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The Shīah during the Period of the First Four Caliphs

Author:
Ghulam-Husayn Muharrami

The Shīah during the reigns of the first three caliphs, viz. Abūbakr, Umar and Uthmān, has distinctive features which can be expressed in the following manner:
1. During the reigns of these three caliphs, the Shīah were subjected to many pressures with the exception of the initial days after the event of Saqīfah. It can even be said that many of the Shīah were deprived of key positions on account of their being Shīah.
2. After the event of Saqīfah which brought about dichotomy on the issue of leadership over the Muslims and led to the division of Muslims into two main groups, the Ahl as-Sunnah were referring to the caliphs of the time on the scientific, jurisprudential, ideological, and other problems, whereas the Shīah were referring to Alī (a).
The Shīahs practice of referring to Alī (a) regarding scientific issues, jurisprudence and other Islamic sciences in general, continued with the pure Imāms (a) after the martyrdom of Alī (a). The reason behind the Sunnī-Shīah difference in jurisprudence [fiqh], hadith, tafsīr [exegesis of the Quran], kalām [scholastic theology], among others is this very fact that the reference authorities of these two groups were different and distinct from each other.
3. Just as Alī (a) had unofficial political and military cooperation from afar with the caliphs of the time as far as protection of the lofty interests of Islam was concerned, a number of distinguished Shīah among the Companions also assumed military and political positions with the consent of Imām Alī (a). For example, Faḍl ibn al-AbbāsAlīs (a) cousin and defender during the event in Saqīfahheld a military position in the army of Shām and passed away in 18 AH in Palestine.
Ḥudhayfah and Salmān became the governors of Madāin one after the other. Ammār ibn Yāsir was appointed by the second caliph as the governor of Kūfah after the tenure of Sad ibn Abī Waqqāṣ. Hāshim Mirqāl, who was one of the sincere Shīah of the Commander of the Faithful (a) and was martyred in the Battle of Ṣiffīn on the side of the Imām (a), was one of the outstanding commanders during the periods of the three caliphs and conquered Azerbaijan in 22 AH. Uthmān ibn Ḥunayf and Ḥudhayfah ibn Yamān were commissioned by Umar to measure the lands of Iraq.
Abd Allāh ibn Badīl ibn Waraqā al-Khazāī, one of the Commander of the Faithfuls (a) Shīah whose son was one of the first martyrs in the Battle of Jamal (Camel), was one of the military commanders and conquered Isfahān and Hamedān.
Similarly, individuals such as Jarīr ibn Abd Allāh Bajallī and Qurẓah ibn Kab al-Anṣārī who were among the Commander of the Faithfuls (a) distinguished men during his caliphate, held administrative and military positions during the periods of the three caliphs. Jarīr conquered the territory of Kūfah and became the governor of Hamedān during Uthmāns reign. Qurẓah ibn Kab al-Anṣārī also conquered Shahr-e Rey during the period of Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb.

Manifestation of Shīism during the Caliphate of Alī (a)
Although the root of Shīism can be traced back to the time of the Prophet

#7779;), its manifestation came after Uthmāns assassination and Alīs (a) caliphate. During this period the demarcating line became clear as Alīs (a) supporters and followers openly declared and expressed their Shīism. Shaykh al-Mufīd narrates, thus:
A group of people came to Alī (a) and said: O Commander of the Faithful! We are among your Shīah. The Imām (a) looked carefully at their faces and said: But why cant I see the countenances of the Shīah in you? They asked: O Commander of the Faithful! How should countenances of the Shīah be? He (a) said: Their faces are pale from excessive acts of worship at night; their eyes are weak from weeping profusely; their backs have curvature for standing for long time in prayer; their stomachs can reach their backs for fasting a lot; and the dust of humility and lowliness has settled in them.
Also, poems were recited during the caliphate of Imām Alī (a) in which Alī (a) has been described as the rightful Imām and successor, and the leader after the Prophet

