Who is Right?
During the Battle of Jamal (1), a companion of Imam Ali (PBUH) was in deep doubt. He would observe both sides. On one side he would see Imam Ali (PBUH) and great figures of Islam who were gathered round him striking away with their swords; and on the other side he would observe Aisha, the wife of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), about whom the Quran said, “And his wives are considered mothers of them [the believers]” (2). He would see Talha, one of the first Muslims, in Aisha’s army; the one who had served Islam greatly and was famous for his abilities at war, especially his arrow shooting. He would see Zubair, a man with an even better past record than Talha; the same Zubair who supported Imam Ali (PBUH) on the day of Saqifah and took sanctuary in his house.
This man was deep in doubt. ‘How can it be’ he thought?! Ali, Talha, and Zubair are all early Muslims and great supporters of Islam, and yet they are against each other today. Which side is right? What is the right thing to do?’
With these thoughts in mind, he decided to meet with Imam Ali (PBUH). Once at the Imam’s presence, he asked, “Is it possible that Talha, Zubair, and Aisha have all gathered together for falsehood? Such characters are companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). How can they be wrong? Is such a thing possible?”
Imam Ali (PBUH) gives such a powerful response that has famous scholars like the Egyptian Taha Hussain comment, “I have not heard a response so powerful ever since revelation stopped” (3).
The Imam (PBUH) said, “You have been misled. Truth and falsehood cannot be known by the measure of value and personality of individuals. It is wrong of you to first pinpoint persons, and then judge truth and falsehood based on their characters. To say something is truth because so and so agree with it, or to say something is false because so and so disapprove, are both wrong methods. Individuals should not be measurements and criteria for identifying truth. Rather, it is truth and falsehood that must be the basis of identifying people. Meaning, you must know the truth and falsehood, not become a knower of individuals and personalities. You should measure individuals (whether they be famous or not) according to truth. If they meet the truth, then accept their characters, otherwise no. This is not a correct question, “Can Talha, Zubair, and Aisha be on the wrong side?”(4)
In this speech, Imam Ali (PBUH) set the truth itself as the standards for truth, not on famous presences within the Battle of Jamal. And this is the essence of the Shia sect and the standard it is based upon. Imam Ali (PBUH) was thirty three after the demise of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). He had only a few companions, and was confronted by old men of sixty years with a large majority. The logic of the majority was to follow the path of the elders, whom they believed do not err. Whereas, the minority believed that he who does not err is with truth. Great men should accord themselves with the truth.
And for this reason, it can be understood how numerous are the people whose slogan is the slogan of Shiite Islam, which is following truth, but whose spirit is not the spirit of Shiite Islam. The path of Shiism, like its spirit, is recognition of truth and pursuing it, not identifying it based on individuals.
(The above is a selection taken from the book “Polarization around the Character of Ali (PBUH)” by Professor Shahid Mutahhari, with minor changes)
Roshd Website offers its condolences on the 21st of Ramadan for the martyrdom of the, master of the believers, Ali ibn Abi Talib (PBUH), to all Muslims, especially to you dear friend. Furthermore we honor the most superior night of the year, the valuable and precious night of Qadr.
We further invite to reading the article “The Night of Qadr” located in the Articles section of Roshd Website, as it related to these nights. This article analyzes the incidents that take place on the Night of Qadr through verses of the Holy Quran, and further expands on the representative of Allah on earth in our and other eras. This article ends by recommending acts that can be done to take advantage the most blessed night of the year.
1. After people paid allegiance to Imam Ali (PBUH), his justice in distributing public’s-treasury (Bayt al-Maal) and deposing and appointing ministers angered many. Talha and Zubair who had paid allegiance to Imam Ali (PBUH) had hoped to be appointed as the governors of Basra and Kufa. However, the Imam (PBUH) did not agree to their request. They therefore, left Medina with the excuse to take a pilgrimage to Mecca. On the other hand, Bani Umayyah, who had been used to getting bonuses from the rule of Uthman, had been at loss with the coming of Imam Ali’s (PBUH) rule. Hence, rummaging the treasury they all joined forces with Talha and Zubair and gathered around Aisha. They used the money they had stolen to build a large army and took over Basra. In this battle, Aisha was riding a camel, which became the symbol of the army, and therefore the battle came to be known as the Battle of the Jamal (male camel). In order to defeat the trouble and persecution, Imam Ali (PBUH) traveled to Basra and won the battle.
2. The Holy Quran, (33:6)
3. Ali and his Sons, p.40
4. The above quote is a summary of the Imam’s speech. (Rawdat al-Wa’idhin, p.31)
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