SHAFAQNA- Muawiyah’s first directive to his administrators
Madaʾini, in his Ahdath, writes: Muawiyah in the Year of the Union (Am al-Jamaʿa) issued a directive to all of his administrators and deputies, stressing: ‘We have no responsibility for the safety of those who speak in praise of Abu Talib and his family.’
Accordingly, everywhere the preachers would curse Ali and denounce him and his family before starting their sermon. On this point, the officials were extremely strict in Kufa, since this was the city in which the majority of Ali’s supporters and loyalists were based. For this reason, Muawiyah appointed Ziyad ibn Abih to Kufa and Basra. Ziyad dwelled among the Shia during Imam Ali’s Caliphate. Therefore, he was very familiar with them and could find their whereabouts and hiding places easily whether to scare them, cut their hands or legs, blind them, or kill them. As a result, he forced away almost all the Shia from Iraq, leaving no notable figure there.
Muawiyah’s second directive
Muawiyah issued a second directive, in which he stressed: ‘Do not accept the testimony of Ali and his household. Of the people of the yore, look whoever is a supporter of Uthman and exalt them. Befriend those who speak of Uthman’s virtues and merits, and send the name of his family and clan for me.’
This directive had a negative impact. Its impact was due to the fact that those paying homage to and praising Uthman were mostly motivated in forging false traditions to praise Uthman in expectation of material rewards.
Accordingly, people began to develop a sense of distrust and doubt. They thought to themselves: How is it possible that Uthman is considered so virtuous and noble, while we have heard nothing of such virtuosity and nobility before? However, Muawiyah cunningly realized that the forging of traditions and narrations must be halted. Then, he issued another directive, stressing that ‘the preachers must relate only the merits and virtues of the first two caliphs and of the Companions of the Prophet (PBUH). If anyone relates any virtue of Abu Turab (Ali), bring one of the Companions to negate that relation.
Therefore, act in this way because it is more pleasing to me and also negates Ali’s arguments.’ Consequently, extolling fictitious merits and virtues of the Companions began. And in Islamic religious schools, teachers were ordered to teach false accounts of the Companions’ virtues to their students, just as they taught the Quran to them.
Muawiyah’s third directive
In this directive he wrote to his governors: ‘Anyone known to be a devotee of Ali and a sympathiser of the Prophet’s Household shall have his stipends cut. Moreover, if anyone is alleged to be guilty of harbouring loyalties to Ali, punish him and destroy his house.’ Such directives were most destructive in Iraq where, accordingly, the Shia did not dare to utter a single word, fearing even their servants to report.
Ibn Abi al-Hadid writes: ‘After Hussain ibn Ali’s death and the rise of the Marwanids, especially ʿAbd al-Malik ibn Marwan’s rise to power, the situation became much more severe and difficult as a result of the appointment of Hajjaj ibn Yusuf as the governor of Kufa and Basra. By expressing their hatred and animosity for Ali and his Companions, supposedly pious individuals attained high positions in the state. They used to extol the merits and virtues of Ali’s enemies. For instance, Asmaʿi’s forefather told Hajjaj: ‘O commander! My parents have wronged me by choosing the name of Ali. I am poor and desolate; I am in need of you!’ Hajjaj laughed and said: ‘You have offered a good excuse, so I will make you the ruler of your region.’