#7779;). As Qays ibn Sad was saying,

Alī is our Imām and that of others. The Quran has been revealed for this purpose.
Khuzaymah ibn Thābit Dhūsh-Shahadatayn used to say:




May I be the ransom of Alī! He is the Imām of the people, the light of creation and the asylum of the God-conscious ones.
He is the successor [waṣī] of the Prophet, the husband of Baṭūl (Fātimah), the Imām of creation, and radiant sun.
He is the Imām of creation and gave in alms [ṣadaqah] his ring while he was in the state of bowing [rukū], and what a good deed he performed!
God, the Exalted, made him superior to others and revealed the Sūrah Hal atā about him.
In some poems, the Imāms (a) Shīah also introduced themselves to the religion of Alī (a). For example, while engaged in a fight against a person named Amrū ibn Yathribī from among the army of Jamal [camel] during the Battle of Jamal, Ammār ibn Yāsir recited thus:
ٰ

O Ibn Yathribī! Leave not the battlefront so that we could fight against you over the religion of Alī. I swear to the House of God that we are the foremost ones to the Prophet.
Even the enemies and adversaries were using the same descriptions for the Shīah. For example, in a poem, proud of killing the supporters of Alī (a), Amrū ibn Yathribī says:
ٰ

If you do not know me, I am Ibn Yathribī, the killer of Ilbā and Hind al-Jamalī. I am also the killer of Ibn Ṣawḥān for the crime of following the religion of Alī.

