ABU MUUSAA AL-ASH'ARIY
Sincerity and Let Be What Will Be
When the Commander of the Faithful `Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab sent him to Basra to become its commander and governor, he gathered its inhabitants and spoke to them saying, "Indeed the Commander of the Faithful `Umar sent me to you to instruct you in the Book of your Lord and the traditions of your Prophet and to purify your ways for you".
The people were overcome with astonishment and surprise at what he saidwhen they came to understand that one of the incumbent duties of the commander and governor was to show them how to become people of culture and education and to give them understanding of their religion. Also among his obligations was the purifying of their ways, and that was something new for them - one could even say exciting and remarkable.
So, who was this ruler about whom such good is said: `No horseman evercame to Basra who was better for its people than him"? Indeed, he was `AbdAllah Ibn Qais, nicknamed Abu Muusaa Al-Ash' ariy.
He departed his country and homeland of Yemen for Makkah immediately upon hearing of the appearance of a Messenger there who was calling to monotheism and inviting to Allah with clear vision and ordering noble morals. In Makkah, he sat in the presence of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and received from him guidance and certainty. He then returned to his country carrying theword of Allah.
Afterwards, he returned to the Messenger (PBUH) immediately after the victory over Khaibar. His arrival coincided with the arrival of Ja'far Ibn Abi Taalib, returning with his companions from Abyssinia, so the Messenger gave all of them a share of the booty.
On this occasion, Abu Muusaa did not come alone, but with approximately50 men from the people of Yemen, including his two brothers Abu Ruhm andAbu Burdah, to whom the Messenger (PBUH) taught Islam.
The Messenger (PBUH) named this delegation and its people the Ash'ariyiin. The Messenger (PBUH) described them as the people with the most delicatefeelings and kind, gentle hearts. That which is most often mentioned aboutthem as the highest example of his Companions is as follows: "If they exhaustedtheir food in a military campaign or their food became diminished, they wouldgather what they possessed in one garment and divide it among themselvesequally. So they are from me and I from them."
From that day, Abu Muusaa took his permanent and high place among the Muslims and believers who were destined to be the Companions of the Messenger of Allahand his pupils, and to become the carriers of Islam to the world in everyage and time.
Abu Muusaa was a wonderful combination of extraordinary attributes. Hewas a bold and daring fighter, a firm combatant when he was forced to fight, while at the same time he was peaceful, good, and gentle to the most extreme degree of goodness and kindness. He was a scholar who possessed comprehension, sound judgment, and judicious discrimination. He was intelligent, and his understanding excelled in the most complicated, abstruse and obscure issues which radiated in legal decisions and judgments, until it was said of him, "The judges of this nation are four: `Umar, `Aliy, Abu Muusaa and Zaid Ibn Thaabit."
In addition to that, he possessed an innocent nature. Whoever attemptedto deceive him in matters of Allah was himself deceived. He possessed greatloyalty and responsibility and great trust of the people. If we wanted tochoose a fact of his life as a slogan, it would be this expression: "Sincerity,and let be what will be."
In the sphere of jihaad, Al-Ash'ariy carried his responsibility in sucha glorious and heroic manner that it made the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) call him, " Master of horsemen, Abu Muusaa." He shows us a picture of his life as a fighter when he says, "We went out with the Messenger of Allah on amilitary campaign and our feet were full of holes and my feet were also fullof holes until I lost my toe nails and we wrapped our feet with rags."
His goodness and the peace of his real conviction and inner-most thoughts were not provoked by an enemy in battle. He was in such a posture that he saw matters in complete clarity and he decided them with decisive willpower and determination. It happened that while the Muslims were conquering the kingdom of Persia, Al-Ash'ariy came down with his army upon the people of Isfahan, who agreed to pay him the jizyah so he made a peace settlementwith them.
However, it seems that they were not truthful in their agreement. Theyonly wanted to make themselves ready for the opportunity to prepare a treacherous attack. Nevertheless, in the time of need the cleverness of Abu Muusaa was not oblivious to their secret plan. He perceived and saw through their scheme and the evil plans they were contriving, so when they began their attackthe leader was not taken by surprise. Therefore, the war overwhelmed them,and the first half of the day was not over before he gained a decisive victory.
In the battles in which the Muslims engaged against Imperial Persia, the performance of Abu Muusaa (May Allah be pleased with him) was outstanding, and his fighting for the cause of Allah was noble.
In the Battle of Tustar particularly, in which Hurmuzan withdrew with his army to fortify his position and gathered massive armies, Abu Muusaa was thehero. On that day, the Commander of the Faithful `Umar supplied him with amassive number of Muslims, at the head of which were `Ammaar Ibn Yaasir, Al-Baraa' Ibn Maalik and Anas Ibn Maalik and Maja'ah Al-Bakriy and Salamah lbn Rajaa'.
