Translation: Ishaaq b. AbdurRaheem Aboo Aamir
The fight of the chief-of-the-believers, Alee bn Abee Taalib – may Allâh be pleased with him – against the rebellious apostate group (that is, the Khawaarij) was a very strong proof vindicating the fact that he was right in fighting the people of Syria; and that he was closer to the truth than Mu'aawiyah. A statement had come from the Messenger of Allâh (sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam) thus:
'The apostate group will apostatize from a group of Muslims that will fight it and which will be closer to the truth among the two groups.' [Muslim (2/745, 746)]
The reader will realize that the army would be more determined in fighting the people of Syria with the apparent proofs with them and other proofs that had earlier come, such as the killing of Ammaar bn Yaasir – may Allâh be pleased with him – except that in spite of that, what happened was the opposite of what they were expecting. The plan of the chief-of-the-believers, Alee, may Allâh be pleased with him, was that he would go to Syria after fighting the Khawaarij because bringing Shaam under his caliphate and returning the unity of the Muslims was a goal that must be accomplished, and an aim that must be sought after. His fight against the Khawaarij was only to ensure an internal cohesion and lest they (the Khawaarij) would not descend on the people of Iraq on his absence – as he mentioned it in his sermon. But the tide was against the vessels because he – may Allâh be pleased with him – could not carry out the war against Syria before he was martyred.[ Khilaafah Alee bn Abee Taalib p.345.]
The rebellion of the Khawaarij was a great source of weakness within the ranks of the army of the chief-of-the-believers, Alee, may Allâh be pleased with him. Just as the Battles of Jamal and Siffeen, and Nahrawaan, caused the weakness of the people of Iraq towards a war and their wariness of it; especially, their fight against the people of Syria at Siffeen – that war was not like any other war they had with other people.
The Battle of Siffeen was devastating; it had not left their imagination. How many were the orphans and widows that were as a result of the war, while the purpose of the war was not achieved. If not the truce and the arbitration that chief-of-the-believers, Alee, may Allâh be pleased with him, and most of his associates, welcomed, the misfortune that would have befell the world of Islam would not be imaginable. Thus the effeteness of Alee from going to Syria the second time was more pleasing to the people of Iraq, and their hearts hearkened after it, while they knew that Alee was right. [Khilaafah Alee bn Abee Taalib p.345.]
Among the enigma that weakened the side of chief-of-the-believers, Alee, was the appearance of another group (of people) who went to the extreme with respect to his praise; they were the people who raised him to a divine status. Such that it appeared to some that the development was in contrast to the position of the Khawaarij who were denouncing Alee and declaring him as a Kaafir. But the aim of these (other) people was devilish; their plot was to introduce an evil-thought within the ranks of the Muslims so as to destroy the religion and cause weakness in the generality of the Muslim masses, not only the army of Alee. The chief-of-the-believers, may Allâh be pleased with him, indeed rose against them – as we explained.
There was no doubt that the rebellion of the Khawaarij and killing them caused a serious weakness on the side of Alee, may Allâh be pleased with him. Yet there were other rifts in Alee's camp thereafter. Al-Khirait bn Raashid left Alee, it was said his name was Al-Haarith bn Raashid, left with his people – Banu Naajiyah. He was one of the governors appointed by Alee over Al-A'waaz. Ibn Raashid called people to disobedience to Alee and his call was answered by a lot of people; thus they took over (some of) the cities and seized people's belongings. Alee, may Allâh be pleased with him, thereafter sent an army under the leadership of Ma'qal bn Qays Ar-Riyaahi to him; it was the army that destroyed and routed him (and his followers). [See Taarikh At-Tabaree (6/27-47).]
Also the people who used to pay the land-tax, who were hitherto on the side of Alee, thought of stopping (the payment) of the land-tax. The people of Al-Ahwaaz also carried out an act of rebellion. Thus there was no denying the fact that Alee would be facing some economic and military difficulties. It was reported from Ash-Sha'bee that he said specifically with regard to this event that when the people of Nahrawaan were killed, many other people opposed him (as shortly mentioned). His regions revolted against him; Banu Naajiyah too revolted. Ibn al-Hadramee entered Basra (and found) its people in a revolt. The land-tax givers too thought of stopping its payment, and Sahl bn Hunayf, the viceroy of Alee bn Abee Taalib, may Allâh be pleased with him, was chased out of Persia.
On the other hand, Muaawiyyah, may Allâh be pleased with him, was secretly and openly planning how to weaken the power of the chief-of-the-believers, Alee – may Allâh be pleased with him. He exploited what his army had achieved in terms of (causing) disintegration and disharmony thus he sent an army to Egypt under the leadership of Amr bn Al-Aas – may Allâh be pleased with him, to capture and annex it to Syria.
Many factors contributed to the success of Amr bn Al-Aas in Egypt; among them were the following:
The preoccupation of the chief-of-the-believers, Alee, may Allâh be pleased with him, with the Khawaarij.
The laxity of the governor representing the chief-of-the-believers, Alee, in Egypt. That was the person of Muhammad bn Abee Bakr; he was not clever in administration unlike his predecessor, Qays bn Sa'd bn Ubaadah As-Saai'dee Al-Ansaaree. Thus he entered into war against those who were asking for the revenge of the death of Uthmaan; he did not manage them as did by his predecessor thus they could easily finish him.
The agreement between Muaawiyah and those calling for the revenge of Uthman's murder in Egypt; that thought aided him in capturing Egypt. [See Musannaf Abdir-Razzaaq, At-Tabaqaat Ibn Sa'd (3/83), Khilaafah Alee bn abee Taalib, Abdul-Hameed Alee (p.351); its chain is authentic]
Distance of Egypt form the seat of the chief-of-the-believers Alee, may Allâh be pleased with him, and its closeness to Syria.
The geographical nature of Egypt; it has a common boundary with Syria via Mount Sinai which seemed a natural extension (and prowess). Egypt added man-power and economic gain to Muawiyah, may Allâh be pleased with him. So also, Muawiyah sent his deputations to the Arabian Peninsula, Makkah, Madeenah and Yemen. But these deputations had not departed before the chief-of-the-believers sent those who would drive them back. Muawiyah worked on winning some tribal chiefs and workers of Alee to his side; he also made effort to draw back Qays bn Sa'd, Alee's governor over Egypt, but he could not achieve it. But he could stir up doubt in the servants of Alee and his advisers therein, thus Alee removed Sa'd bn Qays. The removal of Sa'd bn Qays was a great machination of Muawiyah. Just as he tried to draw back Ziyaad bn Abee-hi, the governor of Alee in Persia but Muawiyah failed in that regard. So also Muawiyah could stir up some important persons and governors due to what he promised them (of worldly benefits), and because of what they saw in the rising status of Muawiyah and the division in the camp of Alee. For instance Alee confirmed that in one of his sermons wherein he said:
'Indeed, tidings have emerged from the side of Muawiyah, I do not see except that these people will overcome you because of their unity over their falsehood and your division over your right; their obedience to their leader and your disobedience to your leader; their rendering of trusts while you breach them. I appointed so-and-so but he stole from the booty, breached the trust and took money to Muawiyah. I appointed another fellow, he too breached, betrayed and took money to Muawiyah. The betrayal is such that if I were to entrust any of them with a goblet, I fear if he will not establish a relationship over it. O Allâh, indeed, I hate them and they hate me, relieve them from me and relieve me from them.' [See At-Taarikh As-Sagheer Lil-Bukhaaree (1/125) with a broken chain but with other supportive chains.]