Mu‘awiyah, Yazid’s Father
By: Ali Asghar Rezwani
Mu‘awiyah before accepting Islam
In all the wars that the Quraysh declared on Islam and fought against the Muslims, Abu Sufiyan and his son, Mu‘awiyah occupied positions at the forefront of the army of the polytheists. Even though Mu‘awiyah had heard the marvelous sound of the Holy Qur’an in Mecca, and although he had witnessed people entering the fold of Islam in great multitudes, he remained a polytheist [mushrik] up to the conquest of Mecca.
Finally, Mu‘awiyah and his father became Muslims, albeit not of their own accord, but rather out of fear and compulsion. This period was sufficient for any impartial and reasonable person to embrace Islam, but Mu‘awiyah was not such a person. Had Mecca not been conquered, Mu‘awiyah would have surely remained an uncompromising polytheist and continued fighting against the Muslims.
Mu‘awiyah’s antagonism against Islam
Under the pretext of Islam, Bani Umayyah possessed and controlled the caliphate for nearly a century. During this period, they utilized massive power, deceit and diplomacy for the destruction of Islam. They tried to obliterate the religion by distancing the people from the legacy of the Holy Prophet (S).
Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan, the forerunner of this corrupt dynasty, aspired to destroy every manifestation of Islam, and he followed his aspirations with a firm resolution and strong determination.
Zubayr ibn Bakkar writes, “Mutraf the son of Mughayrah ibn Shu‘bah says, ‘My father and I had gone to Sham during the rule and caliphate of Mu‘awiyah. During our stay in Sham, my father used to go and see Mu‘awiyah on a daily basis.
Upon returning, he would praise and extol Mu‘awiyah with great excitement. One night, however, he refused to eat dinner. Instead, he anxiously sunk into deep and worried thought.
This happened after returning from seeing Mu‘awiyah. I feared that some very unpleasant event had happened in our life. An hour later, I asked him what had happened. He said, ‘My son, I have just come from the presence of the most evil infidel among mankind.’ I said, ‘Why do you say this?!’
He replied, ‘Tonight, the gathering at Mu‘awiyah’s place was devoid of strangers and outsiders, so I seized the opportunity and said to Mu‘awiyah, ‘O Leader of the Believers! You have attained your worldly desires and aspirations.
If you act fairly and equitably towards your kith and kin, the Bani Hashim, and adopt kindness towards them and observe the bonds of relationship, you will leave behind a good reputation for yourself when you die. I swear upon Allah! They possess nothing that should arouse your anxiety and apprehension.’
Mu‘awiyah replied, ‘Far be it! Far be it! This is not possible at all. The name of this Hashemite man (i.e. the Holy Prophet of Islam) is called five times daily all across the Islamic world from the minarets when the Islamic call to prayer [adhan] is being recited, and in this way the people remember his greatness.
In such circumstances, what effects and reputation will ever remain for me, O motherless one? I swear to God that I will not attain peace until I do everything in my power to bury his name’.’”1
Mu‘awiyah and his great [kabirah] sins
Mu‘awiyah the son of Abu Sufiyan was not a person who refrained from committing great sins. He was so daring that he openly committed illegitimate actions among the people. Here, reference will be made to some of the actions he committed that were in flagrant contradiction to the divine law [shari‘ah] of Islam:
Mu‘awiyah dranked alcoholic beverages
Ahmad ibn Hanbal quotes ‘Abd Allah ibn Buraydah saying, “My father and I went to visit Mu‘awiyah. He spread a carpet for us and made us sit on it. Then, he brought us some food, which we ate. After that, he brought us some alcohol. Mu‘awiyah drank from it and invited my father to partake of it, but my father refused and said, ‘Since the time that the Noble Prophet (S) made alcohol haram (forbidden), I have not drunk it’.”2
Mu‘awiyah did this heedless of the fact that the Holy Prophet (S) said, “One who drinks alcohol is the same as one who worships idols.”3
Mu‘awiyah engaged in usury
‘Ata’ ibn Yasar says, “Mu‘awiyah sold a cup made out of gold at a price more than its weight. Abu al-Darda’ said to him, ‘I heard Allah’s Prophet (S) forbidding this kind of action. Selling and buying should not be concluded unless the deal is equal as regards weight.’ Mu‘awiyah boldly answered him, ‘I see nothing wrong with taking usury.’
Abu al-Darda’ said, ‘Who will justify Mu‘awiyah’s actions? I am telling him what Allah’s Prophet (S) has said, and he is telling me what he himself thinks. From now on, I will never live in the same territory with Mu‘awiyah’.”4
Mu‘awiyah used to take usury in spite of the fact that Allah has cursed the one who takes usury, the one who gives it, the two witnesses required for recording such a contract, and the writer of the transaction.5
The Holy Prophet (S) said, “Refrain from seven actions because these seven deeds invite Allah’s punishment and wrath.” The people asked, “O Prophet of Allah! What are those seven deeds?” He said, “Associating others with Allah (polytheism), sorcery and witchcraft, killing of a life which Allah has made honorable except by justice, consuming that which belongs to orphans and taking usury.”6
On his own chain of transmission, Bukhari quotes from Abi Juhayfah that the Holy Prophet (S) cursed both the giver and taker of usury.7
Mu‘awiyah altered the practice of obligatory rituals
In his book entitled “Kitab al-Umm”, Shafi‘i recounts that Zuhri said, “The the Islamic call to prayer [adhan] was never recited for the two festival prayers (‘Id al-Qurban and ‘Id al-Fitr) during the time of the Holy Prophet (S), Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman. The only time when the adhan was recited before the two ‘Id prayers was when Mu‘awiyah innovated and introduced it during his reign in Sham, and Hajjaj followed up on this innovation when he became the governor of Medina.”
