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Reports False and Baseless

Adil Salahi

Arab News, 3/1/04

We mentioned last week how the conspirators managed to undermine the initial agreement between Ali and Talhah and Al-Zubayr to end all fighting and prevent any bloodshed. Those conspirators felt that if the two groups carried out their agreement to its logical conclusion, they would be in trouble because they were involved in the assassination of Uthman, the third caliph. Their only chance of survival was that conflict should continue between Muslim groups. If the two sides were to agree on peaceful arrangements, they would be free to attend to the task in hand, which was the punishment of Uthman’s killers. In order to prevent such peace, they started the fight in earnest at dawn, before any of the Prophet’s companions could have a chance to meet and settle their differences.

There are numerous reports about the fighting and what happened in the battle. Many of these are false, and some should be rejected out of hand. One of these is mentioned by Justice Ibn Al-Arabi:

It has been reported that as people were marshaled, Marwan saw Talhah and said: ‘We should not be following traces now that we see the real one.’ He aimed an arrow at him and killed him. But who could vouch that this had actually happened when only God would know it? No reliable person has ever reported this. It is also said that Marwan only ordered someone else to target him, without personally aiming his arrow at him.

Kaab ibn Soor carried an open copy of the Qur’an and appealed to people to save the lives of their own brethren, but a stray arrow hit him and he was killed. Talhah’s death might have been similarly brought about. It is well known that when fighting breaks out and people get involved, those who have particular hatred to certain others would discard all values and seek to avenge themselves. Those who met their death had simply reached the end of their term.

Some people might question Aishah’s justification for joining such an expedition when the Prophet (peace be upon him) had told his wives during his farewell pilgrimage: “Traveling this time is appropriate, but from now on you should stay at home.” It is such people that we remind that they must not circulate false statements and attribute them to the Prophet. We have already given sufficient evidence in support of Aishah’s stand, including her travel. Yet people will continue to assert things in support of their views even though they realize that they have no proper argument. They will continue to reiterate things that they themselves do not understand.

The first point in this statement is the accusation that Talhah’s killer was Marwan ibn Al-Hakam, who was to become a caliph some 27 years later. The report quotes Marwan’s words at the time, while it says that he spotted Talhah by chance and aimed his arrow at him. The point which Ibn Al-Arabi makes is that what Marwan might or might not have thought or said at the time is not of the type that would circulate and become known. How could anyone report Marwan’s thoughts unless he is given such knowledge by God? Since prophethood ended with the death of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the statement cannot be proven. Hence, it should be rejected out of hand.

Indeed the report is basically flawed. If anything, Marwan and Talhah would be fighting on the same side. Marwan ibn Al-Hakam belonged to the Umayyad branch of the Quraysh, to which Uthman belonged. The fact that he was present at all in this battle means that he was on the side that pressed for the punishment of Uthman’s assassins. Talhah was one of the leaders of that side. It is inconceivable that Marwan would be on the side that wanted to delay that punishment until things had settled down. That was Ali’s side which Uthman’s assassins had joined hoping to escape punishment. What grievance would Marwan have against Talhah to kill him at the start of the battle? Al-Khateeb describes this report as trash with no known origin.

The only possibility is that, like Kaab ibn Soor, Talhah was killed by a stray arrow. Kaab was the first Muslim judge in Basra. He carried Aishah’s instructions in calling on people to hold back and to prevent bloodshed. But the conspirators were keen that fighting should break out between the two Muslim groups. Hence, they killed him.

When we speak of Ali, Talhah, Al-Zubayr and Aishah, we are speaking of figures who were among the best and most God-fearing companions of the Prophet. The first three were among the ten the Prophet assured of being in heaven? Aishah was his wife in this world, and she will be his wife in heaven. So, the question may be asked how they felt when they fought on opposing sides. To answer this, we have a report related by Al-Shaabi, a highly prominent scholar of the Tabieen generation. “Ali saw Talhah’s body lying on the ground. He dismounted and wiped the dust off his face and said: ‘It grieves me to see you lying in such a valley with no cover but the sky. To God I put my grievances.’” Another report speaks of Talhah’s son and servant visiting Ali later. He was very hospitable to them and said to Imran ibn Talhah: “I hope that your father and I will be among those of whom God says: ‘We shall remove any rancor that may be lingering in their hearts, for they are brothers. They will be reclining on opposite couches.’”

It is also reported that when Aishah realized that some people were against the agreement that was reached between the two sides before the battle, she instructed those with her, saying: “Curse Uthman’s assassins and those who support them.” People started to do that, and she was praying to God. The people of Basra were also praying. Ali heard the noise and inquired about it. When he was told what Aishah said, he also prayed: “My Lord, curse Uthman’s assassins and those who support them.” Thus we see that making peace between the two sides was easy, but those elements who were behind the rebellion that led to Uthman’s killing were now doing their utmost to cause more rift and fighting between Muslims.

Ibn Al-Arabi then refutes the claim that the Prophet had warned his wives against a future event in which dogs would bark at one of them at a spring called Al-Haw’ab. He says that this whole report is false. Addressing those who circulate such false reports, Ibn Al-Arabi says: “Nothing of what you claim ever took place. The Prophet did not say this Hadith, and the statements alleged to have been said between these people were not made by anyone. None made such a perjurious testimony. Your own falsehood has been recorded, and you will be made to account for it in front of God.”


Earth, a planet hungry for peace


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers (Ran Cohen, pmc, 5/24/03).


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers in the West Bank, like a Python. (Alquds,10/25/03).

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