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The Motives for Enmity with Imam \'Ali (A.S.)

Enmity towards Imam \'Ali (A.S.) started with the advent of Islam itself and lasted throughout his life. This sorrowful trend did not end with his martyrdom and continued even after that. By focusing on the events of the early period of Islam we will see what elements played the role in this enmity, especially during the brief caliphate of the Imam.

Tribal and Ethnic Motives
Although enmity based on tribal and ethnic motives might appear natural to some extent, it should be admitted that this trend neither camouflages the evilness of those who harbour rancour nor does it diminish in any way the greatness of Imam \'Ali (A.S.).
Imam \'Ali (A.S.) was a scion of the Bani Hashim clan of the Quraysh tribe. The Qurayshites were considered noble and enjoyed a special esteem and privileged status among the Arab tribes. The day the Ishmaelite leader Qusayy bin Kilab, the 5th ancestor of Imam \'Ali (A.S.), became custodian of the holy Ka\'bah and took charge of the administration of Makkah, his family came to enjoy a central and eminent position among not only the Quraysh but other Arab tribes as well. The nobility of the Quraysh was now concentrated in the House of Qusayy and the Bani Qusayy became a privileged group. Their prestige was further enhanced among the Arabs because of the custodianship of Abraham\'s ancient edifice of monotheism, the Ka \'bah.
The sanctity of the Ka\'bah, which since the beginning exercised a profound influence on public minds, gradually bestowed a halo on its custodians who came to be considered holy themselves. The wisdom and valour of Qusayy further increased the position of the custodian. Among the Arabs, blood and genealogy counted as marks of distinction and carried social prestige since members of each tribe felt proud of their descent from one chieftain and stood beside each other. Thus any member who in addition to a perfect pedigree and impeccable blood bond could boast of personal traits of nobility was undoubtedly regarded as the chieftain, whose authority was binding on the whole tribe. Any disobedience to his commands or instructions was tantamount to insubordination and challenge to the tribal system, and swiftly brought down the displeasure on the rebel who was excommunicated and expelled by the whole clan.
With the death of Qusayy, his elder son \'Abd-Manaf succeeded to his post and was followed by his own son \'Amr or Hashim as the next custodian of the holy Ka \'bah and the chief administrator of Makkah. It was during this time that a certain Umayyah claiming to be a son of Hashim\'s younger brother \'Abd Shams, made an unsuccessful attempt to seize the custodianship of the Ka \'bah. This vain bid by Umayyah split the clan into two broad segments, the Bani Hashim and the Bani Umayyah.
The custodianship then passed on to Hashim\'s son \'Abd al- Mutallib and after him to his son Abi Talib the father of Imam \'Ali (A.S.). It was during the time of Abi Talib that the Hashimites were faced with an internal crisis. Abi Talib lacked wealth which chieftains normally possess,3 and this made two of his brothers, \'Abbas and Abi Lahab, challenge his leadership. The descendants of Umayyah who nursed a deep hatred towards the House of Hashim, saw it as their chance to renew a bid for leadership, especially since they regarded themselves as the military class of Makkah.
The emergence of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) from the Hashimite clan made other Makkans jealous and they thought prophethood to be a trick by the Bani Hashim to exalt them and continue their leadership. The following words of Abi Jahl to Akhnas bin Shurayq speaks of the inability of the infidel mind to understand God\'s revelations:
We and the sons of \'Abd Manaf vied with each other in nobility and greatness. Whatever they did we also did, so as to be their equals. Now suddenly they are saying that from us is a Prophet who receives revelation from heaven.4
Decades later in 61 AH when after the tragedy of Karbala the severed head of the Prophet\'s grandson Imam Husayn (A.S.) was placed before the Umayyud scion Yazid who now ruled as caliph of Muslims, he recited the following couplet which are identical to Abi Jahl\'s words to Akhnas in the days of Jahiliyyah:
La \'ibat Hashim bi al-mulk fala; Khabar ja\'a wa la wahy nazal.5
(The Hashimites played the game of kingdom; Neither any message came from heaven nor revelation.)
