come back among them but to transfer his seat of government elsewhere. However at the head of this small force of nine hundred 1 men he marched out of Medina wishing to overtake the rebels on their way to Busra. Arriving at Rabazha (on the outskirts of Nejd), he found out that the insurgents had already passed and were beyond reach. Though joined on his march by the Bani Tay and some other loyal tribes, still, not being sufficiently equipped for further advance, he ordered a halt at Zhi Qar waiting for reinforcements from Kufa, where he had sent Mohammed b. Abubakr and Abdallah b. Ja'far to Abu-Musa-al-Ashari, the Governor, requesting him to urge the people to come over to their Caliph in order to subdue the rebels and to try for the re-union of a divided people.
Abu Musa-al-Ashari's conduct towards the Caliph
Abu-Musa cherished no good will towards the Caliph because the latter having sent Ammara b. Shahab to replace him, as has been mentioned earlier, as he was a weak and spineless man of low spirit. Ayesha had already sent him letters to dissuade his people from their allegiance to Ali and to persuade them to rise up to avenge the murder of Osman. Apprehensive of the success of Ayesha at Busra, he had already begun to waver in his allegiance to Ali and to advocate her cause to the people. When the Caliph's messengers arrived at Kufa and gave out
his command, there was perfect silence among the people in the mosque. At length the people. asked Abu-Musa how he advised them in the matter of joining the Caliph's forces. He gravely replied that going to fight for Islam and sitting quietly at home were two different things. The former was the way of the world, while the latter was the heavenly way. They should take their choice. Enraged at heating him speak thus, the Caliph's envoys reproached him, to which he answered with an oath that the homage done to Osman still hung round his neck and round the neck of his master meaning Ali as well as his people; so 1 they were resolved to see the murderers of Osman liquidated withersoever they were; and so long as any of the murderers remained alive they would not go out to join any expedition. He desired Mohammed b. Abubakr and Abdallah b. Ja'far to go back as fast as they could to Ali and tell him so.
2 In the meantime Osman b. Honeif, the ex-Governor of Busra, presented himself at Zhi-Qar. His appearance was strange indeed. The Caliph recognised him and observed with a smile that he had left him an old man but he returned to him a beardless youth. In fact Osman had a remarkably beautiful beard, the loss of which, together with the hair plucked out of his moustache and eyebrows, gave him an uncanny appearance, which made all smile. He recounted the misfortunes he had experienced at the hands of the insurgent leaders, and the Caliph sympathised with him for his sufferings and comforted him by assuring him that his sufferings would be counted as merits. He then said that the men who were the first to accept him as a Caliph were the first to break their oath of fealty and the
2 Abul Fida.
first to rise up in rebellion against him. He could not understand their voluntary submission to Abubakr, Omar and Osman and their opposition to him.
As soon as Mohammed b. Abubakr and Abdallah b. Ja'far came back and reported what Abu-Musa had said. the Caliph despatched Ibn Abbas' and Malik-al-Ashtar to Kufa to use their influence over the Kufians. Arriving at Kufa, they delivered the message and invoked the assistance of the Kufians. Abu-Musa, however, addressed them thus : "Brethren! The Companions of the Prophet know better of God and His Prophet than those who are not Companions. The disturbance is amongst the Companions, they know best who is to be trusted. You should not meddle with their affairs. For such an occasion the Prophet has said: "There would be a disturbance in which he that sleepeth is better than he that is awake, and he that is awake is better than he that sitteth, and he that sitteth is better than he that standeth; and he that standeth is better than he that walketh, and he that walketh is better than he that rideth." Wherefote sheath your swords, cut your bow strings and put off lances. Sit quietly in your houses and receive the injuted to your hospitality till the disturbance is ceased. Let the Companions of the Prophet be all agreed. You need not make war against any. Let those who have come to you from Medina return back."
