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a matter in which people differed - was an easy matter. Revelation or the Messenger, or both of them,
usually clarified every obscure or unintelligible matter.
When the Messenger (PBUH) passed away, they never differed in what had been clarified and
explained by Allah's revelation or through Muhammad's interpretation. However, when `Uthmaan (May
Allah be pleased with him) was killed, his murder had been preceded and accompanied with pernicious
commotion which shook all Islamic nations at that time. As a consequence of that terrible occurrence, the
dispute widened. It was inevitable for each of the Companions according to his attitude to choose one of
the multiple views.
Their way of choosing, like their way of believing, was characterized by clarity and decisiveness.
There was no hesitation or hypocrisy. Those who were convinced of imam `Aliy's point of view chose
his side, and those convinced that the two parties were wrong chose a third side in which they urged the
two disputing parties to renounce their differences. When the die was cast, they chose to be neutral and
abandoned the dispute.
The above concerns the Companions, the early believers in Islam who lived at the time of the
Messenger (PBUH) and fought with him the forces of polytheism and darkness. However, these
Companions did not represent by themselves the "center of gravity " in the Islamic state at the time of the
dispute between `Aliy and Mu'aawiyah. This is because the state at that time had expanded
tremendously, and a new power emerged and started to take part in the events and direct them. The best
evidence for this is that the conspiracy to claim the life of Caliph Uthmaan and the agents assigned to
carry it out came from outside Al-Madiinah, rather from outside the whole Arab Peninsula. They came
from some distant Islamic countries.
This new power played a role which the first Companions could not repel. The role was serious and
effective in turning the dispute between Aliy and Mu'aawiyah into warfare. This reached the extent that
the people of Syria siding with Mu'aawiyah and the people of Iraq siding with `Aliy, become the real
protagonists in that war. Even in the final analysis, the war was not between two Islamic camps as much
as it was between two regional ones: the Syrians on one side and Iraqis on the other!
There was a third force which should not be ignored, an evil force which lay waiting for Islam since
sovereignty was taken from its hand and leveled to the dust. That was the power represented in the
remains of Persia and some few who continued to perpetuate their schemes against Islam through their
many agents who infiltrated Islam, pretending to embrace it. Some of them were able to cause a lot of
damage and destruction in the ranks of Muslims, which the two defeated empires could not do.
This is a rapid look at the circumstances of that critical situation which the Companions and Islam
as a whole passed through. However, we should not ignore another fact, which is that each of the leaders
of the two fighting camps did not think at all that the matter would develop to that terrible degree. Iman
`Aliy and his followers saw their advance towards Syria as merely a scare tactic and thought that
Mu'aawiyah would soon awaken to realize the power of the state and would respect and obey it.
On the other hand, Mu'aawiyah and his followers believed that Imam `Aliy was merely testing their
strength and their readiness. lf he found they were strong and well equipped, he would seek a
reconciliation through another means. Yet, the matter developed in a strange and unusual way. This
sudden and strange development discloses the hidden forces working in each camp to turn the dispute
Let us now end our talk about this war with this incident. Az Zubair (May Allah be pleased with
him) was fighting in the ranks of Mu`aawiyah, but at the end of the battle he realized his mistake in
joining the war, and so he withdraw. However, some fighters followed him and stabbed him to death
while he was praying. The killer robbed Az-Zubair of his sword and ran to Imam `Aliy, desiring to tell
him the good news of the murder of Az-Zubair and to lay in his hands the sword he had used in fighting
with Mu'aawiyah against `Aliy. He came to the Imam's door asking for permission. When `Aliy learned
of the matter he shouted a command to dismiss the killer, saying, "Give the good tidings to the killer of
Ibn Sufiyah that he will be cast in hell-fire." By lbn Sufiyah, he meant Az-Zubair (May Allah be pleased
with him). He ordered further to have Az-Zubair's sword taken from the killer and brought to him.
When `Aliy saw the sword, he kept kissing it. He was crying and saying, "A sword whose owner
had so many times removed the distress from the Messenger of Allah."
This remarkable and great scene bestows upon the above mentioned disagreement and its painful
development much calmness and tranquility. It fills us with much understanding and appreciation when
we remember it.