The two armies - the Muslims under the command of Abu Muusaa and the Persians under the command of Hurmuzan - met in the battle which was one of the fiercest in ruthlessness and violence. The Persians withdrew inside the fortified cityof Tustar and the Muslims besieged it for many days until Abu Muusaa employedhis skill and intelligence and sent 200 cavalry men with a Persian agent.Abu Muusaa instructed him to enter the fort in order to open the gate ofthe city in front of the advanced guard which he chose for the mission. Thegates had hardly opened when the soldiers of the advanced guard charged onthe fortified citadel until Abu Muusaa swooped down with his army in a massiveattack.
He captured this important fortified position in only hours, and the Persian leader surrendered, after which Abu Muusaa sent them to Al-Madiinah to learn the Commander of the Faithful's judgment.
However, this fighter of great prowess did not leave the field of battle until he changed to a persistent worshiper with much weeping, and was mild-tempered, peaceable, and gentle-hearted as a sparrow.
He recited the Qur'aan with such a voice that made the inner heart of the one who listened to it tremble that the Messenger (PBUH) said about him," Abu Muusaa was given a musical voice like the musical instruments of thepeople of Dawuud." Every time Umar saw him he called him to recite to himfrom the Book of Allah saying to him, "Make us aspire to our Lord, O AbuMuusaa."
Also, Abu Muusaa did not participate in fighting except against the army of the polytheists or armies fighting against the religion, wanting to extinguish the light of Allah Whenever there was a fight between Muslims, he indeed ranaway from it and never had any role in it. This position of his was clear in the dispute between `Aliy and Mu'aawiyah and in the war which ignited betweenthe Muslims, as we shall see.
Perhaps this point, from the account which follows, will bring us to an understanding of the most famous position of his life, and that is his position in the arbitration between Imam `Aliy and Mu'aawiyah. This position is often taken as evidence of the immoderation in Abu Muusaa's good nature or his extraordinarynaivete, which made tricking him quite easy. However, the situation, as weshall see, in spite of what hastiness or error there might have been, revealsthe greatness of his soul, the greatness of his faith in the truth and inpeople.
Indeed, the view of Abu Muusaa in the case of arbitration can be summarized by the fact that he saw the Muslims killing one another and each party fanatically clinging to imam (ruler). As he saw it, the situation between the combatants had reached a critical state that was impossible of resolve and placed the destiny of the Muslim nation on the edge of an abyss. In his opinion, the situation had reached a stage of deterioration. It was exemplified in the change of the whole situation, which thus required starting over again.
The civil war, at that point, revolved around two parties of the Muslims disputing over the person of the ruler. Some desired Imam `Aliy to relinquish the caliphate temporarily and Mu'aawiyah to renounce it, so that the entire matter could be referred again to the Muslims. Then, they could choose,by way of consultation, the caliph they wanted. This was how Abu Muusaaargued the case and this was the way he saw its resolution.
It is correct that Imam `Aliy was soundly sworn in as caliph and correct that every illegal rebellion should not be allowed to achieve its aim ofoverturning the legal right. However, the issues in the dispute between theImam and Mu'aawiyah and between the peoples of Iraq and Syria had, in theview of Abu Muusaa, reached a state which imposed a new kind of thinkingand resolution. For the insurgency of Mu`aawiyah was not considered justa revolt alone, and the rebellion of the people of Syria was not consideredjust an insurrection alone, and the entire difference was not consideredjust a difference in opinion nor a matter of choice. All these things developedinto a harmful civil war in which thousands were killed on both sides andcontinued to threaten Islam and Muslims with the worst ramifications andconsequences. So removal of the causes of the dispute and war and steppingaside of both parties was in the thinking of Abu Muusaa, the starting pointon the road to salvation. The view of Imam `Aliy, when he accepted the principleof arbitration, was that `Abd Allah lbn Abbaas or someone from among hiscompanions would represent his front in arbitration, but a large party ofthose with power in his group and army imposed on him Abu Muusaa Al-Ash'ariy.The reason for their choice of Abu Muusaa was that he had never participatedin the dispute between `Aliy and Mu'aawiyah since the dispute began, buthad separated himself from both parties after giving up all hope of encouragingthe two of them to a common understanding and peace. So he withdrew fromthe fight between them. He had, from this respect, the most right of allthe people to arbitrate.
