Syria and Siffien – Thoughts on the Repetition of History

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SHAFAQNA – In His Name, the Most High

Over the last couple of weeks, indeed since the illegal invasion and attack on Syria various rumours and games have been in play.  When this subject is discussed, it needs to be done so with responsibility and all seriousness.  The lives of countless are in the balance, as well as the cohesion and unity of the Muslims as a whole – inside and outside Syria.

What is quite alarming, is that many people – including Muslims and non-Muslims – are unaware of the background to this conflict, as a result, they become confused and suggest hypotheses that are not only incorrect, but are infact in servitude to the instigators of this conflict.

When a subject is discussed, without due attention to its appropriate context and the understanding of all sides involved in said scenario; then the likelihood of incorrect judgements and conclusions increases exponentially.

Quran, requires the Muslims to be securers of Justice, to be witnesses for God, these are important ideas that should engender a longing for the Truth, and an aversion to falsehoods.  The verse of Quran:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاءَ لِلَّـهِ وَلَوْ عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوِ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ ۚ إِن يَكُنْ غَنِيًّا أَوْ فَقِيرًا فَاللَّـهُ أَوْلَىٰ بِهِمَا ۖ فَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا الْهَوَىٰ أَن تَعْدِلُوا ۚ وَإِن تَلْوُوا أَوْ تُعْرِضُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا

O believers, be you securers of justice, witnesses for God, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents and kin, whether the man is rich or poor; God stands closest to either. Then follow not caprice, so as to swerve; for if you twist or turn, God is aware of the things you do.

– Quran, Surah an-Nisa (4), Verse 135

The core of this verse, its raison d’être if you will; is to “bear witness for the sake of Allah”. The act of bearing witness, not a small thing, to bear a false witness – even out of ignorance or lack of diligence or negligence – is a catastrophic problem. Indeed it is an activity prohibited from an Islamic legal perspective, and indeed one that is condemned very strongly in the Quran and the traditions from the Prophet Muhammad(S):

وَالَّذِينَ لَا يَشْهَدُونَ الزُّورَ وَإِذَا مَرُّوا بِاللَّغْوِ مَرُّوا كِرَامًا

And those who do not bear false witness, and when they pass by idle talk, pass by with honour

– Quran, Surah al-Furqaan (25), Verse 72

The Messenger of Allah(S) has also said: “The one who testifies falsely against another will be hung by his tongue with they hypocrites in the lowest portion of Hell; and if one usurps the property of his believing brother, Allah does not give an increase in his sustenance till he repents for it.”

Imam al-Baqir(A) narrates from the Holy Prophet (S) that he said,

“One who hides testimony before a just Islamic judge, or gives a false testimony to shed the blood of Muslims or intends to usurp a Muslim’s property by it, he shall be raised on the Day of the Judgment in such a condition that there will be darkness before his eyes and his face will be scratched. The people shall recognise him by these signs (that he had testified falsely).”

The Holy Prophet (S) asked: “Shall I inform you about the Greater of the Great sins?”

The companions replied, “Why not, O! Prophet of Allah (S).” The Prophet (S) said,

“To make someone a partner of Allah, and disobedience to parents…” The Prophet (S) was resting his back against the wall. Now he sat up straight and continued in a more serious tone, “And beware! (Every) Falsehood!”

The narrators say that the Holy Prophet (S) has denounced falsehood so many times that we wished he had not done so.

When people look at the various narratives on Syria, they need to examine things outside of any sectarian lens, or any interest based lens and be Just in the manner in which they examine.

They need to look at the chronology of the events; they need to look at the interested parties and what games and plots are being played.  They need to understand the oppressed and the oppressor.  They need to understand who benefits from a given scenario.  They need to look at why certain actors are doing certain things.  

Any mistakes or lack of insight issues in determining these core components can result in a person arriving at an invalid conclusion.

History has taught us many lessons – these are lessons rooted in history that is accepted by all schools of Islamic thought.

An example that comes to mind when examining Syria and my example herein will be brief, and I will then end as I have no desire to repeat myself ad nauseam.

The example I speak of is the battle of Siffien.  

Siffein was a war of attrition between the fourth rightly guided Caliph, Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib(A), and the Governer of Syria, Muawiyyah ibn Abi Sufyan.  In this war, there was a time – when the war started – when the Muslims understood who was on the side of Truth and who was on the side of Falsehood.  

Muawiyyah had used the issue of the murder of the third rightly guided Caliph, Uthman bin Affan(RA).  The murder of the third of the Rightly Guided Caliphs, Caliph Uthman bin Affan(RA) had transpired through instigations that were known to have come about from the side of Muawiyyah and the Banu Umayyah.  

People like Marwan ibn al-Hakam and others, who Uthman had nominated as advisers to him – on account of their kinship to him (and hence natural trust and alliance) who were abusing the trust that Caliph Uthman(RA) had given to them, to work against the interests of the Muslim community at large.

Muawiyyah then, after breaking the pledge of allegiance to the Islamic Government, instigated the entire population of Shaam against the Rightful Caliph, Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib(A).  He began a campaign that had the goal of destabilising the government of Islam and cause problems for the Muslims and ultimately for the Caliph, Imam Ali(A).  