Ibn Hajar says, “On a sound chain of transmission, Ibn Abi Shaybah narrates from Sa‘id ibn al-Musayyib that the first person who innovated and introduced the adhan into the two ‘Id prayers was Mu‘awiyah.”
Shafi‘i also quotes Zuhri who recounts from a truthful and trustworthy person that it was Mu‘awiyah who innovated and introduced the adhan into the two ‘Id prayers.8
Mu‘awiyah, the son of Abu Sufiyan, brought about this innovation in the two ‘Id Prayers despite the fact that there is no legitimate justification in Islam for the adhan and iqamah to be read for any prayers except the obligatory daily prayers. This is a legal verdict in the practical laws of Islam which is undisputed by any school of Islamic thought.
Jabir ibn ‘Abd Allah says, “I was present when the Holy Prophet (S) offered prayers on the day of ‘Id. He offered the prayers before the sermon and without reciting either the adhan or iqamah. Then, while he was leaning on Bilal, he invited the people to piety and obedience of Allah.”9
Ibn ‘Abbas and Jabir say, “The Holy Prophet (S) never recited the adhan for the prayers of ‘Id al-Fitr or al-Qurban.”10
Failure to recite the traveler’s prayer on journeys
Tabarani and Ahmad ibn Hanbal narrate from ‘Ibad ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Zubayr on an authentic chain of transmission that he said, “When Mu‘awiyah intended to go for the hajj, he came to inform us about his intention and we traveled together to Mecca. He prayed two rak‘ats for the noon prayers with us.
Then, he went to Dar al-Nadwah. ‘Uthman was there and was praying full prayers (four rak‘ats). When Mu‘awiyah reached Mecca, he also prayed four rak‘ats for the zuhr, ‘asr and ‘isha’ prayers. After leaving Mina and ‘Arafat, he shortened his prayers. And after leaving the hajj, he stopped and camped at Mina and prayed full prayers until he left Mecca.”11
Notice how the son of Abu Sufiyan daringly scorns, mocks and derides Allah’s laws and acts in whatever way he pleases regardless of the fact that everyone knows that the prayers of a person on a journey must be shortened.
Friday Congregational Prayers done on Wednesday
Mas‘udi narrates, “The obedience of the people of Damascus to Mu‘awiyah had reached such an extent that, when Mu‘awiyah intended to travel towards Siffin, they allowed him to pray the Friday congregational prayers for them on Wednesday!”12
Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan made this innovation in spite of the fact that the Holy Prophet (S) always prayed the Friday congregational prayers at its proper time under all circumstances. Muslim quotes Salamah saying, “We used to pray jum‘ah prayers on Friday with the Holy Prophet (S), while the walls had no shadows under which we could take refuge.”13
Bukhari quotes from Anas ibn Malik, “The Prophet of Allah used to pray the Friday congregational prayers on Friday when the sun started its incline just after high noon.”14
Mu‘awiyah provides verdict opposed to the Qur’an
Ibn Mundhar quotes from Qasim ibn Muhammad, “A certain tribe asked Mu‘awiyah about the Islamic verdict of a man who owned two slave girls. The slave girls were blood sisters, and this man used to have intimacy with both of them. Mu‘awiyah advised, ‘There is no problem with this’.”15
The son of Abu Sufiyan provided this improper verdict even though in the Holy Qur’an Allah, the High, clearly prohibits marrying two sisters at the same time: “Forbidden to you…and that you should not have two sisters together.”16
Innovations due to enmity with Imam ‘Ali (as)
Nassa’i and the other transmitters of hadith quote Sa‘id ibn Jabir saying that on the Day of ‘Arafah, Ibn ‘Abbas asked him, “Why is it that I do not hear the people saying the talbiyah (labbayk)?” Sa‘id ibn Jabir answered, “The people are afraid of Mu‘awiyah.” At that moment, Ibn ‘Abbas came out of his tent and defiantly said, “Labbayk! Allahumma Labbayk! (Here I am! O my Lord, here I am at Your service
I say this even though Mu‘awiyah hates it and becomes debased by it. O my Lord! Curse these people because they have forsaken and abandoned the Holy Prophet’s (S) way of life [Sunnah] because of their enmity towards ‘Ali.”17
On an authentic chain of transmission, Ibn Kathir narrates that Mu‘awiyah previously used to say the labbayk during the ‘isha’ prayers at ‘Arafah, but when he learned that ‘Ali also says the labbayk during the same ‘isha’ prayers, he immediately quit and abandoned it for the sake of opposing ‘Ali (as).18
Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan did this in spite of the fact that his actions were opposed to the clear tradition of the Holy Prophet (S). Fadl says, “The Holy Prophet (S) and I set off from ‘Arafat, and the Holy Prophet (S) kept saying the talbiyah until he started throwing stones at ‘Aqabah. He would say takbir (Allah-u Akbar) with every stone that he threw, but he did not stop saying the labbayk until he threw the last stone.”
