Jihad and Bravery
At the conclusion of the Battle of the Camel he offered funeral prayers for the enemies who had been killed and prayed to God for their forgiveness. When he gained control over his fell enemies like Abdullah son of Zubayr, Marwan son of Hakam, and Said son of Aas, he forgave them, behaved with them kindly and prohibited his companions from punishing them although he was in a position to give them a harsh treatment, and they too did not hope that they would be set free. Another example of his connivance is this that when he gained the upper hand on Amr Aas_ he turned his face aside and let him go, although he was by no means a lesser danger for Ali than Mu'awiya and remained inimical towards him even after this kindness. When he saw Zulfiqar (Ali's sword) on his head he committed a particular act and hoped that if he did so Ali would shut his eyes and leave him.(( it is said that when Amr b. Aas came to fight against Ali in the Battle of Siffin he was very much afraid. He could think of no other alternative except that he should lie on the ground and uncover his private parts so that Ali might shut his eyes, and he himself might escape. He, therefore, did so and thus saved his life((.
If Ali had killed Amr bin Aas at that time fraud would have been eliminated and Mu'awiya's army, too, would have been destroyed.
In the Battle of Siffin Mu'awiya and his supporters decided to overcome Ali by subjecting him and his companions to thirst. For some days, therefore, they blocked his way to the Euphrates and threatened that they would not allow his army to utilize the water and would make them die of thirst. However, Ali's army launched an attack and gained control of the bank of the river. But Ali behaved with Mu'awiya in a different manner. Notwithstanding the fact that he could stop supply of water to the Syrian army as a measure of retaliation he allowed them to utilize water in the same way in which his own men were utilizing it.
Once he was given to understand that two persons were accusing Ayesha of having started the Battle of the Camel and of plotting to kill him. He ordered that each of them might be administered one hundred lashes by way of punishment.
After achieving victory in the Battle of the Camel he sent Ayesha back to Madina with due honour and respect. He accompanied her up to a few miles distance and also sent some persons with her so that they might serve her on the way, and she might reach Madina comfortably.
In spite of his being so brave Ali avoided being oppressive. The narrators and historians are agreed that he hated warfare and did not resort to it except when no other alternative was left. He always tried that matters might be settled with the enemies without bloodshed and fighting. He used to advise his son Hasan not to invite anyone to fighting. He was always sincere in what he said and followed the policy which he recommended to his son till he was obliged to act otherwise.
For example when Kharijites were equipping themselves for warfare the companions of Ali suggested to him that he should attack them (i.e. Kharijites) before they became ready to wage a war. Ali, however, replied: "I shall not start fighting till they begin the battle themselves". His faith and human attributes compelled him to keep the people from deviation by means of advice. One day he was delivering a sermon to a gathering and many Kharijites who considered him to be an infidel were also present and were hearing him. One of them who was wondering at his sweet language and- eloquence said: "May God kill this infidel! How wise and intelligent he is!" The followers of Ali wished to kill that man. He, however, said to them: "He has done something wrong with his tongue. You should, therefore, either take revenge from him with the tongue or forgive him":
We have already mentioned above that Mu'awiya's army bucked the path of Ali's army to the Euphrates so that they might surrender on account of thirst but when Ali gained control of the bark of the river he did not stop Mu'awiya's army from utilizing the water. Many other similar incidents took place so far as Mu'awiya was concerned, but it is not possible to give their details here. All these events show that as demanded by his angelic soul he was kind even to his enemies and was just and magnanimous to all. A historian narrates thus with reference to the Battle of Siffin: " A man named Kareer son of Sabah Humeri came out of Mu'awiya's army into the battlefield and said standing between the armies. Is there anyone who may come and fight with me? One of the soldiers of Ali's army went to combat with him and was killed. He again asked for an adversary. Another man went but he too was killed and still another person also met death at the hands of Kareez. When he demanded an adversary for the fourth time none went to oppose him. The men in the first row stepped lack. All felt that there was a danger of his army becoming demoralized. He, therefore, went himself to give a fight to Kareez and killed him. Then he killed another man and thereafter a third man also met the same fate. After having killed three warriors Ali said loudly these words which were heard by all: "If you had not started the battle we would not have fought with you". Having said this he returned to his place".
