THE IMAM ALI IN HIS OWN ERA
The Election of the Imam Ali
Had Quraish (Meccan Community) remained in control of the political affairs during the first few days after the death of Othman it would have prevented the Imam Ali Ibn Abu Talib from coming to power. Had Tallah Al-Zubeir and their supporters expected Ali to come to power they would not have opposed Othman or called for his assassination. Each of the two companions was hopeful that he rather than Ali would be the fourth caliph and Quraish was determined to use all its power to keep Ali away from the caliphate. You may remember that the Imam said to the Hashimites when the Second Caliph issued his instructions concerning the Electoral Convention: "Should your people (the Qureshites) be obeyed in matters pertaining to you you will never be given the leadership."( 1 )
Fortunately Quraish lost the political initiative for a
( 1 ) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 33 Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 239.
Qureshites did not have of influence during that short period.
The reign of the Third Caliph exhibited to the Muslims that Quraish had committed a classical error when it diverted the caliphate from Ali to Othman. The natives of Medina found in the few days following his death a breathing time and an opportunity to liberate themselves from the Qureshite influence and its despotic role in directing the caliphate and giving it to whomever it chose.
Thus Quraish for the first time was not obeyed in a matter pertaining to the House of the Prophet. Therefore the House of the Prophet was given the leadership and Ali who was the head of the House was elected.
It was ironic concerning the caliphate that Ali desired to be the elected caliph when Abu Bakr was elected when Omar was appointed and when Othman was selected.
And at each time Quraish used to stand in his way and divert the caliphate from him to others. Yet his desire and the Qureshite desire did not clash when he was offered the caliphate after the death of Othman. The Qureshite leaders were wishing out of jealousy that Ali would not be given the leadership. Ali on the other hand wished that the caliphate would be diverted from him because he expected to face tremendous difficulties which could not be surmounted by a man of principle such as Ali.
A Drafted Caliph
Al-Tabari reported that the Meccan and the Medinite
sistant rather than a leader." They said: "By God we shall not desist until we elect you."( 2 )
Al-Tabari reported also that the people remained five days after the death of Othman without an lmam. The revolutionary people gathered the people of Medina and told them: You are the people of the counsel. You are the makers of the caliphate and your decision would be honored by the nation. Look for anyone whom you choose and we will follow you. The majority said: We choose Ali Ibn Abu Talib. We will be satisfied with him. The revolutionaries gave the people of Medina two days to choose a leader. People came to Ali saying to him: "We want to elect you; you are witnessing what happened to Islam and what we are exclusively (from among the rest of the people) facing of difficulties.".
A Gloomy Expectation
Ali said: "Leave me out and seek other than I. Certainly we are facing a crisis with many faces and colors. The hearts will not stand for it and the minds will not rest on it." They said: We ask you in the name of God. Can't you see what we are facing? Can't you see what happened to Islam? Can't you see the crisis? Do you not fear God? He said: "I accept and you should know that if I accept I will follow only my knowledge in administering your affairs. If you leave me out I would be only one of you yet I would be of the most obedient to whomever you elect."( 3 )
They left him after they made an appointment with him for the following day..
The following day (Friday) people came to the Mosque and Ali mounted the pulpit and said: "O people upon mutual counsel and permission this affair is yours.
No one has the right to lead you except the one you
( 2 ) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 427 Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 98. ( 3 ) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 434 Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 99.
choose. We parted yesterday on an agreement. If you choose I will sit for you; otherwise I will not have any ill feelings against anyone (if you change your opinion)." They said: "We are still on the same principle as yesterday."( 4 )
People elected him. It is said that Talhah was the first one who gave him his allegiance.( 5 ) The people of Kufa said that Malik Al-Ashtar was the first one who gave Ali his allegiance.
The Imam reluctantly accepted the election although he wished that the caliphate had been diverted from him to another person. The caliphate in his view was not an end.
He viewed it only as a means of spreading justice among people realizing brotherhood among the followers of the Islamic message and leading the nation to a life ruled by principles of the Holy Qur'an and the instructions of the Holy Prophet. All evidence was pointing to the fact that the achievements of these goals had become impossible.
The unity of the nation had come to an end during the reign of the Third Caliph. His saddening death was expected only to increase the division of the nation and magnify the flame of dissention. Ali's program called for implementation of equality in distribution of public funds executing justice removal of corruption and elimination of discrimination. This was expected only to meet the strongest opposition from elements of strong influence who were not willing to relinquish their acquired privileges.
