The offensive lapses of the Rawafid about the journey of Ummul-Mu’minin Sayyidah A’ishah (R.A) to Basrah and the event of the battle of Jamal
It has been made amply clear in the previous paragraph that the sense of the imperative of وَقَرْنَ فِي بُيُوتِكُنَّ ‘remain in your homes’ (33) as proved from the very indicators, rather, expressions of the Qur’an, as well as from the practice of the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) and after him from the consensus of the noble Sahabah, it is confirmed that occasions of need are exempt from it – which includes going for religious needs of Hajj and Umrah, etc. Sayyidah A’ishah along with Sayyidah Umm Salamah and Sayyidah Safiyyah, may Allah be pleased with all of them, had gone for Hajj. There they heard about the martyrdom of Sayyidna Uthman (R.A) and about the incidents of rebellion against him. They were intensely grieved. The apprehension of an ill-omened disorder counter to unity among Muslims was weighing heavy on their minds. Under these circumstances, Sayyidna Talhah, Zubair, Nu’man Ibn Bashir, Ka’b Ibn Ujrah, and some other noble Sahabah escaped from Madinah and reached Makkah al-Mu’azzamah because the killers of Sayyidna Uthman (R.A) wanted to kill them too. These people were not with the rebels. In fact, they had tried to dissuade them from acting in that manner. So, as they were after them as well, these people saved their lives by escaping to Makkah al-Mu’azzamah. Once there, they presented themselves before Ummul-Mu’minin Sayyidah A’ishah (R.A) and sought her good counsel. She advised them not to go to Madinah until such time the rebels are gathered around Sayyidna ` Ali (R.A) and he is exercising restraint against taking Qisas (retaliation) from them, lest the situation is aggravated further. In this situation, they should go to live for a few days at a place where they find themselves safe and the Amir al-Mu’minin succeeds in controlling the law and order situation in Madinah. As for making whatever efforts they can, the best they can do is to try that these people converged around the Amir al-Mu’minin get scattered and he is enabled to exercise his authority to exact Qisas (retaliation) or revenge from them.
To this, they agreed and thought of leaving for Basrah because at that time Muslim forces were converged there. Once their plan to go was firm, they also requested Ummul-Mu’minin Sayyidah A’ishah (R.A) to stay at Basrah along with them until such time that the government resumes its normal function.
And the fact of the power and dominance of the killers of Sayyidna Uthman (R.A) ، as well as of the leaders of disorder, and the lack of Sayyidna ‘Ali’s (R.A) power to enforce the Islamic legal punishment against them is something clearly proven from the report of Nahjul-Balaghah itself. (1) It should be borne in mind that Nahjul-Balaghah is regarded to be authentic by Shiites. It appears in Nahjul-Balaghah: ‘To the noble Amir (Amir al-Mu’minin Sayyidna Ali), some of his companions and colleagues themselves said: If you punish the people who attacked Uthman (R.A) ، it will be better. Thereupon, the noble Amir said: My brother, I am not unaware of this thing you are talking about. But, how can this be done when these very people are there all over Madinah – and your slaves and the Bedouins of the adjoining areas have also joined them. If, under these circumstances, I were to issue the orders for their punishment, how would these be implemented?
On one side, Sayyidah A’ishah (R.A) realized the helplessness of Sayyidna Ali (R.A) in this matter while, on the other, she also knew that the hearts of Muslims were wounded in the face of the shahadah of Sayyidna Uthman (R.A). Moreover, the delay in taking the due revenge from his killers on the part of Sayyidna Ali (R.A) was being watched as his helplessness while the killers of Sayyidna Uthman (R.A) also used to participate in the meetings of the Amir al-Mu’minin. People who were not aware of his helplessness had found their reason for complaint against him as well. It was possible that this kind of complaint may trigger some other trial. Therefore, it was to exhort people to observe patience, to strengthen the hands of Amir al-Mu’minin for the purpose of stabilizing the rule of law in the state, to remove mutual complaints and to achieve the objective of making things work better among people that Sayyidah A’ishah (R.A) decided to embark on the journey to Basrah. In this journey, her Mahram nephew, Sayyidna Abdullah Ibn Zubair (R.A), and others were with her. She had herself stated the purpose of this journey before Sayyidna Qa’qa` (R.A) as it would appear later. And it is also obvious that the mission of conciliation and betterment among believers at the time of such a terrible trial was really a significant religious service. If, for this purpose, the Ummul-Mu’minin (R.A) took to the journey of Basrah while accompanied by her Mahrams and seated in a metal-framed camel litter, why would the Shiites and Rawafid raise such a dust storm about it and say that the Ummul-Mu’minin contravened the injunctions of the Qur’an? What justification is there for it?