This is how retarded minds viewed the divine mission of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.). For them the growth and spread of Islam was the victory of the Bani Hashim over the other Arab tribes and clans. Although these short-sighted people may not have said this explicitly and with frequency - for the obvious fact they now called themselves Muslims and ruled over Muslims - deep down in their hearts and minds they harboured these thoughts which would at times come to their lips as is clear from Yazid\'s recitation of the above couplet. 6
In view of these facts, when the question of Imam \'Ali\'s (A.S.) caliphate was raised after the passing away of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.), some pretending to be religious and claiming to be near to the Prophet, said: "Prophethood and caliphate cannot be combined in one family."7 These words are indicative of the mindset of most Qurayshites who were jealous of the Bani Hashim.
This is the first open indication of enmity towards Imam \'Ali (A.S.), who was a Hashimite, and for this reason those who had paled into insignificance against the glory of the Bani Hashim and harboured rancour against them out of an inherent inferiority complex, were not ready to see him as their leader and ruler. Thus enmity towards Imam \'Ali (A.S.) was clear and deep rooted even at this stage and continued in the subsequent periods.8
Mu\'awiyah\'s letter to the Imam during the War of Siffin claiming equality with the Hashimites on the basis of what he boasted as his genealogy, was given a fitting reply by Imam \'Ali (A.S.):9
...As for your saying that we are descendants of \'Abd Manaf it is true, but neither Umayyah was equal to Hashim nor Harb could be likened to \'Abd al-Mutallib or for that matter Abi Sufyan to Abi Talib. The muhajir (one who migrated to Madinah with the Prophet) is superior to the taliq (freed slave - a reference to the Prophet\'s declaration of amnesty and emancipation of Abi Sufyan, his family and other Makkan infidels at the time of the surrender of Makkah in 8 AH). The one of clean descent cannot be compared to the one who is of doubtful lineage.\'" There is no similarity between the pursuer of truth and the adherent of the wrong or a believer and a hypocrite. How bad are the successors who go on following the predecessors who have fallen into hell...
This statement of Imam \'Ali (A.S.) has completely exposed Mu\'awiyah in his true heathen colours till eternity.

Religious Factors
The advent of Islam gradually shifted the power balance in Makkah to the other side and whatever was hitherto regarded as meritorious yielded its place to factors which were beyond the comprehension of the Arabs. The boastfulness of the days of jahiliyyah, which was part of tribal life, was shattered and people were freed from the claws of idolatry. Now there were new life styles. Those who were of sincere heart and searched for truth and reality stepped into the vale of the faith of Islam and joined Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.).
The dividing line between the Hashimites and the Umayyads was redefined, and the barometers of genealogy and tribalism gave way to Islam and Kufr. There were new values of assessment. In this changed circumstances we find the young son of Abi Talib a frontrunner. Imam \'Ali (A.S.), a boy of not more than ten years, emerges as the first Muslim\' and stands peerless above all and everybody else in characteristics which define a human being and are considered humanitarian. To quote his own words:
0 Allah I am the first to come towards You by hearing Your call and responding to it. No one has precedence over me in performing the prayer except the Messenger of Allah.)12
He stands head and shoulders above all other Muslims and could rightly be called the personification of Islam and its values:
I discharged duties when others lost courage (to do so), and I came forward when others hid themselves. I spoke when others remained mum. I strode with Divine Light when others remained standing. I was the quietest of them in voice but the highest in going forward. I cleaved to its rein and applied myself solely to its pledge like the mountain which neither sweeping wind could move nor storm could shake... By God, I am surely the First to testify him (the Prophet)..."13
The seeds of enmity towards Imam \'Ali (A.S.) were actually sowed on the day he stood up at the gathering of Dhu al-\'Ashirah to testify to the divine mission of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) when the rest of the gathering mocked at the Messenger.\'"44 This hatred among the Makkan infidels grew when they found the young lad always at the side of the Prophet ready to frustrate their sinister designs. The night Imam \'Ali (A.S.) slept on the Prophet\'s bed" to allow him to migrate undetected to Madinah, was the high point of frustration for the infidels who had planned to murder the Prophet. In Madinah they found him an impregnable barrier to their military assaults which were always beaten back soundly with heavy losses. Imam \'Ali (A.S.) says in this regard:
By Allah, I was among their rear-guard till they turned back on their sides and were flocked in their rope. I never showed weakness or lack of courage, nor did I betray and become languid. By Allah, I shall split the wrong till I extract right from its wrongs.\'"16
