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Khalifa Ali bin Abu Talib - Ali's Missions to Kufa

Mission of Imam Hasan

The failure of two successive missions to Kufa set Ali thinking. It transpired that the missions sent heretofore had merely met Abu Musa Ashari, and he had not allowed the members of the mission see the people. He had appropriated to himself the right to speak on behalf of the people of Kufa. Ali was advised that if Kufa was to be won, a bolder line of action should be followed. After a good deal of discussion and deliberation, it was decided that an effort should be made to contact the people of Kufa direct. Among the troops of Ali, there were some persons who belonged to Kufa or commanded influence with the people of Kufa. They were sent to Kufa to contact their friends and relatives and win them over to the side of Ali. This time the mission to Kufa was led by Imam Hasan. It was felt that as long as Abu Musa Ashari was the Governor of Kufa the chances of the success of the mission were slender. Ali accordingly authorized Imam Hasan that if the circumstances in Kafa were favorable, he could depose Abu Musa Ashari and appoint a new Governor.

The agents of Ali succeeded in winning over many people to the side of Ali. These agents brought home the point that as most of the people of Kufa had joined in the revolt against Othman, the cry for the vengeance of the blood of Othman was really aimed at the massacre of the people of Kufa. It was argued that in the circumstances it was in the interests of the people of Kufa that they should side with Ali and fight against those who raise the cry for the vengeance of the blood of Othman merely as a pretext for capturing power. The argument appealed to the people, and they decided to opt for Ali.

Imam Hasan arrived at Kufa on a Friday at the time of noon day prayers, and he proceed straight away to the main mosque. The agents of Ali had brought the supporters of Ali to the mosque in large numbers. As Imam Hasan entered the mosque, he was given a standing ovation by the people. Abu Musa Ashari who was present in the mosque welcomed Imam Hasan to Kufa. Imam Hasan took the stage, and after praising God and the Holy Prophet conveyed the message of goodwill of Ali for the people of Kufa. He exhorted the people to strengthen the hands of Ali in his fight against those who wanted to sow discord among the Muslims. Some of the people raised shouts in favor of Ayesha. To these people, Imam Hasan posed the question: "Did God not enjoin upon Ayesha the duty of living quietly in her house, and leaving it to the men to fight in the battle-field until the sedition was quelled? What an irony of fate that she should command us to do her part, and has taken upon herself to do our part."

At this stage, Zaid b Sehwan a prominent citizen of Kufa rose up to say that he had received a letter from Ayesha wherein she had advised the people of Kufa to remain in their houses and not to take part in any fight. At this Imam Hasan put the following question to the assembly: "Is it not strange that she should advise the citizens of Kufa to abstain from fighting while she is herself leading a fight against the citizens of Basra." Abu Musa Ashari took the stage, and said that in this crisis when two parties of the Muslims were at logger heads, the best course for the people of Kufa was to remain neutral. Thereafter a long dialogue followed between Imam Hasan and Abu Musa Ashari. Imam Hasan asked Abu Musa Ashari the question: "Did Talha and Zubair not take oath of allegiance to Ali?" Abu Musa said that they had taken the oath. Then Imam Hasan asked the question, "What wrong had Ali done to justify Talha and Zubair revolt against him?" Abu Musa said that he was not aware of any reason which could justify the revolt of Talha and Zubair?" Imam Hasan next asked "If some one revolts against established authority, will such authority not be authorized to take action against those who have revolted?" Abu Musa answered the question in the affirmative. "Then on what ground you do not justify the action that Ali, the duly elected Caliph, has taken against those who have rebelled against his authority?" Abu Musa said that his ground was that it would lead to bloodshed among the Muslims. "But why should the Muslims help those who have rebelled against authority, when God has enjoined the faithful to obey those in authority?" asked Imam Hasan, and to this question Abu Musa had no reply. Imam Hasan next inquired of Abu Musa whether he had taken the oath of allegiance to Ali, and Abu Musa replied to this question in the affirmative. "You owe your office of the Governor to Ali" was the next question, and to this question again Abu Musa answered "Yes". "Are you not under an obligation to obey the command of the Caliph, and not to do any act which helps his enemies directly or indirectly," Imam Hasan asked, and this question was also answered in the affirmative. Imam Hasan thereafter posed the following question: "Your Caliph asks you to help him in his fight against his enemies. His enemies have asked the people of Kufa to remain confined to their houses and not to participate in the war. You also ask the people of Kufa to abstain from war. This means that by your acts you are helping the enemies of the Caliph although you have taken the oath of allegiance to him and owe your appointment to him, This is sedition." To this Abu Musa had no answer.

At this the supporters of Ali raised the cry, "Down with the Governor. He is a traitor". Some voices were raised in support of Abu Musa, and there was exchange of blows and hot words between the two sides. The fight between the parties spread outside the mosque. A party led by Ashtar took possession of the Governor's House and captured the Baitul Mall, that was the end of the governorship of Abu Musa Ashari. He escaped to Makkah and under the authority delegated to him by Ali, Imam Hasan appointed Qarda b Kaab as the new Governor of Kufa.

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