Quraish the community that blocked Ali's way to the
( 4 ) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 435 Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 99. ( 5 ) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 435 Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 99.
caliphate for twenty-five years (thinking that if he comes to power the caliphate will remain in his house) will do all it can to destroy his caliphate.
The Privileged Companions
The class of companions who were preferred in salary by the Second and Third Caliphs and acquired wealth through investment of the surplus fund which they received will oppose Ali because he believes in distributing the public funds equally among the Muslims.
Those who enriched themselves by accepting huge sums of money and vast pieces of land from the Third Caliph and his appointed governors will also oppose the Imam because he intends to recover what they received illegally and put it back in the Islamic treasury.
The Promoted Companions
Talhah and Al-Zubeir members of the Electoral Convention were representing a new class of companions and endeavored to bring the reign of Othman to an end (hoping that one of them will replace him). They were expected to try to fight Ali with all their power. The two companions were extremely powerful. The fortune of each had amounted to tens of millions of dirhams.( 5a ) They had the support of the Qureshite clans and a great number of the people of Bassrah and Kufa. And above all they were supported by Ayeshah Mother of the Believers who enjoyed a great influence and a high prestige.
In fact this important lady was one of the tremendous
obstacles which the Imam had to face because she
( 5a ) Ibn Saad mentioned in his Al-Tabadat part 3 p. 110 that Al-Zubeir's wealth amounted to forty million dirhams and in p. 222 that Talhah's wealth amounted to thirty million dirhams.
replace him by her cousin Talhah or her brother-in-law Al- Zubeir.
More dangerous than all these elements were the Omayads members of the clan of the assassinated Caliph whose influence was escalated during his reign and one of them Muaweyah became the strongest man in the Muslim World.
What made the Omayads extremely dangerous was their exploitation of the tribal spirit in the Arab society which compelled the members of any tribe regardless of their number to obey their chief under any condition.
Such a spirit produces evil when the chief of the tribe is greedy putting his worldly interest ahead of his religion.
It is very easy for a ruler who controls a national or state treasury to purchase the loyalty of a tribe by purchasing the loyalty of its chief. There is nothing that corrupts man's conscience like money. The Omayads were masters in the art of purchasing people's loyalty and corrupting their conscience. They were the rulers of the important Islamic provinces and this enabled them to have a great number of proteges and purchase the loyalty of many tribes by pleasing their chiefs.
The Absence of the Military Draft System
The aforementioned difficulties would be accentuated when compulsory military service is absent. The Faith of Islam makes it mandatory to the Muslims to defend the nation and the sacred principles of Islam. Yet the performance of this duty was left during the time of the Prophet and the first three Caliphs to the conscience of the Muslims. The Islamic Army was composed of volunteers.
When the nation is united and people are conscious of their religious duties it would be easy for the government to gather task forces in order to meet any threatening danger. But when the nation is divided and people are confused by the slogans of various parties it would be most difficult to meet arising dangers and subduing subversive elements.
This is much harder when subversive elements already exist and military forces acquired through purchasing the loyalty of chiefs of tribes through public funds. This was the situation when the Imam was elected. There was no national military establishment. People were divided and confused and Muaweyah the governor of Syria had established in that province during the eighteen years of his governorship a viable military power by gathering the tribes of Syria around him and putting all their forces under his command.
The caliphate was diverted from the "Brother of the Messenger" when the nation was healthy and united and religion was its main concern. Then the caliphate was forced upon him when the nation was divided and the caliphate became bloody.
Ali was not the man who runs away from his responsibilities even in a desperate situation where the elements of evil and anarchy which shall stand in his way are much stronger than the good elements which support him.
The Imam was fully aware that the Omayads were to acquire the authority of the Muslim World and transform the caliphate into a despotic Kingdom. The Imam was aware of this because he was aware of the prevalent corruption in the nation and because of the information which he received from the Prophet about the future of the nation.
His awareness of this future would not justify in his eyes a passive attitude. As a matter of fact his expectation of the future success of the Omayads made him more determined to fulfill his duty after he found some good elements determined to assist him and desirous to combat injustice in the Islamic society and purify it of corruption.