2. The Shīah during the Period of the Umayyad Caliphate
The period of the Umayyad caliphate was the most difficult time for the Shīah, starting from 40 AH up to 132 AH. All the Umayyad caliphs with the exception of Umar ibn Abd al-Azīz were sworn enemies of the Shīah. Of course, after caliph Hishām the Umayyads were preoccupied with the campaign against internal revolts and the Abbāsid movement and the past harsh treatments of Shīah were lessened. The Umayyad caliphs were living in Shām, the capital of the Umayyad rule, and in most cases, the rulers adopted the policy of bloodshed with respect to the Shīah-populated territories, exerted pressure on the Shīah. Among all the enemies, it was the Umayyad rulers who focused most on the Shīah relentlessly annoying and disturbing them, with Ubayd Allāh ibn Ziyād and Ḥajjāj ibn Yūsuf being most notorious among them.
Ibn Abīl-Ḥadīd, the well-known scholar in the Sunnī world, thus writes: The Shīah were being killed wherever they were. The Umayyads used to mutilate the hands and feet of individuals for being suspected as Shīah. Anyone who was noted for his love and attachment to the family of the Prophet would either be imprisoned, his possessions be plundered, or his house be demolished. The pressure and restrictions imposed upon the Shīah reached a point where the charge of friendship with Alī (a) was considered as worse than the accusation of disbelief [kufr] and infidelity, entailing severer punishments.
In adopting this violent policy, living conditions for the people of Kūfah was the worst because Kūfah was the Shīah capital of the time.
Muāwiyah designated Ziyād ibn Sumayyah as the ruler of Kūfah and later on assigned the governorship of Baṣrah to him. Ziyād was once in the rank of the supporters of Alī and he knew them all very well. He pursued the Shīah and found them in whatever nook and corner they would hide. He killed them; threatened them; mutilated their hands and feet; blinded them; hung them on palm trees; and expelled them from Iraq so much so that not a single well-known Shīah remained in Iraq.
Abūl-Faraj Abd ar-Raḥmān ibn Alī ibn al-Jawzī has said: When a number of the Shīah protested against Ziyād, who was then delivering sermons from the pulpit, he ordered the mutilation of the hands and feet of eighty persons. He used to gather the people in the mosque and ask them to curse Alī and if anyone refused to do so, Ziyād would order that his house be demolished.
Ziyād, who ruled alternately for six months in Kūfah and the next six months in Baṣrah, appointed Samurah ibn Jundab as his deputy in Baṣrah so that he could administer the city during his absence. During that period Samurah killed 8,000 people. Ziyād once asked him: Are you not afraid that you might have killed one innocent person among them? He replied: Even if I have to kill two times that figure, I am not afraid of such a thing.
Abū Suwār Adwī says: One morning, Samurah [killed] 47 persons from among relatives, all of whom were memorizers of the Quran [ḥufaz].
Muāwiyah, in a directive to his officials and workers, wrote that they should not accept the testimony of even one of Alīs (a) Shīah or family members. In another directive, he thus wrote: If two individuals would give testimony that a certain person is among the friends of Alī and his family, his name should be erased from the record of the public treasury [bayt al-māl] and his salary and stipend should be cut off.
After subjugating Mecca and Medina,Ḥajjāj ibn Yūsuf, the bloodthirsty and cruel Umayyad agent, was appointed as the governor of Iraq, the center of the Shīah gathering, in 75 AH by the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwān. Having covered his head and face, Ḥajjāj entered the mosque of Kūfah incognito. He passed by the line of people and mounted the pulpit. He remained silent for a long moment. Murmuring among the people started as to who he is. One person said, He is the new ruler. The other one said, Let us pelt him with stone. Many others said, No, let us listen to what he will say. When the crowd silenced, he uncovered his face and uttering a few sentences, he terrified the people so much so that the small stones in the hands of those who were ready to pelt him fell on the ground spontaneously. At the beginning of his speech, he thus said: O people of Kūfah! It has been for many years that you have taken chaos, sedition [fitnah] and insubordination as your slogan. I can see heads similar to ripe fruits that must be separated from the body. I shall strike on your heads to such an extent that you would find the way to submission.
Ḥajjāj implemented a rule of terror throughout Iraq and the eastern districts and unjustly killed many prominent figures of Kūfah and pious people.
Masūdī thus writes about the crimes of Ḥajjāj: Ḥajjāj ruled for twenty years and the number of those who were killed during this period by the swords of his headsmen or torturers exceeded 120,000 people. This figure does not include those who were killed by Ḥajjājs forces in the war against him.
At the time of Ḥajjājs death, 50,000 men and 30,000 women were languishing in his infamous prison. Among them 11,000 were naked. Ḥajjāj used to imprison men and women in one cell. His prison cells were roofless. As such, the prisoners were not secure from the summer heat or the winter rain and cold. The Shīah were usually victims of Ḥajjājs prison, torture, persecution, and murder. The best evidence that reflects the miserable plight of the Shīah during the Umayyad period and the intensity of the Umayyad policy of strangulation is the complaint of the Shīah to Imām as-Sajjād (a) about the oppression and tyranny perpetrated against them. The late Majlisī has narrates:
The Shīah came to Imām Zayn al-Ābidīn (a) complaining about the pressure and strangulation, saying: O son of the Messenger of Allah! We were expelled from our cities and eliminated by atrocious killing. They cursed the Commander of the Faithful (a) in the cities as well as in the mosque of the Messenger of Allah

#7779;), on top of his pulpit. No one prevented it and if any of us would protest, they would say, This is a turābī (i.e. Shīah); they would report it to the ruler, writing to him that so-and-so has said something good about Abū Turāb (Imām Alī (a)). The ruler would order them to beat that person, imprison him and finally kill him.

Summary
After the event of Saqīfah, the Shīah would refer to the pure Imāms (a) with respect to scientific, jurisprudential and ideological issues. Although they were cooperating with the caliphs of the time in line with the interests of Islam, most of them were deprived of administrative positions.
During the caliphate of the Commander of the Faithful (a), expression of Shīism was one of the distinctive features of the Shīah.
The period of the Umayyad rule was one of the most difficult times for the Shīah. All the caliphs, with the exception of Umar ibn Abd al-Azīz, were sworn enemies of the Shīah, and the Shīah-populated regions the bloodthirsty and cruel governors were ruling over.

Questions
1. What were the distinctive features of the Shīah during the reign of the first three caliphs?
2. What was the salient feature of the Shīah during the caliphate of Alī (a)?
3. What was the condition of the Shīah during the Umayyad rule?

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