Later on, the war-like situation, created by the mischief of the hypocrites and the agent provocateurs of disorder, was something even the thought of which had never crossed the mind of Sayyidah A’ishah (R.A). For the explanation of this verse, this much is enough. Onwards from here, this is not the occasion for going into the details of the event of the battle of Jamal. But, in order to make the reality clear in brief, a few lines follow.
Circumstances that one confronts in this world at the time of mutual discord simply cannot be neglected by people of insight and experience. The same circumstances developed here too when the journey of Basrah undertaken by Sayyidah A’ishah (R.A) in the company of the noble Sahabah who had come from Madinah was reported before Sayyidna Ali (R.A) in a totally deformed manner by the hypocrites and the manipulators of the disorder. The version they gave to him was that all those people were going to Basrah to join up with forces stationed there and from where they would come out to confront him. If he was the Amir of the time, they instigated, it was his duty to preempt this threat and stop them by going to where they were, lest the danger increases any further. There were noble Sahabah of the stature of Sayyidna Hasan and Husain (R.A) Abdullah Ibn Ja’far and Abdullah Ibn Abbas (R.A) who even differed with this line of action. The advice they gave was that he should not throw his forces against them until such time that he had the correct assessment of the prevailing situation before him. But, the majority present there was of those who had tendered the first option. Sayyidna Ali, also tilting towards the same option, came out with the armed forces, and along with him, came these wicked votaries of disorder and rebellion.
When these gentlemen reached the environs of Basrah, they sent Sayyidna Qa’qa (R.A) to Ummul-Mu’minin Sayyidah A’ishah (R.A) to find out the circumstances of her visit. They asked her, ‘0 Mother of the Believers, what was the reason that brought you here?’ Sayyidah A’ishah (R.A) said, اَی بُنَیَّ الاِصلَاحُ بَین النَّاس (My dear son, [ I am here to seek nothing but ] the betterment of relations between people) ‘. Then, she also called Sayyidna Talhah and Sayyidna Zubair (R.A) in this meeting with Sayyidna Qa’qa. He asked them, ‘What do you want?’ They submitted, ‘We want nothing but that the Islamic legal punishment is enforced against the killers of Uthman (R.A) .’ In response, Sayyidna Qa’qa’ (R.A) explained by saying, ‘This thing cannot be done until Muslim forces are organized and firmly established. Therefore, at this time, it is necessary that you take to a stance of conciliation.’
These blessed souls submitted to the advice. Sayyidna Qa’qa (R.A) went to Sayyidna Ali (R.A) and told him about it. He too was very pleased, and satisfied. Everyone decided to go back. For three days, they stayed on the camping grounds in a state that no one had any doubt about the forthcoming declaration of a truce between the two parties. And, on the fourth day, this announcement was going to be made and a meeting between Sayyidna Ali and Sayyidna Talhah and Zubair (R.A) was due to take place – in which these killers of Sayyidna Uthman (R.A) were not included. This thing was too hard for them to take. They made a plan. They told their colleagues, ‘First you go into the group around Sayyidah A’ishah (R.A) and unleash a spate of killing and pillage so that she and her compatriots think that the pledge was broken from the side of Sayyidna Ali (R.A) ، as a result of which, becoming victims of this misunderstanding, they would hurl themselves against the armed forces of Sayyidna Ali (R.A) .’ This shaitanic device engineered by them worked. So, when the attack on the group accompanying Sayyidah A’ishah (R.A) came from the side of the agents of disorder who had infiltrated the forces of Sayyidna Ali (R.A) ، they were excusable in taking this attack to have come from the forces of the Amir al-Mu’minin – and thus began their counteraction in defense. When Sayyidna Ali (R.A) saw this state of affairs, he had no option left but to fight. And the unintended mishap of mutual infighting that was to occur did occur. إِنَّا لِلَّـهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ ! It is exactly like this that this event has been reported by at-Tabari and other reliable historians from the narrations of Sayyidna Abdullah Ibn Ja’far, Sayyidna Abdullah Ibn Abbas and others (R.A) (Ruh ul-Ma’ani).
In short, as a result of the wickedness of the agent provocateurs of disorder, this event of fighting between two revered groups came to pass unconsciously. And when this fitnah subsided, these very two revered personalities were the ones who were intensely grieved over it. Sayyidah A’ishah (R.A) when recalled this event, would weep so much that her scarf became all wet with her tears. Similarly, Sayyidna Ali b was also terribly shocked over this event. When, after the fitnah had subsided, he went to see the dead bodies of those killed, he beat his thighs with his hands and said, ‘Would that, much before this happened, I were dead, forgotten, lost!’
All these narrations and the subject matter have been taken from Tafsir Ruh ul-Ma’ani.
(1) Nahjul-Balaghah is a compilation of the lectures of Sayyidna Ali (R.A) held by the Shiites as authentic.