The Imam expected the Omayads to control the Muslim World but this expected control was not inevitable or predestined from Heaven where man has no choice. On the contrary what was expected to happen was to be a result of failure of the Muslims to combat injustice and stand for the truth.
Had the Imam refused to lead the nation after the righteous companions and their good followers offered him assistance he would have assisted the Omayads in reaching their evil goals.
It was his duty to stand up and to do all he could to prevent them from coming to power. If the nation supports him justice will prevail and he would avoid the Muslims a great danger that threatened their religion and future as a nation of a great mission. If the nation let him down he would have fulfilled his duty and pleased his Lord and his conscience. He would be following the examples of the prophets who entered into struggles which they did not hope to win.
Blood and Tears
As the Muslims put the Imam face to face with his responsibility and forced the caliphate upon him he tried also to make them face their responsibility. He warned his electors that they will face very insane crises which will demand heavy sacrifices and that they should not expect but blood and tears. He told them that they are about to face a crisis of manifold faces and colors with which neither hearts stand nor minds rest with certainty.
He told the people of the acquired privileges who enjoyed self enrichment at the expense of others that he will re-direct the nation and will not listen to criticism by people who are opposed to justice. "If I respond to your call I will follow only my own knowledge."
The good companions of the Prophet and their
zeal. His election was truly an election by the people whose hearts were filled with faith without being corrupted by politics and quest of prestige. These people believed that they were electing the Brother of the Prophet the most knowledgeable of his message and the Prophet's choice from his nation.
As to the people of political ambition and material greed from the members of the preferred classes they were unable to resist the tide of enthusiasm of the masses of the people. They had lost political control during that short period. The death of Othman stunned them and they could not gather themselves to resist the Imam. They gave him their allegiance as other people did. Marwan Ibn Al-Hakam one of the most hostile persons to the Imam was among those who elected him. Talhah and Al-Zubeir elected the Imam though each of them was hopeful to become the caliph after Othman.
AN EARLY OPPOSITION
A Qureshite woman of great influence and high voice was not stunned by the sequel of the events. Ayeshah wife of the Prophet and a Mother of the Believers was completely present-minded capable of thinking planning and working for her political goal. She declared her opposition to the Imam the moment she received the news of his election.
Ayeshah was the most outspoken person against Othman. Her propaganda against him was one of the main factors in bringing the rebels to Medina and besieging the Caliph. When he was besieged she was calling for his assassination.
Al-Balatheri in his history recorded that when the
her. She said: "I shall not do what you are requesting." The two men stood up and Marwan recited a verse of poetry indicating that Ayeshah started the fire and when the fire grew she was leaving! At this point she told him: "Marwan I wish that Othman were in one of my sacks and I could carry him so I may throw him in the sea."( 6 )
Abdullah Ibn Abbas while on his way to Mecca (after Othman appointed him "Ameer" (leader) of the pilgrimage) met Ayeshah on the road and she said to him: "Ibn Abass God has given you wisdom intelligence and eloquence. Beware do not try to dissuade the rebels to save that tyrant." ( 7 )
Her hostile attitude towards Othman was immediately changed when she received the news of Ali's election after Othman's death. While at "Saraf" coming back from her pilgrimage Ayeshah met Obeid Ibn Abu Selema (who was related to her through her mother). The following dialogue took place:
Ayeshah: What do you know?
Obeid: Othman was killed and the people remained eight days without a caliph.
Ayeshah: Then what did they do? Obeid: They elected Ali.
Ayeshah: May Heaven fall on earth if your man succeeds. Return me to Mecca.
She turned her face towards Mecca saying "By God Othman was killed unjustly. By God I shall avenge for his blood.".
Obeid: By God you are the first one who
discredited him. You used to say about
him: Kill Naathal (likening Othman to a
( 6 ) Al-Balatheri Ansabul-Ashraf part 4 p. 45. ( 7 ) Ibn Abu-Al-Hadeed his Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah part 2 p. 506.
heavily bearded Arab Jew named Naathal) because he deserted the faith.
Ayeshah: They made him repent then they killed him. They said and I said and my last saying is better than my first saying. ( 8 )
Thus the Mother of the Believers turned in one hour from an enemy of Othman urging people to kill him to an avenger of his blood and she did not lack the argument for her opinion in both situations for both attitudes.
