Monday, September 05, 2016

Mu'awiyan Judgement: Story of the Arab and his Beautiful Wife.

Abu-Sufyan commanded the Qurayish against the Muslims at the battles of Badr, and Ohud, and- also at the siege of al-Medina. He was at that time one of the Prophet's bitterest enemies; but after his conversion to Islam, which occurred in AH. 8, and was, it would seem, the result of policy rather than conviction, he became one of Muhammad's most zealous adherents. Abu'l-Feda relates that after his conversion, Abu-Sufyan demanded three things of the Prophet.

First: That he was to be made Commander-in-Chief of all forces that were to act against the infidels.
Secondly: That the Prophet would appoint as his Secretary Abu-Sufyin's son, Mu'awiyah.
Thirdly: That the Prophet would marry his daughter, Gaza.

The two first petitions Muhammad granted, but refused to comply with the third. He was already married to Umm-Habiba, another of Abu-Sufyan's daughters.

Beauty of a Woman.
In the last year of the first Caliph, Abu-Bakr's reign, AH. 13, Mu'awiyah was sent in command of a large force, to the assistance of his half-brother Yezid, at that time Commander-in-Chief of the Muslim army then invading Syria. Abu Bakr's order to the Commander-in-Chief and the Muslim army as-

“When you leave a place do not cause them difficulty in marching. Do not punish your men harshly. Consult them on every matter. Do not abandon justice and stay far from injustice and tyranny because no tyrant nation has ever obtained success. Do not slay any small child, old people, women or pre-adolescent. Do not approach the harvests of the trees. Crops should not be burnt nor fruit trees cut. Do not slaughter any animal which is impermissible.

Do not break any agreement which you make with the enemy, and after peace, do not tear up your treaties. Remember that you will also meet such people who have undertaken monasticism in their monasteries, thinking this to be for the sake of Allah. Do not interfere with them and do not destroy their monasteries and do not kill them”-[Fatuhusham by al-Imam al-Waqidi].

After the reduction of that province, which took place six years later, during the reign of 'Omar, the second Caliph, Mu'awiyah was appointed prefect of Syria. In AH. 24, during the reign of 'Othman, the third Caliph, Mu'awiyah gained many advantages over the imperial forces, took several towns, and reduced the islands of Cyprus, Aradus, and Ancyra, exacting from their inhabitants a yearly tribute which amounted to a considerable sum. After the assassination of 'Othman, AH. 35, Mu'awiyah disputed the succession with 'Ali son of Abu-Talib; and so powerful was the faction in his favor, that, during the reign of 'Ali, the Caliph was in fact divided, 'Ali reigning over Arabia and the Persian provinces, and Mu'awiyah reigning over Syria and Egypt.

'Ali was murdered AH. 40, and his son Hasan, a pious but weak man, was nominated his successor, and was urged to prosecute the war against Mu'awiyah. He therefore led his army towards Syria, but after the first engagement some of his troops mutinied, and he himself nearly lost his life; which so dispirited him, that in spite of his brother Husein's remonstrances, he wrote a letter to Mu'awiyah, offering upon certain terms to resign the Caliphate. Thus did Mu'awiyah become sole Caliph six months after the death of 'Ali, and according to Abu Ja'far at-Tabari, he reigned from the time of Hasan's resignation, 19 years, 3 months, and 5 days.

Mu'awiyah died in the month of Rajab 60 a.c. (April 680) and was buried at Damascus, which he made the residence of the Caliphs; and so long as his descendants or the Caliphs of the house of 'Omayah held the Muslim throne, that city enjoyed this prerogative.

Historians do not agree with the age of Mu'awiyah, as it is varies from seventy to eighty-five years at the time of his decease. He held rule in Syria, first as Prefect, then as Caliph, for about forty years. He is said to have been of fair complexion, tall and unwieldy. He was the first who preached seated to the people, the first who appointed eunuchs for his personal service, and the first with whom his courtiers jested familarly. Astute, unscrupulous, clear-headed, miserly, but lavishly liberal when necessary, outwardly observant of all religious duties, but never permitting any human or divine ordinances to interfere with the prosecution of his plans or ambitions.  

However, on the whole, we have to admit that Muawiyah's rule was prosperous and peaceful at home and successful abroad. And it was because of his disciplined life-lead. His daily life, which was curious and interesting. According to Masudi, after the early morning prayers, he received the town-commandant's report. His ministers and privy Councillors then came to him for the transaction of public business.During breakfast he listened to the correspondence from the provinces read to him by one of the secretaries. At midday he issued for the public prayers, and in the Mosque sean enclosure received the complaints of all who desired to approach him. On his return to the Palace he gave audience to the grandees. When that was over the principal meal of the day was served, which was followed by a short rest. After the afternoon prayers another audience was given to the ministers for the transaction of business. In the evening he dined in state, and afterwards held another reception which closed the day. 