Abu Musa's deposition from the government of Kufa
Ibn Abbas and Malik-al-Ashtar went back and reported to the Caliph, who then sent his son Hasan accompanied by Ammar Yasir, who had been for some time Governor of Kufa during the reign of Caliph Omar and who for his outspoken remarks had been severely maltteated by Caliph
1 Ibn Athir.
Osman. Malik al-Ashtar, a man possessed of initiative and determination, exercising great influence over the Kufians, who was irritated by the prevarications of Abu-Musa in his previous mission, followed Hasan along with Qartza b. Ka'b Ansar, who was nominated by the Caliph to replace Abu-Musa in office. Abu-Musa received Hasan quite respectfully, but when in the mosque the assistance required by the Caliph was sought for, he opposed the proposal as vigorously as before, repeating the saying of the Prophet as mentioned in the foregoing paragraph viz. "There should be a disturbance in which he that sleepeth is better than he that walketh etc." Ammar Yasir, the venerable old favourite of the Prophet aged about 90, a stern soldier and veteran, now General of the Horse in Ali's forces, hearing the cunning speech of Abu-Musa, promptly replied to him that he had misapplied the words of the Prophet which were meant to rebuke such men as Abu-Musa himself, who were far better sleeping than awake, better sitting than standing etc. Still Abu-Musa persisted in hindering the people from complying with the envoys' proposals. A tumult ensued when 1 Zaid b. Sohan stood up and read out a letter from Ayesha commanding him either to remain at home neutral or to join her. Having read this letter he produced another, meant for the Kufian general public to the same effect. Having read both these letters he remarked : "She is required by the Quran and by the Prophet to sit quietly at home in her house, and we to fight till there should be no sedition. She commands us to play her part while she has taken ours upon herself." Some people among the audience reproached Zaid for this remark against the Mother of the Faithful. Abu-Musa again began his address opposing the Caliph, upon which some of the audience chided him for
his unfaithfulness and disloyalty and forced him to leave the pulpit, which was then occupied by Hasan b. Ali.
1 Abu-Musa had to leave not only the pulpit but also the mosque at once, as some of the men of the garrison stationed at the Governor's castle came crying to him, bearing evidence of having been severely beaten with batons and sticks. It may be explained that, while the dissension was going on in the mosque, Malik-al-Ashtar taking a party of his men seized the castle of the Governor by surprise, caused the garrison to be soundly beaten and sent them to the mosque, to cut short the discussion. This prompt measure of Al-Ashtar produced the desired effect ; and it placed the cold-spirited conduct of Abu-Musa in such a ridiculous light that the feelings of the populace were instantly turned against him. He proceeded to the castle in haste only to receive orders from Malik to vacate it at once. The mob at the gate were ready to plunder his house, but Malik interposed and granted Abu Musa twenty four hours to take away his belongings.
Hasan b. Ali raising a levy of 9000 Kufians
From the pulpit Hasan addressed the congregation very fluently. "He maintained the innocence of his father in regard to the assassination of Osman. His father, he said, had either done wrong, or had suffered wrong. If he had done wrong, God would punish him. If he had suffered wrong, God would help him, The case was in the hands of the Most High. Talha and Zubeir who were the first to inaugurate him, were the first to turn against him. What had he done, as Caliph, to merit such opposition ? What injustice had he committed ? What covetous
1 Ibn Athir ; Ibn Khaldun.
or selfish propensity had he manifested ?" W. Irving's Successors of Muhammad p. 177.
He reminded the people the saying of the Prophet who had said that Ali would always be on the side of truth. The eloquence of Hasan was extremely effective; the heads of the tribes were telling each other that they had given their hands in allegiance to Ali. He had done them the honour by wishing to make them arbittators in such an important affair. They were sorry for not giving heed to the messengers, which necessitated the Caliph to depute his own son to come to them asking for their assistance. They fin2lly concluded that they ought to obey their Caliph and must comply with such a reasonable demand.
Hasan told them that he was going back to his father and that those who thought fit to accompany him might do so, while others might follow by land or by water. Accordingly 1 nine thousand Kufians came over to Ali, some by land and some by water. Welcoming them, Ali- said : "I have called you hither to be witnesses between us and our brethren of Busra. If they submit peaceably, it is what we desire; if they persist we will heal them with gentle usage, unless they fall upon us injuriously. We, on our part, will omit nothing that may, by any means, contribute to an accommodation, which we must prefer to the desolation of war." S. Ockley's History of the Saracens p. 306.