Campaigning for War at the Sacred Mosque
She went to Mecca and when she arrived at the Sacred Mosque of Mecca she delivered a fiery speech urging people to avenge the blood of Othman.( 9 ) She forgot and through her influence as a wife of the Prophet and daughter of the First Caliph she made her audience forget that she was the holder of the biggest share of the responsibility of his death.
She forgot and made people forget that Islam had forbidden and abolished the pre-Islamic traditions which allowed people to wage bloody wars for revenge and that the punishment of a killer is not in jurisdiction of any one but a true Islamic government.
She forgot and made people forget that God had commanded her and all the wives of the Messenger to stay at their houses and that she should not display herself as women used to do during the pre-Islamic days.( 10 )
Her audience in Mecca were the Qureshites who shared
with her the hatred of Ali since the days of the Prophethood. These people made continuous efforts to keep Ali
away from leadership for twenty-five years. He was
( 8 ) Abn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 106. ( 9 ) Abd Al-Fattah Abdul-Maqsoud Al-Imam Ali Ibn Abu Talib part 2 p. 297. (10) The Holy Qur'an chapter 33 verse 33.
control after the death of Othman. Now Mother of Believers was trying to gather the Qureshite anew in order to destroy his leadership after the believers elected him.
Mecca is the Sacred City whose sanctity Ali would not violate. Therefore it was a safe place for the conspirators.
They gathered there from various places after Ayeshah preceded them raising the banner of rebellion towards "Ameer Al-Mumineen" (the Leader of the Believers)
A Preparation for War Under Way
The first one to respond to her call was Abdullah Ibn Amir Al-Hadrami who was Othman's appointed governor of Mecca. ( 11 He said: "I am the first one to seek revenge for the blood of Othman." When the Omayads knew about the attitude of Ayeshah they left Medina secretly to Mecca.(12)
Talhah and Al-Zubeir stayed in Medina for a while then decided to go to Mecca to join the Mother of Believers.(13)
They left Medina pretending that they were going for Omrah (a brief visit to the ancient House of God in Mecca)
The Two Companions Joined
Talhah and Al-Zubeir were most expected to join the camp of Ayeshah because her goal was to cancel the caliphate of Ali in order to replace him with one of the two companions.
She instigated people against Othman and ordered them to kill him for the same purpose.(14) She wanted to replace him with her cousin Talhah as her prime choice or with her brother-in-law Al-Zubeir as a second choice. (15)
(11) Al-Tabari his History part 4 pp. 449-450. (12) Al-Tabari his History part 4 pp. 448-450. (13) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 452. (14) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 459. (15) Ibn Abu Al-Hadeed his Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah part 2 p. 506.
The Omayads Were Still to Be Reckoned with
The meeting of the conspirators and their dialogue in Mecca indicate that the Omayads after Othman were still something to take into account. People of Mecca were with them; the former governor Abdullah Al-Hadrami was in the front line and they did not encounter any opposition from the Meccans. Yaala Ibn Omayah (he is Ibn Munyah) Othman's former appointed governor of Yemen pillaged what was under his control of the Islamic treasury in Yemen before the arrival of Obeidullah Ibn Al- Abbas the Imam's appointed governor of Yemen. Ibn Omayah brought for the conspirators six hundred thousand dirhams and six hundred camels. (16) This enabled them to implement a portion of their unholy project.
Abdullah Ibn Amir who was Othman's appointed governor in Bassrah brought a great amount of funds. ( 17 ) He informed them that they had many proteges in Bassrah. In fact everyone of Othman's appointed governors had many proteges. The purchase of the Arab tribes' loyalty was the Omayad art. They excelled in that art and bought many chiefs and tribes in order to erect the pillars of the Omayad Kingdom.
Rassrah the Chosen Target
When the conspirators tried to decide to which city
(16) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 106. (17) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 106. (18) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 106.
jority of the people of its population to repudiate the Imam.
United Only Against the Imam
The Omayads and their previous enemies: Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubeir had agreed to stand against the Imam who was their common enemy. The destruction of his leadership was their first goal. They were divided on their ultimate goal namely: Who is to rule after the destruction of the Imam's caliphate? The Omayads were working for returning the caliphate to them while Ayeshah and Talhah and Al-Zubeir were opposed to that. The Omayads were wiser than Talhah Al-Zubeir and Ayeshah. The Omayads were hopeful to eliminate them after using them. To them the three leaders were partners in shedding the blood of Othman and dangerous to the Omayads. The following story shows the extent of their difference in goals.
