Second Question: What is the true nature of the wars that started at the time of Hz. Ali (May Allah be pleased with him)? How can those who killed and those who were killed be explained?
THE MEANING OF YOUR SECOND QUESTION
What was the nature of the wars that started in the time of ‘Ali (May Allah be pleased with him)? In what way should we describe those who took part in them, and those who died and those who killed?
T h e A n s w e r : The war called the Event of the Camel between ‘Ali and Talha, and Zubayr and ‘A’isha the Veracious (May Allah be pleased with all of them) was the struggle between pure justice and relative justice. It was as follows:
‘Ali took pure justice as fundamental and in accordance with his judgement of the Law, proceeded on that basis, as was the case in the time of the Caliphs Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. Those who opposed him said that at that time the purity of Islam permitted pure justice, but since with the passage of time various peoples whose Islam was weak had entered Islamic social life, to apply pure justice was extremely difficult. For this reason, their judgement of the Law was to proceed on the basis of relative justice, known as the lesser of two evils. Dispute over interpretation of the Law led to war. Since the interpretations had been purely for Allah’s sake and for the benefit of Islam, and war was born of interpretation of the Law, we may surely say that both those who killed and those who were killed gained Paradise, and both acted rightfully. However accurate was ‘Ali’s interpretation, and however much in error those who opposed him, they still did not deserve punishment. For if one who interprets the Law extracts the truth, he gains two rewards, but if he does not extract it, he still earns one reward, the reward for interpreting which is a form of worship; he is forgiven his error. A learned person who is widely known amongst us, and who speaks the truth, wrote in Kurdish: “Don’t gossip about the war between the Companions, for both killer and killed were destined for Paradise.”
Pure justice and relative justice may be explained like this: according to the allusive meaning of the verse,
If any one slew a person -unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land- it would be as if he slew the whole people,1
the rights of an innocent man cannot be cancelled for the sake of all the people. A single individual may not be sacrificed for the good of all. In the view of Almighty Allah’s compassion, right is right, there is no difference between great and small. The small may not be annulled for the great. Without his consent, the life and rights of an individual may not be sacrificed for the good of the community. If he consents to sacrifice them in the name of patriotism, that is a different matter.
As for relative justice, a particular is sacrificed for the good of the universal; the rights of an individual are not considered in the face of the community. A sort of relative justice is attempted to be applied as the lesser of two evils. But if it is possible to apply pure justice, to attempt to apply relative justice is wrong. It may not be attempted.
Thus, saying it was possible to apply pure justice in the time of the Caliphs Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, Imam ‘Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) constructed the Islamic Caliphate on the same basis. Those who opposed him and objected to him said that it was not possible to apply it because of the great difficulties, and judged according to the Law that they should proceed with relative justice. The other reasons related by history are not true reasons, they are pretexts.
I f y o u a s k : What was the reason for Imam ‘Ali’s lack of success relative to his predecessors in regard to the Islamic Caliphate, despite his extraordinary capabilities, unusual intelligence, and great deservedness?
T h e A n s w e r : That blessed person was worthier of important duties other than politics and rule. If he had been completely successful in politics and government, he would have been unable to truly gain the meaningful title of ‘King of Sainthood.’ Whereas he gained a spiritual rule far surpassing the external and political Caliphate, and became like a Universal Master; in fact, his spiritual rule will continue even until the end of the world.
When it comes to Imam ‘Ali’s war with Mu‘awiya at Siffin, that was a war over the Caliphate and rule. That is to say, taking the injunctions of religion, the truths of Islam, and the hereafter as the basis, Imam ‘Ali sacrificed some of the laws of government and pitiless demands of politics to them. Whereas Mu‘awiya and his supporters left aside resoluteness and favoured permissiveness in order to strengthen Islamic social life with their politics of government; they supposed themselves to be compelled to do so due to the demands of politics, and choosing permissiveness, fell into error.
As for Hasan and Husayn’s struggle against the Umayyads, that was a war between religion and nationalism. That is, the Umayyads planted the Islamic state on Arab nationalism and put the bonds of nationalism before those of Islam, therefore causing harm in two respects:
The First Respect: They offended the other nations and frightened them of.
The Other: Since the principles of racialism and nationalism do not follow justice and right, they are tyranny. They do not proceed on justice. For a ruler of racialist leanings prefers those of the same race, and cannot act justly. According to the clear decree of, Islam has abrogated what preceded it. There is no difference between an Abyssinian slave and a leader of the Quraish, once they have accepted Islam,2 Islam has abrogated the tribalism of Ignorance; the bonds of nationalism may not be set up in place of the bonds of religion; if they are, there will be no justice; right will disappear.
Thus, Husayn took the bonds of religion as the basis, and struggled against them as someone who executes justice, until he attained the rank of martyrdom.
I f i t i s s a i d : If he was so right and just, why was he not successful? Also, why did Divine Determining and Divine Mercy permit them to meet with the tragic end they did?
T h e A n s w e r : It was not Husayn’s close supporters, but those of other nations who had joined his community, and due to their wounded national pride, harboured feelings of revenge towards the Arab nation; they caused harm to the pure, shining ways of Husayn and his supporters, and were the cause of their defeat.
The wisdom in their tragic end from the point of view of Divine Determining is this: Hasan and Husayn and their family and descendants were destined for a spiritual rule. It is extremely difficult to bring together worldly rule and spiritual rule. Therefore, Divine Determining made them feel disgust with the world; it showed them the ugly face of the world, so that they should cease to feel any attachment to the world with the heart. They lost a temporary and superficial rule, but were appointed to a splendid and permanent spiritual rule. They became the authorities of the spiritual poles among the saints instead of commonplace governors.
1. Qur’an, 5:32.
2. Bukhari, Ahkam 4; ‘Imara 36, 37; Abu Da’ud, Sunna 5; Tirmidhi, Jihad 28; ‘Ilm 16; Nasa’i, Bay’a 26; Ibn Maja, Jihad 39; Musnad iv, 69, 70, 199, 204, 205; v, 381; vi, 402, 403.
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