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Appointment of the Second Caliph and the battle of Mu’ta

Source: Al-Nass Wal-Ijtihad, Text and Interpretation
By: Allama Abdul Husayn Sharafuddin al-Musawi

When Abu Bakr was about to die, he entrusted Umar with the caliphate! How odd! (How strange! As he had extorted it in his life, he had entrusted it to another one after his death. How much they have participated in its two udders

.29 How strange! As if the man had given the other a piece of his own properties! He had entrusted it to whoever he wished without fearing any punishment, blaming or criticizing. How strange! As if he had forgotten or pretended that he had forgotten the covenant of the caliphate the Prophet (S) had given to Ali and then after him to the infallible Imams of his progeny, who were one of the two weighty things that whoever kept to would never deviate and whoever turned away from their path would never be guided to the path of the truth.
They were equal to the Qur'an. They (the Qur'an and the Prophet’s progeny) would never separate until they would come to him at the pond in Paradise. They were like the Ark of Noah (S). Whoever rode on it would be rescued and whoever lagged behind it would drown. They were like the gate of repentance. Whoever entered through it would be forgiven.
They were the security for the people of the earth from being tortured and they were the security of the Ummah from separation (in religion). If a tribe opposed them, its people would disagreed among themselves and become the party of Iblis…etc. to the rest of the clear traditions that had declared their right of the caliphate and made that compulsory on the whole peoples. We have mentioned many of such traditions in our book al-Muraja’at.30

The battle of Mu’ta:
It took place in Jumada al-Oola, the eighth year of hijra, in which the Prophet (S) had appointed Zayd bin Haritha as the leader of the army. The Prophet (S) said: “If Zayd is struck, then Ja’far bin Abu Talib will be the leader and if he is struck then Abdullah bin Rawaha will be the leader”. This has been said by all the Sunni whereas the Shia say that the first leader, according to the Prophet’s tradition, is Ja’far, the second is Zayd and the third is Abdullah bin Rawaha. Our traditions on this subject are true and recurrent from the pure infallible Imams (S).
Muhammad bin Ishaq has confirmed this in his Maghazi when mentioning the poems of Hassaan bin Thabit and Ka’b bin Malik on praising and elegizing Ja’far when he has been martyred. 31
However the order of these three leaders was, the fact was that the Prophet (S) had appointed Zayd as a leader whether he was the first or the second one. The army and the rest of the companions had heard the Prophet (S) appointing Zayd as the leader. After that there was no any excuse for those who had objected to this order unless it was possible for non-infallible one to interpret (change), according to his own opinion, a tradition said by an infallible one!!!
The reason of this battle was that the Prophet (S) had sent his companion al-Harth bin Umayr to the king of Busra32 inviting him to be a Muslim. When he was on his way, Shurahbeel bin Amr stopped him and asked him: “Where are you going to?” Al-Harth said: “To Sham”. He said: “Are you one of Muhammad’s messengers?” Al-Harth said: “Yes, I am.” Shurahbeel ordered his mates to tie al-Harth and then he killed him. No one of the Prophet’s messengers had been killed except this one. When the Prophet (S) had been informed of this, he ordered the army to march and appointed these three leaders according to the order we have mentioned before.
The Prophet (S) sent this army and another army under the leadership of Usama bin Zayd to conquer Sham. Their hearts were full of the dignity of Islam and the Muslims and the hearts of the Romans were filled with fear and regard when they saw the seriousness, steadfastness, devotedness and competing towards martyrdom among the two armies.
How brave Ja’far bin Abu Talib was with his three thousand soldiers when they attacked bravely Hercules and his two hundred thousand soldiers.33 Ja’far recited: How nice Paradise is and its becoming near!
How good it is with its cold drinks And the Romans are waiting for their near torment They are unbelievers and strangers for me I will strike them in the meeting
When the fighting became so violent, Ja’far broke into on his horse. He slaughtered his horse and attacked the enemy. His hands were cut and then he was killed. Ja’far was the first one, who had slaughtered his horse in Islam. More than eighty wounds were found on his body.
It was narrated that the Prophet (S) had said: “Last night (in dream) Ja’far and some angels passed by me. He had two wings. His primaries were dyed with blood”. 34
How great the situation of Zayd bin Haritha was when he broke through the spears of the enemy! May Allah raise high his position as he has been honored in this life.
And how great the situation of Abdullah bin Rawaha was when he encouraged himself to face an army of two hundred thousand soldiers! He recited: O my soul, if you are not killed, you will die This is the death you are in now Whatever you have wished, you have been given If you do one of them, you will be guided then
He also recited: O my soul, I swear that you must submit to death Willingly or you will be forced to it As people have got ready to meet the hope So why you hate Paradise How long you have been reassured
Then he got off his horse. One of his cousins came to him with a piece of meat and said: “Support yourself with this for you have got much tiredness.” He ate a bit and then he heard a clamor coming from a side of the army. He said to himself: “Do hear this and you are still alive?” He threw the piece of meat and approached to fight until he was martyred.
Some Muslims of this army, after finding that the enemy army was about two hundred thousands, thought to inform the Prophet (S) about that but Abdullah bin Rawaha encouraged them to keep on by saying: “By Allah, we do not fight by equipments, powers or numbers. We fight by this religion, with which Allah has honored us. Go on! It is not but one of two good things; either victory or martyrdom”. The people said: “By Allah, he is right”. They went on without feeling weak or submissive. By Allah, it is the honor that goes high on the wing of the eagle and competes with the Gemini. Yes! It is the real faith in Allah and His messenger. I wish I were with them to get the great victory!
29. This is a part of one of Imam Ali’s speeches.
30. You find them in muraja’a no.8 p.20 (the third edition) until muraja’a no.14. The dispute through the muraja’at between me and Sheikh al-Bishri flared up until he said to me in the last of his letters he had written about this subject: “You have sublimated and corrected my thinking in your last letter, from whose contents the lights of your star shone and the signs of your victory appeared”. I said: “Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, for granting success and victory”.
31. Sharh Nahjul Balagha, vol. 3 p.607.
32. In Syria.
33. One hundred thousand soldiers from the Romans and one hundred thousand from the Arabs from Najm, Jutham and other tribes as mentioned by Ibnul Atheer in his al-Kamil and by others.
34. Al-Kamil by Ibnul Atheer (the battle of Mu’ta) and other books of Hadith and history. The surname of Ja’far among all the Muslims is “the two-winged” man.

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