These episodes are well known and can be found in many books of history, books that are accepted as reliable by all the schools of thought within Islam.

At the start of this battle, the Muslims were on point, they understood the danger posed by Muawiyyah’s schemes and plots, and they rallied behind their Caliph, Imam Ali(A), to end the sedition, and to thwart the insidious and dangerous plots against the Muslim community at large.

The Caliph, Imam Ali(A), worked hard to avoid the war. Many letters and much discussions took place between Muawiyyah and the Caliph, Imam Ali(A).  However, at each stage, Muawiyyah was reluctant to look for a peaceful solution, and ultimately the situation led to war becoming inevitable.

Once the war commenced, Initially, the Muslims supported their Caliph, Imam Ali(A), however, as time progressed, Muawiyyah had used a lot of sedition and infected the community.  Muawiyyah specifically used those people who are naturally inclined towards doubt, and those who have problems in their belief and loyalty to their Caliph, Imam Ali(A).  There is also the issue of the army of Islam being “war weary.”

Over time, the battle had many phases, I’m not going to delve into the details of the battle for the sake of brevity, accounts are available and can be researched if more detail is required, please advise, and I will happily provide, but for now, this much will suffice.

Over time, as the various battles and operations of the Siffien campaign, the prohibition of water and capture of the wells by Muawiyyah, their recovery by Imam Ali(A) and such, the people, the Muslims, became tired.  They became as I’ve mentioned, “war weary”.

Finally, there was to be a final push, to clear the situation and bring the war to a clear end.  To end the corruption and instigations of Muawiyyah, and bring peace, cohesion and unity among the Muslims.  It is at this final stage when the army of the Muslims all but at the door of the tent of Muawiyyah, something interesting takes place

The event that takes place is that one of Muawiyyah’s generals, a key adviser, Amr ibn al-Aas, realising the situation, realising that their entire scheme is about to be blown away by the Muslims and by the rightful Caliph, Imam Ali(A).  Plays a key strategy, a key game.

He asks the soldiers, leaders of battalions and so on, to immediately get every copy of the Quran.  Amr ibn al-Aas told the heads of battalions and soldiers to place their copies of Quran atop their lances and to shout out and declare that they wanted the Quran to arbitrate this conflict between the two camps.

The Muslims saw this – remember battalions from the Muslim Army were also very close to the camp, indeed the tents of Muawiyyah – this was the reason why Muawiyyah played this game, he had seen the writing on the wall.  A final shot at stealing victory from the arms of defeat so to speak.

He ordered the Quran be raised upon spears and lances, and declared that the Quran should arbitrate.  Why?  Did he do this because he suddenly became a close lover of Quran?  Why then did he not listen to the admonishments given to him, the advice and lessons of the Caliph of the Muslims, Imam Ali(A), why then even start the war in the first place?  The Caliph, Imam Ali(A), is known to have only governed by the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet(S) and nothing else.  Why did Muawiyyah suddenly become so “righteous” at that time?

Because he realised that the only way to prevent his defeat and destruction, the only way that he could survive was to play the Muslims off against each other, and importantly against the leadership.  He did what?  He incited sectarian strife – in a very “peaceful” manner – by throwing the Quran upon spears and declaring it should “arbitrate”.  Muawiyah hadn’t become more “righteous”, he had become much more insidious and cunning, where he struck a blow into the very heart of the Muslims and indeed Islam.

So what did the Caliph, the fourth of the rightly guided Caliphs, Imam Ali(A) do?  He told the people that this was a game, a ploy.  He implored the people not to fall prey to the schemes and plots of Muawiyyah, and not to become those who inadvertently, through naivety and a lack of insight, cause harm to Islam.

The people revolted against their Caliph and ultimately against Islam. What was the cause of this revolt?  This revolt that led to a terrible situation for Islam, that led to a group that left Islam while calling for it?  The cause was instigation and a lack of adherence to the Truth.

The people knew of the hadeeth of Rasul(S) – which has been recorded in all the books that are considered valuable and authentic by all schools of thought in Islam – stating that Ammar ibn Yasir(A), one of the first Muslims, that “a rebellious, aggressive group would kill him”.  

Who murdered Ammar(A)?  History bears witness that it was Muawiyyah and his faction during the Siffein War.

Then after the Caliph, Imam Ali(A), was threatened, they – the Muslim Army – threatened the Caliph, Imam Ali(A) – they threatened to kill him, for speaking the Truth; and forced him to accept the idea of arbitration.

They forced him to accept as an arbitrator from the side of the Muslims, Abu Musa Ashari(RA), a Muslim scholar, who was versed in Islamic thought and concepts, but lacked political acumen and was no match for Amr ibn al-Aas who was the nominated arbitrator for Muawiyyah.

The result of the arbitration was farcical; the two came to an agreement in private on the matter. However, when it came to a public statement, Abu Musa al-Ashari(RA) made his statement, followed by a completely different and contradictory statement by Amr ibn al-Aas, where he attempted to depose the rightly guided Caliph, Imam Ali(A), and declare Muawiyyah as the Caliph.

