You guys say that Imam Ali didn’t kill Omar after he defiled the sanctity of his home, wife and children merely because the Messenger of Allah ordered him to remain patient. To be honest with you, such talk isn’t convincing at all to any neutral person. It’s a duty upon every believing man to defend the sanctity of his home and family, and if he dies while doing this, he will still die as a martyr. So how can you claim that the Messenger of Allah ordered Ali to remain patient towards the one who defiled the sanctity of his home, family and children?! Would any rational human being say this?!
Any noble Muslim would have been obliged to kill Omar during such an incident, especially after Omar had killed Mohsin – as you claim – so how could the Messenger of Allah possibly forbid Ali from performing such a legitimate duty?! By Allah, please answer me, Sheikh!
Moreover, you say that Imam Ali was very strong and powerful and could kill all his enemies alone by himself! Then why didn’t he do that?! Doesn’t Allah say:
Fight then in the way of Allah; this is not imposed on you except in relation to yourself, and incite the believers, maybe Allah will restrain the force of those who disbelieved. Indeed, Allah is stronger in force and stronger to give an exemplary punishment.
The Qur’an 4:85
This means that he will only impose himself!
So why should he wait for the completion of the required amount which is 40 men – as you claim – although he alone can establish justice?! Also, isn’t the matter of defending Ahlul-Bayt an obligation independent from the matter of the caliphate?
Let’s say I agree with you that the Messenger of Allah ordered him to remain silent for the caliphate issue because he had to wait for people to support him – with at least 40 men (although I don’t know why exactly 40 men, nor do I know the evidence that specifies this amount)…But isn’t the matter of defending his wife and her sanctity, as well as the sanctity of his home and children, something independent from the matter of the caliphate?! Isn’t he obliged to keep defending his home, wife and family even though it may lead to his death?!
If we do agree that it seems logical that he remained silent in the matter of the caliphate until people gather around him to give their support…then tell me, how does it seem logical that he didn’t react to the defilement of the sanctity of his home as well as the sanctity of Fatima and her sons?! Is a Muslim obliged to wait for the assistance of 40 men before he’s allowed to defend his household?! Would any rational human being say something such as this?! I hope you can give me a sufficient answer.
In the Name of Allah, the All-Beneficent, the All-Merciful.
May Allah bless Muhammad and his Family and damn their enemies.
We have two replies to the questions you asked in your letter. One of them is critical, whereas the other is analytical.
As for the critical reply: The things that took place during the Bakri Omari assault on the house of Ali and Al-Zahra (may Allah’s blessings be upon them and their families) also took place during the assault on the house of Uthman and his wife, Na’ila, when the Muslims broke out and revolted against him. You narrate in your very own sources that Uthman didn’t even lift a finger, nor did he protect himself or his family, nor did he face those who broke into his home and defiled the honour of his wives and family – with the allegation that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family) had ordered him to remain silent. Then why is it that when it comes to Uthman, such a thing is logically accepted by you, but when it comes to Ali (may peace be upon him), you reject it?!
Ibn al-Athir narrates the following concerning the assault on Uthman’s house:
When they saw that, they rushed towards the door, and no one prevented them from reaching it. The door was closed and they could not enter through it, so they brought fire and burnt it along with the small roof above the door. The people of the house arose, meanwhile Uthman was praying and had recently begun reciting Surat Taha. What he heard (from outside the house) did not turn him away (from what he was doing), nor was he making mistakes (in reading) nor was he stuttering. When he finished, he sat next to the Qur’an to read from it. He read:
Those to whom people said: Surely, men have gathered against you, therefore fear them.’ But this increased their faith, and they said:
Allah is sufficient for us, and He is the Most Excellent Protector.’ The Qur’an 3:174
Then he said to those who were with him in the house: “The Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s blessings be upon him) made a covenant with me and I will remain patient to it. These people are not burning the door without demanding something greater than it. I prevent any man from causing someone to be killed or engaging in combat.
Al-Kamil fil-Tareekh, by Ibn al-Athir, volume 2, page 17
Ibn Khaldoun narrates:
Thereupon the foolish men entered upon him. One of them hit him, upon which his wife Na’ila fell on him and she would use her hands to protect herself from the hits. One of them hit her with his sword on her fingers, and then they killed him and his blood was flowing on the Qur’an.
Tareekh Ibn Khaldoun, volume 2, page 150
Ibn Kathir narrates:
Al-Ghafiqi, son of Harb, went towards him after Mohammad, son of Abu Bakr, and he hit him with a piece of iron on his mouth and kicked the Qur’an that was between his hands with his foot. Upon then, the Qur’an turned around and once again and fell into the hands of Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) and his blood began to flow. Thereupon Sawdan, son of Hamran, was about to attack him with the sword and Na’ila attempted to stop him, so he cut off her fingers and she ran away. Then he hit her bottom with his hand and said: ‘She has a big bottom!’ Then he hit Uthman and killed him.