Jabir ibn ‘Abd Allah, Usamah and Ibn ‘Abbas also narrate that the Holy Prophet (S) always continued to say labbayk until he threw stones at ‘Aqabah.19
Mu‘awiyah and abandonment of divine limits
Al-Mawardi and other transmitters of hadith have recounted that a number of thieves were brought before Mu‘awiyah for judgment. He cut the hands of all the thieves save one. Then, Mu‘awiyah said to the remaining thief, “I have cut the hands of all of your companions. What should I do with you?”
The mother of the thief whose hands had not yet been cut interjected and pleadingly said, “O Amir! Consider this to be one of those sins which you forgive.” Mu‘awiyah let the thief go free. This was the first Islamic injunction that was abandoned.20
The son of Abu Sufiyan did this despite the fact that, according to the explicit text of the Holy Qur’an, a man or woman who steals must have their hand cut off.
The Holy Qur’an says, “The Man who steals and the woman who steals, cut off their hands for what their hands have earned.”21
Therefore, in circumstances where all the evidence has been presented and guilt proven, no one has the right to overlook the limits set forth by Allah.
Allah, the Most High, says, “And whoever goes beyond the limits of Allah, he indeed does injustice to his own soul.”22
Mu‘awiyah wore clothing that was prohibited
Abu Dawud quotes from Khalid, “Miqdam ibn Ma‘di Karb, ‘Amru ibn Aswad and a man of Bani Asad from the tribe of Qansarin went to see Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan. Mu‘awiyah said to Miqdam, ‘Do you know that al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali has passed away?’ Miqdam quoted the Qur’anic verse that says we shall all return to Allah: “We are from Allah and to whom we shall return.”
Mu‘awiyah said, ‘Do you think al-Hasan death is a tragedy?’ Miqdam said, ‘Why should I not regard it as a tragedy when I know that the Holy Prophet used to put al-Hasan on his lap and say, “This one is from me and al-Husayn is from ‘Ali’.”
‘Umru ibn Aswad said, ‘He was a fire that Allah extinguished.’ Miqdam added, ‘But today will not pass until I bring you to anger because I must give you annoying news.’ Then he added, ‘O Mu‘awiyah! If I tell the truth, confirm what I say. And if I lie, refute what I say.’
Mu‘awiyah answered, ‘Say whatever you want to say.’
Miqdam continued, ‘I swear upon Allah! Are you aware of the fact that Allah’s Prophet (S) forbade men from wearing silk?’ Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan answered, ‘Yes.’ Miqdam said, ‘Do you not know that Allah’s Prophet forbade wearing leather made from wild carnivorous animals?’ Mu‘awiyah answered, ‘Yes, I know.’ Miqdam said, ‘I swear upon Allah that I have seen your household engaging in all these forbidden actions.’ Mu‘awiyah said, ‘I know that I cannot escape your accusations, O Miqdam’!”23
Ziyad attributed to Abu Sufiyan
Mu‘awiyah testified that Ziyad was the son of Abu Sufiyan, his father. Mu‘awiyah claimed that during the Age of Ignorance, his father had committed adultery with Sumayyah, the wife of ‘Ubayd. Mu‘awiyah claimed that Ziyad was born as a result of this sinful act. In order to prove his shameful claim, Mu‘awiyah relied on the testimony of Abi Maryam, a liquor seller who also acted as an intermediary for anyone who wanted to commit adultery.24
Mu‘awiyah claimed this child for his father paying no heed to the fact that the Holy Prophet (S) had said, “The child belongs to the owner of the bed, and is forbidden to the adulterer.”25
It has been narrated on another authentic chain of transmission that the Holy Prophet (S) said, “Heaven is forbidden to anyone who falsely claims someone as his father.”26
In addition: “Anyone who falsely claims that someone is his father, while he knows that it is not true has become an unbeliever [kafir] and anyone who claims something that does not belong to him is not from us.”27
This issue has been reported in many other credible Sunni books of hadith.
Coercion used to get allegiance for Yazid
One of Mu‘awiyah’s transgressions which was a clear violation of Islamic law, common logic and societal mores was getting allegiance from the people for his son Yazid by force and coercion. This allegiance was opposed by the council of elders which, according to Sunni traditional practice, is charged with the duty of choosing and appointing the next caliph after the death of the previous one.
This unlawful allegiance was also opposed by the Immigrants [muhajirin], the Helpers [ansar], and the eminent of the Holy Prophet’s (S) companions [sahabah]. It was an allegiance that was obtained by the use of force and the sword. It was an allegiance characterized by intimidation, threats and terror, on the one hand, and bribery and extortion, on the other. Worshippers of the carnal passions were paid to give allegiance to Yazid.
Ibn Kathir says, “In the fifty sixth year of the Islamic calendar, Mu‘awiyah called upon the people of Sham to pay allegiance to his son Yazid. This made his wicked son the crown prince and heir apparent after his death.”28
Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr and other narrators of hadith have recounted that Mu‘awiyah read a sermon for the people of Sham, and in the middle of the sermon, said, “O people of Sham! My age has increased and my death has drawn near. I want to arrange an agreement for the caliphate and leave someone in my place so that he may bring about order and discipline for you. Surely, I am one of you and I am concerned about your affairs. Please tell me your suggestions.”