Sa-eed Ibn A-Auss Othman's former appointed governor of Kufa came to Marwan Ibn Al-Hakam and his group while the caravan was at the beginning of its journey to Bassrah. He asked them: "Where are you going and leaving alive the people from whom you should seek revenge? (He meant Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubeir)
Kill them and go back to your homes. They retorted: We hope that we will be able to kill all the killers of Othman.
Sa-eed met Talhah and Al-Zubeir privately and asked them the following question: If you prevail against Ali whom are you going to make a caliph? Tell me the truth! They told him that the caliphate will be for one of them.
Either of them that would be chosen by the people shall be
children of Abd-Munaf" (whose descendants are the Hashimites and the Omayads). He went back and so did Abdullah Ibn Khalid Ibn Useid. ( 19)
Sa-eed was hasty. Marwan and his group were trickier than Sa-eed. They were trying to weaken or destroy the caliphate of the Imam and then eliminate the three leaders.
The Omayads were much more intelligent than the three leaders Ayeshah Talhah and Al-Zubeir. They wanted to use these leaders in order to reach their goal and then sacrifice them. But the three leaders were not aware of what was planned for them. History informs us that Marwan killed Talhah in the Battle of Bassrah.(20) Had Al- Zubeir remained alive he would not have escaped the avenge of the Omayads.
Talhah and Al-Zubeir did not have any legitimate excuse in their rebellion against the Imam. Talhah was the first one who gave allegiance to the Imam and Al-Zubeir was one of the electors. Yet when they started their unsuccessful venture both claimed that they were forced to give their allegiance to the Imam.
WERE TALHAH AND AL-ZUBEIR FORCED TO ELECT THE IMAM?
The Imam was most aware of the human and Islamic
(19) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 107. (20) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 124.
who is elected by the majority is not permitted to force a person to change his vote from "no" to "yes.".
The Imam Did Not Force Any Companion to Elect Him
The Imam himself faced difficulties and was subjected to injustice when companions tried to force him to elect Abu Bakr.(21) Other companions warned him after they selected Othman that he should not incur harm to himself by refusing to vote for Othman. (22) The Imam believed that such attempts are violations of his natural rights. The Imam is not expected to do what he used to criticize.
He believed that the Messenger of God had chosen him to lead the nation and that the duty of the nation is to follow the choice of the Messenger. Yet he refused to use violence as a means of acquiring leadership when Abu Sufyan offered him to fill Medina with horses and men against Abu Bakr.(23)
Saad Ibn Abu Waqass who was a member of the Electoral Convention refused to elect the Imam and said to him:
By God you will see no harm from me. The Imam did not
force him to pledge his allegiance to him.(24) He did not
force Abdullah Ibn Omar to elect him and he was not less
important than Talhah and Al-Zubeir. The Imam asked
from him to bring a surety and when he refused to do
that the Imam said to the people: Leave him I am his
surety. Then he said to him; "You are as far as I have
known you a man of ill manner in your youth and adult-
(21) Abdul-Fattah Abdul-Maqsoud Al-Imam Ali Ibn Abu Talib part 1 p. 190. (22) Ibn Al-Atheer Al-Kamil part 3 p. 37. (23) Abdul Fattah Abdul-Maqsoud Al-Imam Ali Ibn Abu Talib part 1 p. 185 Al-Tabari in his History part 4 p. 428. (24) Dr. Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra part 2 p. 22 Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 428.
hood. 25) When he asked him to bring a surety he wanted only to be sure that the one who refuses to elect him will not try to revolt against him. Osamah Ibn Zeid Ibn Harithah refused to elect the Imam and the Imam did not try to force him.
Individuals from the natives of Medina also refused to elect the Imam. Among these were Zeid Ibn Thabit Hassan Ibn Thabit Muslimah Ibn Mukhlid Mohammad Ibn Muslima Naaman Ibn Basheer (who became a supporter of Muaweyah later) Kaab Ibn Ujrah and Kaab Ibn Malik (who was sent by Othman to collect the Zakat of Muzainah then he granted him what he collected).(26) All these were loyal to Othman and opposed to the Imam. Yet the Imam did not force any of them to elect him. The Imam would not have given an exceptional treatment to Talhah and Al-Zubeir if they had refused to elect him. The most he could do to them was to ask them to offer a guarantee that they would refrain from any subversive activity.