One day Mu'awiyah was sitting in council at Damascus, and the chamber was open on the four sides; the breeze could enter it from all quarters. But the day was extremely hot, there was no wind, and it was the middle of the day, and verily the noontide was blazing. And it so happened that he looked [out in a certain direction], and observed a man coming towards him, who was being scorched by the heat of the ground, and limped in his barefoot walk. And Mu'awiyah, after regarding him attentively, said to those about him, "Has God (be praised and exalted!) created a more miserable being than he who is forced to walk about in such weather and at such an hour as this?"
Then answered one of them, "Perhaps, Commander of the Faithful, he brings a petition."

Said Mu'awiyah, "By Allah! if he seeks anything from me, I will certainly give it him, and take upon myself his affair; or be he oppressed, I will surely help him. Ho, slave! stand at the door, and if this Arab asks for me, do not deny him access to me."
So the youth went out and 'met him, and asked, ''What seekest thou?"
He replied, "The Commander of the Faithful."
"Enter," said the slave.
Then Mu'awiyah asked him: "Whence art thou?"
He said, "From Tamim," -The Benu-Tamim, one of the most considerable tribes of Arabia, were dispersed over the north-east of Nejd from the Syrian desert to the borders of al-Yamamah.
"What is it that has brought thee at such a time as this? '' asked Mu'awiyah.
He answered, "I have come to thee lamenting, and seeking through thee redress."
"From whom?" Mu'awiyah asked,
He said, "From Marwin-ibn-al-Hakam, your vicegerent."

Marwin-ibn-al-Hakam was Secretary of State to 'Othman, the third Caliph, and was highly favoured by him, so much so that the large sums squandered by the Caliph upon Marwin, and one or two others, gave great offense to the people. But nevertheless it was chiefly through the treachery of Marwin that the intrigues of Bibi Aisha, Talha and Zubair, and Muhammad, son of Abu-Bakr, were successful, and ended in the assassination of 'Othmin, the traitor's master and benefactor.

In A.H. 54, Marwin was appointed governor of al-Medina by Mu'awiyah and in A.H. 64 (A.D. 684) was chosen Caliph of Syria upon the abdication of Mu'awiyah the Second, the son of Yezid, the son of Mu'awiyah. The Caliphate was now again divided, 'Abd-Allah-ibn-Zubair having been appointed Caliph in Arabia after the death of Yezid.

But Marwin's election was upon condition that Khalid, a younger son of Yezid, should succeed on Marwin's death, his own children being excluded. And to show his sincerity in this matter, Marwin married Yezid's widow, the mother of Khalid. Afterwards, however, he caused his own eldest son, 'Abd-al-Malik", to be proclaimed his successor, which so angered Khalid that he reviled his step-father in public, who, being incensed at his reproaches, grossly aspersed the character of Khalid's mother.

News of the affront being carried to her by the child, she vowed vengeance, and in consequence soon afterwards poisoned her husband, as is stated by some Arab historians. Others assert that she laid a pillow on his face while he slept, and sat upon it till he was smothered Abu Ja'far at-Tabari, however, intimates that Marwin died of the plague, nor does Abu'l-Faraj say anything of his wife's being accessory to bis death. He reigned less than a year.

He said, "O Amir-ul-Muminin, liberal .. and powerful! I came to thee when my pathway on earth was narrowed; O... refuse not my prayer for justice. But vouchsafe me judgment 'gainst the oppressor who has injured me in suchwise; It were better had he slain me. ..And he tyrannized, and acted not justly, but tore from me my wife; ...he thought to kill me, but my time was not yet accomplished, nor ended the term of my daily sustenance."

Then when Mu'awiyah heard this, he said to him, "Gently, O brother of the Arabs! Tell your story, and let me judge of your affair."

"So he began: "O Amir-ul-Muminin! I had a wife. I was enamoured of her and fascinated by her. Through her my eye was refreshed and my heart was glad. And I had a camel foal to which I looked for the maintenance of my condition and the support of my beloved. But a year of misfortune fell upon us; I lost even to socks and slippers, and there remained to me of my possessions, nothing. And when that which I had held was diminished, and my wealth was gone, and my state impoverished, I became grievously despised by those who knew me, and he who had sought my neighborhood avoided me, and he absented himself who did not wish to visit me.

And when her father heard how ill was my condition, and how poor my estate, he took her from me, and renounced me, and drove me away, and used hard language to me. So I came to your vicegerent, Marwan-ibn-al-Hakam, hoping that he would help me. But when her father appeared before him, and Marwin asked him about my position, he replied, 'I know nothing whatever of him.'

Then I exclaimed, 'God save the Prince! May it please thee that she be summoned and questioned concerning her father's speech?' So he agreed, and sent and fetched her.

But when she appeared before him, he was seized with admiration of her, and became my enemy, and renounced me, and showed hatred towards me, and sent me to the prison. And it was as though I had fallen from heaven and been borne of the wind to a far distant spot. Then he said to her father, 'Wilt thou marry her to me for a thousand dinars, and ten thousand dirhems, and I will be surety for her release from this Arab?

Now her father coveted the gift, so he agreed to this. And when he had received the sum, he sent to me and had me brought into his presence, and behaved towards me like a raging lion. And he cried, 'Divorce Saida!
But I cried, ' No.'