The people came together and after consulting one another, said, “We are pleased with ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Khalid ibn Walid, one of the Prophet’s companions.”
This suggestion was unbearably painful for the son of Abu Sufiyan, but he kept his displeasure hidden in his heart. One day, ‘Abd al-Rahman became ill. Mu‘awiyah had a private Jewish doctor whom he held in high respect.
He instructed this Jewish doctor to go to visit ‘Abd al-Rahman and give him a specific poison that would kill him. The Jew did as he was ordered, and gave the liquid poison to ‘Abd al-Rahman. ‘Abd al-Rahman’s stomach was torn apart, resulting in his death.29
Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan committed this dishonorable act of murder and assassination in order to secure the caliphate for his son Yazid.
Mu‘awiyah’s rebellion against the righteous leader
Another one of Mu‘awiyah’s disobedient acts was rebellion against the rightful and legitimate Imam of the Time, Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali (as). Mu‘awiyah rebelled against the Imam who, besides being explicitly appointed by Allah and His Prophet (S) to be Imam and caliph for the Muslims, had also gotten unanimous allegiance from the Islamic community.
Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan used the pretext that he wanted to avenge the death of ‘Uthman in order to bring about sedition and disturbances in the Islamic community and with the purpose of seizing power and transferring control from Medina to Sham, he initiated the Battle of Siffin.
He did this despite the fact that, according to Sunni hadiths, the Holy Prophet (S) had absolutely forbidden Muslims from rebelling and rising up in arms against the Imam of the Time.
Muslim recounts that the Holy Prophet (S) said, “A person who quits obeying the Muslim caliph will meet Allah on the Day of Judgment having no plea for himself, and anyone who dies without paying allegiance to the Imam of his time has died the death of a kafir [unbeliever] of the Age of Ignorance.”30
Mu‘awiyah’s heinous crimes against the Shi‘ahs
Starting from the thirty ninth year of the Islamic calendar, Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan started to carry out widespread terrorist attacks on the Shi‘ahs of Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali (as). He dispatched cruel and irreligious people to attack the Shi‘ahs. He intended to subdue Imam ‘Ali’s followers by sending gangs of faithless people to invade and attack anyone under the protection of Imam ‘Ali’s (as) government.
1. He sent Nu‘man ibn Bashir with a thousand people to crush and terrorize the people of ‘Ayn al-Tamar.
2. He sent Sufiyan ibn ‘Awf with six thousand men to suppress the people of Hit. After that, he sent them to Anbar and Mada’in for more acts of terror and plunder.
3. Mu‘awiyah sent a sworn enemy of Imam ‘Ali (as) by the name of ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘adah ibn Hikmah Fazari with one thousand seven hundred men to attack the people of Tayma’.
4. He sent Dahhak ibn Qays with three thousand armed men to Upper Mesopotamia to plunder and loot the possessions of anyone known to be a follower and Shi‘ah of Imam ‘Ali (as). To counter this cowardly act of Mu‘awiyah, Imam ‘Ali (as) sent Hujr ibn ‘Uday with four thousand men to resist and confront this army.
5. Mu‘awiyah sent ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Qubath ibn Ushaym with a group of men to the land of the Arabian Peninsula. Imam ‘Ali (as) sent Kumayl to counter and resist their forces.
6. He sent Harath ibn Namr Tanukhi to the Arabian Peninsula to suppress anyone known to be a follower and Shi‘ah of Imam ‘Ali (as). Many people were killed in this confrontation.31
7. In the fortieth year of the Islamic calendar, Mu‘awiyah sent Busr ibn Artat with an army to Mecca, Medina and Yemen. When Busr ibn Artat reached Medina, Imam ‘Ali’s (as) agent and governor in Medina ‘Ubayd Allah ibn ‘Abbas was forced to flee to Kufah to join and be under the protection of Imam ‘Ali (as). However, Busr martyred two of ‘Ubayd Allah’s children who had remained behind in Medina.32
Another place that was plundered by Busr was an area inhabited by a tribe from Hamadan that were Shi‘ahs of Imam ‘Ali (as). Busr made a surprise attack on them. He killed many of their men, and took a large number of their women and children into captivity. This was the first time in the history of Islam up to that time that Muslim women and children had been taken into captivity.33
Mas‘udi says, “Busr ibn Artat killed a large number of people who came from Khuza‘ah, Hamadan and an area called “al-Anba’” who were people of Iranian origin living in Yemen. He killed anyone he suspected of being inclined to ‘Ali (as).”34
Ibn Abi al-Hadid says, “Busr descended upon the people of Hasban. They were all Shi‘ahs of Imam ‘Ali (as). He entered into a vicious conflict with them and killed them savagely. After leaving that place, he went towards San‘a, where he killed a hundred elderly men originating from Persia. The only crime they were guilty of committing was that two children of ‘Ubayd Allah ibn ‘Abbas had hidden in a home belonging to a woman of their clan.
In his wild and brutal attacks on the Shi‘ahs, Busr killed about thirty thousand people in all. He even burnt a number of them alive.”35
Ibn Abi al-Hadid further writes, “In a letter addressed to all his government workers, Mu‘awiyah wrote, ‘Do not give permission to anyone of ‘Ali’s followers or descendants to testify their faith. On the other hand, respect and protect the followers of ‘Uthman.’ In another letter addressed to his subordinates, he wrote: ‘Erase the names of those who are proven to love ‘Ali and his Ahl al-Bayt from the register, and stop giving them their share of stipends from the Islamic treasury.’
