Adonis Diaries

Islam: The successors of the Prophet Muhammad (Part 4)

Posted on: February 3, 2009

Islam: After the Prophet Muhammad (Part 4, February 2, 2009)

 

When the Prophet Mohamad died Omar would not believe that the Prophet could die and threatened to kill anyone who says so; then Abu Bakr (instructed by his daughter Aicha) told the congregation “Moslems, those among you who adore Mohammad, Mohammad is dead.  Those who adore God, God is alive”.

Ali was to wash the body and arrange for the funeral. The Companions elected Abu Bakr Caliph in the absence of Ali who was the closest member in the prophet’s “House”. Abu Bakr reminded the Moslems what the Prophet told him once: “All prophets were buried at the place of their death”; and thus Mohammad was buried in Aicha’s bedroom.  Aicha replaced the bed on top of the burying ground and continued sleeping there.

Abu Bakr would not distribute the Prophet’s inheritance to anyone of his wives or family members because Mohammad has told him that prophets’ belonging went to charities.  Fatima died 6 months later as Mohammad has predicted. Under Abu Bakr, Aicha, aided by Zayd ibn Thabit, got the huge responsibility of gathering and collecting all the parchments and written verses and the early oral verses of the Koran and then sorting them, verifying their authenticity, correcting and compiling them. Aichi was not twenty years old.  Abu Bakr died within two years and was also buried in Aicha’s bedroom next to the Prophet.  At the time of Abu Bakr’s death, Khaled ibn Al Walid had vanquished the Byzantine Emperor at Yarmuk and was advancing toward Damascus.

Omar was selected by Abu Bakr to be the next Caliph. Omar extended Islam to Persia by a victory in Qadissiya and toward Egypt.  Omar was assassinated by a Christian slave while praying in the Mosque in Medina; Omar also asked permission of Aicha to be buried in her bedroom.  By then, Aicha was the ultimate interpreter of the Koran and had issued 2,210 Hadiths and was the expert in women’s legal right or “Fiqh Al Nissaa”.

Omar appointed a Council of five Companions from the tribes of Kuraich to elect the next Caliph.  Othman ibn Affan was selected and Aicha had misgivings on how he might manipulate the masses of documents collected on the verses of Islam.  Omar left the documents with his daughter Afsa to hand over to the next Caliph.

Othman ended up exercising nepotism and appointing relatives as governors and civil servants in high offices and he built a palace and lived luxuriously with 500 serfs maintaining the palace and organizing the feasts.  The new Caliph destroyed the documents related to the Koran that he didn’t like and Aicha came out of her house carrying the sandals and shirts and hair of the prophet and shouted at the caliph: “The Prophet’s belongings had not had time to desintegrate and you started to turn your back on his teachings”. Aicha had a copy of all the documents and she rewrote her version of the Koran.

A large dissatisfied mob of Moslems, who were manipulated by extremists in Basra (Iraq), marched on Medina. Aicha had premonition that the arriving mob is bad news and got permission from Othman to leave for pilgrimage with the Prophet’s harem.  The mob entered the palace of Othman, burned it asunder, and stabbed and beat the Caliph to death. 

Ali was elected Caliph but refrained to revenge the murder of the Caliph Othman as a priority case. This lukewarm behavior prompted Aicha to action and she started delivering speeches in Mecca to the effect that the punishment of the leaders of assassins should be carried out first thing first.  Her brother-in-law Zobair and another Companion Talhat excited Aicha to leading a contingent of 3,000 fighters to Basra.

Ali was on his way to Damascus to fight Moawiya, the governor of Syria, and stopped at Kufa to recruit more fighters and had to challenge Aicha before resuming his campaign.  Aicha, Zobair and Talhat managed to recruit an army of 30,000 men against Ali’s army of 20,000 soldiers.  The battle of the “Camel”, the first among the Moslems, left 15,000 victims among the Moslem fighters which affected Aicha for the remainder of her life. Talhat and Zobair died in the battle.

Aicha was riding in a palanquin, all curtains shut close, and she kept exhorting her army to fight. Ali ordered his officer to cut the hands of the camel guides so that the camel could be moved from the center of the battle field; other guides took the relay and 72 camel guides left theirs hands on the rope before the camel’s hamstrings were cut and was brought down; the symbol of “The Mother of the Believer” finally relinquished its effect on the troops.

Ali permitted Aicha to return to her home in Medina and she was escorted as a Queen. One of Moawiya’s delegates told Aicha that they wished she died in the battle so that the allies of Moawiya would have had an excellent excuse to fight Ali.

Aicha spent the remaining of her life in her house, receiving scholars and students who regarded her as the main resource for correct interpretations of the religious verses and taking notes of her experiences. Aicha was the only virgin in the harem that the Prophet married; whatever she knew of love making was the invention and initiation of Muhammad.  A specific revelation forbade Muhammad’s wives to remarry; they were to remain in their homes and to be covered completely and wear the “nikab” on their face when stepping outside their doors or meeting males.

The effects of the assassination of Othman didn’t end up there.  Muawiya raised the same reason of avenging Othman to engage Ali in a terrible battle at Seffine in Syria: the bloodied shirt of Othman hanging in the Mosque of Madina demanded retribution and the Arabs coined the dictum “the Shirt of Othman” to convey the meaning that the reason offered is but an excuse in the power struggle.   There were no victors in the battle of Seffine.  A large contingent of Ali’s army dissented because Ali agreed to arbitrate; these dissenters were labeled Al Khawarej and were led by Abdulah ibn Wahab (the current Saudi Monarchy is of the Wahhabi sect in affiliation). The Khawarej went on assassination rampage against the leading followers of both Ali and Muawiya. 

The Khawarej failed to assassinate Muawiya but killed Ali in Kufa.  Ali refused to name anyone to succeed him as Caliph and said to his followers that he would not disagree with anyone they select; Aicha was to say “this is typical Ali’s ambiguity” as she forecasted the worst to the unity of the “Umma” or Nation of Islam.  Ali was the most qualified to be the Imam of Islam but since there was yet no separation between the political and religious functions then Ali had to seek power as Caliph.  Ali lacked the political acumens and the qualities of a political leader because he was constantly plagued with ambiguities as a result of his vast religious knowledge and his apprehension to err in his decisions. Scissions developed during his short five years reign

Muawiya was elected Caliph in Damascus; the power became hereditary. Muawiya sent assassins to eliminate any potential leaders closely related to the Prophet. Aicha lived to experience the death of many of her male family members.  Hassan, the son of Ali, was assassinated by his wife wearing a poisoned dress.  Moawiya then slaughtered Hassan’s wife to cover up his cooperation.  The successors of Muawiya were known as the Ummayad dynasty. The most powerful tribe of Kuraich reigned in Damascus for over a century. The Abbaseed (The house of Abbass, the Uncles of Muhammad) succeeded in taking power in Baghdad for two centuries.  During and after the Abbasseed dynasty the Central Asian converted Sunni tribes dominated the political and religious landscape for over ten centuries.  The Shi’aa sect (the followers of Ali’s second son Hussein) emerged as a counterpart to the Sunni sect representing the legitimate Moslems.

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adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

February 2009
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