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Khalifa Ali bin Abu Talib - The Arbitration

Arbitration Proceedings

According to the accounts that have come down to us, it appears that on the appointed day the two umpires met in camera. 'Amr b Al 'Aas asked Abu Musa Ashari whether he held Othman to be innocent and his murder to be a crime. Abu Musa answered these questions in affirmative. 'Amr b Al 'Aas next asked the question whether in the circumstances the claim of Muawiyah for "Qasas" for the blood of Othman was justified. Abu Musa said that according to the injunction of the Holy Quran such claim could be made. 'Amr b Al 'Aas thereafter said that he objected to the Caliphate of Ali, because he was involved in the murder of Othman. Abu Musa said that this accusation was not correct, and no proof could be given to establish his involvement in the murder of Othman. 'Amr b Al 'Acts said that Ali had been asked to hand over the murderers of Othman to the heirs of Othman for taking "Qasas", but he had not done so. That implied his indirect if not direct involvement in the murder of Othman. Abu Musa said that the proper course for Muawiyah was to owe allegiance to Ali, and then lodge a claim for "Qasas" before him. 'Amr b Al 'Aas said that as the murderers of Othman were allied with Ali, the heirs of Othman could have no confidence in him in doing justice with regard to the claim for "Qasas". 'Amr b Al 'Aas suggested that in the circumstances proper course was that Muawiyah should be made the Caliph. Abu Musa said that in the matter of the Caliphate, Muawiyah could not claim precedence over Ali. Ali was one of the earliest converts to Islam. He was closely related to the Holy Prophet. He was the most learned man of the age. His services to Islam were well known. 'Amr b Al 'Aas said that though Ali was superior to others in the matters of learning and piety, Muawiyah excelled others in matters of politics and statecraft. 'Amr b Al 'Acts argued that the Caliph was to be the Head of the State, and was primarily concerned with affairs of the world, and in this respect Muawiyah would be a better choice. Abu Musa said that in an Islamic state the interests of the world could not be given preference over the interests of Islam and, as such Muawiyah could not be preferred to Ali in the matter of the Caliphate.

'Amr b Al 'Aas suggested that if with regard to the basic issue about the "Qasas" for the blood of Othman, Ali could not be trusted because of his direct or indirect involvement in the murder of Othman, and Muawiyah was not to be preferred to Ali in the matter of the Caliphate then the obvious course was that they should consider the names of some neutral persons for the office of the Caliphate. To this course Abu Musa agreed, Abu Musa recalled the days of the glory of the Muslims during the Caliphate of Umar. He wished to have a caliph of the caliber of Umar. That made the two umpires consider the name of Abdullah b Umar, who was present at Dumatul Jandal, was contacted, and he refused to be a candidate for the office of the Caliph, Sa'ad be Abi Waqas was a suitable candidate, but he was not willing to be considered. The claims of Abdullah b Zubair were considered, but those were not accepted on the ground that as he had participated in the Battle of the camel be could not be considered to be neutral in the matter Some other names were considered, but their claims were turned down on one ground or the other.

That led to a state of deadlock and the two umpires could not reach a decision. But some decision had necessarily to be taken. Thereupon 'Amr b Al 'Aas said, "If Ali is not acceptable to us and Muawiyah is not acceptable to you, and we have not been able to arrive at an agreement about any neutral person, then what should be the way out in your considered opinion."

Abu Musa said, "In my opinion the best course would be that we would depose both Ali and Muawiyah, and ask the community to decide the matter for themselves." Amr b Al 'Aas said, "Alright, you make this announcement."

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