Al-Bidaya wal-Nihaya, by Ibn Katheer, volume 7, page 210
Sawdan, son of Hamran, came to hit him, upon which Na’ila, daughter of Farafisa, threw herself on him and used her hands to protect herself from the sword. Then he purposely hit her and cut off her fingers and her hand’s fingers were sliced off. Then she ran away, and he pressed his fingers on her bottom and said: ‘She has a big bottom!’ Then he hit Uthman and killed him.
Tareekh al-Tabari, volume 2, page 676
Thus, you may see how Uthman left the attackers to burn his door, break into his house and defile the honour of his wife, and even cut off her fingers. Furthermore, one of them touched her bottom and humiliated her, saying:
She has a big bottom!
Still, Uthman remained silent as if he had birds on his head, and he refrained from protecting himself and his honour! His argument for not doing so was:
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s blessings be upon him) made a covenant with me and I will remain patient for it.
One cannot say: The attack on his house took place all of a sudden, and Uthman wasn’t aware of what was going on. Had he known, then he would surely have confronted the attackers and prevented himself, his women and children from being hurt by them.’
Because then we’ll say: No, it was no surprise attack. He was well aware that the assault would take place because he was besieged for forty days – as mentioned by historians – and he witnessed that they were burning the door of his home and were about to storm the place, and he was well aware that they intended to kill him after this. Still, he didn’t confront them nor fight back. Rather he prevented any man from assisting him and protecting him, saying:
These people are not burning the door without demanding something greater than it. I prevent any man from causing someone to be killed or engaging in combat.
One cannot say: ‘The defilement of his wife’s honour took place after he was killed. If this was done in front of his own eyes, then he would surely have fought and never stopped.’
Because then we’ll say: What you say is untrue because this contradicts the narrations quoted above which clearly state that he was killed after Na’ila attempted to protect him, and that is why her fingers were cut off. Thus, he was witnessing what happened to his wife, and he saw with his own eyes how her bottom was touched. Moreover, while being fully aware that foreign men would enter his home he is also aware that the honour of his wives will be defiled. So why did he let them enter?! And why didn’t he raise the sword in defence of himself and his honour?!
The same reply you people have to why Uthman remained silent is the reply we give you – by arguing with you using your very own standards and principles – to your question in regards to why the Commander of the Believers (may Allah’s blessings be upon him) refrained from confronting Omar and his evil gang – as you claim, and such a thing is untrue – during their assault on his home.
Moreover, there are two main differences between the two incidents. The first of them is: the assault on the house of Ali and Al-Zahra (may Allah’s blessings be upon them both) took place all of a sudden, unlike the assault on the house of Uthman and Na’ila which took place after a long besiegement, during which Uthman secluded himself in his own home in fear awaiting assistance from Mu’awiya.
The second difference is what we shall discuss in our analytical reply: during the incident of the assault on the Prophet’s house, Ali (may Allah’s blessings be upon him) arose like a raged lion once he heard Al-Zahra (may Allah’s blessings be upon her) cry for help at the door. He then grabbed hold of Omar’s clothes and threw him on the ground and hit his nose and neck, and he sat on his chest and was about to kill him. However, he reminisced the covenant he made with the Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family), and he said:
O son of Sahhak! By He who honoured Mohammad (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family) with Prophethood, if it weren’t for a Book of Allah revealed and for a covenant I made with the Messenger of Allah, then I would not have known that you will enter my house!
Kitab Sulaym, son of Qais al-Hilali, page 387
So, who will now say that the Commander of the Believers (may Allah’s blessings be upon him) didn’t defend his wife, the daughter of Allah’s Messenger (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family)?! Indeed, the Commander (may peace be upon him) arose to save and protect his wife once he heard her cry. Also, he was about to kill Omar if it weren’t for him reminiscing the testament of the Prophet. He did not remain silent nor was he just sitting and watching the whole incident – may Allah forbid! As for the incidents that took place before the actual assault on his home, they were taking place surprisingly and in haste after the situation suddenly developed to the extent that the evil bastards broke into the house.
As for the question:
Why didn’t Ali (may Allah’s blessings be upon him) take revenge from Abu Bakr and Omar (may Allah curse them)?
The answer is: He (may peace be upon him) attempted to do so. However, they had a group of people to assist them, meanwhile, he was all alone, so he had to gather several men to face them. The Commander of the Believers (may Allah’s blessings be upon him) did try to gather people for this sake, and he called people to pledge their allegiance to him to carry out Jihad against the oppressors. However, the number of supporters required to achieve victory – which is forty men – was not reached. The Commander of the Believers was taught by his brother, the Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family), that he could not achieve victory unless he had this number of men to assist him.