So he gave harsh orders about me to a troop of slaves, who seized me and tortured me with various kinds of torture. And there was no help for it but by divorcing her, so I did it. Then he sent me back to the prison, and I remained there until the legal period of her seclusion had elapsed [Iddah- in the case of a divorcee it is three months, and of a widow, four months and ten days, during which it is unlawful for her to marry again]. Then Marwin married her and released me. And verily I have come to thee in hope, and seeking redress through thee, and craving protection from thee."

And when Mu'awiyah heard this, he said, "The son of al-Hakam has exceeded the limits of prudence, and has been unjust, and has dared to do what is unlawful amongst Muslims: " — and then added, "Of a truth, O Arab! even in tradition I never heard the like of what thou hast brought before me." And he sent for an inkstand and paper, and wrote a letter to Marwin ibn al-Hakam, in which he said:

“Verily what I have heard concerning thee is, that thou hast overstepped the limits of prudence in dealing with thy subjects. And it is imperative that he who holds rule should, concerning his passions, be as one who is blind, and should turn his back upon his desires.”
Then after this he wrote a long epistle-

“Thou didst reign over a mighty province, but thou wert not capable; Therefore ask pardon from God for thine adulterous deed. And verily the miserable youth came weeping to us, and laid before us his trouble and his sorrows. I swear an inviolable oath to Heaven, yea, and else may I be excluded from my religion and my faith, that dost thou disobey me in what I have written I will surely make of thee meat for eagles.”
"Divorce Saida, and send her equipped instantly, With al-Kamit and Nasr son of Dzabyin."

Then he folded the letter and sealed it, and summoned al-Kamtt and Nasr son of Dzabyin, and entrusted this important matter to their care.

So they took the letter and journeyed until they arrived at al-Medina. Then they went to Marwin son of al-Hakam, and saluted him, and presented the letter to him, and intimated to him the state of affairs. And Marwin read the letter, and he wept. Then he went to Saida and told her. And not daring to disobey Mu'awiyah, he divorced her in presence of al-Kamit, and Nasr son of Dzabyin. And he equipped them, and Saida accompanied them. And Marwin wrote a letter, saying the following lines:

“Be not hasty, Amir ul Muminin. For verily thy vow shall be redeemed in private and in public. Though overcome by admiration, I acted not unlawfully, for how could I bear the titles oppressor, adulterer?

Hold me excused, for surely, hadst thou seen her, my passion had been thine, by nature's inevitable law. This Sun will soon approach thee; there is not her peer within the realms of men or of genii."
Then he sealed the letter and made it over to the messengers.

And they journeyed until they came to Mu'awiyah, to whom they presented the letter. And he read it, and said : "Verily he has obeyed well, and has been particular in his mention of the woman." Then he commanded that she should be brought before him.

And when he saw her, he found her appearance admirable. He had never seen one more lovely than she, nor equaling her in beauty, and grace, and stature, and symmetry. Then he addressed her, and found her eloquent of speech, happy in expression. And he said, "Bring the Arab to me."

So they brought him; and he was in extremity through the change in his condition. Then cried Mu'awiyah, "O Arab! art thou to be consoled for her? And wilt thou take in exchange for her three full-grown virgin slaves like moons, and with each slave a thousand dinars, besides what will suffice thee and will enrich thee, which I shall apportion to thee every year from the Treasury!"

And when the Arab heard Mu'awiyah's words, he sobbed chokingly — Had he died!!.
So he asked him, "What evil has come over thee that thou art in this sad plight?"
The Arab replied, "I sought protection through thy justice against the tyranny of the son of al-Hakam; but to whom shall I turn from thy oppression?"
Then he said, "By Allah! O Commander of the Faithful! Wert thou to offer me the Caliphate, I would not take it without Saida."

Then said Mu'awiyah to him, "But thou hast confessed that thou didst divorce her, and Marwan confessed that he divorced her, and we wish to give her the choice. If she choose other than thee, we ourselves will marry her: but if she choose thee, we will give her up to thee."
He said, "Let it be done."

So Mu'awiyah cried, "Speak, Saida I which is dearest to thee, the Commander of the Faithful with his power, and his rank, and his palaces, and his empire. and his wealth, and all that thou hast seen around him; or Marwan son of al-Hakam, with his tyranny and his injustice; or this Arab, with his hunger and his poverty?"

So she, said: This one. And even in hunger and want, he were dearer to me than my kin and my friends, and the wearer of the crown, or his vicegerent, Marwin. and for me all are possessed of dirhems and dinars. Then she continued:

"By Allah! O Commander of the Faithful! I am not going to forsake him because times have changed, nor because the days are darkened. Neither let it be forgotten that I have been his companion from the first, and our love is not worn out. And it is right that I should be the one to bear patiently with him in adversity, who have with him been happy in brighter days."

Then Mu'awiyah marvelled at her wisdom, and her affection for the Arab, and her fidelity to him. And he gave her ten thousand dirhems, and gave the same sum to the Arab, who took her and departed.

The End.
Not Yet Verified.

Photo: Shani Hasan, Miss Israel 2012.

Muhammad Diyab al-Atlidi, Historical Tales and Anecdotes of the Time of the Early Khalifahs.

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