In a postscript to this letter, the son of Abu Sufiyan wrote, ‘Anyone who is accused of loving the Ahl al-Bayt must be arrested and his house destroyed.’ The people who suffered most as a result of these orders were people of Iraq, especially the people of Kufah…”36
Mu‘awiyah’s crimes after the peace settlement
When Imam al-Hasan (as) was obliged to compromise and make peace with Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan, he felt great concern for the safety of Imam ‘Ali’s (as) followers.
It was for this reason that, in his peace agreement with Mu‘awiyah, Imam al-Hasan (as) stressed that Imam ‘Ali’s followers (as) must be guaranteed truce and safety. Mu‘awiyah agreed to this demand, but he had other plans in mind. In a clear act of treachery, he announced that he was not committed to the agreement and would not follow it.
He said, “The agreement I made with al-Hasan is null and void. It lies trampled under my feet.” What aggravates the repugnancy of his actions is that Mu‘awiyah committed himself to breaching the peace settlement on the very same day of signing it, in spite of having earlier promised to be faithful to the pact.
Ibn Abi al-Hadid quotes from Abi al-Hasan Mada’ini, “In a letter to his governors general, Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan wrote, ‘I have discharged myself from obligation to anyone who recounts hadith in praise of the virtues of Abu Turab [Imam ‘Ali] and his Ahl al-Bayt.’ After this command, his governors gave orders to all the public speakers employed by the government to start reviling Imam ‘Ali (as) and making derogatory and defamatory comments about his Ahl al-Bayt (as) from the pulpits.
The people of Kufah were the most seriously affected by this calamity because at that time Kufah was inhabited by a large number of the Shi‘ahs. Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan appointed Ziyad to be the governor general of Kufah and Basrah.
Ziyad knew the Shi‘ahs very well. Acting on orders from Mu‘awiyah, he either killed or terrorized them wherever he could find them. After cutting off their hands and legs and removing their eyes from their sockets, he would hang their bodies from a scaffold. He also forcefully exiled a large number of them from Iraq.”37
Ibn A‘tham writes, “Ziyad was constantly searching for the Shi‘ahs. He put most of them under state surveillance. He would kill them wherever he could find them, to such an extent that he killed a large number of them. He also cut their legs off and made them blind. Of course, Mu‘awiyah himself killed a lot of the Shi‘ahs with his own hands, too.”38
Mu‘awiyah himself gave direct orders for the hanging of a large number of the Shi‘ahs of Imam ‘Ali (as). Another of Ziyad’s contemptible tactics was to gather the Shi‘ahs in mosques and force them to show hatred and disrespect towards Imam ‘Ali (as).39
In Basrah, also, Ibn Ziyad was constantly searching for ‘Ali’s (as) followers with the intention of killing them. A large number of the Holy Prophet’s (S) renowned companions and tabi‘in were martyred by the direct command of Mu‘awiyah because they loved ‘Ali (as) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as).40
In the year 53 AH, Hujr ibn ‘Uday and his companions were killed on direct orders from Mu‘awiyah. Hujr ibn ‘Uday and his companions were the first people in the history of Islam that were killed by means of ‘patience towards death’.41
‘Amru ibn Humaq Khuza‘i, named “the Master of Martyrs” by Imam al-Husayn (as), was killed by Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan. Mu‘awiyah deceived him by promising to provide him with safety and then turned against him and, in a clear act of betrayal, killed him.42
Mu‘awiyah is also guilty of killing Malik ibn Ashtar, one of the Arab nobles and a great and revered man in Islamic history. Malik ibn Ashtar was one of Imam ‘Ali’s (as) bravest commanders. Mu‘awiyah killed him with poison that was given to him by one of his traitorous slaves while on his way to Egypt.43
Ziyad once requested one of Imam ‘Ali’s (as) special students named Rashid al-Hijri to curse and disown Imam ‘Ali (as). Rashid al-Hijri flatly refused to do it. As a result, Ziyad cut both his hands, both legs, and his tongue, and then hung his body from a scaffold.44
Juwayriyyah ibn Mashar al-‘Abdi was arrested for the crime of accepting the wilayah (spiritual and temporal guardianship) of Imam ‘Ali (as). His body was hung from a date tree after his hands and legs were cut off.
Mu‘awiyah himself cursed Imam ‘Ali (as)
As long as the Holy Prophet (S) was alive, Bani Hashim and Imam ‘Ali (as) holding the foremost position among them, were held in great honor and high respect, but soon after the death of the Holy Prophet (S), hostilities and enmities began to appear. These antagonisms were especially directed towards Imam ‘Ali (as).
These enmities reached their climax during the reign of Bani Umayyah especially under the leadership of Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan.
Mu‘awiyah could not content himself with only going to war with Imam ‘Ali (as) for the sake of seizing and usurping the caliphate, an action that made him acquire the title “oppressor” with regard to Imam ‘Ali (as) even in the view of Sunni Muslims; in addition, he started cursing Imam ‘Ali (as) from the pulpits in a very public manner. This custom continued to prevail up to the time of the caliphate of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz who finally gave orders to discontinue the custom.