There was nothing in the religion of Abu Muusaa nor in his sincerity and truthfulness that made the Imam suspicious. Nevertheless, he did realizethe intentions of the other side and the degree of their dependency on maneuvers, deception, and trickery, and that Abu Muusaa, in spite of his understanding and knowledge, hated deception and maneuvers and loved to deal with people on the basis of truth and not his wits. Therefore, Imam `Aliy was afraidAbu Muusaa would be deceived by the others and that the arbitration wouldbe turned into maneuvers by one side, which would make matters worst.
The arbitration between the two parties began, with Abu Muusaa Al-Ash'ariy representing the party of Imam `Aliy and `Amr Ibn Al-'Aas representing the party of Mu'aawiyah. It is true that `Amr Ibn Al- 'Aas depended on his sharp wits and his broad cunning in carrying the banner for Mu'aawiyah.
The meeting between the two men, Al-Ash'ariy and `Amr, began with a proposal presented by Abu Muusaa. It was for the two arbitrators to agree on the nomination of `Abd Allah Ibn `Umar, declaring him the Caliph of the Muslims because heenjoyed a broad consensus in respect to his love, admiration, and distinction. `Amr Ibn Al-'Aas saw in this orientation and direction of Abu Muusaa a great opportunity, so he took advantage of it.
The content of the proposal by Abu Muusaa did not consider a conditional link with the party which he represented, which was the party of Imam `Aliy. That meant, also, that Abu Muusaa was ready to give support and backingfor caliph to others from among the Prophet's Companions, the proof forthat point being his suggestion of `Abd Allah Ibn `Umar.
Thus, `Amr found, by his shrewdness and wits, a wide entrance for the achievement of his goal. So he therefore suggested Mu'aawiyah. Then he suggested his ownson `Abd Allah, who possessed a great position among the Messenger's Companions. The intelligence of Abu Muusaa was not less than the wits of `Amr. When he saw `Amr adopting the principle of nomination as a rule for the discussion of arbitration, he boldly confronted `Amr, saying that the choice of caliph was the right of all Muslims and that Allah had made their affair one of consultationbetween themselves, so it was incumbent to leave them alone entirely to theright of choice.
We shall now see how `Amr exploited this lofty principle for the interest of Mu'aawiyah. However, before that, let us listen to the historical dialogue which took place between Abu Muusaa and `Amr Ibn Al-' Aas at the beginning of their meeting. We transmit it on the authority of the book Al-AkhbaarAt- Tawaal by Abu Hunaifah Ad Daiyanuuriy;
Abu Muusaa: O `Amr, do you desire in this matter the good ofthe nation and the pleasure of Allah? `Amr: And what is it?
Abu Muusaa: That we appoint `Abd Allah Ibn `Umar, for indeed he never involved himself in the war.
`Amr: And where are you with respect to Mu'aawiyah?
Abu Muusaa: Mu'aawiyah does not deserve it nor is he worthy of it.
Amr: Do you not know that `Uthmaan was unjustly killed?
Abu Muusaa: Yes.
`Amr: So indeed Mu'aawiyah is guardian (walii) of the blood of `Uthmaanand his house is in the Quraish, as you know. So the people said, Why notassume responsibility for the matter since it has no precedents. In thatyou have no excuse. You say, I indeed found him the guardian of `Uthmaan'sblood and Allah Most High says, "And whoever is killed (intentionally withhostility and oppression and not by mistake), We have given his heir [walii]the authority" (17: 33).
The brother of Umm Habiibah, the wife of the Prophet (PBUH) has this and he is one of his Companions.
Abu Muusaa: Fear Allah, O `Amr! As for what you mentioned concerning the nobility of Mu'aawiyah, if worthiness for the caliphate were based on nobility, the one with the most right to it among the people would be Abrahah Ibn As-Sabbaah, for indeed he is one of the sons in the line of the kings of Yemen, who ruled the east of the earth and its west. Furthermore, how does the nobility of Mu'aawiyah compare with that of `Aliy Ibn Abi Taalib? As for your talk that Mu'aawiyah was the guardian of `Uthmaan`s blood, his son `Amr Ibn `Uthmaan is more `Uthmaan`s guardian than he. But if you acceded to me, we would revive the practice of `Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab and his son `Abd Allah.
`Amr: What prevents you from my son `Abd Allah, with his merit and goodness and his previous Hijrah and his companionship?
Abu Muusaa: Indeed your son is a truthful man, but you have completelyimmersed him into these wars. We have made it (i.e. the caliphate) for agood man and the son of a good man. `Abd Allah Ibn `Umar.
`Amr: O Abu Muusaa, no man is suitable for this affair unless he has two molars. He eats with one and he feeds (others) with the other.
Abu Muusaa: Woe to you, O `Amr! Indeed, the Muslims have entrusted thematter to us, after they have fought with one another by force of arms andswords. Do not hurt them with spears! Do not turn them back to civil warand discord.
`Amr: So what do you see?
