Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Speaking Leaves: The eloquence of Hasan ibn Ali.

Amr ibn al-As, son of Omaya of the tribe of Quraish, was one of three Meccan poets whose satires caused so much vexation to the Prophet that he engaged three poets of the tribe of al-Khazraj to answer them. One of the latter was Hasan ibn Thabit.

Amru fought against Muhammad under Abu-Sufiyan at the battles of Badr and Ohud. He professed Islam in the eighth year of Hijrah, and was sent by the Prophet to destroy Salwah, the idol worshiped by the tribe of Hudhail at Rohat, a place about three miles from Mecca. He was also sent on an embassy inviting to Islam two princes of the tribe of al-Azd, who were reigning at Oman.

In the reign of Abu-Bakr he was sent into Lower Palestine in command of a large force, and in that Caliph's last year, A.H. 13, Amru laid siege to and took Gaza, and Theophanes asserts that he forced the inhabitants of the whole tract from Gaza to Mount Sinai and the borders of the desert, to submit to the Caliph.

al-Hasan ibn Ali
He was one of the Generals who this same year, under the supreme command of Khalid ibn al-Walid, sat down before Damascus and reduced it. On Abu-Bakr's death and the accession of Omar, Khalid was deposed, [Khalid dismissed owing to his ever-growing fame and influence and Omar doing this because he wanted the people to know that victory came from God, not the general] and Abu Obaida appointed in his stead. Under him Amru held command at the siege of Jerusalem. In AH. 16, that city surrendered to the Caliph in person; after which Omar despatched Amru to invade Egypt. He was, however, delayed in Syria, in order to reduce certain towns and fortresses which still held out; and it was not until A.H. 18 that he entered Egypt.

Having conquered Egypt, he destroyed the Library at Alexandria by the order of Omar. The library was in the Sera-poeum and suburb Rhaqptis, and was called the daughter of that founded by Ptolemy Philadelphus. It was burnt previously by the order of Julius Caesar when it has four hundred thousand volumes and later by Amru when it contained at least five hundred thousand MSS. "Omar's Historical Order" to Amru which reads as--

"If these books agreed in all points with the Book of God (al-Qur'an), the latter would still be perfect without them, and they would therefore be superfluous; but that if they contained anything repugnant to the doctrine of that book, they ought to be condemned as pernicious, and destroyed."

And thus as it caused an irreparable loss to science, philosophy, and history in the same way shows the Truthfulness of al-Qur'an to the Mankind forever.

Amru was made the governor of Egypt and then he accomplished the great work of cutting the Suez Canal, [a channel through the present Isthmus of Suez, and thereby open a communication between the Arabian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea], Yet he was dismissed from that post by Othman, Omar's successor in AH. 24 for this work of cutting the Suez Canal, as it did not meet with the Caliph's approval, -for Muslims were in a state of war, yet he used a huge money in such a project that will not facilitate them in the war in any way but would facilitate the entrance of Christians into Arabia.

After dismiss, Amru then retired into Palestine, and led a private life until after the murder of Othman the dissensions arose between Ali and Mu'awiya. Amru joined himself to the latter under the promise of being returned to the lieutenancy of Egypt, and he it was who, when the dispute between Ali and Mu'awiya was to be decided by two persons nominated by either party, was chosen as Mu'awiya's advocate. In AH. 40, a conspiracy was formed to assassinate on the same day Ali at al-Medina, Mu'awiya at Damascus, and Amru in Egypt; but it was successful only in the case of Ali. Amru died AH 43.

There assembled before Mu'awiya, Amr ibn al-As, and al-Walid ibn-Uqbah, [al-Walid was one of Abu-Bakr's Generals in Upper Palestine, and was nominated Governor of that province before its conquest. In an engagement before Damascus, he was, however, seized with panic, and with his troops fled before the enemy, for which conduct he was deposed.] and Utbah ibn- Abu Sufiyan, and al-Mughira ibn ash-Shuaba, who said to him, "O Commander of the Faithful! send to Hasan son of Ali, and let him appear before us."