It is also related in connection with the Battle of the Camel that when the enemies gathered for an attack, Ali also arrayed his troops lout said to them: "Don't throw an arrow nor make an attack with a spear or a sword until we have first invited them to peace". He did not wish that a battle should take place resulting in blood shed and loss of life. After a moment,some one belonging to the opposite army shot an arrow which struck a companion of Ali and killed him. Ali said: "O Lord! Bear witness". Then another arrow came and killed- another man. .He said again: "O Lord! Bear witness". Then an arrow struck Abdullah son of Badil and his brother brought him,before Ali. Ali again said. " O Lord! Bear witness".
And then the battle started.
To shun cruelty and oppression was a moral principle of Ali arid formed part of his nature and disposition. He never broke covenants and was not inimical tow.irds his former friends unless they themselves broke the covenants and showed enmity in reply to kindness.
The best form of friendship and the meaning of fidelity is that a warrior, .while standing in the battlefield should look at the former friends who may have come to fight in the capacity of enemies, with the same brotherly eye, should invite them to peace and remind them of former love and friendship, so that they may possibly refrain from breach of covenant and treachery, or should take away the arms from their hands and solve the difficult problems by negotiations and peace talks. Fighting with a former friend should not he started all at once, because it is possible that he may be reminded of former relations and may refrain from fighting and opposition.
If keeping promises and regard for former friendship had not dominated the spirit of Ali he would not have depended on them for warding off the enemies.
The Imam's firmness in keeping the promises is evident from the treatment which he meted out to Zubayr son of Awam and Talha son of Ubaidullah. These two persons separated the Imam's friends and helpers from him and took them to his enemies. They also misguided Ayesha and made her come up as opponent of. Ali.
Those who were present on the spot whether they were friends or enemies, have reported that when Talha and Zubayr decided to fight against Ali, broke the oath of allegiance and displayed their evil intentions in the Battle of the Camel, Ali went to them bare-headed and without wearing any armour or coat of mail, meaning thereby that he had come with peaceful intentions. Ile then called Zubayr saying: "O Zubayr! Come to me". Zubayr came fully armed: When Ayesha heard about it she -cried: "What a pity it is that there should be a combat"!
She said this because she knew that whoever went to fight against Ali would be killed, however brave and strong he might be. And it may be said with certainty that Zubayr could not have saved himself if he had fought with Ali. However Ali embraced Zubayr. Ayesha and her supporters were very much upset to see this. Ali said in a tone of love: "O Zubayr! Why have you come to fight against me?" Zubayr replied: "To avenge the murder of Uthman". All said: "May God kill that person who has been responsible for the murder of Uthman".
Then Ali reminded Zubayr of past companionship and brotherhood and wept a number of times while talking. However, Zubayr was bent upon fighting and opposed the Imam till he (i.e. Zubayr) was killed. Ali, who attached great importance to the tie of friendship, was very much grieved when Zubayr met his death. Ali did not withhold his suggestions from the former caliphs and assisted them in their words and actions.*
Although this magnanimous person was steadfast in his friendship, his friends did not accord due respect to his friendship, because they did not expect that he would act contrary to his nature and let their hands loose to usurp the rights of others.
Imam Ali has been reported to have said: "Even if all the seven regions of the world and whatever is under the sky is offered to me so that I may disobey God and take away unjustly the husk of barley from an ant I shall not do so. In my eyes this entire world is inferior to a leaf which may be pressed in the mouth of a locust".
In this matter Ali's words and actions conformed with each other. He was not like others who indulge in tall talk which their actions belie. tie was prompted to say these words by his nature which formed the basis of his character. Ali was more kind to the people than anyone else and refrained from harming any person. lie became
Ali assisted the caliphs because every action of his was for the sake of the benefit of Islam and he did not let the interests of the religion suffer in order to acquire his own right. Oblivious of his own self in order to assist others and considered this self-abnegation to be a part and parcel of his life. His entire life was dedicated to the support of the oppressed and the helpless so that he might realize their rights from the tyrants who considered themselves entitled to usurp the rights of others on account of noble descent and racial discrimination.
Ali opposed the Quraysh and fought with them, because they coveted the caliphate for the sake of personal gain and in order to acquire position, wealth and rulership. Lie renounced the caliphate and even the worldly life anti forsook everything because he could not act like worldly persons and could not agree to allow them to exploit the weak and the helpless.
-The Voice of Human Justice, by George Jordac.