Martyrdom of Hazrat Ali (RA)
By Lt Col (Retd) Khalid Masood Khan
April 12, 2023 03:48 AM
The martyrdom of Hazrat Ali Ibn Abi Talib (RA), cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and the last of the ‘rightly guided’ (Rashidin) caliphs which took place on the 21st of Ramadan, 40 Hijrah, 29 years after the death of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) was, in the sequel to the great dissension (fitnah) which started in Ummah after the martyrdom of third Caliph Hazrat Uthman (RA). With the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali, this dissension took a new impetus and dimension which ultimately resulted in the diversification of beliefs and perhaps the Muslim Ummah would ever remain involved in this dissension till the end of times.
When Hazrat Ali took the office as the fourth Caliph of Islam in the 35 Hijrah, the Muslim Ummah was going through extremely bad times. Madina was infested by the rebels from Kufa, Basra and Egypt and the third Caliph Hazrat Uthman had been killed by them. The Muslims were shocked and depressed. Dissension had started in the Ummah and Muslims were apprehensive and unsure of their futures. The first problem faced by Hazrat Ali was differences with Hazrat Mayawia (RA) for the governorship of Syria where, as the incumbent governor, he refused to bear allegiance (beyat) of the Caliph against his demand for handing over the murderers of Hazrat Uthman to him, both being from Bannu Ummayah. This situation was further aggravated when he had to face Hazrat Ayesha (RA), the beloved wife of the Prophet (PBUH) along with the famous companions of Prophet, Hazrat Zubair (RA) and Hazrat Talha (RA) at Basra in the battle of Jamal. This battle in which Muslims unsheathed their swords against each other for the first time left extremely adverse effects on their minds and psyche. From here on, Muslim history had to witness unending wars amongst themselves through the generations to come.
Next year the Muslims had to go into another bloody war amongst themselves at Siffin between the Iraqis and Syrians headed by Hazrat Ali and Hazrat Mayawiah respectively for the reason already mentioned above. This war also ended without any worthwhile results and none of the adversaries was victorious. The effects of the battle of Siffin on Muslims were even more devastating than the previous one. Thousands of Muslims which included the Hafiz e Quran and famous Companions of the Prophet (PBUH) were killed in these wars. As a result of this battle a new menace (fitnah) in the shape of Kharjees was created which became a real nuisance for the Muslims for centuries to come. Kharjees were those proclaimed loyalists in Hazrat Ali’s army who rebelled against him when the war was stopped. It would be worth mentioning here that the seed of the cause for the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali was also ploughed as a result of this battle. The subsequent event of Tehkeem (the decision) had catastrophic effects on Iraqis as it gave the Kharjees a new strength in their open condemnation of the decision of stopping the war by Hazrat Ali.
Afterwards, while the Caliph was busy planning another adventure in Syria, as a result of Tehkeem, more and more Kharjees started getting out of Kufa and Basra to join their companions in the camps located outside the cities. Hazrat Ali had initially kept a soft view towards the Kharjees, but very soon they transcended the limits of their nefarious activities and started spreading terror, harassment and persecution in the area. Their activities reached the extent that Hazrat Ali had to attack them at Neharwan killing most of them for the Qisas of the Muslims killed by them. Hazrat Ali was subsequently murdered by these Kharjees.
The Muslims were shocked by this event as Hazrat Ali besides having a great place in Islam was also from the Ahl e Bait (family of the Prophet (peace be upon him). However, after the murder of Hazrat Ali, Muslim History does not record any rebellion or a worthwhile movement for his cause. This gave an incentive to the Umayyads in the days to come to ruthlessly and without hesitation murder the Ahl e Bait in the shape of the tragedy of Karbala. It would be pertinent to mention that the seed for the tragedy of Karbala was ploughed with the murder of Hazrat Ali as the tragedy is not merely an event but manifests a particular way of thinking.
After the shahadat of Hazrat Ali, Muslim history had to witness a blatant return of Arab prejudice and tribalism which was vehemently denied by the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). During the ignorance period, this aspect was at its peak. Thus the Prophet gave the basic lesson of justice (Adl) and equality (Masawat) to the people besides Toheed (Oneness of Allah). Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)) is quoted to have said that, there is no preference for an Arab over Ajmee (non-Arab) and vice versa except for the piteous (muttaqi). All the Khulfa e Rashideen enforced justice and equality and with the death of Hazrat Ali, this chapter was closed and history witnessed the resurgence of Arab prejudice and tribalism in full swing.
After the death of Hazrat Ali, Muslims had to witness another great change in the political system in the shape of Succession (Moroosiat). The Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)) at the time of his death did not unequivocally nominate anyone from his family to succeed him. Thus Muslims selected Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique amongst them to be their Caliph who was from Banu Tamim a different tribe from Banu Hashim to whom the Prophet belonged. It would not be wrong to say that keeping in view the high esteem and respect in which Muslims placed Hazrat Hassan (may Allah be pleased by him), the son of Ali, and in the light of his high character and excellence, Muslims would have widely accepted if Hazrat Ali would have nominated him as his successor. However, Hazrat Ali, in keeping with the traditions of the Prophet and the previous caliphs did not nominate his son as a successor. Unfortunately, Muslim history had to witness the malevolence of succession (Moroosiat) throughout history.
In addition to the above, after the death of Hazrat Ali, Monarchy (Malokiat) was also introduced in Muslim history which was denounced by the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)) and was always referred towards Qaisar o Qisra (Persians and Byzantines) with abhorrence. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) lived a simple rather poor life and commanded the hearts and minds of the Muslims by role modelling. Similarly, Khulfa e Rashideen followed suit. Unfortunately, in the days to come the Muslim Caliphs lived luxurious lives like the great kings of Qaisar o Qisra.
The most important effect of the shahadat of Hazrat Ali was that after his death Imamat (religious leadership) bifurcated from Khilafat (Rule). Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) was a guide, spiritual leader and ruler of all Muslims and guided them in religious and other matters, and day-to-day life and even led them in war. Similarly, Khulfa e Rashideen followed the Prophet in true letter and spirit. They were the religious guides as well as leaders to rule the Muslims according to the Quran and Sunnah by setting self-examples and role modelling. After the death of Hazrat Ali, the institution of the Caliphate was politicized. Since the later Caliphs had adopted the malice of monarchy and succession, they were only interested to maintain their rules by use of force and manipulative policies with little regard to religious values. In addition, keeping in view the fact that the Muslims kept the Ahle Bait in high esteem and loved them, these Caliphs had serious apprehensions about Ahle Bait. They always considered them as a threat to their rules and therefore did not hesitate to persecute the Muslims to any extent and the tragedy of Karbala is a glaring example of such policies. Thus the vacuum created by these rulers for religious guidance was filled by the Ahle Bait and their successors in the shape of Imams. Thus this parallel arrangement can be seen in history.
Unfortunately, the Ummah all along its history adversely suffered this great dissension and is still so suffering.