"And why?" asked Mu'awiya.
"In order", they replied, "that we may reprove him, and inform him that his father killed Othman".
"But," said Mu'awiya, "you cannot cope with him, and you will get nothing out of him; nor can you say anything to him without his giving you the lie; and if he makes use of his eloquence against you, all his hearers will be convinced."
But they persisted, saying, "Send for him, for we are certainly a'match for him."

So Mu'awiya sent a message to Hasan and when the latter appeared, Mu'awiya said to him, "O Hasan! I did not wish to send for thee; but nevertheless these others would have thee brought. Hearken therefore to their words."
Then Hasan replied, "Let them speak, and we will give heed."

So Amr ibn al-As arose, and having praised and glorified God, said: "O Hasan! art thou aware that thy father was the first who incited to insurrection, and aimed at the sovereign power? And what didst thou think of the judgment of the Most High?"

Then rose al-Walid ibn Uqbah, and praised and glorified God, and then said: "O ye sons of Hashim! ye were of kin to Othman ibn-Affan, and thanks to that kinship ye were brought into connection with the Apostle of God, whereby ye greatly benefited, and were fulfilled with good. [al-Walid apparently chose to overlook the fact that Ali's blood-relationship to the Prophet was much nearer than Othman's. The latter, it is true, married two of Muhammad's step daughters, but Ali married to his best-beloved and only daughter, Fatima. The common ancestor of the Prophet and Othman was Abd Manaf, from whom Muhammad and Ali were descended in the fourth, and Othman, in the fifth generation.] But ye rebelled against him, and slew him. And of a truth we sought your father's death; but God delivered us from the fear of him; though, had we slain him, it had been no sin in the sight of God."

Then Utbah ibn Abu-Sufiyan rose up, and said, "O Hasan! because thy father transgressed against Othman, and killed him, coveting the kingdom and things of this world, God snatched both away from him. And verily we desired thy father's death, until he was slain by the Most High."

Then al-Mughira ibn ash-Shu'ba stood up, and uttered blameful words concerning Ali, and laudatory concerning Othman.

And when they had all spoken, Hasan rose; and he gave praise and glory to God, and then said: "With thee, O Mu'awiya! will I begin, for such as these others cannot insult me. But thou dost insult me, by thy hatred, and enmity, and opposition to my maternal grandfather the Prophet of God."

Then he turned to the people, and said: "God is my witness before you, that he whom these men have insulted was without doubt my father. And he was the first who believed in God and prayed at the two Qibla's. Whilst thou, O Mu'awiya! wert an infidel and an idolater. And on the day of Badr, my father bore the standard of the Prophet, whilst the standard of the idolaters was borne by Mu'awiya!

And the Most High is my witness before you, that Mu'awiya was scribe to my maternal grandfather, who one day sent for him, but the messenger returned and said, "He is eating." And he sent the messenger to him three times, and every time he said, "He is eating." Then cried the Prophet, "May Allah never appease the craving of thy belly!"-acknowledge this of thy gluttony or not, O Mu'awiya?" Hasan continued:

"And I call God to witness before you whether you are not aware that Mu'awiya was leading a camel on which his father was riding, while his brother here present was driving her. And the Prophet of God said what he said. [the Prophet cursed the rider, the leader and the driver. -(See, Al-Khesaal, chapter 3, Hadith 264) The circumstances here probably when the Quraish sending a delegates to the king of Ethiopia, from whom some of the earliest converts to Islam sought protection when persecuted by the Quraish. He received them kindly, and refused to give them up to those whom the Quraish sent to demand them.] And thou, knowest this! So much for thee, O Mu'awiya!

— As for thee, O Amru! five of the Quraish were disputing with thee, and one of them got the better of thee, like al-Aiham. He was the meanest of them in estimation, and of lower degree than the others. Then thou didst rise in the midst of the Quraish, and saidst: "I have ridiculed Muhammad in a poem of thirty lines." And when the Prophet heard this, he cried, "O Allah! I am no poet. O Allah! do thou for every line curse Amru ibn al- As with a curse!" Then thou didst depart with thy poem to the an-Najjashy, and didst tell him about it. And he gave thee the lie, and drove thee away in disgrace. So thou hast shown thyself an enemy to the sons of Hashim both as an infidel and as a Muslim.

