More info and Downloads atwww.islamicbulletin.org
Page 235 of 255
Mu'aawiyah. This position is often taken as evidence of the immoderation in Abu Muusaa's good nature
or his extraordinary naivete, which made tricking him quite easy. However, the situation, as we shall see,
in spite of what hastiness or error there might have been, reveals the greatness of his soul, the greatness
of his faith in the truth and in people.
Indeed, the view of Abu Muusaa in the case of arbitration can be summarized by the fact that he
saw the Muslims killing one another and each party fanatically clinging to imam (ruler). As he saw it, the
situation between the combatants had reached a critical state that was impossible of resolve and placed
the destiny of the Muslim nation on the edge of an abyss. In his opinion, the situation had reached a stage
of deterioration. It was exemplified in the change of the whole situation, which thus required starting
The civil war, at that point, revolved around two parties of the Muslims disputing over the person of
the ruler. Some desired Imam `Aliy to relinquish the caliphate temporarily and Mu'aawiyah to renounce
it, so that the entire matter could be referred again to the Muslims. Then, they could choose, by way of
consultation, the caliph they wanted. This was how Abu Muusaa argued the case and this was the way he
saw its resolution.
It is correct that Imam `Aliy was soundly sworn in as caliph and correct that every illegal rebellion
should not be allowed to achieve its aim of overturning the legal right. However, the issues in the dispute
between the Imam and Mu'aawiyah and between the peoples of Iraq and Syria had, in the view of Abu
Muusaa, reached a state which imposed a new kind of thinking and resolution. For the insurgency of
Mu`aawiyah was not considered just a revolt alone, and the rebellion of the people of Syria was not
considered just an insurrection alone, and the entire difference was not considered just a difference in
opinion nor a matter of choice. All these things developed into a harmful civil war in which thousands
were killed on both sides and continued to threaten Islam and Muslims with the worst ramifications and
consequences. So removal of the causes of the dispute and war and stepping aside of both parties was in
the thinking of Abu Muusaa, the starting point on the road to salvation. The view of Imam `Aliy, when
he accepted the principle of arbitration, was that `Abd Allah lbn Abbaas or someone from among his
companions would represent his front in arbitration, but a large party of those with power in his group
and army imposed on him Abu Muusaa Al-Ash'ariy. The reason for their choice of Abu Muusaa was that
he had never participated in the dispute between `Aliy and Mu'aawiyah since the dispute began, but had
separated himself from both parties after giving up all hope of encouraging the two of them to a common
understanding and peace. So he withdrew from the fight between them. He had, from this respect, the
most right of all the people to arbitrate.
There was nothing in the religion of Abu Muusaa nor in his sincerity and truthfulness that made the
Imam suspicious. Nevertheless, he did realize the intentions of the other side and the degree of their
dependency on maneuvers, deception, and trickery, and that Abu Muusaa, in spite of his understanding
and knowledge, hated deception and maneuvers and loved to deal with people on the basis of truth and
not his wits. Therefore, Imam `Aliy was afraid Abu Muusaa would be deceived by the others and that the
arbitration would be turned into maneuvers by one side, which would make matters worst.
The arbitration between the two parties began, with Abu Muusaa Al-Ash'ariy representing the party
of Imam `Aliy and `Amr Ibn Al-'Aas representing the party of Mu'aawiyah. It is true that `Amr Ibn Al-
'Aas depended on his sharp wits and his broad cunning in carrying the banner for Mu'aawiyah.
The meeting between the two men, Al-Ash'ariy and `Amr, began with a proposal presented by Abu
Muusaa. It was for the two arbitrators to agree on the nomination of `Abd Allah Ibn `Umar, declaring
him the Caliph of the Muslims because he enjoyed a broad consensus in respect to his love, admiration,
and distinction. `Amr Ibn Al-'Aas saw in this orientation and direction of Abu Muusaa a great
opportunity, so he took advantage of it.
The content of the proposal by Abu Muusaa did not consider a conditional link with the party which
he represented, which was the party of Imam `Aliy. That meant, also, that Abu Muusaa was ready to give