The army of the Caliph, having been reinforced from other quarters as well, now numbered twenty thousand strong, and with this army he advanced towards Busra 2. While staying at Zhi-Qar, Ali wrote letters to Ayesha,
Talha and Zubeir warning them against the unwise steps they had taken and telling them that none of them could stand as legitimate avengers of the blood of Osman, who was an Umayyad while none of them belonged to the Bani Umayya. Ayesha sent a reply that the situation had already reached a stage at which warnings were useless, as for Talha and Zubeir they gave no written answer but sent word to inform Ali that they were not prepared to obey his dictates and that he was at liberty to do whatever he wished.
Ali's arrival at Busra
Ayesha's army numbered thirty thousand, but it consisted mostly of raw recruits, while that of Ali's was composed principally of veterans and men who had seen service and were the Companions of the Prophet. When Ali appeared with his forces marshalled in an imposing battle array before Busra, Ayesha and her confederates were struck with terror. 1 Approaching Busra, Ali sent Qa'qa b. Amr, a Companion of the Prophet, to the rebel leaders to negotiate peace if possible. Ayesha replied that Ali should personally negotiate with them. 2 When Ali arrived, messages passed between the hostile forces with a view to compromising the matter. Ali, Talha and Zubeir were seen holding long conversations, walking together backward and forward in the sight of both the armies, the negotiations went so far that every one expected that a peace would be effected; for Ali, with his impressive eloquence, touched the hearts of Talha and Zubeir, warning them against the Judgment of Heaven and challenging them to the ordeal of invoking heavenly wrath on those who
1 Al-Murtudza ; Abbasi.
2 Tabari; Rawdzat-al-Ahbab; Imamat-wal-Siyasat.
promoted and prompted the murder of Osman instigating the malefactors. In one of their conferences Ali asked Zubeir "Hast thou forgotten how the Apostle of God once asked thee if thou did not love his dear Ali, and thou answered 'Yes', dost thou not remember the Prophet's prophecy that 'nevertheless, there will come a day when thou wilt rise up against him and bring many miseries upon him and upon all the Muslims'. Zubeir answered that he remembered it perfectly well and he felt sorry, that had he remembered it before, he would never have taken up arms against him. Zubeir appeared most inclined not to fight against Ali.
He returned to his camp and acquainted Ayesha with what had passed between himself and Ali. "It is said that upon this hint he declined fighting with Ali, but that having acquainted Ayesha with the circumstances, she was so furious against Ali, that she would not listen to an accommodation on any terms. Others say that his (Zubeir's) son Abdallah (adopted by Ayesha) made him change his mind by asking him whether or not he was afraid of Ali. Upon Zubeir answering, 'No, but that he was sworn to Ali', Abdallah bade him expiate his oath, which he did by giving a slave his liberty, and forthwith prepared without further hesitation, to fight against Ali." S. Ockley's History of the Saracens p. 307.
The two armies were camping opposite one another on the same field. During the night one p2rty fell upon the other, each blaming the other for provoking a drawn battle. The reader may question which of the two parties was to blame for this nocturnal attack. Which party attempted at pacification to avoid bloodshed, and which thwarted the attempts. The circumstances related above are only too clear to indicate the truth.
The battle of the camel 'Jamal'
Early next morning, Friday the 16th of Jamadi 11, 36 A.H. (November 656 A.D.) Ayesha took the field, mounted in a litter on her great camel Al-Askar and riding up and down among her troops, animating them by her presence and by her voice. In history the battle is named 'the battle of the camel' after the strange animal on which Ayesha was mounted, though it was fought on the field of Khoreiba close to Busra . Ali's army faced the enemy in battle array, but the Caliph ordered them not to take the offensive unless the enemy began the onset. He further gave stringent orders that no wounded should be slain, no fugitive pursued, no plunder seized nor the privacy of any house violated. No sooner had he given these orders when showers of arrows started to pour from the enemy but, still Ali forbade his soldiers to retaliate and bade them wait.