 — I do not blame thee for thy hatred at the present time, O thou son of Abu Mait! [Abu Mait was grandfather to al-Walid, the son of Uqbah. It is supposed by some that a denunciatory passage in the 25th chapter of the Qur'an particularly relates to Uqbah son of Abu-Mait. al-Beadhdwy relates that Uqbah used to be much in the Prophet's company, and having once invited him to an entertainment at his house, the Prophet refused to taste of his meat unless he would profess Islam. He did so, but soon after, meeting an intimate friend, and being reproached by him for changing his religion, Uqbah assured him that he had only pronounced the profession of faith because he could not for shame allow the Prophet to leave his house without eating. His friend, however, declared that he should not be convinced unless Uqbah went to Muhammad, set his foot on his neck, and spat in his face. He did this in the Ka'ba where the Prophet was sitting; whereupon the latter told him that if ever he met him out of Mecca he would cut off his head. And he was Truthful] indeed how can I reproach thee for thy invectives against my father, when of a truth he lashed thee with eighty lashes for drinking wine? And by command of my maternal grandfather he killed thy father who had been taken and bound, and my maternal grandfather killed him by command of my Lord God? [when Uqbah was taken prisoner at Badr, the Prophet ordered to execute him and Ali obey that order. Yet we found in al-Aghany that his executioner was Asem ibn Thabit. though According to Safiur Rahman al-Mubarakpuri, he was beheaded by Ali and this also mentioned in the Sunan Abu Dawud no. 2686 and Anwal Ma'bud 3/12] And when thy father stood before the executioner, he said, 'Be gracious unto my young sons after me, O Muhammad!' But my maternal grandfather replied, "Hell-fire is their portion." [Thus Uqbah's children obtained the surname of Sibyat an-Ndr (Children of the Fire, or of Hell-fire)]. For with him there could be no place for them excepting hell-fire, and with my father there could be nothing for them excepting the lash and the sword.

— And as for thee, O Utbah! how canst thou reproach any one for murder? For why didst thou slay him whom thou didst discover with thy wife, though taking her back again after that she had sinned?

— And as for thee, O thou one-eyed Thaktfy! [Mughira is generally believed to have lost one of his eyes at the battle of Yarmuk, though some historians say that the loss was occasioned by watching an eclipse, fought AH. 15, CE. 636, between the army of Roman Empire and the Muslim] for what reason dost thou evile Ali? Is it because his relationship to the Messenger of God was so very distant? or because of the injustice of his administration towards his subjects in this world?

For if thou sayest any such thing, thou dost lie, and men will be lie thee. And if thou sayest Ali killed Othman, [There appears no reason to suppose that Ali was personally connected with the rebellion in which Othman was slain. But though he did not directly join the Caliph's enemies, yet he did not help him with that vigour and activity which his relation and sovereign might naturally have expected of him; and this want of zeal was made the most of and exaggerated by Ali's enemies.] verily thou dost lie, and men be lie thee.

And, moreover, such as thou resemble the gnat which settled on the palm-tree in the fable. The gnat cried out to the tree, "Hold fast, for I am going to fly off!'
The palm-tree replied to her, "I was not even aware of thy presence, so how could thy taking flight harm me?"
And how, O thou one-eyed Thakify! could thy blame hurt us?"

Then Hasan shook his garments and went out. And Mu'awiya said to them, "Did I not tell you that you could do nothing with him? And, by Allah! verily the house was dark unto me until he departed."

The End.
Not Yet Verified.

Historical Tales and Anecdotes of the Time of the Early Caliphs by Muhammad Diyab al-Atlidi.
The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor: Byzantine and Near Eastern History AD 284-813. Translated by Mango, Cyril; Scott, Roger. Oxford. 1997. 
Al-Khesaal, Sheikh Sadouq ibn al-Beadhdwy.
Kitab al-aghani, Abu al-Faraj al-Isfahani. 

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