Naturally, the arbitration was nullified and not accepted by anyone of substance.

In this there are many lessons, suffice it to say that we need to understand an important point.  The war in Syria – and its a war not a civil war – is an instigated campaign.  From the outside.  The video posted above is testimony from the mouth of the Satan themselves as to what they desire.

Why then, when the resistance bloc is foiling the terror scheme, do some who don’t understand the entire context of the situation, act like those of the Muslims who became completely confused when they saw the Quran upon spears – a ploy of Muawiyyah to do exactly that – confuse the people.

In September 2016, the use of the word “terrorist” for the occupiers and those terrorising Aleppo and other parts of Syria, for groups like an-Nusra, DAESH, Nur ad-Din Al-Zinki, Ahrar al-Shaam, FSA, etc.; was dropped,  and replaced by the use of the word “Rebel”.

America is a country built in its psyche on the idea of Rebellion.  Rebellion against the colonial British.  The word rebellion in the American psyche is a positive word.  This connection is a very important point that needs to be understood, to be able to make sense of what is happening.

Hollywood released the film Star Wars Rogue One on December 10, 2016 – the entire Star Wars franchise – the biggest and most lucrative film franchise of all time according to some entertainment analysts – is based around the idea of the Rebel Alliance against the “Imperial Empire”.

These terminologies are important to obtain a clear understanding.  

When the terrorists started being referenced by the mainstream media and indeed almost everyone as “rebels” – their affinity in the hearts and minds of people changes – from that of “evil people out to kill us and all” to “oh those poor rebels, they are just rebelling against the evil”.  

The good is made evil, and the evil is made good.

A page is taken from the tactics of Muawiyah and Yazid, to render that which is Truth as falsehood, and to fool people into believing that the falsehood is Truth.

The Zionists have also used this strategy in their campaigns against both Lebanon and Gaza and the Palestinians as a whole.  

They reference the Islamic Resistance movements – Hamas and Hezbollah as evil and pummelling rockets at the innocent and good, the only “democracy” in the region and other such.  

Whereas the reality is that the Islamic Resistance movements fight back, it is because they are under a draconian occupation, where every facet of their existence is controlled and oppressed by the Occupiers.

The same tactic is used in a different guise to divide the people; to support a group against another group, or indeed to pit a group against another; thereby fermenting sectarian strife between the Muslims.  The intention of this strategy is to keep the people busy hating each other, fighting each other; so they are oblivious to the real dangers that they are exposed to, and to the crimes committed against them as a whole, resulting in the Oligarchy retaining its domination the “minions.”

This is from the tactics of Pharaoh as described clearly in Quran:

نَتْلُو عَلَيْكَ مِن نَّبَإِ مُوسَىٰ وَفِرْعَوْنَ بِالْحَقِّ لِقَوْمٍ يُؤْمِنُونَ

إِنَّ فِرْعَوْنَ عَلَا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَجَعَلَ أَهْلَهَا شِيَعًا يَسْتَضْعِفُ طَائِفَةً مِّنْهُمْ يُذَبِّحُ أَبْنَاءَهُمْ وَيَسْتَحْيِي نِسَاءَهُمْ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ مِنَ الْمُفْسِدِينَ

 

We [now] convey unto you from the story of Moses and Pharaoh, setting forth the truth for [the benefit of] people who will believe.

Behold, Pharaoh exalted himself in the land and divided its people into groups. One group of them he deemed utterly debased; he would slaughter their sons and spare (only) their women: for, behold, he was one of those who spread corruption [on earth].

-Quran, Surah al-Qasas (28), Verses 2-3

How does Allah describe Pharaoh?  He is from those who “spread corruption on the earth”.  

What is a tactic used by Pharaoh? To divide the people into factions, killing some from one faction and supporting another from another faction.  

Just this requires us to reflect and think about what Quran and history are teaching us and telling us.

I will now conclude as this has become longer than I had anticipated.

The bottom line is we need to be much smarter and wiser than we are.  

A simple benchmark that can be used is that which has been advised by Imam Khumayni(A) to the believers (I’m paraphrasing); as memory serves me right; based on a tradition of Prophet Muhammad(S):

“If you see the enemy applauding you, then know that you have left the right way, but if you see the enemy against you, then know that you are likely on the right way.”

People need to wise up.

Syria – and the Resistance Bloc as well as Russia – are fighting against the entire world – militarily and psychologically.  When the Muslims are duped – as they were by Muawiyyah in Siffien – and work against the oppressed while calling them oppressors – then know that something is very wrong; more importantly this narrative is promoted by the mainstream media and the Empire.

The disinformation campaign against Syria has been monumental.  But like I said – investigate the Truth, you will see the equations changed when Syria had its “Quran upon Spears moment” in September 2016.

Many of our Ulema speak to us about history, and this is a good thing, but they need to help us understand why Imam Ali(A) teaches us (and again I’m paraphrasing):

“Those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat the mistakes therein.”

And from Allah alone is all Tawfeeq <3

By Shabbir R Hassanally, exclusively for Shafaqna

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