"To the very last moment Ali evinced a decided repugnance to shed the blood of a Muslim; and just before the battle, he endeavoured to turn the adversary to allegiance by a solenm appeal to the Quran. A person named Muslim immediately offered himself for the service; and uplifting a copy of the sacred volume with his right hand, this individual proceeded to admonish the enemy to recede from their unwarranted designs. 1 But the hand which bore the Holy Manuscript was severed from his arm by one of the infuriated multitude. Seizing the Quran with his left, that limb was also severed by another scimitar. Still, however, 'messing it to his bosom with his mutilated arms he continued his exhortations until finally he was kiled by the swords of the enemy. His body was subsequently recovered by his friends and prayers
1. According to Tabari (Persian) by Talha.
( 154 )
pronounced over it by Ali in person ; after which, taking up a handful of dust, and scattering it towards the insurgents, that prince imprecated upon them the retribution of an avenging Deity. In the meantime. the impetuosity of Ali's followers could no longer be restrained. Drawing their swords and pointing their spears, they rushed impetuously to the combat, which was supported on all sides with extraordinary fierceness and animosity. "Price's Mohomedan History" quoted by S. Ockley p. 308.
1 During the heat of the battle when victory began to incline towards Ali, Marwan b. al-Hakam (Secy. of the late Caliph Osman) one of the officers in Ayesha's army, noticed Talha urging his troops to fight valiantly. 'Behold the traitor,' said he to his slave attendant, 'but recently he was one of the murderers of the aged Caliph, now he stands as the pretended avenger of his blood. What a mockery ! All to gain worldly grandeur.' So saying he in a fit of hatred and fury, shot Talha with an arrow which pierced his leg right through and struck his horse, who reared and threw the rider to the ground. In the anguish of the moment, Talha cried, "O God, take vengeance upon me for Osman according to Thy will !" And then called for help. Seeing his footwear full of blood, he asked one of his men to pick him up and put him on his horse and carry him to Busra. Finding his death approaching, he called one of Ali's men, who happened to be present, 'Give me thine hand,' said the dying penitent, "that I may put mine in it and by this act renew my oath of fealty to Ali." With these words Talha breathed his
last. It touched the generous heart of Ali when he heard it, and he said, "Allah would not call him to heaven until He had blotted out his first breach of his word by this last vow of fidelity." Talha's son Mohammed was also killed in this battle.
Remorse and compunction had been aroused in the heart of Zubeir at Ali's reminding him of the Prophet's prophecy. He had no doubt entered into the battle at the instance of Ayesha and his own son, but his heart was heavy. 1 Now he saw that Ammar Yasir, the venerable old companion of the prophet, noted for his probity and uprightness, was e General in the Caliph's army, he recollected having heard from the Prophet's lips that Ammar was a person who would always be found on the side of justice and right and that he would fall under the sword of the rebels. It all looked ominous to Zubeir and with a boding spirit he withdrew from the field of battle and all alone took the road to Mecca. When he came to the valley crossed by the brook Saba where Ahnaf b. Quis was encamped with a horde of Arabs (a s already mentioned), awaiting the issue of the battle, he was identified by Ahnaf at a distance. 'Cannot any one bring me tidings of Zubeir, said he to his men. One of his men, Amar b. Jarmuz, understood the hint and immediately set off. Seeing him approach, Zubeir suspected some evil intent and bade him keep his distance. But after some argument they made friends and both dismounted to offer prayers as it was the time for prayers. When Zubeir prostrated himself in the prayers, Amr seized his oppor
1 Ibn Athir.
( 156 )
tunity and struck off Zubeir's head with a single stroke of his scimitar. He carried the head to Ali, who shed tears at the sight of it. It was the head of one who was once his friend. Turning to the man he said, 'Go' villain ! Carry thy news to lbn Safiah in hell." This unexpected malediction so enraged the wretch, who expected a reward, that he uttered a rhapsody of abuse upon Ali and in a fit of desperation he drew his sword and plunged it through his own heart.