Abu Muusaa: I see that we should depose the two men, `Aliy and Mu'aawiyah. Then make consultation between the Muslims. They will choose for themselves who they want.
`Amr: I am pleased with this view. So indeed the goodness of the heartis in it. This argument completely changes the form which we are accustomedto see.
This argument completely changes the form which we are accustomed to see every time we mention the incident of arbitration. Indeed, in these arguments Abu Muusaa was not of a neglectful mind, but very active. On the contrary, in this dialogue, his intelligence was more active than the intellect of`Amr Ibn Al-'Aas who was famous for his wit and shrewdness. So when `Amrwanted to propose the caliphate of Mu'aawiyah based on genealogy in the Quraishand guardianship of the blood of `Uthmaan, the refutation of Abu Muusaa camesharply and brilliantly as the edge of a sword.
"If the caliphate were based on nobility, then Abrahah Ibn As Sabbaah,who is from a line of kings, is more worthy of guardianship than Mu'aawiyah.And if the caliphate were based on guardianship of the blood of `Uthmaanand defense of his right, then Ibn `Uthmaan is more worthy of this guardianship than Mu' aawiyah."
After this dialogue, the responsibility for what followed was assumed by' Amr Ibn Al-'Aas alone.
So, Abu Muusaa was exonerated from guilt by referring the matter back tothe nation to give their word and choose their caliph. `Amr agreed and adheredto this view. It did not come to his mind that `Amr was going to threatenIslam and the Muslims with an evil disaster, and that he would resort tomaneuvers whatever may be his conviction about Mu'aawiyah. Ibn `Abbaas warnedhim when he returned to them and informed them about the maneuvers of `Amrand said to him, "By Allah I fear that `Amr will trick you, so if the twoof you agree on something, let him come forward before you to speak.
Then you speak after him.!'
However, Abu Muusaa saw the situation on a more lofty and sublime levelthan the maneuvers of `Amr. From then on, he had no doubt or suspicion ofthe commitment of `Amr with regards to what they had agreed on. They gathered the following day, Abu Muusaa representing the side of Imam `Aliy and `Amr Ibn Al-'Aas representing the side of Mu'aawiyah. Abu Muusaa invited `Amrto speak first, but `Amr refused and said to him, "I am not going to precede you when you are more virtuous thin I, and emigrated before me, and areolder than me".
Abu Muusaa advanced first and greeted the waiting crowd from both parties and said, "O people, indeed, in this matter concerning which Allah has gathered together this nation and to put its affair in proper order, we do not see anything better than the deposition of the two men, `Aliy and Mu'aawiyahand to call for consultation among the people to choose for themselves whomthey like. Therefore, I depose `Aliy and Mu'aawiyah. So take upon yourselvesas guardians whom you love.
Now, the turn of `Amr Ibn Al-`Aas came to announce the deposition of Mu'aawiyah, just as Abu Muusaa had deposed `Aliy, in fulfillment of the confirmed, established agreement of the previous day.
`Amr ascended the pulpit and said, "O people, indeed, Abu Muusaa has said what you heard and deposed his companion. indeed, I depose his companionjust as he deposed him and confirm my companion Mu`aawiyah. He is indeed,the guardian of the Commander of the Faithful Uthmaan and the guardian ofhis blood and the one having the most right to his dignified position."
Abu Muusaa did not conceive as possible this sudden happening, and he reprimanded `Amr severely with angry and furious words.
He returned again to his seclusion and made his way swiftly to Makkah,in the vicinity of the House of Allah and spent there the remainder of hisdays.
Abu Muusaa (May Allah be pleased with him) had a position of trust andlove with the Messenger and a position of trust with his Companions and successors. In his life the Prophet gave him, along with Mu'aadh Ibn Jabal, the governorship over Yemen. After the death of the Messenger, he returned to Al- Madiinah to carry his responsibility in the great holy war which the Muslim armies engaged in against Persia and Rome.
In the period of Umar the Commander of the Faithful, Abu Muusaa was governor of Basra, and Caliph `Uthmaan put him in charge of Kufa. He was one of the people of the Qur'aan, those who memorized it, understood it, and acted on it. Some of his radiant words about the Qur'aan were Follow the Qur'aan and do not desire that the Qur'aan should follow you."
He was of the people of persistent worship and on the very days which almost caused the breath of people to pass away, he would yearn to fast and say, "Perhaps the thirst of the midday heat will be intercession for us on the Day of Judgment."
On that Humid day, his appointed time of death came to him and coveredhis countenance with a radiance which is for those who hope for the mercyof Allah and a good reward. And the words which he was always repeating during his faithful life his tongue went on repeating while he was in the departing moments of death: "O Allah, You are peace and from You is peace."