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  • 1/4/2011

Imam Husain's Revolution: Analytical Review

Part 3


Umar ibn Al-Khattab was the first person in charge of Muslim affairs to start uneven donation of rations among Muslims.

 He used to prefer some people to others for various reasons, which generated social classes and sparked off enmities and rifts in the Muslim society. The laws were not in conformity with the Tradition of the Prophet or even with Abu Bakr's procedure. Umar was sad when he saw the unrest and rifts in the Muslim community and declared, "I was informed that people have distinct gatherings. When two sit together they talk of the different groupings and separate entities. By God that is harmful to your religion, honor and unity". Realizing the causes of this social phenomenon he added, "I used to allure people in order to gain their goodwill by preferring some to others. But if I lived this year, the distribution of wealth will be even among all people as the Prophet end Abu Bakr used to do."

A rather serious measure taken by the Caliph Umar ibn Al-Khattab was his appointment of six nominees to the Caliphate post. This, it is believed had induced a desire in every one of the nominees to ascend one day to this powerful and honorable position. Thus it was a matter of time for everyone and they were engaged in preparing the ground for their ascent.

Uthman ibn Affan was chosen by Abdul Rahman ibn Auf to be the next Caliph, after being turned down by Imam Ali. Imam Ali refused to accept the Caliphate post because Abdul Rahman ibn Auf put a condition, which meant retaining the status quo and preventing any radical change. The vast majority of Muslims resented Uthman's policies. His monetary policy was the focus point of resentment, because he donated large amounts of money to his relatives while the rest of the people were left empty handed ( Muroj Al-dhahab 2/241 by Al-Masaudi Al-Ansab and Al-Ashraf [5/25, 28,48,52] by Al-Baladhiri). Indeed, the governors who were assisting in administering the country had neither ability nor piety. It is believed that they were appointed because they were of kin to him.

For instance, Al-Waleed ibn Aqabah ibn Abi Muaeet was appointed to govern Kofah. Al-Waleed was reputed to be a drunkard and people were very dissatisfied with his behavior.

 People's pressure was tremendous that Uthman had to yield and finally replaced him by another one. The new governor was Saaid ibn AI-As who had the famous statement "Iraq is Quraish's garden, we take or leave of it whatever we like" (Muroj Al-dhahab 2/346 by Al-Masaudi). Muawiya was governing Damascus and Jordan during the reign of Umar, Uthman added to his state Hams, Palestine, and Jazera. Egypt's governor was Abdullah ibn Abi Sirah. All the previous governors are Uthman's relatives.

The most striking feature of this bunch of rulers was their contempt for people's rights and dignity. They simply looked at the whole Muslim country as their private property, as it is shown in Al-Waleed's statement.

Moreover the principal treasury at Madina was not utilized in its rightful ways. Many Muslims like the treasurer's trust, Ammar ibn Yasir, Abu Dhar and similar distinguished companions objected strongly against Uthman's monetary policies. Uthman's reply to those people was, "We take from the treasury whatever we want in spite of some people's objections".

These policies were not only foreign to Islamic conduct and ideals but caused tremendous sufferings and hardships to the majority of Muslims. Responsible Muslims played their role in warning Uthman against these deviations but their advice was in vain. Thus, the situation reached its danger point one day and exploded which resulted in Uthman's murder. This act of violence as I believe could have been avoided by using some peaceful method.

The chaotic conditions and the deterioration of the Muslims material and social status forced them to rethink their past, present and future.

 Perhaps it was like a film passing in their minds, reminding them of events which were connected with their presence. It is normally the last incident and last speech, which remain alive in people's memories. Indeed, it was the Prophet's famous speech in Khum during his last pilgrimage, which was recalled. Muslims remembered that significant event where there were more than one hundred thousand Muslims present and the Prophet went briefing the Islamic message to them. In the middle of that anxious crowd, listening carefully to every word i.e. (p.b.u.h.) uttered, and watching every sign he made. The Prophet took Ali ibn Talib's hand and raised it while saying "O, people whoever I am his master, then Ali is his master too. O, God, assist those who support him and disgrace those who do not".

Thus the Muslims found their way out suddenly after the cloud of events disappeared. They hurriedly went to Imam Ali (p.b.u.h.) calling him to perform his assigned duty. But the abnormal situations existing at the time did not make his task easy. Indeed, the very acceptance of his duty during such situations was not healthy. Imam Ali's reply to the Muslims was negative. He (p.b.u.h.) said, "Leave me aside and seek someone else". We are heading at a subject which has many facets and various colors, neither the hearts would rise to, nor the minds would be firm upon. The horizons are black and gloomy while reason is rejected.

