Why Did Ali [ra] not participate in wars during the first 3 Khalifas??

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Q: Mufti Saheb; Why did Hadhrat Ali (Radhiallaahu Anhu) not participate in the wars during the ruling of the first 3 Caliphs? If Hadhrat Ali had no differences with the first three Khalifas, why did he not participate in any battles that took place during their reigns, particularly when Jihaad against the Kuffaar is deemed a makjor duty upon the Muslims?

Was salaam

Respected Brother-in-Islam

Assalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullaahi Wa Barakaatuhu

The assumption underlying the question is that since Sayyidunah Ali (Radhiallaahu Anhu) did not participate in the campaigns of the first 3 khulafa, it can only mean that he was averse to their rule, perhaps even to the point of not recognising the legitimacy of their rule.

However, this assumption can only be accepted if one is prepared to ignore the existence of several historical facts which glare at the objective observer from the pages of history. Some of these are given here:

1. While Sayyiduna ‘Ali (Radhiallaahu Anhu) might not physically have joined the campaigns, he was at the side of the khalifah in Madinah as a valued and trusted advisor – a position that is by no means less important than being at the battlefront. This is a fact documented in both Sunni and Shi`i sources. “Nahj al-Balaghah”, for example, records the advice given by Sayyiduna ‘Ali to Sayyiduna ‘Umar on two occasions. The first one appears as Sermon no. 133 and carries the heading “In reply to ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab who consulted him about taking part in the battle against Byzantine”. The second is numbered Sermond 145 and appears under the caption “Spoken when ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab consulted Amir al-Mu’minin about taking part in the battle of Persia”. In both instances the advice given can clearly” be seen to be aimed at the success of the campaigns.

2. It is also significant to note that although Sayyiduna ‘Ali did not personally join the armies on their expeditions, he duly received his share of the spoils of war. Abu Ubayd has recorded that Sayyiduna ‘Umar fixed Sayyiduna ‘Ali’s share at 5000 dirhams, and gave both his sons Hasan and Husayn a similar share of 5000. (“al-Amwal” p. 237) Another son of Sayyiduna ‘Ali, namely Muhammad, was born to him from a woman from Banu Hanifah who was brought to Madinah as a war captive by Khalid ibn al-Walid after his expedition against her tribe that had turned apostate with Musaylamah. This woman was given to Sayyiduna ‘Ali by Sayyiduna Abu Bakr. (“Tabaqat Ibn Sa’d” vol. 5 p. 67) and this Muhammad is known in history as Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah.

3. If Sayyiduna ‘Ali’s not joining the campaigns of the three khulafa means that he was averse to their rule, how is one to interpret the fact that Sayyiduna Hasan and Sayyiduna Husayn both took part in the conquest of Tabaristan during the rule of Sayyiduna ‘Uthman under Sa’id ibn al-‘As in 30 AH? (See “Tarikh at-Tabari” vol. 5 p. 103, “al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah” vol. 5 p. 237)

4. Furthermore, what is one to make of the fact that those of the Sahabah upon whom the Shi’ah took favourably as devotees of Sayyiduna ‘Ali and the Ahl al-Bayt unreservedly took part in the campaigns of Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman? Here one may speak of the following by way of example:

SALMAN AL-FARISI took part in Sayyiduna ‘Umar’s Persian campaign and played a crucial role in the conquest of Mada’in (“al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah” vol. 5 pp. 135-140). He had also acted as governor of Mada’in for Sayyiduna ‘Umar (“al-Isabah” vol. 3 p. 113) and used to actively encourage the military campaigns in Syria by narrating ahadith on the virtues of jihad (“Ansab al-Ashraf vol. 1 p. 488)

HUDHAYFAH IBN AL-YAMAN had played a leading role in the conquest of’Iraq. Like Salman, he too had acted as governor for Sayyiduna ‘Umar (“al-Isabah” vol. 1 p. 332), and later joined military expeditions during the reign of Sayyiduna ‘Uthman. He is described by the Shi’i scholar, al-‘Allamah Ibn Mutahhar al-Hilli, as “one of the four pillars amongst the companions of Amir al-Mu’minin.” (“Jami’ ar-Ruwat” vol. 1 p. 182)

BILAL AL-HABASHI joined the campaign in Syria, either during the time of Sayyiduna Abu Bakr or Sayyiduna ‘Umar. He died in Syria during the reign of the latter Umar. (“al-Isabah” vol. 1 p. 171)*

‘AMMAR IBN YASIR took part in the campaign against Musaylamah in the time of Sayyiduna Abu Bakr. He fought valiantly, spurred on the Muslim forces, and lost his ear in this battle. Later, during the reign of Sayyiduna ‘Umar, he accepted an appointment as the governor of Kufah under him. (“Tarikh al-Islam” vol. 2 p. 581}

ABU AYYUB AL-ANSARI is well known for his participation in several battles, not least amongst which was the expedition against Constantinople led by Yazid in the time of his father Mu’awiyah. Abu Ayyub was martyred during this expedition, and was buried under the walls of the city. (“al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah” vol. 5 p. 518)

5. Apart from the above considerations, one also needs to keep in mind the sort of relationship that existed between Sayyiduna ‘Ali and the khulafa before him. This relationship is best expressed in the fact that he named 3 of his sons Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman. This is confirmed even by an avowedly Shi’i source such as Shaykh Mufid’s “Kitab al-Irshad” (pp. 268-269); and the fact that he married Umm Kulthum, his daughter from Sayyidah Fatimah, to Sayyiduna ‘Umar. (For a more detailed discussion of the marriage of Umm Kultnum, see http://www.ansar.org/english/marriage.htm)

All things considered, the assumption that Sayyiduna ‘Ali did not take part in the campaigns of the three khulafa on account of his differences with them, diminishes into an incongruous aberration of ridiculous proportions.

Moulana Taha Karaan
Darul Uloom al-Islaamiyyah al-Arabiyyah, Western Cape (SA)

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