Ibn ʿArafa, known as Naftawayh, an expert in the science of hadith, writes: ‘The majority of the forged traditions in praise of the Companions are the result and product of our own era. The untruthful transmitters of the traditions forged traditions for the sake of material rewards, the possibility of attaining high positions in the Umayyad government and animosity to the Banu Hashim.’ (Sharh Nahjul-Balaghah, 1/46)
Due to these polices, which laid the foundations of the Umayyad system of government, many important figures lost their lives because of their love for Ali and the Prophet’s Household. To name the most notable of these:
- Hujr ibn ʿAdi, a Companion of the Prophet, was arrested by Ziyad and sent to Muawiyah with nine men of similar political leanings. Ziyad also sent a letter signed by many, ordering that Hujr ibn ʿAdi ought to be killed. The prisoners were taken to a place called Marj ʿUdhra and brutally massacred; a more detailed account can be found in the books of history. (Muruj al-Dhahab, 3/3–4; Sayr Aʿlam al-Nubalaʾ, 3/462–466)
- ʿAmr ibn Humq was one of the Companions about whom Imam Hussain says: ‘Night prayer has made his face turn pale.’ He was killed by Muawiyah, after having been promised safety (Sayr Aʿlam al-Nubalaʾ, 4/34–35)
- Malik al-ʿAshtar was the commander of Ali’s army. He was poisoned by a miller on the orders of Muawiyah. (Shadharat al-Dhahab, 1/91)
- Rashid al-Hujri was among the greatest of Imam Ali’s disciples. He disobeyed Ziyad ibn Abih’s order to curse and revile Ali so Ziyad ordered that his hands, legs and tongue should be cut off before having him hung from a palm tree. (Sharh Nahj al-Balagha 2/294-295)
- Juwayriyya ibn Mushir al-ʿAbdi was another devotee of the Imam. Ziyad had his hands and legs cut off, then hung him from a palm tree.
- Qanbar was Imam Ali’s servant. One day Hajjaj asked his soldiers to arrest one of the companions of Imam Ali. They said in response that no one had spent more time with Ali than Qanbar. Hajjaj summoned Qanbar and asked him: ‘Are you Qanbar?’ he said, ‘Yes.’ Then, he was ordered to curse Ali. Qanbar replied, ‘Show me a better and nobler man than Ali to follow.’ Ziyad realized that Qanbar would never comply and said ‘I will kill you. How do you want to be killed?’ Qanbar answered, ‘Ali has informed me that I would be slaughtered like a sheep.’ Surprisingly, he was slaughtered like a sheep. (Rijal Al-Kashshi, 68-69)
- Kumayl ibn Ziyad was one the greatest of Ali’s supporters. Hajjaj summoned him but he fled the city. Because of this, all the privileges and benefits his tribe used to receive were revoked. When Kumayl heard what had happened, he thought to himself: ‘I am an old man, reaching my twilight. I shall not impose any burden on my kin.’ Then he went to Hajjaj. At his sight, Hajjaj said, ‘I had intended to arrest you.’ Kumayl bravely retorted, ‘Enough of your threats! I am almost at death’s door, so do whatever you want with me, since we will meet again on the Day of Resurrection. (Sharh Nahjul-Balaghah 17/149; Al-Shia wa Al-Hakimun, 96)
- Saʿid bin Jubayr was famous for his piety and worship, and he used to join the congregations of Imam Sajjad in prayer. Hajjaj had him arrested and said, ‘Are you Shaqi ibn Kathir?’ [the opposite of his actual name] Saʿid replied, ‘My mother knew better what to name me.’ After an exchange, Hajjaj ordered him to be put to death. Saʿid, while preparing himself for death, recited the following verse: ‘Indeed I have turned my face toward Him who originated the heavens and the earth, as a hanif, and I am not one of the polytheists.’ (Quran 6:79) This made Hajjaj so infuriated that he ordered that Saʿid be chained facing away from the qiblah. Saʿid recited another verse: ‘…so whichever way you turn, there is Allah’s countenance!’ (Quran 2:115). This time, Hajjaj ordered that Saʿid be tied to the ground. Saʿid recited his last verse: ‘From it did We create you, into it shall We return you, and from it shall We bring you forth another time.’ (Quran 20:55). Immediately after this, they beheaded Saʿid. (Sayr Aʿlam al-Nubalaʾ 4/321–328; al-Jarh wa al-Taʿdil, 4/9)
These eight of people were just a few of those many who were killed unjustly during the reign of Muawiyah and his sons’ reigns. A proper account of the crimes of the Umayyad dynasty would require a volume of its own.
 Referring to two different branches of the Umayyad Family; the children of Abu Sufyan (the Sufyanids) and the children of Marwan ibn al-Hakam (the Marwanids).