You should know that my acceptance means what I know will be applied and obeyed. I shall not conform to one's ideas or listen to others rapprochement. On the other hand, leaving me aside means I am one of you, listening and conforming to whom you have appointed for your affairs. "I am better a minister than commander for you". In this speech, perhaps, he (p.b.u.h.) wanted to gauge people's interests and determination. Moreover, he showed his disinterest for power and ruling if that means an aim by itself. But the vast majority of Muslims were determined to see the Prophet's words and will implemented. They left no choice to Imam Ali but to accept his rightful role of being the ideological leader to the Muslim community.



The major problems, which were confronted at the time, were the existence of a corrupt and incompetent administration, unjust social privileges, and wide financial gap between the rich and the poor. Thus, Imam Ali's reforms covered these three major fields.

1. Administration: All previous governors were instantly expelled from their posts. And the following people were put in charge, Uthman ibn Haneef for Basrah, Sahl ibn Haneef for Syria, Qais ibn Saad ibn Ubadah for Egypt, and Mousa Al-Ashari for Kofah. It is noteworthy that all the mentioned governors were not from Quraish tribe. This was bitterly taken by Quraish who were accustomed to rule and get the lion share of money and authority. It is not out of place to mention that the new governors were not only known for their piety and good conduct, but possessed sound administrative abilities. However, it must be taken into account that the conditions in which they were operating and the unstable situation of that period gave them no chance to manifest fully their talents. But, still the marks, which they left in the society, were so deep that they survived and remembered for generations.

2. Protection of Rights: The rights of Muslims whether social or financial were carefully observed and protected. Thus Imam Ali (p.b.u.h.) declared "O people, I have the same rights and obligation as the rest of you" Therefore, he cut the way of every intruder who wanted to exploit his position or kinship or religious reputation. Imam Ali again stated, "It should be known that whoever is an immigrant (Muhajir) or a supporter (from Ansar) who accompanied the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), and think he is better than others for his companionship, then his goodness will be rewarded by God in the Hereafter. Every person who believes in God and His Prophet is entitled to the same rights and obligations. Money belongs to God, which must be divided equally among people. No-one will get a greater share than others, those pious people would get their reward in the Hereafter".

3. Fiscal and Monetary Policy: The extravagant monetary policy of Uthman which accumulated the wealth among his relatives and associates, had seriously imbalanced the society. However, Imam Ali (p.b.u.h.) had to take some drastic measures against the existing unnatural imbalance in the society. Thus he warned all people, "I shall follow the Prophet's Tradition and execute whatever he had commanded, hence, every gift which Uthman gave, or God's money which he donated will be returned to the treasury. Nothing will cancel its belonging to the treasury even if it was married with, or distributed in the wide country. Justice must be implemented. If someone feels hard to accept justice then injustice is harder to accept".

Moreover, he condemned prodigals who run after the pleasures of this life only while disguising in religious masks. In this respect Imam Ali said, "There are some people whom life has absorbed completely. They have built many houses, made rivers, rode beautiful horses, and took to themselves slave women, which brought disgrace upon them. Whenever I prevent them from indulging in bad deeds and give them no more than their rights, they turn angry and object furiously. They say, "Ali ibn Abi Talib has prevented us our rights".


However these new policies irritated the Quraishite. They no longer enjoyed their garden of Iraq and the rest of the Muslim country. Even what they have already gained was endangered of restoration to the Muslims treasury. Therefore, Imam All's policies were aiming at stripping them completely of their social privileges, financial status and authority. Quraish was not pleased with the new regime and worked continuously to hinder the stabilization of the new authority. Dissents and wars were launched successively shaking the whole State, economically, socially, politically and morally. Meanwhile, the poles of Quraish who were campaigning against Imam Ali's rule, realized that they were fighting Islam again. It was not Imam Ali as a person they were fighting, but it was the ideals and policies, which he (p.b.u.h.) had advocated. Thus the Umayyads who accepted Islam under various conditions but belief found that their materialistic thinking cannot reconcile with Islamic values. Hence, they decided to distort Islamic values and ideals, since opposing Islam openly was fatal, as they had experienced previously. So Muawiya had ordered the formation of a committee to fabricate Hadiths and distort the interpretation of Quran.

Five years had lapsed which were full of violent events. The camel's war in Basrah, Siffin war against Muawiya, Nahrawan war against Khawarij, and many other campaigns, which were continuously on the move.

Thus the opposition was able to feed unrest practically in every part of the Islamic State, which shook the authority of the new administration.

Imam Ali (p.b.u.h.) was murdered at Kofah mosque, and Muawiya was given access to rule the whole country. The circumstances in which Muawiya assumed power will be discussed later.

To be continued ...

Other Links:

Arresting of Muslim bin Aqeel

Martyrdom of Muslim bin Aqeel (A.S)

Umar bin Saad in Krabal

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