Mu‘awiyah’s purpose for annihilating Bani Hashim
By trying to eliminate Bani Hashim, Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan was endeavoring to achieve two main aims: one of his goals was to annihilate the very roots of the religion and in this way nip Islam in the bud.
The other objective was to avenge the blood of his polytheist forefathers and the other elders of Bani Umayyah who had been sent to perdition by the holy sword of Imam ‘Ali (as). It was for this reason that during the Battle of Siffin, Imam ‘Ali (as) refused to allow anyone of the family members of Bani Hashim to enter the battlefield and gave orders preventing them from engaging in one on one battle with the enemy.45
Apart from employing savage methods, including assassination, terrorism, imposition of wars on his enemies, plunder and robbery, Mu‘awiyah also engaged in other tactics with the aim of annihilating and destroying Islam and the Ahl al-Bayt (as).
We will now mention some of these tactics:
a. Obstruction of knowledge of the virtues of the Ahl al-Bayt (as)
In his book called “Al-Ihdath”, ‘Ali ibn Muhammad ‘Abd Allah Mada’ini writes, “After usurping the caliphate, Mu‘awiyah announced to all his government officials and workers that for anyone that recounted the virtues of Abu Turab (Imam ‘Ali) or praised his household, neither his life nor his property would be secure.”46
b. Initiating enmity and cursing of Imam ‘Ali (as)
The insurgence that took place against ‘Uthman was, in all truth, a peoples’ revolt and uprising. The people came to Medina from all the corners of the Islamic world except Sham and Hams, because these lands were under the control of Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan.
The injustice, intimidation and oppression imposed upon the people by ‘Uthman’s government officials had caused a state of complete annoyance and utter frustration among the common people. It was this weariness of harassment which persuaded them to revolt and rebel and this insurgency led to the death of ‘Uthman.47
After ‘Uthman’s death, Nu‘man ibn Bashir Ansari took ‘Uthman’s blood soaked shirt to Sham.48 Mu‘awiyah was quick to exploit this opportunity. He gave orders that this shirt must be hung on the pulpit of the Sham’s A‘zam Mosque.
White haired old men were either compelled by force or paid to gather and hold mourning ceremonies next to the shirt. They continued mourning in this way for over one year. News of the event reached all the cities and towns that were under the domain of Mu‘awiyah.49
In his first speech after this event, Mu‘awiyah endeavored to portray ‘Uthman as an innocent martyr and introduced Imam ‘Ali (as) as the responsible party for ‘Uthman’s death. From then on, Mu‘awiyah’s politics took the form of creating unfounded charges against Imam ‘Ali (as). On a daily basis, he sketched new plans to cause spite, animosity and malevolence against Imam ‘Ali (as).50
The people of Sham and Hams were bombarded with heavy propaganda as regards the issue of ‘Uthman’s death. Imam ‘Ali (as) was being used as a scapegoat for a killing which he had personally renounced and condemned. The issue of revenge was falsely presented under the guise of religion.
The plea that the caliph had been oppressed and unjustly killed excited the emotions and sentiments of the common people. Some who were gullible to state propaganda believed the lie and thus the people’s feelings and emotions were vehemently raised against the people of Kufah and Imam ‘Ali (as).
Mu‘awiyah and the Umayyad government did not stop at this in their devious propaganda games, but undertook all possible means to cause lasting hatred and animosity against Imam ‘Ali (as). They hoped to gain maximum benefit from the people of these two large provinces by resorting to such tactics.
‘Amir, the son of Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas recounts, “One day Mu‘awiyah invited my father to his palace and said to him, ‘Why don’t you curse and insult Abu Turab (Imam ‘Ali)?’ Sa‘d said, ‘As long as I remember the three things which the Holy Prophet (S) said in favor of him, I will never say anything unpleasant against ‘Ali.
This is because if anyone of those three things had been said about me, it would be far more beloved for me than owning a host of fine red camels. During one of the battles, Allah’s Prophet (S) appointed ‘Ali (as) to be his representative in Medina. ‘Ali said, ‘O Prophet of Allah! Are you appointing me to be your representative and deputy among the women and children?’
The Holy Prophet (as) answered, ‘Are you not pleased that with respect to me you hold the position which Harun (Aaron) held with respect to Musa (Moses), with the exception that there will not be a Prophet after me?’ Secondly, on the day of Khaybar, I heard the Holy Prophet (S) saying, ‘I will give the Islamic banner and commandership to a man who loves Allah and the Prophet dearly and whom Allah and the Prophet also love very much.’ We all waited anxiously and were turning our heads to see who that lucky person was.
Then, the Holy Prophet (S) said, ‘Tell ‘Ali to come here.’ They brought ‘Ali forward and it became clear that he had sore eyes. The Holy Prophet (S) took some saliva from his mouth and rubbed it in ‘Ali’s eyes. ‘Ali (as) instantly got well. Then, Allah’s Prophet (S) gave the Islamic banner to ‘Ali and through him Allah bestowed conquest and sweet victory for the Muslims.