Never for a moment did he neglect the commands of God and His Prophet and when others fled the field of battle he stood firm like a mountain and shielded the Prophet with his life. 17 No one was so close to the Prophet as he. His life started with a glance at the countenance of the Prophet\'" and the two were not separated until the passing away of the Messenger of God.19 So firm was the bond between the two cousins that the Prophet said: \'Aliyun minni wa ana min \'Ali (\'Ali is from me and I am from \'Ali)20 The affinity between the two, if it was a great blessing for Islam, it aroused jealousy and hatred among those whose hearts overflowed with malice. In the lifetime of the Prophet these persons could not succeed in their malicious designs against Imam \'Ali (A.S.), but after his passing away they exploited every opportunity and used different pretexts to undermine his position and display their enmity towards him. The ignoring of his claims for the caliphate on three occasions are indicative of the enmity towards him. To quote his own words:
By Allah the son of Abi Quhafah (Abi Bakr) dressed himself with it (the caliphate) and he certainly knew that my position in relation to it was the same as the position of the axis in relation to the hand mill. The flood water flows down from me and the bird cannot fly up to me...... 21
The first ruler passed on the ball of caliphate to the person who had procured the vote for him at Saqifah Bani Sa\'idah. Imam \'Ali (A.S.) says in this regard:
I watched the plundering of my inheritance till the first one went his way but handed over the caliphate to Ibn al-Khattab after himself. It is strange that during lifetime he wished to get rid of the caliphate but eased its way for the other after his death... This one put the caliphate in a tough enclosure where the utterance was haughty and the touch was rough. Mistakes were in plenty and so also the excuses. One in contact with it was like the rider of an unruly camel. If he pulled up its rein the very nostril would be slit, but if he let it loose he would be thrown.22
This state of steady deterioration continued for almost a decade and when the second stage of caliphate neared its end, it was again enmity which prevented the Prophet\'s cousin and heir from taking over his usurped right of political authority. He remained patient and turned down the conditional offer after finding himself named against his will in a strange council of five persons of whom the majority was against him such as Sa\'d ibn Abi Waqqas, Talhah ibn \'Abdullah and \'Abd al-Rahman ibn \'Awf. The Imam says in this regard:
Nevertheless I remained patient despite the length of period of stiffness of trial, till when he went his way (of death) he put the matter (of caliphate) in a group and regarded me to be one of them. But good heavens! What had I to do with this shura (consultative council)? Where was any doubt about me with regard to the first of them that I was now considered akin to these ones... One of them turned against me because of his hatred and the other got inclined the other way due to his in-law relationship and this thing and that thing, till the third man of these people stood up with heaving breasts between his dung and fodder. With him his cousins also stood up swallowing up Allah\'s wealth like a camel devouring the foliage of spring, till his rope broke down, his actions finished him and his gluttony brought him down prostate."23
With the death of the third caliph matters stood at a chaotic stage and the people fed up with the anarchy and looting of the public resources, pleaded Imam \'Ali (A.S.) to take over the caliphate. He asked them to leave him alone and seek someone else since the matter was more complicated than it appeared.24
When I took up the reins of government, one party broke away and another turned disobedient while the rest began acting wrongfully as if they had not heard the word of Allah saying: That abode in the Hereafter We assign for it those who intend not to exult themselves in the earth, nor (to make) mischief (therein); and the end (best) for the pious ones (28:83). Yes by Allah they had heard it and understood it but the world appeared glittering in their eyes and its embellishments seduced them...If people had not come to me and supporters had not exhausted the argument and if there had been no pledge of Allah with the learned to the effect that they should not acquiesce in the gluttony of the oppressor and the hunger of oppressed I would have cast the rope of caliphate on its own shoulders, and would have given the last one the same treatment as to the First one.25
This turn of events was not unexpected for him since the Prophet had already told him all that would transpire. The main factor of enmity towards Imam \'Ali (A.S.) him was actually enmity with the laws and principles of Islam and lack of steadfast belief in his opponents, as is clear from his reply to his archenemy Mu\'awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan:
Certainly, we and you were on amiable terms as you say but difference arose between us and you the other day when we accepted the Belief and you rejected it. Today the position is that we are steadfast (in the Belief) but you are creating mischief. Those of you who accepted Islam did so reluctantly and that too when all the chief men had accepted Islam and joined the Prophet of Allah (S.A.W.).26

source : http://shiastudies.net
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