I do not rule out that the rebels or their leaders had exercised some pressure against the two companions and made them elect the Imam. But such pressure would not have prevented the two companions from saying to the Imam: We are forced to elect you. Had they said that to him he would not have accepted their election. He was the most knowledgeable of the fact that their election cannot be sound when it is done by force.
The Imam Could Not Force His First Elector
Furthermore to expect an Imam to force people to
(25) Dr. Taha Hussein Al-Fitnat Al-Kubra part 2 p. 22 Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 428. (26) Al-Tabari his History part 4 pp. 429-430.
which he may try to purchase the loyalty of the people.
Our Imam was not desirous to come to power and he did not make himself a candidate. He seriously tried to divert the leadership from himself. He did not accept the caliphate except when it was forced upon him. He did not have a military power or a material wealth through which he could exercise any pressure against individuals or masses of people.
In addition to this it may be possible for a caliph who has already been elected by the majority to try to force an opponent to vote for him. But it is not conceivable that a candidate tries before he is elected by a majority or a minority to force the first voter to elect him. The story which tells us that Talhah and Al-Zubeir were forced to elect the Imam mentions that Talhah was the first one to pledge his allegiance to the Imam. It tells also that a man called Habib Ibn Thu-aib who was present at that time interpreted the incident to be ominous saying that the Imam will not succeed because the first hand to give him allegiance was paralyzed (Talhah had a paralyzed finger since the Battle of Ohod).(27)
The Imam Refuted the Allegation
The Imam refuted the allegations of the two companions in a message he sent to both of them after they left Mecca to Bassrah. In that message he left no excuse for the two companions. "Certainly you have known " he said "though you have concealed the fact that I did not seek the people until they sought me; nor did I solicit their election but they elected me. You were from the people who sought me and elected me. The masses of the people did not elect me for a prevailing authority nor for any material wealth. If you had elected me voluntarily you ought to reverse your attitude and repent to God quickly.
If you had elected me unwillingly
you have given me the
(27) Al-Tabari his History part 4 p. 428.
right to demand your obedience when you exhibited your free election and concealed your intention." ( 28 )
If the two companions had elected the Imam under pressure from the rebels or other people they should have at least informed the Imam at the time of election or at least before they left Medina that they had elected him unwillingly. They stayed in Medina months after the election and never claimed any coercion. Their silence for the duration of that period is evidence that they elected him voluntarily. They did not refrain from mentioning that because of fear of punishment.
It is one of the known facts in history that Saad Ibn Abu Waqass who was their colleague in the membership of the Electoral Convention and Abdullah Ibn Omar did refuse to elect the Imam and neither of them was punished or threatened by the Imam. Talhah and Al-Zubeir were wealthier and more powerful than Saad and Abdullah.
Therefore the Imam said in his message to the two companions: "Certainly you were not the most entitled from among the 'Migrants' (the Meccan companions) to keep silent out of fear. Your refusal to enter into my election could have been easier for you than to exit out of it after acknowledging it..."(29)
The Guilty Accused the Innocent
However the two companions did not only claim that they were forced to elect the Imam but also accused the Imam of the murder of Othman. Yet they and Ayeshah Mother of the Believers were the ones who urged people to besiege and kill Othman and the Imam was the defender of Othman among the Migrant companions. Since people of Medina were aware of this the Imam concluded his message by the following words: "And you have alleged that I had killed Othman.
(28) Al-Imam Ali Nahjul-Balaghah part 3 p. 111-112. (29) Al-Imam Ali Nahjul-Balaghah part 3 p. 111-112.
Those who stayed in Medina and did not join you or me ought to be questioned about this matter. Then everyone of us will be burdened with his own action. You the two old men ought to reverse your attitude. The most you may suffer now is shame; but if you continue your way you will add to the shame the Divine punishment."(30)
The story of the coercion of Talhah and Al-Zubeir to elect the Imam was obviously untrue. Ali was not the man who would try to force any voter to elect him while he was not yet an elected caliph. The two companions invented the story of coercion to justify their rebellion against the Imam. The two companions who allowed themselves to fight Ali and to kill thousands of Muslims for their own interests would not be expected to refrain from telling untruth deliberately.
(30) Al-Imam Ali Nahjul-Balaghah part 3 111-112.