Amir al-mu'minin collected the people and exhorted them(1)
to jihad but they observed long silence. Then he said: "What is the matter
with you. Have you become dumb?" A group of them replied: "O' Amir
al-mu'minin if you go forth we shall be with you." Whereupon Amir
happened to you? You may not be guided aright or shown the right path.
Should in these circumstances I go forth? In fact, at this time one of the
brave and the valorous among you whom I select should go out. It does not
suit me to leave the army, the city, the public treasury, the land
revenue, the dispensation of justice among Muslims and looking after the
demands of the claimants and to follow one contingent after the other
moving here and there like a featherless arrow moving in the quiver.
I am the
axis of the mill. It rotates on me while I remain in my position. As soon
as I leave it the centre of its rotation would be disturbed and its lower
stone would also be disturbed.
By Allah, this is a very bad
advice. By Allah, if I had not been hoping for martyrdom by my meeting
with the enemy - and my meeting with him has been ordained, I would have
secured my carrier and went away from you and would not have sought you so
long as North and South differed.
no benefit in the majority of your numbers because of lack of unity of
your hearts. I have put you on the clear path whereon no one will perish
except who perishes by himself. He who sticks to it would achieve Paradise
and he who deviates goes to Hell.
(1). When after the Battle
of Siffin, Mu'awiyah's forces began to attack various places in Amir
al-mu'minin's area, he asked the Iraqis to check them but they declined on
the plea that they would follow him if he himself came forward. Thereupon
he delivered this sermon, and clarified his limitations, that if he
himself went out it was impossible to run the affairs of the state, and
that the enemy's attacks had already started on all sides.
In these circumstances it
was impolitic to keep the centre unguarded. But what could be hoped from
those who changed the victory at Siffin into defeat and opened the door
for these attacks.