Thirdly, when the following verse was revealed, Allah’s Prophet (S) called ‘Ali (as), Fatimah (as), al-Hasan (as) and al-Husayn (as). Then, he said, ‘O Allah! These people are the ones who belong to me’.”51
“And whoever disputes with you after what has come to you of the knowledge, then say: Come let us call our sons and your sons and our women and your women and our near people and your near people, then let us be earnest in prayer and invoke the curse of Allah on the liars…”52
‘Ali ibn Muhammad Mada’ini recounts, “After usurping the government and gaining control of the caliphate, Mu‘awiyah wrote orders to all his officials and agents that he was not duty-bound to provide protection or security to anyone who recounted any of the virtues of Abu Turab (Imam ‘Ali) or narrated favorable hadiths about his household members.
Mu‘awiyah commanded that the blood and property of such people should be taken without impunity. Government appointed speakers began distancing themselves from Imam ‘Ali (as), cursing him and speaking ill of his household in every community and from every pulpit.”53
Ya‘qubi writes, “Whenever some Shi‘ahs of Imam ‘Ali (as), among them Hujr ibn ‘Uday and ‘Amru ibn al-Himaq Khuza‘i, heard Mughayrah ibn Shu‘bah and his likes cursing Imam ‘Ali (as), they would arise and cast the curses back at them.”54
After the martyrdom of Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba (as), Mu‘awiyah intended to go to Mecca for the hajj. He first went to Medina. There, he requested to curse Imam ‘Ali (as) from the Prophet’s (S) pulpit.
The people told him that Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas was present in the city and that it was very unlikely that he would be pleased or ascent to such an act. The son of Abu Sufiyan then sent someone to ask Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas for permission to curse Imam ‘Ali (as) from the Prophet’s (S) pulpit.
Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas replied, “If you do such a thing, I will leave this Mosque forever and never return to it at all!” As long as Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas was the governor of the holy city of Medina, Mu‘awiyah restrained himself from cursing Imam ‘Ali (as) in Medina.
After the death of Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas, Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufiyan started cursing Imam ‘Ali (as) again and wrote letters to his officials commanding them to revile Imam ‘Ali (as) from the pulpits. They did as they were ordered. Umm Salamah, one of the Prophet’s (S) wives, wrote a letter to Mu‘awiyah complaining that Mu‘awiyah and his agents were cursing Allah and his Prophet (S) from their pulpits because of their cursing of ‘Ali (as) and those who love him. She declared, “I bear witness that Allah and his Prophet (S) love ‘Ali.” Mu‘awiyah did not pay the least attention to this letter.55
Jahiz narrates, “Verily, at the end of his sermons Mu‘awiyah always used to say, ‘O Allah! Abu Turab (Imam ‘Ali) has become an apostate and a hindrance in the way towards you. Therefore, curse him and punish him with painful chastisement.’ He wrote these words and sent them to all the horizons of the Muslim World to be repeated by his agents and public speakers. This curse continued to be said on the pulpits up to the reign of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-Aziz.
Some members of Bani Umayyah told Mu‘awiyah, ‘O Amir! You have attained your ambitions and worldly desires. Why don’t you stop cursing this man?’ Mu‘awiyah answered, ‘I swear by Allah that I will not stop reviling him until I am assured that all the newborn children are brought up on the custom of cursing him, and likewise, all the old ones become grey-haired while vilifying him. I want to make sure that no one ever remembers him kindly’.”56
Zamakhshari narrates, “During the days of the reign of Bani Umayyah, and in accordance with Mu‘awiyah’s custom, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) was cursed and reviled from more than seventy pulpits.”57
Ahmad ibn Yahya al-Baladhuri recounts, “Mu‘awiyah appointed Mughayrah ibn Shu‘bah to be the governor of Kufah. Mughayrah kept this post for nine years… and he was never negligent in his duty of slandering and vilifying ‘Ali (as).”58
Hakim al-Neyshaburi narrates from ‘Abd Allah ibn Zalim that Mughayrah ibn Shu‘bah used to insult Imam ‘Ali (as). He even appointed and delegated people to carry out this task.59
‘Ubayd Allah ibn Abi Malikah recounts that a man from Sham vilified and used insulting language against ‘Ali (as) in the presence of Ibn ‘Abbas. Ibn ‘Abbas said, “O enemy of Allah! You have wronged the Holy Prophet (S). Do you not know that Allah has said, ‘Surely, as for those who speak evil things of Allah and His Apostle, Allah has cursed them in this world and the hereafter, and He has prepared for them a disgraceful chastisement’.”60
Then, Ibn ‘Abbas added, “If the Holy Prophet (S) were alive today, he would be annoyed by your conduct.”61
‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Baylamani says, “I was in the presence of Mu‘awiyah when a man stood up and started flinging abuses at Imam ‘Ali (as) one after the other. Sa‘id ibn Zayd ibn ‘Umru ibn Nafil stood up and protested, saying, ‘O Mu‘awiyah! Do I have to endure the pain of hearing them slandering ‘Ali (as) without you showing any indignation at it? Verily, I heard Allah’s Prophet (S) saying, Ali is to me what Aaron was to Moses’.”62
Ahmad ibn Hanbal quotes from ‘Abd Allah ibn Zalim Mazani, “When Mu‘awiyah left Kufah, he appointed Mughayrah ibn Shu‘bah to be his agent there. Mughayrah ibn Shu‘bah appointed speakers to curse and slander ‘Ali (as). Mazani says, ‘I was seated next to Sa‘id ibn Zayd ibn ‘Umru ibn Nafil. I noticed that he had got very angry.