Defeat of Ayesha
Such was the end of the two great leaders of the rebels. As to Ayesha, the implacable soul of the revolt, the vindictive lady was still screaming unceasingly with her shrill voice, "Slay the murderers of Osman," and urging her men to fight. But the troops, bereft of their leaders, had already lost heart and were falling back upon the city. Seeing, however, that she was in peril, they stayed their flight and turned to her rescue. Rallying round her camel, one after another rushed to seize the bridle and the standard, and one after another they were cut down. Thus seventy men perished by the bridle of the ill-fated animal. Her litter, steel-plated and constructed like a cage, bristled all over with darts and arrows, and the hump of the huge beast looked like a startled and angry hedgehog. "Convinced that the battle must remain in suspense as long as the camel continued to exhibit a rallying point to the defenders of Ayesha, Ali signified his desire to those around him that their efforts should be directed to bring down the animal. After repeated and desperate assaults, Malik-al-Ashtar succeeded at lengh in forcing a passage and immediately struck off one of the camel's legs. Malik smote another leg, and the camel immediately sank
to the earth. The litter of Ayesha being thus brought to the ground, Mohammed, the son of Abubakr, was directed by Ali to take charge of his sister and protect her from being injured by the missiles which still flew from all quartets. He drew near accordingly, but when on introducing his hand into the litter and happening to touch that of Ayesha, she loaded him with abuse and execration, demanding what reprobate had presumed to stretch his hand where none but the Prophet's had been permitted. Mohammed replied that though it was the hand of her nearest in blood, it was also that of her bitterest enemy. Recognizing, however, the well known accents of her brother, the apprehensions of Ayesha were speedily dispelled." Price's Mohamedan History as quoted by S. Ockley p. 310.
Ali's magnanimity towards the enemy.
"Ayesha might have looked for cruel treatment at the hands of Ali, having been his vindictive and persevering enemy, but he was too magnanimous to triumph over a fallen foe." W. Irving's Succ. of Mohd. p. 197. When all the confusion of the battle was over, Ali came to her and asked her how she fared. Finding that she was all right and had escaped without injury, he reproachfully said to her, 'Had the Prophet directed thee to behave in this way ?' She replied, 'You are victorious, be good to your fallen foe.' Ali reproached her no more and gave instructions to her brother Mohammed, to take her to the house of Adballah b. Khalaf a Khozaite, who was a leading citizen of Busra and was killed fighting for Ayesha. She asked her brother to trace Abdallah, the son of Zubeir, who was subsequently found lying wounded on
the battlefield among the dead and wounded. As desired by Ayesha, he was brought before Ali for pardon and forgiveness. The generous-hearted conqueror magnanimously announced general amnesty to all the rebels and their confederates along with Adballah b. Zubeir. In spite of all this, Marwan and the Umayyads fled to Moawiya in Syria and to Mecca.
Carnage in the battle
The losses in the battle were very great. Some historians say that 16,796 men of Ayesha's forces and 1,070 of Ali's army were killed in the battle. The field was covered all over with dead bodies . A trench was dug and the dead bodies of friends and foes together were buried by the order of the Caliph.
Retirement of Ayesha
When all was quiet, Ali sent Abdallah b. Abbas to ask Ayesha to go to Medina, but she declined, saying that she would not go to a place where the Bani Hashim dwelt. Some reproachful arguments passed between the two, after which 1bn Abbas came back to Ali and reported her refusal. Malik-al-Ashtar was then sent to her, but he too failed in his attempts to persuade her. Then Ali himself went to her and told her that she was required to sit quietly at her home where she should now go to take her abode in the place where the Prophet left her, forgetting the past. 'The Lord pardon thee,' he said, 'for what hath passed and have mercy upon thee.' But she paid no heed to his words. At last, he sent his son Hasan with the message that if she persisted in her refusal
to go to her house in Medina, she would be treated in the way with which she was well acquainted. When Hasan visited her, she was dressing her hair, but hearing the message she was so perplexed that leaving her head half dressed she got up and ordered preparations for the journey. Hasan retired, but. the ladies of the house enquired of her what it was the boy said that made her so uneasy after her rejecting Ibn Abbas, Malik-al-Ashtar and even Ali's suggestion. Then she narrated the incident when the 1 Prophet had authorized Ali to divorce any of the Prophet's wives during his life or after. Hasan, said she, was the bearer of a warning from Ali to enforce that authority, which made her so uneasy. Ali made proper arrangements for Ayesha's journey and directed his two sons, Hasan and Husain, to escort her to a day's march, himself accompanying her for some distance.