Sulaym, son of Qais, narrates that Ash’ath, son of Qais (may Allah curse him), said to the Commander of the Believers (may peace be upon him):
What prevented you, O son of Abi-Talib, when the brother of Taim, son of Murra, and the brother of the sons of ‘Adi, son of Ka’b, and the brother of the sons of Umayya were pledged allegiance; from fighting and hitting with your sword? You have not held a sermon for us since you came to Iraq without saying before stepping down from the pulpit: ‘By Allah, I am the one among the people who has the greatest authority upon the people, and I remain oppressed since when Allah took Mohammad (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family) unto Himself.’ What prevented you from hitting with your sword while you were oppressed?”
Upon then, Ali (may peace be upon him) said to him: “O son of Qais! Hear the answer: I was not prevented from doing so by cowardice or by unwillingness from meeting my Lord, and by not knowing that what Allah has is better for me than this world and dwelling in it! However, what prevented me from doing so was the commandment of Allah’s Messenger (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family) and his covenant with me. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family) told me what this nation will do to me after him…I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, then what will you make me take an oath for if this happens?’ He said: ‘If you find supporters, then disregard them and fight them. And if you do not find supporters, then fold your hand and protect your blood till you find supporters for keeping the religion, and Allah’s Book and my tradition upright.
Kitab Sulaym, page 214
It has been narrated on the authority of Salman al-Farsi al-Mohammadi (may Allah’s satisfaction be upon him), who said:
When the night approached, Ali carried Fatima on a donkey and took hold of the hands of his two sons, Hassan and Hussain (may peace be upon them), and he did not leave anyone of companions of Allah’s Messenger (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family) except he came to his home, and he called unto them by Allah to take back his right, and he called them to assist him. No man responded to him except us, the four.
Salman, Abu-Dharr, Miqdad and Zubair
We shaved our heads and sacrificed ourselves to assist him, and Zubair was the one with the most sharpness in supporting him.
Kitab Sulaym, page 146
It has been narrated that the Commander of the Believers (may peace be upon him) said to Abu Bakr and Omar (may Allah curse them both):
Indeed, by Allah, if those forty men who paid allegiance to me had remained loyal to me, then surely I would have fought you for the sake of Allah!
Kitab Sulaym, page 275
The following is quoted from Bakri sources: Ibn Abil-Hadeed said:
Many reporters have narrated that after the Day of Saqifa, he was hurt and was covered by darkness, and he called and cried for help during which (some) people supported him and pledged allegiance to him, and that he said while pointing towards the grave (of the Prophet): ‘O son of my mother! The people considered me weak and were about to kill me!’ And that he said: ‘O Ja’far! I have no Ja’far today to assist me! O Hamza! I have no Hamza today to assist me!
Sharh’ Nahj-ul-Balagha, by Ibn Abil-Hadeed, volume 11, page 111. Ibn Qutayba narrates the same with a similar formulation in Al-Imama wal-Siyasa, volume 1, page 31.
Moreover, the following has been narrated by the Bakris:
When Ali (may peace be upon him) called the Muslims for help after the Day of Saqifa and what took place during it, and while he was carrying Fatima (may peace be upon her) that night on a donkey and her two sons were between the donkey’s feet meanwhile Ali (may peace be upon him) was controlling it, he would knock the doors of the Ansar and others and ask for their help and support. Forty men responded to him, so he made them pledge allegiance till death, and he instructed them to wake up the next day in the morning having shaved their heads and brought their weapons. The next morning, none other than four remained loyal to him (may peace be upon him): Zubair, Miqdad, Abu-Dharr, and Salman. Then he went to them at night, and they said: ‘We will go with you tomorrow in the morning.’ But none other than the four came, and the same happened during the third night. Zubair was the most intense among them to assist him and the most obedient among them to support him. He shaved his head and came to him several times while he was carrying his sword in his neck, and the three others did the same. However, Zubair was the most prominent among them.
Sharh’ Nahj-ul-Balagha, by Ibn Abil-Hadeed, volume 11, page 14.
By gathering the narrations together, we may understand that Ali (may Allah’s blessings be upon him) began to gather people to take revenge from Abu Bakr and Omar and return the right of leadership to whom it belongs. He was then paid allegiance by forty men who swore an oath to engage in combat with Abu Bakr and Omar and their violent gang.
However, no more than four remained loyal, and hence he was forced to step down from fighting. Thus, the claim that he (may peace be upon him) didn’t attempt to fight the usurpers and the criminals; is false. Moreover, he (may peace be upon them) is excused for refraining from fighting them later on, because he did not have the support of forty men, which is the sufficient number of men required to engage in battle, as he was ordered by Allah (Exalted is He) and His Messenger (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family).
