By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi
The previous part of this article identified some of the most direct and clear statements and actions adopted by Imam Ali toward the Abu Bakr and Omar to express his refusal and rejection to their policies and position in Islam. Especially the sermon of Imam Ali that is known as ‘the Shaqshaqiya Sermon’ was a speech, where Imam Ali directly expressed his opinion and position about the three Caliphs without any allegories or illusions that might be misused in the future. Therefore, this part will continue in presenting the other incidents and cases Imam Ali expressed his rejection to the rule of the three Caliphs.
Moving to Kufa
Although, the transfer of Islamic Empire capital to Kufa is viewed as a strategic decision by Imam Ali, as he intended to secure smooth mobilizing for any possible battles and confrontations. Securing the Northern borders (Constantinople), Eastern borders (Persia) and Western borders (Syria) was the primary intention of Imam Ali, as he knew the situation in Mecca and Medina is stable and will remain stable for many obvious reasons.
However, the other reason behind Imam Ali’s decision to transfer the capital to Kufa lays within the fact that this city was resided by some of the most loyal tribes to Imam Ali and the holy household of Prophet Mohammad. In addition, majority of these tribes were considered rejecters of the three Caliphs, as their loyalty to Imam Ali was known and public to all and without any hesitation. Therefore, Imam Ali wanted to be surrounded by people that he could trust and have at his disposal in case he needed them for greater purposes.
In addition, Imam Ali’s moving to Kufa is viewed as a statement, which indicates, he does not want to be shadowed by the legacy of the previous Caliphs, as Mecca and Medina were filled with sympathizers and loyal groups to the three Caliphs. The Umayyad Clan in Mecca and Medina, the presence of Ayesha (daughter of Abu Bakr) in Medina and the fact that Othman was assassinated in Medina, made this city an unbearable place to consider for governing the Islamic Empire. In addition, Imam Ali wanted to show Muslims, what it would be like to implement his plans and just policies, as Kufa was the perfect ground-zero for the initiation for these plans.
The four years and eight months, which Imam Ali had as the Caliph of Muslims, is known to be the most prosperous and transparent era, Muslims have ever experienced. Sanitation, welfare system, housing projects, equal share from the treasury, excellent and unequal justice system and many other services or privileges, which humanity had never experienced, were among the accomplishments of Imam Ali. According to many historians and narrations from that period, the era of Imam Ali was one of the only times, where the Islamic nation did not witness homelessness and other social struggles. Therefore, if Imam Ali, had decided to stay in Medina, these goals would not be witnessed and experienced, as Imam Ali would not have enough loyal manpower and personnel to implement these reforms and programs on the ground.
Burial of Othman Ibn Affan
It is unanimously agreed by all historians that Othman’s era was labeled with corruption, favoritism and disqualified administration, which overexerted the Muslims around the Islamic Empire. Unsecure loans and grants to individuals from the Umayyad clan, appointing incompetent individuals from the Umayyad clan as governors and Emirs in various provinces and cities, was the primary discomfort of the majority. In addition, rumors about some governors having multiple concubines for their pleasure was met with displacement and rejection in places like Kufa and Basra. For instance, the governor of Kufa during the time Othman, who was his half-brother, was a man named Walid Ibn Oqbah. Historians narrate that Walid came to Morning Prayer on several occasions while being completely drunk, or in another occasion he thought it would be humorous to send one of his concubines instead of him for prayer.
Therefore, these accretions built up and finally the citizens of Egypt and other marginalized provinces raided Medina and ultimately, Othman was assassinated by a group of them inside his palace. However, the action of Imam Ali in regard of Othman’s burial is very interesting and counts as another example for Imam Ali’s rejection of his predecessors.
Once Imam Ali was unanimously chosen by the Muslims as the Caliph, he ordered the body of Othman to be buried in graveyard of non-Muslims, and he did not allow Othman to be buried among Muslims in their graveyards. Othman’s grave remained outside of Muslim’s graveyards until the Al-Saud family took over the Arabian Peninsula and redesigned the entire places, where the entire graveyards were made into one massive one.
In addition, there are numerous other narrations and statements by Imam Ali, were he disapproved the previous Caliphs and considered them as illegitimate tyrants and rulers. According to one narration: a man came to Imam Ali and told him: I pledge allegiance to you based on the tradition of messenger of Allah and the legacy of the first three Caliphs. Imam Ali replied to him: I do not wish to have your allegiance, as the three Caliphs altered the tradition of messenger of Allah, and displaced the will of Allah, and extorted what was not theirs. In other narrations, Imam Ali answers a question about Omar by saying: May Allah punish Omar, as he oppressed stones and civility.