"By the direction of Ali, Ayesha was escorted by a retinue of women (40 or 70), apparelled as men, and their familiar approach afforded a constant subject of complaint. On her arrival at Medina, however, she discovered the delicacy of the imposture, and became as liberal in her acknowledgments as she had before been in her reproaches." Price's Mohomedan History as quoted by S. Ockley p. 310.
It may not be out of place here to refer to the well-known tradition from Sahih Bokhari (translation by Wahiduzzaman part XII, Book of Jehad and Siyar page 68, Ahmedi Press, Lahore) wherein it is narrated The Holy Prophet pointing to the house of Ayesha, proclaimed thr ee times that mischief will start from this house and
1 Rawdzat-al-Ahbab; Habib-al-Siyar; A's= Kufl; Manqib-Murtazavi
the head of Satan will make its appearance from this very house." Needless to say that Ayesha's rebellious and irreligious action was in clear contravention of the mandate of God in Sutah Ahzab verse 33 as also of the various exhortations of the Holy Prophet about this incident.
The spoils of war.
It has been mentioned earlier that Ali had forbidden his army to seize any plunder. "So carefully were Ali's orders against plundering observed, that whatever was found on the field, or in the insurgent camp, was gathered together in the great mosque, and every man was allowed to claim his own. To the malcontents, who complained that they were not allowed to take the booty. Ali replied that the rights of war, in this case, lasted only so long as the ranks were arrayed against each other, and that immediately on submission, the insurgents resumed their rights and privileges as brother Muslims. Having entered the city, he divided the contents of the Treasury amongst the troops which had fought on his side, promising them a still larger reward should the Lord deliver Syria into his hands." Muirs Annals, p. 366.
Sir William on the battle of the Camel.
"The carnage in the ill-starred Battle of the Camel (for so it came to be called) was very great. The field was covered with over 10,000 bodies and this, notwithstanding that the victory was not followed up, for Ali had given orders that no fugitive should be pursued, nor any wounded soldier slain, nor plunder siezed, or the privacy of any house invaded
A great Trench was dug, and into it the dead were lowered, friends and foes alike. Ali encamped for three days outside the city, and himself performed the funeral service. It was a new experience to bury the dead slain in battle not aginst the infidel, but Believer fighting against Believer. Instead of cursing the memory of his enemies (too soon the fashion in these civil wars), Ali spoke hopefully of the future state of such as had entered the field, on whatever side, with an honest heart."
Sir William Muir- The Caliphate, its Rise, Decline and Fall page 250.
Transfer of the seat of government.
Ali's stay in Busra was not long. Having appointed Abdallah b. Abas as Governor, the Caliph repaired to Kufa in the month of Rajab, 36 A.H. Apprehensive of Moawiya's designs against him, Ali considrerd Kufa suitably situated to check any encroachment in Iraq or Mesopotamia, and also in recognition of the assistance he had received from the Kufians, he transferred the seat of his government to Kufa from Medina and made it the centre of Islam and the capital of the Empire, as topographically it was in the centre of his dominions.
The conspiracy of Ayesha , Talha and Zubeir having been crushed at the Khoreiba battlefield, this victory had given Ali complete sway over the territories from Khorasan in the east to Egypt in the west with the exception of the provinces in the north-west of Arabia, which were under the Governor of Syria viz. Moawiya.