This act is, in fact, similar to the act of Allah’s Messenger (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family) when he refrained from engaging in combat with Quraish before the Battle of Badr, despite that the Quraishis had committed several crimes against the Muslims. This was done for no other reason than that the required amount of supporters – which is 313 men – was not completed. After this number was completed, the Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family) announced Jihad by the commandment of Allah (Exalted is He).
Therefore, none may say: ‘Why forty?’ Because we say: Allah (Exalted) is the One who decides. Just like how He decided that 313 men were required before engaging in combat with Quraish, He also decided that forty men were required before engaging in combat with Abu Bakr, Omar and the hypocrites. As long as the condition before going to war – which is the required amount of supporters – is not present; fighting becomes prohibited. There are many examples of such conditions in the lives of the Prophets and their successors (may peace be upon them). Allah is the one who is the Most Knowledgeable of what is to the advantage of His creation; He shall not be asked for what He does, but His creation shall be asked for what they do. Thus, none may object to the judgment of Allah (Glorious and Exalted is He).
As for the question:
Why didn’t Ali (may peace be upon him) use the miraculous strength that has been placed within him by Allah (Exalted is He), if he alone has the sufficiency of fighting Abu Bakr and Omar?’
The answer is: He was not permitted to do so. Moreover, the Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family) has many times as more miraculous strength than the Commander of the Believers (may peace be upon him). Still, he did not use this power during his wars and battles, and he used to fight using his men and even lost at the Battle of Uhud. It would have been sufficient for him (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family) to only ask Allah (Exalted is He) to shake the earth beneath the feet of his enemies, through which he could have defeated his enemies easily by not having to call his men to fight and then witness them fleeing away from the battle.
However, he still refrained from asking Allah to defeat his enemies in such a way, because Allah (Exalted is He) wished that things between His allies and His enemies should go through natural manners, not through miraculous manners, so that He may know those who fought and remained patient, and also know those who violated the pledge and failed to keep their oath. Imagine that Allah (Glorious and Exalted is He) would permit His Prophets or Allies to always use miraculous means to fight off their enemies; there would have been no trial for human beings! How can people be put to trial so their loyalty to the oath they have sworn to Allah can be visible if they are not being called to war and have their loyalty tested?
That is what Ali (may peace be upon him) did by submitting to the commandment of Allah (Exalted is He); he called people to fight to cause a victory for truth and justice and to take revenge for Allah’s Messenger and his pure daughter (may Allah’s blessings be upon them both and upon their families), but the people turned their backs and none responded to him except four men. What can he do if it’s forbidden for him to fight, by the commandment of Allah and His Messenger (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family)? The legitimate priority for him is to protect himself from harm before anything else.
The Great Prophet himself (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family) did not take revenge from those who attempted to kill him by pushing his camel off the mountain pass because he was afraid people might say:
When Mohammad achieved victory along with his companions, he began to kill them.
The Commander of the Believers (may peace be upon him) did the same because all of the pure Household (may Allah’s blessings be upon them) do nothing but sacrifice themselves for the sake of Allah, and hence you see them making sacrifices and remaining patient towards those who treat them unjustly – as long as the condition of fighting back is not present – and await the commandment and the revenge of Allah.
Moreover, the verse you quoted to support your argument is taken out of context, because the instruction given in the verse is specifically meant for the Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family) and not commonly meant for everyone. No Islamic jurist has ever said that this instruction applies to all people in general, so it can become obligatory upon everyone to fight an entire army by himself! Furthermore, this instruction is bound only on those occasions in which Allah’s Messenger (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family) is obliged to fight. For example, there are several occasions in which he didn’t leave his home to fight, such as during Usama’s campaign against the Romans. Why did he refrain from fighting although the verse clearly instructs him to fight?
If you would give the following answer:
He was sick, and therefore he had an excuse for not engaging in combat.
Then we’ll give you a similar answer: If assuming that the instruction given in the verse applies to all people in general, then your argument is still invalid. Because even if we agree that the instruction is general, Ali (may peace be upon them) is still no different than the Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family); he is also excused for not engaging in combat because the condition of fighting was not present. Therefore, just like how the Prophet wasn’t obliged to fight during Usama’s campaign, Ali was also not obliged to fight during the usurpation of his right.
The instruction given in the verse is particularly meant for the Prophet, as stated by our Imam al-Sadiq (may Allah’s blessings be upon him):
Allah instructed the Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family) to do something that He has not instructed any of His creation to do. He instructed him to go out against all the people (in combat) alone by himself if he finds no group to fight alongside him. He has not instructed anyone to do such a thing neither before him nor after him. Then he recited this verse.
Al-Kafi, by Al-Kulayni, volume 8, page 275
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