When I asked him why, he got my hand and took me to a corner. Then, he asked me, ‘Don’t you see that this man is committing injustice against himself by cursing ‘Ali (as), a man whose place is in paradise’”63
Ibn Abi al-Hadid relates that Mughayrah ibn Shu‘bah, Mu‘awiyah’s governor and agent in Kufah, commanded Hujr ibn ‘Uday to stand up and curse ‘Ali (as) in the presence of all the people. Hujr ibn ‘Uday refused. Mughayrah intimidated and threatened him with punitive action if he did not do as he had been ordered. Hujr ibn ‘Uday stood up and said to the people, “Your leader has commanded me to curse ‘Ali (as); therefore, curse him.”
The people of Kufah said, “O Allah! Curse him.” Of course, the people’s curse was meant for Mughayrah ibn Shu‘bah himself.64
The Holy Prophet (S) forbade the cursing ‘Ali (as)
1. The Holy Prophet (S) said, “Do not curse ‘Ali, because he is heedless of any dangers in the way of Allah.”65
2. The Holy Prophet (S) also said, “Whoever vilifies ‘Ali has certainly vilified me. And whoever curses me has without doubt cursed Allah.”66
3. He also said, “O Allah! Hate anyone who hates ‘Ali.”67
4. Hakim al-Neyshaburi recounts that Abi ‘Abd Allah said, “One day I went to see Umm Salamah. She asked me, ‘Do you curse the Holy Prophet (S) among yourselves?’ I said, ‘I seek refuge in Allah’ or ‘Glory be to Allah’, or a similar phrase. Umm Salamah then said, ‘On several occasions I heard the Holy Prophet (S) say: ‘Whoever curses ‘Ali has certainly cursed me’.”68
The judgment for anyone who curses Imam ‘Ali (as)
1. On his own chain of transmission, al-Tirmidhi narrates from Umm Salamah that the Holy Prophet (S) always used to say, “No hypocrite loves ‘Ali, and no believer hates ‘Ali.”69
2. Al-Tirmidhi also recounts that Imam ‘Ali (S) said, “Verily, the unlettered Prophet (S) gave me a firm promise when he said that no one will love you except a true believer; and no one will hate you except a hypocrite.”70
Another hadith narrated by Muslim confirms the above-mentioned hadith.71
3. Al-Tirmidhi relates that Abu Sa‘id said, “Indeed, the Helpers [ansar], used to recognize and distinguish who the hypocrites were by observing who hated ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as).”72
1. Zubayr ibn Bakkar, Al-Akhbar al-Muwafiqat, pp. 576-577; Muruj al-Dhahab, vol. 3, p. 454; Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 2, p. 176, vol. 5, p. 129.
2. Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 6, p. 476.
3. Ibn al-Mundhir, Al-Targhib wa al-Tarhib, vol. 3, p. 102.
4. Malik, Al-Muwatta’, vol. 2, p. 59.
5. Muslim, Al-Sahih, vol. 5, p. 500.
6. Ibid., vol. 1, p. 271.
7. Sahih Bukhari, vol. 5, p. 2219, hadith 6501.
8. Fath al-Bari, vol. 1, p. 353, 452.
9. Sahih Bukhari, vol. 1, p. 332, hadith 935; Muslim, Al-Sahih, vol. 2, p. 284, hadith 4.
10. Sahih Bukhari, vol. 1, p. 327, hadith 917; Muslim, Al-Sahih, vol. 2, p. 285, hadith 5.
11. Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 5, p. 58, hadith 16415.
12. Muruj al-Dhahab, vol. 3, p. 42.
13. Muslim, Al-Sahih, vol. 2, p. 266, hadith 32.
14. Sahih Bukhari, vol. 1, p. 307, hadith 862.
15. Durr al-Manthur, Suyuti, vol. 2, p. 477.
16. Surat al-Nisa’ 4:23.
17. Al-Sunan al-Kubra, vol. 2, p. 419, hadith 3993.
18. Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 8, p. 139; the events that occurred in the year 60 AH.
19. Sahih Bukhari, vol. 2, p. 605, hadith 1602; Ibn Majah, Sunan, vol. 2, p. 1011, hadith 3039.
20. Al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyyah, vol. 2, p. 228; Tarikh ibn Kathir, vol. 8, p. 145; the events which occurred in the year 60 AH.
21. Surat al-Ma’idah 5:38.
22. Surat al-Talaq 65:1.
23. Abu Dawud, Sunan, vol. 4, p. 68, hadith 4131; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 5, p. 118, hadith 16738.
24. Ibn Athir, Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, vol. 3, p. 220; Al-‘Aqd al-Farid, vol. 3, p. 2; Ibn ‘Asakir, Mukhtasar Tarikh Damishq, vol. 5, p. 409.
25. Sahih Bukhari, vol. 6, p. 2499, hadith 6432; Muslim, Al-Sahih, vol. 3, p. 256, hadith 37.
26. Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Musnad, vol. 6, p. 17, hadith 19883, 19953; Bayhaqi, Sunan, vol. 7, p. 403.
27. Sahih Bukhari, vol. 3, p. 1292, hadith 3317; Muslim, Al-Sahih, vol. 1, p. 113, hadith 112.
28. Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 8, p. 86; the events which occurred in the year 56 AH.
29. Al-Isti‘ab, no. 1402; Al-Aghani, vol. 16, p. 209.